Polity & Governance
- Benami Property Transactions Prohibition Act comes into force
- Election of candidates can be set aside if they lie about education: SC
- Sushil Chandra takes over as CBDT chairman
- After shutting liquor shops, Bihar seeks suggestions on prohibition
- India ranks poorly at 133 in Global Youth Development Index
Bilateral & International Relations
- Russia invites India to join fast reactor research project
- RCEP: Members worried about giving more market access to Chinese goods
- International Forum on Adopting an ICT Perspective to Education and Learning
Key Facts for Prelims
- Kerala declared Open Defecation Free
- Madhubabu Aain Sahayata Sibir Scheme
Polity & Governance
Benami Property Transactions Prohibition Act comes into force
The Benami Transactions (Prohibition) Amendment Act, 2016, designed to curb black money and passed by parliament in August 2016, came into effect.
Highlights of the Act:
- The new law amended the Benami Transactions Act, 1988 and renamed as the Prohibition of Benami Property Transactions (PBPT) Act, 1988.
- Persons indulging in benami transactions may face up to 7 years’ imprisonment and fine.
- Furnishing false information is punishable by imprisonment up to 5 years and fine.
- Properties held benami are liable for confiscation by government without compensation.
- Initiating Officer may pass an order to continue holding property and may then refer case to Adjudicating Authority which will then examine evidence and pass an order.
- Appellate Tribunal will hear appeals against orders of Adjudicating Authority. High Court can hear appeals against orders of Appellate Tribunal.
- The amendment act strengthens the parent Act in terms of legal and administrative procedure.
What is benami transaction?
- The benami (without a name) transaction refers to property purchased by a person in the name of some other person.
- The person on whose name the property has been purchased is called the benamdar and the property so purchased is called the benami property. The person who finances the deal is the real owner.
- Therefore, in a benami transaction, the name of the person who paid the money is not mentioned. Directly or indirectly, the benami transaction is done to benefit the one who pays.
Election of candidates can be set aside if they lie about education: SC
Supreme Court has ruled that election of a candidate could be set aside for making false declaration on educational qualifications in the nomination paper.
What the court says?
- The apex court said all information about a candidate contesting elections must be available in public domain as exposure to public scrutiny was one of the surest means to cleanse the democratic governing system and have competent legislators.
- It held that the right to vote would be meaningless unless citizens were well-informed about the antecedents of candidates, including their educational qualification.
- Placement of information on the public domain would act as an exposure to public scrutiny, which is one of the surest means to cleanse the democratic governing system and have competent legislators.
- It held that voters have a fundamental right to know the academic qualification of a candidate. For the purpose, the court highlighted the provisions of the Act, Rules and Form 26 which says that there is a duty cast on the candidates to give correct information about their educational qualifications.
Sushil Chandra takes over as CBDT chairman
Senior Indian Revenue Service (IRS) officer Sushil Chandra took over as chairman of the Central Board of Direct Taxes (CBDT).
About Central Board of Direct Taxes (CBDT):
- CBDT is nodal policy-making body of the Income Tax (IT) department under the Union Finance Ministry.
- It is a statutory authority established under The Central Board of Revenue Act, 1963.
- The composition of CBDT includes Chairman and six members.
- It is responsible for framing policy and administrative issues related to direct taxes and the Income Tax department.
- It is also India’s official Financial Action Task Force unit.
- The CBDT Chairman and Members of CBDT are selected from Indian Revenue Service (IRS) whose members constitute the top management of Income Tax Department.
After shutting liquor shops, Bihar seeks suggestions on prohibition
A month after implementing the new stringent Bihar Prohibition and Excise Act 2016, Bihar government has invited the general public to provide feedback and suggestions regarding its provisions.
Why government seeks suggestions from general public?
- The Supreme Court is to shortly hear a petition regarding prohibition in the State and the government is said to have taken this step to avoid any embarrassment.
What’s the issue?
- Bihar government had implemented the new Bihar Prohibition and Excise Act 2016 from October 2.
- Many people had termed the legal provisions of the new act as stringent and questioned. Some provisions in the new act were seen as impractical and draconian.
- Over 18,000 people have been sent to jail so far for violating prohibition laws since April 5 this year, when prohibition came into effect in the state, and several lakh litres of liquor were seized.
About Bihar prohibition and excise act, 2016:
- This is a new and more stringent liquor-ban law with provisions such as arrest of all adults in the family if anyone consumes or stores alcohol.
- It aims to ensure that the ban on sale and consumption of alcohol, including Indian-made foreign liquor (IMFL), continues in Bihar.
- Those flouting the ban face up to 10 years in jail, a fine of up to Rs 10 lakh and there is also a provision to confiscate the house or premises where liquor is stored or drunk.
- Though in a rare case, it also prescribes death penalty if people die after consuming hooch.
- Enforcement of the new law, calculated to impose prohibition in a holistic manner, would repeal the previous excise laws in the state.
India ranks poorly at 133 in Global Youth Development Index
India has been ranked 133rd out of 183 countries in the 2016 Global Youth Development Index (YDI).
- The Index is compiled by the Commonwealth Secretariat.
- The Global Youth Development Index report measures countries’ prospects for young people in employment, education, health, civic and political spheres.
- The top 10 countries on the index are largely from Europe – Germany (1), Denmark (2), Switzerland (4), United Kingdom (5), Netherlands (6), Austria (7), Luxembourg (8), Portugal (9) – with Australia (3) and Japan (10) as the two exceptions.
- India ranked 133rd in the index covering 183 nations, below neighbouring countries like Nepal (77), Bhutan (69) and Sri Lanka (31) and trailing behind the South Asian average.
- India accounts for nearly 20% of the global youth population, with nearly 345 million young people between the ages of 15 and 30 living in the country.
- India is currently experiencing the most significant “youth bulge” – with nearly 27% of its total population made up of young people.
- India’s overall rank in 2016 YDU is relatively low, but it has registered an 11% improvement in scores over last five years (from 2010 and 2015).
- The report highlights need for greater investment to reap so-called demographic dividend.
- Youth development levels in India lag particularly in the domains of education, health and employment.
Bilateral & International Relations
Russia invites India to join fast reactor research project
Russia has invited India to join in developing next-generation nuclear reactors and to participate in its fast-reactor research project.
- The multipurpose fast research reactor project known by Russian acronym MBIR is coming up as the International Research Centre (IRC) in Dimitrovgrad located in the Ulyanovsk region.
What is purpose of this project?
- Creation of a new technological platform for nuclear energy, which will be based on the closed fuel cycle with fast neutron reactors.
- It will be used to conduct a large number of reactor studies of Generation 4 nuclear systems, including the fast neutron reactor with closed fuel cycle, as well as small and medium power thermal neutron reactors.
Significance of MBIR:
- The MBIR project is based on the closed fuel cycle which involves recycling the nuclear waste as new fuel.
- It essentially signifies research on a sodium-cooled Generation 4 fast reactor to design an advanced fast neutron reactor for use in nuclear power plants.
- MBIR’s design includes three independent loops that can be used to test different coolants like gas, lead, molten salt, among others.
- Therefore, it makes possible to conduct material testing research in those different environments.
What is a fast neutron reactor?
- It is a type in which the nuclear fission chain reaction is sustained by fast neutrons. It also known as a fast reactor.
- Such a reactor needs no neutron moderator like normal water, which serves such a purpose in thermal reactors.
What are advantages of fast neutron reactor?
- With these types of reactors, it is possible to solve the major ecological problem of reprocessing and deactivation of accumulated radioactive waste, at same time provide much needed energy.
- It will lead to the solution of the five key problems safety, shortage of fuel, competitiveness, reprocessing and refabricating used nuclear fuel and radioactive waste and enforcing non-proliferation of fission materials and weapons technologies.
International Forum on Adopting an ICT Perspective to Education and Learning
The International Forum on adopting ICT Perspective to Education and Learning has begun in New Delhi.
- It has been organised by the International Bureau of Education (IBE), UNESCO in partnership with Google and the Union Ministry of Human Resource Development.
- The forum targets mainly countries which are implementing the UNESCO developed General Education Quality Analysis Framework (GEQAF).
- Participating countries include Egypt, Azerbaijan, Botswana, Gabon, India, Lithuania, Oman, Seychelles, South Africa, Saudi Arabia, Brazil, Mauritius, US and Swaziland.
- It has been designed differently than the common practice of conferences and workshop characterized by extensive presentations.
- It seeks to build on concrete cases of ICT integration and inclusion thought practical hands-on activities. Best practice cases from countries will be presented.
RCEP: Members worried about giving more market access to Chinese goods
In the forthcoming ministerial meeting on the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP), the concerns of 15 Asia-Pacific nations including India, over agreeing to give greater market access to Chinese goods without gaining similarly in return, are likely to take centre-stage.
- Trade ministers of 16 countries are slated to meet on November 3-4 at Cebu, Philippines to take forward the FTA negotiations.
- The proposed FTA, which aims to open up trade in goods and services as well as liberalise investment policies, will cover a market of over three billion people in these countries — whose total GDP is more than $17 trillion and account for 40 per cent of world trade.
- It was not just India, but all the other countries in the RCEP grouping are also worried about agreeing to eliminate tariffs altogether — a move that will mainly help China.
- The concerns of these RCEP countries also stem from fears of China dumping its excess capacity in several items including steel, as well as highly subsidised items, thereby harming the local industry in the importing countries and distorting trade in the process.
- India is of the view that any concessions for opening up goods trade can be finalised only if there are equivalent gains for it in services market access.
What could India do?
- India could put forward a two-tier proposal on goods that will treat China differently from the remaining RCEP countries.
- When compared to the treatment for other RCEP nations, this proposal on China will include a larger negative list (goods that will be protected from tariff cuts), and longer time-frame for reducing / eliminating tariffs on the remaining goods.
Key Facts for Prelims
Kerala declared Open Defecation Free
- The State of Kerala has become the third State overall and the largest State so far to be declared Open Defecation Free (ODF) under the Swachh Bharat Mission (SBM) (Gramin).
- With this, all 14 districts, 152 blocks, 940 Gram Panchayats and 2117 villages of the State have been declared free from open defecation.
- Freedom from open defecation has been proven to lead to significant health benefits in terms of incidences of water-borne diseases, especially in children, and provide safety and dignity for all, especially women and senior citizens.
- Previously, Sikkim and Himachal Pradesh were declared ODF.
Madhubabu Aain Sahayata Sibir Scheme
- It is a recently launched scheme of Odisha government.
- The scheme aims to provide legal assistance to deprived sections of the society at the grassroots level.
- The scheme has been named after great Odia lawyer Madhu Babu, who is considered as the first lawyer of Odisha.