Current Affairs Analysis

31st December 2016 Current Affairs Analysis – IASToppers

What is Leap Second? B.N. Srikrishna Committee; National Trust; Direct Tax Dispute Resolution Scheme; ‘Rashtriya Rail Sanraksha Kosh’; Double Taxation Avoidance Agreement (DTAA); 2016 Bharatiya Jananpith Navlekhan award; etc.
By IT's Current Affairs Analysis Team
December 31, 2016


Polity & Governance

  • Govt sets up high-level committee to review arbitration system in India
  • ‘Mobile App and Facebook Page’ of ‘National Trust’


  • CBDT extends deadline for Direct Tax Dispute Resolution Scheme
  • Railways may bring in cess on tickets again

Bilateral & International Relations

  • India and Singapore Sign a Third Protocol for Amending DTAA

Science & Technology

  • Insertion of LEAP SECOND in the Indian Standard Time

Key Facts for Prelims

  • 2016 Bharatiya Jananpith Navlekhan award


Polity & Governance

Govt sets up high-level committee to review arbitration system in India

The Union Ministry of Law and Justice has formed a 10-member panel led by former Supreme Court judge B.N. Srikrishna to review and create an institutional framework for the arbitration mechanism in India.

B.N. Srikrishna
B.N. Srikrishna
  • The committee includes judges, senior lawyers familiar with commercial laws, industry representatives and a member from a think-tank.
  • The committee will submit its report within 90 days.

Terms of reference of the committee:

The committee will make recommendations on various aspects of improving arbitration in the country, including

  • Encouraging use of arbitration for international commercial disputes,
  • Implementing the law to ensure speedier arbitrations,
  • Revision in institutional rules,
  • Role of arbitration in disputes where the central government is involved
  • Evolving an efficient arbitration system for India.
  • Suggesting road map for further strengthening of research and development impacting the domain
  • and focus on the role of arbitrations in matters involving government of India including bilateral investment treaties (BIT) arbitrations.
  • Identifying amendments in laws that are needed to encourage International Commercial Arbitration (ICA).
  • Enlisting requisite steps for augmenting skill sets and professional manpower buildup for the sector. Recommend measures to make arbitration more widely available in curricula and study materials.

Significance of this move:

  • With this, the government aims to make arbitration a preferred mode for settlement of commercial disputes.
  • The move could also help improve India’s score in the World Bank’s doing business rankings. In the 2016 rankings, India stood at 130 out of 190 countries.
[Ref: The Hindu]


‘Mobile App and Facebook Page’ of ‘National Trust’

The government has launched the ‘Mobile App and Facebook Page’ of the National Trust to mark the ‘National Trust Foundation Day’ on the theme “Celebrating Inclusion”.


About National Trust:

  • The National Trust is a Statutory Body under Department of Empowerment of Persons with Disabilities (Divyangjan), Ministry of Social Justice & Empowerment.
  • For its establishment, the National Trust Act for the welfare of persons with Autism, Cerebral Palsy, Mental Retardation and Multiple Disabilities was passed in the Parliament on 30th December 1999.

Functions of National Trust:

  • The National Trust has been set up to discharge two basic duties – legal and welfare.
  1. Legal duties are discharged through Local Level Committee (LLC) set up at district level under the chairmanship of the District Collector / District Magistrate and providing legal guardianship.
  2. Welfare duty is discharged through the schemes and activities.
  • The schemes and activities of the National Trust inter-alia include training, awareness and capacity building programmes and shelter, care giving and empowerment.
  • The National Trust is implementing 10 schemes for overall development of persons with disabilities which have been revised and launched last year.
[Ref: PIB, Wiki]



CBDT extends deadline for Direct Tax Dispute Resolution Scheme

The Centre extended the last date for availing the Direct Tax Dispute Resolution Scheme to January 31, 2017 from the earlier deadline of December 31, 2016.


  • The extension is aimed to give one more month to accept its offer to settle retro tax disputes.

About the scheme:

  • The Direct Tax Dispute Resolution Scheme, 2016 has come into force from 1st June, 2016.
  • The Scheme is available to the cases pending with the first appellate authority as on 29th February, 2016, subject to certain conditions.
  • It also extends to the cases pending litigation owing to retrospective amendment at different levels.

Under the Scheme, if the amount of disputed tax is

  • Up to Rs.10 lakh, complete waiver from levy of penalty and from initiation of prosecution is provided on payment of assessed tax along with the interest.
  • More than Rs.10 lakh, the declarant is required to pay only 25% of the minimum penalty leviable along with the due tax and interest.

In respect of penalty appeals, the declarant shall get waiver of the 75% of the penalty levied and immunity from prosecution. In respect of specified tax, the declarant gets complete waiver of/immunity from levy of penalty and immunity from prosecution.

[Ref: Indian Express, PIB]


Railways may bring in cess on tickets again

The Railways is planning to bring back a cess on tickets to finance its proposed Rs.1 lakh crore Rail Safety Fund after a rise in derailments this year.


What’s the issue?

  • Recently, the Railway Ministry requested the Finance Ministry to create a non-lapsable safety fund named ‘Rashtriya Rail Sanraksha Kosh’.
  • The Railways had asked the Finance Ministry to sponsor almost 93% of the fund. However, the Finance Ministry agreed to contribute only 25% and asked it to raise the rest.

Utilization of the fund:

  • The fund is proposed to be utilised for track improvement, bridge rehabilitation, rolling stock replacement, human resource development, improved inspection system, and safety work at level crossing, among other things.
[Ref: The Hindu]


Bilateral & International Relations

India and Singapore Sign a Third Protocol for Amending DTAA

By signing a Third Protocol, India and Singapore have amended the double taxation avoidance agreement (DTAA) for the avoidance of double taxation and prevention of fiscal evasion with respect to taxes on income.


  • It was signed in line with India’s treaty policy to prevent double non-taxation, curb revenue loss and check the menace of black money through automatic exchange of information.

Key facts:

  • The India-Singapore DTAA at present provides for residence based taxation of capital gains of shares in a company. The Third Protocol amends DTAA to provide for source based taxation of capital gains arising on transfer of shares in a company.
  • It will come into effect from April 1, 2017 to provide for source based taxation of capital gains arising on transfer of shares in a company.
  • It also inserts provisions to facilitate relieving of economic double taxation in transfer pricing cases.
  • It also enables application of domestic law and measures concerning prevention of tax avoidance or tax evasion.
  • This is a taxpayer friendly measure and is in line with India’s commitments under Base Erosion and Profit Shifting (BEPS) Action Plan to meet minimum standard of providing MAP access in transfer pricing cases.
  • Two year transition period from April 1, 2017 to March 31, 2019 has been provided during which capital gains on shares will be taxed in source country at half of normal tax rate.
[Ref: PIB]


Science & Technology

Insertion of LEAP SECOND in the Indian Standard Time

In the year 2016, a ‘leap second’ was added to the Indian clock at 5:29.59 hours in order to synchronise the clock with the Earth’s rotation.


  • With this, the year 2016 was a second longer than 2015.
  • 37th “Leap Second” has been added to UTC at the midnight of December 31, 2016 in the countries within this time zone. However, countries in other time zones will have “Leap Second” inserted according to their longitude.
  • Adding the leap second to the Indian clock is done by the National Physical Laboratory (NPL) under the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research.

What is Leap Second?

  • A leap second is a one-second adjustment that is occasionally applied to Coordinated Universal Time (UTC) in order to keep its time of day close to the mean solar time, or UT1.

Rationale behind the addition of leap second:


  • The Earth and rotation around its own axis is not regular, as sometimes it speeds up and sometimes it slows down due to various factors, including earthquakes and moon’s gravitational forces.
  • As a result, astronomical time (UT1) gradually falls out of sync with atomic time (UTC), and, as and when the difference between UTC and UT1 approaches 0.9 seconds, a leap second is added to UTC through atomic clocks worldwide.
  • Atomic clocks are so precise that the margin of error in its functioning is just of a second in 100 million years.

Implications of the move:

  • Adding a second barely has an impact on the daily life, However, this shift is critical for applications requiring time accuracies in the nanosecond, which are critical in the fields of astronomy, satellite navigation, communication networks.

Key facts:

  • Since this system of correction was implemented in 1972, 27 leap seconds have been inserted.
  • The NPL, one of the oldest laboratories in the country, has five atomic clocks and nearly 300 such pieces exist across the globe.
[Ref: The Hindu]


Key Facts for Prelims

2016 Bharatiya Jananpith Navlekhan award


  • Two new Hindi writers Shraddha and Ghyansham Kumar Devansh have been chosen for Bharatiya Jnanpith Navlekhan Award for the year 2016.
  • Shraddha was chosen for her short story, ‘Hawa Mein Phadphadati Chitthi’ and Devansh for his poem ‘Akash Mein Deh’.
  • The award, that is given to young authors in Hindi for their first creations, consists of a statue of Goddess Saraswati, a citation and a cash prize each.