Polity & Governance
- Annual Report of ‘Crime in India – 2015’ released
- First meeting of newly constituted National Council of Senior Citizens held
- PM launches First Phase of SAUNI project
- CBDT signs 20 Unilateral Advance Pricing Agreements with Indian taxpayers
- Cabinet approves dissolution of Central Inland Water Transport Corporation Limited
Environment & Ecology
- Gujarat becomes the first state to distribute 2 crore LED Bulbs under UJALA
Defence & Security Issues
- Madhukar Gupta Committee flags gaps, vulnerability in Indo-Pak border fencing
Key Facts for Prelims
- Operation Muskaan-II
- Asli Tarakki
Polity & Governance
Annual Report of ‘Crime in India – 2015’ released
Recently, the “Crime in India” report for 2015 was released by the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB).
Highlights of the report:
- Incidents of rioting remained almost the same in 2015 as compared to 2014, but as communal riots decreased, big increases were seen in other categories — agrarian, sectarian and student riots and caste conflicts.
- Recorded incidents of agrarian riots jumped 327% from 628 in 2014 to 2,683 in 2015.
- The number of people arrested increased from 3,540 to 10,353.
- Sectarian riots — defined as violence between sects of the same religion not considering caste conflict — showed a significant jump in incidents and convictions from a low base in 2014. Much of these incidents occurred in Uttar Pradesh.
- There is a decrease in communal riots — from 1,227 in 2014 to 789 in 2015.
- Twenty per cent of the overall 65,255 riots were reported in Bihar followed by Maharashtra (8,336) and Uttar Pradesh (6,813).
- Kerala tops the crime rate list, with 16.3 riot cases per lakh people, followed by Bihar (12.9) and Karnataka (10.6).
- More than half of the total 1,960 political incidents occurred in Kerala.
- Uttar Pradesh had the maximum number of caste conflicts (724) followed by Tamil Nadu (426).
- Chennai recorded the lowest rate of total crimes among major cites (154.3 per 1 lakh population). Among all cities, only Surat (86.9), Kannur and Dhanbad had better rates.
- The number of people arrested for student riots (3,600) increased – more than double compared to that in 2014 (1,474). The incidents of student riots increased by 85 per cent, from 261 to 485.
- More than half of the student riots reported in 2015 took place in Uttar Pradesh and Kerala.
- Reported cases of rape and assault on women showed only marginal change from 2014. Rape cases decreased by 5.7% while assault cases went up by merely 0.22%.
First meeting of newly constituted National Council of Senior Citizens held
The first meeting of the newly constituted National Council of Senior Citizens was held under the chairmanship of the Minister of Social Justice & Empowerment Shri Thaawarchand Gehlot.
About the National Council of Senior Citizens:
An autonomous National Council for Senior Citizens headed by the Minister for Social Justice & Empowerment was set up to promote and co-ordinate the concerns of older persons.
- The council was originally known as National Council for Older Persons (NPOP). It was renamed in 2012.
- The Council includes representatives of relevant Central Ministries and the Planning Commission.
- Five States are represented on the Council by rotation.
- The Council is mandated to meet at least twice a year.
Mandate of the council:
The mandate of the National Council of Senior Citizens is to advise the Central and State Governments on the entire gamut of issues related to the welfare of senior citizens and enhancement of their quality of life, with special reference to the following:
- Policies, programmes and legislative measures.
- Promotion of physical and financial security, health and independent and productive living.
- Awareness generation and community mobilization.
PM launches First Phase of SAUNI project
Prime Minister Narendra Modi has inaugurated the first phase of SAUNI (Saurashtra Narmada Avataran for Irrigation) Project at Sanosara village in Gujarat’s Jamnagar district.
What is the project?
Unlike traditional irrigation projects, SAUNI is a ‘linking’ project, where the water will be filled in irrigation dams that are already equipped with canal network.
- This network of canals will then help channel water into farms.
- To meet the water demands of Saurashtra region, under the SAUNI scheme, 115 dams will be provided with excess water of the Sardar Sarovar Dam from the river Narmada.
- This will be done through a network of pipelines.
- The total cost of the project is Rs. 12,000 crore. I
- n the first phase, the government has constructed 57km of pipeline, which will fill up 10 dams of three districts of Saurashtra region.
Does it benefit farmers?
- Saurashtra region faces drought-like situation. This project will irrigate over 4 lakh hectares of land and tackle water woes.
- The government claims that when all the 115 dams are filled farmers in 5,000 villages will benefit.
- Farmers can reap both Kharif and Rabi crop — as opposed to Kharif crop cultivation so far — once the project makes more water accessible for agriculture.
- Though the project will not be added to the command area under irrigation, it will strengthen the existing network by providing 1 acre million cubic feet of surplus Narmada water from the Sardar Sarovar Dam through a new pipeline network connecting existing dams.
When was it announced?
- In 2012, Narendra Modi as chief minister of Gujarat had announced the project.
When will it be completed?
- The government has set a target to complete the four phase project by 2019.
CBDT signs 20 Unilateral Advance Pricing Agreements with Indian taxpayers
The Central Board of Direct Taxes (CBDT) has singed 20 unilateral advance pricing agreements (APAs) with Indian taxpayers.
The 20 APAs signed pertain to sectors like, Information Technology, Banking & Finance, Insurance, Human Resources, Pharmaceutical, Solar Energy, Oil & Gas, Foods & Beverages, Telecommunications and NGO.
- With these signings, the total number of APAs entered into by the CBDT has reached 98, which includes 4 bilateral APAs and 94 unilateral APAs
- Many of these agreements also have a “Rollback” provision in them.
- The international transactions covered in these agreements include Software Development Services, IT enabled services, Investment Advisory Services, KPO services, Import of components, Export of goods, Management services, etc.
About the APA scheme:
- The APA scheme was introduced in the Income-tax Act in 2012 and the “Rollback” provisions were introduced in 2014.
- The scheme endeavours to provide certainty to taxpayers in the domain of transfer pricing by specifying the methods of pricing and setting the prices of international transactions in advance.
- Since its inception, the APA scheme has attracted tremendous interest and that has resulted in more than 700 applications (both unilateral and bilateral) having been filed in just four years.
Significance of the APA scheme:
- The progress of the APA Scheme strengthens the Government’s mission of fostering a non-adversarial tax regime.
What is the meaning of the APA?
An Advance Pricing Agreement (APA) is a contract, usually for multiple years, between a taxpayer and at least one tax authority (CBDT) specifying the pricing method that the taxpayer will apply to its related-company transactions.
- These programmes are designed to help taxpayers voluntarily resolve actual or potential transfer pricing disputes in a proactive, cooperative manner, as an alternative to the traditional examination process.
The Central Board of Direct Taxes is a statutory authority functioning under the Central Board of Revenue Act, 1963.
- It is a part of the Department of Revenue in the Ministry of Finance, Government of India.
- It is also India’s official Financial Action Task Force unit.
- It provides essential inputs for policy and planning of direct taxes in India and is also responsible for administration of the direct tax laws through Income Tax Department.
- The CBDT Chairman and Members of CBDT are selected from Indian Revenue Service (IRS) whose members constitute the top management of Income Tax Department.
Cabinet approves dissolution of Central Inland Water Transport Corporation Limited
The Union Cabinet has given its approval to proposal for dissolution of Central Inland Water Transport Corporation Limited (CIWTC).
- The decision is the part of the Government’s efforts towards revitalizing sick CPSUs wherever possible or to wind up irretrievable cases.
About the CIWTC:
- CIWTC was incorporated in 1967 as Public Sector Undertaking under the Companies Act 1956 by the Central Government.
- It was under the administrative control of Ministry of Shipping (MOS).
Why the CIWTC is being closed?
- Due to inherent limitation and infrastructure bottle necks, the operations of CIWTC could never become viable.
- The company has been incurring losses since inception.
- The Company has only five employees at present.
- The dissolution of the CIWTC would be initiated after disposal of movable and immovable assets. This would free up the assets for better utilization and for the benefit of the people.
Environment & Ecology
Gujarat becomes the first state to distribute 2 crore LED Bulbs under UJALA
Gujarat has become the first state to distribute 2 crore LED bulbs under the Centre’s Unnat Jyoti by Affordable LEDs for all (UJALA) scheme.
- Gujarat has reached this milestone in just 96 days and over 42 lakh households have already benefited from the scheme.
- State-run Energy Efficiency Services Limited (EESL), under the administration of the Power Ministry, is distributing about 2 lakh bulbs daily in Gujarat, a record in itself.
- The distribution of 2 crore LED bulbs has led to an annual energy savings of 259 crore kWh which is equivalent to lighting up 5 lakh Indian homes for an entire year.
- Alongside the savings in units, the state has also benefitted from daily CO2 emission reduction of 5,000 tonnes.
- The programme has also helped the state to avoid 520MW of peak demand.
About the scheme:
UJALA is a flagship project of the Govt. of India where it wants every home in India to use LED bulbs so that the net power or energy consumption rate comes down and the carbon emission rates can also be checked.
- The scheme is being implemented by Energy Efficiency Services Limited (EESL), a joint venture of PSUs under the Union Ministry of Power.
- The scheme is being monitored in a transparent manner through a national dashboard (www.delp.in).
- The scheme will not only help reduce consumers their electricity bills but also contribute to the energy security of India.
- The distribution of LED bulbs will happen through DISCOM offices, DISCOM bill collection centres, designated EESL kiosks, Weekly haat markets, etc.
Defence & Security Issues
Madhukar Gupta Committee flags gaps, vulnerability in Indo-Pak border fencing
The committee headed by former home secretary Madhukar Gupta to suggest ways of strengthening security along the India-Pakistan border presented its report to Union Home Ministry.
- The Ministry of Home Affairs had constituted a committee under the chairmanship of former home secretary Madhukar Gupta in April 2016, for strengthening border protection and addressing the issue of gaps and vulnerability in border fencing along the India-Pakistan border.
Mandate of the committee:
- The mandate of the committee was to study all types of gaps in fencing and all other vulnerabilities in the International Border and to suggest comprehensive approach to fix these gaps in fencing and other vulnerabilities on interim and permanent basis.
What has been proposed?
The committee has proposed
- The use of scientific technology such as laser fencing along with increased vigil along riverine border areas.
- Where physical fencing is not feasible due to difficult terrain, it has recommended use of ground sensors and thermal imaging.
The committee has given separate recommendations for four states which touch the international border with Pakistan as each state has separate topography and problems.
- Of the 3,323-km-long India-Pakistan border, 1,225 km falls in Jammu and Kashmir (including Line of Control), 553 km in Punjab, 1,037 km in Rajasthan and 508 km in Gujarat.
Key Facts for Prelims
It is the maiden Joint Disaster Management Exercise. The exercise named Prakampana (‘Cyclone’ in Sanskrit) aimed at synchronising resources and efforts of all agencies involved in disaster management has been inaugurated at Visakhapatnam.
The three-day exercise is being conducted by the Eastern Naval Command (ENC), in liaison with the concerned Centre and state authorities.
- It is the second phase of ‘Operation Muskaan’.
- The main aim of the programme was to prevent child trafficking and rescue children from persons who tried to engage them in begging, sexual trade and other antisocial activities.
- It was launched by Union Ministry of Home Affairs.
“Asli Tarakki” (Real development) would be the name of the new awareness campaign for Swachh Bharat.
The urban development ministry would soon launch the campaign across six cities in the National Capital Region.
About 450 young men and women with “communication skills and leadership qualities” have been selected as “lead motivators” to spread awareness on Swachh Bharat Mission.
It will be replicated in other States if it succeeds.