Monday, 03 October 2016 07:33




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03- OCTOBER - 2016



Nobel laureate and Myanmar leader Aung San Suu Kyi was honoured as the 2016 Humanitarian of the Year by the students and faculty at the Harvard Foundation.

She gained international prominence as the General Secretary of the National League for Democracy in Myanmar in 1990.

About Aung San Suu Kyi

• Suu Kyi, elected head of Myanmar’s government in April 2016, was placed under house arrest in 1989 for protesting against the country’s dictatorship and served 15 years in detention.

• During her early years, Suu Kyi was held in solitary confinement and could not see her husband Michael V Aris—at the time a visiting professor at Harvard—or her two sons.

• In 1991, she was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for her non-violent struggle for democracy and human rights.

About Humanitarian of the Year honour

• The Harvard Foundation bestows its Humanitarian of the Year honour to an individual whose works and deeds have served to improve the quality of lives and have inspired us to greater heights.

• Past award recipients include Pakistani activist Malala Yousafzai and United Nations Secretary General Ban-Ki Moon.


India's Centre for Civil Society in collaboration with Canada's Fraser Institute released the Economic Freedom of the World 2016 Annual Report.

The report is based on data from 2014 and measures the World Economic Freedom (WEF) Index by analysing the policies and institutions of 159 countries and territories.

Highlights of the Index

• Hong Kong topped the index followed by Singapore and New Zealand at second and third position.

• The other top 10 countries in the Index are Switzerland, Canada, Georgia, Ireland, Mauritius, the UAE, Australia and the UK.

• The 10 lowest-ranked countries are: Iran, Algeria, Chad, Guinea, Angola, Central African Republic, Argentina, Republic of Congo, Libya and lastly Venezuela.

• Other notable countries are- the United States (16), Germany (30), Japan (40), France (57) and Russia (102).

• The economic freedom has increased throughout the world during the past three decades. Between 1985 and 2014, economic freedom among high-income countries rose from 6.9 to 7.7 points.

• Nations in the top quartile of economic freedom had an average per-capita GDP of 41228 US dollars in 2014, compared to 5471 US dollars for bottom quartile nations.

• In addition, life expectancy is 80.4 years in the top quartile compared to 64.0 years in the bottom quartile.

India's Position in World Economic Freedom (WEF) Index

• India has slipped 10 positions and fetched 112th spot among all 159 countries in the Index.

• It ranks behind Bhutan (78), Nepal (108) and Sri Lanka (111) but stood higher than China (113), Bangladesh (121) and Pakistan (133) in the Index.

• India has fared badly in all categories i.e. legal system and property rights (86), sound money (130), freedom to trade internationally (144) and regulation (132) except the size of the government (8).

About Economic Freedom of the World Report

The Fraser Institute produces the annual Economic Freedom of the World report in cooperation with the Economic Freedom Network, a group of independent research and educational institutes.

It uses a ten-point scale that measures the degree of economic freedom in five broad areas-

• Size of government: expenditures, taxes, and enterprises

• Legal structure and security of property rights

• Access to sound money

• Freedom to trade internationally

• Regulation of credit, labor, and business


The Union Cabinet approved merger of Rail budget with Union Budget. It also decided to advance the date of presentation of the annual budget from the last day of February to start of February.

In addition, it also decided to merge the Plan and the Non-Plan classification in the Budget and Accounts. All these changes will be put into effect simultaneously from the Budget 2017-18.

Merger of Railway Budget with the General Budget

The arrangements for merger of Railway budget with the General budget have been approved by the Cabinet with the following administrative and financial arrangements-

• The Railways will continue to maintain its distinct entity -as a departmentally run commercial undertaking as at present

• Railways will retain their functional autonomy and delegation of financial powers etc. as per the existing guidelines

• The existing financial arrangements will continue wherein Railways will meet all their revenue expenditure, including ordinary working expenses, pay and allowances and pensions etc. from their revenue receipts;

• The Capital at charge of the Railways estimated at 2.27 lakh crore rupees on which annual dividend is paid by the Railways will be wiped off. Consequently, there will be no dividend liability for Railways from 2017-18 and Ministry of Railways will get Gross Budgetary support. This will also save Railways from the liability of payment of approximately 9700 crore rupees annual dividend to the Government of India.

The decision scraps over nine-decade old tradition of having a separate Railway Budget. The presentation of separate Railway budget started in the year 1924, and has continued after independence as a convention rather than under Constitutional provisions.

The merger will help in

• The presentation of a unified budget will bring the affairs of the Railways to centre stage and present a holistic picture of the financial position of the Government.

• The merger is also expected to reduce the procedural requirements and instead bring into focus, the aspects of delivery and good governance.

• Consequent to the merger, the appropriations for Railways will form part of the main Appropriation Bill.

Advancement of the Budget presentation

As per the plan, the advancement of date of the presentation of the budget would be decided after taking into account dates of assembly elections. All proposals on the railways will be included in it. The government will also ensure that there is a separate discussion on the railways each year.

Advancement of day of budget presentation is going to help by

• Advancement of the date of budget presentation would help the government in following ways.

• The advancement of budget presentation by a month and completion of Budget related legislative business before 31 March would pave the way for early completion of Budget cycle and enable Ministries and Departments to ensure better planning and execution of schemes from the beginning of the financial year and utilization of the full working seasons including the first quarter.

• This will also preclude the need for seeking appropriation through 'Vote on Account' and enable implementation of the legislative changes in tax; laws for new taxation measures from the beginning of the financial year.

Merger of Plan and Non Plan classification in Budget and Accounts:

• The merger of the plan and non plan classification in Budget and Accounts from 2017-18 would help in resolving the following issues

• The Plan/Non-Plan bifurcation of expenditure has led to a fragmented view of resource allocation to various schemes, making it difficult not only to ascertain cost of delivering a service but also to link outlays to outcomes.

• The bias in favour of Plan expenditure by Centre as well as the State Governments has led to a neglect of essential expenditures on maintenance of assets and other establishment related expenditures for providing essential social services.

• The merger of plan and non-plan in the budget is expected to provide appropriate budgetary framework having focus on the revenue, and capital expenditure.


Mahendra Singh Dhoni was named the captain of the all-time India Test XI chosen by cricket magazine Wisden.

Dhoni has received the honours ahead of Sourav Ganguly and Mohammad Azharuddin.

The openers in the team are Sunil Gavaskar and Virender Sehwag, followed by Rahul Dravid, Sachin Tendulkar, VVS Laxman, all-rounder Kapil Dev and Dhoni.

Veteran Indian all-rounder Kapil Dev along with Javagal Srinath and Zaheer Khan have been named as pacers, while legendary Bishen Singh Bedi, Harbhajan Singh and Team India coach Anil Kumble are the spinners. Azharuddin has been named as the 12th man.

Wisden is one of the most reputed cricket magazines in the world, announced the team to mark India's 500th Test match starting on 22 September 2016 against New Zealand at the Green Park Stadium in Kanpur.

Wisden Test XI: Sunil Gavaskar, Virender Sehwag, Rahul Dravid, Sachin Tendulkar, VVS Laxman, Kapil Dev, MS Dhoni (captain, wicketkeeper), Anil Kumble, Javagal Srinath, Zaheer Khan, Bishan Singh Bedi, Mohammad Azharuddin (12th man).


The Union Cabinet approved the provision of a direct communication link through a dedicated submarine Optical Fibre Cable (OFC) between Mainland (Chennai) and Andaman and Nicobar Islands.

The project to be completed by December 2018 will connect the mainland Chennai with Port Blair & five other islands viz. Little Andaman, Car Nicobar, Havelock, Kamorta and Great Nicobar.


• The estimated cost for development of the project is 1102.38 crore rupees including operational expenses for 5 years.

• It will equip Andaman & Nicobar Islands with appropriate bandwidth and telecom connectivity for implementation of e-Governance initiatives and establishment of enterprises & e-commerce facilities.

• It will also enable the provision of adequate support to educational institutes for knowledge sharing, availability of job opportunities and fulfill the vision of Digital India.


The Andaman and Nicobar Islands are of immense strategic significance for India. The geographical configuration and the location of the Andaman & Nicobar Islands chain in the Bay of Bengal safeguard India's eastern seaboard. Provision of secure, reliable, robust, and affordable telecom facilities in these islands is of importance from a strategic point of view to the country and also an important requirement for the socio-economic development of the islands.

Currently the only medium of providing telecom connectivity between Mainland and Andaman & Nicobar Islands is though satellites, but the bandwidth available is limited to 1 Gbps. Satellite bandwidth is very costly and its availability is limited due to which future bandwidth requirement cannot be met solely through it. Then, there is an issue of redundancy, that is, no alternate media is available in case of any emergency. Lack of bandwidth and telecom connectivity is also hampering socio-economic development of the islands.

Hence it is essential to have submarine OFC connectivity between the Mainland India and Andaman & Nicobar Islands, being the only option for catering to projected future bandwidth requirements.


Democrats and Dissenters: Ramachandra Guha

Book titled Democrats and Dissenters authored by Ramachandra Guha. The book is a work of rigorous scholarship on topics of compelling contemporary interest, written with elegance and wit.

Democrats and Dissenters covers a wide range of themes: from the varying national projects of India’s neighbours to political debates within India itself, from the responsibilities of writers to the complex relationship between democracy and violence.

It has essays critically assessing the work of Amartya Sen and Eric Hobsbawm, essays on the tragic predicament of tribals in India—who are, as Guha demonstrates, far worse off than Dalits or Muslims, yet get a fraction of the attention—and on the peculiar absence of a tradition of conservative intellectuals in India.

Each essay takes up an important topic or an influential intellectual, as a window to explore major political and cultural debates in India and the world. Democrats and Dissenters is a book that is certain to be widely read and even more widely discussed.


The Union Cabinet gave its approval for signing and ratification of agreement between India and Samoa for the exchange of information with respect to Taxes.

This agreement will stimulate the flow of exchange of information between the two nations for tax purposes which will help curb tax evasion and tax avoidance.

As of now, there are no financial implications between the two nations. Only in the event of extraordinary costs exceeding 500 US dollars, the same will be borne by India. India has similar provisions in other such tax information exchange agreement.

Salient features of the Agreement

• It enables the competent authorities of the two nations to provide assistance through exchange of information that is relevant to the administration and enforcement of the domestic laws of the two countries concerning taxes covered by this Agreement.

• The information received under the Agreement shall be treated as confidential and may be disclosed only to persons or authorities (including courts or administrative bodies) concerned with assessment, collection, enforcement, prosecution or determination of appeals in relation to taxes covered under the Agreement. Information may be disclosed to any other person or entity or authority or jurisdiction with the prior written consent of the information sending country.

• The Agreement also provides for Mutual Agreement Procedure for resolving any difference or for agreeing on procedures under the Agreement.

• The Agreement shall enter into force on the date of notification of completion of the procedures required by the respective laws of the two countries for entry into force of the Agreement.

Negotiations for entering into an Agreement for the exchange of information with respect to Taxes were finalized between India and Samoa in June 2016 and both countries have agreed on the text of the Agreement.

Section 90 of the Income Tax Act, 1961 allows the Union Government to enter into an agreement with a foreign country or specified territory for exchange of information for the prevention of evasion or avoidance of income-tax chargeable under the Income-tax Act, 1961.



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Last Updated on Wednesday, 05 October 2016 03:59