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Current Affairs - 22 March 2017


General Affairs 

Ganga, Yamuna declared human entities: What exactly does this order mean?
  • In a landmark judgement, Uttarakhand high court declared Ganga and Yamuna rivers "living entities" on Monday, days after a similar order was passed in New Zealand.
    The ruling raises hope that the process of cleaning these pollution-battered rivers will gain pace now.
    "It's a beautiful order," says Supreme Court Advocate Nipun Saxena. "This judgment is a historic precedent because it uses the concept of legal person, which was only used for (religious) idols until now, and extends its application to rivers," says Saxena.
    A similar move was made by New Zealand Parliament five days ago, making Whanganui River the first water body in the world to be granted 'living entity' status.
    So what does this ruling mean for Ganga and Yamuna?
    #1 Now that they are considered 'living entities', Ganga, Yamuna, and their tributaries hold the same legal rights as a person. Like you, they are not natural persons, but in the eyes of law, they will be seen as "a legal or juristic person".
    "Juristic persons are made for the sake of convenience, so as to manage the assets. Say, for example, to manage the huge properties that are regularly dedicated to Tirupati Balaji. Therefore the law has recognized that an idol of the temple is a legal or juristic person," explains Nipun.
    #2 The ruling means that Ganga and Yamuna are essentially like minors -- incapable of holding or using the property -- and need to be placed under the care of a manager and/or a guardian. These caretakers will be responsible for ensuring the rivers are not misused, abused or misappropriated for personal use.
    In this case, the Advocate General has been appointed "to personally look into the affairs and manage the board which is to protect and preserve Ganga and Yamuna," says Saxena.
    #3 Ganga and Yamuna will be represented by court appointed individuals, who will file and contest cases in the rivers' names. For example, Uttar Pradesh and Uttarakhand have come under fire for not taking necessary steps for the protection and preservation of the sacred rivers. After this ruling, they can be sued on the rivers' behalf.
    Which explains why the Director of the Namami Gange programme, the Uttarakhand Chief Secretary, and the Advocate-General of Uttarakhand have been appointed to serve as "parents" for Ganga and Yamuna. "These officers are bound to uphold the status of the rivers and also promote the health and well-being of them," according to the order.
    #4 Another implication of the ruling is that case against polluters can be filed directly under the rivers' name (example: River Ganga through Advocate General versus XYZ) instead of those falling victim to the pollution. This can potentially make the case for cleaning Ganga and Yamuna stronger, and also lead to a spurt in the number of cases filed in the name of the two rivers.
    #5 The granting of 'legal rights' to Ganga and Yamuna means that any endowed fund set up for the rivers' welfare can only be used by these chosen guardians, and can only be used in the best interests of the rivers.
    #6 Based on the order, the Centre now has an eight-week-deadline, to constitute a Ganga Management Board. "The constitution of Ganga Management Board is necessary for the purpose of irrigation, rural and urban water supply, hydro power generation, navigation, industries," said the judges.
    #7 In line with the ruling, "mining in river bed of Ganga and its highest flood plain area" has also been banned forthwith. The court has appointed the district magistrate and sub-divisional magistrate to ensure implementation of the order.
    #8 Based on a PIL filed by Haridwar resident Mohammad Salim, the court has also ordered the Dehradun District Magistrate to remove encroachments along the Shakti canal of the Ganga within the next 72 hours. It ordered that the DM be suspended if he fails to comply with the directive.
    A LANDMARK RULING
    Both Uttar Pradesh and Uttarakhand have been widely criticised for failing to clean and maintain the rivers held sacred by thousands of Hindus. Which makes this ruling the first concrete step to ensure action and accountability.But it's not just this that makes the ruling exceptional.In the past, such rights have only be accorded to idols of deities to streamline the upkeep and maintenance of temple assets. According to Nipun, this judgment "aligns religious overtures with ecological balance".

Want you in Parliament: PM Narendra Modi to absent BJP MPs
  • Prime Minister Narendra Modi today expressed unhappiness over lack of quorum often causing delay in Parliament's functioning and asked BJP members to ensure their presence, saying he can call any of them any time.
    He told them at a BJP Parliamentary Party meeting that attending Parliament is their basic responsibility and added wryly that he can do a lot of things but cannot be present in the Houses on their behalf.
    Modi ticked off parliamentarians after Parliamentary Affairs Minister Ananth Kumar spoke about incidents of lack of quorum in both the Houses, including yesterday, prompting the Prime Minister to say it should not be about requesting MPs to be present as it is their basic responsibility.
    UNHAPPY PM
    BJP members said he told them that it did not matter to him if they were in the Central Hall, a place to host joint sittings of Parliament where MPs often meet for informal conversation, as what is important is that they should be inside the Houses.
    "I can call any of you any time," he told them, a member said, adding that Modi sounded unhappy over absenteeism. Modi had in the past also asked members to ensure their presence but this is the first time he has spoken about in such detail and talked tough.
    NECESSARY TO ATTEND THE HOUSE PROCEEDINGS 
    He recalled remarks of an RSS functionary that though the Hindutva organisation had spread far and wide, and its members had a lot of work to do but did not have time to attend shakha.
    Likewise, MPs too seemed to have so much of work that they do not have time to attend Parliament, which should not be the case, he said.
    As representatives of lakhs of people of their constituency, it is their job to attend the House proceedings, he said.

    In his briefing, Kumar said Modi also laid out the "road map" for the party as it gears up to celebrate its foundation day on April 6 and Dalit icon Bhim Rao Ambedkar's birth anniversary on April 14.

Bombay High Court asks protesting doctors to join work or face action
  • Bombay High Court today came down heavily on over 4,500 resident doctors of Maharashtra who had gone on mass leave since March 20. The court was hearing a public interest litigation (PIL) filed against the strike due to which many patients are not receiving proper treatment.
    Advocate Datta Mane, representing the petitioners, told the court that since Monday morning 58 people have died in the state. Although Chief Justice Chellur did not believe this situation was due to the strike but the government pleader, appearing for the state government, told the court that the health care in civic and state-run hospitals was paralysed due to 60 per cent of its workforce not reporting to work.
    Advocate Prashant Pophale appearing for the Maharashtra Association for Resident Doctors (MARD) pointed out that there have been three incidents wherein patients' relatives have beaten up doctors in Dhule, Mumbai (Sion Hospital) and Nashik in the last few days.
    WHY THE PUBLIC ANARCHY, ASKS CHIEF JUSTICE CHELLUR
    Chief Justice Chellur asked, "Why the public anarchy? It's madness," before asking the state pleader to explain the reason for the such action taken by the patients' relatives. She added, "I don't say doctors don't commit mistakes but, there are complications due to which patients lose their life. Every case cannot be due to negligence. And even if there is negligence there are redressal forums for it."
    Pophale pointed out to the court that the doctors are not on strike but only on mass leave and as an association, they have been telling the doctors not to do so. He, however, added that the state has done little to protect the doctors. But Chief Justice Chellur was of the opinion that the resident doctors cannot put the public at large in trouble. "If you (resident doctors) think being a doctor you can behave like a factory worker, then you are unfit to serve as a doctor. It's a shame. How can you (resident doctors) say first provide security only then we will work?" asked Chief Justice Chellur.
    NEXT HEARING TOMORROW
    With this, the Bombay High Court ordered the striking resident doctors to join work or face action by the management. It said that the management is free to initiate action and contempt proceedings against the striking doctors. The next hearing of the case is on March 22.
    After the Bombay High Court issued the order, Naresh Kabra, a resident doctor at Sion Hospital present at the hearing, said, "We are not super humans either. Patients verbally abuse us almost every day but we don't say anything. It's only when we are physically beaten up that we have protested. Why cannot the state protect us?" Kabra pointed out that after subsequent court orders, 58 CCTV cameras were installed at Sion Hospital but the audit report shows that only eight are functional.
    "The security guards were posted for a few days after the High Court order but they were gone soon after. The Court order specifically says that not more than two relatives of a patient can enter the hospital but, there is no security which can keep a tab on the dozens of people from a single family walking into the hospital," said Dr Lokesh Chirwatkar, another resident doctor at Sion Hospital.

Supreme Court's advice on Ram Janmabhoomi-Babri Masjid dispute hailed by BJP, rejected by Muslims: 10 facts
  • The Supreme Court today suggested an amicable settlement of the contentious Ram Janmabhoomi-Babri Masjid dispute in Ayodhya, calling it a better course than on insisting on judicial pronouncement. The court's proposal rekindled the decades-old Ayodhya dispute, triggering spirited responses from all the parties involved.
    While the NDA government led by the BJP hailed the Supreme Court's proposal - Union Minister Mahesh Sharma called it "superb" - Muslim organisations, including the Babri Masjid Action Committee were sceptical, saying attempts at an out-of-court settlement of the dispute in the past have been unsuccessful.

    Here's all you need to know:
    1. The Supreme Court today said fresh attempts must be made by all parties concerned to find a solution to the Ayodhya dispute, which is a "sensitive" and "sentimental matter". A bench headed by Chief Justice JS Khehar said that such religious issues can be solved through negotiations and offered to mediate to arrive at an amicable settlement.
    2. BJP MP Subramanian Swamy, whose petition to urgently hear the "sensitive" Ayodhya dispute was heard in the Supreme Court today, suggested the Ram temple should be built at the Ram Janambhoomi (birthplace of Ram), while the Masjid (mosque) could be moved to the other side of Saryu river to resolve the Ayodhya issue.
    3. Union Minister Mahesh Sharma hoped that the apex court's suggestion will pave the way for the construction of the Ram temple at Ayodhya. "It's a superb advice. There can't be a better advice to solve the problem," Sharma told reporters outside Parliament.
    4. The BJP and its ideological mentor, the RSS, also hailed the Supreme Court's advice. The BJP said that a solution through friendly negotiations was the best way to solve the long-pending dispute. BJP spokesperson Sambit Patra said: "Aggrieved parties should amicably settle this issues talking to each other. They should talk outside the court as well."
    5. Senior RSS functionary Dattatreya Hosabale said it will support the decision taken by 'Dharam Sansad', which organised the Ram Janambhumi movement. "It (Ram temple issue) is to be decided by the Dharam Sansad as they are the people who organised the entire Ram Janambhumi movement and the parties who went to the court. RSS will not decide. RSS will go by the Dharam Sansad's decision. The issue should be settled at the earliest and a grand temple should be erected through the involvement of all Indians," Hosabale said.
    6. The Babri Masjid Action Committee, an umbrella group of various Muslim organisations, was not sure. "We are okay with the Chief Justice of India mediating... we trust him. We are also ready we if he nominates a team for hearing the matter. But an out-of-court settlement is not possible. If the Supreme Court passes an order in this regard, we will look into it," said Zafaryab Jilani, convenor of the committee, which is a party to the case.
    7. Hyderabad MP Asaduddin Owaisi said the case was about title. "Please remember, the Babri Masjid case is about title which the Allahabad High Court wrongly decided as a Partnership case. Hence the appeal in apex court," he tweeted.
    8. Owaisi is a member of All India Muslim Personal Law Board (AIMPLB), which had challenged in the Supreme Court the 2010 verdict of the Lucknow Bench of the Allahabad High Court, directing that the Babri Masjid-Ramjanmbhoomi disputed site be divided into three parts.
    9. Owaisi hoped that the Supreme Court would decide the other cases pending since the demolition of Babri Msjid in 1992. "I hope Supreme Court decides the contempt petition pending since 1992," he tweeted. "Waiting to hear about whether conspiracy charges will be held against (BJP leaders LK) Advani, (Murli Manohar) Joshi, Uma Bharati in Babri demolition case," he said.
    10. The Babri Masjid in Ayodhya, a medieval mosque built during the Mughal rule in the 16th century, was demolished on December 6, 1992 by a fanatic Hindu mob, following a long dispute over whether or not it stood at the site where Lord Ram was born, as claimed by the right-wing Hindu organisations. Since then, a court ordered status-quo has been maintained on the site, while politics over it never ceases to stop.

Tamil Nadu: Amid peace talks, Sri Lanka arrests 10 fishermen
  • It is just a week back that the fishermen community in Rameshwaram ended their weeklong strike for the killing of 23 year old Indian fishermen, Bridjo, from Rameshwaram allegedly by the Sri Lankan navy.
    After a lot of promises made by the Indian government representatives - Nirmala Sitaraman and Pon Radhakrishnan - the fishing community people ended their week long protest and conducted the last rights of Bridjo.
    Today, in another shocking incident, ten fishermen were arrested by the Sri Lankan Navy and their trawler was also taken into custody near the disputed territory of the Katchatheevu islands.
    According to the historic agreement that was signed between the Sri Lankan and Indian government, the Indian fishermen have the right to carry their traditional fishing practices and also dry their nets in the Katchatheevu island.
    The arrest of the Indian fishermen while the peace talk is underway has not gone down well among the people.
    FISHING COMMUNITY MEETS SUSHMA SWARAJ
    Interestingly, today the family of the 23 year-old Bridjo and few of the fishing community leaders are meeting the External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj to talk about their demand. The fishing community had gone on an indefinite strike and also sat on a protest in Rameshwaram after the death of the young fishermen.
    They demanded that a representative of the external affairs ministry to come and give a written statement ensuring that incidents like these would never occur. Apart from this they also wanted the navy official who shot Bridjo to be arrested for murder and also be booked under the Weapons Act. Adding to this they wanted the disputed territory of the Katchatheevu islands to be brought under their territory.
    It was seen back than that all the political parties in the state had shown their support. In fact, MK Stalin the working President of the DMK who visited the protesting family and the other fishermen said, "The government should take necessary action against the crisis. The DMK will stand by the fishing community."
    In the Rajya Sabha too DMK MP Kanimozhi presented the fishermen's issue and also delivered an emotional speech asking the house to take the issue seriously. The state government too announced a compensation of Rs 3 lakh for the family of the deceased.
    PROTESTS LED TO RELEASE OF FISHERMEN IN THE PAST
    The continuous protest had led to the release of all the fishermen who were in the Sri Lankan custody - 82 of them - to be released. But the killing of the young fishermen led to an intense protest that the fishing community boycotted the Katchatheevu St Antony's feast festival that was held on March 11 and March 12.
    "We don't know if their invite is even genuine. They arrested more than 50 fishermen in the week before the festival and had even killed a young fishermen, how will they be friendly with us while doing all this?" questioned Father Amalraj, a priest from the region.
    "We ended our protest after being promised that we will be able to continue our livelihood without anymore troubles from the Sri Lankan navy, but then we now understand that all that was a false promise made just to make us stop the protests. The navy officials who killed our Bridjo is not arrested and now our fishermen are again arrested. Once the team that has gone to meet Sushma Swaraj returns we will continue our protest," said Sagayam a fishermen community leader.
    The Sri Lankan navy has denied the killing of the Indian fishermen. Bridjo's was the 198th alleged fishermen death due to shooting by the Sri Lankan Navy.

Business Affairs 

Now, you will need your Aadhaar number to file I-T returns, PAN applications
  • The government on Tuesday made mentioning of Aadhaar card number mandatory while filing the income tax returns.
    However, linking all the bank accounts with the unique identification number has already been in the works in recent times.

    The Aadhaar number would also be needed while applying for the PAN card.

    According to some media reports, the decision to link Aadhaar to a bank account and to make it necessary for filing I-T returns was taken in May last year.

    Meanwhile, Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI) has said that all devices using Aadhaar authentication will have to adhere to its new encryption standards from June 1.

    The move has been aimed at adding another security layer to the hardware at a time when such devices are all set to take the centre stage in biometric-based digital payments.

    UIDAI is the nodal body responsible for rolling out Aadhaar, the 12-digit unique identification number that identifies residents based on their biometrics. While more than 112 crore Aadhaar have been generated in the country, the Aadhaar authentications have crossed 500 crore, and 100 crore e-KYC have been done on the platform.

    Last week, India's largest biometric-based identification system Aadhaar got a thumbs up from World Bank chief economist Paul Romer.

    The chief economist described it 'the most sophisticated ID programme in the world.

    He went on to say that it would be better if world follows the same system. "It could be good for the world if this became widely adopted," Romer said.

    Romer is of the view that world needs to have one standardized system for people's ID.

    "Other countries are also looking at similar programs, but research shows it's best to develop one standardized system so people can carry their IDs wherever they go in the world," Paul Romer added.

    Aadhaar is a 12 digit unique-identity number issued to all Indian residents based on their biometric and demographic data. It was initially a document for identification purpose, however, it has now been made mandatory for some of the government-run programmes.

Finance Bill amendment: Govt slashes cash transactions limit from Rs 3 lakh to Rs 2 lakh
  • Government on Tuesday moved amendments to the Finance Bill 2017 proposing to cap cash transactions at Rs 2 lakh instead of Rs 3 lakh as provided in the Budget.
    Finance Minister Arun Jaitley had proposed that the legal limit for cash transactions would be Rs 3 lakh on February 1, in line with the recommendations of the Supreme Court-constituted Special Investigation Team (SIT) on black money.
    In an unprecedented move, the government has introduced as many as 40 amendments to the Finance Bill.
    As the Finance Bill was taken up for consideration in the Lok Sabha, opposition parties like TMC, BJD and RSP protested against the introduction of the amendments to 40 Acts, saying it was being done in the form of "back-door entry".
    The amendments to the laws like Companies Act, Employees Provident Fund, Smuggling and Foreign Exchange Act, TRAI Act and Information Technology Act, have been moved with an aim of making the functioning of tribunals more efficient by merging the smaller ones and reducing their numbers from 40 to 12.
    In a tweet, Revenue Secretary Hasmukh Adhia said that the government has moved amendments to the finance bill to further reduce this limit to Rs 2 lakh. "The penalty for a violation will be a fine equivalent to the value of the transaction, he added."
    The objections by the opposition parties were overruled by Speaker Sumitra Mahajan who ruled that the 'incidental provisions' involved in the amendments constitute a 'Money Bill' and therefore can be considered as part of the Finance Bill.
    Among the amendments made to the Finance Bill was a provision to cap cash transaction at Rs 2 lakh. Earlier, while presenting the Budget on February 1, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley had proposed the cap to be Rs 3 lakh with effect from April 1.
    A penalty of equal amount would be levied in case of violation of the provision, according to a tweet by Revenue Secretary Hasmukh Adhia after the amendment was moved.
    Jaitley, while defending the move to make amendments, invoked first Lok Sabha Speaker G V Mavalankar.
    He said if a substantial portion of a bill deals with imposition or abolition of tax, then even if it has other incidental provisions, it still can be introduced as a Money Bill.
    "You cannot have a bill which says government will spend Rs 100,000 crore without detailing how it would be spent. You cannot have a bill where you say there will be 5 per cent without specifying what will be the deduction, what will be the power of assessing officer, appeal provision... No tax can be imposed without reference to courts or tribunals.. These are incidental provisions...," Jaitley said.
    The Minister said opposition's objection is borne out the language in Article 110(1) and ever since the inception, the House has been debating on the word 'only' used in the Article.

Operational PSUs in India post 12.5 per cent growth in net profit in FY 2016
  • The government on Tuesday said 244 operational central public sector enterprises (CPSEs) generated a net profit of Rs 1,15,767 crore in 2015/16. It's a 12.5 per cent growth over Rs 1,02,866 crore in 2014/15 when the number of operational CPSEs was only 236.
    The number of profitable PSEs during the year went up by 6 posting a combined profit of Rs 1,44,523 crore while the number of loss-making firms went up by 2 with a combined loss of Rs 28,756 crore, according to the annual Public Enterprises Survey (2015/16) that was tabled in the Parliament on Tuesday. The discrepancy in the numbers--increase in profit making CPSEs should mean a corresponding drop in number of loss-making firms--is accounted by the number of companies that have come out of restructuring process during the year.
    In India, state-run PSEs that are considered perennially loss-making are referred to the Board for Industrial and Financial Reconstruction that takes a call whether to infuse funds in the firms to revive the company or shut it down entirely. These companies do not report their numbers to the government for the period that they are in restructuring mode.  
    The total investment in all CPSEs (including those under re-construction) during the year was Rs 11,77,844 crore, a growth of 7.19 percent over 2014/15. Profitable PSEs paid a dividend of Rs 70,954 crore during the year, up 25 percent over the previous fiscal.
    Overall revenues, income and total net worth of the CPSEs also grew by 7.04, 10.22 and 12.54 per cent respectively. All the CPSEs combined contribution to Central Exchequer by way of excise duty, customs duty, corporate tax, interest on central government loans, dividend and other duties and taxes increased from Rs 2,00,593 crore in 2014/15 to Rs 2,78,075 crore in 2015/16, showing a growth of 38.63%. The companies employed 12.34 lakh people (excluding contractual workers) in 2015/16 compared with 12.91 lakh in 2014/15, showing a reduction in employees by 4.42 per cent.
    The market capitalisation of 46 CPSEs listed on the stock exchanges in the country was Rs 11,06,766 crore on March 31, 2016,  compared to Rs. 13,27,393 crore in the previous fiscal year, a decline of 16.62 per cent. The market capitalisation of CPSEs as a per cent of BSE listed companies decreased to 11.68 per cent on March 31, 2016 from 13.08 per cent in the previous fiscal.

    D-Mart's iconic listing: Five things to know about Radhakishan Damani
    • Avenue Supermarts, the parent firm of D-Mart, which is among the most profitable food and grocery retail chains in India, listed at a 105 percent premium to its issue price on Tuesday. The stock rose to Rs 615 level, more than 100 percent premium of its issue price of Rs 299 on the BSE. 
      The company's market capitalisation rose to Rs 36,758 crore on the BSE. 
      Here's a look at the profile of the owner and promoter of D-Mart Radhakishan Damani. 
      • Legendary stock market investor Damani spent over two decades in the stock market and earned huge returns betting on the elementary aspects of businesses of little known companies over the long term. Damani's best investments include Gillette, VST Industries, Crisil and 3M India. He also invested in GE Capital Transportation Industries, Samtel, Schlafhorst Eng (I), Somany Ceramics and Jay Shree Tea, among others.
      • Damani is fondly called "Mr White and White" due to his penchant for wearing white shirt and white trousers.   
      • Damani, 61, has a net worth of $2.3 billion, according to Forbes magazine. Damani was ranked 98th in the Forbes India Rich List 2015 with a net worth of $1.15 billion.
      • He earned huge returns in the stock market in the 80s and 90s and is regarded as a guru of ace investor and 'Big Bull' Rakesh Jhunjhunwala. Damani always keeps a low profile, makes rare appearances at public events and avoids speaking to media.
      • According to reports, Jhunjhunwala's favourite question to Damani has been: "When are you listing your company?" And today, the best run company in the retail space secured a bumper opening on bourses.

      Will auction Aamby Valley if Rs 5,000 cr not paid: SC to Sahara
      • The Supreme Court on Tuesday warned the Sahara Group that it would auction its prime property worth Rs 39,000 crore at Aamby Valley in Pune if Rs 5092.6 crore is not paid by the company by April 17 as promised.
        A bench headed by Justice Dipak Misra also directed the international real estate firm, which had shown willingness to buy Sahara's stake in New York- based Plaza Hotel for USD 550 million, to deposit Rs 750 crore in the SEBI-Sahara refund account instead of the apex court registry to show its bonafide.
        "We will auction your (Sahara) Aamby Valley project if the money is not deposited within the stipulated time period as promised," the bench, also comprising Justices Ranjan Gogoi and A K Sikri, observed.
        The top court had earlier directed attachment of Sahara Group's prime property for realisation of money to be paid to its investors.
        The apex court had also asked Sahara Group to provide it within two weeks the list of "unencumbered properties" which can be put for public auction to realise the remaining over Rs 14,000 crore of the principal amount of around Rs 24,000 crore that has to be deposited in the SEBI-Sahara account for refunding money to the investors.
        The court had on November 28 last year asked Roy to deposit Rs 600 crore more by February 6 in the SEBI-Sahara refund account to remain out of jail and warned that failure to do so would result in his return to prison.
        It had on May 6, 2016 granted a four-week parole to Roy to attend the funeral of his mother. His parole has been extended by the court ever since. Roy was sent to Tihar jail on March 4, 2014.
        Besides Roy, two other directors -- Ravi Shankar Dubey and Ashok Roy Choudhary -- were arrested for the failure of the group's two companies -- Sahara India Real Estate Corporation (SIRECL) and Sahara Housing Investment Corp Ltd (SHICL) -- to comply with the court's August 31, 2012 order to return Rs 24,000 crore to their investors.
        However, director Vandana Bhargava was not taken into custody.

      General Awareness

      International Day of Happiness 2017 Observed on March 20, 2017

      • The International Day of Happiness is celebrated worldwide on March 20 since 2013 to educate and increase public awareness of the benefits of happiness.The day was celebrated for the first time in 2013.
        • The International Day of Happiness (“Happiness Day”) was founded by United Nations adviser Jayme Illien on June 28, 2012, when all 193 member states of the United Nations General Assembly unanimously adopted UN resolution 66/281.
        • This year the United Nation is using the Smurfs through “Small Smurfs Big Goals” campaign to promote its 17 sustainable development goals on the International Day of Happiness.
        History of International Happiness Day
        In 2011, the UN General Assembly adopted a resolution which recognized happiness as a “fundamental human goal.”
        • In 2012, in the first ever UN Conference on Happiness, the UN General Assembly adopted a resolution that the International Day of Happiness would be celebrated on March 20 every year.
        • The day is coordinated by Action for Happiness, a non-profit movement of people from 160 countries to create a happier world together.
        • The day is celebrated through seminars and educational tips and tools to end poverty, reduce inequality, and protect our planet that lead to well-being and happiness.
        • Since 2013, the United Nations has celebrated the International Day of Happiness as a way to recognise the importance of happiness in the lives of people around the world.
        • In 2015 the UN launched 17 Sustainable Development Goals to end poverty and spread happiness.
        2017 World Happiness Report
        According to the 2017 World Happiness Report, released on March 20, 2017 by the Sustainable Development Solutions Network, Norway has been ranked as the most happiest country of the world among 155 nations. India was placed at 122nd position in the World Happiness Report.
        • Sustainable Development Solutions Network is an international panel of social scientists formed by the United Nations.
        • Norway surpassed Denmark to achieve the top most spot with a score of 7.53 out of 10. In 2016, Norway was placed at 4th position.
        • The Central African Republic was the least happy of 155 countries according to the report.
        Top 10 Happiest Country
        RankCountryScore (10)
        1Norway7.53
        2Denmark7.52
        3Iceland7.50
        4Switzerland7.49
        5Finland7.46
        6Netherlands7.37
        7Canada7.31
        8New Zealand7.31
        9Australia7.28
        10Sweden7.28
        Key Feature of the Report
        The fifth edition of the annual report analysed data gathered from surveys of thousands of people in 155 countries. Participants were asked to simply grade their lives on a scale of zero to 10.
        • The ranking combines economic, health and polling data from approximately 3,000 respondents in each of 155 countries.
        • Australia was listed as the 9th happiest country in the world, the United States came 14th in the list, while Britain came in at number 19.
        • Countries in sub-Saharan Africa, along with Syria and Yemen were ranked as the saddest countries out of 155 named in the report.
        • Among the countries that slipped the most over the past decade were Venezuela and the Central African Republic but Nicaragua and Latvia have got significantly happier since 2012.
        • The ten bottom spots were taken by some of the world’s poorest countries with happiness levels averaging approximately 3 out of 10. These included Yemen, South Sudan, Liberia, Guinea, Togo, Rwanda, Syria, Tanzania, Burundi and Central African Republic.
        About World Happiness Report
        The annual report was prepared by the Sustainable Development Solutions Network and then edited by Dr. Helliwell; Jeffrey D. Sachs, a Columbia University economist; and Richard Layard, of the London School of Economics.
        • The rankings are based on income and life expectancy figures, along with how people rate social support, personal freedom, corruption and generosity.
        • In 2016, Denmark was ranked as the Happiest Country of the World

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