- FEMA norms eased to spur investment from overseas
- Part-time jobs could fix India’s farming crisis: Analysts
- RBI release new outsourcing norms for NBFCs
Environment, Ecology & Disaster Management
- Olive Ridleys arrive in large numbers at Odisha coast
- NGT bans construction, waste burning in Delhi
Bilateral & International Relations
- Cabinet approves Double Taxation Avoidance Agreement with Hong Kong
- UNHCR to get Mother Teresa Award 2017 for social justice
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FEMA norms eased to spur investment from overseas
The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) has simplified the Foreign Exchange Management (Transfer or Issue of Security by a Person Resident outside India) Regulations by putting all 93 amendments under one notification.
- The new notification combines two regulations on foreign investments — one which is popularly called investment in an Indian company or a partnership, or in a limited liability partnership, or FEMA 20, and the other — FEMA 24, which is investment in a partnership firm.
- Another significant change is the introduction of a late submission fee that could allow an investor to regularise any contravention due to non-reporting, by paying the fee.
Significance of the move:
- This move will significantly make it easier for foreign investors to invest in the country.
Foreign Exchange Management Act (FEMA)
The Foreign Exchange Management Act (FEMA) was passed by Parliament in 1999 and so far was amended 93 times.
- It had replaced FERA (Foreign Exchange Regulations Act), 1973 which had become incompatible after economic reforms and pro-liberalization policies of Government.
- It also paved way to Prevention of Money Laundering Act 2002, which was effected from 1 July 2005.
What FEMA does?
- It aims at facilitating external trade and payments and for promoting the orderly development and maintenance of foreign exchange market in India.
- It makes offenses related to foreign exchange civil offenses.
- It enables new foreign exchange management regime consistent with emerging framework of World Trade Organisation (WTO).
Part-time jobs could fix India’s farming crisis: Analysts
As farmers in India struggle with dwindling incomes and soaring costs, with huge debts triggering a wave of suicides, experts said one solution may be to only work part-time on the land.
Should farming be taken up as a part- time job?
- About 60 percent of people in India make their living from the land, but earnings from agriculture have plunged to one-third of a farm family’s income from two-thirds in the 1980s.
- Over the past decade, tens of thousands of farmers have killed themselves across India, with debt or bankruptcy cited as the main reason.
- Problems usually stem from failed monsoon rains or low prices due to a supply glut in produce like lentils and cereals.
- According to McKinsey Global Institute, the research arm of the consulting firm, employment in agriculture shrank by 26 million jobs between 2011 and 2015.
- Seven out of ten rural households in India are landless or own plots of less than 1 hectare (2.5 acres).
- Common alternative sources of income are the government’s rural jobs scheme, which is often road-building work, and earning daily wages in cities, such as on construction sites. After a good monsoon, there is increased demand for labour. As a result, real wages rise; this has largely benefited the landless class, given that a majority of their income comes from wages.
- There is a strong case for part-time farming: when opportunities arise elsewhere, they must go there. And when there are new opportunities on the farm, they can return there.
RBI release new outsourcing norms for NBFCs
RBI issued fresh directions on managing risks and code of conduct in outsourcing of financial services by NBFCs.
Core management functions
- Non-banking financial companies (NBFCs) cannot outsource core management functions like internal audit, strategic and compliance functions for know your customer (KYC) norms, sanction of loans and management of investment portfolio.
- Access to customer information by staff of the service provider shall be on ‘need to know’ basis i.e., limited to those areas where the information is required in order to perform the outsourced function.
Grievance redressal machinery
- NBFCs also have been asked to constitute a grievance redressal machinery with the name and contact details of the redressal officer displayed prominently at their branches. It shall be clearly indicated that NBFCs’ grievance redressal machinery will also deal with the issue relating to services provided by the outsourced agency.
- NBFCs would also be responsible for making currency transaction reports and suspicious transactions reports to the financial intelligence unit for activities carried out by the service providers.
Non-Banking Financial Company(NBFCs):
- Non-bank financial companies (NBFCs) are financial institutions that provide banking services without meeting the legal definition of a bank, i.e. one that does not hold a banking license.
- The Reserve Bank of India is entrusted with the responsibility of regulating and supervising the Non-Banking Financial Companies by virtue of powers vested under Reserve Bank of India Act, 1934.
Limitations to the functions of the NBFCs:
- Typically, NBFCs are restricted from taking deposits from the public depending on the jurisdiction. Nonetheless, operations of these institutions are often still covered under a country’s banking regulations.
- NBFC cannot accept demand deposits.
- NBFCs do not form part of the payment and settlement system and cannot issue cheques drawn on itself.
- Deposit insurance facility of Deposit Insurance and Credit Guarantee Corporation is not available to depositors of NBFCs, unlike in case of banks.
Environment, Ecology & Disaster Management
Olive Ridleys arrive in large numbers at Odisha coast
Olive Ridley turtles have started arriving in large at Gahirmatha beach in Odisha’s Kendrapara district for breeding season.
- Gahirmatha beach is known as world’s largest rookery of this species.
- During the breeding season, large numbers of turtles arrive at Gahirmatha beach for mating.
About Olive Ridley sea turtle:
The Olive ridley turtles are the smallest and most abundant of all sea turtles found in the world, inhabiting only in warmer waters of the Pacific, Atlantic and Indian oceans.
- These turtles, along with their cousin the Kemps ridley turtle, are best known for their unique mass nesting called Arribada, where thousands of females come together on the same beach to lay eggs.
- Though found in abundance, their numbers have been declining over the past few years, and the species is recognized as Vulnerable by the IUCN Red list.
- The Olive Ridley turtles live in the Indian Ocean, but they can’t mate there.
- They have to come all the way to the Bay of Bengal by travelling thousands of kilometres to mate and to lay eggs.
- Interestingly, the male turtles won’t reach the sandy stretch, but wait for their mates to return to the waters. After laying eggs, both male and female turtles return to their native ocean.
- After laying the eggs in the sandy stretches, they begin their return journey. Hatching takes place naturally and the baby turtles too swim back to the Indian Ocean by June every year.
- The ‘Homing’ characteristics of the Ridley sea turtles make them more prone to mass casualty.
- WWF-India, along with the fishermen community, has been involved in protecting the Olive ridley rookery at the mass nesting site at Rushikulaya, in Orissa, by fencing off the nesting area and patrolling it till hatching and ensuring a safe passage for the hatchlings to the sea.
- Olive Ridley sea turtle has found place in Schedule – I of Indian Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972 (amended 1991).
- The sea turtles are protected under the ‘Migratory Species Convention’ and CITES (Convention of International Trade on Wildlife Flora and Fauna).
- India is a signatory nation to all these conventions.
About Gharimatha Marine Sanctuary:
- Gahirmatha Marine Sanctuary is a marine wildlife sanctuary located in Odisha.
- It extends from Dhamra River mouth in the north to Mahanadi river mouth in the south.
- It is very famous for its nesting beach for olive ridley sea turtles. It is the one of world’s most important nesting beach for turtles.
NGT bans construction, waste burning in Delhi
The National Green Tribunal today issued a slew of directions to deal with the worsening air quality in Delhi and neighbouring states, banning construction and industrial activities and entry of trucks, as it lambasted the Delhi government and civic bodies over the situation.
- The NGT also directed the authorities and the civic bodies to sprinkle water where PM 10 is found to be in excess of 600 micrograms per cubic metre.
- It further directed the authorities to implement Environment Pollution Control Authority (EPCA)’s directions to improve ambient air quality while asking the civic bodies to constitute teams to ensure there is no burning of waste in Delhi-NCR.
- The state governments of Uttar Pradesh, Punjab, Rajasthan and Haryana were also directed to ensure that no crop residue is burnt and incentives are provided to farmers.
- The national capital is experiencing ‘severe’ air quality under a blanket of thick haze, as pollution levels have breached the permissible standards by multiple times.
- The Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) has recorded ‘severe’ air quality, meaning that the intensity of pollution was extreme.
About National Green Tribunal (NGT):
The NGT was established in 2010 under the National Green Tribunal Act, 2010 for effective and expeditious disposal of cases relating to environmental protection and conservation of forests and other natural resources.
- It is a specialized body equipped with the necessary expertise to handle environmental disputes involving multi-disciplinary issues.
- It also includes enforcement of any legal right relating to environment and giving relief and compensation for damages to persons and property and for matters connected therewith.
- It adjudicates matters relating to Water (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act, 1974; Air (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act, 1974; Environment (Protection) Act, 1986; Public Liability Insurance Act, 1991; Forest Conservation Act and Biological Diversity Act.
- The NGT is guided by principles of natural justice and not bound by the procedure laid down under the Code of Civil Procedure, 1908.
- It is mandated to make and endeavour for disposal of applications or appeals finally within 6 months of filing.
- New Delhi is the Principal Place of Sitting NGT. Bhopal, Pune, Kolkata and Chennai are other regional sitting of the Tribunal.
Members of the NGT:
- The tribunal shall consist of a full time chairperson, judicial members and expert members.
- The minimum number of judicial and expert member prescribed is ten in each category and maximum number is twenty in each category.
- Another important provision included in the law is that the chairperson, if find necessary, may invite any person or more person having specialized knowledge and experience in a particular case before the tribunal to assist the same in that case.
- A judge of the Supreme Court of India or Chief Justice of High Court are eligible to be Chairperson or judicial member of the Tribunal. Even existing or retired judge of High Court is qualified to be appointed as a Judicial Member.
Bilateral & International Relations
Cabinet approves Double Taxation Avoidance Agreement with Hong Kong
The Union Cabinet approved an agreement between India and Hong Kong, special administrative region of China for Avoidance of Double Taxation and Prevention of Fiscal Evasion with respect to taxes on income.
Significance of this agreement:
- The agreement will stimulate flow of investment, technology and personnel from India to HKSAR & vice versa.
- It will also prevent double taxation and provide for exchange of information between them.
- It will also improve transparency in tax matters and will help curb tax evasion and tax avoidance.
- The Section 90 of Income Tax (IT) Act, 1961 empowers Central Government to enter into agreement with foreign country or specified territory for avoidance of double taxation of income and for exchange of information for prevention of evasion or avoidance of income-tax chargeable under IT Act, 1961. This Agreement is on similar lines as entered into by India with other countries.
Location of Hong Kong:
UNHCR to get Mother Teresa Award 2017 for social justice
The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) has been named as the recipient of the Mother Teresa Memorial Award for Social Justice, 2017 as an acknowledgement of its exceptional work worldwide.
About the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR):
The Office of the UNHCR, also known as the UN Refugee Agency, is a United Nations programme mandated to protect and support refugees at the request of a government or the UN itself and assists in their voluntary repatriation, local integration or resettlement to a third country.
- Its headquarters are in Geneva, Switzerland, and it is a member of the United Nations Development Group.
- As UNHCR is a program governed by the UN General Assembly, and the UN Economic and Social Council, it cooperates with many other programs and agencies under the United Nations in order to effectively protect the rights of refugees.
- UNHCR was established on 14 December 1950 and succeeded the earlier United Nations Relief and Rehabilitation Administration.
- The agency is mandated to lead and co-ordinate international action to protect refugees and resolve refugee problems worldwide.
- Its primary purpose is to safeguard the rights and well-being of refugees.
- It strives to ensure that everyone can exercise the right to seek asylum and find safe refuge in another state, with the option to return home voluntarily, integrate locally or to resettle in a third country.
- UNHCR maintains a database of refugee information, ProGres, which was created during the Kosovo War in the 1990s. The database today contains data on over 11 million refugees, or about 11% of all displaced persons globally.
- The UNHCR has won two Nobel Peace Prizes, once in 1954 and again in 1981.
- Moreover, the UNHCR has been chosen for the prestigious Indira Gandhi Prize for Peace, Disarmament and Development 2015.
About Mother Teresa Memorial Award for Social Justice:
- The Mother Teresa Memorial Award for Social Justice was instituted by Harmony Foundation in 2005 in memory of Mother Teresa, who attained sainthood in September 2016.
- Some of the past awardees include The Dalai Lama, Malala Yousefzai, Medicine Sans Frontiers, Anna Hazare, Colin Gonsalves, among many other individuals and organisations working in different fields in India and globally.