Polity & Governance
- National Lok Adalat settles over 6 lakh cases in one day
- Right to access Internet cannot be curtailed, says SC
- Centre launches Aadhaar seeding application
Issues related to Health & Education
- IMA issues advisory to tackle swine flu cases
- Pradhan Mantri Mudra Yojana (PMMY) crosses loan targets
- Allow anchor investors in SME IPOs
- RBI tightens norms on bank performance
Bilateral & International Relations
- India, Australia Sports Partnership (IASP) launched
Key Facts for Prelims
- 127th Birth Anniversary of Dr. Bhimrao Ambedkar Celebrated
- Operation Meghdoot
- Mother of all Bombs
- New global maps of Earth’s ‘night light’
Polity & Governance
National Lok Adalat settles over 6 lakh cases in one day
The Second National Lok Adalat for 2017, conducted on April 8, through out the country from taluk level courts to High Courts, has settled nearly 6.6 lakh cases.
- Out of this, 3.68 lakh cases have been reduced from court pendency and about 2.92 lakh cases were settled even before they could be filed in courts.
- The cases ranged from matrimonial disputes, partition suits, civil matters, cheque bounce cases, motor accident claims, revenue disputes pending in courts, criminal compoundable cases and service matters pertaining to pension, retrial benefits, etc.
What is Lok Adalat?
- Lok Adalat is one of the alternative dispute redressal mechanisms.
- It is a forum where disputes/cases pending in the court of law or at pre-litigation stage are settled/ compromised amicably.
- National Legal Services Authority (NALSA) along with other Legal Services Institutions conducts Lok Adalats.
- The Lok Adalats can deal with all Civil Cases, Matrimonial Disputes, Land Disputes, Partition/Property Disputes, Labour Disputes etc., and compoundable criminal Cases.
- Lok Adalat is a non-adversarial system, whereby mock courts (called Lok Adalats) are held by the State Authority, District Authority, Supreme Court Legal Services Committee, High Court Legal Services Committee, or Taluk Legal Services Committee.
- They are held periodically for exercising such jurisdiction as they determine.
- These are usually presided over by retired judges, social activists, or other members of the legal profession.
- The Lok Adalat shall not decide the matter so referred at its own instance, instead the same would be decided on the basis of the compromise or settlement between the parties.
- The members shall assist the parties in an independent and impartial manner in their attempt to reach amicable settlement of their dispute.
Key facts about Lok Adalats:
- Lok Adalats have been given statutory status under the Legal Services Authorities Act, 1987.
- Under the said Act, the award (decision) made by the Lok Adalats is deemed to be a decree of a civil court and is final and binding on all parties and no appeal against such an award lies before any court of law.
- If the parties are not satisfied with the award of the Lok Adalat though there is no provision for an appeal against such an award, but they are free to initiate litigation by approaching the court of appropriate jurisdiction by filing a case by following the required procedure, in exercise of their right to litigate.
- There is no court fee payable when a matter is filed in a Lok Adalat. If a matter pending in the court of law is referred to the Lok Adalat and is settled subsequently, the court fee originally paid in the court on the complaints/petition is also refunded back to the parties.
- The persons deciding the cases in the Lok Adalats are called the Members of the Lok Adalats, they have the role of statutory conciliators only and do not have any judicial role; therefore they can only persuade the parties to come to a conclusion for settling the dispute outside the court in the Lok Adalat and shall not pressurize or coerce any of the parties to compromise or settle cases or matters either directly or indirectly.
- The disputing parties plead their case themselves in Lok Adalats. No advocate or pleader is allowed, even witnesses are not examined.
National Lok Adalat:
- National Level Lok Adalats are held for at regular intervals where on a single day Lok Adalats are held throughout the country, in all the courts right from the Supreme Court till the Taluk Levels wherein cases are disposed off in huge numbers.
- From February 2015, National Lok Adalats are being held on a specific subject matter every month.
Right to access Internet cannot be curtailed, says SC
The Supreme Court has clarified that a general prohibition on all online content about pre-natal sex determination will curtail the fundamental right to know of a genuine information-seeker.
- The clarification came based on a petition demanding for strict adherence by search engines to Section 22.
What is section 22?
- Section 22 under the PCPNDT Act is about prohibition of advertisement relating to pre-natal determination of sex.
Observations made by the court:
- The court held that the prohibition should kick in only if the content found online is violative of Section 22 under the Pre-conception and Pre-natal Diagnostic Techniques (Prohibition of Sex Selection) (PCPNDT) Act of 1994.
- The court also held that citizens have the right to access the Internet to gain information, wisdom and knowledge and their right cannot be curtailed unless it encroaches into the boundary of illegality.
- Calling the Internet, a “virtual world” and a “world which is invisible in a way,” the Supreme Court observed that the fundamental right of expression includes “the right to be informed and the right to know and the feeling of protection of expansive connectivity” the Internet offers on the click of a button.
- The three Internet search engines — Microsoft, Google India and Yahoo! India — gave their assurances to the Supreme Court that they would neither advertise nor sponsor advertisements violative of the PNPCDT Act.
- The trio said they had already appointed ‘in-house’ experts to spot illegal content.
- Nodal officers have already been appointed at State levels to keep tabs on the Net for offensive material contravening Section 22 of the Act.
- In case the nodal officers detect illegal online content, they would communicate with the search engine’s experts, which would take it off within the next 36 hours of receiving the information.
- These experts would then follow it up by providing the nodal officers concerned with an action taken report.
Centre launches Aadhaar seeding application
The Union Ministry of Labour & Employment has launched Aadhaar Seeding Application for efficient service delivery and widening the reach of Employees Provident Fund (EPF) benefits.
- The Application was launched at the 217th special meeting of the Central Board of Employees Provident Fund (CBEPF/EPFO) in New Delhi.
- The Aadhaar Seeding Application is developed by the Employees’ Provident Fund Organisation with support of the Common Service Centers (CSC) and CDAC (Centre for Development of Advanced Computing).
- The Application is developed in pursuance of the government’s policy for optimum use of information technology for efficient service delivery and widening the reach of benefits to people.
- With the implementation of the Application, Provident Fund member or pensioner can walk in any of the field offices of EPFO or CSC outlets with UAN and Aadhaar and seed the Aadhaar with the UAN.
- The Employees’ Provident Fund Organisation (EPFO), is a statutory body of the Government of India under the Ministry of Labour and Employment.
- It administers a compulsory contributory Provident Fund Scheme, Pension Scheme and an Insurance Scheme. The schemes cover Indian workers as well as International workers (for countries with which bilateral agreements have been signed.
- It is one of the largest social security organisations in India in terms of the number of covered beneficiaries and the volume of financial transactions undertaken.
- The EPFO’s apex decision making body is the Central Board of Trustees (CBT).
Issues related to Health & Education
IMA issues advisory to tackle swine flu cases
With over 100 deaths due to swine flu (H1N1 virus) across Maharashtra this year, including in Aurangabad, Pune and Nashik district, the Indian Medical Association (IMA) has issued an advisory to its members from the three concerned branches.
Highlights of the guidelines:
- All cases of suspected or confirmed swine flu should be given anti-virals as per the protocol and carry out vaccination of healthcare providers among other crucial measures.
- Doctors handling flu patients should wear N-95 mask, while patients should wear surgical masks.
- All should stay — at least 3 meter — away from a flu patient while coughing and sneezing. One should not cough in hands and use disposable paper.
- All hospitals and clinics should have enough surgical masks to be given at the reception to every patient of cough with fever.
- As per the advisory, all high risk patients, heart and diabetes patients should take flu vaccination, whereas people traveling to Pune, Nasik and Aurangabad should consult their doctors regarding precautions and treatment advice.
About Swine Flu:
- Swine influenza is a contagious respiratory disease that normally only affects pigs. It is commonly caused by H1N1 strains of swine influenza A virus.
- However, other strains, such as H1N2, H3N1 and H3N2 also circulate in pigs. While it is not usual for people to get swine flu, human infections do occasionally happen, mainly after close contact with infected pigs.
- Swine flu is contagious, and it spreads in the same way as the seasonal flu.
- In 2009, a new strain of swine influenza virus emerged in Mexico, and started to cause illness in humans. The World Health Organisation says that this new strain of influenza, called Influenza A (H1N1), can spread from person to person. Later, the World Health Organization declared the swine flu pandemic officially over.
- Swine influenza is present in all pig-producing countries around the world. Outbreaks in pigs occur throughout the year. However, many countries routinely vaccinate pigs against swine influenza.
- When people are infected with swine flu viruses, their symptoms are usually similar to those of seasonal influenza. These include fever, tiredness, and lack of appetite, coughing and a sore throat.
- Some people may also have vomiting and diarrhoea. Some people infected with influenza A (H1N1) have had severe illness and died.
- However, in most of the cases the symptoms of influenza A (H1N1) have been mild, and people have made a full recovery.
Pradhan Mantri Mudra Yojana (PMMY) crosses loan targets
About Pradhan Mantri Mudra Yojana (PMMY):
- The objective of PMMY to launch a Micro Units Development and Refinance Agency (MUDRA) Bank to support the entrepreneurs of Scheduled castes, scheduled tribes and other backward classes entrepreneurs in the MSME sector.
- The scheme was launched on April 8, 2015.
- MUDRA cards are the unique feature of this scheme. The card permits access to working capital through ATMs and card machines.
- MUDRA loans can be availed for non-agricultural activities upto Rs 10 lakh and for activities allied to agriculture such as dairy, poultry bee keeping etc.
- The scheme provides loans to micro units in three categories ranging from Rs. 50,000 to Rs. 10 lakh.
- Shishu: Loan up to Rs 50,000
- Kishore: Loan ranging from Rs 50,000 to Rs 5 lakh
- Tarun: Loan ranging from Rs 5 lakh to Rs 10 lakh.
PMMY crosses loan targets:
- Loans disbursed under the Pradhan Mantri Mudra Yojana (PMMY) have crossed its target of Rs 1.8 lakh crore in the financial year 2016-17.
- Loans extended currently stands at Rs 1.80,087 crore. Of this, a majority of the loans were awarded by banks (Rs 1.23 lakh crore).
- Non-banking financial institutions have lent about Rs 57,000 crore. In this year’s budget, Rs 2.44 lakh crore has been set as a target for Mudra loans for the financial year 2017-18.
- Significantly, out of the 4 crore borrowers, over 70% of the borrowers were women.
- Around 20% of the borrowers belonged to Scheduled Caste category, 5% belonged to Scheduled Tribe category and 35% belonged to other backward classes.
- Robust growth in bank loans to unfunded and underfunded segments of the society indicates that this category of borrowers has emerged as a key driver of demand for credit.
- Non-insistence of collateral/guarantor, simple documentation and quick processing are the three praiseworthy attributes of the MUDRA loans.
Allow anchor investors in SME IPOs
Who are Anchor investors?
Anchor investors are institutional investors that can bid for shares ahead of the IPO and have a lock-in of 30 days.
- This rule ensures that investors who want to flip shares on listing, do not use the ‘anchor’ route.
- Anchor investors or cornerstone investors are invited to subscribe for shares ahead of the IPO to boost the popularity of the issue and provide confidence to potential IPO investors.
- The benefit for institutional investors applying in anchor quota is that they get guaranteed allotment.
- Allotment to investors applying in an IPO depends on the number of times the issue gets subscribed.
Why in news?
- Investment bankers have asked the Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI) to allow anchor investors in public issues of small and medium enterprises (SMEs) while also enhancing the upper limit for paid-up capital of such companies to allow relatively larger firms to enter the capital market while ensuring institutional investor participation in the dedicated segment.
- With SME segment growing leaps and bounds, the SME segment is being approached by many institutions who are keen to participate as ‘anchors’ in SME IPOs. However, the existing regulatory framework does not permit it.
RBI tightens norms on bank performance
RBI has come up with a notification titled “Revised Prompt Corrective Action (PCA) framework for banks.”
- The revised framework would apply to all banks operating in India including small and foreign banks.
- It will be effective from April 1 based on the financials of banks as of March 2017.
- It will override the existing PCA framework. The revised framework will be again reviewed after three years.
- The revised norms have set out three thresholds. The thresholds are based on capital, net non-performing assets, profitability and leverage ratio.
Need for revised framework:
- RBI had promised to revise the PCA framework at its first monetary policy review of the current fiscal held on April 6, as the bad loans including those already restructured reached USD 80 billion or 15% of the system as of March 2017. As per the estimates, the NPAs of state-run banks reached Rs 6.3 lakh crore as of September compared to Rs 5.5 lakh crore at the end of June 2016.
Key guidelines of the revised framework:
- Capital, Asset Quality and profitability would be the basis on which the banks would be monitored.
- Banks would be placed under PCA framework depending upon the audited annual financial results and RBI’s supervisory assessment.
- RBI may also impose PCA on any bank including migration from one threshold to another if circumstances so warrants.
- RBI has defined three kinds of risk thresholds and the PCA will depend upon the type of risk threshold that was breached.
- The breach of the first threshold will invite restriction on dividend distribution or require parents of foreign banks to bring in more capital.
- This will get triggered if capital adequacy ratio (including capital conservation buffer) falls below 10.25% or common equity tier-I (CET1) capital ratio falls below 6.75%.
- Breach of either CAR or CET1 would trigger corrective action. The trigger for net NPA is 6% and 4% for leverage ratio.
- Two consecutive years of negative return on assets (RoA) will also be classified in threshold one.
- The breach of the second threshold will occur when the capital adequacy ratio falls below 7.75% or CET1 goes below 5.125%.
- The net NPA threshold is breach of 12% and leverage ratio below 3.5%.
- Three consecutive years of negative ROA will also trigger threshold two.
- Breach of threshold two will result in restrictions on expansion of branches and higher provisions.
- The breach of the last threshold happens when CET1 falls below 3.625% and net NPA goes above 12%.
- Negative ROA for four consecutive years will also be considered as a breach of the third threshold vis-a-vis the profitability parameter.
- Restrictions, in addition to that of threshold one and two, will be put on management compensation and directors’ fees if the third level is breached.
Actions, RBI can take:
RBI in its discretion can also carry out the following actions:
- Recommend the bank owner be it government/promoters/parent of foreign bank branch to bring in new management/board.
- Advise bank’s board to activate the recovery plan as approved by the supervisor.
- Advise bank’s board to carry out a detailed review of business model, the profitability of business lines and activities, assessment of medium and long-term viability, balance sheet projections among others.
- Review short term strategies and medium-term business plans and carry out any other corrective actions like the removal of officials and supersession or suppression of the board.
Bilateral & International Relations
India, Australia Sports Partnership (IASP) launched
India and Australia have launched India-Australia Sports Partnership (IASP) with a vision of increasing cooperation in sports.
Areas of cooperation:
Under IASP, India and Australia will cooperate in four areas:
- Athlete and coach training and development,
- Sport science,
- Sport governance and integrity, and
- Grassroots participation.
Under the framework of the new partnership, Victoria University and the University of Canberra will help India to establish a National Sports University similar to that of the Australian Institute of Sport.
- IASP will help in facilitating the exchange of athletes, coaches, technical officials, sports scientists between India and Australia.
- India wants to make sports as an important component of public health management and education.
- To this end, Khelo India programme was launched by the government to develop a sporting culture at the grassroots level.
- The government has also announced that it would launch National Sports Talent Identification and Development Portal shortly.
- Apart from the above initiatives, the sports ministry is also planning to introduce sports as a compulsory subject in schools.
Key Facts for Prelims
127th Birth Anniversary of Dr. Bhimrao Ambedkar Celebrated
126th birth anniversary of Bharat Ratna Dr. B.R.Ambedkar was celebrated at the Parliament House complex.
About Dr.Bhimrao Ambedkar- Key Facts
- B R Ambedkar was born on 14 April 1891 at Mhow in Madhya Pradesh.
- Ambedkar was elected as the Chairman of the Drafting Committee of the Constituent Assembly.
- He is called as the father of the Indian Constitution.
- Bahishkrit Hitakarini Sabha was the first organization formed by Dr. Ambedkar in 1924.
- Ambedkar was appointed as the first Law Minister of Independent India, but he resigned from the Cabinet on September 1951 due to differences with Nehru on the Hindu Code Bill.
- Ambedkar got himself converted to Buddhism on October 14, 1956. He died on December 6, 1956 at Delhi due to severe diabetic neurosis.
- After his death, his political party Scheduled Caste Federation was renamed as Republican Party of India in 1957 by his followers.
- Some of his famous books are:
- ‘The Untouchable: Who are They and Why They Have Become Untouchables’
- ‘Buddha and His Dhamma’
- ‘The Rise and Fall of Hindu Women’
- ‘Emancipation of Untouchables’
- ‘The Evolution of Provincial Finance in British India’
- ‘Pakistan or Partition of India’
- ‘Thoughts on Linguistic States’, etc.
- Operation Meghdoot the code-name for an Indian Armed Forces operation, was launched 33 years ago on April 13th.
- It was launched in 1984, when Pakistan started permitting mountaineering expeditions into Siachen Glacier because of which India had to keep a close watch on Siachen.
- The operation was launched to capture the Siachen Glacier in the Jammu and Kashmir. The military action resulted in gaining control over the world’s highest battlefield.
- Siachen Glacier is 76.4 km long and covers about 10,000 sq km uninhabited terrain. It lies in the Karakoram Range in the North West India.
Mother of all Bombs
- The GBU-43/B Massive Ordnance Air Blast Bomb, nicknamed MOAB, or ‘Mother of All Bombs’, is a 21,600 pound, GPS-guided munition that is America’s most powerful non-nuclear bomb.
- The United States has dropped it on an ISIS cave and bunker complex in Achin district in eastern Afghanistan.
- It is the world’s largest non-nuclear weapon.
- It is designed to destroy heavily reinforced targets or to shatter ground forces and armour across a large area.
- Its blast is equivalent to 11 tons of TNT. By comparison, the nuclear weapon dropped on Hiroshima had a blast yield of 15 tons of TNT.
- While it has a blast radius that stretches a mile in each direction the bomb leaves no lasting radiation effect because it is non-nuclear.
- The MOAB does not have the capability to penetrate deeply into terrain and destroy a deeply buried target. It is, however, imminently well-suited to collapsing cave openings and killing combatants within the local area.
New global maps of Earth’s ‘night light’
- Scientists at NASA released new global maps of Earth at night, providing the clearest yet composite view of the patterns of human settlement across our planet.
- Satellite images of Earth at night – often referred to as “night lights” – have been a source of curiosity for public and a tool for fundamental research for nearly 25 years.
- The new maps were produced with data from all months of each year.
- The new global composite map of night lights was observed in 2016.
- The principal challenge in nighttime satellite imaging is accounting for the phases of the moon, which constantly varies the amount of light shining on Earth, though in predictable ways.
- Likewise, seasonal vegetation, clouds, aerosols, snow and ice cover, and even faint atmospheric emissions (such as airglow and auroras) change the way light is observed in different parts of the world.