Polity & Governance
- Why can’t FM stations broadcast news, asks SC
- Commerce ministry launches app for SEZs
- SEBI tightens merger and amalgamation norms
Bilateral & International Relations
- India to sign TIR customs convention on international transport of goods
Science & Technology
- ‘Superbug from India resistant to all available antibiotics’
Key Facts for Prelims
- Saksham – 2017
- Mobile app Pinakin
- Digital Dakiya scheme
- Operation Sard Hawa
Polity & Governance
Why can’t FM stations broadcast news, asks SC
The Supreme Court has sought the central government’s response on a plea seeking direction for allowing private FM radio stations, including community radio to broadcast news.
At present, the government has kept news out of the purview of FM channels, which are only allowed to carry All India Radio news bulletins in exactly the same format.
- The petitioner has argued that radio is a more accessible medium for the masses, particularly the poor.
- It has challenged the validity of the policy guidelines and permission agreements framed by the Centre, saying that while these norms allow broadcast of information, including news on sports, traffic or weather, what is not allowed is the broadcast of political news.
The court is hearing a public interest litigation (PIL), seeking directions from the Centre on the possibility of allowing private radio stations and community radios to broadcast news.
The apex court had also issued a notice to the Centre on the PIL back in October 2013.
The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI), which took over the regulatory duties for broadcasting in January 2004, has also recommended to the government that rules restricting private and community radio channels from broadcasting news and current affairs programmes be removed.[Ref: The Hindu]
Commerce ministry launches app for SEZs
The Commerce Ministry has launched a mobile app ‘SEZ India’ which provides detailed information related to special economic zones.
- The app was launched under the ministry’s e-Governance initiatives.
- Developers and units can now file all their transactions digitally through this system and track the status.
- The app has four sections — SEZ Information, SEZ Online Transaction, Trade Information and Contact details.
- The SEZ online transaction is a dynamic submenu that tracks the Bill of Entry/Shipping Bill processing status and also does verification.
Significance of the app:
- The app would help the SEZ units and developers to find information easily and track their transactions on SEZ Online System.
- The app also helps the Importers/Exporters to track the status of Bill of Entry/Shipping Bill integration and processing in the EDI system of the ICEGATE.
SEBI tightens merger and amalgamation norms
The Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI) has tightened rules for mergers and amalgamations by Indian companies in a bid to safeguard the interests of the public shareholders.
- The move comes in the wake of instances where unlisted companies are merged with listed companies with ulterior motives.
- There was another category of misuse where under an arrangement; securities were being issued to promoter related persons only.
- There was an issue on electronic voting requirement as well.
Objectives of the move:
- The market regulator amended rules in an effort to make listing process more transparent and ensure wider public holding, prevent mergers of large unlisted firms with small ones.
Significance of the move:
- The new rules will ensure that all classes of shareholders get an equitable treatment during mergers and acquisitions.
- It will also stop practice using route of merger to get an indirect listing for an unlisted company.
- Holding of public shareholders post the merger cannot be less than 25%. Similar threshold must be for institutional shareholders of the unlisted entity as well, post-merger.
- Unlisted company can be merged with a listed company only if the latter is listed on a stock exchange having nationwide trading terminals.
- e-voting will be mandatory in cases wherein the stake of public shareholders reduces by more than 5% in the merged entity.
- Public shareholders’ approval will be mandatory for those schemes too which involve transfer of substantial undertaking of a listed entity and if a consideration for such a transfer is not in the form of listed equity shares.
- In case of merger of an unlisted company with a listed company, the unlisted company will have to disclose all the material information in the form of an abridged prospectus, similar to initial public offering (IPO).
- Companies must follow the pricing formula for stocks as per SEBI’s ICDR (issue of capital and disclosure requirements) norms during mergers.
Bilateral & International Relations
India to sign TIR customs convention on international transport of goods
India looks set to join the TIR Convention also known as the “Transports Internationaux Routiers” or “International Road Transports” Convention as it is keen to establish the seamless trade connectivity that TIR Convention members enjoy with Southeast Asia and the Eurasian region.
How this membership helps India?
- By joining this convention India can reap the full benefit of INSTC or International North South Transportation Corridor, which grants access to the Eurasian province via Iran.
- This will also allow India to gain advantageous position in its trade in the South Asian Growth Quadrangle countries (Bangladesh, Bhutan, Nepal) through the BBIN (Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Nepal) Motor Vehicles Agreement.
- Aligning with the TIR system will also enable India to take full advantage of the Eurasian Economic Union (EEU). EEU, comprising Russia, Kazakhstan, Belarus, Armenia and Kyrgyzstan, have an integrated single market of 183 million people and GDP of more than $4 trillion in purchasing power parity.
- By being a part of the Convention India can move goods in sealed vehicles or containers, without requiring extensive time-consuming border checks at intermediate borders while at the same time enabling customs authorities the required security and guarantees.
What is TIR convention?
The Convention on International Transport of Goods Under Cover of TIR Carnets (TIR Convention) is a multilateral treaty that was concluded at Geneva on 14 November 1975 to simplify and harmonise the administrative formalities of international road transport.
- The 1975 convention replaced the TIR Convention of 1959, which itself replaced the 1949 TIR Agreement between a number of European countries.
- The conventions were adopted under the auspices of the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE).
- The TIR system operates with certain parameters – secure vehicles or container, international guarantee chain, TIR carnet, reciprocal recognition of customs controls, controlled access and TIR IT risk management tools.
- These elements guarantee that goods travel across borders with minimum interference en route and at the same time provide maximum safeguards to customs administration.
- As of July 2016, there are 70 parties to the TIR Convention which includes 69 states and the European Union.
- Excepting India and Oman, all members of INSTC are already signatories to the 1975 TIR Convention.
Significance of this convention:
- TIR is the only global customs transit system that provides easy and smooth movement of goods across borders in sealed compartments or containers under customs control from the customs office of departure to the customs office of destination.
- According to connectivity experts, it plays an important role in boosting regional connectivity and facilitating cross-border trade flows.
- The TIR system has a globally accepted electronic control system for integrated transit operations.
Science & Technology
‘Superbug from India resistant to all available antibiotics’
Recently, a 70-year-old woman in the US died after being infected by a superbug during her visit to India.
- The infection was caused by carbapenem-resistant Enterobacteriaceae (CRE), a multidrug-resistant organism associated with high mortality.
- In this case, the infection was resistant or non-susceptible to all available antimicrobial drugs.
- Klebsiella pneumoniae was also confirmed by lab testing and also the presence of New Delhi metallo-beta-lactamase (NDM-1), resistant to 26 different antibiotics.
What is NDM-1?
- NDM-1 is an enzyme that directly breaks down carbapenems, a powerful class of antibiotics that are often used to treat multidrug-resistant infections.
Key Facts for Prelims
Saksham – 2017
- Every year the Ministry of Petroleum and Natural Gas (MOP & NG) conduct mass awareness drive on oil and gas conservation across the country on January 16.
- From this year onwards the theme of the programme has been redesigned as Saksham – 2017 and the programme duration has been extended to one month.
- Saksham – 2017 (Sanrakshan Kshamta Mahotsav) is aimed to create awareness amongst masses towards judicious utilization and conservation of petroleum products along with use of energy efficient appliances and switching to cleaner fuels.
- The programme is being organized by PCRA (Petroleum Conservation Research Association) and other Oil & Gas PSUs under the aegis of Ministry of Petroleum & Natural Gas.
- During one-month long drive, workshops will be held for drivers of commercial vehicles and housewives, cooks on adopting simple fuel saving measures.
- Saksham – 2017 also aims to educate on various steps for fuel conservation through activities like Quiz Show, Saksham Asian Cycling Championship, Walkathons, concerts and other activities across the country.
Mobile app Pinakin
- For the benefit of both domestic and international tourists, Tamil Nadu Tourism Department has launched a mobile app ‘pinakin’ with information on tourism in Tamil Nadu with audio facilities.
- The app, in two languages — Tamil and English — covers world heritage tourist sites like Mamallapuram, Thanjavur Big Temple, Gangaikonda Cholapuram and Darasuram.
- The app would provide information on other major tourist destinations in Tamil Nadu in a phased manner.
Digital Dakiya scheme
- In Madhya Pradesh Indore district witnessed inauguration of first of its kind scheme of the country. Digital Dakiya, which aims at encouraging cashless transactions.
- In order to encourage cashless transactions, Madhya Pradesh government has inaugurated Digital Dakiya scheme, a first of its kind scheme of the country.
- Digital Dakiya or Digital Postman will visit different places to teach and encourage people about cashless transactions and its benefits.
- State government will provide Identity cards to the volunteers deployed in this programme.
- Digital Dakiyas visit door to door and trained households specially women and elderly people about digitized transactions.
- The scheme aimed at urban as well as rural areas.
Operation Sard Hawa
- Border Security Force (BSF) has begun its exercise Operation Alert Winters or ‘Sard Hawa’ along the western international border of Rajasthan to check the instances of infiltration due to the dense fog in the area.
- The purpose of the operation is to keep a hawk’s eye on the international border, where vigil has been beefed-up and officers have also been asked to be part of operation to motivate jawans.
- Under the operation, the jawans will patrol with advanced weapons in the police station areas near to the border.
- Currently, BSF is deployed on Indo-Pakistan International Border, Indo-Bangladesh International Border, Line of Control (LoC) along with Indian Army and in Anti-Naxal Operations.