- States want amendments in tenancy laws with prospective effect
- Panel suggests more freedom for India Inc
- Import of duty-free capital goods for power sector banned
Environment & Ecology
- Antarctica influencing weather in tropics: research
- Canada, US, Mexico to cooperate on climate change
Art & Culture
- ‘Ganga Sanskriti Yatra’ begins
States want amendments in tenancy laws with prospective effect
As the Centre plans to prepare a model land leasing Bill to legalise tenancy, a group of states is coming with a few concerns.
- The states are of the view that any move to amend tenancy laws should only be with prospective effect to protect the rights of existing tenants.
- Madhya Pradesh, Himachal Pradesh, Gujarat, Delhi, Odisha, Arunachal Pradesh, Karnataka, West Bengal, Manipur, Punjab and Tripura were part of the group.
- The recommendations came from a group of states constituted sometime ago to look for measures to enhance investment in agriculture and reforms in land leasing.
Key recommendations by a group of states:
- The proposed model Land Lease Act should be framed by as early as 2016-end.
- The model Act should entitle and facilitate tenants including sharecroppers with access to bank credit, crop insurance, disaster relief and other public support system.
[This framework is also being followed by the T Haque committee, which has been entrusted with the task of framing the model Bill.]
- Increase the level of refinance for co-operatives from 40% to 60%.
- Issue tax-free bonds such as the National Bank for Agriculture and Rural Development to fund irrigation projects.
- A technical group on crop insurance and credit flow to agriculture suggested that 10 million new farmers be brought under the credit ambit in the next three years so that all farmers get covered.
Recommendations by other states:
- Few states have also asked the Centre to launch a Pradhan Mantri Kisan Dhan Yojana to enable farmers to access the crop loans in the Jan Dhan account based on scale of finance and increase the share of agriculture in the priority sector lending from 18% to 25%.
- On organic farming, the group comprising Sikkim, Karnataka, Rajasthan, Uttarakhand, Himachal Pradesh, Nagaland, Goa, Kerala, Andaman & Nicobar, Dadra & Nagar Haveli suggested creation of a National Institute for Research and Centre of Excellence in states and export subsidy for organic products.
Panel suggests more freedom for India Inc
To suggest amendments in the Companies Act, 2013, a panel constituted by the Union government has submitted its report.
- The panel was headed by corporate affairs secretary Tapan Ray.
Major changes suggested in companies act:
- For managerial remuneration, shareholders’ approval should suffice and no government nod should be needed.
- A firm to be called associate company only when the parent firm owns 20 per cent of voting power in it.
- Insider trading and forward dealing provisions to be removed from the Act as SEBI regulations already exist.
- Institute of Chartered Accountants of India’s regulatory powers to be taken away; National Financial Reporting Authority would be formed.
- Independent directors should not have any pecuniary relationship – where it is getting material benefits – with the company.
- Small frauds of less than Rs 10 lakh not to be considered under harsh provisions.
- Private placement process to be simplified, doing away with separate offer letter, making valuation details public.
- Incorporation process to be made easier, allowing greater flexibility to companies.
- Self-declarations to replace affidavits from subscribers to memorandum and first directors.
- Managerial remuneration to need only shareholders’ approval. No need for government approval.
- Relaxing norms for start-ups to issue sweat equity. Now, 50 per cent of the paid up capital could be issued as sweat equity, against the existing norm of 25 per cent.
Import of duty-free capital goods for power sector banned
Under the Export Promotion Capital Goods Scheme, the government has banned duty-free import of capital goods for power generation and transmission projects.
Implications of the move:
- The impact of the ban is minimal on domestic producers because they do not export much to comply with the obligation under the EPCG scheme.
- Small capital goods producers will be benefited from the move.
- The decision will have a positive impact on the indigenous power equipment industry. In the past few years, the domestic power equipment capacity was underutilised as cheap imports flooded the market and orders shrank.
- This order would not only provide us the much-needed level playing field but encourage ‘Make in India’.
About EPCG scheme:
- The EPCG scheme was launched by the government in the early 1990s with an aim to allow exporters to import machinery and equipment at affordable prices to facilitate production of quality products for the export market.
- The EPCG scheme allows zero-duty import of capital goods on the condition that goods produced be exported worth six times of the duty saved under the scheme in six years.
In the Foreign Trade Policy 2015-20 the government reduced the export obligation for those procuring capital goods domestically to 4.5 times of imports as against 6 times under the EPCG scheme, which will encourage the domestic capital goods industry.
Environment & Ecology
Antarctica influencing weather in tropics: research
Scientists at the Atmospheric Radiation Measurement West Antarctic Radiation Experiment (AWARE) project tries to find answer to how climate change and the physics of the clouds affect Antarctica and ripple effect of these phenomenon on other regions of earth.
- Atmospheric circulation is the large-scale movement of air by which heat is distributed on the surface of the Earth.
- The atmospheric circulation in both the hemispheres is in the form of three north-south systems:
- The polar cell,
- The mid-latitude Ferrel cell and
- The tropical Hadley cell.
- These cells are dynamically linked together.
Details of the AWARE project:
- The AWARE project by the United States is located at Mc Murdo station in Antarctica.
- The AWARE project will observe how climate change affects the polar region as it has been determined that when the polar region warms, the location of the boundary between the polar and Ferrel cells will change, along with the strength of circulation in both cells.
- This in turn will influence the strength of tropical circulation on the other side of the Ferrel cell. These linkages between polar regions and mid- and tropical latitudes are known as teleconnections.
- During the study, scientists have observed that a change in Antarctic cloud properties that led to a warming of Antarctica weakened the Southern Hemisphere Ferrel cell, and allowed the Hadley Cell on the other side to strengthen, which in turn resulted in more rainfall due to increased latent heat release over Southern Hemisphere tropical regions.
- An expanding Hadley cell is generally expected to result from a globally warming atmosphere, so the Antarctic warming from cloud property change is a positive feedback on a warming climate.
- Another important feature being studied is the winds that traverse in the form of storm tracks across Antarctica’s atmosphere and their effect on Antarctica’s climate.
- Also, the frequency of warm and moist air intrusions over West Antarctica generated by storms in the Ross and western Amundsen Seas, is a hypothesis under study by AWARE.
Effect of Global warming on Antarctica:
- One established trend due to global warming is the slight southward shift of the storms and the intrusion of warm air which led to the breaking away of a large ice-shelf.
Climatic condition at Antarctica:
Antarctica acts as a global heat sink.
- Near the equator the Sun is highest in the sky and insolation (solar radiation reaching the surface) is larger than thermal radiation loss to space.
- At the South Pole during winter there is no insolation and the Antarctic continent loses energy to space. Energy and warmth transported over the Antarctic continent by global circulation patterns is lost to space by radiative cooling.
[Ref: Hindu, NASA]
Canada, US, Mexico to cooperate on climate change
A deal on energy cooperation have been signed by Canada, the US and Mexico in Winnipeg, Canada.
- The MoU on Climate Change and Energy Collaboration was signed at the North American Energy Ministers Meeting, which was hosted by Canada.
- Under the memorandum, the three countries will collaborate and share information in key areas such as low-carbon electricity, clean energy technologies, energy efficiency, carbon capture, use and storage, climate change adaptation, and reducing emissions from the oil and gas sector, including from methane.
- They have also launched a web platform featuring new energy maps, which for the first time depict North American energy resources, production and infrastructure in a single place.
- In November, 2015, Canada, the US and Mexico announced their participation in Mission Innovation, along with 17 other countries.
- Participating governments have committed to doubling their investments in clean energy research and development over five years.
Among Canada, the United States and Mexico, 167 billion Canadian dollars ($120 billion) worth of energy products were traded in 2015 across the continent, highlighting the importance of North American energy cooperation.
Art & Culture
‘Ganga Sanskriti Yatra’ begins
A unique month-long festival – Ganga Sanskriti Yatra is being organized by the Union ministry of culture from Gangotri, beginning on February 14.
- The objective of the ‘Ganga Sanskriti Yatra’ is to showcase and discover the cultural diversity and heritage of the the Ganga river basin and to spread awareness about the need to safeguard and rejuvenate the country’s national river.
- The ‘Yatra’ will conclude at Kapilmuni Ashram, Gangasagar – the summit of Ganga.
- Apart from the main venues of Yatra i.e, Gangotri, the festival will cover all the confluences of the tributaries of Ganga and the places of historical and cultural importance.
About river Ganga:
The Ganga is one of the major rivers of the Indian subcontinent.
- It is the longest river in India and flows for around 1,569 miles (2,525 KM) from the Himalayan Mountains to the Bay of Bengal.
- From origin to confluence, the Ganga flows through the state of Uttaranchal, Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Jharkhand, and West Bengal are under the Eastern Zonal Cultural Centre (EZCC).
Importance of river Ganga:
- The Ganga has been declared as a National Heritage by Government of India
- The great Janpada and Empire was built and flourished on the bank of Ganga.
- The cultural diversity of the Ganga basin is highly considerable. About 62 tunes, 254 types of songs and ballads, 122 dance forms, 200 crafts, 12 styles of folk paintings, 26 languages and dialects grew along the waves of Ganga.
- In the mythology and epics, Ganga has been considered as a holy river.
- The Ganga has fascinated several poets and litterateur since ancient times. Today, about 100 festivals and 50 major fairs are celebrated annually at the bank of the Ganga.
- More than 4-5 billion people yearly visit the bank of the Ganga. About 1 crore people make their living.
About Eastern Zonal Cultural Centre:
- The Eastern Zonal Cultural Centre (EZCC) under Union Ministry of Culture has Assam, Bihar, Jharkhand, Manipur, Odisha, Sikkim, Tripura, West Bengal and Andaman & Nicobar Islands as the member States.
- As per the approved scheme, every Zonal Culture Centres have to organize a series of festivals namely- Cultural Yatra, beyond their zone.
- The Swach Bharat Abhiyan has also been taken up by EZCC.
[Ref: PIB, ToI]