Polity & Governance
- Darbar Move
- Plans floated for National Land Management Corporation
- Co-operative banks allowed to use SARFAESI Act
Bilateral & International Relations
- India protests permit to conduct elections in Gilgit Baltistan
- Iran plans to cut four zeros from falling currency
Science and Technology
- Young Career Award in Nano S&T 2020
Also in News
- Operation Samudra Setu
Key Facts for Prelims
- Research to culture Coronavirus in epithelial cell
- Long March 5B
- Pulitzer Prize
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Polity & Governance
The Jammu and Kashmir High Court has asked the Centre and UT administration to take a final call on the continuation of the Darbar Move.
What is Darbar Move?
- The Darbar Move is a 148-year-old practice of shifting capitals annually between Srinagar and Jammu.
- It was introduced by Maharaja Gulab Singh in 1872.
- The move involved shifting of the Maharaja’s government to Jammu to escape the harsh winters of the Kashmir Valley in the 19th century.
- Under the move, the State’s civil secretariat shuttles between summer capital Srinagar and winter capital Jammu bi-annually.
A costly affair:
- Leaders in Jammu and Kashmir are in the view for abrogation of the 148-year-old Dogra-era practice of ‘Darbar Move’.
- Terming this as a costly affair, leaders have asked for bifurcation of the offices.
- Every year, over 10,000 employees of the civil secretariat shuttle between Srinagar and Jammu along with the files, which are ferried in buses and tracks
- It costs the UT over ₹40 crore annually.
- The move causes delay in justice dispensation as government records are not available to the pleaders in one region for six months at a time.
- The important and sensitive government documents are put at tremendous risk in the process of their transportation.
- The files are packed in trunks and carried in hired trucks over a distance of 300 km between Jammu and Srinagar and vice-versa twice a year.
High Court’s observation:
- The HC cited that there were limitations on the extent of its jurisdiction on making a declaration on the permissibility or the continuation of the ‘Darbar Move’.
- It has left the task on the final decision of the Ministry of Home Affairs, and the Chief Secretary of the Union Territory of J&K to examine and take a decision.
- The HC stated that if this practice was rationalised, the amount of money, resources and time which could be saved, could be utilised towards the welfare and development of the UT.
- The court also remarked that given the modern weather control mechanisms, the consideration of extremities of weather, which was the case, reason and basis for the Darbar Move, does not hold weight today.
Plans floated for National Land Management Corporation
A government panel on boosting infrastructure investment has recommended setting up a National Land Management Corporation, which would help in monetising state-owned surplus land assets in a systematic and specialised way.
- Such a corporation should be set up under Companies Act to function as the facilitator for land monetisation.
- It can act as an asset manager for lands owned by the government of India and Central Public Sector Enterprises.
- It has recommended that a chief executive officer (CEO) and a technical team be hired at market-linked compensation to carry out land monetisation.
- The Corporation can raise capital from the equity market, based on the value of its leased assets, in a similar fashion to private-owned Real Estate Investment Trusts (REITS).
- There is a need for a separate organisation which can work with various government departments including Railways and Defence Ministry to utilise their surplus land assets.
- The panel recommended the Corporation consider development or co-development of land belonging to defence or railways as well.
- It can also take up co-development of private land parcels adjoining government lands to maximise revenue.
- The government has been trying to monetise surplus land assets with departments and state-owned companies for the last couple of years.
- Despite large tracts of commercial viable land being available, there has been limited progress on this front.
- The National Land Management Corporation, with a professional team from the market, is being proposed to speed up progress in this area.
- A pipeline of income-yielding properties can be created by such a corporation, which can, in turn, raise funds from the market.
- Besides maintaining an inventory of public land, the Corporation will develop model concession agreements for land development and sale, legal management of litigations relating to land, development planning, design and bid process management.
Co-operative banks allowed to use SARFAESI Act
The Supreme Court recently ruled that all co-operative banks in the country could make use of the SARFAESI Act, 2002 to make recovery against defaulting persons.
The recent verdict:
- There was ambiguity earlier whether the cooperative bank could use the SARFAESI Act.
- The SC has made it clear that all cooperative banks involved in the activities related to banking are covered within the meaning of ‘banking company’.
- Since the provisions of the Banking Regulation Act, 1949 and any other legislation applicable relatable to banking is applicable on cooperative banks, hence they are allowed to use SARFAESI to make recoveries against defaulters.
SARFAESI Act, 2002:
- The Securitisation and Reconstruction of Financial Assets and Enforcement of Security Interest Act, 2002 (SARFAESI) empowers banks/financial Institutions to recover their non-performing assets without the intervention of the Court.
- The Act extends to the entire India.
- Efficient or rapid recovery of non-performing assets (NPAs) of the banks and FIs.
- To allow banks and financial institutions to auction properties (say, commercial/residential) when borrowers fail to repay their loans.
The Act was circulated to:
i) To regulate securitization and reconstruction of financial assets
ii) Enforcement of the security interest for matters connected therewith.
Methods for recovery of NPAs:
- Securitization – It refers to the process of converting loans and other financial assets into marketable securities worth selling to the investors.
- Asset Reconstruction – It refers to conversion of non-performing assets into performing assets.
- Enforcement of Security without the intervention of the Court.
- The provisions of this Act are applicable only for NPA loans with outstanding above Rs. 1.00 lac.
- NPA loan accounts where the amount is less than 20% of the principal and interest are not eligible to be dealt with under this Act.
- The Act also provides for the establishment of Asset Reconstruction Companies (ARCs) regulated by RBI to acquire assets from banks and financial institutions.
- The Act provides for sale of financial assets by banks and financial institutions to asset reconstruction companies (ARCs).
- RBI has issued guidelines to banks on the process to be followed for sales of financial assets to ARCs.
The Act empowers the Bank:
- To issue demand notice to the defaulting borrower and guarantor, calling upon them to discharge their dues in full within 60 days from the date of the notice.
- To give notice to any person who has acquired any of the secured assets from the borrower to surrender the same to the Bank.
- If the borrower fails to comply with the notice, the Bank may take recourse to one or more of the following measures:
- Take possession of the security
- Sale or lease or assign the right over the security
- Manage the same or appoint any person to manage the same.
Bilateral & International Relations
India protests permit to conduct elections in Gilgit Baltistan
The Ministry of External Affairs issued a “strong protest” over an order by the Pakistan Supreme Court that permits to hold elections in the region of Gilgit-Baltistan of Pakistan-occupied Kashmir (PoK).
Pakistan Occupied Kashmir:
- Pakistan Occupied Kashmir (PoK) is that part of UT Jammu and Kashmir which was invaded by Pakistan in 1947.
- PoK has a population of over 40 lakhs and is divided into 10 districts.
- The capital of PoK is Muzaffarabad, a town located in the valley of the Jhelum river and its tributary Neelum (which Indians call Kishanganga) to the west and slightly north of Srinagar.
- In 1963, through an agreement, Pakistan gave over 5,000 sq km of J&K land to China in the Shaksgam area, in northern Kashmir, beyond the Karakoram.
Pakistan occupied Kashmir is divided into two parts:
- Azad Jammu and Kashmir (AJK): attached to the western part of Indian Kashmir.
- Gilgit-Baltistan (referred to as the ‘Northern Areas’ till 2009)
- Gilgit-Baltistan is a hilly region to the north of PoK and east of the Pakistani province of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa
- It is over five times the size of PoK. However, it is sparsely populated, with just under 20 lakh people.
- GB is divided into three administrative divisions and 10 districts.
Significance of GB:
- The GB region is strategically important for many reasons as it is a source of vast glaciers feeding the Indus River system that meets Pakistan’s water needs.
- It is a gateway for China to the Indian Ocean through the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor.
- It also shares borders with several countries – the Punjab and North-West Frontier Province provinces (Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa) in Pakistan to the west, the Wakhan Corridor of Afghanistan in the north-west and Xinjiang province of China to the north.
- The British sold Gilgit-Baltistan, along with the rest of Jammu and Kashmir, to the Dogra ruler of Jammu, Gulab Singh, after defeating the Sikh army in 1846.
- However, Britishers retained control over the area through a lease of 20 years from the Maharaja to snoop on Russia.
- Raja Hari Singh acceded the entire state of Kashmir including GB to independent India in 1947.
- However, Pakistan, along with the Britishers, illegally acceded the GB to Pakistan.
- Pakistan got the possession but had no legality.
Representation of people:
- The GB people want Constitutional Status of a province but accession to Pakistan of this disputed territory is not legally tenable hence people of GB have historically been deprived of participation in representative institutions.
- The ‘Gilgit-Baltistan Empowerment and Self-Governance Order of 2009’ for the first time established a Representative Government and Legislature but neither allowed constitutionally guaranteed autonomy like other provinces.
- The GB Legislative Assembly adopted resolutions demanding status of a province till the settlement of the Kashmir dispute.
- The ‘Gilgit-Baltistan Order of 2018’ vested powers with the Prime Minister to legislate on 68 subjects that reduced the local council to an advisory body.
- The order was challenged in the Supreme Court of Pakistan, which in January, 2019 provided them with provisional representation in the Parliament, till the settlement of the Kashmir dispute.
Administrative status in Gilgit-Baltistan:
- Though both PoK and GB are ruled directly from Islamabad, neither is officially listed as the territory of Pakistan, which has just four provinces: Punjab, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Balochistan, and Sindh.
- PoK and GB are both autonomous territories because incorporating these areas into its Pakistani map would damage Pakistan’s international position in the United Nations.
- For India as per the resolution passed by Parliament in 1994, PoK and GB are both part of Jammu and Kashmir, which is an integral part of India by virtue of its accession to India in 1947.
Iran plans to cut four zeros from falling currency
Iran’s parliament has passed a bill allowing the government to slash four zeros from the Rial after a sharp fall in the value of the currency as a result of crippling U.S. sanctions.
What is the move?
- Iran’s national currency will be changed from the Rial to the Toman, which is equal to 10,000 rials, under the bill.
- Each toman, which has been cleared by Parliament will be worth 10,000 rials under the new system.
- The bill to remove four zeros from the national currency was approved by lawmakers.
- The bill needs to be approved by the clerical body that vets legislation before it takes effect.
- The Central Bank of Iran will have two years to pave the ground to change the currency to Toman.
- The idea of removing four zeros has been floated since 2008, but gained strength after 2018, when U.S. President Donald Trump exited Iran’s 2015 nuclear deal and reimposed sanctions, as the rial lost more than 60% of its value.
- The Iranian currency is trading at about 156,000 rials per dollar on the unofficial market currently according to foreign exchange websites.
- Iran’s weak currency and high inflation have led to sporadic street protests since late 2017.
Science and Technology
Young Career Award in Nano S&T 2020
The Young Career Award in Nano Science & Technology for the year 2020 instituted by the Department of Science and Technology has been announced recently.
- Professor Saurabh Lodha from Electrical Engineering, IIT Bombay, has received the Young Career Award for the year 2020.
- This award recognises his pioneering contributions in the development of logic transistor technologies beyond silicon and nanoelectronic devices based on two-dimensional Van der Waals materials.
Young Career Award:
- The Department of Science & Technology (DST) under the Nano Science and Technology Mission (Nano Mission) has instituted ‘Young Career Awards’.
- The award recognizes outstanding contributions of Indian Scientists to the advancement of Nano Science & Technology in the country.
Nano Science and Technology Mission (Nano Mission):
- The Government of India approved the launch of a Mission on Nano Science and Technology (Nano Mission) as an umbrella programme for capacity building in May 2007.
- The Department of Science and Technology was selected as the nodal agency for implementing the Nano Mission.
- Mission was given an allocation of Rs. 1000 crore for 5 years.
- Recognizing the success of Nano Mission, in 2014, the Union Cabinet accorded approval for continuation in its Phase-II with an allocation of Rs. 650 crore.
Objectives of Nano-Mission:
- Basic Research Promotion – Funding of basic research by individual scientists and/or groups of scientists and creation of centres of excellence.
- Infrastructure Development for Nano Science & Technology Research – Establishing a chain of shared facilities across the country with sophisticated equipment required for Nano research.
- Nano Applications and Technology Development Programmes– To catalyse Applications and Technology Development Programmes leading to products and devices.
- Human Resource Development – Effective education and training to researchers and professionals in diversified fields
- International Collaborations – Apart from exploratory visits of scientists, organization of joint workshops and conferences and joint research projects.
- Nanotechnology is science, engineering, and technology conducted at the nanoscale, which is about 1 to 100 nanometers.
- It is the study and application of extremely small things and can be used across all the other science fields, such as chemistry, biology, physics, materials science, and engineering.
- Nano science has a tremendous application in various fields like Nano-medicine, agriculture, environment and energy.
Also in News
Operation Samudra Setu
Indian Navy has recently launched Operation Samudra Setu as a part of a national effort to repatriate Indian citizens from overseas.
- Indian Naval Ships Jalashwa and Magar are presently enroute to the port of Malè, Republic of Maldives to commence evacuation operations from 08 May 2020 as part of Phase-1.
- The Indian Navy has been directed to make suitable preparations for the evacuation of stranded Indians in Maldives by sea.
- A total of 1000 persons are planned to be evacuated during the first trip, catering for COVID- related social distancing norms vis-a-vis the carrying capacity and medical facilities available onboard.
- This operation is being progressed in close coordination with Ministries of Defence, External Affairs, Home Affairs, Health and various other agencies of the Government of India and State governments.
- INS Jalashwa is the largest amphibious platform in the Navy and is based at the Eastern Naval Command headquarters in Visakhapatnam.
Key Facts for Prelims
Research to culture Coronavirus in epithelial cell
- Centre for Cellular and Molecular Biology (CCMB), Hyderabad along with Eyestem Research Private Limited have collaborated to take up research activities on COVID-19.
- This collaboration is an attempt to grow novel coronavirus in human cell lines, which will enable in vitro testing of potential drugs and vaccines against the COVID-19.
- The research team will use Eyestem’s human lung epithelial cell culture system provided as part of its Anti-COVID Screening (ACS) platform to understand the molecular and pathological characteristics of the novel coronavirus.
- Culturing the virus outside the human host is a technological challenge.
- The research opens up the potential for drug screening and vaccine development strategies.
Long March 5B
- China successfully launched a new rocket and prototype spacecraft Long March 5B in a major test of the country’s ambitions to operate a permanent space station and send astronauts to the Moon.
- The spaceship will one day transport astronauts to a space station that China plans to complete by 2022 – and eventually to the Moon.
- China plans to send an astronaut to the Moon in about a decade and then build a base there.
- The Pulitzer Prizes in journalism were first awarded in 1917 and are considered the field’s most prestigious honor in the U.S.
- The Pulitzer Prize is an annual award for achievements in newspaper, magazine and online journalism, literature, and musical composition in the US.
- The award is administered by Columbia University in New York City.
- Prizes are awarded yearly in 21 categories.