Government Schemes & Policies
- ‘Pradhan Mantri Mudra Yojana’ Promotion Campaign
- IBBI relaxes norms for information utilities
- RBI panel pushes new rules so lenders pass on rate cuts more quickly
- India, EIB ink pact for financing Bangalore Metro Rail Project
Bilateral & International Relations
- India, Djibouti sign pact on bilateral consultations
- India seeks greater role for troops contributing countries in UN peacekeeping missions
Art & Culture
- Paryatan Parv
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Government Schemes & Policies
‘Pradhan Mantri Mudra Yojana’ Promotion Campaign
The government has launched promotion campaigns for its flagship scheme Mudra Yojana.
- 50 promotion campaign will be organised in different parts of the country where the union ministers will be participating among others.
- The promotion campaigns will be launched by the department of financial services and state level banking committee (SLBC) of different states will actively participate and coordinate all these campaigns.
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.
Significance of this scheme:
- Under the scheme, by floating MUDRA bank, the Centre has ensured credit flow to SMEs sector and has also identified NBFCs as a good fit to reach out to them.
- People will now be able to get refinance at subsidised rate and it would be passed on to the SMEs. Moreover, it would enable SMEs to expand their activities.
- It will greatly increase the confidence of young, educated or skilled workers who would now be able to aspire to become first generation entrepreneurs.
- Existing small businesses, too, will be able to expand their activities.
IBBI relaxes norms for information utilities
What is information utilities?
- Information utilities are entities that receive and store verified financial information about borrowers and creditors.
- National E-Governance Services Limited (NeSL) is the first information utility registered in the country.
Why in news?
- The Insolvency and Bankruptcy Board of India (IBBI) has relaxed norms for information utilities.
- It paves way for Indian companies listed on the stock exchanges to hold 100 per cent of the paid-up equity share capital or total voting power rights in such firms.
Significance of the move:
- These will help establish defaults as well as verify claims expeditiously, facilitating resolution of cases under the Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code, 2016 in a time bound manner.
About new norms:
- IBBI has amended the IBBI (Information Utilities) Regulations, 2017 which also allows individuals to hold up to 51 per cent of the paid-up equity share capital. This, however, has been limited to a period of three years.
- The new regulations also require that half of the directors of an information utility shall be Indian nationals and residents in India.
The Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code, 2016:
- It is considered as the biggest economic reform next only to GST. It offers a market determined, time bound mechanism for orderly resolution of insolvency, wherever possible, and orderly exit, wherever required.
- The Code envisages an ecosystem comprising National Company Law Appellate Tribunal (NCLAT), National Company Law Tribunal (NCLT), Debt Recovery Appellate Tribunal (DRAT), Debt Recovery Tribunal (DRT), Insolvency and Bankruptcy Board of India (Board), Information Utilities (IUs), Insolvency Professionals (IPs), Insolvency Professional Agencies (IPAs) and Insolvency Professional Entities (IPEs) for implementation of the Code.
- The Insolvency and Bankruptcy Board of India was established on October 1, 2016 in accordance with the provisions of The Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code, 2016.
- It provides a market-determined and time bound mechanism for orderly resolution of insolvency, wherever possible, and orderly exit, wherever required.
- The Insolvency and Bankruptcy Board of India (IBBI) seeks to consolidate and amend laws relating to reorganisation as well as insolvency resolution of corporate persons, partnership firms and individuals in a time-bound manner.
- It has been set up by the code to regulate professionals, information utilities (IUs) and agencies engaged in the resolution of insolvencies of companies.
- It has chairman and 10 members. Present chairman is M S Sahoo. There four government-nominated members.
RBI panel pushes new rules so lenders pass on rate cuts more quickly
A RBI set- up panel has come out with a set of new rules to make lenders pass on rate cuts more quickly.
- The panel submitted its report recently to the RBI.
Recommendations made by the panel:
- Remove some of the leeway that banks have enjoyed, including allowing lenders to use only one of three benchmarks to set their lending rates: the policy repo rate, Treasury bill rates or certificate of deposit rates. Currently, banks can use multiple market rates and each one is free to set its own benchmark.
- Adjust the key criteria used to set their lending rates once a quarter, rather than the current once a year.
- The RBI has cut its policy rate by a total of 200 basis points from January 2015 to August 2017 to support economic growth, but to its frustration banks have lowered their lending rates by only about 120 bps.
- The RBI last year unveiled the so-called marginal cost of funds-based lending rates (MCLR), which sought to remove much of the discretion commercial banks have to set lending rates and force them to base borrowing costs on prevailing money market rates. Banks were instructed to follow a specific formula in setting lending rates, although the RBI has since made some tweaks.
- Indian banks are struggling with a record $140 billion in stressed assets, and have sought to protect their margins by trying to avoid lowering their lending rates.
India, EIB ink pact for financing Bangalore Metro Rail Project
India and European Investment Bank (EIB) signed the Finance Contract for lending of € 300 million for Bangalore Metro Rail Project Phase II.
- Bangalore Metro Rail Project Phase II is to be jointly financed by the EIB (500 million euros) and Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (300 million euros).
- The project aims to ensure modern transport facility for commuters across the city in tandem with the Bangalore Metropolitan Transport Corporation (BMTC) and other modes of urban transport.
- The spinoffs of the project would include employment opportunities, benefits to the economy, reduction of number of vehicles on road, less fuel consumption, reduction in air pollution, reduction in passenger travel time and also improvement in the aesthetic value of the city.
About Bangalore Metro project:
- The Bangalore Metro project, fondly called ‘Namma Metro’ is one of Bangalore’s most ambitious projects.
- The responsibility of implementing the Bangalore Metro Rail Project lies with the Bangalore Metro Rail Corporation Limited (BMRCL), which is a joint venture of Government of India and Government of Karnataka.
- Namma Metro is, however, an environment-friendly addition as it significantly contributes to the reduction of carbon emissions.
About the European Investment Bank (EIB):
- The EIB is the European Union’s non-profit long-term lending institution.
- Established in 1958, the EIB is a publicly owned international financial institution and its shareholders are the EU member states. Thus, the member states set the bank’s broad policy goals and oversee the two independent decision-making bodies—the board of governors and the board of directors.
- It is the world’s largest international public lending institution.
- The EIB is the majority shareholder of the European Investment Fund (EIF), which provides funding to small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) through venture capital and risk finance instruments.
- The EIB has previously provided €450 million for construction of the new Lucknow Metro.
Bilateral & International Relations
India seeks greater role for troops contributing countries in UN peacekeeping missions
India has sought enhanced role for troops contributing countries in the decision-making process of UN peacekeeping missions.
- Also, India has asked the UN Security Council to revisit the way mandates are designed.
Why India is seeking greater role?
India is one of the largest contributors of troops and police to UN peacekeeping missions.
- However, according to India, the current system of excluding the troop and police-contributing countries (T/PCCs) from the process of framing the mandates is not sustainable. It has no say in the process of formulation of the mandate.
It is hence an inescapable requirement to incorporate the T/PCCs in the decision making and mandate formulation from the very onset.
Need for reforms:
- There is also a need to ensure more effective triangular cooperation between the T/PCCs, Secretariat and Security Council on important policy and doctrinal issues being formulated in the field of peacekeeping.
- Today’s peacekeeping operations pose complex challenges. Non-state actors have become the major players in many of these conflicts. Today’s peacekeeping requires a political consensus among Security Council members, Troop Contributors and Secretariat on the cost, limits and dangers of operations in high-risk environments
About UN Peacekeeping:
United Nations Peacekeeping was created in 1948.
- Its first mission involved the establishment of the UN Truce Supervision Organization (UNTSO), which served to observe and maintain ceasefire during the 1948 Arab-Israeli War.
- UN Peacekeeping maintains three basic principles:
- Consent of the parties,
- Impartiality and non-use of Force except in self-defence and
- Defence of the mandate.
- The UN Peacekeepers are led by the Department of Peacekeeping Operations (DKPO).
- There are currently 17 UN peace operations deployed on four continents.
- UN Peacekeepers are from diverse backgrounds, from areas all around the world. They include police, military and civilian personnel. They are often referred to as Blue Berets or Blue Helmets because of their light blue berets or helmets.
- The UN Peacekeeping Force won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1988.
- The United Nations Charter gives the United Nations Security Council the power and responsibility to take collective action to maintain international peace and security. For this reason, the international community usually looks to the Security Council to authorize peacekeeping operations.
India, Djibouti sign pact on bilateral consultations
India and Djibouti agreed to establish regular Foreign Office-level bilateral consultations with an accord signed in this regard during President Ram Nath Kovind’s visit to Djibouti.
- Kovind thanked his Djiboutian counterpart Omar Guelleh for his country’s support during Operation Rahat for evacuating Indians from war-torn Yemen in 2015, and also discussed cooperation in the maritime and renewable energy domains.
- He also urged for an early ratification of Djibouti’s membership of the International Solar Alliance and mentioned its solar energy potential.
- Kovind is the first Indian leader to visit Djibouti.
Location of Djibouti:
- Djibouti, officially the Republic of Djibouti, is a country located in the Horn of Africa.
- It is a small country on the northeastern coast of Africa to the Red Sea and the Bab-el-Mandeb strait.
- Djibouti is bordered by Eritrea, Ethiopia, and Somalia, and it shares maritime borders with Yemen.
- The remainder of the border is formed by the Red Sea and the Gulf of Aden at the east.
Geopolitical Significance of Djibouti
- Due to its geographic location at the Gulf of Aden, the barren country is of considerable geopolitical interest, Djibouti controls access and egress to a major waterway, the Red Sea and the Suez Canal, one of the world’s busiest shipping routes.
- Djibouti was controlled by France, especially the French Foreign Legion, until 1977, in 2002, the United States established America’s largest military base in Africa here (Camp Lemonnier).
- Historical links, cultural affinities and people-to-people contacts between India and Djibouti has existed long before India’s independence in 1947 and Djibouti’s independence in 1977.
- During ancient times, the port of Adulis was the hub of maritime trade where Indian seafarers have flocked trading in spices and silk for gold and ivory.
- To combat the menace of piracy in the Gulf of Aden and in the Red Sea, India has sent naval ships since November 2008 for Operational Turn Around followed by anti-piracy patrol.
- The Indian community in Djibouti was around 600 persons including family members. Majority of them belong to Gujarat and Kerala.
- Indian Hony Consul General Nalin Kothari was awarded the Pravasi Bharathiya Samman in 2017.
- The bilateral trade stood at US$284.54 million in 2016-17, out of which India’s exports to Djibouti were US$281.71 million and imports were US$2.82 million.
- During 2016-17, major imports by India from Djibouti were hides and skins, metal scraps and leather. Bilateral trade is in India’s favor.
- The Minister of Economy, Finance & Industry of Djibouti attended the India-Africa Trade Ministers’ Meeting in New Delhi in October 2015 on the margins of the 3rd India-Africa Forum Summit.
- The Indian Council of Cultural Relations (ICCR) offers scholarships to students from Djibouti every year for University studies in India.
Art & Culture
The Ministry of Tourism kick-started ‘Paryatan Parv’ a 20-day programme organised with the aim of drawing attention on the benefits of tourism, showcasing the cultural diversity of the country and reinforcing the principle of “Tourism for All”.
- Also, “Adopt a Heritage” project, which was launched by the President on World Tourism Day, will be implemented at key sites during this period.
About the Paryatan Parv:
- The programme is being organised by the Ministry of Tourism, in collaboration with other Central Ministries, State Governments and stakeholders.
- It will culminate in a three-day event in New Delhi from October 23-25 showcasing the cultural diversity of the country, with cultural performances, crafts bazaar, food court showcasing folk and classical dance and music, handicrafts and handlooms and cuisine from all the states.
Three main components of the Paryatan Parv:
Dekho Apna Desh:
- To encourage Indians to visit their own country.
- This will include Video, Photograph and Blog Competitions of sites visited during the Event, Stories of India through Travelers’ Eyes, on Social Media, Tourism related Quiz, Essay, Debate and Painting Competitions for Students, Television Campaigns to promote travel to J&K and N.E. States.
Tourism for All:
- Tourism Events at sites across all States in the country.
- The activities at these sites will include illumination in and around the Sites, Cultural Programmes of Dance, Music, Theatre, Story Telling, Sensitisation Programmes for Stakeholders around the Sites, Tourism Exhibitions, Showcasing Culture, Cuisine and Handicrafts / Handlooms, Guided Heritage Walks, etc.
- These will be “People’s Events” with large scale public participation.
Tourism & Governance:
- Interactive Sessions & Workshops with Stakeholders on varied themes.