Polity & Governance
- SC stays Uttarakhand HC order on Ganga, Yamuna living entity status
- RBI considering setting up a Public Credit Registry
- First Maize Based Mega Food Park in Kapurthala, Punjab
- SEBI to move against non-compliant firms
- Centre eases pre-merger filing norms
Bilateral & International Relations
- Modi presents 10 point action agenda to counter terrorism at G20 summit
- Vietnam renews Indian Oil Deal
- UNESCO puts Hebron on endangered heritage list, outraging Israel
Defence & Security Issues
- NSG organises first International Aviation Security seminar
Science & Technology
- Scheme for IPR Awareness – Creative India; Innovative India
Key Facts for Prelims
- India becomes Fourth Largest Foreign Investor into UK
For IASToppers’ Current Affairs Analysis Archive, Click Here
Polity & Governance
SC stays Uttarakhand HC order on Ganga, Yamuna living entity status
The Supreme Court stayed the controversial Uttarakhand High Court order declaring Ganga, Yamuna and their tributaries as living entities.
- In March 2017, the Uttarakhand High Court in its verdict held that the rights of the two major rivers “shall be equivalent to the rights of human beings and the injury/harm caused to these bodies shall be treated as harm/injury caused to the human beings.”
- The order issued in exercise of parens patrie (authority regarded as legal protector of citizens who are unable to protect themselves) jurisdiction said “the rivers Ganga and Yamuna, all their tributaries, streams, every natural water flowing with flow continuously or intermittently of these rivers, are declared as juristic/legal persons/living entities having the status of a legal person with all corresponding rights, duties and liabilities of a living person in order to preserve and conserve river Ganga and Yamuna”.
- It also declared the Director of the Namami Gange project, the Chief Secretary of Uttarakhand and the Advocate General of the state “loco parents” — the human faces to protect, conserve and preserve the rivers and their tributaries.
- These officers were bound to uphold the status of the rivers Ganges and Yamuna and also to promote the health and well-being of these rivers.
Problems created by the order:
- The order had put the state government in a quandary. Since the rivers flow through several states, only the Centre could frame rules for their management.
- The ruling also raised questions like whether the victim of a flood in the rivers can sue the state for damages and also about whether the state and its officers will be liable in case of pollution in the rivers in another state through which it flows.
RBI considering setting up a Public Credit Registry
The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) may consider setting up a Public Credit Registry (PCR), which will be an extensive database of credit information for India that is accessible to all stakeholders.
What is Public Credit Registry (PCR)?
- Generally, a PCR is managed by a public authority like the central bank or the banking supervisor, and reporting of loan details to the PCR by lenders and/or borrowers is mandated by law.
- The contractual terms and outcomes covered and the threshold above which the contracts are to be reported vary in different jurisdictions, but the idea is to capture all relevant information in one large database on the borrower, in particular, the borrower’s entire set of borrowing contracts and outcomes.
Why might such data help?
- A PCR, if put in place will help in credit assessment and pricing by banks; risk-based, dynamic and countercyclical provisioning at banks; supervision and early intervention by regulators; understanding if transmission of monetary policy is working.
How the data can help in India?
- It is required to improve the credit culture in our country.
- It has been demonstrated in the ‘Doing Business 2017’ report that credit information systems impart transparency in the credit market, following which access to credit improves and delinquencies decrease.
- At present, several Indian banks burdened with mounting NPAs appear less confident in taking credit decisions.
- A transparent public credit registry would help the bankers to rely on objective data for making credit decisions and also enable them to defend their actions with market evidence when subjected to scrutiny.
- Large borrowers get a preference in credit markets due to their existing credentials in the public space. They have established credit history, brand value, and supply of collateral.
- In contrast, small and marginal aspirants, start-ups, new entrepreneurs, and small businesses in micro, small and medium enterprises (MSME) sector are disadvantaged as they lack many of those desired qualifications for credit.
- Transparency of credit information would serve as a “reputational collateral” for such borrowers. This would not only help promote financial inclusion, but also reward the good borrowers thereby imparting credit discipline.
- Public credit registers in many countries have gone beyond the credit relationship of borrowing entities with financial institutions.
- They tap other transactional data of borrowers including payments to utilities like power and telecom for retail customers and trade credit data for businesses.
- Public credit registry can have a profound impact for regulatory purposes. In its absence, only fragmented images are available of credit behaviour and indebtedness.
- PCR will help in getting to a complete picture that is necessary for supervisors and policy makers to assess credit risk of the entire system.
First Maize Based Mega Food Park in Kapurthala, Punjab
The foundation stone for First Maize based Mega Food Park was recently laid in Kapurthala, Punjab.
- Maize is an amazing cereal and is an alternate to Jhona (paddy) and Kanak (wheat).
- Maize is rich in protein, provides nutritional requirements that India needs and Maize consumes much lesser water and could contain the problem of further water depletion.
- Maize Based Mega Food Park is the first major and serious step in the history of India for containing the desertification problem of Punjab and would make farmers turn to maize cultivation which need less water for more production.
- Kapurthala has been declared as a Dark Zone districtwhere slow desertification is happening because of overexploitation of water due to cash crops. Establishment of this Mega Food Park will result in the development of this Dark Zone which includes Job opportunities, Environmental Conservation.
- Maize is being used by different industries for seed, starch, brewery, food additives, sweeteners etc and it is also a basic raw material to thousands of industrial products like oil, proteins, pharmaceutical, cosmetics, beverages, film, textile, gum, value added foods, paper industries, bio-ethanol etc.
SEBI to move against non-compliant firms
The Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI) has initiated action against non-compliant “Exclusively Listed Companies (ELCs) on Dissemination Board (DB),” and its directors and promoters.
What are the non- compliant firms?
- These are companies which were earlier listed on regional stock exchanges (RSEs) that have been de-recognised by the regulator.
- Such companies were allowed to be part of the national exchanges through a dissemination board but were directed to submit a plan of action for listing or providing an exit option to shareholders.
Why in news?
- These firms were supposed to submit their plan of action. The deadline to submit the plan of action was extended until June 30.
- As per SEBI, of the 2,000 companies listed on dissemination board as on June 30, there are 536 entities that are traceable and yet not submitted a plan of action.
SEBI’s powers to punish non- compliant firms:
- SEBI can bar such promoters and companies from accessing the securities market for a period of 10 years apart from freezing the shares held by promoters and directors.
- The regulator can even attach the bank accounts and other assets of promoters and directors to compensate the investors.
Centre eases pre-merger filing norms
In a move that is likely to boost mergers and acquisitions (M&A) in the country, the Centre has done away with the thirty-day time period to submit before the Competition Commission of India (CCI) an application for pre-merger clearance.
- According to a notification, every person or enterprise who is a party to a combination is exempted from giving notice within thirty days. This new provision (exemption from the 30-day time period) will be valid for five years starting June 29, 2017.
- The notification means that parties can make a CCI application at any time in course of an acquisition but cannot effect or close an acquisition before obtaining the CCI’s approval.
The earlier norms had specified that an application to obtain the CCI’s prior approval for an acquisition, merger or amalgamation had to be filed within thirty days of:
- Board approval of the proposed merger or amalgamation by each of the respective parties;
- execution of any agreement or other document of a binding nature conveying a decision to acquire shares, control, voting rights or assets;
- execution of any document by the acquiring enterprise conveying a decision to acquire shares, control, voting rights or assets, in case the acquisition is without the consent of the enterprise being acquired;
- Or date of the public announcement under India’s takeover regulations applicable to acquisitions of listed entities.
Significance of this move:
- It will give parties the liberty and flexibility to decide at what stage they want to make the CCI filing, depending on the deal parameters and commercial terms.
- Besides, this will specifically benefit large, multi-jurisdiction transactions where parties may be burdened with regulatory requirements in several jurisdictions and, therefore, need more time to assess the Indian law implications and prepare a comprehensive CCI application.
Bilateral & International Relations
Modi presents 10 point action agenda to counter terrorism at G20 summit
Prime Minister Narendra Modi presents 10 point action agenda to counter terrorism at the 12th G20 summit held at the German city of Hamburg.
- The main agenda of the 2-day conference is Theme: ‘Shaping an inter-connected world.’
- While counter—terrorism and economic reforms dominated the discussions, the Summit also discussed issues like free and open trade, climate change, migration, sustainable development and global stability.
PM Modi’s 10 Point Agenda:
- Deterrent action against nations supporting terrorism must be made compulsory, such nations should be barred from G20
- G20 nations must exchange lists of suspected terrorists and their supporters
- Legal processes such extradition should be simplified and expedited
- Comprehensive Convention on International Terrorism should be adopted soon
- UNSC resolutions and other international processes should be effectively implemented
- G20 nations should give emphasis to de-radicalisation programmes and exchange best practices
- Terror financing should be curtailed by means of Financial Action Task Force (FATF) and other means
- Weapons and Explosive Action Task Force (WEATF) should be constituted on lines of FATF so that source of weapons to the terrorists is stopped
- G20 nations should cooperate in cyber security, with a focus on terrorist activities
- National Security Advisors on Counter Terrorism mechanism should be constituted
- The Group of Twenty (G20) is the premier forum for its members’ international economic cooperation and decision-making.
- Its members include Australia, Argentina, Brazil, Canada, China, India, France, Germany, Indonesia, Italy, Japan, South Korea, Mexico, Saudi Arabia, Russia, Turkey, South Africa, UK, US and EU.
- It comprises total 19 countries plus the European Union (EU), representing 85% of global GDP, 80% of international trade, 65% of world’s population.
- It is deliberating forum for the governments and central bank governors from 20 major economies on economic issues and other important development challenges.
- It was started in 1999 as a meeting of Finance Ministers and Central Bank Governors in the aftermath of the Southeast Asian (Tiger economies) financial crisis.
- It was established for studying, reviewing, and promoting high-level discussion of policy issues pertaining to the promotion of international financial stability.
- In 2008, the first G20 Leaders’ Summit was held in Washington DC, US. The group had played a key role in responding to the global financial crisis.
[Ref: The Hindu]
Vietnam renews Indian Oil Deal
Vietnam granted Indian oil firm ONGC Videsh a two-year extension to explore oil block 128.
- The concession was first granted to India in 2006 but had been due to expire in mid-June.
- The moves come at a delicate time in Beijing’s relations with Vietnam, which claims parts of the sea, and India, which recently sent warships to monitor the Malacca Straits, through which most of China’s energy supplies and trade passes.
- Part of that block is in the U-shaped ‘nine-dash line’ which marks the vast area that China claims in the sea, a route for more than $5 trillion in trade each year in which the Philippines, Brunei, Malaysia and Taiwan also have claims.
- The interest in the block was strategic rather than commercial, given that oil development there was seen as high-risk with only moderate potential.
- Vietnam has welcomed India to play a bigger role in Southeast Asia and specifically, the South China Sea.
- Vietnam is following the strategy of seeking many partnerships with big powers while avoiding formal military alliances.
- India has provided naval patrol boats, satellite cover to monitor Vietnam’s waters and training for its submarines and fighter pilots.
- India is providing more military support than it is currently offering to any other South-east Asian country. Further, under the $500 million defence credit line announced by India last year, India will transfer naval vessels and missiles to Vietnam.
UNESCO puts Hebron on endangered heritage list, outraging Israel
The Heritage Committee of the UN’s Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) adopted a Palestinian request to declare Hebron’s Old City—and with it the Cave of the Patriarchs—as a Palestinian World Heritage Site, raising ire in Israel.
- The decision outraged Israeli officials who say the move negated the deep Jewish ties to the biblical town and its ancient shrine.
- The move was the latest chapter in Israel’s contentious relationship with UNESCO, an agency it accuses of being an anti-Israeli tool that makes decisions out of political considerations.
- The inclusion of the Old City of West Bank into the list of World Heritage in danger is aimed at drawing world’s attention to the situation in Hebron.
- The resolution for declaring Hebron as a protected area of outstanding universal value was brought by the Palestine and the resolution was fast-tracked by the UNESCO on the basis that the site was under severe threat.
- Palestine accuses Israel for involving in violations, vandalism and for causing damage to properties in the area.
- Israel has rejected the Hebron resolution saying that the resolution’s reference to the city as Islamic denies thousands of years of Jewish connection with the city.
- Israel believes that Hebron is the birthplace of the Jewish people. The religious site at the Hebron was originally built by the Jewish King Herod, which was later added to by the Muslim caliphs.
- Israel has accused the UN for adopting anti-Israel bias at all issues concerning it. In May, UNESCO had passed a separate resolution on Jerusalem condemning Israel.
- Hebron is cited as one of the oldest cities in the world. The city is very old dating from the Chalcolithic period or more than 3,000 years BC.
- Both Jews and Muslims revere the same site in Hebron as the traditional burial place of the biblical patriarchs and matriarchs — Jews call it the Tomb of the Patriarchs, while for Muslims it is the Ibrahimi Mosque.
- The city which is the largest city in the West Bank is home to more than 200,000 Palestinians and a few hundred Israeli settlers.
Defence & Security Issues
NSG organises first International Aviation Security seminar
National Security Guard (NSG) has organised the first International Aviation Security seminar, with the aim of bringing all major stakeholders under one roof and facilitate them sharing views/opinion, discussions, brain storming with the matters concerning Aviation Security.
About the NSG:
The National Security Guard (NSG) is an Indian special forces unit under the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA).
- It was raised in 1984, following Operation Blue Star and the assassination of Indira Gandhi, “for combating terrorist activities with a view to protect states against internal disturbances”.
- NSG is under the authority of Ministry of Home Affairs (India), However it is not categorised under the uniform nomenclature of Central Armed Police Forces.
- It has a special forces mandate, and its core operational capability is provided by the Special Action Group (SAG) which is drawn from the Indian Army.
- The Special Rangers Group (SRG), the police component of NSG, which also handles VIP security, is composed of personnel on deputation from other Central Armed Police Forces and State Police Forces.
- The chief of the force designated as a Director General is an officer from the Indian Police Service.
- The NSG personnel are often referred to in the media as Black Cats because of the black dress and black cat insignia worn on their uniform.
Science & Technology
Scheme for IPR Awareness – Creative India; Innovative India
Taking forward the National Intellectual Property Rights (IPR) Policy 2016, a ‘Scheme for IPR Awareness – Creative India; Innovative India’ has been launched by Cell for IPR Promotion and Management (CIPAM) under the aegis of the Department of Industrial Policy and Promotion.
- The Scheme aims at raising IPR awareness amongst students, youth, authors, artists, budding inventors and professionals to inspire them to create, innovate and protect their creations and inventions across India including Tier 1, Tier 2, Tier 3 cities as well as rural areas in the next 3 years.
- The Scheme will conduct over 4000 IPR awareness workshops/seminars in academic institutions (schools and colleges) and the industry, including MSMEs and Startups, as also IP training and sensitization programmes for enforcement agencies and the judiciary.
- Workshops will cover all vital IP topics including international filing procedures, promotion of Geographical Indications and highlighting the ill effects of piracy and counterfeiting.
- The Cell for IPR Promotion and Management (CIPAM) is nodal agency under the aegis of the Department of Industrial Policy & Promotion (DIPP), Ministry of Commerce & Industry.
- It is working to ensure effective implementation of the National IPR Policy 2016.
- It has undertaken several measures to strengthen the IP ecosystem in the country.
Key Facts for Prelims
India becomes Fourth Largest Foreign Investor into UK
- According to the latest official figures, India has slipped by one spot to become the fourth-largest foreign investor into the UK.
- The US remains on the top, investing in 577 projects in the UK, with China (including Hong Kong) remaining in second place with 160 projects.
- India set up 127 new projects in Britain last year and safeguarded 7,645 existing jobs as a result and created 3,999 new jobs in 2016-17. However, it lost its position as the third largest investor in the UK to France which set up 131 projects last year.
- India shares the fourth spot with Australia and New Zealand, which also set up 127 projects collectively.