Polity & Governance
- President of India Presents National Corporate Social Responsibility Awards
- Vice President seeks a new political normal based on 15-point reform
Bilateral & International Relations
- India, Saudi sign strategic partnership pact, focus on security cooperation
Art & Culture
- Finance Minister Releases Commemorative Coin on Paramahansa Yogananda
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Polity & Governance
President of India Presents National Corporate Social Responsibility Awards
The President of India presented the National Corporate Social Responsibility Awards (NCSRA) in New Delhi.
- The NCSRA has been instituted by the Ministry of Corporate Affairs to recognize outstanding contribution in the field of Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR).
ABOUT CORPORATE SOCIAL RESPONSIBILITY
- Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) acknowledges the corporation’s duty that the corporation owes to the community within which it operates.
Methodology of CSR
CSR is the procedure for assessing an organization’s impact on society and evaluating their responsibilities. It begins with an assessment of the following aspects of each business:
- Communities; and,
The most effective CSR plans ensure that while organizations comply with legislation, their investments also respect the growth and development of marginalized communities and the environment.
CSR in India
- India is one of the first countries in the world to make CSR mandatory for companies following an amendment to the Companies Act, 2013 (Companies Act) in 2014.
- Since the applicability of mandatory CSR provision in 2014, CSR spending by corporate India has increased significantly. In 2018, companies spent 47 % higher as compared to the amount in 2014-15, contributing nearly INR 7,500 crores to CSR initiatives.
- Under the Companies Act, as part of CSR, businesses can invest their profits in areas such as promoting rural development in terms of healthcare, sanitation, education including skill development, environmental sustainability, etc.
- The Section 135 of Companies Act prescribes thresholds to identify companies which are required to constitute a CSR Committee – those, in the immediately preceding financial year of which: (i) net worth is Rs 500 Crore or more; or (ii) turnover is Rs 1000 Crore or more; or (iii) net profit amounts to Rs 500 Crore or more.
CSR AMENDMENTS UNDER THE COMPANIES (AMENDMENT) ACT, 2019
- The Ministry of Law and Justice, in July 2019, issued a notification enacting the Companies (Amendment) Act, 2019 (Amendment Act). The Amendment Act, inter alia, amends Section 135 of the Companies Act, the cornerstone for the concept of CSR in the statute.
Transfer of unspent funds
- Previously, if a company was unable to fully spend its CSR funds in a given year, it could carry the amount forward and spend it in the next fiscal, in addition to the money allotted for that year.
- The CSR amendments introduced under the Act now require companies to deposit the unspent CSR funds into a fund prescribed under Schedule VII of the Act (Clean Ganga Fund, Swachh Baharat Kosh, etc.) within the end of the fiscal year. This amount must be utilized within three years from the date of transfer.
Penal liability for non-compliance
- It prescribes for a monetary penalty as well as imprisonment in case of non-compliance from INR 50,000 to INR 25 lakh.
CSR in case new companies:
- Companies are required to spend, in every financial year, at least 2% of their average net profits generated during the 3 immediately preceding financial years.
- If the company has not completed 3 years from incorporation, the amount to be spent on a CSR fund will be equivalent to 2 % of the net profits made by the company in the previous financial year.
- Prior to the amendment, the language of the act appeared to keep out of its purview companies younger than 3 financial years.
Central government to have rule making power:
- Under the Amendment, the central government has been empowered to make rules and issue directions to ensure compliance.
BENEFITS OF CSR
Vice President seeks a new political normal based on 15-point reform
Vice President of India unveiled a 15-point reform charter as the basis for a new political normal to enable effective functioning of the Parliament and State Legislatures.
HIGHLIGHTS OF THE FRAMEWORK TO STRENGTHEN PARLIAMENTARY INSTITUTIONS
- Both pre and post Legislative Impact Assessment to be done
- Longer tenure for Department Related Standing Committees of Parliament instead of reconstitution every year
- More reservation of women in legislatures whose representation is at present only about 13%
- A minimum number of sittings for both the Parliament and State Legislatures per year
- Law makers should abide by the Rules of the House and political parties should take this by evolving and enforcing a code of conduct
- Making rules that automatically take effect against erring Members in case of interruptions and disruptions
- Political parties to evolve roster system for ensuring attendance of at least 50% of their members in the legislatures everyday
- Publishing regular reports on the attendance of members during the proceedings and the extent of their participation
- Legislature parties to ensure that the new entrants are given adequate opportunities to participate in the debates
- To address the problem of rising number of legislators with criminal backgrounds, tickets to contest elections will not be given merely on the criteria of winnability by political parties
- Review the functioning of the Anti-Defection Law to address grey areas like incentivising members to resort to activities that invite expulsion from the parties.
- To review the functioning of Whip System.
- Setting up special courts/tribunals for time bound adjudication on criminal complaints against legislators and election related matters;
- Timely and effective action against legislators for non-ethical conduct
- Governments to be responsive to the concerns of the Opposition and the Opposition to be responsible as well. Both sides need to avoid cynical and adversarial position in debates.
- Consensus to be built on the proposal for simultaneous elections.
PITFALLS OF OUR PARLIAMENTARY DEMOCRACY:
- Declining number of sittings of legislatures.
- Persistent disruptions.
- Declining quality of debates.
- Growing number of legislatures with criminal record.
- High degree of absenteeism.
- Inadequate representation of women.
- Rising money and muscle power in elections.
- Lack of inner democracy in functioning of the political parties.
- Poor knowledge, low argumentative power of the masses, negative influences of poverty and economic disparities.
- Faulty ‘First Pass the Post (FPTP) election system.
- Society’s perpetual habit of accepting all permeable state to control public and private affairs.
Bilateral & International Relations
India, Saudi sign strategic partnership pact, focus on security cooperation
Prime Minister of India said that the signing of the agreement on the Strategic Partnership Council by India and Saudi Arabia would strengthen the already robust relations between the two countries.
HIGHLIGHTS OF VISIT OF INDIAN PM TO SAUDI ARABIA
Establishment of a Strategic Partnership Council (SPC)
- Both countries signed a pact for the establishment of a Strategic Partnership Council (SPC). India is the fourth country with which Saudi Arabia has formed such a strategic partnership, after the UK, France and China.
- The SPC will have two parallel tracks: Political, security, culture and society, headed by Foreign Ministers; and economy and investment, headed by India’s Commerce Minister and Saudi’s Energy Minister.
- A trilateral partnership has been formed between Saudi Aramco, Abu Dhabi National Oil Co and a consortium of Indian oil majors to set up the world’s largest greenfield refinery in Raigarh, Chhattisgarh.
- Launching the RuPay card in Saudi Arabia to facilitate payments and remittances by the Indian diaspora.
- Integration of the e-Migrate and e-Thawtheeq portals to facilitate the process of migration of Indian labor into the Kingdom.
- Keen to enhance maritime security cooperation and are considering joint naval exercises in 2020.
- Saudi Arabia will be hosting the G20 Summit in 2020 and India will host it in 2022, which is also the 75th anniversary of Indian independence.
- India imports around 18 % of its crude oil from the Saudi Arabia, making it the second-largest source of crude oil for India. It also supplies 30 % of India’s liquefied petroleum gas needs.
- The ‘Future Investment Initiative’, also known as Davos in Desert, is an annual investment forum held in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, to discuss trends in the world economy and investment environment.
Art & Culture
Finance Minister Releases Commemorative Coin on Paramahansa Yogananda
The Union Minister for Finance & Corporate Affairs released a special commemorative coin on Paramahansa Yogananda to mark his 125th birth anniversary.
ABOUT PARAMAHANSA YOGANANDA
- Paramahansa Yogananda was an Indian yogi who introduced the teachings of meditation and Kriya Yoga through his organization Self-Realization Fellowship (SRF) / Yogoda Satsanga Society (YSS) of India.
- He was the first yoga master of India to take up permanent residence in the West, and the first prominent Indian to be hosted in the White House.
- He arrived in America in 1920, and proceeded to travel throughout the United States on what he called his spiritual campaigns. He is considered as the “Father of Yoga in the West.”
- His book ‘Autobiography of a Yogi’ helped launch a spiritual revolution in the West.
- He was a chief disciple of the Bengali yoga guru Swami Sri Yukteswar Giri.
- Kriya Yoga is an ancient meditation technique of energy and breath control (pranayama). It is part of a comprehensive spiritual path, which includes additional meditation practices along with right living
- The ancient technique of Kriya Yoga was revived in 1861, when the yogi Mahavatar Babaji taught the technique to his disciple Lahiri Mahasaya. Then, Yogananda popularized Kriya Yoga through his book, Autobiography of a Yogi.
- Kriya Yoga is union (yoga) with the Infinite through a certain action or rite (kriya).
- The Kriya Yogi mentally directs life energy to revolve around the six spinal centers (medullary, cervical, dorsal, lumbar, sacral, and coccygeal plexuses) which correspond to the twelve astral signs of the zodiac.