7 JUNE 2018
|1.||GS III: ECONOMY – INDICATORS||RBI raises rates after 4.5 years as crude price surges|
|2.||GS II: SOCIAL – HEALTH||Maternal mortality ratio in the country drops to 130 from 167|
|3.||GS II: SOCIAL – SCHEME||World Bank nod for Rs. 6,000 cr. groundwater recharge plan|
|4.||GS II: SOCIAL – INDEX||India’s rank marginally improves in peace index|
|5.||GS III: ECONOMY – BANKING||Co-op banks can become small finance banks, says RBI|
|6.||GS III: ECONOMY – BANKING||RBI tweaks norms to boost affordable housing lending|
|7.||GS III: ECONOMY – BANKING||President gives nod for IBC amendment|
|8.||GS III: ECONOMY – SECTORS||China’s ‘green’ issues boost India’s FY18 chemical exports|
|9.||GS III: S&T – BIOTECHNOLOGY||Scientists map genetic codes of 3,000 bacteria|
GS III: ECONOMY – INDICATORS
RBI raises rates after 4.5 years as crude price surges
- The six-member monetary policy committee (MPC) of the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) increased the repo rate by 25 basis points to 6.25%.
- The MPC arrived at the unanimous decision as the outlook for inflation had become ‘uncertain’ following a surge in international crude oil prices.
- This is the first rate hike in four-and-a-half years; the last was in January 2014.
- Banks may have anticipated the RBI’s move as major lenders such as the State Bank of India, the ICICI Bank and the Punjab National Bank had raised their lending rates a week ago.
- The RBI increased its inflation projection to 4.8%-4.9% in the first half (H1) of the financial year and 4.7% in the second half, as compared with 4.7-5.1% in H1 and 4.4% for H2.
- Consumer price index-based inflation, or retail inflation, rose to 4.6% in April from 4.28% in March.
- While the central bank has increased the inflation projection, it has maintained the ‘neutral’ stance for monetary policy, meaning interest rates can move either way.
- “A major upside risk to the baseline inflation path in the April resolution has materialised, viz., 12% increase in the price of the Indian crude basket, which was sharper, earlier than expected and seems to be durable,” the central bank said, adding that the Indian crude basket surged to $74 a barrel from $66 since the last policy meeting in April 2018.
- The outlook for GDP growth for 2018-19 has been retained at 7.4% as projected in the April policy.
GS II: SOCIAL – HEALTH
Maternal mortality ratio in the country drops to 130 from 167
- The latest Sample Registration System (SRS) data indicating the Maternal Mortality Ratio (MMR) has brought glad tidings.
- As per the data, the MMR (number of maternal deaths per 1,00,000 live births) has dropped from 167 (in 2011-2013, the last SRS period) to 130 for the country.
- This 28% drop is an achievement arising from painstakingly reducing the MMR in each of the States.
- The SRS segments States into three groups: “Empowered Action Group” (EAG) — Bihar, Jharkhand, Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Odisha, Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh/Uttarakhand and Assam; “Southern States” — Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, Karnataka, Kerala and Tamil Nadu; and “Others” — the remaining States and union territories.
- Kerala remains at the top with an MMR of 46 (down from 61). Maharashtra retains its second position with 61.Tamil Nadu with 66 (79) is in the third position.
- Three States have already achieved the UN’s Sustainable Development Goal of MMR 70.
GS II: SOCIAL – SCHEME
World Bank nod for Rs. 6,000 cr. groundwater recharge plan
- To address concerns about depleting groundwater reserves in India, the government has joined hands with the World Bank to execute a Rs. 6,000-crore scheme called the Atal Bhujal Yojana (ABHY).
- The scheme is to be implemented over a period of five years from 2018-19 to 2022-23, according to a statement from the Union water Ministry.
- It is yet to be cleared by the Cabinet.
- The Atal Bhujal Yojana “aims to improve ground water management in priority areas in the country through community participation,” the statement said.
- The priority areas identified under the scheme fall in Gujarat, Haryana, Karnataka, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Rajasthan and Uttar Pradesh, which represent about 25% of the total number of over-exploited, critical and semi-critical blocks in terms of groundwater in India.
- India’s groundwater resources have been overexploited, as experts have been warning for some time now.
- According to a sample assessment in 2011, groundwater in 19 of India’s 71 districts — about 26% — were critical or exploited, meaning that nearly as much or more water was being pulled out than their reservoirs’ natural recharge ability.
- In another assessment in 2013, they included groundwater blocks in districts that had gone saline, and this percentage was up to 31%.
GS II: SOCIAL – INDEX
India’s rank marginally improves in peace index
- India’s rank has marginally improved in “global peacefulness”, at a time when there is an overall decline of global peace owing to escalation of violence in West Asia and and North Africa.
- Pakistan’s rank too has improved marginally, according to the Global Peace Index (GPI), released by Australia-based Institute for Economics and Peace (IEP).
- The IEP, world’s leading think tank that develops metrics to analyse peace and quantify its economic value, released the 12th edition of the GPI, or measure of global peacefulness.
- India’s GPI rank was 137 out of 163 countries in 2017, when the year 2016 was assessed.
- India’s rank moved up to 136 for 2017.
- Nepal’s rank moved up from 93 to 84, while Sri Lanka’s position moved up from position 80 to 67.
- Pakistan’s rank moved from 152 to 151.
- However, the best performer of South Asia, Bhutan, slipped from 13th to 19th position, while Bangladesh’ peace index deteriorated sharply. Bangladesh moved from 84th to 93rd position.
- Syria remained the least peaceful country in the world, a position that it had held for the past five years.
- Iceland continues to remain the most peaceful country in the world, a position it has held since 2008.
GS III: ECONOMY – BANKING
Co-op banks can become small finance banks, says RBI
- The Reserve Bank of India has decided to allow urban co-operative banks (UCB) to convert into small finance banks (SFB), a move aimed at bringing these entities into mainstream banking.
- “It has been decided to allow voluntary transition of UCBs meeting the prescribed criteria into SFBs,” the RBI said in its monetary policy statement, adding that a detailed scheme will be announced shortly.
- UCBs had been facing financial trouble till a few years ago, prompting the RBI to stop issuing fresh licences.
- But their performance has improved recently while their numbers have come down due to mergers and closures.
- UCBs currently face regulation by both the RBI and the respective State governments. By turning into SFBs, they will be regulated only by the RBI.
- The regulator has also allowed all banks to spread their mark-to-market losses for the April-June quarter, equally over four quarters.
- Rising bond yields have resulted in MTM losses for banks. Bond yields and prices are inversely related.
- Yields have hardened in the last two quarters, impelling the RBI to allow similar relaxation earlier.
- Bond yields may harden further as the RBI raised inflation forecast for this year, and cited rising crude prices as a source of uncertainty.
GS III: ECONOMY – BANKING
RBI tweaks norms to boost affordable housing lending
- The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) has increased the eligibility limit for a loan to classify as priority sector lending in a bid to boost affordable housing.
- For metropolitan areas, loan limits have been raised from Rs. 28 lakh to Rs. 35 lakh and for other areas, it has been increased from Rs. 20 lakh to Rs. 25 lakh, provided the overall cost of the home does not exceed Rs. 45 lakh and Rs. 30 lakh respectively.
- The central bank said the move was aimed at giving a fillip to low-cost housing for the economically weaker sections and lower income groups.
- The central bank also cautioned about an increase in bad loans for loans of up to Rs. 2 lakh and said banks needed to strengthen screening and follow-up measures.
- “After a careful analysis of the housing loans data, it has been observed that the level of NPAs (non-performing assets) for the [loans of] ticket size of up to Rs. 2 lakh has been high and is rising briskly,” RBI said.
GS III: ECONOMY – BANKING
President gives nod for IBC amendment
- The President gave his assent to promulgate the Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code (Amendment) Ordinance, 2018.
- The ordinance provides significant relief to homebuyers by recognising their status as financial creditors.
- It will also enable homebuyers to invoke Section 7 of the Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code (IBC), 2016 against errant developers.
- Another major beneficiary would be micro, small and medium sector enterprises (MSME), which form the backbone of the Indian economy as the biggest employer, next only to the agriculture sector.
- “Recognising the importance of MSME sector in terms of employment generation and economic growth, the ordinance empowers the government to provide MSMEs with a special dispensation under the code,” the statement added.
- The immediate benefit it provides is that, it does not disqualify the promoter to bid for his enterprise undergoing corporate insolvency resolution process (CIRP) provided he is not a wilful defaulter and does not attract other disqualifications not related to default.
GS III: ECONOMY – SECTORS
China’s ‘green’ issues boost India’s FY18 chemical exports
- China’s decision to shutter several chemical manufacturing units to rein in air pollution and protect the environment has helped Indian chemical exports grow 31.94% to $15.91 billion in 2017-18, a top industry representative has said.
- Inorganic, organic and agro chemicals account for a bulk of these exports.
GS III: S&T – BIOTECHNOLOGY
Scientists map genetic codes of 3,000 bacteria
- Scientists seeking new ways to fight drug-resistant superbugs have mapped the genomes of more than 3,000 bacteria, including samples of a bug taken from Alexander Fleming’s nose and a dysentery-causing strain from a First World War soldier.
- The DNA of deadly strains of plague, dysentery and cholera were also decoded in what the researchers said was an effort to better understand dangerous diseases and develop new ways to fight them.
- The samples from Fleming — the British scientist credited with discovering the first antibiotic, penicillin, in 1928 —were among more than 5,500 bugs at Britain’s National Collection of Type Cultures (NCTC).
- Specialists estimate that around 70% of bacteria are already resistant to at least one antibiotic that is commonly used to treat them.
- This has made the evolution of “superbugs” that can evade one or multiple drugs one of the biggest threats facing medicine today.
- The genomic maps are available to researchers worldwide.