News (Text)


When:
October 31, 2018 @ 1:00 am
2018-10-31T01:00:00+05:30
2018-10-31T01:15:00+05:30

NEWS

31 OCTOBER 2018

Sr. No.

Topic

News

1.

GS II: POLITY – CBI

CBI officer moves SC for SIT probe in Asthana case

2.

GS III: ENVIRONMENT – POLLUTION

‘States can fix own slots for crackers’

3.

GS II: POLITY – STATES

Statehood sought for Assam’s Barak Valley

4.

GS III: ENVIRONMENT – POLLUTION

‘India among nations that face grave danger to soil biodiversity’

5.

GS I: HISTORY

Patel saved India from Balkanisation: PM

6.

GS III: DEFENCE

India invites Italian firms to invest in defence sector

7.

GS II: INTERNATIONAL – USA

‘Birthright citizenship has to end’

8.

GS III: ECONOMY – BANKING

CP redemptions keep NBFCs on edge

9.

GS III: ECONOMY – BANKING

RBI failed in its duty as a regulator, says Jaitley

10.

GS III: ECONOMY – BANKING

Liquidity, economy figure in FSDC meet

11.

GS III: ECONOMY – BANKING

How Centre’s ‘board game’ fuelled the feud with RBI

GS II: POLITY – CBI

CBI officer moves SC for SIT probe in Asthana case

  • Ajay Kumar Bassi, the CBI officer who probed corruption allegations against the agency’s Special Director, R.K. Asthana, before he was removed from the case, approached the Supreme Court on Tuesday with a plea to set up a Special Investigation Team (SIT) to investigate the case.
  • Bassi said his transfer on October 24 was a mala fide move.
  • Asking the court to quash his transfer, Mr. Bassi alleged that it was a ploy to derail the investigation in a highly sensitive case.
  • He asked the court to direct the CBI to produce the evidence collected so far in a sealed cover.
  • “All the evidence mentioned is in the custody of the CBI and there is a suspicion that it may be tampered with or destroyed. It is unfortunate to note that the present investigating officer has concentrated his efforts not on the allegations of the FIR, but has started a roving and fishing inquiry in the investigation made by the applicant [Mr. Bassi], and that too against him,” he alleged in his application.
  • Bassi charged that he was facing intimidation and veiled threats from the present investigating officer in the case.
  • Bassi said “pervasive manipulations and machinations” were under way to save “some select officers from their misdeeds.”
  • He said his life and dignity were under threat from “vindictive and vicious officials” who were formerly on his radar.
  • He said in his application that the statement of the ‘whistle-blower’ in the case, Sathish Babu Sana, revealed “shocking details of alleged corruption by Mr. Asthana, the then Special Director CBI, in collusion and conspiracy with other co-accused persons namely, Somesh Prasad and Manoj Prasad and other unknown accused persons.”

 

GS III: ENVIRONMENT – POLLUTION

‘States can fix own slots for crackers’

  • The Supreme Court modified its October 23 order restricting the time for bursting crackers on Deepavali and other religious festivals to two hours, between 8 p.m. and 10 p.m.
  • Instead, it allowed Tamil Nadu and adjacent southern States to decide when people can burst crackers on festival days, provided the total time does not cross the two-hour mark.
  • This means the authorities can stagger the time slots and even make it an hour in the morning and another in the night.
  • Further, the court said its direction that only green crackers could be manufactured and sold is only applicable to Delhi and the National Capital Region.
  • On October 23, the court held that only green or improved crackers would be used for religious festivals and other occasions, including weddings.
  • The modifications came after the court seemed to agree with Tamil Nadu’s contention that restricting the time for bursting crackers to just two hours in the night would be a violation of religious rights of people in the southern parts of the country, where Deepavali is celebrated in the morning.
  • Meanwhile, firecracker manufacturers raised doubts in court about the viability of manufacturing and selling green crackers for Deepavali this year.
  • Senior advocate Ranjit Kumar submitted that the window was too short for completing safety tests and procedure under the Inflammable Substances Act of 1952 and certification by the Petroleum and Explosive Safety Organisation (PESO).

GS II: POLITY – STATES

Statehood sought for Assam’s Barak Valley

  • A students’ organisation has advocated statehood for southern Assam’s Barak Valley because of a “sharp division” between linguistic groups created by the National Register of Citizens and Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, 2016.
  • Barak Valley comprising three districts — Cachar, Hailakandi and Karimganj — is Bengali-dominated. The relationship between the people of this valley and the Assamese-dominated Brahmaputra Valley has been ambivalent.
  • “Organisations such as All Assam Students’ Union, Krishak Mukti Sangram Samiti and pro-talks ULFA are making lives of Bengalis hell over the Citizenship Bill and NRC. It would be better if Barak Valley breaks away from Assam,” Pradip Dutta Roy, advocate and founder-president of the All Cachar Karimganj Hailakandi Students’ Association, said in Silchar.
  • He also said that the Assam beyond Barak Valley should be divided into three parts — Bodoland, NC Hills-Karbi Anglong and Kamatapur — to ensure peace.

 

GS III: ENVIRONMENT – POLLUTION

‘India among nations that face grave danger to soil biodiversity’

  • India’s soil biodiversity is in grave peril, according to the Global Soil Biodiversity Atlas prepared by the World Wide Fund for Nature.
  • Soil biodiversity encompasses the presence of micro-organisms, micro-fauna (nematodes and tardigrades for example), and macro-fauna (ants, termites and earthworms).
  • The findings are part of the bi-annual Living Planet Report (LPR) 2018.
  • The WWF’s ‘risk index’ for the globe — indicating threats from loss of above-ground diversity, pollution and nutrient over-loading, over-grazing, intensive agriculture, fire, soil erosion, desertification and climate change — shows India among countries whose soil biodiversity faces the highest level of risk.
  • Coloured red on the Atlas, these include Pakistan, China, several countries in Africa and Europe, and most of North America.
  • The two key drivers of biodiversity loss were the over exploitation of natural resources and agriculture, the WWF added in its report.
  • While India’s per capita ecological footprint was less than 1.75 hectares/person (the lowest band among countries surveyed), its high population made it vulnerable to an ecological crisis, even if per-capita consumption remained at current levels, the WWF warned.

GS I: HISTORY

Patel saved India from Balkanisation: PM

  • Prime Minister Narendra Modi paid tributes to Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel, describing him as a great unifier and the maker of modern India.
  • “The ‘Statue of Unity’ [of Patel] is a symbol of both the unity of hearts and the geographical integrity of our motherland. It is a reminder that, divided, we may not be even able to face ourselves. United, we can face the world and scale new heights of growth and glory,” he said.
  • Situated on the banks of Narmada, the statue is the world’s tallest.
  • Modi said: “Sardar Patel worked with astonishing speed to dismantle the history of imperialism and create the geography of unity with the spirit of nationalism. He saved India from Balkanisation.”
  • As Independent India’s first Home Minister, Sardar Patel set the stage for an administrative framework that continues to serve the nation, particularly the poor and the marginalised.
  • The Prime Minister said Sardar Patel had also popularised the idea of cooperative housing societies.
  • “Two traits synonymous with Sardar Patel are trust and integrity. The farmers of India had unparalleled faith in him… traders and industrialists preferred to work with Sardar Patel because they felt here was a stalwart who had a vision for India’s economic and industrial growth,” said Mr. Modi.

 

GS III: DEFENCE

India invites Italian firms to invest in defence sector

  • India invited Italy to participate in the defence sector under the ‘Make in India’ scheme.
  • The invitation was extended during the high-level discussion between visiting Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte and Prime Minister Narendra Modi, which also included an agreement to counter terror financing and state sponsors of terrorism.
  • It was the first time the two countries have agreed on joint defence production since the AugustaWestland case exploded in 2013.
  • India’s Scorpene submarine project has suffered due to the controversy which left the submarines without the Black Shark torpedoes.
  • Conte also indicated support for India’s quest for membership in the Nuclear Suppliers Group and underlined Rome’s support to India’s membership in the global technology export groups.

 

GS II: INTERNATIONAL – USA

‘Birthright citizenship has to end’

  • President Donald Trump has said that he is planning to sign an executive order ending the birthright citizenship provision — the automatic conferral of U.S. citizenship on any individual born in the country.
  • “We’re the only country in the world where a person comes in, has a baby, and the baby is essentially a citizen of the United States for 85 years with all of those benefits,” Mr. Trump said.
  • It is factually incorrect that the U.S. is the only country in the world with birthright citizenship laws, although only a minority have such laws.
  • Trump said he has consulted his counsel on this and plans to proceed with the executive order, which is almost certain to face legal challenges — as have his executive orders banning the entry into the U.S. of citizens from certain Muslim-majority countries.
  • It is by no means clear that the President has the legal authority to effect such a broad legal change through an executive order.
  • The concept of jus soli (right of the soil) derives from the 14th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, enacted in 1868 after the Civil War, in order to grant legal rights to former slaves.
  • It says: “All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the state wherein they reside.”
  • Therefore, individuals born in the U.S., to parents on temporary visas or here without a valid visa, are also U.S. citizens. This has been central to motivating Republicans who want to end birthright citizenship.
  • The U.S. Department of Homeland Security put the number of foreigners without legal status in the U.S. at a little above 12 million in 2014.
  • Trump has been talking tough on borders, security and immigration, highly divisive topics in the U.S. these days, in the run-up to November 6 midterm elections.

GS III: ECONOMY – BANKING

CP redemptions keep NBFCs on edge

  • With commercial papers (CPs) worth Rs. 1 lakh crore coming up for redemption by mid-November, non-banking finance companies (NBFCs) and micro-finance institutions (MFIs) are in a quandary on how to tide over the liquidity crisis.
  • While large lenders are sitting on comfortable liquidity, it is the mid and small NBFCs and MFIs that are likely to face the crunch.
  • Banks and mutual funds are the main sources of funding for housing finance companies and other NBFCs.
  • While banks contribute about 40% of the funding, MFs contribute 30%.
  • According to estimates, 55% of NBFC papers with mutual funds have less than 90 days maturity, which could lead to redemption pressures.
  • Anticipating liquidity pressure, micro-finance institutions are meeting their lenders on November 1 to discuss ways to tide over the liquidity crunch.
  • While large MFIs have access to bank finance, the mid-sized and smaller ones depend on funds from NBFCs.
  • If NBFCs face cash crunch, then that will have a cascading effect on the MFI sector.
  • Anticipating liquidity crunch, the RBI has announced Rs. 40,000-crore liquidity infusion in November through open market operations.
  • The liquidity deficit in last fortnight was about Rs. 1 lakh crore on an average. On some days, the deficit spiked to Rs. 1.5 lakh crore.

GS III: ECONOMY – BANKING

RBI failed in its duty as a regulator, says Jaitley

  • Finance Minister Arun Jaitley targeted the RBI at the India Leadership Summit organised by the U.S.-India Strategic Partnership Forum, accusing it of not doing its duty as a regulator during 2008 and 2014 and allowing indiscriminate lending.
  • The government of the day, he said, was pushing banks to lend, which resulted in credit growth in a year shooting up to 31% from the normal average of 14%.
  • Banks went into projects of demerit which did not have the capacity to sustain the capital.
  • Total bank credit from Rs. 18 lakh crore in 2008 went up to Rs. 55 lakh crore by 2014. And this is something the banks couldn’t sustain, the borrowers couldn’t sustain and you had the NPA problem,” he said.
  • The non-performing assets or NPAs were put at Rs. 2.5 lakh crore during those times, but when an asset quality review was ordered by the new government in 2014, it emerged that bad loans were of the order of Rs. 8.5 lakh crore, he said.

GS III: ECONOMY – BANKING

Liquidity, economy figure in FSDC meet

  • Finance Minister Arun Jaitley and Reserve Bank of India Governor Urjit Patel met face-to-face — at the Financial Stability and Development Council (FSDC) meeting — for the first time after the tension between the government and the central bank became public.
  • The FSDC is headed by the Finance Minister and comprises the RBI Governor, the SEBI Chairman, and heads of regulators such as PFRDA, IRDAI and the Chairman of the Insolvency and Bankruptcy Board.
  • The council discussed at length the issue of real interest rate, current liquidity situation, including segmental liquidity position in NBFCs and the mutual fund space, an official statement said.
  • The panel also decided that the regulators and the government will keep a close watch on developments and take all necessary measures.

GS III: ECONOMY – BANKING

How Centre’s ‘board game’ fuelled the feud with RBI

  • No RBI governor’s tenure is complete without a ‘lecture’ on the central bank’s independence.
  • After Duvvuri Subbarao and Raghuram Rajan, the latest to join the chorus was the current RBI chief Urjit Patel via his deputy Viral Acharya.
  • According to RBI sources, most differences between the RBI and the Centre in the past used to be over issues such as interest rates and when attempts were made to take way some functions such as debt management from the central bank.
  • However, this time, what sparked tensions was the government’s intervention through the board.
  • It all started with some board members asking for more dividends.
  • Things took a drastic turn in September 2018 when the term of one of the board members, Nachiket Mor, was abruptly brought to an end by the government.
  • This is said to be unprecedented in RBI’s history. Mr. Mor, one of the most articulate voices on the board, was extremely vocal against issues like regulatory forbearance and higher surplus transfer, which the government was aggressively pushing.
  • A former ICICI Bank executive, Mr. Mor was first inducted in the board in May 2013 for a period of four years. He was again appointed in August 2017. However, his term was cut short in September 2018 over allegations of conflict of interest — since he is also the country director of Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.
  • Interestingly, Mr. Mor continues to be in the Eastern local board of RBI.
  • Central banking sources claim that the induction of right-wing thinkers to the board like Swaminathan Gurumurthy only added to the tension. For example, Gurumurthy expressed discomfort over applying Basel norms to Indian banks.
  • “Basel rules are designed for commercial banks, not universal banks which all Indian banks are, and term-lending institutions which IL&FS & the likes are. Applying NPA norms to them is to ask one play football with hockey rules. Unfortunate a good institution is being destroyed,” Mr. Gurumurthy had tweeted when the IL&FS crisis was unfolding.
  • Apart from Mr. Gurumuthy some of the other board members inducted to the RBI board recently are Sachin Chaturvedi of think-tank RIS, Revathy Iyer, a former Indian Audit and Accounts Services officer, and Satish Marathe, former chairman and CEO of United Western Bank.

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