Insights Daily Current Affairs, 15 August 2016

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Insights Daily Current Affairs, 15 August 2016


 

Paper 1 Topic: Modern Indian history from about the middle of the eighteenth century until the present- significant events, personalities, issues.

 

Independence Day

 

India is celebrating its 70th Independence day today. The country became independent from British colonialism on this day in 1947.

Background:

On the 15th day of August, 1947, India’s freedom struggles finally found closure. British Raj, or as all know it, the British colonial rule in India ended on this day.

Why 15th August was chosen?

Based on Mountbatten’s inputs the Indian Independence Bill was introduced in the British House of Commons on July 4, 1947 and passed within a fortnight. It provided for the end of the British rule in India, on August 15, 1947, and the establishment of the Dominions of India and Pakistan, which were allowed to secede from the British Commonwealth.

The date was chosen by Lord Mountbatten himself because he had considered this date to be lucky. It was on this day during the World War II, that the Japanese Army surrendered to the allies.

Sources: the hindu.


 

Paper 3 Topic: Indian Economy and issues relating to planning, mobilization of resources, growth, development and employment.

 

Centre may ease regulatory norms for Exim Bank, ECGC

 

The Commerce Ministry is considering measures to strengthen state-owned export promotion firms — Exim Bank and Export Credit Guarantee Corporation (ECGC). The ministry is also planning to free them from strict regulatory norms to help boost exports.

Measures being considered include:exim bank

  • More financial support from the government to augment companies’ capital.
  • Allowing them to retain the dividend amount instead of the current practice of paying it to the government.
  • Freeing them from the stringent regulatory norms — removing Exim Bank from the supervision of banking regulator RBI and the ECGC from insurance regulator IRDAI’s ambit.
  • Increasing leverage ratio of EXIM bank, a mix of owners’ equity and debt to finance the company’s operations, from a low level of around 11 times the bank’s Net-Owned Funds (NOF) to at least 15 times its NOF initially and then more at a later stage.

Why such measures are necessary?

Such reforms are necessary to ensure a major turnaround in the country’s merchandise exports, which contracted 6.84% year-on-year to $21.69 billion in July.

About EXIM bank:

Export–Import Bank of India was established in 1982 under the Export-Import Bank of India Act 1981. Since its inception, Exim Bank of India has been both a catalyst and a key player in the promotion of cross border trade and investment. Over the period, it has evolved into an institution that plays a major role in partnering Indian industries, particularly the Small and Medium Enterprises, in their globalisation efforts, through a wide range of products and services offered at all stages of the business cycle, starting from import of technology and export product development to export production, export marketing, pre-shipment and post-shipment and overseas investment.

About ECGC:

The ECGC Limited is a company wholly owned by the Government of India. It provides export credit insurance support to Indian exporters and is controlled by the Ministry of Commerce. Government of India had initially set up Export Risks Insurance Corporation (ERIC) in July 1957. It was transformed into Export Credit and Guarantee Corporation Limited (ECGC) in 1964 and to Export Credit Guarantee Corporation of India in 1983.

Functions:

  • Provides a range of credit risk insurance covers to exporters against loss in export of goods and services as well.
  • Offers guarantees to banks and financial institutions to enable exporters to obtain better facilities from them.
  • Provides Overseas Investment Insurance to Indian companies investing in joint ventures abroad in the form of equity or loan and advances.

Sources: the hindu.


 

Paper 2 Topic: Structure, organization and functioning of the Executive and the Judiciary Ministries and Departments of the Government; pressure groups and formal/informal associations and their role in the Polity.

 

‘HCs have just a few minutes to hear each case’

 

“State of The Indian Judiciary” report was released recently by the Bangalore-based research organisation DAKSH under the “Rule of Law Project”. The project aims to investigate the problem of pendency of cases. As of April 1, 2016, DAKSH had data for more than 40 lakh cases in its database covering 21 high courts and 475 district courts.

Highlights of the report:

  • The average hearing time for listed cases on a particular day in an Indian high court is as little as two minutes. The time taken per hearing has been computed based on the working hours of judges and number of cases “listed” on a particular day.
  • About 50% cases listed are adjourned. For instance, if 80 cases are listed, some 40 are adjourned, 35 don’t reach and just five are heard.
  • The report highlights problems faced by litigants, including the accused in criminal cases. It says 31% of individuals accused of bailable offences claimed that they continue to be in jail as they cannot afford bail or guarantors to stand surety. It also shows that less than 3% of litigants used legal aid, despite being eligible to take the benefit of government-appointed lawyers.
  • The report also notes that time spent on a case, the frequency/infrequency of hearings, and change in judicial personnel not only impact understanding of pendency, but also adversely affects the concept of fair hearing, which is a fundamental promise that the judiciary makes to the litigants.

Situation in different states:

  • In the Patna High Court, a hearing lasts for around two minutes on an average, as judges hear around 150 cases every day. In Tripura High Court the average time per hearing is 15 minutes with judges hearing around 20 cases a day.
  • The number of days between two hearings also varies across high courts. For instance, the most frequent hearings are held in the Calcutta High Court, with 16 days between hearings. They are most far apart in the Delhi High Court with 80 days between two hearings.
  • The research also found that around 82% of cases in high courts have been pending for 10 to 15 years. The Allahabad High Court has the highest average pendency among all Indian high courts, with a case pending for an average of a little more than three years and nine months, whereas the High Court of Sikkim has the lowest average pendency of 10 months.

Way ahead:

This finding is key to judicial reform, as it is an indicator of the stress faced by judges on a daily basis. The report suggests that putting a cap on the number of hearings will allow reduction in judicial workload and may improve efficiency and also reduce the number of times litigants have to visit courts.

Sources: the hindu.


 

Paper 2 Topic: Important International institutions, agencies and fora, their structure, mandate.

 

India to reject UN team’s request to visit Kashmir, expose Pakistan’s role in unrest

 

India is set to reject a UNHRC move to send a team to Jammu and Kashmir, pointing out that the domestic human rights panel was already at work while other institutions like Parliament and the Supreme Court had also discussed the situation in the state.

  • In its reply to UNHRC, India has said that a visit by a UN Human Rights Council team is not required. It has also explained several measures the Indian government has taken to restore normalcy in J&K besides pointing to Pakistan’s overt role in aggravating the situation in Kashmir by way of its open support to jihadi organisations instigating violence in India.

Background:

The UNHRC letter to India came after Pakistan urged it to investigate “human rights violations” in Kashmir.

About UNHRC:

It is an inter-governmental body within the United Nations system responsible for strengthening the promotion and protection of human rights around the globe and for addressing situations of human rights violations and make recommendations on them.

  • It meets at the UN Office at Geneva and members are elected by the UN General Assembly.
  • The term of each seat is three years, and no member may occupy a seat for more than two consecutive terms.
  • The council works closely with the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights and engages the United Nations’ special procedures.
  • The General Assembly can suspend the rights and privileges of any Council member that it decides has persistently committed gross and systematic violations of human rights during its term of membership. The suspension process requires a two-thirds majority vote by the General Assembly.

Sources: the hindu.


 

Facts for Prelims:

 

  • Smart Ganga City programme: The Union Government has launched the first phase of Smart Ganga City programme in 10 cities located along River Ganga. Haridwar, Rishikesh, Mathura, Varanasi, Kanpur, Allahabad, Lucknow, Patna, Sahibganj and Barrackpore are the cities/town where the programme will be implemented in the first phase. Under this programme, Sewage Treatment Plants (STPs) and improve drainage network will be set up on hybrid annuity mode on public private partnership basis.