Insights Daily Current Affairs, 31 July 2017

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  Insights Daily Current Affairs, 31 July 2017


 

Paper 1:

Topic: Salient features of Indian Society, Diversity of India.

 

Jiyo Parsi

 

“Jiyo Parsi Publicity Phase-2” was recently launched by the government. The scheme aims to fulfil the objective of inclusive growth of the government.

 

JIYO PARSI

About Jiyo Parsi scheme:

Declining population of parsi community in India is a matter of concern. Therefore, “Jiyo Parsi Publicity Phase-1” was initiated in 2013 for containing the declining trend of population of the Parsi community and reverse it to bring their population above the threshold level.

  • The main objective of the “Jiyo Parsi” scheme is to reverse the declining trend of Parsi population by adopting a scientific protocol and structured interventions, stabilize their population and increase the population of Parsis in India.
  • Ministry of Minority Affairs’ scheme has two components: Medical Assistance and Advocacy/Counselling.

 

Sources: pib.

 


 

Paper 2:

Topic: Separation of powers between various organs dispute redressal mechanisms and institutions.

 

Supreme Court allows two broke firms to settle dispute

 

The Supreme Court, using its extraordinary constitutional powers, has allowed two companies to withdraw from insolvency proceedings and settle their loan dispute despite the case having been admitted by the National Company Law Tribunal (NCLT).

  • It should be noted here that once the NCLT admits a case for initiating corporate insolvency resolution process under the Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code of 2016, the case cannot be withdrawn even if the parties have decided to settle.

NCLT

Is the Supreme Court empowered to do so?

Yes. Article 142 provides that “the Supreme Court in the exercise of its jurisdiction may pass such decree or make such order as is necessary for doing complete justice in any cause or matter pending before it”.

 

What’s the concern?

Just seven months after the operationalization of the Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code (IBC), it has been tested by the Supreme Court with its latest judgment. The policy underlying IBC shifts the incentive of the parties from individual recovery actions to collective action. In that context, after a petition has been filed in NCLT, allowing out-of-court bilateral settlement between the borrower and one creditor may contradict that basic objective of collective action.

After the admission of the petition, it acquires the character of representative suit and through publication in newspapers, other creditors get a right to participate in the insolvency resolution process and therefore IBC does not allow the petition to be dismissed on the basis of a compromise between the operational creditor and corporate debtor.

National Company Law Tribunal:

National Company Law Tribunal (NCLT) is a quasi-judicial body that will govern the companies in India. It was established under the Companies Act, 2013 and is a successor body of the Company Law Board.

  • NCLT will have the same powers as assigned to the erstwhile Company Law Board (which are mostly related to dealing with oppression and mismanagement), Board for Industrial and Financial Reconstruction (BIFR)(revival of sick companies) and powers related to winding up of companies (which was available only with the High Courts).
  • The setting up of NCLT as a specialized institution for corporate justice is based on the recommendations of the Justice Eradi Committee on Law Relating to Insolvency and Winding up of Companies.

 

Sources: the hindu.


 

Topic: Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors and issues arising out of their design and implementation.

 

Gaming: a question of skill

Gaming in India is rapidly gaining acceptance, by both customers and legislators. Although ‘gaming’ in popular parlance has taken on the meaning of playing computer or video games, the term is in fact a reference to competitive activities — like rummy, chess, bridge, and the like — that are not categorised as sports, as well as the betting that is done on them.

 

Why should betting be included under Gaming?

There are some industry players who believe that betting on sports such as cricket should also come under gaming and be termed as games of skill. Regulating sports betting will bring it into the light and will prevent match-fixing, they argue. The Lodha Committee report, too, recommends this course of action.

  • FICCI, in a report in 2013, had said that the government stands to earn about ₹7,200 crore a year from taxes from only half the ₹3 lakh crore gaming industry in India.

 

How is gaming treated across states in India?

The regulation of gaming in India is fragmented, with each state currently deciding the rules applicable in its jurisdiction, with variations emerging on the definition of gaming, the kinds of games that qualify, and the punishments meted out for indulging in gaming not allowed by law.

  • For example, Sikkim has the Sikkim Online Gambling (Regulation) Act, 2008 that only looks at online gaming, and not at activities conducted in brick and mortar gaming houses. The Nagaland Prohibition of Gambling and Promotion and Regulation of Online Games of Skill, Act, 2015 only permits skill-based games, defined as all games where there is a preponderance of skill over chance.
  • The Delhi Public Gambling Act, 1955 penalises the operation of a gaming-house and imposes a penalty for being found in a gaming-house. However, Section 13 of the Delhi Act exempts games of “mere skill” from its ambit.
  • Laws in other states such as Goa, Gujarat, Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Kerala, Maharashtra, Odisha, and Rajasthan are variations of this format. The All India Gaming Federation has asked the Law Commission — tasked with looking into the regulation of gaming — to consider proposing a nation-wide central gaming law.

 

What can India learn from other countries?

The U.K. enacted an updated gambling law in 2005 that provided for the creation of a Gambling Commission, which was tasked with crime prevention, the promotion of an open and transparent gaming and gambling industry, and the protection of vulnerable people from the ills and dangers of gambling. The country further updated this legislation in 2014.

  • Spain has set a 25% tax rate on gambling revenue, among the highest in Europe, and requires customers to provide their unique national identification numbers, names, and addresses before they can be registered to gamble.
  • Other countries like Singapore, Malta, and the Isle of Man, have robust gaming legislations that can provide good examples of how India can regulate gaming and gambling while increasing government tax revenue, and curtailing misuse.

 

Way ahead:

There are moral and ethical dimensions involved that have kept gambling and betting illegal so far. It has to be seen if betting can encourage match fixing. The regulatory frame work will have to be pretty strict.

 

Sources: the hindu.

 


 

Paper 3:

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

 

New gold bond scheme may draw more investors

 

The Government announced a few changes in its Sovereign Gold Bond (SGB) Scheme recently.

 

Changes introduced are as follows:

  • The primary change was the increase in the limit to 4 kg (from 0.5kg) for individuals, HUF and 20 kg for Trusts. This was probably done to encourage high net-worth individuals, rich farmers as well as trusts to invest in these bonds. The basic premise is that most Indians believe in gold as a time-tested and safe asset class and prefer it over other forms of investment.
  • The Government also introduced flexibility in the scheme to design and introduce variants to cater to a cross-section of investors.

gold bond scheme

Why was the scheme introduced?

The sovereign gold bond was introduced by the Government in 2015. While the Government introduced these bonds to help reduce India’s over dependence on gold imports, the move was also aimed at changing the habits of Indians from saving in physical form of gold to a paper form with Sovereign backing.

 

Background:

Annual consumption of gold in India is in the range of 700-800 tonnes, almost all of which is imported. Of this, approximately 500-600 tonnes is bought by consumers as jewellery for cultural reasons (mainly for weddings). The balance is in the form of gold bars and coins for savings or investment purposes, which is what the Government hopes to convert to paper form so that both are served — investors are happy as long as they earn some returns and capital appreciation at the time of redemption, as well as it helps reduce an equivalent amount of physical gold imports.

 

Performance of the scheme:

So far, SGB has been moderately successful with the launch of eight tranches of these bonds since November 2015, garnering approximately ₹5,000 crore or about 16 tonnes of gold. However, the potential to scale up is huge.

  • The sovereign gold bond initially introduced by the Government in 2015 has achieved only limited success because of its unrealistic pricing pattern vis-a-vis the international price of bullion. Past SGB prices ranging from ₹3,150 per gm to ₹2,750 per gm was often not in parity with the market rate realities and this often led to the SGB consumers losing money, despite earning a 2.5% return on investments.
  • Another factor diminishing the attractiveness of the SGB is its price being pegged to a 10% import duty, and any reduction in the import duty by the Government in the subsequent period would likely inflict severe loss of value to those who have already invested.

 

What needs to be done?

  • The pricing of SGB ideally should be the average of the bullion price of the 60 day-period preceding the issue date of SGB.
  • To reduce the loss of value to those who have already invested, the Government should fix the pricing of SGB at bullion rates exclusive of import duty and IGST.
  • To ensure further success, the Government should allow mass channels such as gold loan Non-Banking Finance Companies (NBFCs) to also market it. Gold loan companies have been a credible, customer-facing platform for millions of Indians who trust them and hence it can help the scheme reach many more consumers in urban, semi-urban and rural areas.
  • Further, offering gold loan against Sovereign Gold Bonds would help popularise the product from a consumer angle. For, it would then be perceived as being as liquid as physical gold. Over time, it would also help reduce various risk factors, such as spurious quality gold, and operational costs linked to manual assessment of gold for gold loan NBFCs.

 

Sources: the hindu.

 


 

Topic: Awareness in the fields of IT, Space, Computers, robotics, nano-technology, bio-technology and issues relating to intellectual property rights.

 

Flexible bio-glue for wound healing developed

 

Scientists have developed a super strong, flexible adhesive material inspired by the glue secreted by slugs that sticks to biological tissues – even when wet – without causing toxicity. Slugs secrete a special kind of mucus when threatened that glue it in place, making it difficult for a predator to pry it off its surface.

bio glue

What you need to know about the new bio-glue?

The new material is a double- layered hydrogel consisting of an alginate-polyacrylamide matrix supporting an adhesive layer that has positively- charged polymers protruding from its surface.

  • The polymers bond to biological tissues via three mechanisms – electrostatic attraction to negatively charged cell surfaces, covalent bonds between neighbouring atoms, and physical interpenetration – making the adhesive extremely strong.
  • The key feature of the new material is the combination of a very strong adhesive force and the ability to transfer and dissipate stress, which have historically not been integrated into a single adhesive.
  • The “tough adhesive” is biocompatible and binds to tissues with a strength comparable to the body’s own resilient cartilage.
  • It also causes no tissue damage or adhesions to surrounding tissues.

 

Way ahead:

Such a high-performance material has numerous potential applications in the medical field, either as a patch that can be cut to desired sizes and applied to tissue surfaces or as an injectable solution for deeper injuries.

 

Sources: et.

 


 

Topic: Awareness in the fields of IT, Space, Computers, robotics, nano-technology, bio-technology and issues relating to intellectual property rights.

 

Scooping out oil spills made easy

 

Scientists have developed a simple, cheap and environment-friendly system that can effectively remove crude oil from sea that can pollute and even destroy marine ecosystems. The hydrophobic sorbent developed by scientists can suck up oil and congeal it.

oil spills in sea

What you need to know about the new system?

Scientists developed the hydrophobic sorbent by using a cheap raw material (mannitol) and cellulose pulp as a matrix. (A hydrophobic material automatically becomes oil-loving and takes up oil when it comes in contact with it). Mannitol was converted into a hydrophobic gelator through a one-step process and a solution was made using this compound. Cellulose balls the size of marbles were then dipped in the solution and dried.

  • The gelator gets adsorbed on the cellulose fibre through hydrogen bonding. This process of adsorption of gelator on the cellulose fibre matrix changes the cellulose matrix from being very hydrophilic (water-loving) to hydrophobic (water repelling). A hydrophobic material naturally becomes oleilophilic (oil-loving).
  • Unlike other alternatives, the sorbent can be easily applied over oil-water mixture, and no solvent is needed for spraying the gelator thus making it environmental benign. The gelator adsorbed on the surface of cellulose fibre is able to absorb oil when it comes in contact with it.
  • Once the sorbent sucks the oil, the gelator slowly gets released from the cellulose fibre and congealing of oil takes place. Only when the oil congeals can it be removed without the oil dripping due to gravity.
  • Congealing of oil becomes possible as the gelator used by scientists self-assembles to form micro fibres and the oil loses its fluidity and gets trapped within the entangled fibrous network to form a rigid gel. Gelation essentially turns the liquid oil phase into a semi-solid one and this allows the fibre balls with the congealed oil to be simply scooped out or removed using a scoop or a sieve.

 

Benefits:

It takes only about 30 minutes to two hours from the time of application to scooping out the rigid fibre balls containing congealed oil, leaving behind clean water. Studies found that the sorbent was able to absorb and congeal 16 times its own weight of oil. The absorbed oil can be recovered by applying pressure or fractionated by a simple distillation process.

 

Sources: the hindu.