Insights Daily Current Affairs, 11 Aug 2017

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Insights Daily Current Affairs, 11 Aug 2017


 

Paper 2:

 

Topic: Statutory, regulatory and various quasi-judicial bodies.

 

Financial Data Management Centre

 

The Law Ministry has approved a revised Cabinet proposal on the creation of the Financial Data Management Centre (FDMC) that would subsequently collect raw data directly.

 

Key facts:

  • FDMC will collect data in electronic format from the (financial) regulators. Over time, it will gradually build capacity to collect data from the regulated entities i.e. Financial Service Providers.
  • FDMC and the regulators can also “enter into agreement” for flow of data, “stringent confidentiality norms”. This ensures the same level of protection as provided by various acts applicable to the regulators and guarantees that the “data centre is at all times kept secure and effectively protected”.
  • In order to facilitate FDMC functioning, “consequential amendments” have been sought in the RBI Act, Banking Regulation Act and the Payment and Settlement Systems Act as their confidentiality clauses do not allow access to raw data.

 

Need for statutory status Statutory status:

FDMC will be set up through an Act. Initially, FDMC was to be a non-statutory body to collect data from financial sector regulators, standardise and analyse them on issues relating to financial stability for onward decisions by the Financial Stability and Development Council (FSDC). It was also to provide regular access to the data. However, the Department of Legal Affairs turned down the initial Cabinet proposal saying that a non-statutory FMDC would find it difficult to acquire data from the regulators, majority of which were statutory.

Moreover, it said that any levy of penalty through a gazette notification for violation of data management scheme would neither be legally tenable nor withstand judicial scrutiny. Besides, courts may not take cognizance of any such offence and compounding of the same under the Code of Criminal Procedure is also not feasible.

 

Opposition from RBI:

The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) would now no longer be the sole collector and custodian of financial data. The RBI is also against sharing raw data that it gets from banks and other market sources with FDMC as it is not obliged to share confidential client information of banks with anybody. The only exception is when a law enforcement agency has to get specifics on an individual company for investigation purpose. But it has to then approach the courts first to get an order to request the data from the regulators.

 

Sources: et.


 

Topic: Role of civil services in a democracy.

 

New system for rating bureaucrats open to bias

 

A parliamentary standing committee, in its report, has said that the government’s new system of rating officers on the basis of a 360-degree approach is opaque and susceptible to bias, manipulation and lacks fairness.

 

What is 360- degree approach?

The 360-degree approach is a new multi-source feedback system for performance appraisal of bureaucrats started by the current government for future postings. The system seeks to look beyond the ratings received in appraisal reports written by their bosses. It relies on feedback of juniors and other colleagues for an all-round view.

 

Why committee is not in favour of this approach?

The present 360-degree appraisal system is opaque, non-transparent, and subjective. Feedback in this process is obtained informally, making the process susceptible to being manipulated.

Lack of objectivity: Most central posts of joint-secretary level and upwards go to IAS officers. Since the new 360-degree system hinges on feedback about officers received from people who have worked with them — juniors and peers included— the committee noted that such feedback could lack objectivity.

Possibility of biasness: Feedback received from subordinates and stakeholders could be biased or lack objectivity, particularly if the officer had to discipline his subordinates or he was unable to meet the unjustified demands of stakeholders. Acting on such feedback behind the back of the officer may not be legally tenable particularly if it adversely affects the empanelment prospects of the officer.

No statutory status: Also, the 360-degree approach does not have any statutory backing, or supported by any Act. It is based on executive instructions only.

 

Way ahead:

In the context of India, where strong hierarchical structures exist and for historical and social reasons it may not be possible to introduce this system unless concerns of integrity and transparency are addressed. The committee recommended that the empanelment process be more objective, transparent and fair.

 

Sources: et.


 

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

 

Amended Banking Regulation Bill gets elders’ nod

 

The Rajya Sabha has passed the Banking Regulation (Amendment) Bill, which empowers the Reserve Bank of India to issue instructions to the banks to act against major defaulters. The Bill, earlier passed by the Lok Sabha, will replace the Banking Regulation (Amendment) Ordinance, 2017.

 

The Banking Regulation (Amendment) Bill, 2017:

It seeks to amend the Banking Regulation Act, 1949 to insert provisions for handling cases related to stressed assets.  Stressed assets are loans where the borrower has defaulted in repayment or where the loan has been restructured (such as by changing the repayment schedule).  It will replace the Banking Regulation (Amendment) Ordinance, 2017.

Initiating insolvency proceedings:  The central government may authorise the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) to issue directions to banks for initiating proceedings in case of a default in loan repayment.  These proceedings would be under the Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code, 2016.

Issuing directions on stressed assets:  The RBI may, from time to time, issue directions to banks for resolution of stressed assets.

Committee to advise banks:  The RBI may specify authorities or committees to advise banks on resolution of stressed assets.  The members on such committees will be appointed or approved by the RBI.

Applicability to State Bank of India: The Bill inserts a provision to state that it will also be applicable to the State Bank of India, its subsidiaries, and Regional Rural Banks.

 

Sources: the hindu.


 

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

 

Panel moots defence procurement fund

 

The Ministry of Defence (MoD) has gone back on its demand for a non-lapsable capital fund for defence procurements, even as the Parliamentary Standing Committee (PSC) on Defence asked the Ministry of Finance to work out the modalities for the creation of such a fund in consultation with the MoD.

 

Background:

MoD was earlier keen on such a fund to prevent the unspent amount in a financial year from being returned to the Finance Ministry as defence purchases generally tend to have long procurement cycles. On February 2 this year, the MoD had sent a proposal for obtaining an ‘in-principle’ approval of the Finance Ministry on the creation of the account.

 

The reasons cited by the MoD for no longer seeking the fund are: the limited utility of such a fund, rules governing its creation that state the Government should have surplus funds (which is not so in the prevailing fiscal situation), and assurance from the Finance Ministry for additional funds, if required.

 

Sources: the hindu.


 

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

Bill introduced in Lok Sabha to fix a universal minimum wage

 

The Government has introduced in the Lok Sabha ‘The Code on Wages’ Bill to consolidate and amend the laws relating to wages and bonus which also seeks to empower the Centre to fix a “universal minimum wage” aimed to benefit over 40 crore unorganised sector workers.

bill in lokasabha

Highlights of the bill:

  • The bill seeks to amalgamate four laws — Payment of Wages Act 1936, Minimum Wages Act 1948, Payment of Bonus Act 1965 and Equal Remuneration Act 1976.
  • The Code provides for the government to determine the minimum wages every five years using factors like skills required for the job, arduousness of work, geographical location of work place and other aspects. Such wages are to be fixed on recommendation of panels comprising an equal number of representatives of employers and employees, and independent persons.
  • The government will fix the number of hours of work that would include a day of rest every seven days. The payment for work on a day of rest will not be less than overtime rate.
  • The Code stipulates that the wages are to be paid in coin or currency notes or by cheque or through digital or electronic mode or by crediting the wages in the bank account of the employee and the government may specify industrial or other establishment where the salary will be paid only through cheque or digital mode.
  • Where an employee is removed or dismissed from service as also when he or she resigns, the wages payable shall be paid within two working days.
  • The Code provides employers with authority to make deductions from the wages only in case of fines imposed, absence from duty, damage or loss of goods expressly entrusted with the employee custody, housing accommodation and amenities and services.

 

Sources: et.


 

Paper 3:

Topic: Conservation, environmental pollution and degradation, environmental impact assessment.

 

World Bio Fuel Day 2017

 

Ministry of Petroleum and Natural Gas celebrated the World Biofuel Day 2017 on 10th August. It aims is to sensitize youths (school and college going students), farmers and other stakeholders about the benefits of biofuel and seek their involvement in Biofuel programme run by the Government.

world-bio-fuel-day

Government efforts in this regard:

  • The government will also be coming out with the BioFuel Policy soon. The policy will taken into consideration various facets like Role of Government, Return on investment, Minimum Assurance etc.
  • Recently Ministry of Petroleum and Natural Gas has been made responsible for BioFuel Policy. Both the Ministry of New and Renewable Energy and Ministry of Petroleum and Natural Gas will be working towards more utilisation of biofuels.

 

About World Bio Fuel Day:

Every year 10th August is observed as World Bio-Fuel Day in a bid to create awareness about non fossil-fuels (Green Fuels). On this day in 1893, Sir Rudolph Diesel (inventor of the diesel engine) for the first time successfully ran mechanical engine with Peanut Oil. His research experiment had predicted that vegetable oil is going to replace the fossil fuels in the next century to fuel different mechanical engines. Thus to mark this extraordinary achievement, World Biofuel Day is observed every year on 10th August.

 

Sources: pib.


 

Topic: Challenges to internal security through communication networks, role of media and social networking sites in internal security challenges, basics of cyber security; money-laundering and its prevention.

 

Cyber Coordination Centre made operational

 

The first phase of National Cyber Coordination Centre, set up to scan the country’s web traffic to detect cyber security threats, has been made operational now.

nccc

About NCCC:

  • NCCC, a multi-stakeholder body, will be implemented by Indian Computer Emergency Response Team (CERT-In) at Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology.
  • NCCC scans internet traffic coming into the country to detect real-time cyber threat and alert various organisations as well as internet service providers for timely action.
  • The Centre will scan the cyberspace in the country for cyber security threats at metadata level to generate situational awareness.
  • The Centre derives necessary powers as per provisions of section 69B of the Information Technology Act, 2000 and the Rules notified thereunder.

 

Sources: pib.


 

Topic: Science and Technology- developments and their applications and effects in everyday life Achievements of Indians in science & technology; indigenization of technology and developing new technology.

 

Water as propellant for tiny satellites

 

Engineers from US have designed and tested a micropropulsion system that uses liquid water as the propellant for orbital maneuvering of tiny satellites called CubeSats.

 

CubeSats:

With rapid developments in miniaturisation of technologies CubeSats — which typically weigh about two kilograms — are poised to take over the sky in the future to carry out tasks like imaging and remote-sensing currently performed by heavier satellites which are expensive to build and launch. However, today’s CubeSats cannot totally replace their larger counterparts as they are incapable of changing orbit or performing complex manoeuvres.

CubeSats_orbiting_Earth

About the new propulsion system:

A dedicated propulsion system that is also compact and not power hungry has been the aim of CubeSat builders in several laboratories to exploit their full potential.

Called a “Film-Evaporation MEMS Tunable Array”, or FEMTA thruster, it uses capillaries thinner than human hair through which the propellant water can flow. Small heaters located near the ends of the capillaries turn the water into vapor, which, on escape from these tiny tubes, provides the thrust. The minuscule capillaries act like valves that can be turned on and off by activating the heaters. inkjet printer, which uses heaters that fire dots of ink at the paper.

 

Propellant:

Pure water is chosen as the propellant since it is green, safe, easy to use and free from the risk of contaminating sensitive instruments by the backflow from plumes as in the case of thrusters using chemical propellants.

 

Sources: et.


 

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

 

China uses a quantum satellite to transmit potentially unhackable data

 

China has demonstrated a world first by sending data over long distances using satellites which is potentially unhackable, laying the basis for next generation encryption based on so-called quantum cryptography.

  • Last year, China launched a quantum satellite into space. Using this satellite, Chinese researchers at the Quantum Experiments at Space Scale (QUESS) project, were now able to transmit secret messages from space to Earth at a further distance than ever before.

 

What you need to know about this technology?

The technology is called quantum key distribution (QKD). Typical encryption relies on traditional mathematics and while for now it is more or less adequate and safe from hacking, the development of quantum computing threatens that. Quantum computing refers to a new era of faster and more powerful computers, and the theory goes that they would be able to break current levels of encryption. QKD works by using photons — the particles which transmit light — to transfer data.

QKD allows two distant users, who do not share a long secret key initially, to produce a common, random string of secret bits, called a secret key. Using the one-time pad encryption this key is proven to be secure to encrypt and decrypt a message, which can then be transmitted over a standard communication channel.

 

Significance of this technology:

  • The encryption is “unbreakable” and that’s mainly because of the way data is carried via the photon. A photon cannot be perfectly copied and any attempt to measure it will disturb it. This means that a person trying to intercept the data will leave a trace.
  • Any eavesdropper on the quantum channel attempting to gain information of the key will inevitably introduce disturbance to the system, and can be detected by the communicating users.
  • The implications could be huge for cybersecurity, making businesses safer, but also making it more difficult for governments to hack into communication.

 

Sources: et.