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Insights Daily Current Events November 19, 2013

(Courtesy: The Hindu)

ARCHIVES

NATIONAL

Kasturirangan’s report comes under sharp criticism

  • MadhavGadgil, chairman of the Western Ghats Ecology Expert Panel (WGEEP), has criticized Kasturirangan report &Environment Ministry’s memorandum saying that there was ‘no role of the gram sabha in categorizing areas as ecologically sensitive’. The local population has no say in the decision making and this is unconstitutional.
  • This was against the spirit of the 73rd and 74th Amendments to the Constitution, which envisages local bodies to ‘perform effectively as vibrant democratic units of self-government’ and empowers the people at the grassroots to decide on the developmental and conservation activities in their own areas.
  • Also Article 243A of the 73rd Amendment prescribes that, ‘a gramasabha may exercise such powers and perform such functions at the village level as the Legislature of  a State may, by law, provide.’
  • According to the Ministry’s memorandum, ‘all other major recommendations made by the High Level Working Group, particularly with respect to financial arrangements to incentivise green growth in the Western Ghats, participation of and involvement of local communities in decision-making, data monitoring systems especially the establishment of Decision Support and Monitoring Centre for Western Ghats, is accepted’. This is merely a sweeping statement made by the Ministry.
  • On the other hand, WGEEP report was ‘completely democratic’, as it allowed the people to decide the ecologically sensitive zone in their area.

(To know more about Kasturirangan’s report &  MadhavGadgil refer our ‘INSIGHTS CURRENT EVENTS ANALYSIS OCTOBER – 2013’ MAGAZINE)

Low Investment in Science & Technology criticized by BharathRatna nominee

  • The head of the Prime Minister’s Scientific Advisory Committee, C.N.R Rao, who is named for the Bharat Ratna, has criticised the government for “marginal” and “subcritical” investment in science.
  • He also reiterated that investments should be ‘proportionate to requirements’ of research.
  • India stands 66th in innovation among 140 countries and had no rank for science publications.

Who is C.N.R Rao?

  • Chintamani Nagesa Ramachandra Rao FRS, also known as C.N.R. Rao (born 30 June 1934), is an Indian chemist who has worked mainly in solid-state and structural chemistry.
  • He currently serves as the Head of the Scientific Advisory Council to the Prime Minister of India. Dr. Rao has Honorary Doctorates from 60 Universities worldwide.
  • He has authored around 1,500 research papers and 45 scientific books. On 16 November 2013, The Government of India decided to confer upon him Bharat Rant, the highest civilian award in India making him the third Scientist after C.V.Raman and A P J Abdul Kalam to get the award.

Courtesy – Wikipedia

INTERNATIONAL

India-Vietnam to strengthen Bilateral ties

  • There would be a wide range of issues that would be discussed during the upcoming visit of the top leader of Vietnam- energy, defence and economics.
  • Economics would be the driving force of bilateral ties in future with India looking for opportunities in setting up refineries and the Tatas looking forward to setting up a 1,320-mw thermal power project after the failure of its $5 billion plans to set up a steel plant.
  • The India-Vietnamese project that has garnered the most attention was allocation of two oil blocks in PhuKhanh basin of South China Sea that is contested by China .This issue would recede as China has offered Vietnam ‘a joint approach’ on economic issues and has taken to discussing the sovereignty issue with ASEAN as well as bilaterally with Vietnam.
  • There were speculations that India was planning to withdraw from seeking for block 128 on commercial considerations just like it returned block 127 about four years back.
  • With regard to ‘Defence’ and ‘security’ India and Vietnam already have enabling agreements in place and are looking to build on the strong defence training programme, frequent exchange of visits and training of Vietnamese submariners.

Courtesy – blogs.voanews.com (Image)

Vietnam to share know-how on breeding pangasius

  • Vietnam is now ready to part with know-how for breeding the pangasius fish (also called basa). This has been hailed has a major breakthrough.
  • The consumption of pangasius, primarily found in Vietnam and some adjoining countries, has been steadily increasing in India but its captive rearing in the country had not really taken off. Vietnam has closely held the breeding techniques and has now agreed to part with it for a breeding centre near Chennai.
  • Vietnam has already emerged as the second largest supplier of fish after Bangladesh.

Nepal to focus on federalism, structure of government

  • Peaceful elections in Nepal would help its political parties to agree on two vital issues that have remained unresolved during the five years of its first Constituent Assembly.
  • Nepal has been forced into a second round of elections after the Constituent Assembly elected in 2008 failed to agree on two of the most fundamental issues – the nature of the federal state of Nepal and the structure of government.

What was the issue?

  • While the Madhesi parties and the Janajatis want ethnic identity-based federalism, this is totally opposed by the Nepali Congress and the Communist Party (United Marxist Leninist) (UML) who feel that no part of Nepal has a majority of any one community.
  • Regarding the structure of government, the United Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist) led by Prachanda wants a presidential form of government, the UML wants a Prime Minister who is directly elected, and the Nepali Congress are for a political arrangement similar to the one in India.
  • Another factor is the breakaway group from Prachanda’s party which is critical of the peace process and has announced a political boycott of the elections.

India’s role:

  • India on its part wants the elections to be held on schedule but does not favour any particular outcome.
  • With this aim, it has hosted four important Nepali leaders holding various political beliefs – Prachanda, Madhav Nepal, SushilKoirala, and SherBahadurDeuba – to reinforce the message about neutrality. This message was also delivered by the External Affairs Minister and the Foreign Secretary when they had visited Kathmandu in July and September, 2013 respectively.
  • Ballot papers were printed in India which also provided security when they were transported to the India-Nepal border. India has also provided 900 vehicles for accessing remote areas.
  • Both sides have also activated the standard operating procedure (SOP) of close coordination and control of any cross-border criminal activities which can get heightened to disrupt the elections.

Ambiguity over the jurisdiction of HFC gases- Montreal Protocol or UNFCCC

  • According to U.S., Hydro fluorocarbons (HFCs) a family of greenhouse gases (GHG) used as refrigerants come under the jurisdiction of Montreal Protocol. This issue has come on the backdrop of India& China’s firm assertion that HFCs come under U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) and not Montreal protocol.
  • The U.S. envoy has said that, some countries were merely delaying, in moving the refrigerant gas from UNFCCC to the Montreal Protocol (which deals with ozone depleting substances) citing legal and other issues. Accordingly, the protocol also dealt with any substitutes that were used in place of the ozone depleting substances, such as HFCs.

Developing countries stand:

  • India and China along with several other G20 countries and other developing countries had mentioned at the Warsaw talks about the legal issues on transporting the HFCs to another convention and also noted that the principles of differentiation and equity is applicable only under UNFCCC and not under Montreal Protocol.
  • These principles ensure that developing countries can claim full costs for the phase out of the refrigerant gases and not just incremental costs that the Montreal Protocol offers. The refrigeration industry is growing at the highest rates in India and China and promises to be a lucrative market for any alternative green technology which is in the hands of U.S.-based companies.
  • But the U.S. envoy has negated the Indian and Chinese position on the matter saying, ‘Montreal Protocol has built in differentiation. It is not the same kind of differentiation like it’s built in the UNFCCC but it has got differentiation built in.’

G77+China cautions developed countries

  • The G77+China group has threatened to walk out of climate talks if developed countries did not stop blocking the issue of ‘Loss and Damage’.
  • Loss and Damage refers to the demand of the developing countries, especially the small and most vulnerable ones, to be provided compensation for the losses they suffer due to existing emission levels and that any future emission reduction effort or adaptation to global warming cannot help.
  • The G77+China group has put forth a collective proposal on the negotiating table to set up a new mechanism under the U.N. climate talks that would carry out this task but the U.S. has blocked it demanding that at best it be an extremely weak arrangement that would just study the issue under the adaptation track where ‘compensation’ is unfunctional.

ECONOMICS

SEBI tightens disclosure norms for corporate

  • Concerned over large-scale discrepancies in mandatory disclosures by listed firms, the Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI) has tightened its regulations in this regard, and has asked bourses to put in place a stronger mechanism with additional manpower to ‘monitor adequacy and accuracy of such disclosures’.
  • Issuing detailed guidelines on corporate disclosures, which are governed by the Listing Agreement signed by the listed firms with the stock exchanges, SEBI said the stock exchanges would take appropriate actions, including levying of fine on the companies in case of non-compliance.
  • The new norms have been put in place for more effective implementation and compliance at the end of stock exchanges as well as the companies.
  • Concerns have been raised that even though listed companies make disclosures to Stock Exchanges within the timeframe stipulated under the Listing Agreement; the contents of the disclosures made by such companies are not adequate and accurate. Therefore, investors are unable to take informed investment decisions based on such disclosures.

Liquidity support to MSEs

  • The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) has decided to refinance (provide liquidity support) micro and small enterprises (MSEs) to the tune of Rs.5,000 crore, through the Small Industrial Development Bank of India (SIDBI), and to include incremental credit, including export credit to medium enterprises to qualify as priority sector lending.
  • MSE sector, which is employment-intensive, and contributes significantly to exports
  • The refinance would be available directly to MSEs by SIDBI or indirectly through selected intermediaries (like banks, non-banking financial companies (NBFCs) and State finance corporations (SFCs)).
  • The utilisation of funds will be governed by the policy approved by the board of SIDBI.
  • The liquidity support comes in the wake of slowdown in the economy, which has resulted in liquidity tightness in a large number of MSEs in the manufacturing and services sector due to delayed settlement of receivables from large corporate, public sector and government departments.

More about Small Industries Development Bank of India (SIDBI)

  • Small Industries Development Bank of India (SIDBI), set up on April 2, 1990 under an Act of Indian Parliament, is the Principal Financial Institution for the Promotion, Financing and Development of the Micro, Small and Medium Enterprise (MSME) sector and for Co-ordination of the functions of the institutions engaged in similar activities.

Mandatory Objectives:

  • Four basic objectives are set out in the SIDBI Charter. They are:

ü  Financing

ü  Promotion

ü  Development

ü  Co-ordination

for orderly growth of industry in the small scale sector.

Mission:

  • To facilitate and strengthen credit flow to MSMEs and address both financial and developmental gaps in the MSME eco-system

Vision:

  • To emerge as a single window for meeting the financial and developmental needs of the MSME sector to make it strong, vibrant and globally competitive, to position SIDBI Brand as the preferred and customer – friendly institution and for enhancement of share – holder wealth and highest corporate values through modern technology platform

http://www.sidbi.in

Priority sector lending

  • Priority sector refers to those sectors of the economy which may not get timely and adequate credit in the absence of this special dispensation. Typically, these are small value loans to farmers for agriculture and allied activities, micro and small enterprises, poor people for housing, students for education and other low income groups and weaker sections.

What are the different categories under priority sector?

  • Priority Sector includes the following categories:

(i) Agriculture (ii) Micro and Small Enterprises (iii) Education (iv) Housing (v) Export Credit (vi) Others

What are the Targets and Sub-targets for banks under priority sector?

 

CategoriesDomestic commercial banks / Foreign banks with 20 and above branches
(As percent of ANBC or Credit Equivalent of Off-Balance Sheet Exposure, whichever is higher)

Foreign banks with less than 20 branches
(As percent of ANBC or Credit Equivalent of Off-Balance Sheet Exposure, whichever is higher)

Total Priority Sector4032
Total agriculture18No specific target.
Advances to Weaker10No specific target.
   

 

Courtesy – http://www.rbi.org.in

ICICI launches RegS bonds

  • Regulation S bonds or RegS bonds are those offered to non-US residents and qualified institutional buyers (under an exception to U.S. securities laws enacted in 1990), and do not enjoy the same legal protection as other issues do.
  • It is issued for raising capital