Insights Daily Current Events, 20 November 2014
Annual Tribal Art and Crafts Mela
The annual National Tribal Crafts Mela popularly known as ‘Aadishilp’ will begin here tomorrow.
Organized by:Tribal Cooperative Marketing Development Federation of India Ltd. (TRIFED).
Objective: to give tribal artisans an opportunity to showcase and sell their traditional Art and Craft works directly to the customers and get their feedback which would help them in having valuable inputs.
What it does: Aadishilp provides them a platform for direct interface with art and craft lovers, share their talent with the urban elite and know the customers taste and preferences for adapting their product designs and creations accordingly.
- It is the only apex body of Govt. of India which is engaged in the development and marketing of traditional tribal products including Metal craft, Paintings, Textiles, Jewellery, Natural/ Organic/ Herbal products etc.
- It works under Ministry of Tribal Affairs.
- Its objective is to improve the livelihood of the tribal communities by creating a sustainable market and create business opportunities for them based on their cultural knowledge and traditional skills whilst ensuring fair and equitable remuneration for their products by organizing Tribal Crafts Mela.
- TRIFED also focuses on trainings for skill up gradation and capacity building of tribal artisans and Minor Forest Produce gatherers.
Govt to amend Lokpal selection process
The union government is all set to amend the Lokpal Act and Delhi Special Police Establishment Act.
Why: to do away with the requirement of quorum in the high-profile committees to select the anti-corruption ombudsman and the CBI Director, respectively.
How it helps: The inclusion of a clause in the statutory provisions dealing with the selection panels would provide a legal safeguard against any challenges on the validity of an appointment.
Necessary amendments would also be made in the statutes to include the leader of the single largest group in the Opposition as a member of the selection committee in the absence of a recognised Leader of the Opposition in the Lok Sabha. This would bring these statutes in line with the Central Vigilance Act, 2003 and Right to Information Act, 2005.
Currently, CBI director is selected by a selection committee and the committee is empowered by the DPSE act. The committee consists of:
- Prime Minister – chairperson
- Leader of Opposition – member
- Chief Justice of India or a Supreme Court Judge recommended by the Chief Justice – member
When making recommendations, the committee considers the views of the outgoing director.
The selection committee, under the Lokpal Act, includes the Prime Minister, the leader of the opposition in Lok Sabha, speaker, Chief Justice of India or a Supreme Court judge nominated by him and an eminent jurist to be nominated by the President or any other member.
Sources: The Hindu, Wiki, rajysabha.nic.in.
Traditional made snana can continue for now: HC
The Karnataka High Court has said that it cannot stop the tradition of Made Snana followed for centuries until it decided the constitutional validity of the practice. With this, it has kept in abeyance its 2012 order of accepting “modified form of made snana” proposed by the State government.
It is a practice observed in certain temples of Karnataka wherein devotees roll over in devotion on the used plantain leaves after others taking food on the leaves. Progressive people of Karnataka have strongly condemned the practice and have been demanding its ban.
Why it is observed:
- This ritual is observed with a belief that skin deceases of devotees get cured.
- The practice is undertaken with a belief that saliva of upper caste people has the power to cure skin diseases and Lord Subramanya is also believed to cure skin diseases.
People from lower strata of society in general roll over the plantain leaves after the leaves are used to take food by upper caste people (Brahmins). The practice has general approval by Seers of several maths. After the rolling over, the vestiges covered on the bodies of the devotees are washed in nearby Kumaradhara River and after this bath in the river, the ritual is said to be completed. The practice is said to be more than 500 years old.
Why it is being opposed:
- The practice of Made snana is strongly opposed by certain organisations like Karnataka State Backward Classes awareness Forum on the grounds that the practice involves discrimination in serving food to different sections of society and encourages superstition.
- Certain sections of media called the practice as barbaric.
- During 2010, Government of Karnataka banned the practice, but local tribal people, the Malekudiyas, objected the ban and requested to observe the practice and efforts by Government of Karnataka to reintroduce the ban was stayed by Supreme Court of India.
- The ban was lifted by Supreme Court based on a petition filed by a local person from Subramanya village.
It is also being said that banning the ritual would amount to violation of fundamental rights of an individual when it comes to choosing faith.
Sources: The Hindu, Wiki.
ISRO wins Indira Gandhi Prize
The Indian Space Research Organisation has won the Indira Gandhi Prize for Peace, Disarmament and Development for 2014.
- It was given for its path-breaking achievement, culminating in the Mars orbiter mission.
- The prize was also for ISRO’s contributions in strengthening international cooperation in the peaceful use of outer space and for the organisation’s role in addressing the needs of rural Indians in remote areas.
About the Award:
- The Indira Gandhi Prize for Peace, Disarmament and Development is awarded annually to a person or organisation without any distinction of nationality, race or religion, in recognition of creative efforts towards enlarging the scope of freedom and enriching the human spirit.
- It is given to individuals or organisations who promote international development, a new international economic order or make scientific discoveries for public good.
- It consists of an award of Rs. 2.5 million and a trophy with a citation
Sources: The Hindu.
CMs asked to ratify Judicial Commission Bill
Union Law Minister has written to Chief Ministers to ratify the National Judicial Appointments Commission Bill at the earliest.
Why the Bill requires ratification by the states:
- The bill seeks to amend the Constitution and hence at least 15 States have to ratify the Bill for it to be made law I,e. at least 50 per cent of the state legislatures.
- A new article, Article 124A, (which provides for the composition of the NJAC) will be inserted into the Constitution.
It is a proposed body responsible for the appointment and transfer of judges to the higher judiciary in India. JAC Bill seeks to replace the collegium system of appointing the judges of Supreme Court and 24 High Courts with judicial appointments commission wherein the executive will have a say in appointing the judges.
- The Bill has been introduced in conjunction with the Constitutional (121st Amendment) Bill, 2014, which establishes the National Judicial Appointments Commission (NJAC).
- The Bill provides for the procedure to be followed by the NJAC for recommending persons for appointment as Chief Justice of India and other Judges of the Supreme Court (SC), and Chief Justice and other Judges of High Courts (HC).
- The bill has been passed by both the houses of Parliament.
- Along with the Constitution Amendment Bill, the National Judicial Appointments Commission Bill, 2014, was also passed by the Lok Sabha and the Rajya Sabha to regulate the functions of the National Judicial Appointments Commission.
- The amendment bill seeks changes in articles 124,217,222 and 231.
Composition of the commission:
The Commission will consist of the following persons:
- Chief Justice of India (Chairperson, ex officio)
- Two other senior judges of the Supreme Court next to the Chief Justice of India – ex officio
- The Union Minister of Law and Justice, ex-officio
- Two eminent persons (to be nominated by a committee consisting of the Chief Justice of India, Prime Minister of India and the Leader of opposition in the Lok Sabha or where there is no such Leader of Opposition, then, the Leader of single largest Opposition Party in Lok Sabha), provided that of the two eminent persons, one person would be from the Scheduled Castes or Scheduled Tribes or OBC or minority communities or a woman. The eminent persons shall be nominated for a period of three years and shall not be eligible for re-nomination.
Functions of the Commission:
- Recommending persons for appointment as Chief Justice of India, Judges of the Supreme Court, Chief Justices of High Courts and other Judges of High Courts.
- Recommending transfer of Chief Justices and other Judges of High Courts from one High Court to any other High Court.
- Ensuring that the persons recommended are of ability and integrity.
Under the present Collegium system, the Chief Justice of India would consult the four senior most judges of the Supreme Court for Supreme Court appointments and two senior-most judges for high court appointments.
Sources: The Hindu, Wiki.
SEBI tightens insider trading norms
The Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI) has revamped the ‘Prohibition of Insider Trading’ regulations with more stringent measures, aligning its norms with international practices. It has also made amendments to delisting regulations.
The new rules, based on the Justice Sodhi Committee report, would replace the SEBI (Prohibition of Insider Trading) Regulations 1992. The new regulations strengthen the legal and enforcement framework, align Indian regime with international practices, provide clarity with respect to the definitions and concepts, and facilitate legitimate business transactions.
Why it was necessary:
- The current regulations have many loopholes.
- The current framework is considered heavily skewed in favour of minority shareholders and, therefore, promoters say taking a company private is extremely difficult.
According to the New Regulations:
- The definition of ‘insider’ has been made wider by including persons connected on the basis of being in any contractual, fiduciary or employment relationship that allows such person access to unpublished price sensitive information (UPSI). Directors, employees and all other persons in the deeming category covered under 1992 regulations would continue to be covered.
- Insider will also include a person who is in possession or has access to UPSI. Now, “immediate relatives will be presumed to be connected persons, with a right to rebut the presumption.” In 1992 regulations, definition of connected person was largely position based.
- In the case of connected persons the onus of establishing, that they were not in possession of UPSI, shall be on such connected persons.
- A provision of ‘Trading Plans’ on the lines of the U.S. has been introduced for insiders with necessary safeguards. Such a plan has to be for bonafide transactions and has to be disclosed on stock exchange platform in advance.
- Delisting would be considered successful only when the shareholding of the acquirer together with the shares tendered by public shareholders reaches 90 per cent of the total share capital of the company.
- It also needs to get at least 25 per cent of the number of public shareholders — holding shares in de-materialised mode as on the date of the board meeting which approves the delisting proposal — tender in the reverse book building process.
- Further, the promoter/promoter group would be prohibited from making a delisting offer if any entity belonging to the group has sold shares of the company during a period of six months prior to the date of the board meeting which approves the delisting proposal.
- companies, whose paid-up capital does not exceed Rs.10 crore and net worth does not exceed Rs.25 crore as on the last day of the previous financial year, are exempted from following the reverse book building process.
- Timeline for completing the delisting process has been reduced from 137 calendar days (about 117 working days) to 76 working days. However, if the delisting attempt fails, the acquirer would be required to complete the mandatory open offer process under the Takeover Regulations and pay interest at 10 per cent per annum for the delayed open offer.
Sources: The Hindu.
Indian economy showing signs of a turnaround: OECD
The OECD has upped its 2015-16 growth projection for India to 6.6 per cent. It had pegged it at 5.7 per cent in May. The growth had remained sub-5 per cent in the last two financial years. The OECD projects it to be 5.4 per cent this financial year.
Other important observations made by OECD survey:
- Without structural reforms, the growth will remain below the 8 per cent rate achieved during the previous decade.
- It warns that although absolute poverty has declined, it remains high, and income inequality has in fact risen since the early 1990s.
- India slowed more than many other countries since 2011, but is now recovering faster.
- The Indian economy is showing signs of a turnaround. New reforms, some of which are included in the package presented by Prime Minister, need to be implemented to put the country on a path to strong, sustainable and inclusive growth.
- The decline in inflation in the first half of 2014 is encouraging but inflation expectations have remained stubbornly high.
- Consumer price inflation in India has remained much higher than that in the OECD area and in other BRICS. Monetary policy should err on the prudent side to restore confidence and avoid a rebound in inflationary pressures. Supply-side constraints in the food sector — including the lack of cold storage and refrigerated transport facilities — have also contributed to food price volatility.
- Inefficient subsidy programmes for food, energy and fertilizers have increased steadily while public spending on health care and education has remained low.
- With average growth above 8 per cent and the incidence of poverty cut in half, India experienced strong inclusive growth between 2003 and 2011. This reflected gains from past structural reforms, strong capital inflows up to 2007 and the expansionary fiscal and monetary policies since 2009. These growth engines faltered in 2012.
Recommendations made by OECD survey:
- Key recommendations are: implementation of flexible inflation targeting; shifting public spending away from energy subsidies towards investments in physical and social infrastructure, and the implementation of a national value-added tax (GST) with only limited exemptions.
- The current fiscal rules be extended to include spending ceilings and improving the accounting framework of the Centre and recommends spending reviews for core spending programmes with the view to improving their effectiveness and reconsidering the prohibition on using machines for MGNREGS projects.
- Reducing macroeconomic imbalances further is the key to sustaining consumer and investor confidence and to containing external vulnerabilities — this will require adhering to the fiscal road map and implementing the proposed changes to the monetary policy framework.
- Achieving a sustainable and quality fiscal consolidation would require streamlining the many tax breaks which undermine revenues and contribute to the complexity of the tax system, as well as other public finance reforms. The budgeted 17 per cent increase in tax revenue seems optimistic. Improving the Income Tax Act by further broadening its base, including by abolishing the tax allowance for interest paid on housing and education loans.
Sources: The Hindu.