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Insights Daily Current Events, 05 September 2015

Insights Daily Current Events, 05 September 2015

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Paper 3 Topic: Economic development.

RBI crisis fund short of target

The recently released annual report of the RBI shows that Contingency funds with the Reserve Bank of India (RBI), used in case of unforeseen shocks, have fallen to 8.4% of total assets, against a target of 12%.

  • The report shows that for the last two years, the RBI has made no transfers to its Contingency Fund or its Asset Development Fund. The balance in these funds, therefore, has barely changed since 2013, when they made up 10.1 %of total assets.

Why RBI needs to maintain contingency funds:

  • RBI has got wide area of responsibilities, and hence it is at greater risks.
  • RBI may require recapitalisation, precisely at a time when the fiscal position is under strain, say, due to a financial crisis.
  • According to central bankers, since RBI is also the lender of last resort, it needs to maintain a healthy contingency reserve so that it can lend its support in the event of a bank’s failure.

However, former Deputy Governor of the RBI has said that extreme situations are unlikely, and the quantum of funds with the RBI — even without additions in the last two years — was enough.

What else the report says?

  • The RBI has been transferring 99.9% of its profits to the government, without keeping any amount for itself. This is a sharp increase from the 40-50% it had transferred in the 2010-13 period.
  • In the financial year 2014-15, the RBI transferred Rs.659 billion to the government coffers, up from Rs.150 billion in 2010-11.

Funds maintained by the RBI:

  • RBI maintains a contingency reserve for meeting unexpected and unforeseen contingencies, including depreciation in the value of securities, exchange guarantees and risks arising out of monetary or exchange rate policy operations.
  • RBI also maintains Asset Development Reserve, created in 1997-98, to meet the internal capital expenditure and make investments in its subsidiaries and associate institutions.

The contingency reserve and the asset development reserve together constitute less than the 12% target the central bank wanted to achieve.

Sources: The Hindu, RBI.

 

Paper 2 Topic: Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors and issues arising out of their design and implementation.

Women to get permanent commission in the Navy

The Delhi High Court has allowed women to be granted permanent commission in the Navy, ensuring that women naval officers enjoyed rights similar to their counterparts in the Army and the Air Force.

Observations made by the Court:

  • No “sexist bias” could be allowed to block women’s progress.
  • Women are “here to stay” and since they worked shoulder to shoulder with their male counterparts, the court would “frown upon any endeavour to restrain the progress of women”.

Women can now have full-term service in the Navy and enjoy retirement benefits, including pension.

What is a permanent commission?

A permanent commission means a career in the Army/Navy till one retires. A permanent commission also entitles 20 years of service and a pension.

Background:

  • The decision came based on a bunch of writ petitions moved by a group of women naval officers. Some 19 women naval officers petitioned the court asking for similar rights as their counterparts in the other forces. In their petition, they alleged gender discrimination.
  • The issue of grant of Permanent Commission to women officers has been under the active consideration of the Government.
  • In 2010, women in the army and the Air Force were allowed permanent commission by the high court, which commented that women officers “deserve better from the government.”
  • In the navy, however, women officers were still entitled only to short service commissions for a maximum of 14 years.
  • Due to their limited service span, women officers are not eligible for pension, which requires a minimum 20 years of service.

Since women aren’t allowed on ships, under the existing rules it will be difficult to promote them to the rank of Captain – tenure in the sea is a must for that.

Sources: The Hind, PIB.

 

Paper 2 Topic: Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors and issues arising out of their design and implementation.

National litigation policy will come within a month: Law Minister

Union Minister for Law and Justice D.V. Sadananda Gowda recently said that the Union government has proposed a national litigation policy for out-of-court settlement of cases among government departments, public sector undertakings and other government bodies.

  • Nearly 50% of cases involve the government.

About the National Litigation Policy:

  • The National Litigation Policy 2015, aims at reducing the pending cases in various courts in India
  • The policy would reduce the trivial litigations in which the government is also a party.
  • This would make the government a responsible litigant, which could use alternate dispute resolution mechanisms to bring an end to various litigations.
  • The policy also helps to reduce the number of cases, thus reducing the burden of the judicial system, which currently has to deal with a large number of cases.

Sources: The Hindu, PIB.

 

Paper 3 Topic: Bio diversity and environment.

Saving the yellow-throated bulbul

‘Yellow Throated Bulbul’ is all set to find place in the conservation plans of the ‘Laboratory for the Conservation of Endangered Species (LaCONES),’ a conservation arm of the Centre for Cellular and Molecular Biology (CCMB).

  • The Hyderabad-based laboratory is studying the ecology and population distribution of this infrequently sighted avian species endemic to the southern part of India, so as to make a strong case for ‘preventive conservation.’
  • Besides estimating the numbers, the study by LaCONES will also make efforts to understand the genetics of the known sub-populations of the bird across peninsular India.
Yellow-throated Bulbul
A Deccan Plateau endemic, this bird is also found in the dry forests on the leeward, rain-shadow region of the Western Ghats

About the bird:

  • The yellow-throated bulbul ( Pycnonotus xantholaemus ) is one among the 22 bulbul species of India, and has not got much attention from many quarters.
  • It is known from less than 100 observations spread over peninsular India, with less than 10 nests reported in the past century.
  • The bird is not cosmopolitan in nature.
  • Affording protection of scrubland after identifying crucial sites for the species is the best way to preserve the bird.
  • This bird is categorised as ‘vulnerable’ under the IUCN Red List.
  • Yellow-throated bulbul is not threatened by poaching or capturing, but by habitat destruction over decades, especially owing to granite mining, agricultural expansion and cattle grazing.

Sources: The Hindu.

 

Paper 2 Topic: Important aspects of governance, transparency and accountability.

Maharashtra curbs criticism of politicians

The Maharashtra government has given police powers to take action against those critical of the state or central government if it deemed such critiques to be particularly offensive.

Details:

  • The government order allows the police to invoke a colonial era sedition clause — 124-A of the Indian Penal Code — against any person who “by words, either spoken or written, or by signs or by visible representation or otherwise, brings or attempts to bring into hatred or contempt, dissatisfaction and provoking violence against the central or the state government.”
  • The Maharashtra home department has clarified that it has specifically instructed police officials in the Government Resolution that criticism by legal means cannot be a ground for sedition under the IPC. The circular says that those who lawfully try to change the government without invoking anger or disaffection should not be charged with sedition.
  • The only restrain in the government’s advice to the police is that sedition charges cannot be slapped on those trying to bring change in government through legal means without hatred and contempt. But it is still left to the police to determine whether someone is employing “hatred and contempt” while democratically protesting against the government.

Background:

  • The Bombay high court, while dropping the sedition charge against cartoonist Aseem Trivedi had asked the government to issue guidelines to police on how to invoke the sedition clause. The Mumbai police had arrested Trivedi in 2012 for drawing cartoons that allegedly insulted the national emblem and Parliament.

Criticisms:

  • Political observers apprehend this could threaten free speech.
  • Some even described the government resolution as highly objectionable. They say this is the state’s attempt to gag people, which is against the Constitution and democracy.
  • Legal experts say that the new guidelines have given unbridled discretionary powers to a police officer which is not permitted in a democracy. This is unconstitutional and against Article 14 of the Constitution.

Sources: The Hindu, NIE.