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Insights Daily Current Events, 18 December 2015

Insights Daily Current Events, 18 December 2015

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Paper 2 Topic: Bilateral, regional and global groupings and agreements involving India and/or affecting India’s interests.

Memorandum of Understanding between India and Spain on cooperation in Port matters

The Union Cabinet chaired by the Prime Minister Narendra Modi has given its approval for signing of a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between India and Spain on cooperation in Port matters.

  • The MoU will strengthen the cooperation and render sustained mutual assistance and advice on port matters and other related maritime matters between the two countries.
  • Signing of the MoU will help both countries in encouraging and facilitating the development of Ports and provide a cooperation platform for enhancing and stimulating steady growth of maritime traffic.
  • It will also help in exchange and training of staff and students from various maritime establishments, exchange of information necessary for accelerating and facilitating the flow of commercial goods at sea and at ports.
  • This MoU facilitates for establishment of joint ventures in the fields of port led development, port efficiency, modernization of existing ports, dredging, particularly maintenance dredging in riverine ports, environment and green port intiative, port engineering, maritime training, information technology including development of simulators, port facilities and related maritime activities, etc.

sources: pib.

 

Paper 2 Topic: Bilateral, regional and global groupings and agreements involving India and/or affecting India’s interests.

Memorandum of Understanding in energy saving and energy efficiency among BRICS countries

The Union Cabinet has given its ex-post facto approval to an MoU signed between India and its BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa) counterparts for strengthening and further developing of energy saving and energy efficiency cooperation based on the principles of equality and mutual benefit.

The MoU provides the following areas of cooperation in the field of Energy Savings and Energy Efficiency:

  • Joint scientific and technological research,
  • Conferencing and holding of lectures and seminars;
  • Capacity building and technology transfer;
  • Technology development, sharing policies and best practices;
  • Encouragement of use of energy efficient and energy saving approaches and instruments in the work of the business entities of the BRICS countries, carried out within the BRICS countries in Consultation with the host country.

sources: pib.

 

Paper 3 Topic: Bilateral, regional and global groupings and agreements involving India and/or affecting India’s interests.

Model Text for the Indian Bilateral Investment Treaty

The Union Cabinet has given its approval for the revised Model Text for the Indian Bilateral Investment Treaty. The revised Indian model text for Bilateral Investment Treaty (BIT) will replace the existing Indian Model BIT.

Revised Bilateral Investment Treaty (BIT) text:

  • It will be used for re-negotiation of existing BITs and negotiation of future BITs and investment chapters in Comprehensive Economic Cooperation Agreements (CECAs)/ Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreements (CEPAs) / Free Trade Agreements (FTAs).
  • It will provide appropriate protection to foreign investors in India and Indian investors in the foreign country, in the light of relevant international precedents and practices, while maintaining a balance between the investor’s rights and the Government obligations.

Significance of Bilateral Investment Treaty (BIT):

  • A BIT increases the comfort level and boosts the confidence of investors by assuring a level playing field and non-discrimination in all matters while providing for an independent forum for dispute settlement by arbitration.
  • BITs help project India as a preferred foreign direct investment (FDI) destination as well as protect outbound Indian FDI.

Features of BIT:

The essential features of the model BIT include an “enterprise” based definition of investment, non-discriminatory treatment through due process, national treatment, protections against expropriation, a refined Investor State Dispute Settlement (ISDS) provision requiring investors to exhaust local remedies before commencing international arbitration, and limiting the power of the tribunal to awarding monetary compensation alone. The model excludes matters such as government procurement, taxation, subsidies, compulsory licenses and national security to preserve the regulatory authority for the Government.

Background:

  • The first BIT was signed by India on March 14, 1994. Since then, till date, the Government of India has signed BITs with 83 countries. These BITs were largely negotiated on the basis of the Indian Model BIT of 1993.
  • Considerable socio-economic changes have taken place since 1993 when the Model text of BIT was first approved. The nature of government regulation concerning foreign investment has evolved. A wide variety of laws now regulate investments both at the central and the state levels. During the last few years, significant changes have occurred globally regarding BITs, in general, and investor-state dispute resolution mechanism in particular.

sources: pib.

 

Paper 3 Topic: energy.

Underground Coal Gasification in coal and lignite bearing areas in India

The Union Cabinet has approved a policy framework for development of Underground Coal Gasification (UCG) in coal and lignite bearing areas in the country. Development of UCG is envisaged to provide for energy security.

Policy framework:

  • A policy on the lines broadly similar to the existing policy for Coal Bed Methane (CBM) development on revenue sharing basis will be adopted for offering the blocks through competitive bidding.
  • An Inter-Ministerial Committee under the Ministry of Coal with members from concerned Ministries will be responsible for identification of the areas, deciding about blocks to be put to bidding or awarding them to PSUs on nomination basis.
  • Ministry of Coal may engage a consultant for development of the contract document.
  • For development of bid documents, work programme, conducting the bidding process, evaluation of bids, monitoring and process protocols etc., Central Mine Planning and Design Institute Limited (CMPDIL) will be the nodal agency.

What is Underground Coal Gasification (UCG)?

  • UCG is a method of extraction of energy from coal/lignite resources which are otherwise regarded as uneconomical to work through conventional mining methods.
  • It is an in-situ gasification process carried out in non-mined coal seams using injection of oxidants, and bringing the product gas to surface through production wells drilled from the surface.

sources: pib, wiki.

 

 

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

Lok Sabha Passes Arbitration and Reconciliation Amendment Bill, 2015

The Lok Sabha has passed the Arbitration and Reconciliation (Amendment Bill), 2015 by voice vote.

  • The Bill seeks to make the arbitration process more investor-friendly, cost effective and suitable for expeditious disposal of cases. It will also facilitate in making India a hub of international commercial arbitration.
  • It may be noted that the President had promogulated an ordinance for amending the earlier prevalent act, the Arbitration and Conciliation Act 1996 related and for matters connected there with or incidental thereto.
  • The union cabinet had approved promulgation of this ordinance in October 2015 and had recommended the same to the President.

Important provisions in the bill:

  • The Bill seeks to impose a time limit of 12 months for arbitrators to decide on disputes. Parties can also choose to fast track their arbitration within 6 months. Courts will also be asked to decide disputed arbitral awards within a year.
  • The Bill also includes provisions specifying and restricting the term ‘Public Policy of India’ on whose ground an arbitral award could be challenged.
  • According to the Bill, an award would be construed as against the Public Policy of India if it is induced or affected by fraud or corruption, or is in contravention of the fundamental policy of Indian law or is in conflict with the most basic notions of morality or justice.

sources: pib.

 

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

Permission no longer needed to buy farm land

In a major move to boost industrial growth, the Maharashtra government has approved an amendment to the Rent Act, allowing non-farmers to buy agricultural land for industrial activities without government permission.

  • As per the amendment, permission to buy agricultural land that is shown as ‘not under farming’ in plans can be removed.
  • But the buyer will have to use the land for the pre-stated purpose in five years (which can be increased to 10 years by paying an annual fee); failing to do so will result in the land being deposited back with the government with the intent of returning it to the original farmer.
  • Buyers wanting to resell the land for other purposes will have to pay a 25% transfer fee.

Now, it is not necessary to seek permission from the Industry Commissioner to buy agriculture land more than 10 hectares for industrial use. This decision will ensure industrial growth.

sources: the hindu.