Insights Daily Current Events, 07 March 2016
Paper 3 Topic: Effects of liberalization on the economy, changes in industrial policy and their effects on industrial growth.
Pilot phase of eBiz portal may be completed by the year-end
A pilot version of eBiz, a government to business portal, which aims at improving the ease of doing business in India, is expected to be completed by the end of this year.
- By December 2016 the pilot phase will be completed with the integration of 50 government services related to investors, industries and businesses of the Centre and ten states — Andhra Pradesh (AP), Delhi, Haryana, Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu, Odisha, Punjab, Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh (UP) and West Bengal.
- These 50 services include 26 related to the Central government and 24 pertaining to the states.
What is eBiz?
Ministry of Commerce and Industry, in 2013, announced the launch of eBiz, India’s first Government-to-Business (G2B) portal which aims at transforming and developing a conducive business environment in the country.
- The eBiz portal is also among the National e-Governance Plan’s integrated mission mode projects.
Aim and Objective:
The government aims to integrate more than 200 services to the portal within a few years. An objective of the project is to improve India’s ranking in the World Bank’s Doing Business index.
Who developed it?
It is being developed with the help of National Institute of Smart Government and IT major Infosys through the Public Private Partnership route. The Department of Industrial Policy and Promotion (DIPP) is the nodal Central government agency for the eBiz project.
What it does?
- The portal will provide a one-stop shop for providing G2B services to investors and business communities in India. The portal will also help in reducing the delays and complexity in obtaining information and services.
- Businesses that are already operating in India or planning to start operations can use the portal to obtain licences, approvals, clearances, no objection certificates, permits and even for filing of returns.
- Once these services pertaining to starting, running and closing down a business – completing the entire lifecycle of a business entity — are integrated to the eBiz portal, it will effectively become a single window clearance mechanism.
- Businesses and investors will be able to use the services 24X7 online, including for completing e-forms online, uploading them as well as the required documents as attachments, making payments online, submitting the forms online, tracking the status of applications, receiving SMS alerts from the government, obtaining the needed licenses or permits and downloading the certificates and getting approvals.
In the latest ranking India went up 12 places to 130th in a list of 189 countries. The Centre aims to ensure that India is in the top 50 within the next three years.
Sources: the hindu.
Paper 2 Topic: India and its neighborhood.
Bangladesh seeks Teesta water pact with India
After the resolution of the land boundary and maritime issues, Bangladesh is now looking up to India for an “immediate signing” of the Teesta water-sharing accord, which the two governments had agreed over four years ago.
- The demand for early signing of the pending deal was made by Foreign Minister A.H. Mahmood Ali and State Minister for Foreign Affairs Shahriar Alam at the recently concluded “India-Bangladesh dialogue”.
It all began when West Bengal started constructing a barrage across the Teesta River. Bangladesh opposed the construction as few regions in the country were dependent only Teesta River water for agriculture.
- However, after negotiation, an ad-hoc agreement was reached. As per the agreement, 36% of water of the Teesta flows was allocated to Bangladesh, 39% to India and a further 25 % remained unallocated.
- But even this deal has remained pending for more than 2 decades. After many unsuccessful attempts to reach a consensus on the issue, a new bilateral interim deal was to be signed in 2011 to reach an equitable sharing of the water. But it was once again put on hold as the chief minister of West Bengal Mamata Banerjee opposed the deal.
- Later, in 2013, an agreement was drafted which allowed for the 50:50 allocation of teesta waters between the countries during the lean season, when the real problems of allocation crop up. However, that was not acceptable.
- West Bengal has been opposing the treaty fearing that the loss of higher volume of water to the lower riparian would cause problems in the northern region of state, especially during drier months. It is estimated that the Teesta River has a mean annual flow of 60 billion cubic metres but a significant amount of this water flows only during wet season i.e. between June and September, leaving scant flow during the dry season i.e. October to April/May wherein the average flow gets reduced to about 500 million cubic metres (MCM) per month. This creates issues of equitable sharing during lean season.
- Teesta water is also crucial for Bangladesh, especially in the leanest period from December to March when the water flow often temporarily comes down to less than 1,000 cusecs from 5,000 cusecs.
Teesta River- Key facts:
- India and Bangladesh share 54 rivers between
- Teesta originates from Kangse Glacier, Charamu Lake in Sikkim. It flows through the northern parts of West Bengal before entering Bangladesh.
- It enters Bangladesh, joins Brahmaputra, and ends in Bay of Bengal.
- After Brahmapurta, Ganges and Meghna; Teesta is the 4th largest river in Bangladesh.
- The river is a major source of irrigation to the paddy growing greater Rangpur region of Bangladesh.
- The river forms the border between Sikkim and West Bengal before joining the Brahmaputra as a tributary in Bangladesh.
Sources: the hindu.
Paper 3 Topic: Indian Economy and issues relating to planning, mobilization of resources, growth, development and employment.
Proposals of the Companies Law Committee – A case of good spring-cleaning
The Committee appointed by the Government of India to suggest changes in the Companies Act, 2013 and Rules made thereunder, in the interests of various stakeholders, has submitted its report.
The enactment of the Companies Act 2013 ushered in a new regime of corporate governance and provided fillip to the way business is conducted in India. The Companies Law Committee was set up in June 2015, with the mandate to further improve and streamline the Act. Towards this end, the committee engaged in extensive discussions with various stakeholders and undertook a critical examination of established international best practices.
- The overall managerial remuneration payable by a public company should not exceed 11% of the net profits of that company except with the approval of the shareholders and the Central Government. Similar approvals are required for companies having inadequate or no profits.
- The report recommends simpler regulatory regime by proposing removal of government approval for managerial remuneration with few additional disclosures. This would be in sync with international practices and reduce procedural delays.
- The report recommends removal of restrictions on layering of subsidiaries since it was likely to have a substantial bearing on the functioning, structuring and the ability of companies to raise funds. Effectively, companies will be permitted to make investment through more than two layers of investment companies as per the report.
- The Act specifies that an independent director must not have or had any pecuniary relationship with the company, its holding, subsidiary or associate company or their promoters or directors, during the two immediately preceding financial years or during the current financial year. Even minor pecuniary relationships were covered due to this provision even though such transactions may not impact independence of directors. The report proposes to introduce a threshold for pecuniary relationships in relation to qualification for an independent director. This would further ease the implementation of provision for appointment of independent director by companies.
- Threshold has been proposed for punishment for fraud to avoid misuse of provision; frauds involving amounts below specified limits which do not involve public interest to be given differential treatment and compoundable. Penalty/fine proposed to be reduced in case of non-compliance with various sections of the Act.
- The Committee also recommended certain changes specifically for encouraging start-ups which include reducing compliance burden on account of private placement procedure, permitting start-ups to raise deposits for its initial five years without any upper limits, to issue ESOPs to promoters working as employees etc.
Sources: the hindu.
Paper 3 Topic: Conservation, environmental pollution and degradation, environmental impact assessment.
Colour-coded categorisation: Government releases list of industries
The government, after re-categorizing, has come up with a list of industries that would now be classified as red, orange or green, and the different rules that they would be subjected to.
Re-categorization and its purpose:
- Re-categorization of industries based on their pollution load is a scientific exercise. The old system of categorization was creating problems for many industries and was not reflecting the pollution of the industries. The new categories will remove this lacuna and will give clear picture to everyone.
- The purpose of the categorization is to ensure that the industry is established in a manner which is consistent with the environmental objectives.
- The new criteria will prompt industrial sectors willing to adopt cleaner technologies, ultimately resulting in generation of fewer pollutants.
- Another feature of the new categorization system lies in facilitating self-assessment by industries as the subjectivity of earlier assessment has been eliminated.
- This ‘Re-categorization’ is a part of the efforts, policies and objective of present government to create a clean & transparent working environment in the country and promote the Ease of Doing Business.
A new category, white, has been added to include the industries that are “practically non-polluting”. These industries, like air cooler or air conditioning units, chalk factories, biscuit tray units, won’t need a green clearance enabling easier financing.
- Red category: Includes Cement industry, Petrochemicals, pharmaceuticals, sugar, paper and pulp, nuclear power plants, organic chemicals, fertilizers, fire crackers.
- Orange category: Includes coal washeries, glass manufacturing, paints, stone crushers, and aluminium and copper extraction from scrap.
- Green category: Includes aluminium utensils, steel furniture, soap manufacturing and tea processing.
The categorisation is based on a pollution index developed by the environment ministry taking into account the emissions, effluents, and hazardous waste generated, and the resources it consumes. Industries scoring 60 and above on a scale of 1 to 100 have been rated red. An index between 41 and 59 earns an orange category, while a score between 21 and 39 gets a green. Pollution index lower than 20 have been rated white.
Facts for Prelims from “The Hindu”:
New snake species discovered in Gujarat
A team of young Indian researchers and naturalists have recently discovered a new snake genus and species in Gujarat.
- The snake genus has been named Wallaceophis in honour of the legendary 19th century British naturalist Alfred Russel Wallace (1823-1913), considered the father of biogeography.
- The snake species has been named Gujaratenisis to commemorate the western Indian state where it was discovered.
- The Wallaceophis Gujaratenisis is presently found in just seven localities of Gujarat and virtually nothing is known about its biology.
Sources: the hindu.
SBI in Myanmar
The State Bank of India has been given preliminary approval to open 100% -owned branches in Myanmar.