Insights Daily Current Affairs, 10 November 2017
GS Paper 2:
Topic: Statutory, regulatory and various quasi-judicial bodies.
National Green Tribunal
The National Green Tribunal has issued a slew of directions to deal with the situation in Delhi, including banning construction and industrial activities and entry of trucks, while lambasting the Delhi government and civic bodies over the worsening air quality in Delhi and neighbouring states.
The NGT also directed the authorities and the civic bodies to sprinkle water where PM 10 is found to be in excess of 600 micrograms per cubic metre.
The national capital is experiencing ‘severe’ air quality under a blanket of thick haze, as pollution levels have breached the permissible standards by multiple times. The Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) has recorded ‘severe’ air quality, meaning that the intensity of pollution was extreme.
About the National Green Tribunal (NGT):
What is it?
NGT has been established under the National Green Tribunal Act 2010 for effective and expeditious disposal of cases relating to environmental protection and conservation of forests and other natural resources.
Ambit: The tribunal deals with matters relating to the enforcement of any legal right relating to environment and giving relief and compensation for damages to persons and property.
- The Tribunal is not bound by the procedure laid down under the Code of Civil Procedure, 1908, but shall be guided by principles of natural justice.
- The Tribunal’s dedicated jurisdiction in environmental matters shall provide speedy environmental justice and help reduce the burden of litigation in the higher courts.
- The Tribunal is mandated to make and endeavour for disposal of applications or appeals finally within 6 months of filing of the same.
Sanctioned strength: currently, 10 expert members and 10 judicial members (although the act allows for up to 20 of each).
Chairman: is the administrative head of the tribunal, also serves as a judicial member and is required to be a serving or retired Chief Justice of a High Court or a judge of the Supreme Court of India.
Selection: Members are chosen by a selection committee (headed by a sitting judge of the Supreme Court of India) that reviews their applications and conducts interviews. The Judicial members are chosen from applicants who are serving or retired judges of High Courts.
Expert members are chosen from applicants who are either serving or retired bureaucrats not below the rank of an Additional Secretary to the Government of India (not below the rank of Principal Secretary if serving under a state government) with a minimum administrative experience of five years in dealing with environmental matters. Or, the expert members must have a doctorate in a related field.
Sources: the hindu.
Topic: Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors and issues arising out of their design and implementation.
FEMA norms eased to spur investment from overseas
The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) has simplified the Foreign Exchange Management (Transfer or Issue of Security by a Person Resident outside India) Regulations, by putting all the 93 amendments under one notification, a move that will significantly make it easier for foreign investors to invest in the country.
- The new notification combines two regulations on foreign investments — one which is popularly called investment in an Indian company or a partnership, or in a limited liability partnership, or FEMA 20, and the other — FEMA 24, which is investment in a partnership firm.
- Another significant change is the introduction of a late submission fee that could allow an investor to regularise any contravention due to non-reporting, by paying the fee.
What is it?
The Foreign Exchange Management Act, 1999 (FEMA) is an Act of the Parliament of India “to consolidate and amend the law relating to foreign exchange with the objective of facilitating external trade and payments and for promoting the orderly development and maintenance of foreign exchange market in India”. It replaces the Foreign Exchange Regulation Act (FERA).
What it does?
This act seeks to make offenses related to foreign exchange civil offenses. It enables a new foreign exchange management regime consistent with the emerging framework of the World Trade Organisation (WTO). It also paved way to Prevention of Money Laundering Act 2002, which was effected from 1 July 2005.
Sources: the hindu.
GS Paper 3:
Topic: Inclusive growth and issues arising from it.
RBI release new outsourcing norms for NBFCs
RBI has issued fresh directions on managing risks and code of conduct in outsourcing of financial services by NBFCs. These norms have to be complied with in the next two months.
New directions are as follows:
- Non-banking financial companies (NBFCs) cannot outsource core management functions like internal audit, strategic and compliance functions for know your customer (KYC) norms, sanction of loans and management of investment portfolio.
- Access to customer information by staff of the service provider shall be on ‘need to know’ basis i.e., limited to those areas where the information is required in order to perform the outsourced function.
- NBFCs also have been asked to constitute a grievance redressal machinery with the name and contact details of the redressal officer displayed prominently at their branches. It shall be clearly indicated that NBFCs’ grievance redressal machinery will also deal with the issue relating to services provided by the outsourced agency.
- NBFCs would also be responsible for making currency transaction reports and suspicious transactions reports to the financial intelligence unit for activities carried out by the service providers.
What are they?
Non-bank financial companies (NBFCs) are financial institutions that provide banking services without meeting the legal definition of a bank, i.e. one that does not hold a banking license.
What they can’t do?
- These institutions typically are restricted from taking deposits from the public depending on the jurisdiction. Nonetheless, operations of these institutions are often still covered under a country’s banking regulations.
- NBFC cannot accept demand deposits.
- NBFCs do not form part of the payment and settlement system and cannot issue cheques drawn on itself.
- Deposit insurance facility of Deposit Insurance and Credit Guarantee Corporation is not available to depositors of NBFCs, unlike in case of banks.
Who supervises them?
The Reserve Bank of India is entrusted with the responsibility of regulating and supervising the Non-Banking Financial Companies by virtue of powers vested under Reserve Bank of India Act, 1934.
Topic: Major crops cropping patterns in various parts of the country, different types of irrigation and irrigation systems storage, transport and marketing of agricultural produce and issues and related constraints; e-technology in the aid of farmers.
Part-time jobs could fix India’s farming crisis: Analysts
As farmers in India struggle with dwindling incomes and soaring costs, with huge debts triggering a wave of suicides, experts said one solution may be to only work part-time on the land.
Why farming should be taken up as a part- time job?
- Over the past decade, tens of thousands of farmers have killed themselves across India, with debt or bankruptcy cited as the main reason.
- Problems usually stem from failed monsoon rains or low prices due to a supply glut in produce like lentils and cereals.
- About 60% of people in India make their living from the land, but earnings from agriculture have plunged to one-third of a farm family’s income from two-thirds in the 1980s.
- Employment in agriculture shrank by 26 million jobs between 2011 and 2015, according to McKinsey Global Institute, the research arm of the consulting firm.
- Seven out of ten rural households in India are landless or own plots of less than 1 hectare (2.5 acres).
There is a strong case for part-time farming: when opportunities arise elsewhere, they must go there. And when there are new opportunities on the farm, they can return there. Common alternative sources of income are the government’s rural jobs scheme, which is often road-building work, and earning daily wages in cities, such as on construction sites.
Topic: Issues related to direct and indirect farm subsidies and minimum support prices; Public Distribution System objectives, functioning, limitations, revamping; issues of buffer stocks and food security; Technology missions; economics of animal-rearing.
DBT helps states save Rs 1,557 crore till November 2017
A comprehensive review of the delivery of its 461 schemes by the Centre, including NREGS, PDS, pensions and LPG across states, showed that there has been a saving of Rs 1,557 crore due to implementation of Direct Benefit Transfer (DBT) schemes.
The amount transferred through DBT transactions in 2017-18 registered till November was Rs 52,737.32 crore, reaching around 59.42 crore beneficiaries. In 2016-2017, Rs 74,607.55 crore were transferred to 35.70 crore beneficiaries. This was significant growth, considering the funds transferred in 2013-2014 was only Rs 7,367 crore and number of beneficiaries was only 10.81 crore.
What is DBT?
The government’s DBT plan involves transferring the subsidy amount directly to the beneficiaries’ bank accounts. Here, the government does not have to fiddle around with differential pricing for the underprivileged. This method can effectively address the issue of leakages and go a long way in solving the mis-targeting problem.
DBT in India:
Launched in January 2013, DBT in 2015 was brought in to cover all central and state schemes and expanded in March 2016 to include “inkind” transfers to individual beneficiaries and a few Aadhaar-based services and smaller schemes to do with internships and training. DBT now covers major schemes that involve cash transfers such as Pahal, NREGS, pensions, scholarships, as well as in-kind transfers such as food grains and mid-day meals to children.
Facts for Prelims:
- Blue Flag aerial training exercise:
Blue Flag is a bi-annual multilateral exercise which aims to strengthen military cooperation amongst participating nations. The exercise is designed to strengthen Israel’s military cooperation internationally. This is the first time India is participating in the drill, along with the US, France, Germany, Italy, Greece and Poland.
- Olive ridley turtles:
Context: Olive Ridley turtles have started arriving at Gahirmatha beach in Odisha’s Kendrapara district, known as world’s largest rookery of this endangered species.
About Olive Ridley turtles:
- Also known as the Pacific ridley sea turtle, Olive turtles are a medium-sized species of sea turtle found in warm and tropical waters, primarily in the Pacific and Indian Oceans.
- They are best known for their behavior of synchronized nesting in mass numbers.
- The olive ridley is classified as Vulnerable according to the International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources (IUCN), and is listed in Appendix I of CITES.
- The Convention on Migratory Species and the Inter-American Convention for the Protection and Conservation of Sea Turtles have also provided olive ridleys with protection, leading to increased conservation and management for this marine turtle.