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INSIGHTS DAILY CURRENT AFFAIRS + PIB SUMMARY- 08 January 2020

INSIGHTS DAILY CURRENT AFFAIRS + PIB SUMMARY- 08 January 2020

Table of Contents:

GS Paper 2:

1. Pradhan Mantri Laghu Vyapari Maan-dhan Yojana.

2.What is Protecting Power?

 

GS Paper 3:

1. Agricultural and Processed Food Products Export Development Authority (APEDA).

2. Small finance banks.

3. Scientific Social Responsibility (SSR) Policy.

 

Facts for Prelims:

1. National Assessment and Accreditation Council (NAAC).

 


GS Paper  : 2


 

Topics Covered: Welfare schemes for vulnerable sections of the population by the Centre and States and the performance of these schemes; mechanisms, laws, institutions and bodies constituted for the protection and betterment of these vulnerable sections.

Pradhan Mantri Laghu Vyapari Maan-dhan Yojana

What to study?

For Prelims: Key features, objectives of the scheme.

For Mains: Significance of the scheme and its role in ensuring financial security of the citizens.

Context: The National Pension Scheme for Traders and Self-Employed Persons has failed to gain traction as only about 25,000 persons have opted for the scheme as against the government’s target to enrol 50 lakh by March-end.

Key facts:

  • As per government data, only 84 traders and self-employed persons from Delhi have registered for the scheme so far, while 59 persons from Kerala, 54 from Himachal Pradesh, 29 from Jammu and Kashmir and two from Goa have registered.
  • No one has registered for the scheme in Lakshadweep and Mizoram.
  • Uttar Pradesh has the highest number of registrations with 6,765 persons.

What is Pradhan Mantri Laghu Vyapari Maan-dhan Yojana?

It is a voluntary and contribution based central sector scheme.

The government launched the scheme, entailing monthly minimum assured pension of  ₹3,000 for the entry age group of 18-40 years after attaining the age of 60 years, with effect from July 22, 2019.

Under the scheme, the government makes matching contribution in the subscribers’ account.

The scheme is based on self-declaration as no documents are required except bank account and Aadhaar Card.

Eligibility:

  • All small shopkeepers, self-employed persons and retail traders aged between 18-40 years and with Goods and Service Tax (GST) turnover below Rs.1.5 crore can enrol for pension scheme.
  • To be eligible, the applicants should not be covered under the National Pension Scheme, Employees’ State Insurance Scheme and the Employees’ Provident Fund or be an Income Tax assessee.

Sources: the Hindu.

 

Topics Covered: Effect of policies and politics of developed and developing countries on India’s interests, Indian diaspora.

What is Protecting Power?

What to study?

For Prelims and Mains: What is protecting power? Vienna Convention?

Context: Following the killing of Iranian military and intelligence commander Major General Qassem Soleimani in Baghdad in a drone attack carried out by the United States, the Iranian government registered its protest with the Swiss Embassy in Tehran.

Why Switzerland?

Switzerland represents the interests of the US in Iran. This is because the US itself does not have an embassy there.

Iran’s interests in the United States, on the other hand, are represented by the Pakistan Embassy in Washington.

 How can one country represent another country?

In an arrangement such as this, Switzerland is the “Protecting Power” of the United States’ interests in Iran.

The instrument of Protecting Powers is provided for under the 1961 and 1963 Vienna Conventions on Diplomatic Relations.

 What the Vienna rules say?

1961 Vienna Convention states, if diplomatic relations are broken off between two States, or if a mission is permanently or temporarily recalled, the sending State may entrust the protection of its interests and those of its nationals to a third State acceptable to the receiving State.

And the 1963 Convention reiterates: “A sending State may with the prior consent of a receiving State, and at the request of a third State not represented in the receiving State, undertake the temporary protection of the interests of the third State and of its nationals.”

Roles of Protecting power:

In the absence of diplomatic and consular relations of the United States of America with the Islamic Republic of Iran, the Swiss government, acting through its Embassy in Tehran, serves as the Protecting Power of the USA in Iran since 21 May 1980. The Swiss Embassy’s Foreign Interests Section provides consular services to US citizens living in or travelling to Iran.

The United States government describes the same role on a web page on the “US Virtual Embassy” in Iran.

Sources: the Hindu.

 


GS Paper  : 3


 

Topics Covered: Food processing and related industries in India- scope and significance, location, upstream and downstream requirements, supply chain management.

Agricultural and Processed Food Products Export Development Authority (APEDA)

What to study?

For Prelims and Mains: APEDA and FPO- objectives, functions and significance.

Context: 800 FPOs registered on Farmer Connect Portal of APEDA.

Background:

Farmer Connect Portal has been set up by APEDA on its website for providing a platform for Farmer Producer Organisations (FPOs) and Farmer Producer Companies (FPCs) to interact with exporters.

About APEDA:

The Agricultural and Processed Food Products Export Development Authority (APEDA) was established by the Government of India under the Agricultural and Processed Food Products Export Development Authority Act 1985.

The Authority replaced the Processed Food Export Promotion Council (PFEPC).

APEDA, under the Ministry of Commerce and Industries, promotes export of agricultural and processed food products from India.

APEDA is mandated with the responsibility of export promotion and development of the following scheduled products:

  • Fruits, Vegetables and their Products.
  • Meat and Meat Products.
  • Poultry and Poultry Products.
  • Dairy Products.
  • Confectionery, Biscuits and Bakery Products.
  • Honey, Jaggery and Sugar Products.
  • Cocoa and its products, chocolates of all kinds.
  • Alcoholic and Non-Alcoholic Beverages.
  • Cereal and Cereal Products.
  • Groundnuts, Peanuts and Walnuts.
  • Pickles, Papads and Chutneys.
  • Guar Gum.
  • Floriculture and Floriculture Products.
  • Herbal and Medicinal Plants.

Administrative set up:

  1. Chairman – Appointed by the Central Government.
  2. Director – Appointed by APEDA.
  3. Secretary – Appointed by the Central Government.
  4. Other Officers and Staff – Appointed by the Authority.

Background:

  • An Farmer Producer Organisation (FPO), formed by a group of farm producers, is a registered body with producers as shareholders in the organisation.
  • It deals with business activities related to the farm produce and it works for the benefit of the member producers.

Sources: the Hindu.

 

Topics Covered: Inclusive growth and issues arising from it.

Small finance banks

What to study?

For Prelims: Small Finance Banks- management, functions and features.

For Mains: Financial inclusion- need, challenges and efforts by the government.

Context: The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) granted ‘in-principle’ approval to Saharanpur-based Shivalik Mercantile Cooperative Bank to convert into a Small Finance Bank (SFB), making it the first such lender to have opted for the transition.

 What next?

The ‘in-principle’ approval implies that the lender now has 18 months to comply with all conditions required to get the final SFB license from the RBI.

On being satisfied that the applicant has complied with the requisite conditions laid down by it as part of “in-principle” approval, the RBI would consider granting it a licence for the commencement of banking business under Section 22 (1) of the Banking Regulation Act, 1949 as an SFB.

What are small finance banks?

The small finance bank will primarily undertake basic banking activities of acceptance of deposits and lending to unserved and underserved sections including small business units, small and marginal farmers, micro and small industries and unorganised sector entities.

What they can do?

  1. Take small deposits and disburse loans.
  2. Distribute mutual funds, insurance products and other simple third-party financial products.
  3. Lend 75% of their total adjusted net bank credit to priority sector.
  4. Maximum loan size would be 10% of capital funds to single borrower, 15% to a group.
  5. Minimum 50% of loans should be up to 25 lakhs.

What they cannot do?

  1. Lend to big corporates and groups.
  2. Cannot open branches with prior RBI approval for first five years.
  3. Other financial activities of the promoter must not mingle with the bank.
  4. It cannot set up subsidiaries to undertake non-banking financial services activities.
  5. Cannot be a business correspondent of any bank.

The guidelines they need to follow:

  1. Promoter must contribute minimum 40% equity capital and should be brought down to 30% in 10 years.
  2. Minimum paid-up capital would be Rs 100 cr.
  3. Capital adequacy ratio should be 15% of risk weighted assets, Tier-I should be 7.5%.
  4. Foreign shareholding capped at 74% of paid capital, FPIs cannot hold more than 24%.
  5. Priority sector lending requirement of 75% of total adjusted net bank credit.
  6. 50% of loans must be up to Rs 25 lakh.

Sources: the Hindu.

 

Topics Covered: Science and Technology- developments and their applications and effects in everyday life Achievements of Indians in science & technology; indigenization of technology and developing new technology.

Scientific Social Responsibility (SSR) Policy

What to study?

For Prelims: Key features of the draft policy.

For Mains: Need for and significance of the policy.

 Context: Centre is in advanced stages of preparing a policy on implementing scientific social responsibility (SSR). The draft has already been released.

About SSR Policy:

India is going to be possibly the first country in the world to implement a Scientific Social Responsibility (SSR) Policy on the lines of Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR). A draft of the new policy was recently made available by the Department of Science and Technology (DST).

Aims:

  1. To encourage science and technology (S&T) institutions and individual scientists in the country to proactively engage in science outreach activities to connect science with the society.
  2. To harness latent potential of the scientific community for strengthening linkages between science and society, and for making S&T ecosystem vibrant.
  3. To develop a mechanism for ensuring access to scientific knowledge, transferring benefits of science to meet societal needs, promoting collaborations to identify problems and develop solutions.

Highlights of the Draft:

  1. Under the proposed policy, individual scientists or knowledge workers will be required to devote at least 10 person-days of SSR per year for exchanging scientific knowledge to society.
  2. It also recognises the need to provide incentives for outreach activitieswith necessary budgetary support.
  3. It has also been proposed to give credit to knowledge workers/scientists for individual SSR activities in their annual performance appraisal and evaluation.
  4. No institution would be allowed to outsource or sub-contract their SSR activities and projects.
  5. The draft defines SSR as “the ethical obligation of knowledge workers in all fields of science and technology to voluntarily contribute their knowledge and resources to the widest spectrum of stakeholders in society, in a spirit of service and conscious reciprocity”.
  6. central agency will be established at DST to implement the SSR. Other ministries would also be encouraged to make their own plans to implement SSR as per their mandate.

Need for SSR:

When most research is being done by using taxpayers’ money, the scientific establishment has an ethical obligation of “giving back” to the society. SSR is not only about scientific impact upon society but also about the social impact upon science. SSR would therefore strengthen the knowledge ecosystem and bring efficiencies in harnessing science for the benefit of society.

Sources: the Hindu.

 


Facts for Prelims:


 

National Assessment and Accreditation Council (NAAC):

NAAC is established by University Grants Commission (UGC) to assess and accredit institution of higher learning in the country.

The NAAC was originally formed in 1992 as a result of recommendations from ‘National Policy on Education – 1986’ which emphasizes on deteriorating quality of higher education in the country.
Functions: The NAAC certifies institutions of higher learning (Colleges, Universities, Institutes, etc) in the country; however, it does not include the institutes providing technical education.

It is an autonomous organisation that assesses and accredits institutions of higher education in India.