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INSIGHTS DAILY CURRENT AFFAIRS + PIB SUMMARY- 5 March 2020

Table of Contents:

GS Paper 2:

1. Privilege motion against SAD MLA for his remarks.

2. National Anti-Profiteering Authority (NAPA).

3. World University Rankings by Subject 2020.

4. SC frees trade in cryptocurrencies, annuls RBI curb.

5. Amid din, Lok Sabha approves tax resolution Bill.

6. IBC Bill discriminates against homebuyers.

 

GS Paper 3:

1. Merger of Banks.

2. GISAT-1 — Geo Imaging Satellite.

 


GS Paper  : 2


 

Topics Covered: Parliament and State Legislatures – structure, functioning, conduct of business, powers & privileges and issues arising out of these.

Privilege motion against SAD MLA for his remarks

 

Covered previously on: https://www.insightsonindia.com/2020/01/03/parliamentary-privileges/.

 

Topics Covered:  Statutory, regulatory and various quasi-judicial bodies.

National Anti-Profiteering Authority (NAPA)

What to study?

For prelims and mains: NAA- establishment, composition, functions and significance.

Context: The Delhi High Court has stayed the National Anti-Profiteering Authority (NAPA) order directing Johnson & Johnson to deposit over ₹230 crore it allegedly profiteered by not passing on benefits of GST reduction in over 306 items, including baby products, through commensurate price cut.

 About NAA:

The National Anti-Profiteering Authority (NAA) has been constituted under Section 171 of the Central Goods and Services Tax Act, 2017. It is to ensure the reduction in rate of tax or the benefit of input tax credit is passed on to the recipient by way of commensurate reduction in prices. The Authority’s core function is to ensure that the benefits of the reduction is GST rates on goods and services made by GST Council and proportional change in the Input tax credit passed on to the ultimate consumers and recipient respectively by way of reduction in the prices by the suppliers.

Composition:

The National Anti-profiteering Authority shall be headed by a senior officer of the level of a Secretary to the Government of India and shall have four technical members from the Centre and/or the States.

Powers and functions of the authority:

  1. In the event the National Anti-profiteering Authority confirms the necessity of applying anti-profiteering measures, it has the power to order the business concerned to reduce its prices or return the undue benefit availed along with interest to the recipient of the goods or services.
  2. If the undue benefit cannot be passed on to the recipient, it can be ordered to be deposited in the Consumer Welfare Fund.
  3. In extreme cases the National Anti-profiteering Authority can impose a penalty on the defaulting business entity and even order the cancellation of its registration under GST.

Insta Link:

Prelims Link:

  1. Concentrate on various bodies constituted by the government.
  2. Their functions and composition.

Mains Link:

What is National Anti-Profiteering Authority (NAPA)? What are it’s functions?

 

Sources: the Hindu.

 

Topics Covered: Issues relating to development and management of Social Sector/Services relating to Health, Education, Human Resources, issues relating to poverty and hunger.

World University Rankings by Subject 2020

What to study?

For Prelims: Ranking methodology and categorisation, performance of various institutions.

For Mains: Significance of this ranking and potential of Indian Educational institutions.

Context: QS (Quacquarelli Symonds) has released the World University Rankings by Subject 2020.

Background:

  • To produce the QS World University Rankings by subject area for this year, QS analysed over 22 million papers, producing close to 200 million citations.
  • 1,368 institutions have been ranked across 48 subjects in 5 broad categories across 159 locations, which reflects the scale behind this internationally benchmarked undertaking to produce these subject rankings.

5 categories are:

  1. Arts and humanities.
  2. Engineering and technology.
  3. Life sciences and medicine.
  4. Natural sciences.
  5. Social sciences and management.

Performance of Indian Institutions:

  1. Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) Bombay and IIT Delhi have secured 44th and 47th positions respectively in Engineering and Technology category.
  2. Top 100: Other Indian technological and engineering institutes like IIT Kharagpur (86), IIT Madras (88) and IIT Kanpur (96) found their places in top 100 of this category.
  3. However, engineering and technology was the only major subject group where Indian institutions were able to crack the elite top 100 tier.
  4. Overall, 12 institutions from the country were ranked in the top 500 in this category alone.
  5. In the Natural Sciences category, three Indian institutions made it to the top 200: IIT-Bombay at 108th rank, closely followed by the Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore at the 111th position, while IIT-Madras scraped in at the 195th rank.
  6. Jawaharlal Nehru University remained the country’s top institution in the Arts and Humanities category, with a global ranking of 162, followed at a distance by Delhi University at 231.
  7. Delhi University topped the Social Sciences and Management category, with a global ranking of 160, followed by IIT-Delhi at 183.
  8. There are no Indian institutions in the world’s top 200 when it comes to Life Sciences and Medicine. The top institution in the country is the All India Institute of Medical Sciences, which had a global ranking of 231.

 

Insta Link:

Prelims link:

  1. Such reports and performance of various countries.
  2. Various institutions and their rankings.

 Mains Link:

What are Institutions of Eminence? Discuss the benefits of Institutions of Eminence to India.

Sources: the Hindu.

 

Topics Covered: Separation of powers between various organs dispute redressal mechanisms and institutions.

SC frees trade in cryptocurrencies, annuls RBI curb

What to study?

For Prelims: What are crypto currencies? SC’s order? What the RBI circular said?

For Mains: Implications and significance of this order, what is the way ahead for Virtual Currencies I’m India?

Context: The Supreme Court has set aside an April 6, 2018, circular of the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) that prohibited banks and entities regulated by it from providing services in relation to virtual currencies (VCs).

What did the Court say?

  1. RBI has not come out with a stand that any of the entities regulated by it namely, nationalised banks/scheduled commercial banks/cooperative banks/NBFCs, have suffered any loss or adverse effect directly or indirectly, on account of virtual currencies (VCs)
  2. Hence, the RBI circular is “disproportionate” with an otherwise consistent stand taken by the central bank that VCs were not prohibited in the country.
  3. Besides, the court found that the RBI did not consider the availability of alternatives before issuing the circular.
  4. Besides, the court referred to the Centre’s failure to introduce an official digital rupee despite two draft Bills and several committees.

Background:

The top court’s order followed a plea by the Internet and Mobile Association of India (IMAI) objecting to the RBI ban.

In April 2018, the central bank had tightened rules to discourage the use of virtual currencies such as Bitcoins, prohibiting banks and financial institutions from providing any related services.

Arguments by IMAI:

Cryptocurrency is not strictly currency and was more in the nature of commodity, and RBI does not have powers to impose such ban in the absence of a law in that regard prohibiting cryptocurrency. India should look at most other nations that are not only allowing cryptocurrency trading, but have moved to launch their own virtual currencies.

What RBI said?

  1. The RBI contended that it had, right from 2013, been cautioning users of cryptocurrencies and that it considers cryptocurrency a digital means of payment which has to be nipped in the bud so that the payment system in the country is not jeopardized. The regulator also argued that it is empowered to take decisions banning cryptocurrencies.
  2. That ban was aimed at “ring-fencing” the country’s financial system from the private virtual currencies, deemed illegal by the government.
  3. It had also argued that Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies cannot be treated as currencies as they are not made of metal or exist in physical form, nor were they stamped by the government.

What are Cryptocurrencies?

Cryptocurrencies are digital currencies in which encryption techniques are used to regulate the generation of units of currency and verify the transfer of funds, operating independently of a central bank.

Examples: Bitcoin, Ethereum etc.

Work_progress

How is it being regulated worldwide?

While many regulators around the world have been warning against trading in Bitcoin, some have backed it. In 2017, Japan accepted Bitcoin as legal currency and even officially recognised exchanges dealing in the cryptocurrency.

Insta Link:

Prelims Link:

  1. Various cryptocurrencies.
  2. Cryptocurrencies launched by various countries.
  3. What is Blockchain technology?

Mains Link:

What are Cryptocurrencies? Why there is a need for regulation? Discuss.

Sources: the Hindu.

 

Amid din, Lok Sabha approves tax resolution Bill

Covered in detail on:

https://www.insightsonindia.com/2020/02/13/vivad-se-vishwas-scheme/.

 

Topics Covered: Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors and issues arising out of their design and implementation.

IBC Bill discriminates against homebuyers

What to study?

For Prelims: Overview and key provisions in the Bill.

For Mains: Significance of the Bill, issues involved, ways to address them.

Context: The report on the Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code (Second Amendment) Bill, 2019 was tabled by the Standing Committee on Finance in Parliament recently. Three committee members said the IBC Bill was discriminatory as it does not treat homebuyers on a par with other financial creditors and violates a Supreme Court ruling,

What’s the issue?

The Bill has introduced a new clause that sets a threshold of 100 homebuyers, or 10% of the buyers, in a residential project, whichever is less, as a requirement to jointly take the developer to an insolvency court. This means that an individual homebuyer, who is a financial creditor, cannot file an insolvency application.

Key Highlights Of Insolvency And Bankruptcy (Second Amendment) Bill, 2019:

  1. Section 11 of the Code has been amended to clarify that a corporate debtor shall not be prevented from initiating CIRP against any other corporate debtor.
  2. Section 16 of the Code has been amended to provide that an insolvency resolution professional should be appointed on the date of admission of the application for initiation of Corporate Insolvency Resolution Process (CIRP).
  3. Section 23 of the Code has been amended to enable the resolution professional to manage the affairs of the corporate debtor during interim period between the expiry of CIRP till the appointment of a liquidator;
  4. A new Section 23A has been inserted to provide that the liability of a corporate debtor for an offence committed prior to the commencement of the CIRP shall cease under certain circumstances.

Effects of the amendment:

The amendment brings the much awaited changes needed in the insolvency sector. It clears the air on various aspects and provides relief to both corporate debtor as well as the creditors. The thresholds introduce will prevent admission of unnecessary cases to the insolvency court. However, even after anticipation, cross border insolvency framework has not been included in the amendment. Now, the same is expected to get cleared in the next session.

Insta Link:

Prelims Link:

  1. Concentrate on key provisions.
  2. Compare with the previous draft and look for key changes made.
  3. Understand the insolvency process.

Mains Link:

Discuss the significance the Insolvency And Bankruptcy (Second Amendment) Bill, 2019. What are the issues associated?

Sources: the Hindu.

 


GS Paper  : 3


 

Topics Covered: Inclusive growth and issues arising from it.

Merger of Banks

What to study?

For Prelims: Which three banks are being merged?

For Mains: Merger- Significance, pros and cons, concerns.

Context: The government has approved a scheme for the amalgamation of 10 state-owned banks into four.

After the process is complete, India will have 12 PSBs instead of 27 back in 2017.

New mergers include:

  1. Punjab National Bank, Oriental Bank of Commerce and United Bank of India will combine to form the nation’s second-largest lender.
  2. Canara Bank and Syndicate Bank will merge.
  3. Union Bank of India will amalgamate with Andhra Bank and Corporation Bank.
  4. Indian Bank will merge with Allahabad Bank.

Why merger is good? – Benefits for various stakeholders:

For Banks:

  1. Small banks can gear up to international standards with innovative products and services with the accepted level of efficiency.
  2. PSBs, which are geographically concentrated, can expand their coverage beyond their outreach.
  3. A better and optimum size of the organization would help PSBs offer more and more products and services and help in integrated growth of the sector.
  4. Consolidation also helps in improving the professional standards.
  5. This will also end the unhealthy and intense competition going on even among public sector banks as of now.
  6. In the global market, the Indian banks will gain greater recognition and higher rating.
  7. The volume of inter-bank transactions will come down, resulting in saving of considerable time in clearing and reconciliation of accounts.
  8. This will also reduce unnecessary interference by board members in day to day affairs of the banks.
  9. After mergers, bargaining strength of bank staff will become more and visible.
  10. Bank staff may look forward to better wages and service conditions in future.
  11. The wide disparities between the staff of various banks in their service conditions and monetary benefits will narrow down.

For economy:

  1. Reduction in the cost of doing business.
  2. Technical inefficiency reduces.
  3. The size of each business entity after merger is expected to add strength to the Indian Banking System in general and Public Sector Banks in particular.
  4. After merger, Indian Banks can manage their liquidity – short term as well as long term – position comfortably.
  5. Synergy of operations and scale of economy in the new entity will result in savings and higher profits.
  6. A great number of posts of CMD, ED, GM and Zonal Managers will be abolished, resulting in savings of crores of Rupee.
  7. Customers will have access to fewer banks offering them wider range of products at a lower cost.
  8. Mergers can diversify risk management.

For government:

  1. The burden on the central government to recapitalize the public sector banks again and again will come down substantially.
  2. This will also help in meeting more stringent norms under BASEL III, especially capital adequacy ratio.
  3. From regulatory perspective, monitoring and control of less number of banks will be easier after mergers.

Concerns associated with merger:

  1. Problems to adjust top leadership in institutions and the unions.
  2. Mergers will result in shifting/closure of many ATMs, Branches and controlling offices, as it is not prudent and economical to keep so many banks concentrated in several pockets, notably in urban and metropolitan centres.
  3. Mergers will result in immediate job losses on account of large number of people taking VRS on one side and slow down or stoppage of further recruitment on the other. This will worsen the unemployment situation further and may create law and order problems and social disturbances.
  4. Mergers will result in clash of different organizational cultures. Conflicts will arise in the area of systems and processes too.
  5. When a big bank books huge loss or crumbles, there will be a big jolt in the entire banking industry. Its repercussions will be felt everywhere.

Way ahead:

Merger is a good idea. However, this should be carried out with right banks for the right reasons. Merger is also tricky given the huge challenges banks face, including the bad loan problem that has plunged many public sector banks in an unprecedented crisis.

Committees in this regard:

Narasimham committee (1991 and 1998) suggested merger of strong banks both in public sector and even with the developmental financial institutions and NBFCs.

Khan committee in 1997 stressed the need for harmonization of roles of commercial banks and the financial institutions.

Verma committee pointed out that consolidation will lead to pooling of strengths and lead to overall reduction in cost of operations.

Insta Link:

Prelims Link:

  1. Banks to be merged?
  2. Number of PSBs in India?
  3. How merger takes place?

Mains Link:

Discuss the pros and cons of Bank Mergers.

Sources: the Hindu.

 

GISAT-1 — Geo Imaging Satellite

Covered on:

https://www.insightsonindia.com/2020/02/17/gisat-1-geo-imaging-satellite/.