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GS-1

Social Issues


‘Cooling off’ period in Hindu divorce can go: SC: (The Hindu)

Context

  • Hindu couples who have mutually agreed to separate need not wait anymore for the mandatory “cooling off” period of six months before divorce, the Supreme Court held on Tuesday.

Why was cooling period mandatory previously?

  • Previously, once a couple moves to a court of law for divorce under the Hindu Marriage Act, they have to wait for a minimum period of six months.
  • Divorce by mutual consent was introduced as an amendment to the Hindu Marriage Act in 1976.
  • The waiting period under Section 13B was mandated to prevent couples from taking any hasty decision to end their marriage.
  • The waiting period was for them to have enough time to think through their decision to separate.
  • Divorce was granted only after the ‘cooling off’ period and once the court found there was no further chance for reconciliation.

What is the new decision?

  • A Bench of Justices A.K. Goel and U.U. Lalit observed that “The waiting period will only prolong their agony.”
  • The court held that the waiting period should be done away with in cases where there is no way to save the marriage and all efforts at mediation and conciliation have run their course.
  • Specially where parties have genuinely settled their differences including alimony, custody of child, etc, between themselves; and already a year and a half has passed since their first motion for separation.

How to apply?

  • The application for waiver of waiting period can be filed in court within a week of their first motion for separation.
  • The proceedings can be done through video-conferencing, the court observed.

GS-2

India and neighbors


Stung India slams ‘inaccurate’ UN reports: (The Hindu)

Context:

  • India terms the UN Human Rights Council’s report on Human Right violation in India selective.

What is the report all about?

  • The United Nations Human Right Council has released report on the status of Human Rights in 40 countries.

What has been said about India?

  • India is being criticized for incidents like cow vigilantes, Kashmir issue and stands on Rohingya refugees.

What has the government said in its reply?

  • India’s Permanent Representative to the UN termed the report of UN’s Human Rights Council is inaccurate and selective.
  • He argued that the country is proud of its independent judiciary, freedom of the press, vibrant civil society and respect for rule of law and human rights.
  • He clarified that the Prime Minister himself publicly condemned violence in the name of cow protection
  • It is being said that a lone incident of violence or murder cannot be taken for consideration to depict a broader societal picture of the country.
  • Like other countries, India is concerned about illegal migrants, security and law and order issues.
  • On the Kashmir issue, the government said that the UN report overlooked to issue of terrorism in the region.

Embrace the Rohingya: (Indian Express, Editorial)  

Context

  •  Centre needs to re-think its deportation policy as Rohingyas face a grave threat in Myanmar
  • Governments decision against all immigrants including 14,000 Rohingya is sought to be justified on the grounds that
  • They are “susceptible” to recruitment by “terror” groups
  • They “not only infringe on the rights of Indian citizens but also pose grave security challenges”.       

On legal grounds

  • The purported deportation of the Rohingya from India is almost legally untenable as the government is bound by customary international law to respect the principle of non-refoulement.
  • No government, as per this law, can forcibly push back asylum-seekers to the country they have fled to escape violence, as it might endanger their very survival despite not being a signatory to the 1951 UN Refugee Convention and its 1967 Protocol.
  • The courts in India have traditionally upheld the rights of refugees facing deportation or forced eviction in different contexts by taking recourse to what is called the “canon of construction” or a “shadow of refugee law”.
  • The Right to Life under Article 21 of the Indian Constitution has been so interpreted by the SC that it can be extended to anyone living in India irrespective of her nationality.
  • The apex court is scheduled to hear a petition on the Rohingya issue on September 18.
  • The flight of nearly 3,00,000 Rohingya to neighboring Bangladesh is a testimony to the wretchedness of their condition
  • Reports concluded after a 12-month long investigation in the Rakhine State that since October 9, 2016, “the Rohingya are facing a terrifying new phase in the genocide:
  • Mass killings,
  • Rapes,
  • Village clearings
  • And the razing of whole communities, committed with impunity by the Myanmar military and security forces”.

Deciphering China’s trade deceptions: (Live Mint, Editorial)

Context

Recently, China accused India of starting a trade war when the latter decided to extend anti-dumping duty on 93 products imported from China for another five years.

China and WTO

  • Until the 1970s, China’s economy was managed by the communist government and was kept closed from other economies.
  • China became a member of the World Trade Organization (WTO) in December 2001. The admission of China to the WTO was preceded by a lengthy process of negotiations.
  • The accession was aggressively pursued by China against the backdrop of the introduction of market reforms in 1978, opening up of the Shanghai Stock Exchange in 1990 and the government’s agenda to drive global manufacturing expansion.
  • However, the accession came with a clause that China could be treated as a non-market economy in anti-dumping investigations if Chinese firms failed to establish that they operated under market economy conditions for a period of 15 years ending 11 December 2016 ( as per China’s accession agreement).
  • In case of failure by the Chinese firms to prove that they were operating in market economy conditions, the importing country could use alternative methodologies to compute the normal value and dumping margin of the imported goods.
  • The entry into the WTO certainly seems to have helped China in pursuing its ambitions: its share in global manufacturing increased from 2% in 1991 to more than 23% in 2013.

‘Dumping’ and ‘Anti-dumping’

  • Dumping is the practice whereby the exporting nation sells its goods and services at a price lower than the price at which the importing nation sells the same goods and services within its domestic market.
  • The objective of dumping is to increase market share in a foreign market by driving out competition and thereby create a monopoly situation where the exporter will be able to unilaterally dictate price and quality of the product.
  • An anti-dumping duty is a protectionist tariff that a domestic government imposes on foreign imports that it believes are priced below fair market value.

China and ‘market economy’ status

A market economy is an economic system where decisions regarding investment, production, and distribution are based on the interplay of supply and demand, which determines the prices of goods and services

  • China views the WTO agreement of 2001 as saying that WTO-member countries had then decided to deem China as a ‘market economy’ from December 2016 while adjudicating anti-dumping cases
  • China in December 2016 launched a legal challenge against the EU and US over their reluctance to treat it as a “market economy” under World Trade Organisation rules.
  • But, The EU and US resisted China’s bid for market economy status amid a flood of cheap Chinese steel on to world markets, which sparked a wave of politically sensitive anti-dumping cases
  • To deny China the ‘MES’, India — and others such as the US and the EU — have been saying that unlike in ‘market economies’ where prices are mainly determined by market forces (of demand and supply), there is significant governmental influence in China that in turn causes distortions in international trade..

China and India bilateral trade

  • India and China officially resumed trade in 1978. In 1984, the two sides signed the Most Favoured Nation Agreement
  • China is one of the largest trading partners of India, although the trade is highly skewed in China’s favour
  • India and China have a trade partnership of about 70 billion dollars. China also invested 20 billion dollars in India to help in infrastructural projects, including smart cities.
  • However, India has also complained in the past of India’s manufacturers in steel, chemicals, electrical and electronics sectors being “severely hurt” by “unfairly low-priced” imports from China.

India has clarified on multiple occasions that it needs to consider Chinese firms as operating in a non-market economy( as the prices are not determined solely by demand supply factors) due to the significant direct or indirect control of the state in firms’ operations and input factors such as raw material, power, land, and labor.

China resorting to use of Anti-Dumping measures against others

  • China extended anti-dumping duty on chloroprene rubber imported from the US and Japan in May, it attributed the extension to the harm done to its domestic industry
  • Similarly, in July this year, while China  protested against India starting anti-dumping investigations in the case of solar panels and cells imported from China, it itself, renewed the anti-dumping duty on optical fibre (mainly used in its domestic telecom sector) imported from the US for another five years in April.

Conclusion

  • The bilateral trade between India and China is highly skewed in China’s favour.
  • In such a scenario, when India is trying to protect its local industry China may attempt to apply further pressure in the future in bilateral and multilateral settings.
  • For instance, in the context of BRICS, it may play the South Africa and Brazil card who have already given market economy status to China (Brazil is yet to implement it).
  • Also, amidst the recent heightening of tensions between the two countries with the Doklam standoff, India needs to tread cautiously.

50 years before Doklam, there was Nathu La: Recalling a very different standoff: (Indian Express, Editorial)

Brief background

  • Around five years after the 1962 war, India and China had clashed militarily, a conflict the Chinese rarely talk about.
  • It took place at Nathu La, not far to the northwest of the Doklam plateau.
  • More than 300 Chinese were killed in four days, while India lost 65 soldiers.
  • By comparison, in the monthlong war in 1962, China lost only 722 soldiers. Nathu La, 1967 was the last military conflict between the two countries.

About Nathu La standoff

  • Nathu La is an important pass on the Tibet-Sikkim border through which passes the old Gangtok-Yatung-Lhasa trade route.
  • Chinese and Indian soldiers are deployed barely 30 metres apart, the closest they are anywhere along the 3,488 km Sino-Indian border.
  • The Chinese hold the northern shoulder of the pass; India holds the southern shoulder.
  • Through 1966 and early 1967, China continued its tactics of propaganda, intimidation and attempted incursions into Indian territory.
  • Indian Soldiers in the open were mowed down by Chinese machine gun fire. The Indians responded with artillery fire, and pummelled every Chinese post in the vicinity.
  • Taken aback by the strong Indian response, the Chinese threatened to bring in warplanes.
  • Having sent its message militarily, India, delivered a note to the Chinese offering an unconditional ceasefire across the Sikkim-Tibet border. This was rejected, but the situation remained largely peaceful for some days.
  • Chinese handed over the bodies of Indian soldiers with arms and ammunition, saying they were acting in the interest of “preserving Sino-Indian friendship”.

Conclusion

On October 1 the same year, another skirmish erupted at Cho La, but the Indians again repulsed the Chinese. At Nathu La and Cho La, some ghosts of 1962 had been laid to rest.

Articles Of Faith: (Indian Express, Editorial)

Supreme Court’s places of worship ruling betrays a selective reading of constitutional provisions.

Context:

  • Supreme Court judgment in State of Gujarat v Islamic Relief Committee.
  • SC observed that a “substantial part of taxpayers’ money cannot be granted for repairing religious structures”.

The Case:

  • Under appeal before the apex court was the Gujarat High Court’s directive to the state government to repair religious places damaged during the communal frenzy in 2002 and recovering its costs from those guilty of the devastation.
  • The state government came in appeal to the SC and filed before it a scheme for awarding a small compensatory contribution to the trustees of each of the damaged properties.

Issue:

  • Interpretation of Article 27 and the omission of any reference to another highly relevant provision of the Constitution.

Article 27:

  • Article 27 proclaims: “No person shall be compelled to pay any taxes the proceeds of which are specifically appropriated in payment of expenses for the promotion or maintenance of any particular religion or religious denomination.”

Differing views:

  • SC observed that a “substantial part of taxpayers’ money cannot be granted for repairing religious structures”.
  • However, it is argued that getting a damaged religious place repaired and realising its cost from those who had damaged it shall not be seen as “promotion or maintenance” of religion.
  • And if it is seen, then the quantum of expenditure involved — be it substantial or meagre — must be irrelevant.
  • There is nothing in the language of Article 27 suggesting that the prohibition applies only if the amount spent is “substantial”. Who will determine, and by what criteria, whether an amount is substantial or trivial?

Nature of secularism in India:

  • India does not practise secularism in absolute sense, nor is it mandated by the constitution to do so.
  • The constitution grants every individual citizen of India his/her freedom of religion.
  • However, be it Article 290A or Article 48 — which mandates that the state protect the cow and its progeny — these provisions of the Constitution determine that the nature and parameters of secularism in our country is restricted.

Judicial selectivity:

  • Article 290A obligated the state to pay from the Consolidated Fund of the state of Kerela and the Consolidated Fund of the State of Tamil Nadu every year a fixed sum to the Travancore Devaswom Fund and the Devaswom Fund respectively for maintenance of Hindu temples and shrines in the territories transferred to the state on the 1st day of November 1956, from the State of Travancore-Cochin.
  • This was a religious obligation independent India had inherited from the two erstwhile princely states referred to in the Article as a precondition for their joining the Indian Union.
  • The provision clearly clashes with the general principle of Article 27.
  • It is argued by the author of this article that deciding some cases on the basis of our concept of qualified secularism but invoking the ideal of absolute secularism in some others amounts to a judicial selectivity that does not stand to reason.

GS-3

Science and Tech


A fragile ark that shelters 2,626 creatures: (The Hindu)

Context:

Zoological Survey of India produces first exhaustive compendium of animal diversity in the Sundarban islands and the threats it faces.

Introduction:                  

  • The Sundarbans is the only tiger-mangrove kingdom in the world and is home to globally threatened species such as the Bengal tiger, sea turtle, fishing cat, estuarine crocodile, Gangetic dolphin and river terrapin.
  • According to Zoological Survey of India’s (ZSI) listings, there are 2,626 animal species in the Indian Sundarbans.

What is the present status of Sundarbans faunal diversity?

  • The Indian segment of the Sundarbans, part of a UNESCO World Heritage site, forms part of the Ganga-Brahmaputra delta across 9,630 sq.km, distributed among 104 islands.
  • The region hosts 2,487 species that come under the zoological kingdom of Animalia, and 140 under the more primitive Protista.

What are the threats that Sundarbans is  facing today?

  • Due to pressure  on habitat from people and natural threats have shrunk the mangrove swamp habitat, mammal numbers are declining.
  • Two Rhinos, Swamp deer, Barking deer, and Hog deer and Asiatic Wild Water buffalo are not found in Sundarbans anymore.
  • There are 356 species of birds, the most spectacular being raptors, or birds of prey
  • There are 11 turtles, including the famous Olive Ridley and Hawskbill sea turtles and the most threatened freshwater species, the River Terrapin.
  • A crocodile, 13 lizards including three species of Monitor Lizards and five Geckos are found here.
  • The rivers, creeks channels and the islands together harbour about 30 snake species, led by the King Cobra, considered vulnerable by IUCN.
  • The mangrove ecosystem covers about 350 species of fish. Cartilaginous fish, which have skeletons of cartilage rather than bone, make up 10.3%.
  • The IUCN conservation status shows 6.3% fish are near-threatened and 4.85% are threatened. Also, there are 173 molluscs.

‘Stringent action to prevent data misuse’: (The Hindu)

Context:

  • Government’s commitment to ensuring data protection.

Introduction:

  • The IT Minister assured that unauthorized use of data would be dealt with stringent actions.
  • The Government wants to make data analytics a national movement.

Why is such a stringent stand of the government required?  

  • Big data analytics can help in precision governance and inclusive growth of the country.
  • Right to privacy has been recognized as a Fundamental Right by the Supreme Court of India.

What is the area of opportunity?

  • Currently, in India, there is a big gap between data being available and data being utilized.

How to promote big data analytics?

  • To promote big data analytics, the government has come out with various IT initiative like 24-hour Hackathon under Startup Eco-system Development programme.
  • The Open Government Data (OGD) Platform was started in March 2012.

More than 1 lakh directors at shell firms identified for disqualification: (The Hindu)

Context

  • The Ministry of Corporate Affairs (MoCA) has identified 1.06 lakh directors of ‘shell companies’ for disqualification under the relevant provisions of the Companies Act, 2013.

Why is it done?

  • To break the network of ‘shell companies’ and the fight against black money/money laundering activities.
  • The move is pursuant to the MoCA’s action of cancellation of registration of around 2.10 lakh defaulting companies.
  • It is done to restrict operations of bank accounts of such companies by the directors of such companies or their authorized representatives.

Who all are getting monitored?

  • Professionals including Chartered Accountants, Company Secretaries and Cost Accountants associated with such defaulting firms and involved in illegal activities have been identified in certain cases.
  • The action by professional institutes such as ICAI, ICSI and ICoAI is being monitored.

Time for course correction: (The Hindu, Editorial)

Context

Central Statistics Office (CSO) released the estimates of the gross domestic product (GDP) for

the first quarter (April – June) of 2017-18 and the growth rate has fallen below 6%.

What are the significant figures?

  • In Q1 of 2017-18, GDP grew by 5.7% whereas the economy grew at 7.1% in 2016-17, Q4.
  • The most disappointing aspect of the first quarter numbers is the steep fall in the growth rate of manufacturing to 1.2%
  • Gross Value Added (GVA) at a basic price grew by 5.6% and the 2016-17 Q4 GVA growth was 6.6%.
  • And the GDP and GVA growth for Q1 of the previous year stood at 7.9% and 7.6% respectively.
  • Thus, on a yearly basis, there is a decline in the growth rate by almost 2 percentage points.

What accounts for the decline om growth rate?

  • Most obvious factor is demonetization which had a negative impact on the growth rate
  • Also, the destocking of goods which might have happened prior to the introduction of goods and services tax (GST) must have also had a negative impact.
  • However, it would be unbefitting to attribute the entire decline of 2 percentage points to only to the aforementioned two factors.

Fall on Growth has been Steady and Continuous-

  • What has been happening is a steady decline from the first quarter of 2016-17 when the growth rate of GVA was 7.6%.
  • By the third quarter of 2016-17, the growth rate had declined to 6.7%.
  • Since then it has fallen by another 0.9 percentage point.

What are the implications of this declined growth rate?

  • Given the growth rate of 5.6% in Q1, it is unlikely that the growth rate for the year as a whole will exceed 6.5%.
  • For this to happen, the growth rate in the next three quarters will have to be 7%
  • The decline in the manufacturing sector if not revived soon, will have far reaching effect on the overall GDP figure.
  • Because of the good monsoon, agriculture will do better. Since agricultural growth rate last year was also good, the increase may not be that much.

If the economy has to get back to the high growth rate seen earlier, we need to understand the factors that might have been operating to bring down the growth rate.

What are the other factors that are adding to the low growth rate?

  • One of the arguments attributed to the low growth rate is the poor performance of the external sector.
  • Growth is fueled broadly by two types of demand, domestic and external.
  • India’s declining growth rate has also coincided with poor export performance.
  • Export demand has been weak because of the lukewarm growth rate of the advanced economies.
  • Again, the fall in the growth in the GDP value can be attributed to only to the poor export performance
  • The fundamental problem has been the sharp fall in the investment rate.
  • Gross fixed capital formation rate stood at 34.3% in 2011-12.
  • This started falling steadily and touched 29.3% in 2015-16. It fell further to 27.1% in 2016-17.
  • According to the latest numbers, in the first quarter of 2017-18, it stood at 27.5%.
  • Since the public investment rate has not shown any decline (it stands at 7.5% of GDP), it is the decline in private investment, both corporate and households, that has been responsible for the steady fall.
  • While the fall in corporate investment is steep compared to what was achieved in 2007-08, it has more or less stabilized at a lower level of around 13%.
  • Household investment, however, has continued to decline even in recent years.
  • Household here includes not only pure households but also unincorporated enterprises.
  • Another intriguing factor about the falling investment rate is that the last few years have shown a steady and substantial increase in foreign direct investment (FDI).
  • With this type of inflow and if the investment rate does not grow, the one surmise that one can make is that much of the FDI has gone into acquiring old assets rather than going to greenfield projects.
  • All this implies that domestic investment has remained quite dormant.

Barring the period of post demonetization, there has been a rising trend of GDP growth. How would explain this trend given the falling investment rate?

  • Growth can occur because of two reasons.
  • One, it results from better utilization of existing capacity.
  • Two, it can come out of new investment.
  • Whatever growth we have been seeing recently has come out of better utilization of capacity rather than new investment.
  • It is real growth spurred by new investment that generates more jobs.
  • The growth that we have seen in recent years has not resulted in an increase in employment.
  • The current period has therefore been described as one of ‘jobless growth’
  • Firm data are available only for the organized sector. The rest are estimated through surveys. In fact, in the case of unorganized sectors, very often the position is one of ‘underemployment’ rather than unemployment

What can be done to stimulate private investment?

  • First, in creating an appropriate investment climate, reforms play an important role.
  • Some of the noteworthy changes that have happened in the last few years are the passing of the bankruptcy code and GST legislation, and modifications in FDI rules.
  • Second, financing investment has taken a beating because of the poor health of banks.
  • Banks in India today are universal banks providing both short-term and long-term credit.
  • The sharp reduction in the flow of new credit has also put prospective investors in a difficult situation.
  • To resolve the non-performing asset (NPA) problem, banks need to take a haircut.
  • To bring banks back to good health, recapitalization has become urgent.
  • The government should go beyond the amount indicated in the Budget regarding disinvestment and fund banks through the money raised by disinvestment.
  • Third, a close look must be taken at stalled projects to see what can be done to revive those which are viable.
  • This must be part of an overall effort to hold consultations in small groups with investors to understand and overcome the obstacles that come in the way of new investment.
  •  Fourth, even though the progress of small and medium industries is very much dependent on the fortunes of the large, a separate look at medium and small enterprises may be needed to prod them into new investment.

What are the future prospects?

  • To sum up, the growth rate in 2017-18 is unlikely to exceed 6.5%.
  • Once the glitches and fears of the GST are over, the growth rate may pick up.
  • Goal must be to achieve and sustain a growth rate of 8% and above over an extended period
  • The core trouble factor is the steadily falling investment.
  • However, there has been a slight pick-up in public investment recently
  • That is not enough. Only when the two engines of public and private investment function at full throttle will India fly high.

Towards a new financial resolution regime: (Live Mint, Editorial)

Context

Recently introduced Financial and Resolution and Deposit Insurance Bill, 2017 is seen as an effective and updated mechanism for resolving bankruptcy in financial firms.

The Financial Resolution and Deposit Insurance Bill 2017, or FRDI Bill, is a positive affirmation of the lessons learned during the global financial crisis and its aftermath

What is ‘bank run’?

  • A bank run is a scenario where a large number of depositors, driven by a severe lack of confidence in the financial system, rush to withdraw their deposits

What happens when there is a ‘bank run’?

  • As banks typically keep only a small percentage of their deposits at hand, a run on deposits or withdrawals can have catastrophic consequences often, actually leading to a crisis.
  • In 1929, after a major fall in stock prices, there were a series of bank runs in the US which gradually precipitated into the Great Depression.
  • A period of relative calm of 70 years after the Great Depression was followed by the catastrophic crash of 2007-08.

What caused the 2007-08 financial crisis?

  • The norm of government bail-outs, especially of “too big to fail” organizations, had led to a culture of moral hazard where financial institutions had indulged in a series of risky and speculative practices without due regard to the interests of the stakeholders.

What was learnt from the 2007-08 crisis?

  • One of the foremost lessons from the events of 2007-08 was that a one-size-fits-all formula simply does not work when it comes to insolvency and resolution proceedings.
  • Financial institutions such as banks, insurance companies, stock companies and clearing corporations have several characteristics which put them on a different footing from non-financial entities like companies and partnership firms.
  • While some financial institutions like banks, insurance companies and pension funds deal with sensitive consumer deposits, others like stock exchanges and clearing corporations are intrinsic to financial markets.
  • Further, because of the increasingly interconnected nature of the modern financial system, a failure in any one sector tends to have a domino effect, which can potentially rattle the entire economy.

What measures have been taken by India post 2007-08 financial catastrophe?

  • An increasing number of jurisdictions are moving towards specialized resolution frameworks for financial institutions which are characterized by heightened scrutiny and disincentivization of excessive risk-taking.
  • The Financial Resolution and Deposit Insurance Bill 2017 (FRDI Bill), which was recently introduced in Parliament, is a positive step in this direction.
  • The FRDI Bill provides for the setting up of an independent new regulator, the Resolution Corporation (RC).
  • The RC will consist of representatives from all financial sector regulators (the Reserve Bank of India, the Securities and Exchange Board of India, the Insurance Regulatory and Development Authority of India and the Pension Fund Regulatory and Development Authority), the ministry of finance as well as independent members.

How will the Resolution Corporation work?

  • While the financial sector regulators will continue in their role of prudential regulation and supervision, the RC has been tasked with handling situations of distress in financial institutions.
  • The health of a financial institution will be graded on a five-point “risk to viability” scale, ranging from “low risk to viability” to “critical risk to viability”.
  • The RC’s role in case of a healthy financial institution will be extremely limited, and confined to exchange of supervisory information.
  • For a financial institution which is on the brink of failure, the regulators will work in tandem with the RC in attempting its revival.
  • However, once an institution has failed, the RC will take over and oversee its orderly demise. In order to prevent regulatory arbitrage, the FRDI Bill provides for a clear delineation of roles between the RC and the regulators.
  • The RC has been armed with various “resolution tools”, which are a mix of traditional methods such as mergers, acquisitions and portfolio transfers and some completely novel ones like bail-in, (setting up of) bridge service providers and run-off.
  • The tool of bail-in utilizes the existing resources of the failing institution by converting debt into equity.
  • However, this tool is not absolute.
  • For instance, only pre-defined liabilities can be bailed in and certain liabilities like those towards depositors and employees cannot be subject to a bail-in
  • Bridge service provider is essentially a temporary institution which is set up to take over the operations and critical functions of a financial institution, for a period of one year at the most.
  • Run-off is a specialized tool for insurance companies, which allows the present policies (e.g. life insurance policies) to run their course while discontinuing the writing of new business.
  • In choosing and applying these tools, the RC will be bound by a number of guiding principles and safeguards. A definite time-limit on the process of resolution (one year, extendable by one more year subject to certain conditions) is one of the most notable aspects of the FRDI Bill

Huge relief to Sivakasi fireworks makers as SC modifies ban order: (The Hindu)

Context

  • The Supreme Court on Tuesday modified its ban on the sale of firecrackers in the National Capital Region (NCR) as the step was too radical
  • The apex court lifted its suspension of valid permanent licenses in the NCR, which included the entire
    • National Capital Territory of Delhi
    • Haryana
    • Uttar Pradesh
    • Rajasthan
    • On November 11, 2016, the Supreme Court had ordered the suspension of all licenses permitting the sale of fireworks within the NCR till further orders.
    • It had banned the grant or renewal of firecracker licenses on a slew of petitions seeking a ban on the use of fireworks since the air quality had worsened manifold after Deepavali in 2016.
    • The modification is a big relief to Sivakasi fireworks manufacturers, who had challenged the 2016 ban.
    • They contended the ban had left 821 fireworks industries and five lakh employees in dire straits.
    • The Bench passed directions for regulating temporary licenses.

M-777 gun suffers damage during test:

Context

  • An M-777 ultralight howitzer from the U.S. was damaged during field testing in Pokhran on September 2.

How did this happen?

  • During the firing, the projectile which was the fifth of the series exited the barrel in multiple pieces.
  • The gun was manufactured by BAE Systems of the U.S and it was using Indian ammunition.
  • The field trial was under way for compilation of firing tables.

What was the extent of damage?

  • The extent of damage to the barrel is being assessed by a joint investigation team. No one has been injured.

What was the agreement?

  • Last November, India signed a deal with the U.S. government under the Foreign Military Sales programme for 145 of these guns at a cost of $737 million.
  • As part of the agreement, two guns arrived in April for calibrating range tables and three more guns will be arriving in September 2018 for training.
  • Deliveries are scheduled to start in March 2019 and at the rate of five guns a month, will be completed by mid-2021.
  • While 25 guns will be imported, the remaining 120 will be assembled in India by the Mahindra group.

 

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