Shilliong unrest, north east
- Curfew was imposed in some parts of Meghalaya’s state capital Shillong following a clash that broke out between the police and a violent mob in the city’s Motphran area.
- Issue involved:
- There was a scuffle between members of the Mazhabi Sikh community, long-time settlers in the Punjab Lane area of the city, and a Khasi youth.
- The “settlers” have been in Shillong for more than a century and a half, having been originally brought there by the British colonials to work as manual scavengers.
- Spokespersons of the Khasi Students’ Union, whose members were part of the agitation, continue to insist that the Punjabi Lane residents be moved from Shillong’s commercial heart to its outskirts.
- The Meghalaya High Court had stayed an order by the District Commissioner to evict the residents from Punjabi Lane (also known as Sweepers’ Colony) in 1986.
- Today, there are enough provisions of affirmative action for the tribal people — 80% reservation for the Khasi, Jaintia, Garo and other tribes in jobs and professional studies.
- Yet, discontent persists over the lack of adequate jobs in the State, especially in urban areas.
- Labour Bureau report on employment:
- A Labour Bureau report on employment in 2015-16 found Meghalaya to have among the highest urban unemployment rates (13.4%).
- Discontent over lack of opportunities in the past had led to incidents such as the violent targeting of the Bengali community in 1979 and Nepalis in 1987, many of whom then fled the State.
- To prevent a repeat of those incidents, the government must stand by and protect the Sikh residents, and not give in to the nativist arguments of the protestors.
- Meghalaya’s politicians and civil society leaders must forge a more inclusive vision of the State’s demographics.
Ponzi schemes, bills
- The Banning of Unregulated Deposit Schemes Bill, 2018 was approved by the Union Cabinet.
- To provide comprehensive legislation to deal with illicit deposit schemes in the country.
- To protect the savings of the investors.
- The bill is aimed at tackling the menace of illicit deposit taking activities in the country.
- Key features of the Bill:
- Unregulated deposit: The Bill imposes complete prohibition of unregulated deposit taking activity.
- Penalty: It provides for deterrent punishment for promoting or operating an unregulated deposit taking scheme, stringent punishment for fraudulent default in repayment to depositors.
- The Bill has adequate provisions for disgorgement or repayment of deposits in cases where such schemes nonetheless manage to raise deposits illegally.
- The Bill provides for attachment of properties/assets by the competent authority and subsequent realization of assets for repayment to depositors.
- Clear-cut time lines have been provided for attachment of property and restitution of depositors.
- The Bill enables creation of a central online database, for collection and sharing of information on deposit taking activities in the country.
- The Bill defines the “deposit taker” and “deposit”
- The primary responsibility of implementing the provisions of the proposed legislation lies with the State governments.
- The Bill contains a substantive banning clause which bans deposit takers from promoting, operating, issuing advertisements or accepting deposits in any Unregulated Deposit Scheme.
- Types of offences:
- Running of Unregulated Deposit Schemes
- Fraudulent default in Regulated Deposit Schemes
- Wrongful inducement in relation to Unregulated Deposit Schemes.
Hague treaty, inter-country abduction of children by parents
- India is not yet ready to sign the Hague treaty on the civil aspects of international child abduction.
- There has been immense pressure from the U.S. on the government to sign the treaty.
- A committee constituted by the Centre to examine legal issues involved in international parental abduction submitted its report in April, opposing a central provision of the Hague Convention.
- India will follow Japan’s example and put safeguards in place before acceding to the Hague treaty
- Arguments against not singing treaty:
- According to the Indian government the criterion of habitual residence of the child, which is used to determine whether the child was wrongfully removed by a parent as well as to seek the return of the child to the country of habitual residence, was not in the best interest of the child.
- India has long held the view that the decision could lead to harassment of women escaping marital discord or domestic violence
- Setting a Child Removal Disputes Resolution Authority to act as a nodal body to decide on the custody of the child as well as a model law to deal with such disputes.
- The government is contemplating assigning the National Commission for Protection of Children the responsibility to adjudicate on such cases along with a judicial expert.
- Recent updates:
- The government in 2016 had decided that it will not sign the Hague treaty, later it appointed a panel under Rajesh bindal to prepare a report indicating that there was a some rethinking within the government on the matter.
|About Hague Convention: |
· The Hague Convention is a multi-national treaty that seeks to protect children wrongfully removed by one of the parents from the custody of the other parent.
· Concluded on May 29, 1993 in The Hague, the Netherlands, the Convention establishes international standards of practices for intercountry adoptions.
· It enables intercountry adoption to take place when, among other steps:
1- The child has been deemed eligible for adoption by the child’s country of origin; and
2- Due consideration has been given to finding an adoption placement for the child in its country of origin.
3- The Convention provides for recognition by other party countries of adoptions made in accordance with the Convention.
Civil society, Sterlite protest
- Shiv Visvanathan, an academic associated with the Compost Heap, emphasized the role of civil society aftermaths Thoothukudi violence in Tamil Nadu.
- Issues involved:
- Recently in Thoothukudi, the police shot down 13 people who were agitating against the Vedanta owned Sterlite Copper plant.
- It was in 1994 that Sterlite Copper had come to Tamil Nadu after it was virtually chased away by local communities from Goa, Gujarat, and Maharashtra.
- Local groups had expressed fears about the impact of pollution due to copper plant.
- About Thoothukudi:
- Thoothukudi, also known by its name Tuticorin, is a port city in Thoothukudi district in the Indian state of Tamil Nadu.
- According to Confederation of Indian Industry, Thoothukudi has the second highest Human Development Index in Tamil Nadu next to Chennai.
- Importance of civil society:
- Civil society reports carry a wider burden and responsibility.
- A civil society report on an act of violence has to related law and order to law and justice, and also to law and democracy, reflecting on knowledge and truth in new ways.
- The event suggests the importance of a people’s ombudsman to accompany so-called expert committees.
- Thoothukudi has to be treated as an early warning system for the emerging threats to Indian democracy.
- Author wishes for a proactive citizen whose knowledge must been seen as central to democracy.
- Toothukudi event reminded one of what the sociologist Emile Durkheim said in his classic Professional Ethics and Civil Morals, that only the ethics of professions like law and medicine can counter the rapacity of corporations and the emptiness of the state.
Defence Acquisition Council (DAC), air cushion vehicles (ACVs)
- The Defence Acquisition Council (DAC) approved procurement of high powered radars for the Indian Air Force and air cushion vehicles for the Army.
- The DAC meeting, chaired by Defence Minster Nirmala Sitharaman, was scheduled to discuss the broad contours of the Navy’s ambitious project to build six advanced submarines under the multi-billion P-75 (I) programme.
- The 12 high power radars will be procured indigenously under the ‘Buy (Indian) IDDM’ category.
- The radar will provide long range medium and high altitude radar cover with the capability to detect and track high speed targets.
- Radar will have the capability to scan 360 degrees without mechanical rotation of Antenna and will operate 24X7 bases with minimal maintenance requirement.
- In other deal, air cushions vehicles (ACVs) to be procured from an Indian shipyard.
- ACVs will enable travel at very high speeds over shallow water, sand banks, mud flats and swamps which are non-navigable by boats and small crafts due to draught restrictions or uncharted depths.
- About Project 75I-class submarine:
- The Project 75I-class submarineis a follow-on of the Project 75 Kalvari-class submarine for the Indian navy.
- Under this project, the Indian Navy intends to acquire 6 diesel-electric submarines, which will also feature advanced Air-independent propulsion (AIP) systems to enable them to stay submerged for longer duration and substantially increase their operational range.
Banking reform, economy
- The government’s recapitalisation plan for the 21 public sector banks (PSBs) will not be sufficient to support credit growth but will take care of the provisioning requirement for bad loans, according to Moody’s.
- In October last, the Centre had announced the infusion of ₹11 lakh crore in PSBs over two years, of which ₹1.35 lakh crore was to come through recapitalisation bonds.
- The government will infuse ₹65,000 crore in this financial year, following the ₹90,000 crore infusion made in FY18.
- Moody’s Indian affiliate ICRA said that with the accelerated recognition of stressed assets during FY18, the asset quality problems of the banking sector had peaked in March 2018.
- ICRA said further additions to gross non-performing assets will decline with fresh slippages falling to about 3% in FY19 compared with 7.1% in FY18 and 5.5% in FY2017.
- Moody’s estimation:
- Moody’s said all PSBs will see their Common Equity Tier 1 (CET1) ratios exceeding the 8% minimum by March 2019, following the capital infusion.
- The relatively stronger banks will have room to grow, but the weaker ones will continue to shrink their balance sheets to conserve capital, Moody said.
- About Recapitalization plan:
- Recapitalization plan was announced in October 2017 including a reform package for PSBs.
- The reform agenda is aimed at EASE- Enhanced Access and Service Excellence. It based on following objectives:
- Customer responsiveness
- Responsible banking
- Credit offtake
- PSBs are Udyami Mitra
- Deepening financial inclusion
- Digitilization and developing personnel for brand PSB
- Reasons for introducing recapitalization plan:
- Recapitalization plan was announced mainly because the banks have failed to raise additional capital from the market.
- It may be difficult for banks to raise more capital given the substantial decline in their share prices since the beginning of 2018.
- The capacity of these banks to generate internal capital has deteriorated because of their weak financial performance and a sharp increase in government bond yields, which hurt their investment income.
- Recapitalization will help banks to tackle the NPA problem
- Impact of Recapitalisation Bonds:
- The funds mobilized from the sale of the bonds will not come as part of the fiscal deficit.
|Important terminologies related to this article: |
· Recapitalisation bonds are dedicated bonds to be issued at the behest of the government for recapitalizing the trouble hit Public Sector Banks(PSBs).
· Recapitalization bonds are proposed as a part of the Rs 2.11 trillion capital infusion package declared by the government on October 24th, 2017.
Women entrepreneurs, startups
- The UN India Business Forum and the Women Entrepreneurial Platform of NITI Aayog recently formed a consortium to reduce gender disparities in start-up investments.
- The Consortium will bring together key ecosystem stakeholders, including venture capitalists and impact investors, international donar and funding agencies, private sector partners and state government.
- Reducing gender disparity in start-ups, expediting market linkages.
- Gender disparities can be achieved by providing mentorship and networking opportunities and accelerating financial and market linkages for women entrepreneurs.
- Strengthen women’s entrepreneurship by creating an enabling ecosystem for investments.
- Women entrepreneurs will be indentified through key partners, including WEP, UN Women and UNDP.
- The consortium secretariat will then connect entrepreneurs, according to their requests, with relevant members.
- Sustainable development:
- Sustainable development has the potential to open up markets worth $12 trillion around the world by 2030.
- It is estimated that up to $5 trillion is needed in a year to implement UN’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) worldwide.
- Return on investments on implementing the SDGs could be about $30 billion a year.
- The UN India Business Forum, an alliance of India’s businesses, financial institutions, the government and the UN, aims to accelerate India’s rapid growth and achieve the SDGs.
Ecology and environment
- Kamal Bawa, President of ATREE, India, and Distinguished Professor of Biology at the University of Massachusetts, Boston, expressed his views about environment protection in India.
- Need to protect the planet :
- The author empahsised that India is in need of a massive new efforts to monitor all life forms on planet, subject to increasing damage with unleashing of unprecedented economic and environmental forces.
- Biologists all over the world have been documenting the ongoing loss of life forms.
- Modern extinction rates are more than a thousand times greater than the rates of the geological past.
- In recent decades, populations of more than 40% of large mammals have declined and insect biomass has decreased by more than 75%.
- Natural habitats all over the world have shrunk. For these losses, our country ranks higher than most.
- Protecting life on earth:
- To protect life on earth, the famous American biologist E.O. Wilson has described an ambitious project he calls “Half-Earth”.
- He calls for formally protecting 50% of the earth’s land surface in order to conserve our rapidly disappearing natural heritage.
- Current efforts to map India’s biodiversity are largely restricted to forestlands, while plans for species monitoring are even more inadequate.
- In many of academic institutions, the ‘Life Sciences’ are still restricted largely to the study of cells and molecules.
- Steps to protect biodiversity and ecosystem:
- India’s forest policy calls for forests to cover almost a third of the country.
- Other natural systems such as grasslands and wetlands, the area to be protected could amount to almost 40%.
- Some areas could be fully protected while others might be managed by stakeholders for sustainable use and enrichment of biodiversity.
- Digital tools and artificial intelligence can be utilized to know vulnerability to changes in land use and climate.
- Institutions need to place far more emphasis on the scientific study of life at higher levels.
- Need a comprehensive inquiry into how society is shaping as well as responding to changes in biodiversity.
- Government and private philanthropy need to bring together multiple stakeholders to develop a programme to document map and monitor all life.
- Need to explore various dimensions of biodiversity and ecosystem services and their critical link to future.
- Recent steps:
- The Department of Biotechnology and of Science and Technology has recently started programmes and initiatives in the broader areas of science and society.
- Several non-governments organizations have strong interdisciplinary programmes in environmental suitability.
- The India Biodiversity Portal has the ambitious goal of mapping India’s biodiversity.