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9 PM Daily Current Affairs Brief – January 20, 2021

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  • RERA 2016 protects the interest of Homebuyers.
  • Issue of Big Tech’s increasing power
  • New transition in India-Nepal relations

RERA 2016 protects the interest of Homebuyers 

Source: Indian Express 

Gs2: Statutory, Regulatory and various Quasi-judicial Bodies 

Synopsis: As compared to RERA 2013 act, the Real Estate (Regulation and Development) Act (RERA) 2016 was successful in empowering the home buyers. This has reduced the incidence of unfair trade practices in the real estate sector. 

How RERA 2016 act was better than RERA 2013 act? 

The RERA 2013 act had the following issues; 

    • It did not cover either “ongoing projects” or “commercial real estate”.  
    • Also, the minimum limit for registration of projects was so high that it excluded many projects from the coverage under law. 
    • These exclusions made the 2013 bill meaningless and harmful to the interests of home buyers. 

However, the 2016 RERA act has fixed all the loopholes in the RERA act 2013, 

    • First, after a holistic review along with multiple stakeholder consultations both “ongoing projects” and “commercial projects” were included in the act.  
    • Second, the minimum limit for registration of projects was reduced to cover more projects. It reduced evasion under law.  

How the Real Estate (Regulation and Development) Act (RERA) 2016 has contributed to the empowerment of consumers? 

RERA act addressed the existing power gap in the real estate sector between buyers and promoters. It further empowered the consumers in the following ways. 

    • First, the real estate sector which was largely unregulated is now being regulated under RERA. 
    • Second, RERA along with demonetization and GST has reduced the use of black money in the real estate sector. 
    • Third, it has the mandatory rules of getting approval of competent authority for project plans.  
      • Also, according to the RERA act, the builder needs to register with a regulatory authority. 
      • This stringent regulation has ended the practice of selling real estate based on false advertisements. 
    • Fourth, to prevent fund diversion, Promoters are required to maintain funds of a specific project in separate bank accounts. 
    • Fifth, disclosure of unit sizes based on “carpet area” has been made mandatory. It has reduced the scope for unfair trade practices.  
    • Sixth, it promotes equity by making it mandatory for payment of “equal rate of interest” by the promoter or the buyer in case of default. 

Federal issues in its implementation 

RERA is a product of cooperative federalism. Though the Act was introduced by the Central government, state governments are empowered to notify the rulesappoint regulatory authorities and the appellate tribunalsCurrently, RERA is notified in 34 states and Union territories.  

However, the act is facing implementation-related issues in some states such as Maharashtra and West Bengal. 

    • First, in the case of Maharashtra, the state enacted its own law in 2013. The law was not consumer-friendly, and it has created a disadvantageous position for homebuyers in Maharashtra. 
      • However, the center repealed the state act and enforced the RERA act 2016 for the regulation of real estate sector. 
    • Second, in the case of West Bengal, the state government ignored RERA act 2016 and enacted its own state law (the West Bengal Housing Industry Regulation Act (WBHIRA)) in 2017. 
      • Even after multiple efforts by the Centre, West Bengal refused to implement RERA. 
      • Though there was a central law on the subject, Knowingly, the state government enacted WBHIRA in 2017. 
      • This act of WB government is violation of constitutional principles and has been challenged in the court. 

As SEBI is to securities market RERA will be to the real estate sector. RERA act 2016 will provide huge impetus to the growth of real estate sector while significantly contributing to the needs of Urban India.  


Issue of Big Tech’s increasing power 

Source: Indian Express 

GS-2: Effect of Policies and Politics of Developed and Developing Countries on India’s interests, Indian Diaspora. 

Background: 

  • Recently, sitting US President Mr. Trump’s account was removed from online platforms like Twitter, Facebook. 
  • This has divided the world with two contrasting views.  
  • Few people say that the social media companies were right to suspend Trump’s accounts.  
  • While others are concerned about the enormous power that these platforms wield over the public discourse, and their impact on democracy. 

Issue of Parler app removal from tech giant platforms 

    • Parler is a social networking site that remained as an alternative to Twitter.  
    • Recently, Amazon removed it from its cloud hosting service Amazon Web Services (AWS). (AWS). Similarly, Apple and Google removed Parler from their app stores. 
    • This incident demonstrated the enormous power that Amazon wields as a web infrastructure service provider. 
    •  This has also raised concerns about how the bigger tech players can destroy new competition due to their stronghold over the cloud infrastructure. For example,  
    • AWS controlled 45 per cent of the cloud infrastructure in 2019, while Google and Microsoft control much of the rest.  

Issues in action against Trump  

In many instances, the tech giants have responded with inconsistency in their actions.it has been discussed below with examples. 

    • First, In March 2020, Facebook and Twitter deleted posts by Brazil’s President Jair Bolsonaro and Venezuela’s President Nicolás Maduro for Covid19 misinformation. 
      • But no action was taken against Trump, who was also propagating misinformation about the Pandemic. 
    • Second, during the Black Lives Matter protests Trump tweeted “When the looting starts, the shooting starts”. This was an act of glorifying violence. However, Twitter responded very lately to remove the tweet.  
    • Third, the action against Trump was only taken after he lost his political leverage. Congress had ratified the victory of President-elect Joe Biden before that. 
    • Fourth, Digital platforms are for-profit corporations. Over the years, digital platforms have never been neutral arbiters and are acting in the nexus with the state governments. 
      •  For instance, these platforms have repeatedly blocked the ability of Wikileaks to accept donations on PayPal and other payment intermediaries. 
    • Fifth, after a 2018 court order, Trump was forced to unblock several dozen followers. The argument was put forward by petitioners that they were entitled to follow the official announcements and comment on public affairs of the handle.  
      • If the same logic is applied in the case of Trump ban, he cannot be stopped from making public announcements by a social media company.   

What is the way forward? 

    • Experts agree that the rules and guidelines of social networks are not being consistently applied throughout the world.  
    • The issue should be resolved by setting up a common global rule for social networks. 
    • EU countries are the pioneers in regulating the tech giant with investigations, fines, and legislation. They have taught the world how to control these giants without expelling them from the country’s economy.  

New transition in India-Nepal relations 

Source: click here 

Syllabus: GS 2 – International Relations  

Synopsis: Recent Joint Commission Meeting in Delhi was a positive development for bilateral relations of India and Nepal. 

Introduction  

The Minister for Foreign Affairs of Nepal, Pradeep Kumar Gyawali visited New Delhi for the sixth meeting of the India-Nepal Joint Commission. 

What was discussed in the meeting? 

In this joint meeting discussions on the following project and assistance took place. It will strengthen India-Nepal relations: –  

    • India assured an early delivery of vaccines to Nepal, in its fight against the pandemic. 
    • Cross-border rail connectivity projects, including a possible Raxaul-Kathmandu wide-scale railway line, were discussed. 
    • Further easing of cross-border movement of people and goods through ICPs was discussed.  
      • Integrated Check Posts (ICPs) at Birgunj and Biratnagar were inaugurated recently. These ICPs have helped in the smooth association of people and trade. 
      • These ICPs will ease trade and transit for Nepal, since it is dependent on India’s seaports for majority of trade.   
    • Nepal has shown support for India’s permanent membership of an expanded UN Security Council (UNSC) to redirect the changed balance of power.  

However, India declined Nepal’s request of including boundary issues in the commission meeting. India suggested finding a fresh mechanism for that purpose. 

What are the possible reasons behind this positive development? 

    • India is not getting involved in any internal political conflict of Nepal and willing for deeper engagement with all sections. It has sent a positive signal in Nepal.  
    • After a brief period of friction, PM Oli is himself trying to reach India now. This policy change is also a result of China’s hyper-interventionism in Nepal’s politics.     

Way forward 

With the increasing demand for restoring the monarchy, Nepal cannot afford to enter another round of political volatility. India has always played a positive role in Nepal, a good India-Nepal bilateral relation in this regard is mutually beneficial 


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