Factly :-News Articles For UPSC Prelims | 13 May, 2021

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SEBI’s “Business Responsibility and Sustainability Report” norms mandate ESG overview

What is the News?

Securities and Exchange Board of India(SEBI) has issued a circular notifying new disclosure norms on sustainability-related reporting for the top 1,000 listed companies. The new reporting will be called the Business Responsibility and Sustainability Report (BRSR). It will replace the existing Business Responsibility Report (BRR).

Background:

  • In 2012, SEBI had introduced non-financial reporting in the form of a Business Responsibility Report(BRR).
  • The BRR report was a disclosure of the responsible business practices by a listed company to all its stakeholders.
  • The report initially covered the top 100 listed companies. It was later extended to the top 1000 listed companies from the financial year 2019-20.

About Business Responsibility and Sustainability Report(BRSR):

  • BRSR is a notable departure from the existing business responsibility report. It is a significant step towards bringing sustainability reporting at par with financial reporting.
    • Sustainable Reporting is the disclosure and communication of environmental, social, and governance(ESG) goals. It also includes the company’s progress towards ESG goals.
  • Objective: The BRSR report will encourage businesses to go beyond regulatory financial compliance. It will make businesses to report on their social and environmental impacts.
  • As part of the annual BRSR report, companies will need to provide
    • An overview of their ESG
    • The risks and opportunities associated with the ESG
    • Approach to mitigate or adapt to the risks along with financial implications.
  • Applicability: BRSR will be applicable to the top 1000 listed entities (by market capitalization). The report will be a voluntary one for FY 2021 – 22 and a mandatory one from FY 2022 – 23.
    • Listed Entity: It is a company whose shares are traded on an official stock exchange.
    • Market Capitalization: It refers to the total market value of a company’s outstanding shares of stock. It is calculated by multiplying the total number of a company’s outstanding shares by the current market price of one share.

What Are Environmental, Social, and Governance(ESG) Criteria?

  • Environmental, social, and governance(ESG) criteria are a set of standards for a company’s operations. The standards will help socially conscious investors to screen potential investments.
  • Environmental criteria consider how a company performs as a steward of nature.
  • Social criteria examine how it manages relationships with its employees, suppliers, customers and the communities where it operates.
  • Governance deals with a company’s leadership, executive pay, audits, internal controls, and shareholder rights.

Source: The Hindu


Israel’s “Iron Dome” is successful in intercepting rockets

What is the News?

Israel’s ‘Iron Dome’ System has been successful in intercepting the continuous barrage of rockets targeting Israel.

 About Iron Dome:

  • Iron Dome is a short-range, ground-to-air, air defence system. It is developed by Israeli manufacturer Rafael Advanced Defense Systems with support from the United States.
  • Purpose: It is used for countering rockets, artillery & mortars (C-RAM). It will also counter aircraft, helicopters and unmanned aerial vehicles fired from distances of up to 70 kilometres.

How does Iron Dome work? The Iron Dome has three main systems. These systems will work together to provide a shield over the area where it is deployed, handling multiple threats:

  • Firstly, it has detection and tracking radar. It tracks any incoming threat into Israel
  • Secondly, it has a battle management and weapon control system (BMC). It predicts the incoming rocket’s trajectory
  • Lastly, the information picked by the system is then used to guide Tamir interceptor missiles. These missiles are fired vertically either from mobile units or a static launch site. This will detonate the incoming rocket in the air by producing explosions in the sky.

Other key Features of Iron Dome:

  • The missile is capable of being used in all weather conditions, including during the day and night.
  • Israel claims the system has stopped thousands of enemy launches from hitting targets, with a success rate of more than 90%.

Source: Indian Express


What is “Article 311” of the Indian Constitution?

What is the News?

Recently Mumbai Police Commissioner dismissed a Police officer from service without a departmental enquiry. The commissioner done this by exercising his powers under Article 311(2) (b)

Article 311 of the Indian Constitution: Article 311 deals with the dismissal, removal or reduction in rank of persons employed in civil capacities under the Union or a State.

Safeguards under Article 311 for Civil Servants:

  • Article 311(1): It says that no government employee either of an all India service or a state government shall be dismissed or removed by an authority subordinate to the one that appointed him/her.
  • Article 311(2): It says that no civil servant shall be dismissed or removed or reduced in rank except after an enquiry. Further, s/he has to be informed of the charges and given a reasonable opportunity of being heard in respect of those charges.

Process of Departmental Enquiry:

  • In a departmental enquiry, after an enquiry officer is appointed. The civil servant is given a formal charge sheet of the charges. The civil servant can represent himself or choose to have a lawyer.
  • Witnesses can also be called during the departmental enquiry. Following that the enquiry officer can prepare a report and submit it to the government for further action.

 Exceptions under Article 311:

  • Article 311(2) (a): It says that if a government employee is convicted in a criminal case, he can be dismissed without Departmental Enquiry (DE).
  • Article 311(2)(c): It says that the government employee can be dismissed when the President or the Governor is satisfied that in the interest of the security of state it is not required to hold such an enquiry, the employee can be dismissed without DE.

Can the dismissal under section 311(2) be challenged by the government employee?

  • Yes, the government employee dismissed under these provisions can approach either tribunal or courts.

Source: Indian Express


NITI Aayog’s Report on Creating a “Roadmap for Digitally Inclusive Bharat”

What is the News?

NITI Aayog and Mastercard have released a report titled ‘Connected Commerce: Creating a Roadmap for a Digitally Inclusive Bharat’.

Purpose of the report: The report identifies challenges in accelerating digital financial inclusion in India. The report also provides recommendations for making digital services accessible to its 1.3 billion citizens.

Key Findings of the Roadmap for a Digitally Inclusive Bharat:

Enabling Global Opportunities for MSMEs

  • MSMEs have been a key growth driver for the Indian economy. This sector has employed some 110 million people or over 40% of India’s non-farm workforce.
  • However, the lack of proper documentation, bankable collateral, credit history and non-standard financials force them to access informal credit. Also, the informal credit interest rates are double that of the formal lenders.
  • Suggestion:
    • Digitize registration and compliance processes and
    • Diversify credit sources to enable growth opportunities for MSMEs.

Inspiring Trust and Security in Digital Commerce

  • There has been tremendous growth in digital payments in the past few years.
  • However, the surge in digital transactions has also increased the risk for possible security breaches, both for consumers and businesses.
  • A Medici report of June 2020 says 40,000 cyber-attacks targeted the IT infrastructure of the banking sector in India.
  • Suggestion:
    • Build information sharing systems including a ‘fraud repository’.
    • Ensure that online digital commerce platforms carry warnings to alert consumers to the risk of frauds.

Preparing India’s Agri Enterprises for Connected Commerce

  • Agriculture with its allied sectors provides livelihood to a large section of the Indian population. Over the years, agriculture’s contribution to national GDP has declined from 34% in 1983-84 to just 16% in 2018-19.
  • However, most agri-techs have not succeeded in digitizing financial transactions for farmers. Also, they failed to enable formal credit at lower rates of interest by leveraging transaction data.
  • Suggestions:
    • Enable agricultural NBFCs to access low-cost capital and deploy a ‘phygital’ (physical + digital) model for achieving better long-term digital outcomes.
    • Digitizing land records will also provide a major boost to the sector.

Digital Financial Inclusion:

  • A lot of effort and success has been on the supply side of DFI. For example, initiatives like E-Governance initiatives, JAM trinity, Direct Benefit Transfer(DBT) among others.
  • However, the success in the digital financial flow comes at the last mile where account holders mostly withdraw cash for their end-use.
  • Suggestion:
    • Strengthen the payment infrastructure to promote a level playing field for NBFCs and banks.

Robust Transit Systems for Smart Cities

  • The transport sector is expected to grow to 12% of GDP by 2026.
  • Hence, there is a huge opportunity for the government and private sector to collaborate and provide top-quality systems for mass transit.
  • Suggestions:
    • Make city transit seamlessly accessible to all. Transit has to include visitors, migrant workers from towns or villages also. The government can allow price benefits of digital payments to poor citizens
    • Leverage existing smartphones, cards and non-transit payment modes as far as possible.

Source: PIB


WHO warns against use of “Ivermectin” to treat Covid-19

What is the News?

The World Health Organization(WHO) has recommended against the use of ‘ivermectin’ drug for the treatment of COVID-19 patients.

Despite this, Ivermectin is still listed in India as a possible treatment option for mild COVID-19 patients under home isolation.

About Ivermectin Drug:

  • Ivermectin is an orally administered drug used to treat parasitic infections. These include parasitic infections of the intestinal tract, skin, and eyes.
  • How does it work? Ivermectin works by binding to parts inside the parasite. It eventually paralyses and kills off the parasite. Or it stops adult parasites from making larvae for a while. This provides relief to the parasitic infection.
  • Why is it used for Covid-19 patients? Ivermectin was found to be effective in reducing the multiplication of certain RNA viruses. Such as SARS and Covid-19 RNA. Hence, it is used for the treatment of COVID-19 in mild to moderate cases.

What has WHO said? WHO has recommended against the use of Ivermectin drug  for Covid-19 patients on following grounds:

  • No scientific basis for a potential healing effect against Covid-19 especially from pre-clinical studies;
  • No meaningful evidence for clinical activity or clinical efficacy in patients with Covid-19 disease,
  • A concerning lack of safety data in the majority of studies.

Source: The Hindu


What is Compulsory Licensing?

What is the News?

Kerala High Court has asked the Centre to respond to a plea for invoking the compulsory licensing. Other capable vaccine manufacturers will also be able to produce Covid-19 vaccines by the use of the compulsory license.

About Compulsory Licensing:

  • Compulsory licensing(CL) is a process that allows governments to license third parties (that is, parties other than the patent holders) to produce, use and sell a patented product or process. By that, producers can manufacture patented drugs without the requirement of consent of patent owners.
  • The WTO’s agreement on intellectual property –TRIPS allows countries to issue compulsory licenses to domestic producers.
  • In India, Compulsory licensing is allowed and regulated under the Indian Patent Act, 1970.

Section 84 of the (Indian) Patent Act,1970: It provides that after three years from the date of the grant of a patent, any person can apply for the compulsory license, on certain grounds:

  • the reasonable requirements of the public with respect to the patented invention have not been satisfied
  • the patented invention is not available to the public at a reasonably affordable price
  • Lastly, the patented invention is not used in the territory of India.

However, compulsory licenses can also be granted under exceptional circumstances.

Section 92 of the (Indian) Patent Act,1970: It authorizes the central government to issue a compulsory license at any time after the grant of the patent, in the case of:

  • National emergency; or
  • Extreme urgency; or
  • Case of public non-commercial use.

After the government issues a notification under Section 92 the companies can approach the government for a license. They can start manufacturing the patented drug by reverse-engineering the product.

Section 100 of the (Indian) Patent Act,1970:

  • It gives the central government the power to authorize anyone to use the invention for the purposes of the government.
  • Basically, this provision enables the government to license patents of the vaccine to specific companies. This is done to speed up manufacturing and ensure equitable pricing.

What is a Patent?

  • A patent is an exclusive right granted for an invention. In other words, a patent is an exclusive right to a product or a process that generally provides a new way of doing something or offers a new technical solution to a problem.
  • Is a patent valid in every country? Patents are territorial rights. In general, the exclusive rights are only applicable in the country or region in which a patent has been filed and granted in accordance with the law of that country or region.
  • How long does a patent last? The protection is granted for a limited period, generally 20 years from the filing date of the application.

Source: Hindu Business line


Shakuntala Haraksingh of Indian descent wins “World Food Prize”

What is the News?

Dr Shakuntala Haraksingh, a global nutrition expert of Indian descent has won the prestigious 2021 World Food Prize. She was awarded for her research in developing holistic, nutrition-sensitive approaches to aquaculture and food systems.

About World Food Prize:

  • The World Food Prize is an international honor recognizing the achievements of individuals. Especially persons who have achieved human development by improving the quality, quantity or availability of food in the world.
  • Presented by: The award is presented by the World Food Prize Foundation.
  • Categories: The award recognizes contributions in any field involved in the world food supply. This includes plant, animal and soil science; food science and technology; nutrition, rural development among others.
  • Eligibility: The prize is open to every individual without regard to race, religion, nationality, or political beliefs.
  • Significance of this award:
    • The award was conceived in 1987 by Dr Norman E. Borlaug. He was the winner of the Nobel Peace Prize in 1970 for his work in global agriculture. He is also known as the Father of the Green Revolution.
    • M.S. Swaminathan, the father of India’s green revolution was the first recipient of this award in 1987.

Source: Indian Express


 

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