02, February 2017

1.DARPG starts ‘DARPGSEVA’ to address issues related to public grievances and administrative reforms

Source:PIB

The Department of Administrative Reforms and Public Grievances (DARPG), Ministry of Personnel, Public Grievances and Pensions has started its Twitter Seva .

The Twitter Handle is ‘DARPGSEVA’.

  • The Twitter Seva aims to address issues relating to the DARPG like Public Grievances and Administrative Reforms etc. T
  • he Twitter Seva will enable the DARPG to reach out to the common public and various stakeholders for facilitating redress of grievances and other issues of importance relating to the department.
  • The mission of DARPG is to foster excellence in governance and pursuit of administrative reforms through improvements in Government policies as well as processes, promoting citizen-centric governance with emphasis on grievance redressal.
  • Innovations in e-Governance is another mission of the Department apart from documentation and dissemination of best practices.

2.Budget Enhancement for Sports

Source: PIB

Budget for sports has been enhanced by 40 % since last year

Key facts:

  • Funds for promotion of sports among disabled will be done now from the funds allotted from Khelo India Programme and hence only a token amount has been provided.
  • Contributions have been asked from the Public Sector Undertakings for the National Sports Development Fund so as to enhance the sports activities and promotion of players.
  • National-level competitions have been organized under the Khelo India Programme so as to initiate a sporting culture in the country. Also, rural games are being planned to be held in the near future.
  • A talent search portal is being launched for identification and nurturing of sporting talent in the country.

Khelo India Programme:

India is one of the youngest nations in the World,  with about 65% of its population being under 35 years of age. The youth  in  the  age  group  of  15-29  years  comprise  27.5%  of  the  population.

At present, promotion and development of sports in the  country is being carried out through following three schemes: –

  1. Rajiv Gandhi Khel Abhiyan – To provide infrastructure in rural  areas  and  to  encourage  sporting  culture  in  the  country through competitions.
  2. Urban Infrastructure Scheme – To provide quality sports infrastructure in urban areas so as to provide facilities for  talent to hone their skills.
  3. National Sports Talent Search – To identify young talent.

To promote mass participation  in sports and achieve effective implementation, the existing schemes  of Rajiv Gandhi Khel Abhiyan (RGKA), Urban Sports Infrastructure  Scheme (USIS)  and National Sports Talent Search Scheme (NSTSS)  are proposed to be dovetailed into a single scheme to be named as  “Khelo India: National Programme for Development of Sports”

Objective of Scheme

  • Mass participation of  youth  in  annual  sports  competitions  through a structured competition;
  • Identification of talent
  • Guidance and nurturing of the talent through existing sports academies and new set up either by the central Government or  State Government or in PPP mode.
  • Creation of Sports Infrastructure at mofussil, Tehsil, District, State levels, etc.

Khelo India Programme is based on Gujarat Government’s model of Khel Mahakumbh. In it Schools and colleges from different parts of the country participate in about 27 disciplines. Even the Sports Authority of Gujarat (SAG) organises summer camps every year under this project.

Panchayat Yuva Krida Aur Khel Abhiyan (PYKKA) is a rural sports initiative introduced by the Ministry of Youth Affairs and Sports, Government of India to promote youth and social development through sports.

3.Cabinet approves Amendments in the Constitution (Scheduled Castes) Order, 1950 to modify the list of Scheduled Castes of the State of Odisha and 1964 to change name of the Union Territory from Pondicherry to Puducherry in the Order

Source: PIB

The Union Cabinet had approved the amendments in the Constitution (Scheduled Castes) Order, 1950 to modify the list of SC in Odisha.

  • It also approved amending the Constitution (Pondicherry) Scheduled Castes Order, 1964 to change the name of the Union territory to Puducherry from Pondicherry.
  • In this regard, The Constitution (Scheduled Castes) Orders (Amendment) Bill, 2017, incorporating the above changes, will be introduced in the parliament.
  • The amendment of SC list in Odisha makes inclusion of Sualgiri/Swalgiri caste in the list as it is Sabakhia caste which is already in the list of SC in Odisha.

Key facts:

1.The Government approved Modalities in June 1999, as amended in June 2002, for considering proposals in regard to modifications in the lists of Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes.

  • According to the approved Modalities, amending legislation to the concerned Constitution Order is proposed only in respect of such proposals of the concerned State Government/Union Territory Administration, which have been agreed to both by the Registrar General of India (RGI) as well as the National Commission for Scheduled Castes (NCSC).

2.The Constitution of India provides certain privileges / concessions to the members of Scheduled Castes which are notified under the provisions of Article 341 of the Constitution of India.

  • First list of Scheduled Castes in relation to a State or Union Territory is to be issued by a notified Order of the President after having consultation with the State Government concerned.
  • But, any subsequent inclusion in or exclusion from the list of Scheduled Castes can be effected through an Act of Parliament as envisaged under clause (2) of Article 341.
  • Six Presidential Orders were issued between 1950 and 1978 for specifying Scheduled Castes in respect of various States/Union territories. These Orders have been amended from time to time by Acts of Parliament enacted as per Article 341(2) of the Constitution between 1956 and 2016.

4.Mahila Shakti Kendra will be set-up at village level

Source: PIB

  • Mahila Shakti Kendra will be set-up at village level with an allocation of Rs. 500 crores in 14 lakh ICDS Anganwadi Centres.
  • This will provide one stop convergent support services for empowering rural women with opportunities for skill development, employment, digital literacy, health and nutrition.
  • Under nationwide scheme for financial assistance to pregnant women Rs. 6,000 each will be transferred directly to the bank accounts of pregnant women who undergo institutional delivery and vaccinate their children.

5.Banks to issue Electoral Bonds to enable donations to Political Parties

Source: PIB

The Union Minister for Finance and Corporate Affairs,

  • while presenting the General Budget 2017-18 in Parliament, that the political party can receive maximum donation up to Rs. 2,000 in cash from one person.
  • Proposing steps towards transparent funding of political parties, the Finance Minister proposed that banks will issue Electoral Bonds to enable donations to political parties.

The political parties will be entitled to receive donations by cheque or digital mode from their donors. Every political party will have to file its Income-Tax Return within the prescribed time limit.

Significance of this move

  • Step to cleanse the system of funding of political parties, that donations to political parties can soon be made by purchasing electoral bonds from authorized banks.
  • The Finance Minister that the Government will soon frame a Scheme in this regard and an amendment is being proposed to the Reserve Bank of India Act to enable the issuance of electoral bonds.
  • That a donor could purchase bonds from authorised banks against cheque and digital payments only. These bonds shall be redeemable in the designated account of a registered political party within the prescribed time limit from issuance of bond.

Key facts:

  • These steps have been proposed as the political funding for elections couldn’t become transparent though attempts were made to cleanse the system.
  • Despite amendment to the Representation of Peoples’ Act, the Companies Act and the Income Tax Act to incentivise political donations by individuals, partnership firms, HUFs and companies, political parties continue to receive most of their funds through anonymous donations which are shown in cash.
  • That the situation has only marginally improved since the provisions were introduced, such as granting exemption from payment of tax to both the donor and the donee, provided a list of donors is maintained, who had contributed more than Rs. 20,000.

6.Indian Ports to Go Green

Source: PIB

The Indian Ministry of Shipping, as a part of its ‘Green Port Initiative’ has been emphasizing on use of renewable sources of energy to power Major Ports across the nation.

  • The Ministry aims to set up 91.50 MW of solar energy capacity at the twelve Major Ports and 45 MW of wind energy capacity by the two Major Ports of Kandla and V. O. Chidambaranar.
  • It may be recalled that a MoU was signed between Indian Ports Association (IPA) and Solar Energy Corporation of India on the 15th of October, 2015 for the development of solar power projects at Major Ports.
  • This is a new initiative by Major Ports which has been taken in line with the ‘Green Port Initiative’ policy of the Government of India.
  • These renewable energy projects will help in the reduction of carbon dioxide emission by 136,500 MT annually. These projects will also help to reduce cost of power purchased by utilization of renewable energy for power generation, resulting in estimated saving of Rs 75 crores annually, when fully commissioned.

Project Green Ports

‘Project Green Ports’ which will help in making the Major Ports across India cleaner and greener. ‘Project Green Ports’ will have two verticals –

  1. one is ‘Green Ports Initiatives’ related to environmental issues and
  2. second is ‘Swachh Bharat Abhiyaan’.

Key facts

  • The Green Port Initiatives include twelve initiatives which will be implemented under strict time bound fashion in order to achieve the targets.
    • Some of these initiatives are preparation and monitoring plan , acquiring equipments required for monitoring environmental pollution, acquiring dust suppression system, setting up of sewage/waste water treatment plants/ garbage disposal plant, setting up projects for energy generation from renewable energy sources, completion of shortfalls of Oil Spill Response (OSR) facilities (Tier-1), prohibition of disposal of almost all kind of garbage at sea, improving the quality of harbour wastes.
  • Under Swachh Bharat Abhiyaan, the Ministry has identified 20 activities with certain time-line to promote cleanliness at the port premises.
    • Some of the activities include cleaning the wharf, cleaning and repairing of sheds, cleaning and repairing of port roads, painting road signs, boards indicating cleanliness messages, cleaning and repairing of all drainages and storm water systems and tree plantation.

In order to achieve these objectives, regular training will be provided to the staff in order to generate awareness and inculcate a positive attitude towards keeping the environment clean and green.

7.Fiscal resolve may pave way for rate cut

Source: The Hindu

Resolve for maintaining fiscal discipline, now on the Reserve Bank of India’s court to take a cue and lower interest rates further.

  • The fiscal deficit target at 3.2% for the next financial year which is lower than what the market expecting.

Key facts:

  • The committee which was set up to review fiscal responsibility and budget management (FRBM) has favoured debt to GDP of 60% by 2023, as compared to about 66% now, consisting of 40% for Central Government and 20% for State Governments.
  • Within this framework, the Committee has derived and recommended 3% fiscal deficit for the next three years.
  • The new fiscal roadmap also gives the Centre an escape clause (allowing a deviation of up to 0.5% of GDP) in case of far reaching structural reforms with unanticipated fiscal implications.

Lower interest rate:  Targeted a fiscal deficit of 3.2% which is lower than our forecast of 3.5%. Expect  RBI to cut policy rates by 25 bps with the finance minister pursuing fiscal consolidation. On balance, expect banks to cut average lending rates by 50-75 bps by September.

  • Since January 2015, the central bank has reduced the repo rate by 175 bps points. Though banks were initially reluctant(unwilling) to reduce lending rates, but after the demonetization exercise which helped the banks to reduce cost of funds, they reduced lending rates sharply from the beginning of January.

Committee report:

The report also notes that the Finance Minister’s decision not to fully utilize the escape clause provided by the FRBM committee, even if there was disruption caused by demonetisation, and keeping the deficit at 3.2% was disappointing, given the need for propping up both public investments and consumption momentum.

What is the ‘Debt-To-GDP Ratio’

  • The debt-to-GDP ratio is the ratio of a country’s public debt to its gross domestic product (GDP).
  • By comparing what a country owes to what it produces, the debt-to-GDP ratio indicates the country’s ability to pay back its debt. Often expressed as a percentage, the ratio can be interpreted as the number of years needed to pay back debt if GDP is dedicated entirely to debt repayment.

8.New TB-resistant cows developed in China

Source: Economic Times

In a first, Chinese scientists have used a novel version of the CRISPR gene-editing technology to successfully produce live cows with increased resistance to bovine tuberculosis (TB).

Modified version of the CRISPR system called CRISPR/Cas9n to insert a new TB resistance gene — NRAMP1 — into the genome of bovine foetal fibroblasts — a cell derived from female dairy cows.

Key Facts

Researchers had used a modified version of the CRISPR gene-editing technology called CRISPR/Cas9n to insert a new TB resistance gene NRAMP1 into the genome of bovine foetal fibroblasts, cell derived from female dairy cows.

  • These cells were then used as donor cells in a process called somatic cell nuclear transfer.
  • In it, nucleus of a donor cell carrying the new gene was inserted into an egg cell, known as an ovum, from a female cow.
  • These ovum were then nurtured in the lab into embryos and transferred into mother cows for a normal pregnancy cycle.
  • During this cycle, cows were produced with no off target effects on the animals’ genetics — a common problem when creating transgenic animals using CRISPR.

Significance

  • This scientific process revealed that NRAMP1 had successfully integrated into the genetic code at the targeted region in all of the calves.
  • When it was exposed to Mycobacterium bovis (M. bovis), bacterium that causes bovine TB, transgenic animals showed increased resistance to M. bovis.
  • Further in laboratory tests, the white blood cells taken from the calves also showed much resistance to M. bovis exposure.

CRISPR-Cas9 gene-editing technique:  The development of efficient and reliable ways to make precise, targeted changes to the genome of living cells is a long-standing goal for biomedical researchers.

CRISPR short form of clustered regularly interspaced short palindromic repeats.

  • It allows scientists to selectively edit genome parts and replace them with new DNA stretches.
  • Cas9 is an enzyme that can edit DNA, allowing the alteration of genetic patterns by genome modification.
  • CRISPR is a collection of DNA sequences that direct Cas9 where to cut and paste.
  • CRISPR-Cas9 technology has the potential to revolutionise the treatment of blood diseases, tumours and other genetic diseases.

9.Sebi proposes steps to boost liquidity in corporate bonds

Source: Indian Express

The new proposal will enable the issuers to stagger the redemption amount across the year by amortising(a debt with regular payments) the repayments.

  • Sebi proposed a mechanism for consolidation in corporate bonds for private placement of debt securities and enhancing liquidity.
  • It has been taking steps regularly to increase liquidity in the secondary market. Last year, it allowed corporates to reissue bonds.

Proposals:

  • With a view to reducing fragmentation in the corporate bond market, Sebi has come out with a consultation paper for consolidation and re-issuance debt securities.
  • The final regulation would be put in place after taking views of all the stakeholders.
  • According to Sebi, the primary market for corporate bonds /debt securities has grown since 2007, while the liquidity in secondary market has not been high.
  • To meet the funding requirements, some of the issuers take recourse in issuing several issues of bonds in a single month/quarter/year. This suggested that the private placement mode of issuance of corporate bond is substantially robust and favoured for raising funds.
  • The Securities and Exchange Board of India (Sebi) has proposed that issuers can have only one International Securities Identification Number (ISIN) per quarter or every two months.
  • In case, the restrictions are implemented, it may lead to a situation of liquidity mismatch and bunching of liabilities for the issuer.
  • “In order to resolve this issue, it is proposed that the issuer can as a onetime exercise make a choice of having bullet maturity payment or in order to avoid bunching of liabilities, the issuer can make equated quarterly payment or equated monthly payment of the maturity proceeds within that financial year,” Sebi said in the draft papers.
  • Also, it has proposed that the issuers having large number of outstanding issues and multiple ISINs, should resort to “switching or conversion” to reduce the number of outstanding ISINs in a phased manner.
  • Sebi has proposing methods of switching or conversion –Tender offer and Reverse Auction Conversion.
  • Under the tender offer, the issuer will fix a particular price for the maximum number of debt securities it is willing to purchase and sends a letter of offer to all the holders of debt securities. The issuer will also fix an outer time limit for accepting the offer as well as determine the rate which may be at a premium or discount.

Primary Market vs Secondary Market

  1. The Primary market refers to the market where new securities are issued for the purpose of obtaining capital. Firms and public or government institutions can raise funds from the primary market through making a new issue of stock (to obtain equity financing) or bonds (to obtain debt financing). When a corporation is making a new issue, it is called an Initial Public Offering (IPO). In exchange for the funds that the share holder contributes, a certificate is issued to represent the interest held in the company.
  2. The secondary market refers to the market where securities that have already been issued are traded. Instruments that are usually traded on the secondary market include stocks, bonds, options and futures. Once a security has been purchased for the first time by an investor on the primary market, the same security can be sold to another investor in the secondary market, which may be at a higher or lower price depending on the performance of the security during its period of trading
  3. The primary and secondary markets are both platforms in which corporations fund their capital requirements.
  4. While the functions in the primary stock exchange are limited to first issuance, a number of securities and financial assets can be traded and re traded over and over again.
  5. The main difference is that, in the primary market, the company is directly involved in the transaction, whereas in the secondary market, the company has no involvement since the transactions occur between investors.

 



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