19, September 2016

1.Simplify factory inspections for ‘ease of doing business’: CII

Source: The Hindu

Confederation of Indian Industries (CII)- The factory inspection system needs a complete overhaul to bring India among the top 50 countries in terms of ‘ease of doing business’ in the next two years, according to the Confederation of Indian Industries (CII).

India is currently placed at 130 out of 189 countries in the ‘ease of doing business’ rankings.

Inspections and Regulatory Enforcements:

The excessive number of inspections in India weighs down on the competitive advantage and the ‘ease of doing business’ of Indian businesses,” CII in its white paper titled ‘Inspections and Regulatory Enforcements for Micro Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) in India.

Rationalise inspections:

CII called for an integrated inspection system and highlighted the “need for inculcating a risk-based approach in the inspection system and weed out the redundancy and duplicity.”

2.NITI Aayog ruled out special status to Andhra Pradesh

Source: The Hindu

The Centre was almost prepared to grant the Special Category Status (SCS) to Andhra Pradesh but two factors dissuaded it from going ahead — clamour from nine more States for the same tag and NITI Aayog ruling out the possibility.

NITI Aayog too ruled it out citing the 14th Finance Commission report that had made it clear that it would not make any distinction between special and general category States.

What is ‘Special Category’ status?

‘Special category’ status is a classification given by Centre to assist in development of those states that face geographical & socio-economic disadvantages like hilly terrains, strategic international borders, economic & infrastructural backwardness and non-viable state finances.

Benefits do states having ‘Special Category’ status enjoy:

  1. Significant concession in excise & customs duties, income tax and corporate tax
  2. 30 percent of planned expenditure (central budget) goes to ‘special category’ states
  3. Special Category states are benefited because of Normal Central Assistance which was skewed in favour of these states. These states get more funds in terms of NCA and most part of these funds was in the form of grants rather than loans.
  4. Special Central Assistance given to SCS is also an additional amount which can be used by the concerned state for economic development.
  5. Centre bears 90% of the state expenditure (given as grant) on all centrally-sponsored schemes and external aid while rest 10% is given as loan to state. For general category, the respective grant to loan ratio is 30:70 where as external aid is passed on in the same ratio as received at the centre.
  6. Unspent money does not lapse and gets carry forward.

Parameters for implement special category status:


Now onwards 11 states used to have ‘special category’ status, namely, Arunachal Pradesh, Assam, Manipur, Meghalaya, Mizoram, Nagaland, Sikkim, Tripura, Jammu & Kashmir, Himachal Pradesh, and Uttarakhand.

3.Judicial innovation’ helps SC avoid awarding death penalty

Source: The Hindu

Tattu Lodhi case: the Supreme Court decided to opt for a “judicial innovation” instead of the death penalty.

What has the court said?

  1. The court has said that the offence did not come within the ambit of rarest of rare case but also held that life imprisonment of 14 years would not be sufficient punishment for the crime committed.
  2. Holding that innovative approach is needed to award sentence in such cases, the court directed that the convict must spent 25 years behind the jail.
  3. The court has also held that judicial innovation for bridging the gap between death sentence on the one extreme and only 14 years of actual imprisonment in the name of life imprisonment on the other, serves a laudable purpose and does not violate any law in the Indian Penal Code or in the Code of Criminal Procedure


This judicial innovation, formalised by a Constitution Bench of the Supreme Court in the Rajiv Gandhi killers’ case in December 2015, helps “get rid of death penalty” and addresses the genuine concerns of the society.

No remission

 The innovation involves substituting death penalty with a “special category” of life imprisonment without the benefit of release on remission for prolonged periods ranging from 25 to 30 years, if not more.

Lodhi case supreme court stripped him of his right to apply for release from prison on remission for the next 25 years. Thus, any hope Lodhi might have had for his release after serving the first 14 years was effectively extinguished.

Executive says about remission:

Remission It implies reducing the period of sentence without changing its character. For example,

a sentence of rigorous imprisonment for two years may be remitted to rigorous imprisonment for one


Special categories:

This innovative approach veering away from capital punishment was formalised after the Supreme Court gave itself the authority to tweak the sentencing laws and evolve a special category of sentence in its judgment in Union of India versus Sriharan alias Murugan. The special category is to be limited to a “very few cases”. This special category finds its first mention in the Swami Shraddananda versus State of Karnataka judgment of the Supreme Court in 2008.

Society’s concerns:

Quoting both the Sriharan and Shraddananda verdicts, judgment in the Tattu Lodhi case, observed that

  1. The innovative approach, on the one hand, helps the convict get rid of death penalty in appropriate cases.
  2. On the other, it takes care of genuine concerns of the victim, including the society.



Source: Pib

 PARAM-ISHAN can be used for Weather, climate modeling and seismic data processing.

5.Novel materials to make fuel cells cheaper, more efficient

Source: The Hindu

Hydrogen-Bonded Organic Frameworks (Hofs) that they synthesised could potentially be used as a proton exchange membrane in fuel cells.

Major Drawbacks Of Using Nafion:

Applicability at a high temperature range or low humidity,

High production costs,

Gas leakage issues.

The proton-conducting materials synthesised by the researchers address one critical issue — achieving a high proton conduction value even at ambient conditions (low humidity of around 60 per cent and moderate temperature). The proton conduction value is greater at higher humidity.


The HOFs are promising materials for gas separation and storage applications. However, they have not been used for fuel cell applications.

They synthesised two organic compounds, and each compound has a proton donor site and a proton acceptor site. “The donor-acceptor complementarity is distributed throughout the hydrogen-bonded framework.

Other applications:

HOF compounds have the potential to remove greenhouse gases such as carbon dioxide. Although the compounds separate carbon dioxide from other gases like nitrogen, oxygen and hydrogen at low temperatures.

6.Rich Indians worry as ‘dollar’ visa set to end

Many high net worth individuals the world over, including in India, are worried as the controversial immigrant visa programme for the wealthy in the US- EB-5 Programme, is set to expire this month-end.

EB-5 Programme

It is popularly called as the ‘Green Card for greenback’ scheme. The EB-5 programme was created in 1990 with the approval of the US Congress — America’s highest law-making body.

It aims to boost the American economy by attracting investment from foreign nationals and generating employment for locals. In 1992, its scope was widened through an Immigrant Investor Programme, or the Regional Centre Programme.

Simply put, the programme grants rich entrepreneurs — as well as their spouses and unmarried children below the age of 21 — an opportunity to bag the coveted U.S. Green Card (or status of permanent residence) and Citizenship.

The programme is named EB-5 as it is the fifth preference category under the Employment-Based (EB) immigration visas.   

How this scheme operates?

Rich entrepreneurs have to invest in over half a million dollars in the U.S. and ensure that the funds help generate at least ten full-time jobs for qualified U.S. workers.

The visa, given in exchange for investments, grants the holder a conditional permanent residence status.

After two years, the conditions may be removed, when it becomes permanent green card that can lead to citizenship, provided it has resulted in the creation of 10 jobs.


In order to be considered for permanent residency status in the U.S., the Programme mandates a qualified foreign investor to invest at least $1 million — or a minimum of $500,000 if the investment is made in certain rural areas or regions with high unemployment — and show that ten or more full-time positions were generated or preserved directly or indirectly as a result of that investment.

These EB-5 investments can be stand-alone or made through Regional Centres, with the former (direct investments) carrying a greater risk than investments made through over 860 approved Regional Centres that have more on-the-ground knowledge.

Regional Centres are certain designated organisations permitted to collect money from overseas investors seeking the EB-5 visas, and then pump such foreign investment into officially approved projects.

Why Indians are concerned?

In 2015, the U.S. authorities issued 111 EB-5 visas to Indians — that is 15 more than the previous year, and 74 more than the number of such immigrant visas issued in 2011. The rapid rise in the number of EB-5 visas to Indians in the last few years had led to the filing of over a thousand applications under that category from India this year.

However, in the backdrop of allegations of fraud and corruption — including against Indian-origin individuals — related to the programme, the U.S. Congress is planning to consider whether to renew it or to pay heed to growing criticism and wind it up altogether.





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