29, November 2016

1.India hosts golden jubilee celebrations of UNCITRAL in New Delhi

Source: PIB

India hosted the golden jubilee (50th anniversary) celebrations of United Nations Commission on International Trade Law (UNCITRAL) in New Delhi.

The opening address at international conference of the golden jubilee celebrations of UNCITRAL was given by President Pranab Mukherjee.

United Nations Commission on International Trade Law (UNCITRAL)

  • UNCITRAL was established by the UN General Assembly (UNGA) in 1966 to promote the progressive unification and harmonisation of international trade law.
  • It is the core legal body of the UN system in the field of international trade law.
  • India is a founding member of UNCITRAL. India is only one of eight countries which have been a member of UNCITRAL since its inception.
  • It has a membership of 60 States selected from among States Members of the UN. In 2015, India was re-elected for a term of six years (2016-2022).
  • Out of total 60 members, 14 are Asian states, 14 are African, 10 Latin American & Caribbean states, 8 Eastern European and 14 Western European and other States.
  • These member states are selected to ensure the representation of various geographic, principal economic and legal systems of the world.
  • UNCITRAL was established in 1966 with a recognition that “international trade cooperation among States is an important factor in the promotion of friendly relations and, consequently, in the maintenance of peace and security”.
  • Through its several model laws, conventions, legislative guides and robust debates in working groups, UNCITRAL has provided a valuable platform for countries to compare, examine, debate and adopt principles of international commercial and trade law appropriate to their circumstances.

  1. Union Government constitutes Amitabh Kant Committee to push cashless transactions

Source: The Hindu

The Union Government has constituted a new committee to form a strategy to expedite the process of transforming India into a cashless economy.

The committee will be headed by Niti Aayog CEO Amitabh Kant. It has been tasked with identifying various bottlenecks affecting access of digital payment

Terms of Reference of Committee

  • Identify and operationalise in the earliest possible time frame user-friendly digital payment options in all sectors of the economy.
  • Identify various digital payment systems appropriate to different sectors of the economy and coordinate efforts to make them accessible.
  • Engage regularly with Central ministries, state governments, regulators, local bodies, district administration, trade and industry associations to promote adoption of digital payment systems.

The committee was set up following a directive from the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) to back up the demonetisation move. The Union Government is working towards moving all government transactions to the cashless mode, through a new single window e-payment system that businesses or individuals can use to make payments to any central or state department.

  1. 3. Akodara, India’s first digital village

Source: The Hindu

ICICI aims to convert 100 villages into digital

Akodara village in Sabarkantha district of Gujarat has earned the coveted tag of becoming India’s first digital village in India.

The village with a total population of 1,191 people and 250 households uses a various cashless system for payments of goods and services. All transactions in the village are carried out through digital modes like SMS, net-banking or debit cards.

Key Facts

  • The village was adopted by ICICI Bank under its Digital Village Project in 2015 and made cashless by adopting digital technology.
  • The project was launched in January 2016 by Prime Minister Narendra Modi and ICICI Bank MD and CEO Chanda Kochar to mark 60-year-celebration of the ICICI group’s existence.
  • All households in village have savings account in local ICICI Bank branch. The bank has provided training to villagers to embrace digital technology to reduce dependence on cash.
  • The village has almost 100% financial rate and all mobile banking is done in Hindi, English and Gujarati languages. It also has its own official website.
  • The villagers’ most important transactions selling agri-produce at the local market or mandi or selling milk at the co-operative society have been made cashless.
  • It has primary, secondary and higher secondary schools equipped with smart boards, computers and tablets.
  • It can be said that this village has become prime example of how e-banking can be practically implemented in Indian villages without much difficulty to make India cashless economy.

4.CRR hike necessary to manage excess liquidity: DEA Secretary

Source: Indian Express

CRR is the portion of the deposits which banks are required to park with RBI. The actual current rate of CRR is 4 per cent.

The Finance Ministry on Monday said that the raising of CRR by the RBI became necessary due to increase in liquidity in the system as large sums of money in the form of scrapped Rs 500/1000 notes is being deposited by the public in banks.

  • The Reserve Bank on Saturday asked lenders to temporarily maintain an incremental cash reserve ratio (CRR) of 100 per cent to absorb excess liquidity from the system.
  • CRR is the portion of the deposits which banks are required to park with RBI. The actual current rate of CRR is 4 per cent.

Must  know about RBI’s Market Stabilisation Scheme

The Reserve Bank has raised the cash deposit or reserve ratio limit for banks to contain liquidity surge post demonetisation. However, it has also assured it will revisit the limits once the government issues an adequate quantum of Market Stabilisation Scheme bonds

  • This move is intended to suck out excess cash — of over Rs 3 lakh crore — from the system that is awash with post-demonetisation currency.
  • In initial reactions to the move, State Bank of India chief Arundhati Bhattacharya hoped that the banking regulator would find a better way to ‘compensate the banks.’ Although it is temporary measure, the 100 percent shock from the CRR tool could be replaced by other measures — most notably by bonds under market stabilisation scheme.

What is the Market Stabilisation Scheme (MSS)?

  • Market Stabilisation Scheme or MSS is a tool used by the Reserve Bank of India to suck out excess liquidity from the market through issue of securities like Treasury Bills, Dated Securities etc.
  • on behalf of the government. The money raised under MSS is kept in a separate account called MSS Account and not parked in the government account or utilised to fund its expenditures.

When was MSS first launched and under what conditions?

The Reserve Bank under Governor YV Reddy initiated the MSS scheme in 2004. To control the surge of US dollars in the Indian market, RBI started buying US dollars while pumping in rupee. This eventually led to over-supply of the domestic currency raising inflationary expectations. MSS was introduced to mop up this excess liquidity.   

In the context of demonetisation, why are banks for MSS more than Cash Reserve Ratio (CRR)?

CRR is a percentage of total deposits the banks are required to set aside with the RBI. It is a sort of contingency fund and does not earn any interest. An increase in CRR means the funds available with banks for lending purposes will be that much lower, ultimately limiting the possibility of a lending rate cut by banks. MSS bonds, on the other hand, have a fixed tenure and earn returns.

 

What was the current limit under MSS?

For the current fiscal, the RBI had fixed the ceiling under MSS at Rs 30,000 crore. However, a higher amount will be required now to contain liquidity post demonetisation.

What are some other tools to suck out liquidity?

Apart from issuing MSS bonds and increasing CRR, the Reserve Bank can resort to tools like reverse repo, or interest yielding short term cash management bills that can help drain additional liquidity.

5.Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Yojana: Post ‘last chance’ IDS, comes a new declaration scheme

Source: Indian Express

The Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Yojana, 2016, is somewhat similar to IDS, except that the tax rate is higher at 50 per cent and a quarter of the declared income will be locked in for four years

Income Declaration Scheme

  • The government’s new scheme on declaration of black money comes even as the deadline for paying first tax installment under the Income Declaration Scheme (IDS)— pitched as a “last chance” for those having black money to come clean — is yet to come to a close.
  • Under the IDS, which offered a four-month window to make declaration till September 30, the first installment of 25 per cent tax has to be paid by November 2016 and taxpayers are allowed to make the payment for tax and penalty in three installments by September 30, 2017.

The Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Yojana, 2016 scheme: 

  1. The Centre announced yet another scheme to aid the voluntary disclosure of unaccounted money on Monday. Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley introduced in the Lok Sabha an amendment to the income tax law, to make provisions for the scheme.
  2. Called the Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Yojna (PMGK Yojna), the scheme allows people to declare their unaccounted cash and pay taxes.
  3. Once taxes and certain penalties have been paid on the declared amounts, the black money holder will have future immunity on the declared amount. The declarations under this scheme can be made till December 30, 2016.
  4. For amounts declared under this scheme, the taxes and penalties will include income tax @ 30%; penalty @ 33% or income tax (10% of total declared amount) and Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Cess @ 10%. This amounts to 50% of the total declared amount
  5. Further, 25% of the amount declared under the scheme will be parked in a government fund for a period of four years @ 0% interest. This fund is meant to be used for improvement of irrigation, housing, toilets, infrastructure, primary education, primary health and livelihood creation. This would leave 25% of the amount in the hands of the black money holder.
  6. For unaccounted cash not declared under the scheme, the taxes and penalties will include a flat income tax @ 60% and a surcharge @ 25% of the tax (15% of total amount), amounting to a total of 75%.
  7. Further, the assessing officer would have the discretion of imposing a further 10% penalty, which could bring the combined taxes and penalties to 85%. This would leave 15% of the amount in the hands of the black money holder.
  8. For unaccounted money that is seized by authorities in raids, the system of levying 30% income tax and penalty of 50% of tax (for under-reporting of income) or 200% of tax (for misreporting of income) will continue.
  9. The amendment introduced by Jaitley in the Lok Sabha can be expected to be passed without hiccups, as the government has a majority in the Lower House.

  1. Chennai team turns leather waste into carbon for electrodes

Source: The Hindu

The collagen fibre was converted into carbon without oxidising the chromium

Researchers at the Vellore Institute of Technology University, Chennai, have successfully converted leather solid waste (wet blue leather splits) containing chromium (III) into porous carbon matrix for use as electrodes in supercapacitors.

This approach not only yielded “excellent porous electrode material for supercapacitors”, but also effectively addressed the management of chromium-containing leather solid waste, which is considered to be the major issue of leather manufacturing industry.

Keyfacts:

  • Chromium (Cr) is widely used in leather tanning as it imparts toughness to leather.
  • Though Cr(III) present in leather waste is not toxic, it can undergo spontaneous oxidation and get oxidised into Cr(VI) which is toxic.
  • The conventional disposal methods, such as land filling and incineration, cannot be considered as an ideal way of disposing the waste in an eco-friendly manner.
  • The prime constituent of leather is collagen fibre. So we thought of converting the collagen fibre into carbon fibre without oxidising the Cr(III) to Cr(VI)

7.Bitcoin adoption in India sees surge

Source: The Hindu

Unocoin, an Indian bitcoin start-up, has unveiled a new app for Apple’s mobile operating system iOS and Google’s Android platform. According to the firm, the app will allow consumers to buy, sell, send, receive and store bitcoins, all in one place, from any remote device.

 Unocoin said the implementation is timely because bitcoin adoption is rapidly ascending in India, coupled with the government’s decision to demonetise Rs.500 and Rs.1,000 notes.

What is Bitcoin?

  • Bitcoin is a digital currency that is not supported by any country’s government or central bank. Also known as crypto-currency, it can be traded for services or goods with sellers who accept bitcoins as payment

Experts say the demand for bitcoins will increase as there are more than one billion Indians using mobile phones. More than 300 million Indians use their phones regularly for accessing the Internet. This trend is expected to go up by 56% per year, according to Unocoin.

8.CMs panel to study demonetization effect:

  • Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister N. Chandrababu Naidu has been nominated by the Central Government to head the sub-committee of Chief Ministers of five States constituted to study the situation arising out of the demonetization of big notes.
  • The committee would study various aspects after demonetization and how it has affected different sections of the people.
  • The committee, after an indepth study of the situation and also after holding parleys with the banking institutions, is expected to submit its report to the Centre for taking required steps.

9.Modern RFID Access Control System Introduced at Paradip Port

Source: PIB

Paradip Port has introduced the modern Radio-frequency identification (RFID) Access Control System  for controlling and tracking the entry and exit of vehicular as well as human traffic into and out of its prohibited area. The implementation of the system was done as per the directives of the Ministry of Shipping.

Paradip Port

Paradip Port is the first among all Major Ports to have successfully implemented the RFID Access Control System adding yet another distinction to its string of achievements.

Benefits:

  • The new RFID system is inherently accompanied with enhanced Maritime Security features. Faster and efficient movement of traffic across the gates leading to reduction in congestion, simplified online payment procedure, availability of real-time information on number of different types of vehicles, equipment, port user personnel inside the prohibited area, availability of entry and exit details of a particular person, vehicle inclusive of the gate no.
  • Instantly through which the traffic moved, are some of the added advantages of the new system. Retrieval of data pertaining to the entire period of time is also another advantage of the system.

RFID tagging?

  • RFID tagging is an ID system that uses small radio frequency identification devices for identification and tracking purposes. An RFID tagging system includes the tag itself, a read/write device, and a host system application for data collection, processing, and transmission. An RFID tag (sometimes called an RFID transponder) consists of a chip, some memory and an antenna.
  • RFID tags that contain their own power source are known as active tags. Those without a power source are known as passive tags. A passive tag is briefly activated by the radio frequency (RF) scan of the reader.


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