1. Govt. to Monitor OTT Content.
2. Inscription On Vijayanagar King’s Death Discovered.
3. Stoppage Of Water From Beas To Delhi.
4. INCOIS To go for aerial mapping of the ocean floor
5. India, Pakistan agree to adhere to 2003 ceasefire
6. 'Bad Bank and ARC'S
7. Fiscal deficit aim of 6.8% for FY22 realistic
1. Maritime India Summit.
2. Critically Endangered Alpine plant species Discovered in Arunachal Pradesh
Govt to monitor OTT Content.
#GS-3 # TECHNOLOGY #REGULATION
- For the first time, the government, under the ambit of the Information Technology (Intermediary Guidelines and Digital Media Ethics Code) Rules 2021, has brought in detailed guidelines for digital content on both digital media and Over The Top (OTT) platforms, while giving itself overriding powers.
- The new rules lay down a three-tier grievance redressal mechanism.
- However, over and above this framework, the government has equipped itself with “emergency” powers to block public access of any information.
- The rules state, “in case of emergency nature” the Secretary, Ministry of Information and Broadcasting, may “if he is satisfied that it is necessary or expedient and justifiable” give orders to block access.
- Such orders can be released “without giving an opportunity of hearing” to the publishing platform.
- The first level of the grievance redressal system will be at the level of each OTT provider.
- Each complaint will have to be addressed within 15 days.
- If the complaint is not satisfactorily addressed, then the complainant can scale it up to a self-regulatory body collectively established by the OTTs.
- This body will be headed by a retired judge of the Supreme Court, a High Court, or an independent eminent person from the field of media, broadcasting, entertainment, child rights, human rights or other relevant fields.
- This self-regulatory body also has “censuring” powers in case of any incriminating content.
- At the third tier, the government has equipped itself with overriding powers in the form of “oversight mechanism”.
- An inter-ministerial committee will perform this function and it will largely have the same powers as the collective self-regulatory body of the OTTs.
Absence of new law
- No new law has been framed. And the government already has power to step in, in case of an emergency under the existing law.
- There have been widespread concerns about digital content, especially on OTT platforms with 50 Parliament questions on the issues recently.
Tighter norms in place for social media
- The Centre notified new, stricter guidelines for social media intermediaries, making it mandatory for platforms such as WhatsApp to help identify the “originator” of “unlawful” messages.
- It will also require the likes of Twitter, Facebook and YouTube to take down such messages within a specific timeframe and set up grievance redressal mechanisms.
- The basic essence of ‘The Information Technology (Guidelines for Intermediaries and Digital Media Ethics Code) Rules, 2021’ is “soft-touch oversight” mechanism to deal with issues such as persistent spread of fake news, abuse of these platforms to share morphed images of women .
- Think-tanks and experts welcomed the new “well-intended” rules, stating that these bring clarity on responsibilities of intermediaries.
- However, these guidelines could undermine the principles of open and accessible Internet and violate the right to privacy and free speech of users .
- These could also lead to an erosion of the ‘safe harbour’ protection given to intermediaries under Section 79 of the IT Act.
- On receiving a court order or being notified by the appropriate government agency, an intermediary will need to remove or disable access to any unlawful information “as early as possible, but in no case later than 36 hours”.
Insight of new social media code
- Law & IT Minister cited a 2018 Supreme Court observation and a 2019 Supreme Court order, in addition to discussion in Rajya Sabha - once in 2018 and then through a report laid by a committee in 2020 - as the need for coming up with rules to “empower the ordinary users of digital platforms to seek redressal for their grievances and command accountability in case of infringement of their rights”.
- The government had been working on these guidelines for over three years; however, the big push came in the form of the violent incidents at the Red Fort on January 26, following which the government and Twitter were embroiled in a spat over the removal of certain accounts from the social media platform.
vital proposals that the guidelines make for social media
- Section 79 of the Information Technology Act provides a “safe harbour” to intermediaries that host user-generated content, and exempts them from liability for the actions of users if they adhere to government-prescribed guidelines.
- The new guidelines notified prescribe an element of due diligence to be followed by the intermediary, failing which the safe harbour provisions would cease to apply to these platforms such as Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, and WhatsApp.
- They also prescribe a grievance redressal mechanism by mandating that the intermediaries, including social media platforms, should establish a mechanism for receiving and resolving complaints from users.
- These platforms will need to appoint a grievance officer to deal with such complaints, who must acknowledge the complaint within 24 hours, and resolve it within 15 days of receipt.
Rules for removal of content from social media
- In essence, the rules lay down 10 categories of content that the social media platform should not host.
- These include content that ✓ Threatens the unity, integrity, defence, security or sovereignty of India, friendly relations with foreign States, or public order, or causes incitement to the commission of any cognizable offence or prevents investigation of any offence or is insulting any foreign States”;
✓ is defamatory, obscene, pornographic, paedophilic, invasive of another’s privacy, including bodily privacy;
✓ Insulting or harassing on the basis of gender;
✓ Libelous, racially or ethnically objectionable;
✓ Relating or encouraging money laundering or gambling, or otherwise inconsistent with or contrary to the laws of India”, etc.
- The rules stipulate that upon receipt of information about the platform hosting prohibited content from a court or the appropriate government agency, it should remove the said content within 36 hours.
Due diligence entails for social media companies
- In addition to appointing a grievance officer, social media platforms will now be required to appoint a chief compliance officer resident in India, who will be responsible for ensuring compliance with the rules.
- They will be required also to appoint a nodal contact person for 24×7 coordination with law enforcement agencies.
- Further, the platforms will need to publish a monthly compliance report mentioning the details of complaints received and action taken on the complaints, as well as details of contents removed proactively by the significant social media intermediary.
- While the rules have been notified and will take effect from Thursday, the due diligence requirements will come into effect after three months.
Penalties for companies violating these guidelines
- In case an intermediary fails to observe the rules, it would lose the safe harbour, and will be liable for punishment “under any law for the time being in force including the provisions of the IT Act and the Indian Penal Code”.
- While the offences under the IT Act range from tampering with documents, hacking into computer systems, online misrepresentation, confidentiality, privacy and publication of content for fraudulent purposes, among others, the penal provisions vary from imprisonment for three years to a maximum of seven years, with fines starting from Rs 2 lakh.
- Under Section 66 of the IT Act, if a person, without the permission of the owner or any other person in charge of the computer or the computer network, damages the said properties, he would be liable to pay a penalty of up to Rs 5 lakh, or be jailed for up to three years or both.
- Section 67 A of the IT Act carries provisions to fine and imprison persons transmitting “sexually explicit act, or conduct”.
- In the first instance, such persons shall be liable to pay a penalty up to Rs 10 lakh and face imprisonment up to five years, while in the second instance, the jail term will go up to seven years.
- Executives of intermediaries which fail to act on an order issued by the government citing threat to sovereignty or integrity, defence, security of the state or public order, can be jailed for up to a period of seven years under Section 69 of the IT Act.
Current law in India with regard to data privacy on the Internet, and for social media users
- Although there are no specific provisions under the IT Act of 2000 that define privacy, or any penal provisions relating to privacy, some sections of the Act deal with very specific cases of data breaches and privacy.
- Section 72 of the IT Act has penal and imprisonment provisions if a government official in the course of his or her duty, gets access to certain information, and leaks it subsequently.
- Section 72A provides for criminal punishment if a service provider, during the course of providing the service or during the contract period, discloses the personal information of the user without them being aware of it.
Impact of new rules on consumers
- For OTT service providers such as YouTube, Netflix, etc., the government has prescribed self-classification of content into five categories based on age suitability.
- Online curated content that is suitable for children and for people of all ages shall be classified as “U”, and content that is suitable for persons aged 7 years and older, and which can be viewed by a person under the age of 7 years with parental guidance, shall be classified as “U/A 7+” rating.
- Content that is suitable for persons aged 13 years and above, and can be viewed by a person under the age of 13 years with parental guidance, shall be classified as “U/A 13+” rating; content which is suitable for persons aged 16 years and above, and can be viewed by a person under the age of 16 years with parental guidance, shall be classified as “U/A 16+” rating.
- Online curated content which is restricted to adults shall be classified as “A” rating. Platforms would be required to implement parental locks for content classified as U/A 13+ or higher, and reliable age verification mechanisms for content that is classified as “A”.
Inscription On Vijayanagar King’s Death Discovered.
#GS-1 # ART AND CULTURE
The first-ever epigraphical reference to the date of death of Vijayanagar king Krishnadevaraya has been discovered at Honnenahalli in the Tumakuru district.
Records the demise of Krishnadevaraya
- As per the inscription, Krishnadevaraya, one of the greatest emperors of India who ruled from the South, died on October 17, 1529, Sunday, and incidentally, this day was marked by a lunar eclipse.
- The inscription is engraved on a slab kept on the north side of the Gopalakrishna temple at Honnenahalli in Tumakuru district and is written in Kannada.
- The inscription also registers gift of village Honnenahalli in Tumakuru for conducting worship to the god Veeraprasanna Hanumantha of Tumakuru.
- Vijayanagara or “city of victory” was the name of both a city and an empire.
- The empire was founded in the fourteenth century (1336 AD) by Harihara and Bukka of Sangama dynasty.
- They made Hampi as the capital city. In 1986, Hampi was declared a World Heritage site by UNESCO.
- It stretched from the river Krishna in the north to the extreme south of the peninsula.
- Vijayanagar Empire was ruled by four important dynasties and they are:
Krishnadevaraya (ruled 1509-29)
- Of the Tuluva dynasty was the most famous ruler of Vijayanagar. His rule was characterised by expansion and consolidation.
- He is credited with building some fine temples and adding impressive gopurams to many important south Indian temples.
- He also founded a suburban township near Vijayanagar called Nagalapuram after his mother.
- He composed a work on statecraft in Telugu known as the Amuktamalyada.
Extra shots(Current affairs)
- The Adani Group of Companies has expressed its interest in the Krishnapatnam port, as part of its plan to expand its reach in the east coast.
- Krishnapatnam Port is located in Nellore District in Andhra Pradesh.
- The Port has been named so as the Vijayanagar Emperor, Sri Krishnadevaraya used to operate this port.
- In the 1980s, the Government of India declared the Port as a ‘minor port’.
- The Union Government is responsible for development of 12 Major Ports whereas minor ports are under the jurisdiction of respective State Governments.
PRESIDENT'S RULE IN PUDUCHERRY NOTIFIED.
#GS-2 #POLITY #PRESIDENT
- President’s Rule was imposed in the Union Territory of Puducherry and the Legislative Assembly was placed under suspended animation.
- A day ago, the Union Cabinet approved a proposal by the Ministry to dissolve the Assembly and impose President’s Rule in the Union Territory.
Placed under suspended animation
- President had received a report from the administrator of the Union Territory on February 22 and “after considering the report and other information”, the President was “satisfied that a situation has arisen in which the administration of the Union Territory of Puducherry cannot be carried on in accordance with the provisions of the Government of Union Territories Act, 1963 (20 of 1963)”.
- The Legislative Assembly of the said Union Territory is hereby placed under suspended animation.
- Union Territories are administered in accordance with the provisions of Article 239 to 241 of the Constitution, and according to the Allocation of Business Rules, 1961, certain subjects pertaining to Union Territories, namely Legislative matters, Finance and Budget and Services, have been allocated to the Home Ministry.
- The decision comes days after the Congress-led government lost power in a vote of confidence.
- President’s rule is the suspension of state government and imposition of direct central government rule
- in a state.
- This is achieved through the invocation of Article 356 of the Constitution by the President on the advice of the Union Council of Ministers.
- Under Article 356, this move can be taken “(1) If the President, on receipt of the report from the Governor of the State or otherwise, is satisfied that a situation has arisen in which the government of the State cannot be carried on in accordance with the provisions of this Constitution…”
Duration of President’s rule
- A proclamation of President’s Rule can be revoked through a subsequent proclamation in case the leader of a party produces letters of support from a majority of members of the Assembly and stakes his claim to form a government.
- The revocation does not need the approval of Parliament.
- Any proclamation under Article 356 - which stands for six months - has to be approved by both Houses in the Parliament session following it.
- This six-month time-frame can be extended in phases, up to three years.
Conditions for President Rule
- Where after general elections to the assembly, no party secures a majority, that is, Hung Assembly.
- Where the party having a majority in the assembly declines to form a ministry and the governor cannot find a coalition ministry commanding a majority in the assembly.
- Where a ministry resigns after its defeat in the assembly and no other party is willing or able to form a ministry commanding a majority in the assembly.
- Where a constitutional direction of the Central government is disregarded by the state government.
- Internal subversion where, for example, a government is deliberately acting against the Constitution and the law or is fomenting a violent revolt.
- Physical breakdown where the government willfully refuses to discharge its constitutional obligations endangering the security of the state.
The S.R. Bommai Case as an example:
- Bommai v. Union of India (1994) was a landmark judgment of the Supreme Court of India, where the Court discussed at length provisions of Article 356 of the Constitution of India and related issues.
- The judgement attempted to curb blatant misuse of Article 356 of the Constitution of India, which allowed the President’s rule to be imposed over state governments.
- Article 356 (1) has been deliberately drafted in a narrow language by the Founding Fathers so that political parties in the Centre does not misuse it to subvert federalism, it had noted.
- The President has to be convinced of or should have sufficient proof of information with regard to or has to be free from doubt or uncertainty about the state of things indicating that the situation in question has arisen.
- The court had stated that although the sufficiency or otherwise of the material cannot be questioned, the legitimacy of inference drawn from such material is “certainly open to judicial review”.
What was its verdict?
- The judgment had explained that in a multi-party political system, chances are high that the political parties in the Centre and the State concerned may not be the same.
- Article 356 cannot be used for the purpose of political one-upmanship by the Centre.
- Hence there is a need to confine the exercise of power under Article 356 strictly to the situation mentioned therein which is a condition precedent to the said exercise.
The imposition of President’s Rule in a state would be improper under the following situations:
✓ Where a ruling party resigns or is dismissed on losing majority support in the assembly and the governor recommends imposition of President’s Rule without probing the possibility of forming an alternative ministry.
✓ Where the governor recommends imposition of President’s Rule without allowing the ruling party to prove its majority on the floor of the Assembly.
✓ Maladministration in the state or allegations of corruption against the ruling party or stringent financial exigencies of the state.
✓ Where the state government is not given prior warning to rectify itself except in case of extreme urgency leading to disastrous consequences.
✓ Where the power is used to sort out intra-party problems of the ruling party.
Punchii Commission’s Guidelines in case of a Hung Assembly
- The party or combination of parties that commands the widest support in the Legislative Assembly should be called upon to form the Government.
- If there is a pre-poll alliance or coalition, it should be treated as one political party and if such coalition obtains a majority, the leader of such coalition shall be called by the Governor to form the Government.
- In case no party or pre-poll coalition has a clear majority, the Governor should select the Chief Minister in the order of preference as indicated below:
✓ The group of parties that had a pre-poll alliance commanding the largest number.
✓ The largest single party staking a claim to form the government with the support of others.
✓ A post-electoral coalition with all partners joining the government.
✓ A post-electoral alliance with some parties joining the government and the remaining including independents supporting the government from outside.
Stoppage Of Water From Beas To Delhi.
#GS-1 #GEOGRAPHY #POLICIES
Delhi Jal Board (DJB) said the Centre is going to stop 232 Million Gallons per Day (MGD) of water
coming from the Beas to Delhi for a month.
- This will create water shortage in Delhi.
- The Centre is starting a repair work, which will create complete closure of Nangal hydel channel.
- This will stop 25% of the water supply in Delhi.
- The Delhi government is trying its best so that there is no water crisis here.
Indus River System is made of Indus River and its tributaries viz. Ravi, Beas, Satluj, Jhelam,
Kishenganga (Neelum) and Chenab.
- Originates in the southern slopes of Pir Panjal ranges near Rohtang Pass in Himachal Pradesh.
- It flows south past Manali and through the Kullu Valley before entering the Punjab plains.
- It meets the Sutlej River near the Harike Wetland south of Amritsar.
- The Sutlej continues into Pakistani Punjab and joins the Chenab River at Uch near Bahawalpur to form the Panjnad River; the latter in turn joins the Indus River at Mithankot. So, originating in India and running for 470 kilometers, the river meets Sutlej in Punjab of India.
- The river is of Historic, known as Arjikuja and Vipasa in ancient times and Hyphasis to ancient Greeks.
Some of the tributaries of the river Beas
- Parbati which rises in the snowy wastes above Manikaran. It joins the river Beas near Shamshi in the Kulu valley;
- Haria which joins the river Beas near Bhuntar;
- Sainj which rises in the snows of an off-shoot of the Pir Panjal range that marks the watershed of the Seas and Satluj rivers. It joins the river Beas near Larji;
- Tirthan which rises in the snows of an off-shoot of the Pir Panjal range. It joins the river Beas near Larji.
INCOIS To go for aerial mapping of the ocean floor.
#GS-3 # DEVELOPMENT #ECONOMY
The Indian National Centre for Ocean Information Services (INCOIS) is planning to take the help of the National Remote Sensing Centre (NRSC) for aerial mapping of the Andaman and Nicobar Islands and Lakshadweep to get a better picture of the ocean floor, also called ‘bathymetric’ study.
Integrating the data for a 3D multi-hazard mapping
- NRSC has already done a similar high resolution topographic Airborne Laser Terrain Mapping (ALTM) for the entire coastal areas of the country and they are in the process of integrating the data for a 3D multi-hazard mapping of both the east and west coastline for a more precise picture of the ocean floor.
- Such a study has become imperative in view of the recent tsunamis of the Indonesian coasts where more than the quake related high waves, damage was due to landslides under the sea beds causing sudden wave surges leading to much damage without giving sufficient time to alert people.
- The research institute, under the Ministry of Earth Sciences, had also identified ‘gaps’ across the coast of Andhra Pradesh and Odisha for installing more tide gauges for better monitoring of the sea and more accurate prediction of impending disasters like cyclones.
- These will be in addition to the 36 already in the Bay of Bengal.
- INCOIS scientists have been mining the data recorded by a unique ‘Flux Buoy’ retrieved from the Bay of Bengal off the Kolkata coast recently.
Ocean Mapping: Seabed 2030 Project
In 2020, it was announced that mapping of nearly one-fifth of the world’s ocean floor had been finished under the Seabed 2030 Project.
Seabed 2030 Project
- Seabed 2030 is a collaborative project between the Nippon Foundation of Japan and the General Bathymetric Chart of the Oceans (GEBCO).
- It was launched at the United Nations Ocean Conference in June 2017 and is aligned with the UN's Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 14 to conserve and sustainably use the oceans, seas and marine resources.
- The United Nations Ocean Conference intended to be a game-changer in reversing the decline in the health of the ocean for people, planet and prosperity.
- The project aims to bring together all available bathymetric data to produce the definitive map of the world ocean floor by 2030 and make it available to all.
- Bathymetry is the measurement of the shape and depth of the ocean floor.
- In the past, satellites and planes carrying altimeter instruments have been able to provide large swathes of data about the ocean floor
However, the Seabed 2030 Project aims to obtain higher quality information that has a minimum resolution of 100 metres at all spots, using equipment such as deepwater hull-mounted sonar systems, and Autonomous Underwater Vehicles (AUVs).
Prominence of the Study of the Ocean Floor.
- Helps in understanding several natural phenomena, including ocean circulation, tides and biological hotspots.
- Provides key inputs for navigation, forecasting disasters, exploration for oil and gas projects, building offshore wind turbines, fishing resources, and for laying cables and pipelines.
- Ensure a better understanding of climate change.
- Climate change has impacted the flow of ocean currents and has led to sea-level rise.
India, Pakistan agree to adhere to 2003 ceasefire.
#GS-2 #IR #INDIA AND ITS NEIGHBOUR'S
- In a first joint statement issued by the two sides in years, India and Pakistan have agreed to a “strict observance of all agreements, understandings and cease firing along the Line of Control (LoC) and all other sectors” with effect from the midnight of February 24-25.
- The decision was announced after discussions between the Directors General of Military Operations (DGMOs) of both sides over the established hotline on February 22.
The interest of achieving mutually beneficial and sustainable peace
- In the interest of achieving mutually beneficial and sustainable peace along the borders, the two DGMOs agreed to address each other’s core issues and concerns which have the propensity to disturb peace and lead to violence.
- They would use existing mechanisms of hotlines and flag meetings to resolve any “misunderstandings”.
- As per the existing mechanism, there is a discussion by officials from the Military Operations directorate every Tuesday but the DGMOs speak only when one side requests for a conversation.
- However, there would be “no let-up” in counter-terror operations as a result of the agreement, adding that the agreement with Pakistan was “an attempt to bring violence levels down”, but the Army retained the “right to respond” in case there is a terror attack in the future.
India Pakistan Ceasefire Agreement
- The 2003 ceasefire agreement between India and Pakistan came just four years after the Kargil war, and soon after both the countries almost went to war following the December 13, 2001 terrorist attack on the Indian Parliament.
- Pakistan Prime Minister announced a unilateral ceasefire on the Line of Control.
- India accepted Pakistan's offer and suggested including the Siachen heights.
- The ceasefire was eventually extended to the International Boundary.
- It had resulted in a dramatic drop in military casualties, and thousands of border residents had been able to return home from temporary shelters on both sides.
- The recent casualties are an extension of what has been unfolding along the International Boundary as well as the Line of Control for the past several months.
- The two countries are caught in a spiral of almost daily exchanges of fire along the border.
- 2017 has turned out to be the worst year since the commencement of the agreement, with at least 860 incidents of ceasefire violations recorded on the LoC alone.
- So there is a danger of political rhetoric acquiring its own momentum.
- January 2018 recorded the highest number of ceasefire violations in a month since 2003.
- Thousands of civilians have been forced to flee their border homes.
BAD BANK AND ARC'S
#GS-3 #ECONOMY #RBI #BANKING SYSTEM
- The ‘bad bank’ proposed in the Union Budget will not jeopardize the activity of existing asset reconstruction companies (ARCs).
- The central bank was in the process of upgrading their regulatory structure.
Budget proposal for setting up a new ARC
- Advocating a durable push for Indian exports through free trade pacts with ‘strategically important economies,’ the RBI governor warned that the recovery in global trade was uneven and sought urgent attention from global policymakers to rein in disruptions in global supply chains caused by a steep surge in shipping costs and delivery times.
- Refining and upgrading the ARCs’ regulatory architecture is something that is getting attention to ensure that they have skin in the game and are very much in business.
- The Budget proposal for setting up a new ARC had been mooted by public sector banks.
- There was scope for a strong ARC formed by the banks themselves.
- It’s not really a bad bank (but) an ARC-type entity that will be set up to take over the stressed assets from the books of public sector banks and try to resolve them like any other ARC.
- So that is targeting a specific set of bad assets which certain groups of PSBs hold.
- In no way will it jeopardise the activity of existing ARCs.
Tensions on the export
- Even though merchandise trade has shown incipient signs of revival since end-2020, recovery in services trade is yet to gain traction as subdued cross-border tourism and travel restrictions continue to weigh on the overall performance of the sector.
- Uneven global trade recovery led by a few Asian countries and select sectors such as medical equipment and electronic products raises concerns regarding its sustainability.
- A crucial impediment to revival of global trading activity was the continued disruptions in global supply chains, accompanied by a steep rise in shipping costs since November 2020 and longer delivery times leading to rising commodity prices.
- On free trade pacts, Key considerations should be to identify countries and regions that not only have the potential as a market for domestic goods and services but also have the scope to enhance domestic competitiveness.
Bad bank’ proposed in the Union Budget
- In Union Budget 2021 -22, Finance Minister has proposed to set up an ARC (Asset Reconstruction Company)/AMC (Asset Management Company) for non-performing asset (NPA) management.
- Additionally, the government proposed a development financial institution (DFI).
- It will enable long-term funding worth Rs. 5 lakh crore in the next 3 years for infrastructure projects.
Purpose of setting an ARC/AMC
- The COVID-19 disruption has already created a lot of stress in the banking system.
- The banks already have a gross NPA of around 7.5 percent, which is expected to rise to 13.5 percent by September 2021.
- Thus, setting up ARC/AMC proposed, to buy bad assets of commercial banks.
- It will sell these assets at a discounted price in the market.
- This institution is commonly known as a bad bank. Experts at bad banks attempt a resolution through a professional approach.
- It will enable banks to focus on fresh loans and investments.
- This will help clean up the balance sheets of commercial banks and thereby make available more funds for lending.
- Moral Hazard - According to some experts, the formation of ARC/AMC can enable banks to continue reckless lending practices.
- Mobilizing capital- Finding buyers for bad loans in a pandemic hit economy will be hard.
Purpose of setting up DFI during Union Budget 2021-22
- Development Finance Institution [DFI] –The DFIs are organizations owned by the government or charitable institutions.
- They provide funds for infrastructure projects that are of national importance but may or may not conform to commercial return standards.
- In Budget 2021-22, Development Finance Institution (DFI) has been announced with the following specifications.
Capital base = Rs 20,000 crore
Lending target = Rs 5 lakh crore in three years.
Aim - The proposed DFI will be used to finance social and economic infrastructure projects identified under the National Infrastructure Pipeline (NIP).
- The earlier generation of DFIs ran into the problem of financing.
- The retail deposit access was cornered by commercial banks and the availability of long-term financing without government guarantees was limited.
Fiscal deficit aim of 6.8% for FY22 realistic
India’s Budget is tilted towards supporting growth and the fiscal deficit target of 6.8% for FY22 is realistic.
- A weak fiscal position would remain a key credit challenge in 2021.
- The fiscal deficit for FY21 and FY22 should be lower than projected, supported by stronger revenue generation in the March quarter and higher nominal GDP growth next fiscal.
- Prospects for fiscal consolidation remain weak particularly given the Centre’s mixed track record of implementing revenue-raising measures.
- The government describes fiscal deficit of India as “the excess of total disbursements from the Consolidated Fund of India, excluding repayment of the debt, over total receipts into the Fund (excluding the debt receipts) during a financial year”.
- In simple words, it is a shortfall in a government's income compared with its spending.
- The government that has a fiscal deficit is spending beyond its means.
- It is calculated as a percentage of Gross Domestic Product (GDP), or simply as total money spent in excess of income.
- In either case, the income figure includes only taxes and other revenues and excludes money borrowed to make up the shortfall.
- It is different from revenue deficit which is only related to revenue expenditure and revenue receipts of the government.
- The government meets the fiscal deficit by borrowing money. In a way, the total borrowing requirements of the government in a financial year is equal to the fiscal deficit in that year.
- A high fiscal deficit can also be good for the economy if the money spent goes into the creation of productive assets like highways, roads, ports and airports that boost economic growth and result in job creation.
- The Fiscal Responsibility and Budget Management Act, 2003 provides that the Centre should take appropriate measures to limit the fiscal deficit upto 3% of the GDP by 31st March, 2021.
- The NK Singh committee (set up in 2016) recommended that the government should target a fiscal deficit of 3% of the GDP in years up to March 31, 2020 cut it to 2.8% in 2020-21 and to 2.5% by 2023.
- Fiscal Deficit = Total expenditure of the government (capital and revenue expenditure) – Total income of the government (Revenue receipts + recovery of loans + other receipts).
- Expenditure component: The government in its Budget allocates funds for several works, including payments of salaries, pensions, etc. (revenue expenditure) and creation of assets such as infrastructure, development, etc. (capital expenditure).
- Income component: The income component is made of two variables, revenue generated from taxes levied by the Centre and the income generated from non-tax variables.
- The taxable income consists of the amount generated from corporation tax, income tax, customs duties, excise duties, GST, among others.
- Meanwhile, the non-taxable income comes from external grants, interest receipts, dividends and profits, receipts from Union Territories, among others.
1. MARITIME INDIA SUMMIT.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi will inaugurate the 2nd edition of the Maritime India Summit (MIS) on March 2, 2021. The inauguration will be done virtually. This was informed by the Ministry of Ports, Shipping, and Waterways through an official statement.
- The main aim of the Summit is to bring India to the forefront of the Global Maritime Sector.
- The signing of the agreements with various entities has already started. So far, Mumbai Port Trust has signed MoUs worth Rs 7,400 crores.
- As per Mumbai Port Trust Chairman, Rajiv Jalota, it is being expected that MoUs worth Rs 20,000 crore will be signed as part of the Maritime India Summit.
- The inaugural session of the MIS will have ministerial-level participation from Russia, Afghanistan, Iran, Uzbekistan, and Armenia.
- The session will feature discussions on ‘Development of Port Infrastructure and Boosting Business through Trade, Promotion, and Regional connectivity’.
- Maritime India Summit 2021 will provide a unique platform that will see the participation of various stakeholders in the maritime sectors like senior government officials, policy planners, domestic and international investors, shipping line owners, sector experts, representatives of major ports from across the world as well as the governments of maritime states in India.
The proposed Summit will also host forums for interaction and collaboration with the Indian and International Ports, Investors, Shipping and Maritime Companies, and other stakeholders.
2. CRITICALLY ENDANGERED ALPINE PLANT SPECIES(ARUNACHAL PRADESH).
A group of scientists has discovered a new species of alpine plant in the Tawang district of Arunachal Pradesh. The team of scientists belongs to three institutes of the country.
- The new species of alpine plant discovered by the scientists belong to the family of Himalayan sunflower.
- This was informed by a member of the team of scientists, Lobsang Tashi Thungon. He is a research fellow in the North Eastern Regional Institute of Science and Technology.
- The new species is named Cremanthodium indicum.
- The plant species generally flowers from July to August and is endemic to Penga-Teng Tso Lake of Tawang district, where it was discovered.
- Two other scientists on the team are Rajeev Kumar Singh, a scientist at Botanical Survey of India (BSI), and Dipankar Borah, an associate professor of Botany at Goalpara College in Assam.
- As per International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) guidelines, the alpine plant species is designated as critically endangered.
- The species, which stands 16–24 cm tall, is a perennial herb.
- Cremanthodium indica grows in boggy soil among mosses along the banks of the alpine lake.
- Tawang district holds one of the assemblages of flowering plants in the northeastern state, which attracts botanists across the world.
- This discovery of Cremanthodium indica by the scientists was published as a paper in Biodiversitas: Journal of Biological Diversity.