GS 2- Polity & Governance

Farmers firm on repeal of Agri laws

Why in News?

Dimming hopes of a compromise, a joint front of protesting farmer groups rejected the Centre’s proposals to amend the three contentious agriculture laws and called for a ‘Bharat Bandh’ on December 8 to widen the agitation. The front reiterated the farmers’ demand for a total repeal of the three Central laws.

Context

  • The announcement by the Samyukt Kisan Morcha came ahead of a crucial round of talks, scheduled, between the joint front of farmer unions and top Central Ministers tasked with negotiating a deal with the protesters.
  • The decision to seek a repeal of the three laws was reached unanimously after two rounds of talks – the first between the leaders of Punjab farmers organisations and the second with farmers’ unions from across the country.
  • The farmers Union had given a call for a ‘Bharat Bandh’ on December 8.
  • They also decided to burn the effigies of the Modi government and corporate houses on December 5.

GS 2- Polity & Governance

Opposition seeks financial aid for States

Why in News?

An all-party meeting chaired by Prime Minister to discuss the COVID-19 vaccine strategy saw Opposition party leaders re-emphasising the need for the government to take urgent measures to bring the economy back on track, and demanding additional financial help.

Context

  • Several parties flagged the need to pay the GST (Goods and Services Tax) dues that the Central government owes to the States, and additional financial help to meet the revenue shortfall that many States are facing due to COVID-19 pandemic.
  • The Shiv Sena forcefully argued that GST collection by the Central government was more than ₹1 lakh crore and there was no reason to withhold the share of the State governments.
  • NCP patriarch Sharad Pawar, while praising the Centre’s efforts in controlling the pandemic, stressed that there was a need for greater intervention in salvaging the economy.
  • Trinamool Congress leader spoke on the need to “handhold” the States in this hour of crisis.
  • Telangana Rashtra Samithi (TRS) MP also spoke on similar lines. The government should provide the COVID-19 vaccine free of cost.
  • The Central government should ensure that it built cold storage units across the country for easy transport of the vaccine.
  • The Biju Janata Dal, the Bahujan Samaj Party, the YSR Congress Party and the Samajwadi Party also urged the government to provide vaccines free for the poor.
  • Only a select few parties, which had 10 or more MPs, were allowed to speak.
  • CPI(M) leader wrote a letter to the PM flagging the “continuous contraction” in GDP and the “inadequate” economic stimulus package.

GS 2- Polity & Governance

FIR against Assam MP’s foundation for misues of foreign funds

Why in News?

A foundation run by Assam MP has received funds from some foreign agencies allegedly linked to terror groups, a First Information Report (FIR) claimed.

Context

  • Right-wing leader cited a report by an NGO named Legal Rights Observatory in his complaint against Ajmal Foundation at a police station in Guwahati.
  • Considering the report, they want proper investigation in this connection under the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act.
  • Ajmal Foundation has misused those foreign funds in several anti-national activities.
  • The NGO had said the foundation received ₹69.55 crore received from “Turkish and UK terror groups” for education but used only ₹2.05 crore.
  • The Centre would investigate the possible Foreign Contribution (Regulation) Act (FCRA) violations by the foundation.
  • The Ajmal Foundation trashed the accusation. It denied receipt of money from any Saudi Arabia-based agencies.

Foreign Contribution (Regulation) Act (FCRA)

  • The FCRA regulates foreign donations and ensures that such contributions do not adversely affect internal security.
  • First enacted in 1976, it was amended in 2010 when a slew of new measures was adopted to regulate foreign donations.
  • The FCRA is applicable to all associations, groups and NGOs which intend to receive foreign donations. It is mandatory for all such NGOs to register themselves under the FCRA.
  • The registration is initially valid for five years and it can be renewed subsequently if they comply with all norms. Registered associations can receive foreign contribution for social, educational, religious, economic and cultural purposes. Filing of annual returns, on the lines of Income Tax, is compulsory.
  • In 2015, the MHA notified new rules, which required NGOs to give an undertaking that the acceptance of foreign funds is not likely to prejudicially affect the sovereignty and integrity of India or impact friendly relations with any foreign state and does not disrupt communal harmony.
  • It also said all such NGOs would have to operate accounts in either nationalised or private banks which have core banking facilities to allow security agencies access on a real time basis

 

GS 2- International Relations

West Asian nations, U.S. signal progress to resolve Qatar crisis

Why in News?

Rivals Qatar and Saudi Arabia, along with neutral Oman and Kuwait, said progress had been made towards resolving the Gulf crisis that has pitted a regional group of nations against Doha.

Context

  • S. Secretary of State Washington could broker a resolution but cautioned “out of the prediction business in terms of timing”, signalling a breakthrough may not be imminent.
  • Kuwait’s Foreign Minister, whose country is leading mediation efforts, said all sides had expressed keenness for a “final agreement” during recent “fruitful discussions”, which have included the U.S.
  • Qatar and Saudi Arabia’s Foreign Ministers, along with Oman’s Foreign Ministry, similarly worded statements thanking Kuwait and the U.S. for their efforts to resolve the spat – but gave no further details.
  • Saudi Arabia led its allies the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Egypt to cut ties with Qatar in June 2017, accusing it of backing radical Islamist movements and Iran, charges Doha denies.
  • They subsequently forced out Qataris residing in their countries, closed their airspace to Qatari aircraft and sealed their borders and ports, separating some mixed-nationality families.
  • Right now, there are some movements that we hope will put an end (to) this crisis.
  • Later at the same event, Saudi Foreign Minister said a “final agreement looks in reach”.

 

GS-3 Economy

RBI tightens oversight of NBFCs, UCBs

Why in News?

The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) announced the introduction of risk-based internal audit norms for large Urban Cooperative Banks (UCBS) and Non-Banking Financial Companies (NBFCS), as part of measures aimed at improving governance and assurance functions at supervised entities.

Context

  • The RBI also moved to harmonise the guidelines on appointment of statutory auditors for commercial banks, UCBs and NBFCs in order to improve the quality of financial reporting.
  • The growing significance of NBFCs and their interlinkages with different parts of the financial system had made it imperative to enhance the sector’s resilience, RBI Governor said, it had been decided to put in place transparent criteria for the declaration of dividends by different categories of NBFCs.

Systemic risk potential

  • Further, the current regulatory regime for the NBFC sector, built on the principle of proportionality, warrants a review.
  • It is felt that a scale-based regulatory approach linked to the systemic risk contribution of NBFCs could be the way forward.
  • The RBI would remain strongly committed to preserving the stability of the financial sector and would do whatever was necessary, the Governor asserted.
  • While we are constantly focussed on strengthening the regulations and deepening our supervision, financial sector entities like banks and NBFCs should also give highest priority to quality of governance, risk management and internal controls.
  • They are the first line of defence in matters relating to financial sector stability.
  • With a view to deepening financial markets, regional rural banks would be allowed to access the Liquidity Adjustment Facility (LAF) and Marginal Standing Facility (MSF) of the RBI, as also the Call/Notice Money Market.

Secure digital payments

  • To significantly improve the ecosystem of digital payment channels with robust security and convenience for users, the RBI has proposed to issue Digital Payment Security Controls directions for the regulated entities.
  • These directions will contain requirements for robust governance, implementation and monitoring of certain minimum standards on common security controls for channels like Internet and mobile banking and card payments.
  • Justifying the RBI’s action on HDFC Bank, there was a need for all banks and financial entities to invest more in their IT systems so that public confidence was maintained.
  • On an RBI panel’s recommendation that corporates may be allowed to open banks.
  • The report of the internal working group is now in the public domain. We will receive comments. After getting comments from various stakeholders we will examine the whole matter and take a considered decision. That is how it stands.
  • He also indicated that the crisis at Punjab & Maharashtra Cooperative Bank (PMC) appeared headed for an early resolution based on a positive response from prospective investors.

 

GS-3 Economy

Supply-side issues fuelling inflation, says RBI’s Patra

Why in News?

RBI Deputy Governor said supply-side issues, including profit maximisation at retailers’ end, are hurting the inflation situation, which has breached the central bank’s comfort level in the past few months.

Context

  • There is a window for cooling off in prices presented by the softness in vegetable prices in winters and arrivals of the kharif or summer crop, affirming the RBI is watchful of the demand-side issues.
  • At current time, our assessment is that the large part of inflation pressures is emanating out of supply-side disruptions (like) at the level of retailer, very high margins being charged by the retailers and some amount of indirect taxes.
  • If supply-side management is timely and effective, you will see the trajectory of inflation completely changing.

GS-3 Economy

Ministry seeks proposals for technical textiles body

Why in News?

The Ministry of Textiles has invited proposals to constitute a dedicated export promotion council for technical textiles.

Context

  • The Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs, in its meet, gave its approval to set up a National Technical Textiles Mission, with a four-year implementation period and a total outlay of ₹1,480 crore, to position the country as a global leader in technical textiles.
  • The export promotion council for technical textiles is one of the components of the mission.
  • The government is looking at explosive growth in the sector. Most of the exporters of technical textiles currently go through export promotion councils for other products. A dedicated council for this sector will be beneficial.
  • Confederation of Indian Textile Industry’s chairman said that the government had set a target market size of $350 billion for technical textiles by 2024-2025 from the current $167 billion for the textile and clothing sector.
  • The decision to set up a dedicated export promotion council is a step in the right direction. he added.

Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs

  • To review economic trends on a continuous basis, as also the problems and prospects, with a view to evolving a consistent and integrated economic policy framework for the country.
  • It also directs and coordinates all policies and activities in the economic field including foreign investment that require policy decisions at the highest level.
  • It has been constituted with the Prime Minister as Chairman.
  • Some of the members of the Committee are Minister of Defence ,Minister of Agriculture, Food & Civil Supplies, Consumer Affairs & Public Distribution. Minister of Railways ,Minister of Chemicals and Fertilizers, Minister of Finance , Minister of Road Transport & Highways Shipping ,Minister of Commerce & Industry, Minister of Power, Minister of Rural development , Minister of Communications & IT.