Inter-state border disputes in India (TH)
- Context: Assam is at the center of a fresh inter- state border row in the northeastern region.
- Karnataka, Kerala, and Maharashtra’s borders were specified in the State Reorganisation Act of 1956. But Karnataka and Maharashtra disagree, with the latter wanting Marathi-speaking border areas.
- Karnataka and Kerala have a dispute over the Kasargod district in Kerala.
- Belagavi is a district in Karnataka, which borders Maharashtra’s Kohlapur district and the people living in Belagavi, also known as Belgaum, comprise both Kannada and Marathi speakers.
- After India became independent of British rule, these areas around Belagavi became a part of Karnataka, when the state was formed in 1956. The area has been under dispute since then.
- The state of Maharashtra then petitioned the Centre, which in 1966 constituted the Mahajan Commission led by a retired judge which in 1967 recommended that some villages that are under Karnataka be given to Maharashtra. However, it left the city of Belagavi, then known as Belgaum, out and retained it in Karnataka.
- It also additionally stated that Sholapur in Maharashtra and Kasaragod, which is in Kerala, be given to Karnataka. Its verdict was not accepted by Karnataka.
- The inter-state boundary between Bihar and Uttar Pradesh continued to fluctuate due to the frequent change in the course of rivers, “giving rise to problems in the field of revenue administration and law and order.”
- Likewise, Haryana and Uttar Pradesh’s fluctuating boundary was sought to be solved in the 1970s.
- But some private parties have been approaching the courts over cases pertaining to tenancy disputes.
- Between Orissa and Andhra Pradesh, the boundary dispute relates to 63 villages falling presently in Orissa. But neither government has asked for Central intervention.
- Similarly, Orissa and Jharkhand have a boundary dispute relating to seven villages of Mayurbhang and Keonjhar districts.
- Orissa has claimed territories in the former princely states of Seraikela and Kharsuan, now in Jharkhand.
- Orissa has locked with Chhattisgarh over three villages of Naupada
- Orissa and West Bengal are also stalemated over five villages of Balasore and Mayurbhanj districts of Orissa.
- In the northwest, Punjab and Haryana are locked over the transfer of Chandigarh to Punjab, and part of Fazilka sub-district of Punjab to Haryana.
- Himachal Pradesh is contesting Uttarakhand over six places of Dehradun district, adjoining its Shimla district.
- Arunachal Pradesh claims territory in Assam on the basis of history.
- In September 2006, the Supreme Court-appointed a local commission headed by retired judge SN Variava to identify the boundary there.
- Assam and Meghalaya don’t have a major boundary dispute.
- Langpih, a border village, is claimed by both Assam and Meghalaya.
- Arunachal Pradesh and Mizoram were carved out of Assam.
- Nagaland claims 5,000 sq miles of territory in Assam “on historical grounds”.
- Mizoram used to be the Lushai Hills district of Assam before being made a Union Territory in 1972 and a State in 1987.
Flawed Foreigners Tribunal (TH)
- Context: Recent analysis of orders passed by Foreigners Tribunal in Assam between June 16, 2017 and December 30, 2019, obtained through the Right to Information Act, it was found that 96% were decided ex parte (An ex-party decision is one decided by a judge without requiring all of the parties to the dispute to be present). Also, the orders were inconsistent, vague and biased.
- The topic of Foreigners Tribunal was comprehensively covered in 3rd September file.
B) Schemes/Policies/Initiatives/Social Issues
3.Ayushman Sahakar Scheme (PIB)
- Context: Ayushman Sahakar scheme has been launched by the Ministry of Agriculture and Farmers Welfare.
- Ayushman Sahakar is a unique scheme to assist cooperatives play an important role in creation of healthcare infrastructure in the country.
- It is formulated by the National Cooperative Development Corporation (NCDC), the apex autonomous development finance institution under the Ministry of Agriculture and Farmers Welfare.
- NCDC would extend term loans to prospective cooperatives to the tune of Rs.10,000 Crore in the coming years.
- NCDC assistance will flow either through the State Governments/ UT Administrations or directly to the eligible cooperatives.
- The scheme also provides working capital and margin money to meet operational requirements.
- The scheme provides interest subvention of one percent to women majority cooperatives.
- NCDC was set up under an Act of Parliament in 1963 for the promotion and development of cooperatives.
CuRED (CSIR Ushered Repurposed Drugs) (PIB)
- The Ministry of Health and Family Welfare has launched a website that gives comprehensive information about the numerous COVID-19 clinical trials that CSIR is engaged in a partnership with Industry, other government departments and ministries.
- Called CuRED or CSIR Ushered Repurposed Drugs, the website provides information about the drugs, diagnostics and devices including the current stage of the trials, partnering institutions and their role in the trials and other details.
National AYUSH Mission (NAM) (PIB)
Context: High – Level review by AYUSH Ministry of National AYUSH Mission (NAM) activities of States and UTs against the backdrop of Covid-19.
National AYUSH Mission
- It is a flagship scheme of the Ministry of AYUSH.
- It’s a Centrally Sponsored Scheme.
- It was launched during the the12th Plan for implementation through States/UTs with the vision.
- To provide cost-effective and equitable AYUSH health care throughout the country by improving access to the services.
- To revitalize and strengthen the AYUSH systems making them as prominent medical streams in addressing the health care of the society.
- Elements of the NAM
- Obligatory Components
- AYUSH Educational Institutions.
- AYUSH Services.
- Medicinal Plants.
- Quality Control of ASU&H Drugs.
- Flexible Components
- AYUSH Wellness Centres comprising Yoga and Naturopathy.
- Tele-medicine etc.
The shift in the approach from disease management towards achieving wellness
- The AYUSH systems advocate holistic wellness approach aiming at prevention of diseases and promotion of health and wellbeing.
- A decision was taken recently that at least 12,500 Health and Wellness Centres (HWCs) under Ayushman Bharat will be upgraded and operationalized by the Ministry of AYUSH in Centrally Sponsored Scheme mode and under the broad umbrella of National AYUSH Mission (NAM) in a phased manner by 2023-24.
- To provide cost-effective AYUSH Services, with universal access through upgrading AYUSH Hospitals and Dispensaries, co-location of AYUSH facilities at Primary Health Centres (PHCs), Community Health Centres (CHCs) and District Hospitals (DHs).
- To establish a holistic wellness model based on AYUSH principles and practices to empower masses for ‘self-care’ to reduce the disease burden, out of pocket expenditure and to provide informed choice to the needy public.
- To improve educational institutions capable of imparting quality AYUSH education.
- To promote the adoption of Quality Control of ASU&H Drugs and making available the sustained supply of AYUSH raw-materials
Central Schemes of Government of India
- The central schemes are divided into central sector schemes and centrally sponsored schemes (CSS).
What is a Central Sector Scheme?
- Central sector schemes are schemes with 100% funding by the Central government and implemented by the Central Government machinery.
- The central sector schemes are formulated on subjects mainly from the Union List.
- Besides, there are some other programs that various Central Ministries implement directly in States and UTs which also come under Central Sector Schemes.
- In these schemes, the financial resources are not shifted to states.
What are Centrally Sponsored Schemes (CSS)?
- CCS are schemes that are implemented by state governments but are largely funded by the Central Government with a defined State Government share.
- Historically, CSS is the way through which the central government helps states to run its Plans financially.
- They are basically special purpose grants (or loans) extended by Central Government to states to encourage them to plan and implement programs that help attain national goals and objectives.
- CSS is basically extended by the Central Government to States under Article 282 of the Constitution.
- It mainly covers items listed on the state’s list.
6.IFSCA introduces Framework for Regulatory Sandbox (PIB)
- Context: The International Financial Services Centres Authority (IFSCA), with an objective to develop a world-class FinTech hub at the IFSC located at GIFT City in Gandhinagar (Gujarat, India), endeavors to encourage the promotion of financial technologies (‘FinTech’) initiatives in financial products and financial services across the spectrum of banking, insurance, securities and fund management.
- As a step towards attaining this vision, IFSCA has introduced a framework for “Regulatory Sandbox”.
- Under this Sandbox framework, entities operating in the capital market, banking, insurance and financial services space shall be granted certain facilities and flexibilities to experiment with innovative FinTech solutions in a live environment with a limited set of real customers for a limited time frame.
- These features shall be fortified with necessary safeguards for investor protection and risk mitigation.
- As an additional step towards creating an innovation-centric ecosystem in the IFSC, IFSCA has proposed the creation of an “Innovation Sandbox”, which will be a testing environment where FinTech firms can test their solutions in isolation from the live market, based on market-related data made available by the Market Infrastructure Institutions (MIIs) operating in the IFSC.
Surety bonds as an option and alternate to bank guarantees (IE)
- Context: Big construction and infrastructure projects may soon witness the concept of surety bond (issued by general insurance companies to function as the performance or delivery obligation to complete an insured project) as an option and alternative to bank guarantees.
- The current insurance legal/regulatory framework in India does not permit underwriting of bonds that guarantee performance and bid securities as they are financial instruments and not conventional insurance products.
- In this context, the surety bonds could be accepted as an alternative form of guarantee by the Reserve Bank of India (RBI)
- Insurance companies in markets such as the US, Brazil, Mexico, Germany, Australia and the Philippines issue surety bond.
- The need for a surety bond for road and civil infrastructure projects was felt since Indian banks are not providing any waivers on collaterals for granting bank guarantees and obtaining bank guarantees were becoming very difficult for contractors and developers.
- Big corporate failures resulting in non-performing assets have driven banks to exercise tighter controls in issuing bank guarantees.
- Surety bonds are typically conditional, while bank guarantees are on demand, and are offered as insurance products in the global market.
- Surety bonds are different from corporate bonds and financial guarantees.
- While surety bonds refer to the performance or delivery obligations to complete the insured project, the corporate bonds refer to financial obligations to repay the debts or loans.
- Experts say belief allowing surety bonds would bring down costs for contractors by bringing in more competition against BGs while also freeing up their capital.
- Contractors often struggle to manage collaterals to secure funded and non-funded bank lines.
- Current Indian laws are unclear on existence and marketing of surety bonds even as they are not barred.
- Insurance companies may be more competitive in their rates for bond/guarantees than banks, and there is also lower volatility in their bond rates as insurance companies are not directly correlated to the financial markets.
- A surety bond is a three-part agreement where the surety guarantees to the project owner that the contractor will perform the contract in accordance with the contract documents.
- With few exceptions, performance and payment bonds (security bonds) are issued on an unsecured basis.
- That is, they are usually provided on the construction company’s financial strength and experience and contractor’s indemnity and personal guarantees from the contractor’s owners.
- The issuing of the bonds has no effect on the contractor’s bank lines of credit and in some instances, can be viewed as a credit enhancement.
- Unused borrowing capacity can be viewed as an off-balance sheet strength.
- A bank will almost invariably require an indemnity from the contractor, personal guarantees from the owners of the contractor, and tangible security from whoever is able to supply it.
- Specific assets are pledged to secure Bank Guarantee. Bank Guarantees reduce existing lines of credit.
FDI blooms in COVID-19 gloom (TH)
- Context: Foreign direct investment (FDI) inflows into India in the first five months of 2020-21 have hit a record high, despite a sharp 60% contraction in the first quarter, with July and August raking in over $20 billion of equity FDI.
- The increased FDI is a result of FDI policy reforms, investment facilitation and ease of doing business, the Ministry said.
- FDI equity flows were boosted by investments into Jio Platforms, Reliance Industries’ telecom subsidiary, from global investors like Google that bet $4.5 billion on the venture in July.
- Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) is a major driver of economic growth and an important source of non-debt finance for the economic development of India.
- The government all this while has been trying to make the FDI policy more investor friendly and remove the policy bottlenecks that have been hindering the investment inflows into the country.
What is FDI?
- Foreign direct investment (FDI) is when a company takes controlling ownership in a business entity in another country. With FDI, foreign companies are directly involved with day-to-day operations in the other country. This means they aren’t just bringing money with them, but also knowledge, skills and technology.
- Generally, FDI takes place when an investor establishes foreign business operations or acquires foreign business assets, including establishing ownership or controlling interest in a foreign company.
Where is FDI made?
- Foreign Direct Investments are commonly made in open economies that have skilled workforce and growth prospects. FDIs not only bring money with them but also skills, technology and knowledge.
FDI in India
- FDI is an important monetary source for India’s economic development. Economic liberalisation started in India in the wake of the 1991 crisis and since then, FDI has steadily increased in the country. India, today is a part of top 100-club on Ease of Doing Business (EoDB) and globally ranks number 1 in the greenfield FDI ranking.
How can an Indian company receive foreign investment?
- Automatic Route: Foreign Investment is allowed under the automatic route without prior approval of the Government or the Reserve Bank of India, in all activities/ sectors as specified in FEMA (FOREIGN EXCHANGE MANAGEMENT ACT)
- Government Route: Foreign investment in activities not covered under the automatic route requires prior approval of the Government.
Recent Amendments in FDI in April 2020
- A non-resident entity can invest in India, subject to the FDI Policy except in those sectors/activities which are prohibited.
- An entity of a country, which shares land borders with India or where the beneficial owner of an investment into India is situated in or is a citizen of any such country, can invest only under the Government route.
- India shares land borders with Pakistan, Afghanistan, China, Nepal, Bhutan, Bangladesh and Myanmar.
- Investors from these countries that are not covered by the revised FDI new policy only have to inform the Reserve Bank of India after the completion of a transaction rather than seek prior clearance from the administrative ministry.
- Under this route no Central Government or the RBI permission is required.
- Proposals for foreign investment would be filed online on the Foreign Investment Facilitation Portal.
- Department of Industrial Policy & Promotion (DIPP), Ministry of Commerce and Industry will identify the concerned Administrative Ministry/Department and e-transfer the proposal to the same within 2 days.
- In respect of applications in which there is a doubt as to which is the concerned Administrative Ministry/Department, DIPP shall identify the Administrative Ministry/Department.
- Once the proposal is received, same shall be circulated online within 2 days by DIPP to the Reserve Bank of India for comments from Foreign Exchange Management Act perspective.
- In case of proposals involving total foreign equity inflow of more than Rs 5000 crore, Competent Authority shall place the same for consideration of the Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs.
- Further, all proposals would be forwarded to Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) and Department of Revenue (DoR) for information.
- Sectors/activities requiring Government approval:
- Print Media
- Civil Aviation
- Private Security Agencies
- Trading (Single, Multi brand and Food Product Retail Trading)
- Banking (Public and Private)
- FDI proposals by Non-Resident Indians (NRIs)/ Export Oriented Units (EOUs) requiring approval of the Government
- Application relating to issue of equity shares under the FDI policy under the Government route for import of capital goods/machinery/equipment (excluding second-hand machinery)
- Applications relating to issue of equity shares for pre-operative/pre-incorporation expenses (including payments of rent etc.)
- Financial services which are not regulated by any Financial Sector Regulator or where only part of the financial services activity is regulated or where there is doubt regarding the regulatory oversight
- Applications for foreign investment into a Core Investment Company or an Indian company engaged only in the activity of investing in the capital of other Indian Company/ies
- Proposals for foreign investment in sectors requiring security clearance would additionally be referred to the 9Ministry of Home Affairs for comments.
- Following proposals will require security clearance from Ministry of Home Affairs:
- i. Investments in Broadcasting, Telecommunication, Satellites – establishment and operation, Private Security Agencies, Defence, Civil Aviation and Mining & mineral separation of titanium bearing minerals and ores, its value addition and integrated activities.
- ii. Investments from Pakistan and Bangladesh (called ‘countries of concern’).
- The Competent Authority shall, from the receipt of the proposal, process the proposal for decision within the next eight weeks/ten weeks (in cases where comments of Ministry of Home Affairs have been sought from security clearance point of view).
- In respect of proposals where the Competent Authority proposes to reject the proposals concurrence of DIPP shall compulsorily be sought by the Competent Authority.
FDI from Countries of Concern
- FDI applications involving investments from Countries of Concern, requiring security clearance are to be processed by the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) for investments falling under automatic route sectors, while cases pertaining to government approval route sectors requiring security clearance are to be processed by the respective administrative Ministries/Departments.
- For investments in automatic route sectors, requiring approval only on the matter of investment being from country of concern, FDI applications would be processed by the Department of Industrial Policy & Promotion (DIPP) for Government approval.
- Countries of Concern + requiring security clearance + automatic route = Ministry of Home Affairs.
- Countries of Concern + requiring security clearance + government approval route = Respective Administrative Ministries/Departments.
- Countries of Concern + No security clearance + automatic route = Department of Industrial Policy & Promotion.
What is meant by Foreign Investment, Foreign Direct Investment and Foreign Portfolio Investment?
- Foreign Investment means any investment made by a person resident outside India on a repatriable basis in capital instruments of an Indian company.
Foreign Direct Investment Vs Foreign Portfolio Investment?
- Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) is the investment through capital instruments by a person resident outside India:
- (a) in an unlisted Indian company; or
- (b) in 10 percent or more of the post issue paid-up equity capital on a fully diluted basis of a listed Indian company.
- Fully diluted basis means the total number of shares that would be outstanding if all possible sources of conversion are exercised.
- Foreign Portfolio Investment is any investment made by a person resident outside India in capital instruments where such investment is
- (a) less than 10 percent of the post issue paid-up equity capital on a fully diluted basis of a listed Indian company or
- (b) less than 10 percent of the paid-up value of each series of capital instruments of a listed Indian company.
- For an FPI investment, once the investment is classified as FDI (basis total holding), if the FDI holding comes back to <10%, will the holdings be classified as FPI again? No! Once an FDI always an FDI.
- The Capital instruments permitted for receiving foreign investment in an Indian company are:
- equity shares (include partly paid equity shares);
- debentures (include fully, compulsorily and mandatorily convertible debentures);
- preference shares (means fully, compulsorily and mandatorily convertible preference shares); and
- share warrants issued by the Indian company.
D) Science and Technology/Defence/Space
9.NASA’s Osiris-Rex Mission to asteroid Bennu (TH)
- Context: After almost two years circling an ancient asteroid hundreds of millions of miles away, a NASA spacecraft will soon attempt to descend to the surface to collect the asteroid samples for return to Earth, a feat accomplished so far only by Japan.
- The Osiris-Rex mission is looking to bring back at least 60 grams worth of asteroid Bennu, the biggest otherworldly haul from beyond the moon.
- NASA’s Osiris-Rex spacecraft is asteroid Bennu’s first visitor in billions of years.
- The van-sized spacecraft is aiming for the relatively flat middle of a tennis court-sized crater named Nightingale.
- Contact should last five to 10 seconds, just long enough to shoot out pressurized nitrogen gas and suck up the churned dirt and gravel.
- Programmed in advance, the spacecraft will operate autonomously during the unprecedented touch-and-go maneuver.
- With an 18-minute lag in radio communication each way, ground controllers for spacecraft builder Lockheed Martin near Denver can’t intervene.
- If the first attempt doesn’t work, Osiris-Rex can try again.
- Any collected samples won’t reach Earth until 2023.
- While NASA has brought back comet dust and solar wind particles, it’s never attempted to sample one of the nearly 1 million known asteroids lurking in our solar system until now.
- Japan, meanwhile, expects to get samples from asteroid Ryugu in December — in the milligrams at most — 10 years after bringing back specks from asteroid Itokawa.
- Bennu asteroid was around when our solar system was forming 4.5 billion years ago. Scientists consider it a time capsule full of pristine building blocks that could help explain how life formed on Earth and possibly elsewhere.
- OSIRIS Rex mission will be NASA’s first to collect samples from an asteroid and return to Earth.
- Bennu orbits the Sun at roughly the same distance as the earth.
- There is concern among scientists about the possibility of Bennu impacting earth late in the 22nd century.
What is an asteroid?
- Asteroids are rocky objects that orbit the Sun, much smaller than planets.
- As per NASA, there are approximately 1 million known asteroids, the remnants from the formation of the solar system over 4.6 billion years ago.
- Most such objects can be found in the asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter.
- The explanation for the concentration of asteroids in this belt comes from the formation of Jupiter, whose gravity brought an end to the formation of any planetary bodies in this region, as a result of which the smaller bodies kept colliding with each other, fragmenting into asteroids.
- Other than those found in the main asteroid belt, asteroids can be classified into trojans, which are asteroids that share an orbit with a larger planet.
- The third classification of asteroids can be as Near-Earth Asteroids (NEA), which have orbits that pass close by the Earth.
Why do scientists track asteroids?
- Scientists study them to look for information about the formation and history of planets and the sun, since asteroids were formed at the same time as other objects in the solar system.
- Another reason for tracking them is to look for asteroids that might be potentially hazardous.
When do asteroids become dangerous?
- The objects that can cause significant damage upon impacting are larger than 30 metres.
- Every year, about 30 small asteroids hit the Earth, but do not cause any major damage on the ground.
How are asteroids named?
- They are named by the International Astronomical Union (IAU).
Where did asteroids come from?
- Asteroids are left over from the formation of our solar system. Our solar system began about 4.6 billion years ago when a big cloud of gas and dust collapsed. When this happened, most of the material fell to the center of the cloud and formed the sun.
- Some of the condensing dust in the cloud became planets. The objects in the asteroid belt never had the chance to be incorporated into planets. They are leftovers from that time long ago when planets formed.
Are all asteroids the same?
- Because asteroids formed in different locations at different distances from the sun, no two asteroids are alike. Here are a few ways that they differ:
- Asteroids aren’t all round like planets. They have jagged and irregular shapes.
- Some asteroids are hundreds of miles in diameter, but many more are as small as pebbles.
- Most asteroids are made of different kinds of rocks, but some have clays or metals, such as nickel and iron.
Benefits of Hydrogen-blended HCNG- a clean fuel for the mobility sector (PIB)
- Hydrogen-blended HCNG is emerging as an excellent interim technology for achieving emissions reduction and import substitution.
- Refueling of H-CNG blends in vehicles can be performed with minimum modifications in the infrastructure that is currently under use for dispensing CNG.
A brief overview of Indian Oil’s patented H-CNG Production Technology
- In India’s continuous quest to use hydrogen as a fuel for the mobility sector, hydrogen blended CNG (commonly called H-CNG) has emerged as an excellent interim fuel for achieving emission reductions and import substitution.
- The existing Internal Combustion engine without any significant modification can be run on H-CNG.
- Minimal infrastructural upgrade is needed in the existing CNG dispensing refueling infrastructure which can be used to deliver H-CNG blends as well.
- H-CNG blends can be produced directly from CNG, bypassing the energy-intensive electrolysis process and high-pressure blending costs.
- Globally, Hydrogen required for blending in CNG (Compressed Natural Gas) is produced through electrolysis of water, followed by high-pressure blending with CNG.
- This process’s high cost offsets the savings achieved from fuel economy gains compared to baseline CNG.
- This flexible and robust process allows the production of H-CNG on-site, in less severe conditions, and under low pressure
- It provides a higher yield H-CNG mixture by up to 4% to 5% compared to CNG’s input quantity.
- The cost of H-CNG production by the above process is about 22% cheaper than conventional physical blending.
E) Art, Culture and History
11.Golconda Fort (TH)
- Context: Relentless rain over the past week in Hyderabad caused immense damage to the centuries-old Golconda Fort.
- The Katora Houz, also got damaged, was a medieval water storage facility for the fort.
- Golconda is a historic fortress and ruined city lying 5 miles (8 km) west of Hyderabad in western Telangana state, southern India.
- The fortress is 3 miles (5 km) in circumference, with concentric masonry block walls.
- Historically, the Golconda region was renowned for its diamonds, derived from the conglomerate rocks of the nearby hills, including the world-famous Koh-i-noor diamond.
- It is considered an impregnable fortress with multiple rock curtains and has never been conquered, except by treachery.
- The fort was built by the Kakatiya dynasty in the 13th century.
- Later, the Golconda fort came into the possession of the Bahmani dynasty.
- From 1518 to 1591 it was the capital of the Quṭb Shāhī kingdom (1518–1687), one of five Muslim sultanates of the Deccan (Ahmadnagar, Berar, Bidar, Bijapur, and Golconda).
- Golconda fort owes much of its present grandeur to Mohammad Quli Qutub Shah.
- The subsequent generations saw Golconda being fortified further with several additions and the formation of a beautiful city within.
- In 1687 the ruling dynasty of Quṭb Shāhī was overthrown by the Mughal emperor Aurangzeb, and Golconda was annexed to the Mughal Empire (1526–1857).
Click here to get our all Courses
Click here to follow our latest updates
If you find this post helpful, then do share your thoughts with us by commenting.