Front Page / NATIONAL
- National anthem must be played before screening of films
- Airlines seek stay on levy, HC issues notice
- ‘Delhi government worried about everything except environment’
- Route all wages via bank accounts:Govt
- Cap on Jan Dhan withdrawal:
ART AND CULTURE
Front Page/ Nation
 National anthem must be played before screening of films
Context – The Supreme Court on Wednesday ordered all cinema halls across the country to play the national anthem before the screening of films and that all present must “stand up in respect” till the anthem ended.
The Supreme Court was hearing a plea to clarify when the national anthem should be sung.
The PIL was filed by Shyam Narayan Chouskey seeking a set of parameters on what amounts to abuse of the anthem.
The Supreme Court’s decision to consider this PIL followed after a wheelchair-bound man was assaulted by a couple at a cinema hall in Panaji for not standing up during the rendition of the anthem.
Supreme Court’s ruling
- Cinema halls must play the national anthem before the screening of films and that all present must “stand up in respect” till the anthem ended.
- Cinema halls should also display the national flag on screen when the anthem is played.
- The Bench said it is the duty of every person to show respect when the national anthem is played or recited or sung under the Prevention of Insults to National Honour Act of 1951.
- All the doors of cinema halls must be closed when the national anthem is being played to prevent people from entering or exiting.
Purpose of ruling
- According to SC, practice would “instill a feeling within one a sense of committed patriotism and nationalism.”
- People should feel that they live in a nation and show respect to the national anthem and the national flag.
- People should imbibe and express respect to the inherent quality of the anthem and the flag.
Ban on commercial uses of national anthem
- Court issued a complete ban on the commercial exploitation of the national anthem and the flag.
- The court banned dramatization of the anthem or it to be used in any part of any variety shows or for entertainment purposes.
- The court banned the display of the national anthem on any “undesirable or disgraceful places.
- It also banned the display, recitation or use of the abridged version of the national anthem.
 Airlines seek stay on levy, HC issues notice
Context – Delhi High Court on Wednesday issued notices to the Centre, the Airports Authority of India and the Directorate General of Civil Aviation as the Federation of Indian Airlines (FAI) sought a stay on the government’s notification on levy of Rs.7,500 to Rs.8,500 per flight operated by Indian airlines to create a regional connectivity fund (RCF).
Background – government recently decided to levy up to Rs 8,500 per flight on major routes.
The fund will be used to develop regional airports and enhance regional connectivity under its UdeDeshKaAamNaagrik (UDAN) scheme.
The FAI has sought quashing of the October 21 notification, by which a rule for such a levy was brought into the Aircraft Rules, 1934.
Argument against the levy
- According to FAI, levy is not contemplated in the aircraft rules and cannot be brought in as an obligation.
- This levy is a tax and not a fee.
- The chief purpose of this levy is to raise funds for the RCF to fulfil a public purpose, i.e., to enhance regional connectivity.
- The levy is an amount that is payable to the government.
- It is not in the nature of a charge for any privilege or benefit or service rendered by the government
- Hence due to all the above reasons this levy is a tax and therefore cannot be levied without statutory sanction.
- The UDAN scheme is aimed at connecting under-served airports and regions.
- As per the government, a participating carrier has to bid for at least nine seats and a maximum of 40 seats.
- In the case of a helicopter, the operator has to bid for a minimum of five seats and a maximum of 13 seats.
 ‘Delhi government worried about everything except environment’
Context – National Green Tribunal has recently expressed displeasure over the Delhi government and the municipal corporations’ failure to come to a consensus over the total quantum of waste generated in the Capital.
Need for data
According to NGT, data is required due to:-
- Effects on environment
- mosquito breeding, dengue and different kinds of viral fevers
This observation has come after a plea for closure of the Okhla waste-to-energy plant.
The plea has alleged that the plant uses illegal mass burning technology, leading to air pollution.
 Route all wages via bank accounts:Govt
Context – The Centre has asked all employers and contractors to ensure that wages are paid to all employees, including casual and contract workers, through cheques or electronic transfers into a bank account.
And electronic payments has to be made from the last month.
While Chief labor commissioner has also asked firms to get bank accounts opened for all those workers who do not have one already.
Concerns of industry representatives
- Critics are saying that it is not against the law to pay wages in cash.
- And this decision could lead to possible harassment of businesses by labor inspectors.
- Mid-size and smaller firms may face an issue, particularly with regard to contract and casual workers, whose dues are linked to the frequency of their employment during a month.
- Migrant workers, who move from one project site to another, are not keen to open an account in one specific bank branch.
- Industry has concerns about paying all wages by cheque, since they don’t usually pay any social security benefits like provident fund and gratuity to such casual workers.
Government could have allowed firms to execute this plan till the end of December.
 Cap on Jan Dhan withdrawal:
Cap on Jan Dhan withdrawal
Context – The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) has decided to limit cash withdrawals from Jan Dhan accounts at Rs. 10,000 per month to avoid misuse.
Issues – There has been a surge of deposits in Jan Dhan accounts following the withdrawal which came into effect from the midnight of November 9.
While full KYC-compliant account holders can withdraw Rs. 10,000 in a month, partial KYC-compliant account holders can withdraw only Rs. 5,000.
For full KYC-compliant account holders amount beyond Rs. 10000 can be withdrawn on the
Decision has been taken for the PMJDY accounts funded through specified notes after November 09, 2016.
Protecting farmers and rural account holders of PMJDY from money launderers and legal consequences under the Benami Property Transaction & Money Laundering laws.
Editorial / Opinion
 Provocation at Nagrota
Issue:-Seven soldiers, including two Majors have martyred in the recent terrorist attack on an Army base in Nagrota.
Army’s increasing casualties
- Attack came just 2 months after the Uri attack, in which 19 soldiers lost their lives.
- With the latest incident, at least 89 security personnel have been killed in Jammu and Kashmir so far in 2016.
- Since the surgical strikes of September 29 in response to the Uri attack, India has lost 27 security personnel.
- The attrition rate among the security forces has been going up steadily vis-à-vis the terrorists.
Concerns regarding the attack
- The attack took place, not very far from the headquarters of 16 Corps, one of the largest and most important corps of the Indian Army.
- Breaching into a securitized area in the 166 Medium Regiment premises, despite the presence of 2 road blocks there.
- These recent terrorist attacks on the security installations have challenged the army’s decades of experience in fighting insurgencies and defensive tactics.
Hostage situation tackled
At least four unarmed officers, the wives of two officers and two children were at the risk of being taken hostage.
But 2 women showed exemplary presence of mind, and blocked their doors with household items.
Causes of increasing violence in Kashmir
- Recent unrest in the Kashmir valley
- Growing enmity with Pakistan and increasing tension at international border.
- There needs to be an appraisal of the costs that have come with the breakdown of the 2003 ceasefire.
- As of now creating peace with Pakistan is a complex process, there is need for Drawing up a plan to minimize loss of life will be a good place to begin.
 India’s missing girl children
Some basic facts
- According to the data of Civil Registration System of the Registrar General of India, There is fall in sex ratio at birth from 898 girls to 1,000 boys in 2013, to 887 in 2014.
- Falling trend in consistency with the census figures of 2001 and 2011.
- Overall data does not make apparent the dismal performance at the level of districts and Panchayats falling below national level.
- Situation has prompted Supreme Court and National Human Rights Commission to ask for explanation from state governments.
Causes presented by center to parliament:-
Girls stand poor chances of survival, because of:-
- The socio-cultural mindset of preferring sons over daughters.
- Girls are seen as a burden, and family size has begun to shrink.
Government responded with the ‘BetiBachao, BetiPadhao’ campaign.
The program aimed at:-
- Prevention of sex-selective abortions,
- Creation of opportunities for girl’s education
- And protection of girl children
State of Tamil Nadu:-
- Tamil Nadu, despite being a state with strong social development foundation, has slipped on sex ratio at birth of 834.
- Cradle baby scheme was started in 1992 in Tamil Nadu to raise the survival chances of girl children by encouraging mothers to give them anonymously for adoption.
- 260 babies being abandoned in just one center over a six-year period shows that neither the state program nor the national scheme has performed well.
Enforcement of the law that prohibits determination of the sex of the foetus.
Prohibition must be accompanied with massive social investments to protect both immediate and long-term prospects of girls in the form of:-
- Cash incentives through registration of births,
- A continuum of health care,
- Early educational opportunities
- And social protection.
 Reeling out patriotism
Context:Supreme Court has ruled that the national anthem must be played in cinema halls across the country before a film is screened, and everyone present must stand to pay respect.
Are the movies viable options for behavioral change?
Warning of the smoking need to be depicted on the bottom of the screen, every time, when a scene involving a smoking scene appears.
While the government can take several measures to curb smoking, like:-
- Stopping the sales of single cigarette.
- Raising the cost of a cigarette pack.
Why not acting against other evils?
If the reasoning is that it is an educational measure against a harmful act, then there should be warnings every time, when:-
- A rape occurs on screen.
- Every time a man stalks a woman, trying to get her to reciprocate his love
- Or every time thieves hatch a plan to rob a bank
Other areas, where National Anthem should be played:-
As the idea behind ruling of SC is indeed to teach people the words, there are many other important avenues where national anthem should be played, like:-
- Every day at school and college.
- Before television news
- When our cricket team beats England or any other team
- Before the films with “nationalistic” subjects like ‘swadesh’ and ‘border’.
Arguments against the SC ruling
- National Anthem is an expression of one’s reverence for the country. It stirs the soul, makes us feel patriotic even when things around us make us angry about the state of the nation.
- But enforced patriotism is simply transforming a private emotion into a tokenistic public gesture.
- National anthem before a film with a subject like sexual comedy would not a good option.
- Now people would be forced to stand up, not because they want to, but because of a fear of being labelled a traitor, or worse, screamed at or assaulted by self-styled nationalists.
- The same was happened with poet, disability activist and writer SalilChaturvedi, who could not stand up for the national anthem as he was in a wheelchair.
Is it the only patriotism?
There are many ways to prove your love for your country.
- One could contribute to flood relief or volunteer in a tsunami-stricken area
- One, who has enough cash, can ensure the domestic help to the needy till they get used to plastic.
- All of this is a form of loving, caring for, respecting the nation.
 Agriculture spurs GDP growth to 7.3%
Context – Gross value added growth slows to 7.1 per cent in second quarter, from 7.3 per cent in April-June.
Both GDP and GVA growth were slower in the second quarter of this financial year as compared with the same period in the previous year, with a growth of 7.6 per cent and 7.3 per cent respectively.
Year of two halves
- Lead Economist, Deloitte India have predicted a negative impact on full year GDP of around 30-50 bps from our earlier estimate of 7.6 per cent.
- Agricultural sector growth registered a 3.3 per cent GVA growth rate in Q2 of this financial year as compared with 1.8 per cent in the previous quarter and 2 per cent in Q2 of 2015-16.
- Agriculture did better largely due to the improved monsoon.
The manufacturing sector saw a significant slowdown, with growth of 7.1 per cent in Q2 of this financial year as compared with 9.1 per cent in the first quarter, and 9.2 per cent in Q2 of 2015-16.
Indicators like IIP and the quarterly estimates filed by small number of companies show slower growth
The poor performance of the IIP is due to:-
- Very poor performance in fabricated metal products, furniture manufacturing, and apparel,
- all of these sectors play a major role in the informal manufacturing sector
Mining and quarrying sector contracted by 1.5 per cent in Q2 compared with a contraction of 0.4 per cent in the first quarter.
- Private investment is down substantially.
- Base effect
- Growth continues to be driven by consumption expenditure and higher spending by the government to aid recovery,
Fiscal deficit in October stood at 79.3 per cent of Budget Estimates down from 83.9 per cent in September.
Total revenue receipts as of October accounted for 50.7 per cent of Budget Estimates for the full year, up from 41.2 per cent in September.
While tax and non-tax revenue collections jumped during the month of October,
 Trade costs of India remain high: UN body
Context – The United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP) said international and intra-regional trade costs of India remained higher compared with the trade costs of best-performing economies in Asia and the Pacific.
ESCAP has recently released Asia-Pacific Trade and Investment Report 2016.
Some excerpts of report
Factors which may contribute to the FDI attractiveness of India:-
- India’s robust economic growth and large domestic market,
- Government’s “Make in India” initiative and
- Easing of FDI regulations for about 15 sectors including aviation, defense and pharmaceuticals.
On the other hand, overseas investment from India contracted considerably by 36 per cent, which reflects:-
- FDI diversion as Indian investors start to invest more at home than overseas
Data on FDI
- FDI inflows to India expanded by 10 per cent on average during 2010-2015
- In 2015 inflows recorded an even stronger expansion at 27.8 per cent, was higher than the Asia-Pacific region’s average 5.6 per cent.
- The services, construction development, computer software and hardware, and telecommunications sectors attracted the highest investments.
- In 2015, Indian goods exports shrank by 17.2 per cent, which was close to twice as much as the Asia-Pacific region decline of 9.7 per cent.
- India was the largest partner with several economies in South Asia, such as Bhutan, Nepal and Sri Lanka.
- Exports from Asia-Pacific are expected to increase by 4.5 per cent and imports by 6.5 per cent in developing countries of Asia
- Report forecasts more modest growth in exports and imports in volume terms, at 2.2 per cent and 3.8 per cent, respectively, ESCAP said in a statement.
Trend of Restrictive policies in Asia Pacific
Trend of the restrictive policies have risen in the Asia-Pacific, due to:-
- Past distortive trade measures and
- Current excess capacity in several key sectors
Region is seeing a proliferation of preferential trade agreements (PTA), contributing to almost 63 per cent of world PTAs.
Service sector performance of the region
Improvements in trade
Region had improved its market share in the commercial services trade.
Services trade has more than doubled between 2005 and 2015, from just under $600 billion to close to $1,400 billion.
There is fall in the region’s export and import of services by 4.5 per cent and 4.9 per cent in 2015. Mainly due to:-
- Persisting economic uncertainty resulting in the global decline in merchandise trade
- And a depressed demand for the services sector including transport.
Art and Culture
 Cuban rumba and Ugandan music now on UNESCO’s heritage list
Context – Cuba’s sensual rumba dance and Belgium’s thriving beer culture brought new effervescence to UNESCO’s coveted list of “intangible” heritage on Wednesday.
U.N. body designated Ugandan traditional music, which is dying out partly because it requires materials from endangered species, as intangible heritage.
A black pottery manufacturing process from the Portuguese village of Bisalhaes was also added to the UNESCO list.
Another cultural gem added to the list is Cossack song from Ukraine’s Dnipropetrovsk region.
The list of “intangible” cultural treasures was created 10 years ago, mainly to increase awareness about them.
UNESCO also sometimes offers financial or technical support to countries struggling to protect them.
Making and appreciating beer is part of the living heritage throughout Belgium.
Belgium produces some 1,500 types of beer.
While in Cuba Rumba sprang from poor communities, the dance is an enduring “expression of resistance and self-esteem”.
Uganda’s Ma’di Bowl Lyre music and dance is one of the oldest cultural practices of the Madi people of Uganda.
- It is still performed at some weddings and to celebrate harvests but is at risk “due to it being considered old-fashioned by younger generations.
- And also because it requires materials from plants and animals now endangered.
Black pottery manufacturing process from the Portuguese village designed for decorative and cooking purposes.
- The pottery is suffering from “waning interest from younger generations and popular demand for industrial alternatives
Cossack song from Ukraine’s Dnipropetrovsk region tells stories about the tragedy of war and personal relationships of Cossack soldiers.
- This art form is also in danger due to losing interest towards it.
 How to sow a reform
Unorganized sector has been hit hard due to demonetization, and within the unorganized sector, farmers are suffering as they do not have enough cash to purchase the required inputs for the sowing of Rabi crops.
Rabi area has reduced by 7 percentage points, as on November 25th, compared to the average of last 5 years.
Fertilizer consumption during November 1-28 is about 12 per cent lower than the average of the last three years.
What can be done?
Some assisting facts
- In September 2016, almost 76 per cent of the total outstanding agri-credit came from commercial banks, and the remaining from cooperative banks and regional rural banks almost in equal proportion.
- There are almost 13 crore Kisan Credit Cards (KCC) issued by various banking agencies, of which about 7.5 crore are active.
What above facts implies?
- There is a good chance to upgrade much of the agri-credit to the electronic platform quickly.
- Given the low density of banks and ATMs in rural areas, fixing new ATMs or new bank branches in rural areas will not be economically or timely viable.
- Alternatively, providing custom-made Point of Sale (POS) machines with business correspondent/agri-entrepreneur model is much cheaper.
Advantages of POS machines
- These machines can sync farmers’ accounts with their Aadhaar numbers and also use credit/debit cards to conduct financial transactions, including cash withdrawal.
- POS machines can help create new jobs and augment incomes in rural areas.
- It would also help in narrowing down the rural-urban digital divide.
What should be done?
- Government should invite all corporate bodies, especially those with a stake in agriculture and rural finance, to use their CSR funds to supply POS machines.
- All APMC-regulated agri-mandis should make the transactions above a certain amount, say Rs 20,000, mandatory through electronic transfers.
- Using POS machines and converting all KCCs into chip-based plastic cards needs high priority.
- Payment for MSP of wheat and paddy in MP, Chhattisgarh, Odisha and UP etc is already being made to farmers’ bank accounts.
- Punjab and Haryana, who route these payments through arhatiyas, should also do the same.
- NABARD, in association with cooperatives and RRBs should organize nation-wide training camps for farmers to familiarize them with digital banking.
- The steps of NABARD who is supporting solar-based VSAT through its financial inclusion fund, wherever connectivity is a problem, should be ramped up.
- Bringing food and fertiliser subsidies under the direct benefit transfer regime, especially in regions having high literacy and bank density like Goa, Kerala, Chandigarh etc.
Would demonetization curb black money?
Demonetization will only impact the cumulative stock of wealth stashed in cash.
While, the Bigger chunks of black income may be hidden in real estate, jewelry, and even outside the country.
What more should be done to fight black money?
- Rationalization of taxes, from stamp duties to agricultural income tax.
- Bringing agricultural income under taxation with an exemption limit of, say, Rs 7.5 lakh.
- As currently agricultural incomes are exempt from income tax. Agricultural income has become an easy route for many non-farming actors to hide their income.
- This would exempt almost 98 per cent of the farmers, even in an agriculturally prosperous state like Punjab.
- Making political funding through electronic transfers will bring more transparency and credibility to government.
All these measures, if taken quickly and cohesively, have the potential not only to relieve rural India of the pain of the current cash crunch but also put it permanently on a digital platform, which will be a major long-term gain.
 What does the currency ban mean for banks?
Context – The sudden inflow of deposits in the banks has given rise to speculation about how these deposits will be utilized by the banks.
While the analysis provided by the author suggests that:
- Banks are not in a position to significantly increase lending,
- Their Net Interest Income (NII) may fall over the next few quarters, worsening their capital position,
- Their NPA situation may get worse, further adding to their capital woes.
86% of the currency in circulation, amounting to roughly Rs14 trillion, was withdrawn recently.
As, now exchange of old notes has been discontinued, it is expected that remaining Rs9 trillion will get deposited in banks.
Problems facing banks
- Withdrawal limits on bank deposits,
- Logistical constraints of re-stocking ATMs,
- Banks’ capacity constraints in dealing with the surge in transaction volumes
Banking principles on deposits
Deposits are liabilities on a bank’s balance sheet, which they use to make loans and advances, which are their assets
And in making these loans and advances, banks have to adhere to 2 principles:-
- Principle of asset liability matching:
This broadly means that short-term liabilities are used to generate short-term assets.
If long-term loans are made using short-term deposits, banks are exposed to the risk of not being able to pay back when required.
- Principle of maintaining bank capital in ratio with the risk profile and quantum of loans made
Dilemma faced by banks
- Uncertainty over deposits
As the banks do not know how long these deposits will stay on their books, can deploy these deposits only in short-term assets.
- Burgeoning NPAs
In June, gross NPAs (GNPAs) of listed banks were Rs6.7 trillion or 9.1% of their advances.
The 27 public sector banks (PSBs) account for 80% of these NPAs. In 15 of them, GNPAs as a percentage of advances are more than or close to the capital to risk weighted assets ratio (CRAR).
Except for the State Bank of India and a few other PSBs, the CRAR with other banks does not allow them to make new loans.
- Low demand for loans
The currency ban has imposed a big negative shock on consumption demand, which in turn may lead to businesses cutting back on their working capital requirement.
Hence Corporate credit demand has been slow.
Options available with banks and their feasibility
In the absence of the option of making loans by deposits, banks are left with only 2 options:-
- Depositing funds in reserves with RBI
As these reserves do not earn interests, banks would not prefer that option.
Recently RBI decisions to make it mandatory for banks to hold 100% CRR on incremental deposits, prevents banks from investing the incremental deposits in G-secs.
- Investing in Government Securities (G-secs)
Banks may prefer this option as G-secs being sovereign bonds do not pose any capital requirements on banks.
Viability of G-Secs- Availability of G-secs in the market is determined by the borrowing program of the government and is not easy to expand without raising fiscal concerns.
Since there has been no announcement yet on the expansion of the supply of G-secs, with more incoming deposits, RBI will soon run out of G-secs that are needed to absorb the excess liquidity.
- Lowering deposit rate
Another option with the banks is to lower the deposit rates.
But lowering deposit rates below 4% may cause a public uproar. Hence it is highly unlikely that banks may take this step.
- Thus now banks will have to service the cost of these fresh deposits without earning commensurate income on them
- And it will negatively affect their NIIs and their profits.
- Banks are not in a position to significantly increase lending and their capital base may get worse.
- NPAs may spike if the economic activities slows down further due to currency ban.
- Normal banking business has been disrupted and bank employees have been occupied in dealing with exchange, deposits and withdrawals of currency.
Situation of banking industry may get worsened, if they keep on struggling to recover their bad loans and to find adequate capital to deal with provisioning challenges.