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9 PM Daily NEWS Brief

9 PM Daily Brief – 12th October 2016

 


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NATIONAL

 

[1].India unhappy over Russia-Pakistan ties

The Hindu

Context

Indian envoy tells Moscow that military cooperation with Islamabad will only create further problems

Criticism

India’s ties with Russia are likely to be affected if Moscow continues to expand military relations with Islamabad.

  • Criticising Pakistan-Russia ties, Indian Ambassador to Russia warned of “problems” ahead in bilateral ties, even as both sides planned a major summit on the sidelines of the upcoming Goa BRICS summit

India has expressed its displeasure in the past also

Present comments by the Indian envoy marks the 3rd occasion on which India officially conveyed unhappiness over the growing Pakistan-Russia ties after both countries held the first ever joint military exercise in Pakistan’s northwest.

  • India had expressed concern over the exercise with Pakistan during the 22nd India-Russia Inter-Governmental Commission (IRGC) that was held on September 13

17th India-Russia Annual Summit

The statement of the Indian ambassador is significant as it sets the mood for the 17th India-Russia Annual Summit on October 15 in Goa.

  • The summit, to be held in the backdrop of the BRICS summit, will witness signing of a number of bilateral pacts. During the summit, both sides will also plan the 70th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic ties between the two nations.

India at BRICS

India is likely to take up the issue of terrorism at the BRICS summit, pushing the case for an international counter-terror convention.

Policy shift of Russia towards Pakistan

  • Russia now believes that terrorism is a global problem and Pakistan is a victim of terrorism as well.Therefore it has revised the Cold War assessment of Pakistan as a supporter of the Afghan mujahideen

 

ECONOMY

[1]. Who will regulate pension products?

The Hindu

Context

Finance Ministry sets up committee to streamline regulation amid confusion over supervision

What is the news?

The Finance Ministry has set up a high-level committee to consolidate the regulation of pension products that is currently being done by three different watchdogs including the insurance and stock market regulators.

  • The Centre has formed the committee to look into the issue of bringing these companies which are offering pension plans under the purview of PFRDA

Members of committee

The committee to be formed by the Department of Financial Services, would have representatives from all financial sector regulators — SEBI, IRDA, RBI and PFRDA

PFRDA’s views

The PFRDA Act says we will be the pension regulator in the country

  • Except EPFO (Employees’ Provident Fund Organisation), PFRDA is supposed to be the regulator for the entire pension industry in the country. But the ground level reality is that the schemes floated by insurance companies and mutual funds still exist and are not regulated by it.

PFRDA (Pension Fund Regulatory Authority)

The intention behind setting up PFRDA was to regulate all pension products

Problem: Insurers and Mutual funds continue to sell pension products outside its watch, creating confusion among consumers

  • The above issue was raised at the meeting of Financial Stability and Development Council (FSDC) chaired by Finance Minister which resulted in the constitution of the high-level committee

Who regulates what?

  • Pension products sold by insurance companies come under the purview of the Insurance Regulatory and Development Authority (IRDA)
  • Pension products sold by mutual funds are overseen by the SEBI

 

[2]. Banks’ profitability under threat? IMF thinks so

Business Standard

Context

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) last week named India among the emerging economies whose banking systems are vulnerable to further declines in growth or profits

NPA is the culprit – In the October issue of its bi-annual global financial stability report (GFSR), the IMF said credit growth in the country is slowing and risks from elevated levels of non-performing loans are “most acute”

  • ETIG compilation of bad debts has found out that out of the 20 banks with the worst nonperforming asset (NPA) ratios as many as 13 are from India
  • All of the Indian banks that feature in the list are public sector banks
  • GFSR report shows that the interest coverage ratio (ICR) — the measure of a company’s ability to pay interest on outstanding debt — of Indian firms was the second lowest among a set of 18 emerging economies

ETIG (Economic Times Intelligence Group) compilation

The ETIG compilation is based on Bloomberg data and covers 200-odd banks from the mentioned emerging economies. 

 

INDIAN EXPRESS

 

[3]. A Bill for better health

Indian Express

Context

HIV Bill has been approved by the cabinet with certain amendments over the previous draft

Changes introduced in the new draft

  • Previous: The amendment made by the government to the draft Bill included the provision to the effect that Anti-Retroviral Treatment (ART) would be available to PLHIV (People Living With HIV Community) “as far as possible.”
  • New: The Bill now provides that treatment would be provided to all PLHIV as needed. Indian generic companies supply ARVs to all PLHIV in developing countries. It would have indeed been ironical for the law not to do that for PLHIV in India
  • The government amended the draft Bill to remove theprotection to the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Intersex (LGBTI) community. The protection to the LGBTI community was included in the draft Bill as it is understood that it is because of their vulnerability and lack of protection for them in the law that HIV also spreads. It is not known what decision the government has taken on this issue. That will be known only when the HIV Bill approved by the cabinet is made public

Need for the Bill

  • There are about 21 lakh PLHIV in India
  • Despite all the sensitisation on the issue, PLHIV are routinely discriminated against.

Salient Features

  • Bill for the 1st time addresses discrimination in the private sector. It should be noted that The Constitution only provides for addressing discrimination in the “state” sector.
  • On PLHIV becoming known, they are often thrown out of their households. The HIV Bill provides that a PLHIV under 18 years has the right to reside in a shared household
  • Autonomy of PLHIV: The Bill also recognises the autonomy of PLHIV in terms of testing and treatment and provides for consent for the same as also for confidentiality on testing. No person can be compelled to disclose his or her status except with informed consent or by an order of a court of law. Entities disclosing the status of PLHIV would be liable under the Bill
  • Discrimination in health sector: Bill provides redressal in case of denial of treatment to a PLHIV person, both at the institutional level and at the local district level.
  1. Discrimination is widely prevalent in the health sector, especially in surgeries involving PLHIVs. If the surgery required is not done immediately, a PLHIV can first approach the appropriate authority in the health care facility which is mandated to address the issue in a time-bound manner
  2. If that fails, the PLHIV can approach the local ombudpersons (set up at district level), mandated to give directions to the health facility to provide the required treatment, even on an emergency basis and/or in a time-bound manner
  • Addresses protection of healthcare workers: The HIV Bill, for the first time, mandates the authorities to provide a “safe working environment” to healthcare workers

Conclusion

Bill’s success will have far-reaching impacts on other health legislation that need to be enacted.

 

 

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