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9 PM Daily NEWS Brief

9 PM Daily Brief – 14 March 2016

Brief of newspaper articles for the day bearing
relevance to Civil Services preparation

What is 9 PM brief?


GS PAPER 1


[1]. Criminalise marital rape: UNDP chief

The Hindu

Issue
Criminalisation of the marital rape.

 

Stand of the Government
According to the government, concept of marital rape, as understood internationally, cannot be suitably applied in the Indian context due to various factors like level of education/illiteracy, poverty, myriad social customs and values, religious beliefs, mindset of the society to treat the marriage as a sacrament, etc.

 

Stand of the (United Nations Development Programme) UNDP

The UNDP chief  Helen Clark calls for India to criminalise marital rape, considering it a part of SDG commitments.
The first step towards making safety of women a goal is recognising domestic violence as an assault on women.
Rape and sexual assaults against women at homes have to be treated as crimes.

 

Status of marital rape in India

Section 375 of Indian Penal Code defines Rape. But as per the exception 0f 375, sexual intercourse by a man with his own wife, the wife not being under fifteen years of age, is not rape.

 

Conclusion
Rape is Rape. Rape is an issue of the consent, not of the culture. And if consent is not there, it is rape.

 


GS PAPER 2


[1]. Protecting the homebuyer

The Hindu

What?
Real Estate Bill has been passed by the Rajya Sabha.

 

What the Bill seeks to do?
It regulates the haphazard functioning and the presence of unscrupulous operators in the real-estate business.
It will bring a sense of comfort and feeling of security to homebuyers.

 

What are the key provisions of the Bill?
Compulsory registration of any project of the size of 500 square metres in size or involves eight apartments.
A separate escrow account to park collections.
Greater clarity in the definition of carpet area.
A tighter penalty norm for structural defects in construction.
A mandatory consent clause for changes in construction plans.
Stringent disclosure norms.
Penalty provisions including imprisonment, in some cases, for delays and other contractual failures on the part of the builder.


What next?
For better implementation, the responsibility of providing the enabling ecosystem rests with the States.

 

[2]. Everything’s official about Aadhaar now

Livemint

 

What happened?
The Lok Sabha stamped its overwhelming approval on the Aadhaar (Targeted Delivery of Financial and Other Subsidies, Benefits and Services) Bill. Since it is a money bill, the Rajya Sabha cannot exercise a veto. It is for all practical purposes just short of becoming law.

What are its Implications?
985.16 million holders of the 12-digit individual identification number issued by the Unique Identification Authority of India are on the verge of having their Aadhaar card endowed with legal backing.
By doing this, the Government has restricted the ongoing dispute in the Supreme Court regarding concerns of privacy (which can also be dealt with adequately if the government brings forward legislation aimed at protecting privacy of information).
Effectively, it means that Aadhaar can be used in official dealings. It is a key part of the “JAM Trinity”—Jan Dhan, Aadhaar, Mobile—that will drive the government’s ambitious plan of a technology-enabled, real-time direct benefits transfer system.

To payment banks, Aadhaar as an e-identity is key to keeping transaction costs down and thereby providing a business model to financial inclusion.


GS PAPER 3


[1]. Insolvency Code to avert NPAs

The Hindu

Objective of the Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code 2015
To address stressed assets of public sector banks, structural issues would be dealt with to avoid recurrence of these problems, whether wilful or due to policy paralysis or business challenges, through this law.It would facilitate easy and time bound closure of business in India.

 

Difference between insolvency & bankruptcy

Insolvency is a situation when the debtor cannot meet its financial obligations i.e when he cannot pay back the money to lender on time. Warning signs could be decrease in sales, high dependence on credit, delay in payments etc.

Bankruptcy is a legal declaration of insolvency. In this, the debtor files an application with the court to declare himself insolvent or the creditor files an application against the insolvent. Therefore it is a last stage of insolvency. We note here that while insolvency is a financial situation and bankruptcy is a legal condition. Insolvency may or may not lead to bankruptcy.

What is Insolvency?

The term insolvency is used for both individuals and organizations. For individuals, it is known as bankruptcy and for corporate it is called corporate insolvency. Both refer to a situation when an individual or company are not able to pay the debt in present or near future and the value of assets held by them are less than liability.

 

Non-Performing Assets

The assets of the banks which don’t perform (that is – don’t bring any return) are called Non Performing Assets ( NPA) or bad loans. Bank’s assets are the loans and advances given to customers. If customers don’t pay either interest or part of principal or both, the loan turns into bad loan.

 

[2]. Transparency at any cost

The Hindu 

Transparency regarding what?

 

Transparency regarding safety measures in nuclear power plant in india

 

Why in news?

 

This issue arose because the 220 MW unit 1 of the kakrapar atomic power station located in Gujarat’s surat district had to be shut down following leakage of heavy water used to cool the nuclear reactor.

 

Fukushima accident of Japan was rated seven (highest level),on the International Nuclear and Radiological Event Scale because where meltdown of core of three reactors occurred due to failure of the cooling system.

 

It is reassuring that the safety systems of the KAPS reactor worked as intended, including the backup cooling systems, thus preventing any cascading event leading to radioactivity release outside the plant but lessons should be learnt and safety levels should be enhanced.

 

How AERB(Atomic Energy Regulatory Board),which does risk assessment and management function,can reassure the public and win confidence?

 

By being more transparent with its findings

 

By taking all necessary steps to ensure that similar events are averted in the future

 

By enhancing the level of safety of the backup systems in reactors

 

 

[3]. This Budget is not business as usual

The Hindu

Some medium-term issues regarding the Budget
Path of Fiscal Consolidation.
Implementation of Aadhaar.
Relationship between Ministry of Finance.

 

Path of Fiscal Consolidation
Fiscal deficit target of 3.5 per cent for the coming year.
It is consistent with the path of fiscal consolidation stipulated in the Fiscal Responsibility and Budget Management Act of 2003 (FRBM Act). The FRBM Act was enacted in the context of the deteriorating fiscal health in 2000.
The Budget has also announced the constitution of a Committee to review the implementation of the FRBM Act and give its recommendations on the way forward.
The mandate of the proposed committee on FRBM should be broader than recalibrating fiscal deficit targets. It should evolve an acceptable framework for a Macro Stability Responsibility Act (MSRA), to replace the FRBM.

 

Implementation of Aadhaar

The government has introduced the far-reaching legislation, The Aadhaar (Targeted Delivery of Financial and Other Subsidies, Benefits and Service) Bill, 2016, enabling the Aadhaar platform to be effectively used for direct benefit transfers (DBT) for multiple beneficiary programmes.

These go beyond LPG to cover fertilizers, health, education and the now rationalised centrally sponsored schemes (CSSs).

The implementation of Aadhaar, however, needs three further ingredients.

First, interoperability between platforms in case other platforms are used to deliver benefits.

Second, the tendency to adopt non-verifiable alternative platforms, bypassing the Aadhaar, can lead to abuse.

Third, while disbursements through DBT using Aadhaar can be quickly effected, withdrawals would require a significantly faster pace of ensuring reliable connectivity, covering all 2,50,000 Panchayats.

The suggestions by the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India of using public-private partnership for a faster implementation now deserve priority.

 

Relationship between Ministry of Finance

Monetary and fiscal policy need to act in tandem, keeping in view the twin objectives of growth and acceptable inflation band.

The proposed amendment of the RBI Act of 1934 and the constitution of a Monetary Policy Committee will add a lot of value and transparency to monetary policy decisions. A great deal will depend on how this committee works. Not only domain knowledge, the balance of decision-making in the Committee with the final word on interest rates resting with the Governor of the RBI, fostering greater public debate on evolution of Monetary Policy.

 

[4]. Twists and turns in Fiscal Responsibility Act

The Hindu 

 

What is fiscal responsibility act?

 

The idea of a Fiscal Responsibility Act was first introduced in 2000-01 for medium-term management of the fiscal deficit through institutional mechanism.

 

This idea was embodied under FRBM(Fiscal Responsibility and Budget Management ) act.

 

Provisions of this act

 

Reducing the revenue deficit to nil by 2008-09

 

Bringing down the fiscal deficit to three per cent of the GDP in the same period.

 

Composition of Fiscal Management Review Committee(according to the draft bill at that time):

 

Chairman- Prime Minister

Other Members- Finance Minister,Speaker, Chairman of the Lok Sabha, the Leaders of the Opposition in both houses of Parliament, the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) of India and the Governor of the Reserve Bank of India.

 

But CAG disagreed with the creation of such committee.Why?

 

According to CAG the proposed committee will be an encroachment on the prerogative of the finance minister, who has to present reports/policy statements of the government to the Parliament for its consideration and debate. In fact, such a body shall create unanticipated legal and procedural problems.

 

According to CAG setting up of a Fiscal Management Committee through statute is not consistent with the existing Constitutional arrangements and it goes against the basic structure of the Constitution.

 

When it was passed?

It was passed by Parliament in 2003 and put into place in 2004.

 

Also a committee was formed under Vijay Kelkar to put forth a roadmap for the implementation of the Act.

 

Flexibility

 

The 13 Finance Commission reviewed the Act in 2009 and gave following recommendations

 

Firstly it recommended that  the MTFP (Medium Term Financial Plan) make explicit the values of the parameters underlying expenditure and revenue projections and the band within which these parameters can vary while remaining consistent with FRBMA targets. This will enable the government to make an evidence-based case for relaxation of these targets, should such circumstances arise

 

Secondly it recommended that  the FRBMA specify the nature of shocks that would require a relaxation of FRBM targets. These would include agro-climatic events of a national (rather than regional or state-specific) dimension, global recessions impacting the country’s exports and shocks caused by domestic or external events like asset price bubbles or systemic crises in important sectors like the financial markets.

 

Amendments

 

Following these recommendations, the Act was amended via the Finance Act 2012. One of the amendments was that, along with the Medium-Term Fiscal Policy Statement, Fiscal Policy Strategy Statement and the Macroeconomic Framework Statement, the Central Government would also have to lay a Medium Term Expenditure Framework Statement before Parliament.

 

Instead of targeting the revenue deficit, the FRBM Act would target a new concept, the ‘effective revenue deficit’—the difference between revenue deficit and grants for creation of capital assets. In essence, this placed capital expenditure out of the purview of the revenue deficit

 

Finally, the dates by which the effective revenue deficit and fiscal deficit targets were to be met were extended. The effective revenue deficit was to be eliminated the fiscal deficit was to be below three per cent by March 2015 later extended again to 2018.

 

What next?

 

Finance Minister Arun Jaitley’s plan to review the FRBM Act, and Minister of State for Finance Jayant Sinha’s statement on Tuesday about the need for a “dynamic, more flexible approach to fiscal management” should be seen as yet another step in this long chain of events.

 

[5]. Patents over Patients

Indian Express 

Issue?

 

Section 84 of patent act mandates that a compulsory licence be granted in favour of third parties, if the patented invention (such as a drug) is excessively priced or not available sufficiently.

 

But ,US industry groups recently claimed the Indian government offered them a “private” assurance that compulsory licences will not be issued, save in emergencies and for non-commercial purposes.

 

Has this mandate ever used?

 

Natco, an Indian generic manufacturer, was granted compulsory license of Bayer’s patented cancer drug Sorafenib Tosylate, because it was excessively priced and was available only to 2% cancer patent.

 

In return Natco has to give royalty of 6% to Bayer. Later some modification was done on royalty rates on appeal from bayer.

 

International practices

 

World over, compulsory licensing is largely a matter of government discretion to be invoked at the government’s pleasure.

 

However, in India, Section 84 makes clear it’s a legal entitlement that cannot be pimped away through private assurances to foreign friends.

 

Government’s view?

 

Government is yet to issue a public clarification on this private assurance.

One is not sure if it intended to cover compulsory licensing as a whole or meant to restrict it to Section 92.

 

What is section 92?

 

A provision enabling the government to notify compulsory licences (of its own accord) on grounds of national emergency, extreme urgency or public non-commercial use.

 

Difference between section 84 and section 92?

 

Section 92 is distinct from section 84 in the sense that section 92 vests the government with considerably more discretion.

 

While the first kind of licence (Section 84) was granted at least once in the past, the government has yet to issue any notification under Section 92. Why?

 

The commerce ministry played spoilsport. It sent a long list of questions asking for “data” on various aspects of the cancers/ numbers of patients, etc.

 

But a lot of health data is difficult to come by, given that they reside in the sole possession of private parties like hospitals, pharmacies and drug companies.

For example,cancer, a near epidemic now. Till date, there’s no Central law mandating disclosure of data on patients, treatment methods, drug pricing, etc.

 

What government can do?

 

The government must immediately formulate a legal framework to compel private parties to disclose drug and disease data.

 

It must ensure quasi-judicial authorities (the patent office) remain relatively independent and are infused with sufficient training to ensure a fair, impartial and competent dispensation of justice.


BY: ForumIAS Editorial Team 

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