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01 August Current Affairs

Atal Community Innovation Centre

In News:

Government of India launched Atal Community Innovation Centre in New Delhi to encourage the spirit of innovation at the community level.

About: 

This initiative has been launched under the Atal Innovation Mission (AIM), a flagship initiative of NITI Aayog.

The purpose of this new initiative is to make innovation ecosystem socially inclusive as well as to ensure equitable distribution of infrastructure for innovation across the country.

The Atal Community Innovation Centre has been launched to focus on the 484 backward districts where the innovation infrastructure is very weak.

The new program has been specifically designed for underserved, unserved regions of Tier 1 or Metro cities, Tier 2 and Tier 3 cities, Smart Cities, Aspirational districts, North-East, Jammu and Kashmir as well as the rural and tribal regions of India.

External Commercial Borrowing

In News:

Reserve Bank of India (RBI) has relaxed External Commercial Borrowing norms for corporates, non-banking lenders as a move towards easing liquidity.

Recent changes:

The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) has liberalised the end-use stipulations for the External Commercial Borrowings both for corporates as well as liquidity starved non-banking lenders.

Liberalisation will be applicable to ECBs taken for working capital, general corporate purpose loans or repayment of rupee loans.

Corporate borrowers will be able to avail of ECBs to repay rupee loans taken for Capital expenditures if they are into manufacturing or infrastructure building and classified as Special Mention Account, SMA-2 or Non-Performing Asset, under any one-time settlement arrangement with lenders.

Meaning:

An external commercial borrowing (ECB) is an instrument used in India to facilitate Indian companies to raise money outside the country in foreign currency.

It refers to commercial loans which can be in the form of bank loans, bonds, securitized instruments, buyers’ credit and suppliers credit availed from non-resident lenders with a minimum average maturity of 3 years.

ECBs availed of by residents are governed by the Foreign Exchange Management Act, 1999 along with the Foreign Exchange Management (Borrowing or Lending in Foreign Exchange) Regulations, 2000, as amended from time to time.

Muslim Women (Protection Of Rights On Marriage) Bill 2019

In News:

Parliament passed the Muslim Women (Protection of Rights on Marriage) Bill 2019.

About: 

Objective: The Bill would help in protecting the rights of married Muslim women and prevent divorce by practice of ‘talaq-e-biddat’ by their husbands.

Salient features of the bill:

It declares the practice of triple talaq as void and illegal.

It makes this offence punishable with imprisonment up to three years and fine.

It provides for payment of subsistence allowance to married Muslim women and dependent children.

It proposes to make the offence cognizable, if information relating to the commission of an offence is given to a police officer by the married Muslim woman upon whom talaq is pronounced or by any person related to her by blood or marriage.

The offence is made compoundable with the permission of the Magistrate at the instance of the married Muslim woman upon whom talaq is pronounced.

It further provides for hearing the married Muslim woman upon whom talaq is pronounced, before the accused is released on bail by the Magistrate.

Cabinet nod for more judges in SC

In News:

Acting at the request of the Chief Justice of India, the Union Cabinet decided to increase the number of Supreme Court judges from 31 to 34.

Details:

The move comes against the backdrop of the rising number of cases in the top court, which stands at nearly 60,000. At present, the sanctioned strength of the court is 30, excluding the Chief Justice of India.

According to a written reply by the Law Ministry to a Rajya Sabha question on July 11, 59,331 cases are pending in the top court.

Background:

  • Way back in 1988, about three decades ago, the judge strength of the SC was increased from 18 to 26,
  • And again after two decades in 2009, it was increased to 31, including the CJI.

Procedure of increasing judges:

The strength of the Supreme Court is fixed by law made by the Parliament as per Article 124(1) of the Constitution of India. Therefore, the strength can be increased by way of parliamentary legislation.

10% quota case for statute Bench?

In News:

A three-judge Bench of the Supreme Court led by Jus­tice S.A. Bobde reserved its orders on the question of referring a batch of petitions challenging the validity of a constitutional amendment providing 10% economic quota in government jobs and educational institutions to a Constitution Bench.

Key Facts about the 103rd Constitutional Amendment Act:

The Important components of the 103rd constitutional Amendment are:

  • The amendment changed two fundamental rights, Article 15 and 16. The amendments provide for the advancement of the “economically weaker sections” of the society.
  • The amendment aims to fulfil the commitments of the directive principles of state policy under Article 46, to promote the educational and economic interests of the weaker sections of the society.
  • The constitutional amendment is yet to pass the judicial scrutiny since the Supreme Court had set the cap of 50% on reservations.
  • ‘Youth for Equality’ has questioned the constitutional validity of the 103rd constitutional amendment act which was passed by the both the Houses of Parliament after being presented as the Constitution (124th Amendment) Bill, 2019.
  • The example of Tamil Nadu is been cited to propose that there are ways and means to protect the amendment from the Supreme Court declaring it unconstitutional.
  • Gujrat has become the first state to implement the 10% quota reserved for people from economically weaker sections proposed under the 103rd constitutional amendment act.

Criterion for Reservation:

  • People who have an annual income of less than Rs.8 lakhs, or
  • People who own less than five acres of farm land, or
  • People who have a house lesser than 1,000 sq feet in a town (or 100 sq yard in a notified municipal area).

Plan for single water disputes tribunal

In News:

The Lok Sabha passed a Bill that promises faster redress of water disputes between the States by putting in place a new architecture for tribunals that handle inter-State water disputes.

Details:

Moving the Inter-State River Water Disputes (Amendment) Bill, 2019, for passage in the Lok Sabha, Jal Shakti Minister Gajendra Singh Shekhawat said the existing tribunals constituted to resolve river water disputes had failed and in some cases, even after 33 years, the tribunals were yet to give an award.

T he original Inter-State River Water Disputes Act, enacted in 1956, was amended 17 years ago to make five years the maximum period within which river water disputes need to be resolved, the reality had been different.

The new Bill proposes that the final award will be delivered in two years and whenever it gives the order, the verdict will be notified automatically.

New Bill:

It Provides for the constitution of a single tribunal with different Benches, and the setting of strict timelines for adjudication. A retired Supreme Court judge will head the tribunal and Benches will be formed as and when required. The States can approach the tribunal for resolution of their disputes and once resolved, the Bench would wind up.

Quota for economically weaker sections in J&K

In News:

The Cabinet approved a Bill to provide up to 10% reservation in jobs and educational institutions for the economically weaker sections in Jammu and Kashmir.

Details:

The Union Cabinet, chaired by Prime Minister, approved the Jammu and Kashmir Reservation (Second Amendment) Bill, 2019.

The approval “would pave the way for extending the benefit of reservation of up to 10% for Economically Weaker Sections (EWS) in educational institutions and public employment alongside existing reservations”.

Background:

The 10 per cent quota for Economically Weaker Sections (EWS) will be in addition to the existing reservations in Jammu and Kashmir.

In January, Centre approved a constitutional amendment to provide a 10 per cent reservation to the Economically Weaker Sections for direct recruitment in government jobs and higher education institutes.

This quota is over and above the reservation cap of 50 per cent. The Centre has defined those with an annual income of less than Rs 8 lakh as economically weaker.

Supreme Court had earlier refused to stay the Centre’s decision to grant 10 per cent quota in jobs and admissions to economically weaker section of citizens.

The quota will be over and above the existing 50 per cent reservation to Scheduled Castes, Scheduled Tribes and Other Backward Classes.

Cabinet okays hike in subsidy for sulphur-based fertilizers

In News:

The Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs (CCEA), headed by Prime Minister gave its nod for raising the subsidized prices of sulphur-based fertilizers.

Aim:

The move is aimed at discouraging rampant use of nitrogen-phosphorous-potassium fertilizers, which impacts soil quality.

Details:

For sulphur-based fertilizer, the government will provide a subsidy of ₹350/100kg against ₹277 earlier. The government’s total subsidy burden for nutrient-based fertilizers is ₹22,875.50 crore.

The move is part of steps taken by the Modi-led government to improve agricultural productivity and ease agrarian distress during its second consecutive term.

The Narendra Modi government is focussed on “Gaon, Garib, Kisan.

Reason:

The Centre has hiked the subsidy for sulphur based fertilizers, while keeping unchanged the subsidy rates for nitrogen, phosphorus and potash based fertilisers in a bid to correct imbalances and ensure better soil health.

 

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