Banning of Unregulated Deposit Schemes Bill, 2018
Union Cabinet has given its approval to move official amendments to the Banning of Unregulated Deposit Schemes Bill, 2018, pursuant to the recommendations of the Standing Committee on Finance (SCF).
The latest amendments aim to strengthen the Bill in its objective to effectively tackle the menace of illicit deposit taking activities in the country, and prevent such schemes from duping poor and gullible people of their hard earned savings.
Key provisions of the Bill:
Substantive banning clause which bans Deposit Takers from promoting, operating, issuing advertisements or accepting deposits in any Unregulated Deposit Scheme. The Bill bans unregulated deposit taking activities altogether, by making them an offence ex-ante rather than the existing legislative-cum-regulatory framework which only comes into effect ex-post with considerable time lags.
Creation of three different types of offences, namely, running of Unregulated Deposit Schemes, fraudulent default in Regulated Deposit Schemes, and wrongful inducement in relation to Unregulated Deposit Schemes.
Severe punishment and heavy pecuniary fines to act as deterrent.
Provisions for disgorgement or repayment of deposits in cases where such schemes nonetheless manage to raise deposits illegally.
Attachment of properties / assets by the Competent Authority, and subsequent realization of assets for repayment to depositors.
Clear-cut time lines have been provided for attachment of property and restitution to depositors.
Creation of an online central database, for collection and sharing of information on deposit-taking activities in the country.
The Bill defines “Deposit Taker” and “Deposit” comprehensively:
“Deposit Takers” include all possible entities (including individuals) receiving or soliciting deposits, except specific entities such as those incorporated by legislation.
“Deposit” is defined in such a manner that deposit-takers are restricted from camouflaging public deposits as receipts, and at the same time, not to curb or hinder acceptance of money by an establishment in the ordinary course of its business.
Why do we need a comprehensive law on this?
To deal with the menace of illicit deposit taking schemes, as in the recent past, there have been rising instances of people in various parts of the country being defrauded by illicit deposit taking schemes.
The worst victims of these schemes are the poor and the financially illiterate, and the operations of such schemes are often spread over many States.
As per information provided by RBI, during the period between July, 2014 and May, 2018, 978 cases of unauthorized schemes were discussed in State Level Coordination Committee (SLCC) meetings in various States/UTs and were given to the respective regulators/law enforcement agencies in the states. A large number of such instances have been reported from the eastern part of the country.
Source: The Hindu
Rashtriya Kamdhenu Aayog
Cabinet approved the proposal for establishment of Rashtriya Kamdhenu Aayog for Conservation protection and development of cows and their progeny.
Functions of the Aayog:
The Aayog will work in collaboration with Veterinary, Animal Sciences or Agriculture University or departments or organizations of the Central/State Government engaged in the task of research in the field of breeding and rearing of cow, organic manure, biogas etc.
It will take up scientific activities for genetic upgradation and increasing productivity of cows.
It will provide the policy framework and direction to the cow conservation and development programmes in the country and for ensuring proper implementation of laws with respect to the welfare of cows.
Union Minister, in interim budget, announced that Rs 750 crore would be allocated for the Rashtriya Gokul Mission. Under the scheme, a ‘Rashtriya Kamdhenu Aayog’ would be set up.
Need and significance:
The setting up of Rashtriya Kamdhenu Aayog will lead to conservation, protection and development of cattle population in the country including development and conservation of indigenous breeds.
It will result in increased growth of livestock sector which is more inclusive, benefitting women, and small and marginal farmers.
Source: The Hindu
National Institutes of Food Technology, Entrepreneurship and Management Bill, 2019
The Union Cabinet has approved the introduction of National Institutes of Food Technology, Entrepreneurship and Management Bill, 2019.
The objective of the bill is to confer the status of Institutions of National Importance to National Institute of Food Technology, Entrepreneurship and Management (NIFTEM) at Kundli, Haryana, and the Indian Institute of Food Processing Technology (IIFPT) at Thanjavur, Tamil Nadu.
The legislation would provide for functional autonomy to the institutes to design and develop courses, undertake research activities and leverage enhanced status in their academic pursuits, so that they become world class institutes.
The institutes would implement the reservation policy of the Government and would also undertake special outreach activities for the benefits of concerned stakeholders.
It would enable the institutes to provide world class teaching and research experience by adopting innovative practices.
Source: The Hindu
A unified authority for regulating all financial services in IFSCs
The Union Cabinet has approved establishment of a unified authority for regulating all financial services in International Financial Services Centres (IFSCs) in India through International Financial Services Centres Authority Bill, 2019.
Facts: The first IFSC in India has been set up at GIFT City, Gandhinagar, Gujarat.
Need for and the benefits of a unified authority:
Currently, the banking, capital markets and insurance sectors in IFSC are regulated by multiple regulators, i.e. RBI, SEBI and IRDAI.
The dynamic nature of business in the IFSCs necessitates a high degree of inter-regulatory coordination. It also requires regular clarifications and frequent amendments in the existing regulations governing financial activities in IFSCs.
The development of financial services and products in IFSCs would require focussed and dedicated regulatory interventions.
Therefore, a unified financial regulator for IFSCs in India would provide world class regulatory environment to financial market participants. This also be essential from an ease of doing business perspective.
The unified authority would also provide the much needed impetus to further development of IFSC in India in-sync with the global best practices.
A draft Bill has been prepared to set up a separate unified regulator for IFSCs. Following are the main features of the Bill:
Management of the Authority: The Authority shall consist of a Chairperson, one Member each to be nominated by the Reserve Bank of India (RBI), the Securities Exchange Board of India (SEBI), the Insurance Regulatory and Development Authority of India (IRDAI) and the Pension Fund Regulatory and Development Authority(PFRDA), two members to be dominated by the Central Government and two other whole-time or full-time or part-time members.
Functions of the Authority:
regulate all such financial services, financial products and FIs in an IFSC which has already been permitted by the Financial Sector Regulators for IFSCs.
regulate such other financial products, financial services or FIs as may be notified by the Central Government from time to time.
recommend to the Central Government such other financial products, financial services and financial institutions which may be permitted in the IFSCs.
Powers of the Authority: All powers exercisable by the respective financial sector regulatory (viz. RBI, SEBI, IRDAI, and PFRDA etc.) under the respective Acts shall be solely exercised by the Authority in the IFSCs in so far as the regulation of financial products, financial services and FIs that are permitted in the IFSC are concerned.
What is an IFSC?
An IFSC enables bringing back the financial services and transactions that are currently carried out in offshore financial centers by Indian corporate entities and overseas branches / subsidiaries of financial institutions (FIs)to India by offering business and regulatory environment that is comparable to other leading international financial centers in the world like London and Singapore.
It would provide Indian corporates easier access to global financial markets. IFSC would also compliment and promote further development of financial markets in India.
What are the services an IFSC can provide?
Fund-raising services for individuals, corporations and governments.
Asset management and global portfolio diversification undertaken by pension funds, insurance companies and mutual funds.
Global tax management and cross-border tax liability optimization, which provides a business opportunity for financial intermediaries, accountants and law firms.
Global and regional corporate treasury management operations that involve fund-raising, liquidity investment and management and asset-liability matching.
Risk management operations such as insurance and reinsurance.
Merger and acquisition activities among trans-national corporations.
Source: The Hindu
The Union Cabinet chaired has approved the proposal for Abolition of Institution of Income-Tax Ombudsman and Indirect Tax Ombudsman.
The approval comes in the wake of alternative complaint redressal mechanisms chosen by public and the institution of Ombudsman could not prove to be more effective than regular existing parallel channels of grievance redressal.
The Institution of Income-Tax Ombudsman was created in the year 2003 to deal with grievances of public related to settlement of complaints relating to Income Tax. However, the Institution of Ombudsman failed to achieve its objectives.
It was observed that institution of new complaints have in turn fallen to single digits. Also, tax payers started preferring alternate methods of grievance redressal like CPGRAMS (Centralized Public Grievance Redress and Monitoring System), AaykarSevaKendras etc. further, it was also decided in 2011 to close vacant offices of Indirect Tax Ombudsman.
About the Ombudsman:
It was established for resolution of complaints relating to the Income Tax Department like an overdue refund.
It was autonomous and hence independent of the jurisdiction of the Income tax department.
Source: The Hindu
Agri-Market Infrastructure Fund (AMIF)
The Cabinet Committee of Economic Affairs has given its approval for the creation of a corpus of Rs. 2000 crore for Agri-Market Infrastructure Fund (AMIF).
About Agri-Market Infrastructure Fund (AMIF):
The fund will be created with NABARD for development and up-gradation of agricultural marketing infrastructure in Gramin Agricultural Markets and Regulated Wholesale Markets.
AMIF will provide the State/UT Governments subsidized loan for their proposal for developing marketing infrastructure in 585 Agriculture Produce Market Committees (APMCs) and 10,000 Grameen Agricultural Markets (GrAMs).
States may also access AMIF for innovative integrated market infrastructure projects including Hub and Spoke mode and in Public Private Partnership mode.
‘Darwaza Band – Part 2’ Campaign
The Swachh Bharat Mission Grameen has launched the ‘Darwaza Band -Part 2’ campaign starring Amitabh Bachchan.
About the campaign:
The campaign, produced by the Ministry of Drinking Water and Sanitation, and supported by the World Bank was launched in Mumbai.
The campaign talks about how a toilet must be used by all, always and under all circumstances (har koi, har roz, hamesha).
The focuses on sustaining the open defecation free status of villages across the country.
It focuses on ensuring that people’s behaviour is changed for good and everyone always uses a toilet.
50 crore people stopped defecating in the open since the launch of the SBM and with over 5.5 lakh villages having already been declared Open Defecation Free (ODF), the national sanitation coverage is now in excess of 98%.
Source: The Hindu
Delhi government launches ‘zero fatality corridor’
The Delhi government has kicked off its pilot project of creating Delhi’s first ‘zero fatality corridor’. It has also issued actionable points to all agencies to ensure a 10% reduction in road accidents by the end of the year.
As per the government’s plan, a 3km stretch between Burari Chowk and Bhalswa chowk will be taken as a case study for scientific assessment of accidents, road engineering, road-user engagement and for checking police enforcement and rapid emergency care. The aim is to reduce fatalities to near zero levels on this particular stretch.
Action plan for 2019:
This is first-ever Annual Action Plan for 2019 to ensure greater road safety in the national capital.
The plan includes conducting a host of audits such as studying and identifying unsafe roads, transportation of schoolchildren, road signage, emergency care service and enforcement activities of agencies.
The plan, mandatory under Delhi’s first ‘road safety policy’ released last year, is in line with the Delhi government’s plan to reduce fatalities due to road crashes by 30% by 2020. It binds all agencies — transport, public works department, health, education and Delhi traffic police — to a year-round set of actions to reduce road fatalities in Delhi.
All district magistrates will ensure footpaths are continuous and encroachment-free. An action taken report will have to be submitted by all DMs monthly. The road safety cell will also contribute in improving traffic engineering. The South Delhi Municipal Corporation has been made the nodal agency for this.
Source: The Hindu
The European Space Agency’s (ESA’s) Hera mission is set for a new record by becoming the first spacecraft to explore a binary asteroid — the Didymos pair.
The moon orbiting Didymos, called ‘Didymoon’ — almost the size of the Giza Pyramid in Egypt, measuring just 160 metres in diametre — will be the smallest asteroid ever explored.
Double Asteroid Redirection Test (DART):
On the sidelines, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) in USA will also launch the Double Asteroid Redirection Test (DART) between 2020 and 2021, which will target Didymoon as part of its planetary defence programme.
The programme, designed to protect Earth from dangerous comets and asteroids, aims to crash DART into Didymoon in 2022 to alter its orbit around Didymos.
DART will deliberately crash itself into the moonlet at a speed of approximately 6 km per second, using an onboard camera and autonomous navigation software.
The collision will change the speed of the moonlet in its orbit around the main body. Following the collision, Hera would explore the asteroid in 2026 and check the impact and deflection created by DART.
Didymoon was chosen because of its close proximity to Earth and its size. Didymoon is small and in a tight enough 12-hour orbit around its parent, that its orbital period can indeed be shifted in a measurable way.
Didymos is a binary asteroid; the primary body has a diameter of around 780 m and a rotation period of 2.26 hours, whereas the Didymoon secondary body has a diameter of around 160 m and rotates around the primary at a distance of around 1.2 km from the primary surface in around 12 hours.
Source: Down to Earth
The Election Commission recently informed the Madras High Court that it had made it clear way back in 2017 that there shall be 100% use of the Voter Verifiable Paper Audit Trail (VVPAT) system during the Lok Sabha election this year to gain voter confidence.
The Voter Verified Paper Audit Trail is a method that provides feedback to voters.
It is an independent verification printer machine and is attached to electronic voting machines.
It allows voters to verify if their vote has gone to the intended candidate.
How do VVPAT machines work?
When a voter presses a button in the EVM, a paper slip is printed through the VVPAT.
The slip contains the poll symbol and name of the candidate.
It allows the voter to verify his/her choice. After being visible to the voter from a glass case in the VVPAT for seven seconds, the ballot slip will be cut and dropped into the drop box in the VVPAT machine and a beep will be heard.
VVPAT machines can be accessed by polling officers only.
VVPAT is a machine which dispenses a slip with the symbol of the party for which a person has voted for. The slip dropped in a box but the voter cannot take it home.
Advantages in VVPATs:
Enables to verify vote: Instant feedback to voter that vote polled has been allocated to the intended candidate.
Enables authorities to count the votes manually if there is a dispute in the electronically polled votes.
Operates under a Direct Recording Election system (DRE) which detects fraud and existent malfunctions.
Will ensure greater transparency in voting process.
Gives both the voters and political parties an assurance.
Source: The Hindu
Andaman and Nicobar Islands Integrated Development Corporation Limited (ANIIDCL)
An expert committee of the Union Environment Ministry has “deferred” clearance to a ₹100 crore proposal by the Andaman and Nicobar Islands Integrated Development Corporation Limited (ANIIDCL) to develop an island resort, as well as put up “premium tents” and “tree houses”, on the grounds that it doesn’t account for the biodiversity of the islands’ coast.
Andaman and Nicobar Islands Integrated Development Corporation Limited (ANIIDCO) was incorporated on 28th June 1988 under the Companies Act 1956 for rapid economic growth of the Islands.
The main objective of the Corporation is to develop and commercially exploit the natural resources for the balanced and environment friendly development of the territory.
The Chief Secretary, A&N Administration is the chairman of the Corporation.
Trading of iron and steel, petroleum products, liquor and milk.
Megapode Resort, Megapode Camping Resort, and air-ticketing agency
Financial assistance to industrial concerns.
Infrastructure Development: Tourism and fisheries.
India’s first “career portal”
India’s first “career portal” has been launched in Rajasthan.
It is aimed at addressing the needs of secondary and higher secondary students for information on scholarships and career choices.
It was launched with the support of United Nations Children’s Fund.
The portal is expected to help the students take “informed decisions” about their academic and professional pursuits.
Parmanu Tech 2019
The ‘Parmanu Tech 2019’ conference was recently organised by the Ministry of External Affairs and Department of Atomic Energy (DAE). The conference discussed issues related to Nuclear Energy and Radiation Technologies.
‘Freedom of the City of London’
The State Bank of India’s UK head Sanjiv Chadha has been honoured with the ‘Freedom of the City of London’ award in recognition of his contribution to promoting the bilateral relations.
Freedom of the City:
Freedom of the City is an honour bestowed by a City of London Corporation upon a valued member of the community, or upon a visiting celebrity or dignitary.
The genesis of the ‘Freedom of the City of London’ is traced to the medieval time of around 1237. The honour enabled recipients to carry out their trade. The previous Indian recipient of the honour is Jawaharlal Nehru, the first Prime Minister of India.