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August 9, 2019
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August 12, 2019
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10 August Current Affairs

Buyers can start bankruptcy cases against builders

In News:

The Supreme Court upheld a central law which empowered harassed home buyers to initiate bankruptcy proceedings against errant real estate builders.

Details:

The judgment gains significance as many real estate builders have been under fire for incomplete projects leaving home buyers in dire straits.

A three-judge Bench led by Justice Rohinton Nariman confirmed the constitutional validity of the Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code (Second Amendment) Act of August 2018, which gave home buyers the status of “financial creditors” with power to vote in the Committee of Creditors.

Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code (Second Amendment) Act of August 2018:

The Bill recognises home buyers as financial creditors in the real estate project and giving them due representation in the Committee of Creditors (CoC), thus providing significant relief to home buyers. It will allow home buyers to invoke Section 7 of IBC, 2016 against errant developers.

This will allow financial creditors to file application seeking insolvency resolution process. As financial creditors, home buyers will be able to participate in decision-making process when developers are declared bankrupt under IBC, 2016. The bill also proposes to reduce minimum voting threshold for Committee of Creditors (CoC) to 66%, from 75% for key decisions.

Besides, the Bill also benefits Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSME) sector from IBC. It allows promoter of MSME to bid for their own enterprise undergoing the insolvency resolution process as long as they are not wilful defaulters.

Release of Krishna water to T.N.

In News:

Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister gave orders to immediately release Krishna water to Tamil Nadu to meet the drinking water shortage in Chennai.

Details:

Tamil Nadu delegation had requested Mr. Reddy that floodwater be diverted to the Somasila reservoir, from where Krishna water could be discharged to the Kandaleru reservoir. From here, water could be released to Chennai through the Kandaleru-Poondi canal.

It was suggested that a portion of water released to the Nagarjuna Sagar reservoir from the Srisailam reservoir could be diverted to Chennai by building storage in the Somasila and Kandaleru reservoirs. Both the waterbodies have low storage levels now.

Krishna Water Disputes Tribunal (KWDT):

Krishna Water Disputes Tribunal (KWDT) was set up under Inter-State River Water Disputes Act, 1956 to adjudicate upon the water dispute regarding the Inter-State river Krishna and the river valley thereof.

The tribunal gave its award in 1973. While the Tribunal had in its earlier report detailed two schemes, Scheme A and Scheme B, the final award only included Scheme A and Scheme B was left out. Scheme A pertained to the division of the available waters based on 75% dependability, while Scheme B recommended ways to share the surplus waters.

The KWDT in its award outlined the exact share of each state. The award contended based on 75% dependability that the total quantum of water available for distribution was 2060TMC. This was divided between the three states in the following manner.

  • Maharashtra 560 TMC.
  • Karnataka 700 TMC.
  • Andhra Pradesh 800 TMC.

Every child to get Rotavirus vaccine

In News:

The Health Ministry has drawn an ambitious plan under the 100 days agenda of the newly elected government, wherein it has been decided to provide Rotavirus vaccine to every child across all States and Union Territories by September, 2019.

Details:

Diarrhoea was one of the biggest killers in children and Rotavirus was one of the most common causes of severe diarrhoea in children less than 2 years of age.

In India, every year, 37 out of every 1,000 children born are unable to celebrate their 5th birthday, and one of the major reasons for this is diarrhoeal deaths. Out of all the causes of diarrhoea, Rotavirus is a leading cause of diarrhoea in children less than 5 years of age.

Solutions:

Rotavirus vaccine along with proper sanitation, hand washing practices, ORS and zinc supplementation will go a long way in reducing the mortality and morbidity due to diarrhoea in children.

The government was also committed to increasing the full immunisation coverage and ensuring that the benefit of the life-saving vaccines was provided to every child.

Background:

Rotavirus vaccine was introduced in 2016 in a phased manner, beginning with 4 States initially and later expanded to 7 more States.

The vaccine is now available in 28 States/Union Territories.

Key facts:

The vaccine has been developed indigenously under a public-private partnership by the ministries of science and technology and health and family welfare.

The vaccine will be initially introduced in four states – Andhra Pradesh, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh and Odisha. Its coverage will be expanded to the entire country in a phased manner.

An estimated 8.53 lakh children under the age of one will be administered the vaccine annually at 6, 10 and 14 weeks.

Significance of this vaccine:

Adding this life-saving vaccine to Universal immunisation programme will not only improve the health of children but also reduce hospitalisation and other conditions associated with diarrhoea due to rotavirus such as malnutrition and delayed physical and mental development among children. Besides, reduced hospitalisation eases the economic burden on the family and the health cost burden on the country.

While the vaccine was already available in open market, the local manufacturing and free distribution under the centrally-sponsored immunisation programme is expected to further bring down prices.

The Rotavac is in addition to three new vaccines that have been introduced in India’s Universal Immunisation Programme (UIP) including Inactivated Polio Vaccine (IPV), Measles, Rubella (MR) vaccine, and Adult Japanese Encephalitis (JE) vaccine. With these new vaccines, India’s UIP will provide free vaccines against 12 life threatening diseases, to 27 million children annually, the largest birth cohort in the world.

About Rotavirus:

Rotavirus is a leading cause of severe diarrhoea and death among children less than five years of age. It is responsible for around 10% of total child mortality every year. In 2014, nearly 80,000 children died due to to rotavirus, whereas about 9 lakh were hospitalised due to episodes of severe diarrhoea.

Rotavirus-Signs and Symptoms:

Kids with a rotavirus infection have fever, nausea, and vomiting, often followed by abdominal cramps and frequent, watery diarrhea.

Kids may also have a cough and runny nose.

Sometimes the diarrhea that accompanies a rotavirus infection is so severe that it can quickly lead to dehydration.

As with all viruses, though, some rotavirus infections cause few or no symptoms, especially in adults.

Transmission:

Rotavirus is transmitted by the faecal-oral route, via contact with contaminated hands, surfaces and objects, and possibly by the respiratory route. Viral diarrhea is highly contagious.

President gives assent to UAPA Bill

In News:

President Ram Nath Kovind has given assent to legislation under which individuals can be declared terrorists and their properties seized.

Details:

The Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Amendment Act, 2019 also provides for putting a travel ban on such individuals once they are declared terrorists.

The Bill amends the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, 1967.  The Act provides special procedures to deal with terrorist activities, among other things.

Who may commit terrorism: Under the Act, the central government may designate an organisation as a terrorist organisation if it: (i) commits or participates in acts of terrorism, (ii) prepares for terrorism, (iii) promotes terrorism, or (iv) is otherwise involved in terrorism.  The Bill additionally empowers the government to designate individuals as terrorists on the same grounds.

Approval for seizure of property by NIA: Under the Act, an investigating officer is required to obtain the prior approval of the Director General of Police to seize properties that may be connected with terrorism.  The Bill adds that if the investigation is conducted by an officer of the National Investigation Agency (NIA), the approval of the Director General of NIA would be required for seizure of such property.

Investigation by NIA: Under the Act, investigation of cases may be conducted by officers of the rank of Deputy Superintendent or Assistant Commissioner of Police or above.  The Bill additionally empowers the officers of the NIA, of the rank of Inspector or above, to investigate cases.

Insertion to schedule of treaties: The Act defines terrorist acts to include acts committed within the scope of any of the treaties listed in a schedule to the Act.  The Schedule lists nine treaties, including the Convention for the Suppression of Terrorist Bombings (1997), and the Convention against Taking of Hostages (1979).  The Bill adds another treaty to the list.  This is the International Convention for Suppression of Acts of Nuclear Terrorism (2005).

Farmer pension scheme open for registrations

In News:

The Centre has opened registrations for its new pension scheme aimed at small and marginal farmers owning less than two hectares of land.

Details:

Agriculture Minister Narendra Singh Tomar announced the launching of Pradhan Mantri Kisan Maan Dhan Yojana – a pension scheme for small and marginal farmers – in which the farmers would get a monthly pension of ₹ 3,000 once he or she would attain the age of 60.

The farmers, whose cultivable land is 2 hectares or less, can enroll for the scheme at the Common Service Centres (CSCs) in their neighbourhood. The government is also planning to engage PM-Kisan state nodal offices in enrolling for the pension scheme at a later date.

The scheme is voluntary and contributory and would be available to farmers who are in the age group of 18 to 40 years. The farmers may need to make a monthly contribution of between ₹ 55 and ₹ 200 and the government would pay a matching amount. The pension fund would be managed by LIC.

In case of death of the farmer before the retirement date, the spouse may contribute the scheme paying the remaining contributions till the remaining age of the deceased farmer. If the spouse does not want to contribute, the total contribution made by the farmer along with the interest will be paid to the spouse or to the nominee if there is no spouse. If the farmer dies after the retirement date, the spouse will receive ₹ 1,500, or 50 per cent of the pension, as a family pension. After the death of both the farmer and the spouse, the accumulated corpus will be credited back to the pension fund.

There is an option for beneficiaries to opt-out of the scheme after a minimum period of five years and LIC will return the entire contribution with an interest equivalent to prevailing saving bank rates.

The farmers who are the beneficiary of the PM-Kisan scheme have the option of getting their pension contribution debited directly from the scheme. Even though CSCs would charge ₹ 30 per each enrollment, the fee would be paid by the government and would be free for the farmer.

PM-Kisan scheme:

About PM-Kisan scheme, the Minister said 5.89 crore farmers have been given the first installment of ₹ 2,000 while 3.41 crore farmers got the second installment. He hoped that the government would able to give benefits of PM-Kisan scheme to around 10 crore farmers.

Pilot project for ration card portability launched

In News:

Migrants between Telangana and Andhra Pradesh, as well as between Maharashtra and Gujarat, will be the first to get access to portable ration cards, which can be used at ration shops in their destination States and not just their home States.

Details:

Families who have food security cards can buy subsidized rice and wheat from any ration shop in these states but their ration cards should be linked with Aadhar Number to avail this service.

Implementation in Telangana & Andhra Pradesh: White Ration Card holders in Telangana have been getting portability facility which enables them to buy their subsidized rice and other food grains from any Fair Price Shop in state. Now under One Nation One Ration Card scheme which has come into force in Telangana and Andhra Pradesh same facility can be utilized anywhere in two states now through Point of State (PoS) machines.

Way Ahead: More than 56 lakh beneficiaries covered under National Food Security Act (NFSA) in Telangana will be benefited from facility. Same will be case with consumers in Andhra Pradesh, Maharashtra and Gujarat which are identified for implementation of pilot project.

Centre is intended to extend programme to all states by August 2020 so that portability of food security card implemented.

Brexit turmoil drives Britain towards recession

In News:

Britain’s economy unexpectedly shrank in the second quarter of the year on Brexit turmoil, official data showed on Friday, placing the country on the verge of recession.

Details:

Gross domestic product fell 0.2% in the April-June period, the first time the economy has contracted in almost seven years.

About Brexit:

Constitutional Provision of Brexit:

Lisbon Treaty (Article 50) provides for exit of member countries from European Union. For any country to come out of European Union, it has to negotiate a deal with EU. The deal will provide for a settlement between EU and UK

Opinion of Political Groups

UK Independence Party, under the leadership of Nigel Farrage led the “Leave” campaign of UK

Labour Party, under the leadership of Jeremy Corbyn led the “Stay”’ campaign of UK

David Cameron, ex PM of UK agreed to hold a referendum on Unikted Kingdom’s future in EU. Conservatives were in favour of staying in EU.

Why the clamour for Brexit

Economic reasons – The primary contention was that economically, Britain loses more than what it gains.

The first issue being that of membership fees paid – about 340 pounds per year per household

Secondly, it was said that EU’s policies were too protectionist and did not favour competitiveness to the extent that would be beneficial for the British economy

Post the Sovereign Debt Crisis, EU introduced Fiscal Compact and tighter control on national budgets. Britain was not comfortable with these ideas

Germany’s proposal to impose taxes on financial transactions (Tobin Tax) also did not find favour with London, which is an important financial hub

Immigration issues

Half of British legal migrants come from EU. There is this feeling that they have a negative impact on UK born workers. Adding credence to local fears was the fact that since 1997, 3/4th of jobs created are taken up by EU immigrants

EU’s obligation on its members to accommodate more refugees also did not find favour with UK. Especially at a time when the refugee influx in Europe is at an all time high in light of multiple crisis in Middle East and Africa

There is also this perception that immigrants pose a threat to national security

Sovereignty Issue

EU is a transformative idea in many senses. One of the things that it leads to is the weakening of national sovereignty. EU has been pushing for creation of an Ever Closer Union which would accord greater decision making powers to European Parliament, while, limiting the authority of British Parliament.