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12th January Current Affairs

MP anti-conversion Bill

In News:

The proposed law is called the Madhya Pradesh Dharmik Swatantrata (Freedom of Religion) Bill 2020.

Madhya Pradesh Cabinet has given its nod to an ordinance on the Bill.

Key Provisions:

Seeks to regulate inter-faith marriages in the state.

Exempts reconversion to parental religion from its purview.

Jail term of up to 10 years and a fine of ₹1 lakh for “conversion through marriage or other forcible means”.

The bill seeks to prohibit religious conversions or an attempt of conversion by means of misrepresentation, allurement, threat, undue influence, coercion, marriage, and any other fraudulent means.

The conspiracy and (the act of) abetting a person for conversion has also been prohibited.

Forceful conversions and marriages will be a cognizable offence and be non-bailable.

Issues and concerns:

States are opting for laws on freedom of religion for marriage (‘love jihad’).

The Prohibition of Unlawful Conversion of Religion Ordinance, 2020, was notified by Uttar Pradesh last month.

Haryana and Karnataka announced intentions to enact such laws.

What critics say?

The law has come under sharp criticism from several legal scholars who had contended that the concept of ‘love jihad’ did not have any constitutional or legal basis.

They have pointed to Article 21 of the constitution which guarantees individuals the right to marry a person of one’s choice.

Also, under Article 25, freedom of conscience, the practice and conversion of religion of one’s choice including not following any religion, are also guaranteed.

Supreme Court on Marriage and Conversion:

The Apex Court of India in its several judgements has held that the state and the courts have no jurisdiction over an adult’s absolute right to choose a life partner.

The Supreme Court of India, in both the Lily Thomas and Sarla Mudgal cases, has confirmed that religious conversions carried out without a bona fide belief and for the sole purpose of deriving some legal benefit do not hold water.

Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunisation (GAVI)

In News:

Union Health Minister Harsh Vardhan has been nominated by the Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunisation (GAVI) as a member on the GAVI Board.

Dr. Harsh Vardhan will be representing the South East Area Regional Office (SEARO)/ Western Pacific Regional Office (WPRO) constituency on the GAVI Board.

GAVI Board:

The GAVI Board is responsible for strategic direction and policymaking, oversees the operations of the Vaccine Alliance and monitors programme implementation.

With membership drawn from a range of partner organisations, as well as experts from the private sector, the Board provides a forum for balanced strategic decision making, innovation and partner collaboration.

What is GAVI?

Created in 2000, Gavi is an international organisation – a global Vaccine Alliance, bringing together public and private sectors with the shared goal of creating equal access to new and underused vaccines for children living in the world’s poorest countries.

Members:

Gavi brings together developing country and donor governments, the World Health Organization, UNICEF, the World Bank, the vaccine industry in both industrialised and developing countries, research and technical agencies, civil society, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and other private philanthropists.

Main activities:

GAVI’s strategy supports its mission to save children’s lives and protect people’s health by increasing access to immunisation in poor countries.

It contributes to achieving the United Nations’ Millennium Development Goals by focusing on performance, outcomes and results.

Its partners provide funding for vaccines and intellectual resources for care advancement.

They contribute, also, to strengthening the capacity of the health system to deliver immunisation and other health services in a sustainable manner.

States borrow 43% more, get deeper in debt

In News:

Borrowing 43% more in first 9 months, states fall deeper into debt trap.

According to an analysis by rating agency ICRA, States had borrowed ₹3,87,400 crore in the first nine months of FY20.

Borrowing by States:

Borrowing by the Government of India and Borrowing by States are defined under Article 292 and 293 of Constitution of India respectively.

Article 293 of Constitution of India “Borrowing by States”:

Subject to the provisions of this article, the executive power of a State extends to borrowing within the territory of India upon the security of the Consolidated Fund of the State within such limits, if any, as may from time to time be fixed by the Legislature of such State by law and to the giving of guarantees within such limits, if any, as may be so fixed.

The Government of India may, subject to such conditions as may be laid down by or under any law made by Parliament, make loans to any State or, so long as any limits fixed under Article292 are not exceeded, give guarantees in respect of loans raised by any State, and any sums required for the purpose of making such loans shall be charged on the Consolidated Fund of India.

A State may not without the consent of the Government of India raise any loan if there is still outstanding any part of a loan which has been made to the State by the Government of India or by its predecessor Government, or in respect of which a guarantee has been given by the Government of India or by its predecessor Government.

What are Zero coupon bonds?

In News:

The government has used financial innovation to recapitalise Punjab & Sind Bank by issuing the lender Rs 5,500-crore worth of non-interest bearing bonds valued at par.

Details:

These are special types of zero coupon bonds issued by the government after proper due diligence and these are issued at par.

What are these special type of zero coupon bonds?

These are “non-interest bearing, non-transferable special GOI securities”.

They have a maturity of 10-15 years and issued specifically to Punjab & Sind Bank.

These recapitalisation bonds are special types of bonds issued by the Central government specifically to a particular institution.

It is not tradable, it is not transferable.

It is held at the held-to-maturity (HTM) category of the bank as per the RBI guidelines. Since it is held to maturity, it is accounted at the face value (and) no mark-to-market will be there.

How do they differ from traditional bonds?

Though zero coupon, these bonds are different from traditional zero coupon bonds on one account — as they are being issued at par, there is no interest; in previous cases, since they were issued at discount, they technically were interest bearing.