RBI grade b study material

Arth Vol 31 (11-20 November)

Central Government to provide 50% subsidy for air transportation of fruits, vegetables from NE and Himalayan states –

  • The Centre announced a scheme under which 50 per cent subsidy will be provided for air transportation of 41 notified fruits and vegetables from North East and Himalayan states to any place in the country.
  • The subsidy will be provided as part of the ‘Operation Green Scheme TOP to TOTAL’.
  • Airlines will provide the transport subsidy directly to the supplier/ consignor/ consignee/ agent by way of charging only 50 per cent of the actual contracted freight charges and will claim the balance 50 per cent from the Ministry of Food Processing Industries as subsidy.
  • Earlier, the transportation subsidy was extended under Operation Greens Scheme for Kisan Rail Scheme with effect from October 12. Railways charge only 50 per cent of freight charges on the notified fruits and vegetables.

Government forms inter-ministerial panel to boost country’s capital goods sector –

  • The government has set up a 22-member inter-ministerial committee for strengthening India’s capital goods sector aimed at achieving the target of a USD 5 trillion economy and a USD 1 trillion manufacturing sector.
  • The committee will look into issues pertaining to the capital goods (CG) sector, including technology development, mother technology development, global value chains, testing, skill training, global standards, reciprocity issues and custom duties.
  • The committee will be headed by Arun Goel, Secretary, Department of Heavy industries as the chairman.

GDP to contract 8.6% in Q2; India has entered recession for first time: RBI report –

  • The GDP is likely to contract by 8.6 per cent for the July-September period, which means India will enter into a recession for the first time in history in the first half of this fiscal with two successive quarters of negative growth due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • Researchers have used the ‘nowcasting’ method to arrive at the estimates ahead of the official release of data and their views in an article in RBI’s monthly bulletin.
  • The pandemic-induced lockdowns had led to a steep contraction of 23.9 per cent in the GDP for the April-June quarter.
  • The RBI has estimated that the economy will contract by 9.5 per cent for the full fiscal year.
  • “India has entered a technical recession in the first half of 2020-21 for the first time in its history with Q2 2020-21 likely to record the second successive quarter of GDP contraction,” as per the article titled ‘Economic Activity Index’.
  • However, it also added that contraction is ebbing with gradual normalisation in activities and expected to be short-lived.
  • The index is constructed from 27 monthly indicators using a dynamic factor model and suggests that the economy rebounded sharply from May/June 2020 with the reopening of the economy, with industry normalising faster than contact-intensive service sectors.
  • The report estimates a jump in household financial savings to 21.4 per cent of GDP for the June quarter, as against 7.9 per cent in the June 2019 quarter and 10 per cent in the immediately preceding March 2020 quarter.
  • The “yawning gap” between credit extended and deposits mobilised during the April-June period contributed to the spike in household financial savings as the financial instruments relating to banks continue to dominate the household financial assets and liabilities.

NITI Aayog floats draft bid papers for setting up ACC units –

  • The Niti Aayog has floated draft model bid documents for setting up ACC units for which the government will offer a subsidy of maximum 20% of the sale price of the ACC or cumulative subsidy not exceeding Rs 1,420 crore per GWh (giga watt hours) to the beneficiary firm during the term of the agreement.
  • While the subsidy will be 100% in the first year, the government will discount the subsidy by way of a year-on-year reduction for the term of the project in a way that it will come down to 12% in the 10th year.
  • The subsidy support will be limited to a cumulative 50 GWh of ACC manufacturing capacity in India, with a single beneficiary not allowed more than 20 GWh cell manufacturing facility.
  • To encourage economies of scale, minimum bid may be restricted to 5 GWh capacity, which may be developed in phases over a five-year window.
  • The beneficiary firm will have to establish a project to manufacture ACC battery as quoted by the selected bidder in its technical bid and make an investment of minimum `225 crore per GWh (excluding the cost of land) within two years from the appointed date.
    • It has also to ensure value addition to be at least 25% at the mother unit level and minimum 60% of the overall domestic value addition.
  • State governments shall also extend support and provide additional incentives for implementation of the project, through the execution of a tripartite agreement between the SPV, state government and the central government.

Union Cabinet approves Product Linked Incentive scheme (PLI) worth 1.46 lakh crore for enhancing 10 key sectors –

  • The Union cabinet approved PLI scheme worth 1.46 lakh crore for 10 sectors to attract investment, boost manufacturing and enhance exports in line with Atmanirbhar Bharat.
  • The PLI will be implemented by the concerned ministries and final proposal will be apprised by Expenditure Finance Committee and later by the Cabinet.
  • The 10 key sectors are – Advanced Chemistry Cell (ACC) Battery; Electronic/Technology Products; Automobiles and Auto components; Pharmaceutical drugs; Telecom and Network Products; Textile products (Man Made Fibre); Food Products; High efficiency solar PV Modules; White goods (AC’s and LED); Speciality steel.
  • PLI scheme is an output-oriented scheme wherein the incentive will be paid only if the manufacturer produces the goods.

Moody’s scales down 2020 contraction forecast for India –

  • Moody’s scales down 2020 GDP contraction from 9.6% to 8.9%.
  • In 2021 it expects India’s GDP to grow at 8.6% against 8.1%.
  • The forecast has been revised by keeping in mind the latest stimulus that prioritises manufacturing and job creation, and focuses on longer-term growth.
  • According to Moody’s the economic recovery over the coming year will be highly dependent on three factors; the development and distribution of a coronavirus vaccine, effective pandemic management, and government policy support.

Commerce Ministry seeks stakeholder suggestions for next foreign trade policy –

  • The Commerce Ministry on Thursday sought suggestions from stakeholders, including industry and trade associations, for the formulation of next foreign trade policy (FTP).
  • The FTP provides guidelines for enhancing exports to push economic growth and create jobs.
  • The foreign trade policy (2015-20) was extended for a year till March 31, 2021.
  • The government announces steps to promote goods and services exports under FTP. At present, various benefits are provided under different schemes such as merchandise export from India scheme (MEIS), services export from India scheme (SEIS), advance authorisation and export promotion capital goods.

Industrial production grows 0.2% in September; enters positive territory after 6 months –

  •  The industrial output grew by 0.2 per cent in September, according to the Index of Industrial Production (IIP) data.
  • Industrial production entered positive territory after a gap of six months, mainly due to higher output in mining and power sectors.
  • The manufacturing sector – which constitutes 77.63 per cent of the index – recorded a marginal contraction of 0.6 per cent in September.
  • The contraction in IIP for August has been revised to (-) 7.4 per cent from the (-) 8 per cent provisional data released last month.

Finance Ministry allocates Rs 39,097 crore for MEIS benefits for 2019-20 –

  • The finance ministry has approved allocation of Rs 39,097 crore under the incentive scheme MEIS for exports during 2019-20, providing relief to exporters
  • A total of Rs 15,555 crore was also allocated for MEIS (Merchandise Exports from India Scheme) benefits for exports made during the period April 1, 2020 to December 31, 2020.
  • Under MEIS, the government provides duty benefits depending on product and country.
    • Rewards under the scheme are payable as a percentage of realised free-on-board value and MEIS duty credit scrip can be transferred or used for payment of a number of duties, including the basic customs duty.
    • The MEIS, introduced in April 2015, will be wound up by December 31, 2020.
  • The government has already announced the Remission of Duty or Taxes on Export Products (RoDTEP) scheme to replace MEIS. 
    • Under RoDTEP, the remission of embedded taxes and other levies on exports shall be allowed.

DIPAM signs pact with World Bank for advising on CPSE asset monetization –

  • The Department of Investment and Public Asset Management (DIPAM), which mainly handles government’s disinvestment programme, signed an agreement with the World Bank for providing advisory services for asset monetization.
  • DIPAM is mandated with facilitating monetization of non-core assets of government CPSEs (central public sector enterprises) under strategic disinvestment.
  • The agreement would facilitate and accelerate the non-core asset monetization process and help unlock the value of these unused/marginally used assets which have the potential to substantially augment financial resources for further investments and growth.
  • The amount raised through the sale of non-core assets would form part of the disinvestment proceeds.
  • The government has set a target of raising Rs 2.10 lakh crore from disinvestment in the current financial year. Of this, Rs 1.20 lakh crore is to be raised through CPSE disinvestment.

Wholesale prices rise for third month in a row in October; WPI hits highest level since March 2020 –

  • Wholesale prices in India rose 1.48 per cent in October, after rising 1.32 per cent in the previous month.
  • Meanwhile, the annual retail inflation in India rose to 7.61 per cent in October 2020 from 7.34 per cent in the previous month.
    • CPI rose at the highest rate since May 2014, and remained above the RBI’s comfort range of 2-4 per cent for the seventh straight month.
  • Food inflation surged to 11.07 per cent, which is the highest since January.

Niti Aayog proposes setting up oversight body for AI –

  • Government think-tank Niti Aayog has proposed setting up an oversight body which will play an enabling role regarding technical, legal, policy and societal aspects of artificial intelligence (AI).
  • Draft document titled “Working Document: Enforcement Mechanisms for Responsible #AIforAll” was released by NITI Aayog.
  • The draft document also noted that the government may support research on the impact of AI in the Indian context and fundamental research to advance ‘Responsible AI’ by prioritising funding opportunities and fellowship programs.
    • International alliances may be leveraged to facilitate exchange of multi-disciplinary talent, data, and consolidation of research efforts, especially in areas of social good.
  • An ethics committee may be constituted for the procurement, development, operations phase of AI systems and be made accountable for adherence to the Responsible AI principles. 
  • The Aayog has invited comments on the draft document by stakeholders by December 15.

Vivad Se Vishwas scheme garners Rs 72,480 cr tax to govt so far –

  • The government has garnered Rs 72,480 crore so far through the direct tax dispute resolution scheme Vivad Se Vishwas.
  • The Direct Tax Vivad se Vishwas Act, 2020 was enacted on March 17, 2020 to settle direct tax disputes locked up in various appellate forums.
  • The scheme was launched to liquidate nearly 9.5 lakh crore revenue stuck in direct tax disputes at different forums in nearly 5 lakh cases.
  • Central public sector companies are also settling their disputes totalling Rs 1 lakh crore under the scheme.
  • Vivad se Vishwas Scheme – The Bill provides a mechanism for resolution of pending tax disputes related to direct taxes (Income Tax and Corporate Tax) in simple and speedy manner.
    • According to the Finance Ministry, at present there are 4.83 lakh pending direct tax cases worth Rs.9 lakh crore in the courts. Through this scheme, the government wants to recover this money in a swift and simple way.
    • n case of payment of tax, a taxpayer would be required to pay only the amount of the disputed taxes and will get complete waiver of interest, penalty and prosecution provided he/she pays by March 31, 2020.
    • But, if the tax arrears relate to disputed interest or penalty only, then 25% of disputed penalty or interest will have to be paid.
    • The scheme has been extended thrice since inception and currently it remains open till March 2021.

Abu Dhabi sovereign fund first to get 100% tax exemption in infra –

  • The government has allowed income-tax exemption to Abu Dhabi’s sovereign wealth fund (SWF), MIC Redwood 1 RSC, for making long-term investments in India in specified priority sectors of infrastructure.
  • It is the first foreign SWF to get 100 per cent tax exemption in the case of income from interest, dividend, and long-term capital gains for its investment in infrastructure.
  • The government, under the Finance Act, 2020, had allowed tax exemption for SWFs and pension funds in the case of incomes from investment in 34 key infrastructure sectors.
    • Under the scheme, investment has to be made before March 31, 2024 and with a minimum lock-in period of three years.
    • Under the scheme, the government will incentivise investors to invest directly or through vehicles such as alternative investment funds or infrastructure investment trusts.
  • The taskforce on the National Infrastructure Pipeline (NIP) for 2019-25 has estimated investment requirements at Rs 111 trillion in infra projects to achieve the target of becoming a $5 trillion economy by FY25.

SEBI forms expert group to review norms related to share-based staff benefit –

  • SEBI has set up an expert group to review the framework of share-based employee benefit and issue of sweat equity.
  • The seven-member expert group would be chaired by Sandip Bhagat.
  • Further, the panel has been mandated to revisit the framework of sweat equity regulations vis-a-vis the Companies Act, and recommend any policy changes.
    • Sweat equity is shares issued by a company to its employees at a discount or for consideration other than cash.

Telangana government launches mobile apps to monitor and improve Palle Pragati works –

  • The State government has launched two mobile applications for effectively monitoring the works undertaken by the gram panchayats and improving their efficiency.
  • The two apps launched are –
    • Palle Pragati PS App (panchayat secretary app)
    • Palle Pragati Monitoring App
  • The apps are aimed at enhancing the performance of the officials at the grass root level and enable supervision of the works taken up by the inspection officers concerned on a daily basis. 
  •  The app for panchayat secretaries is aimed at taking up cleanliness programmes including cleaning of roads, drains, government offices premises, collection of solid and liquid wastes, maintenance of street-lighting and other works on a daily basis.
    • The app would also maintain a record on a monthly basis.
    •  The reports generated on these aspects would be forwarded to the inspection app wherein the officials entrusted with inspecting the works would certify them.

Odisha government adds fish nutrition to anganwadi diet chart –

  • Odisha government introduced fish and fish-based products in Supplementary Nutrition Programme (SNP) on a pilot basis in order to reduce malnutrition among the vulnerable people in the hard to reach areas of the State.
  • Initially, the fish-based products will be added in the SNP diet chart for children, aged between three and six years, pregnant and nursing women and adolescent girls in 50 Anganwadi Centres (AWCs) of Mayurbhanj district.
  • The Department of Women and Child Development and Mission Shakti (WCD&MS) inked a pact with WorldFish for a five-year technical collaboration to pilot and scale it up as part of the SNP.
    • The US Agency for International Development (USAID) is supporting the pilot project.
  • Anganwadi – It is centrally sponsored scheme implemented by states and UT’s which serve as a care centre for rural child and maternal care.
    • It was launched in 1975 as part of the Integrated Child Development Services program to combat child hunger and malnutrition.
    • Anganwadi centres provide six services: supplementary nutrition, pre-school non-formal education, immunisation, health check-up, nutrition and health education, and referral services.

Australia-India Water Centre inaugurated virtually –

  • Union Minister for Jal Shakti, Gajender Singh Shikhawat virtually inaugurated Australia-India water centre from Guwahati.
  • The Water Centre is led by University of Western Sydney from Australia and IIT Guwahati from India along with 21 other partners from India and Australia.
  • The water issues and challenges of India and Australia share many common elements, including natural extremes of floods and droughts, increasing competition for water between urban, peri-urban and rural sectors
  • The Australia India Water Centre will enable Australian and Indian partners to explore opportunities and create synergy for a longer-term collaboration in research and education between the two countries.

Gift City: IFSCA approves draft Banking Regulations –

  • The International Financial Services Centres Authority (IFSCA) —regulator of IFSCs including Gift City approved draft Banking regulations that will be applicable in international financial services centres (IFSCs) such as Gujarat’s Gift City.
  • The formulation of draft regulation paves the way for putting in place the rules for the various aspects of banking operations that would be permissible at the IFSC.
  • The draft regulations include –
    • Requirements for setting up IFSC Banking Units (IBUs)
    • Permitting persons resident outside India (having net worth not less than $1 million) to open foreign currency accounts in any freely convertible currency at IBUs.
    • Permitting persons resident in India (having net worth not less than $1 million) to open foreign currency accounts in any freely convertible currency at IBUs.
    • Permissible activities of IBUs including credit enhancement, credit insurance, and sale, purchase of portfolios, engage in factoring and forfeiting of export receivables and undertake equipment leasing, including aircraft leasing.
    • Permitting the Authority to determine business that a Banking Unit may be permitted to conduct in INR with persons resident in India and persons resident outside India, subject to settlement of the financial transaction in relation to such business in freely convertible foreign currency.
  • Freely Convertible currency is the currency that is not regulated by any government restrictions on currency exchange. It is also called fully convertible currency.

AGS Transact, Utimaco partner to provide cyber-defence technology for digital payments –

  • Global IT security solutions provider Utimaco and AGS Transact Technologies, an end-to-end cash and digital payment solutions provider, have entered into a partnership to provide security solutions for payment and automation solutions.
  • The two companies will combine their expertise to help companies across sectors including banking, petroleum, retail etc. to avail agile solutions without compromising on security.
  • Aim of the partnership is to provide Cyber-Defence Technology to organizations across sectors.

Home Ministry amends FCRA rules –

  • The Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) has relaxed norms for farmer, student, religious and other groups who are not directly aligned to any political party to receive foreign funds if the groups are not involved in “active politics”.
  • The Ministry notified new rules under the Foreign Contribution Regulation Act (FCRA), 2010 amending the FCRA Rules, 2011.
  • As per the FCRA, members of legislatures, political parties, government officials, judges and media persons are prohibited from receiving any foreign contribution.
  • FCRA regulates foreign donations and ensures that such contributions do not adversely affect the internal security of the country. The Act, first enacted in 1976, was amended in the year 2010, when a slew of new measures were taken by the Union Home Ministry to regulate foreign donations. It was again amended in September this year.
  • The Act is applicable to all associations, groups and non-governmental organisations (NGOs) who intend to receive foreign donations.
  • For any organization to receive foreign funds should register itself under FCRA and should meet the following criteria –
    • Should be in existence for 3 years
    • Should spend Rs 15 lakh on its core activities during the last 3 financial years.

Finance Ministry moves to set up database of migrant workers –

  • The Finance Ministry approved the creation of the first ever national database of migrant labour to provide a platform for workers and employers, and for the government to implement specific programmes for such labourers.
  • The Ministry of Labour & Employment has envisaged development of a ‘National Database of Unorganised Workers’ (NDUW) seeded with Aadhaar.
  • The project will enrol all unorganised workers, including migrant workers.
  • Total cost is expected around ₹650 crore.
  • The database will help workers to share information about his/her skill which, in turn, will make it easy for employers to find suitable person.
  • Common service centres will be used for enrolment process and labours will be encouraged to get themselves enrolled in the database.
  • The movement of labour can be tracked in a situation like a Covid-induced lockdown so they can be assisted when in desperation.

Irdai gives final nod for merger of HDFC ERGO Health with HDFC ERGO General Insurance –

  • Irdai has given the final nod for merger of HDFC ERGO Health Insurance with HDFC ERGO General Insurance.
  • In late September, the National Company Law Tribunal, Mumbai had okayed the scheme of amalgamation between HDFC ERGO Health Insurance (formerly Apollo Munich Health Insurance Co Ltd) and HDFC ERGO General Insurance Co Ltd (HDFC ERGO).
  • As per the scheme of amalgamation through a share swap deal, there will be dissolution of HDFC ERGO Health without winding up.
  • Under this, share exchange ratio of 100:385 has been okayed by the board of the subsidiary companies which would mean allocation of 385 shares in HDFC ERGO Health for 100 shares in HDFC ERGO.
  • Post completion of the merger, HDFC will hold 50.58 per cent stake in HDFC ERGO.

Jharkhand Assembly passes resolution on Sarna Code –

  • The Jharkhand Assembly has unanimously passed a resolution seeking the inclusion of Sarna as a separate religion in Census, 2021.
  • Sarna followers are worshipers of nature and do not associate themselves to Hinduism.
  • They pray to trees and hills and believe in protecting the forest area.
  • The bill will be sent to the Central Government for approval.

Govt. expands scope of PM-KUSUM for harnessing solar energy by farmers –

  • The renewable energy Ministry has expanded the scope of PM-KUSUM scheme to enable greater solar energy generation in farm sector.
  • Some of the amendments are as follows –
    •  Besides barren, fallow and agricultural lands, solar power plants can also be installed on pasture land and marshy land of farmers.
    • To support small farmers, solar projects smaller than 500 kW may be allowed by states based on techno-commercial feasibility.
    • The selected renewable power generator (RPG) shall commission the solar power plant within twelve months from date of issuance of Letter of Award (LoA).
    • There shall be no penalty on RPG for shortfall in solar power generation from minimum prescribed Capacity Utilization Factor.
    • MNRE will retain 33% of eligible service charges for nationwide Information, Education and Communication (IEC) activities.
    • To allow joint venture of manufacturer of solar pump/solar panel/solar pump controller with integrators.
  • Kisan Urja Suraksha evam Utthaan Mahabhiyan (KUSUM) scheme was launched in August 2019 with main focus to harness solar energy
    • KUSUM scheme seeks to replace all diesel pump-sets with solar pumps and the excess power generated through solar panels will be purchased by state governments at a price that gives the farmer a good profit.
    • The scheme aims to add solar and other renewable capacity of 25,750 MW by 2022 with total central financial support of Rs. 34,422 Crore including service charges to the implementing agencies Scheme Component.
    • THE SCHEME CONSISTS OF THREE COMPONENTS:
      • Component A: 10,000 MW of Decentralized Ground Mounted Grid Connected Renewable Power Plants of individual plant size up to 2 MW.
      • Component B: Installation of 17.50 lakh standalone Solar Powered Agriculture Pumps of individual pump capacity up to 7.5 HP.
      • Component C: Solarisation of 10 Lakh Grid-connected Agriculture Pumps of individual pump capacity up to 7.5 HP.
    • The scheme will be implemented by State Nodal Agencies (SNAs) of MNRE will coordinate with States/UTs, Discoms and farmers for implementation of the scheme.
    • The main benefit of the scheme is it will open a stable and continuous source of income to the rural land owners for a period of 25 years by utilisation of their dry/uncultivable land.

SAANS campaign launched by MoHWF which aims to reduce child mortality –

  • Union Minister for Health and Family Welfare Harsh Vardhan launched SAANS, a campaign aimed at reducing child mortality due to pneumonia.
  • Pneumonia contributes to around 15% death annually in children below the age of 5.
  • SAANS, short for ‘Social Awareness and Action to Neutralise Pneumonia Successfully’ was launched to mobilise people to protect children from pneumonia, and train health personnel and other stakeholders to provide prioritised treatment to control the disease.
  • As per HMIS data, under-five mortality rate in the country is 37 per 1000 live births, of which 5.3 deaths are caused due to pneumonia.
  • The government aims to achieve a target of reducing pneumonia deaths among children to less than three per 1,000 live births by 2025.
  • The HMIS data for 2018-19 ranked Madhya Pradesh first in the number of child deaths due to pneumonia, followed by Gujrat.
  • Under the campaign, a child suffering from pneumonia can be treated with pre-referral dose of anti-biotic amoxicillin by ASHA workers, and health and wellness centres can use pulse oximeter (device to monitor oxygen saturation) to identify low oxygen levels in the blood of a child, and if required, treat the child by use of oxygen cylinders.
  • A mass awareness campaign will also be launched as part of SAANS programme about the effective solutions for pneumonia prevention like breast feeding, and age appropriate complementary feeding.

RCEP: Asia-Pacific countries form world’s largest trading bloc; India stays out –

  • The Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) was signed into existence by 15 countries led by China, Japan, South Korea, Australia, New Zealand and the 10-state ASEAN grouping, creating one of the world’s largest trading blocs.
  • India had been a part of negotiations for almost nine years till it pulled out in November 2019, stating that inadequate safeguards and lowering of customs duties will adversely impact its manufacturing, agriculture and dairy sectors.
    • By staying out, India has blocked itself from a trade bloc that represents 30% of the global economy and world population, touching over 2.2 billion people.
  • Reasons for India’s withdrawal –
    • Unfavourable balance of trade
    • Widening Trade Deficit
    • Base Year for Tariffs – Since the negotiations for RCEP were started in 2013, the pact has proposed base year for reducing tariffs will be 2013. However India wanted to change the base year to 2019 since India has raised customs duties on many products since 2014.
    • Non-acceptance of Auto trigger mechanism – Auto-trigger Mechanism would have allowed India to raise tariffs on products in instances where imports cross a certain threshold.
    • Protection of Domestic Industry
    • Lack of consensus on rule of Origin – Rules of origin are the criteria used to determine the national source of a product.
    • Rachet Obligations – India wants exemptions on ratchet obligations.
      • A ratchet mechanism means that if a country signs a trade agreement with another country and removes or reduces tariffs and quotas. It cannot go back on them and bring in more restrictive measures.
  • Reason for India to Review –
    • Global Economic Stagnation due to Covid-19 – RCEP presents a unique opportunity to support India’s economic recovery, inclusive development and job creation even as it helps strengthen regional supply chains.
    • Need for Economic Realism – India should deter seeing RCEP only from the Chinese perspective. India can draw inspiration from Japan & Australia, as they chose to bury their geopolitical differences with China to prioritise what they collectively see as a mutually beneficial trading compact.
    • Strategic Need – Staying out of RCEP may affect India’s Act East Policy.
  • The RCEP members have left the door open for India for inviting it to be an observer member and also waived a critical 18-month cooling period for interested applicants.

Kris Gopalakrishnan appointed first chairperson of Reserve Bank Innovation Hub –

  • The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) has appointed Senapathy (Kris) Gopalakrishnan, co-founder and former co-Chairman, Infosys, as the first Chairperson of the Reserve Bank Innovation Hub (RBIH).
  • The central bank, in its Statement on Developmental and Regulatory Policies issued on August 6, 2020, had announced that it would set up an Innovation Hub to promote innovation across the financial sector by leveraging on technology and creating an environment which would facilitate and foster innovation.
  • Besides Gopalakrishnan, RBIH’s Governing Council will have nine other members including a CEO (to be appointed).
  • The RBIH would create an eco-system that would focus on promoting access to financial services and products. This will also promote financial inclusion.
  • The Hub will collaborate with financial sector institutions, technology industry and academic institutions and coordinate efforts for exchange of ideas and development of prototypes related to financial innovations.
  • RBIH would develop internal infrastructure to promote fintech research and facilitate engagement with innovators and start-ups.

APSSDC signs MoUs with IBM India, three other firms –

  • The Andhra Pradesh State Skill Development Corporation (APSSDC) signed MoUs with the four industry/academic partners — IBM India, Singapore Polytechnic International (SPI), India Tourism Development Corporation (ITDC) and LV Prasad Film & TV Academy (LVPA).
  • IBM India partnered with the AP government to set up a Centre of Excellence (CoE) in IT.
  • Singapore Polytechnic International (SPI) partnered with the APSSDC for enabling industry-led courses in advanced manufacturing, food innovation and processing and entrepreneurship to be offered in skill colleges.
  • LVPA has partnered with APSSDC to set up and operate a centre of excellence in the media and entertainment sector in Visakhapatnam.
  • ITDC has partnered with the state government to set up and operate a centre of excellence in the hospitality sector.

Free Breakfast scheme in Puducherry government schools –

  • The scheme has been named as Dr Kalaignar Mu Karunanidhi Kaalai Sitrundi Thittam (Dr K M Karunanidhi Breakfast scheme) after former Tamil Nadu Chief Minister M. Karunanidhi.
  • Around 80,000 school children would benefit from this scheme.
  • The Puducherry govt has set aside 6 crore for implementation of the scheme.
  • The scheme will be launched on pilot basis in 106 schools and will later cover 419 schools.
  • The government has tentatively included idli, pongal and kitchdi on the menu, and to begin with, food will be distributed among high school students now visiting their schools to clear academic doubts.

Arunachal records best sex ratio, Manipur the worst –

  • According to the report titled “vital statistics of India based on the Civil Registration System” Arunachal Pradesh recorded the best sex ratio in the country while Manipur recorded the worst sex ratio.
    • This survey for this report was launched in 2018.
  • Sex ratio at birth is number of females born per thousand males.
  • Arunachal Pradesh recorded 1,084 females born per thousand males, followed by Nagaland (965) Mizoram (964), Kerala (963) and Karnataka (957).
  • The worst was reported in Manipur (757), Lakshadweep (839) and Daman & Diu (877), Punjab (896) and Gujarat (896).
  • The report stated requisite information from six States namely Bihar, Jharkhand, Maharashtra, Sikkim, Uttar Pradesh and West Bengal is not available.
  • The number of registered births increased to 2.33 crore in 2018 from 2.21 crore registered births the previous year.
    • The level of registration of births has increased to 89.3% in 2018 from 81.3% in 2009.
    • The prescribed time limit for registration of birth or death is 21 days.

EESL Signs MoU with DNRE Goa to implement the country’s first Convergence Project –

  • Energy Efficiency Services Limited (EESL), a joint venture of PSUs under the Ministry of Power and Department of New & Renewable Energy (DNRE), Goa, have signed a memorandum of understanding today to discuss rolling out of India’s first Convergence Project in the State.
  • MOU marks beginning of potential fresh green revolution in agriculture sector.
  • Under the MoU, EESL and DNRE will carry-out the feasibility studies and subsequent implementation of decentralized solar energy projects.
  • EESL will implement the decentralized ground mounted solar power project on government lands to be used for agriculture.
  • This replaces approximately 6,300 agricultural pumps with BEE star rated energy efficient pumps and distribute approximately 16 Lakh LED bulbs for rural domestic households.
  • The project will accrue savings of INR 2,574 crores to the State over the period of 25 years, while improving the health of DISCOMs and providing cleaner power.
  • In Goa, EESL will install solar projects in a first of its kind large scale programme where vacant/unused land provided by the Gram Panchayats/electricity board will be utilized. The solar power plant will be installed near the substation, with capacities ranging from 500KW to 2 MW.

4 Indian cities among 36 selected by World Economic Forum to pioneer roadmap for smart cities –

  • Bengaluru, Faridabad, Indore and Hyderabad figure among the 36 cities across the world that have agreed to pioneer a roadmap for safely adopting new technology as part of the G20 Global Smart Cities Alliance.
  • WEF has selected 36 cities from 22 countries and six continents to pioneer a new global policy roadmap for smart cities developed by the G20 Global Smart Cities Alliance.
  • Cities such as London, Moscow, Toronto, Brasilia, Dubai and Melbourne have also been selected.
  • G20 Global smart cities alliance will give 36 cities procedure laws and regulations to use new technology responsibly.
  • The G20 Global smart cities alliance launched in June 2019 in conjunction with G20 summit in Osaka, Japan.

RBI commences first Test Phase of Regulatory Sandbox retail payments –

  • The RBI said is a statement, two entities — Natural Support Consultancy Services Pvt Ltd, Jaipur and Nucleus Software Exports Ltd, New Delhi — started testing of their products under its ‘Regulatory Sandbox (RS) – First cohort on Retail Payments – Test Phase’ from November 16.
  • RS usually refers to live testing of new products or services in a controlled and test-regulatory environment for which regulators may (or may not) permit certain regulatory relaxations for the limited purpose of the testing.
  • Natural Support Consultancy Services’ product ‘eRupaya’ is a set of Near-Field Communication (NFC) based Prepaid card and NFC-enabled Point of Sale (PoS) device to facilitate offline Person-to-Merchant (P2M) transactions and offline digital payments in remote locations.
  • The offline digital cash product, ‘PaySe’, of Nucleus Software Exports will help connect with rural areas for e-payments.
  • The product proposes to help in digitisation of payments in rural areas, starting with Self Help Groups (SHG), through an offline payment solution and a digitised SHG-centred ecosystem.
  • The RS allows the regulator, the innovators, the financial service providers (as potential deployers of the technology) and the customers (as final users) to conduct field tests to collect evidence on the benefits of new financial innovations while carefully monitoring and containing their risks.

RBI places Lakshmi Vilas Bank (LVB) under 1-month moratorium and announces draft scheme to merge LVB with DBS –

  • LVB was placed under the prompt corrective action (PCA) framework in September 2019 considering the breach of PCA thresholds as on 31st March, 2019.
    • The RBI has specified certain regulatory trigger points, as a part of prompt corrective action (PCA) Framework, in terms of three parameters, i.e. capital to risk weighted assets ratio (CRAR), net non-performing assets (NPA) and Return on Assets (RoA).
  • The RBI had come to the conclusion that in the absence of a credible revival plan, with a view to protect depositors’ interest and in the interest of financial and banking stability, there was no alternative but to impose a moratorium under section 45 of the Banking Regulation Act, 1949.
  • In order to protect the depositors interest RBI appointed T N Manoharan as LVB Administrator.
  • Reasons/Challenges faced by LVB – Domino Effect of Yes Bank Crisis; Declining Net Worth; Inadequacy to raise capital; Governance Issues; Rising NPA’s.
  • Impact on Investors – Equity capital will be fully written off, which means existing shareholders face a total loss on their investments unless there are buyers in the secondary market who may ascribe some value to these.
    • Individual investors will face a loss on their investments in AT-1 bonds.
      • AT-1 bonds are a type of unsecured, perpetual bonds that banks issue to shore up their core capital base to meet the Basel-III norms.
      • There are two routes through which these bonds can be acquired – Initial private placement offers of AT-1 bonds by banks seeking to raise money, and Secondary market buys of already-traded AT-1 bonds.
    • As per RBI rules based on the Basel-III framework, AT-1 bonds have principal loss absorption features, which can cause a full write-down or conversion to equity.
    • Shares of LVB closed at 20% lower circuit which means that there will be only sellers and no buyers.
      • The lower circuit is the limit below which a stock price cannot trade on a particular trading day. They are put in place to temporarily halt trading on an exchange to curb panic buying-selling.
  • On LVB, RBI has imposed a moratorium whose cash withdrawal limit has been capped at Rs. 25,000.
  • RBI has also put in place a draft scheme for its amalgamation with DBS Bank India.
  • The combined balance sheet of DBS India and LVB would remain healthy after the proposed amalgamation, with Capital to Risk Weighted Assets Ratio (CRAR) at 12.51% and Common Equity Tier-1 (CET-1) capital at 9.61%, without taking into account the infusion of additional capital.
    • CET-1 capital includes equity instruments where returns are linked to the banks’ performance and therefore the performance of the share price. They have no maturity.

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