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Current Affairs for UPSC IAS Exam – 18 April 2020

Contents

  1. RBI: Cuts reverse repo rate by 25 basis points; NBFCs get liquidity booster
  2. Pune zilla parishad plans tough action to check domestic violence
  3. Kisan Rath to link farmers to transport options
  4. Minor forest produces in exemption list

RBI: CUTS REVERSE REPO RATE BY 25 BASIS POINTS; NBFCS GET LIQUIDITY BOOSTER

Focus: GS-III Indian Economy

Why in news?

  • In a move to ease financial stress and to maintain adequate liquidity in the system, the Reserve Bank of India has announced several steps on 17th April 2020 including targeted long–term repo operations and providing special refinance to financial institutions like NABARD, SIDBI and National Housing Bank.
  • The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) has announced a host of measures to provide liquidity support to non-banking financial companies (NBFCs), apart from giving them certain benefits for loans extended to the commercial real estate sector.

What has RBI decided to do?

  • RBI decided to conduct targeted long-term repo operations (TLTRO 2.0) for an aggregate amount of ₹50,000 crore, to begin with, in tranches of appropriate sizes.
  • Banks should deploy these funds by investing in investment grade bonds, commercial paper, and non-convertible debentures of NBFC with at least 50% of the total amount availed going to small and mid-sized NBFCs and MFIs.
  • NBFCs and housing finance companies are facing liquidity pressure since banks have not extended any repayment moratorium to these entities even if NBFCs have to provide the same for their borrowers.
  • RBI has also decided to provide special refinance facilities for a total amount of ₹50,000 crore to NABARD, SIDBI and NHB to enable them to meet sectoral credit needs.
  • Reverse repo has been reduced by 25 bps to 3.75% — to discourage banks to park surplus funds with RBI.
  • RBI has also increased the ways and means advances limit further for states. It has decided to increase the WMA limit of states by 60 per cent over and above the level as on March 31. The increased limit will be available till September 30, 2020.
  • For all accounts which lenders decided to grant moratorium, RBI said, there would be an asset classification standstill for all such accounts from March 1, 2020 to May 31, 2020.
  • With the objective of ensuring that banks maintain sufficient buffers and remain adequately provisioned to meet future challenges, they will have to maintain higher provision of 10% on all such accounts under the standstill, spread over two quarters, i.e., March, 2020 and June, 2020.
  • RBI also said scheduled commercial banks and cooperative banks shall not make any further dividend payouts from profits pertaining to the financial year ended March 31, 2020 until further instructions.
  • The regulator has also brought down the liquidity coverage ratio requirement for Commercial Banks from 100 per cent to 80 per cent with immediate effect.

How will these measures help?

  • These measures would facilitate increase in economic activities as the lockdown is progressively eased. State governments would start making pending payments and banks and NBFCs would activate their lending programme more aggressively.
  • The set of packages by RBI is an excellent reflection of combining the policy response and regulatory responses in the most optimal manner.
  • Increase in the Ways and Means Advances limit should provide a short-term relief to the state governments, by extension calming states’ yields and as a second derivative to cap markets’ borrowing costs.
  • The cut of reverse repo rate by 25 basis points will also give a required push to the banks to open up the credit flow to keep economic activities moving smoothly.
  • Standstill in asset classification and one-time restructuring for commercial real estate will support banking sector stability.

PUNE ZILLA PARISHAD PLANS TOUGH ACTION TO CHECK DOMESTIC VIOLENCE

Focus: GS-II Governance

Why in news?

To counter the increasing cases of domestic violence during the current COVID-19 lockdown, the Pune Zilla Parishad has borrowed a leaf from the virus prevention handbook.

Abusive husbands and wife-beaters across Pune district now face institutional quarantine if there is a complaint of domestic violence.

Surge in cases

  • Globally, there has been a sharp surge in domestic violence cases during the pandemic.
  • The definition of a particular case is as given by the Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act 2005 and the Criminal Law (Amendment) Act, 2013 (Nirbhaya Act).
  • There was a prohibition on selling liquor during the lockdown, there was a strong possibility of alcoholics getting restive and turning violent as a result of denial – said the Zilla Parishad Chief Executive Officers.
  • long with the COVID-19 pandemic outside, there is a ‘shadow pandemic’ raging inside homes. The lockdown means that a woman cannot step out of the house to escape her abusive spouse.
  • So, by this order, the tormentors would be transferred to an institutional quarantine facility, which could mean a town hall or a village lodge or any other facility.

What was done in the Pune Zilla to handle it?

A vigilance committee, consisting of women from three agencies — the Women and Child Department, anganwadi workers from self-help groups (SHGs) and panchayat samitis — will visit houses in each ward of a gram panchayat. These women would conduct an anti-domestic violence campaign on the lines of the UN’s ‘Ring the bell campaign’,

Zilla Parishad

  • The Zila Panchayat or District Council or Zila Parishad or District Panchayat, is the third tier of the Panchayati Raj system. Zila Parishad is an elected body.
  • Block Pramukh of Block Panchayat are also represented in Zila Parishad. The members of the State Legislature and the members of the Parliament of India are members of the Zila Parishad.
  • Zila parishad are Panchayats at Apex or District Level in Panchayat Raj Institutions.
  • Members of the Zila Parishad are elected from the district on the basis of adult franchise for a term of five years.
Indian Polity: THE PANCHAYATI RAJ-THREE-TIER SYSTEM OF GOVERNANCE ...

Domestic Violence Act 2005

  • The Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act 2005 is an Act of the Parliament of India enacted to protect women from domestic violence.
  • It was brought into force by the Indian government from 26 October 2006.
  • The Act provides for the first time in Indian law a definition of “domestic violence”, with this definition being broad and including not only physical violence, but also other forms of violence such as emotional/verbal, sexual, and economic abuse.
  • It is a civil law meant primarily for protection orders and not for meant to be enforced criminally.

How is Domestic Violence defined?

Domestic violence is defined by Section 3 of the Act as:

Any act, omission or commission or conduct of the respondent shall constitute domestic violence in case it:

  1. harms or injures or endangers the health, safety, life, limb or well-being, whether mental or physical, of the aggrieved person or tends to do so and includes causing physical abuse, sexual abuse, verbal and emotional abuse and economic abuse; or
  2. harasses, harms, injures or endangers the aggrieved person to coerce her or any other person related to her to meet any unlawful demand for any dowry or other property or valuable security; or
  3. has the effect of threatening the aggrieved person or any person related to her by any conduct mentioned in clause (a) or clause (b); or
  4. otherwise injures or causes harm, whether physical or mental, to the aggrieved person.”

The Act goes on, through the section Explanation 1, to define “physical abuse”, “sexual abuse”, “verbal and emotional abuse” and “economic abuse”.

Criminal Law Amendment Act (Nirbhaya Act) 2013

  • The Criminal Law (Amendment) Act, 2013 (Nirbhaya Act) is an Indian legislation passed by the Lok Sabha on 19 March 2013, and by the Rajya Sabha on 21 March 2013, which provides for amendment of Indian Penal Code, Indian Evidence Act, and Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973 on laws related to sexual offences.
  • The Bill received Presidential assent on 2 April 2013 and came into force from 3 April 2013.
  • It was originally an Ordinance promulgated by the President of India, Pranab Mukherjee, on 3 April 2013, in light of the protests in the 2012 Delhi gang rape case.

KISAN RATH TO LINK FARMERS TO TRANSPORT OPTIONS

Focus: GS-III Agriculture

Why in news?

In a bid to ease the disruption of agricultural supply chains, especially for perishable produce, the Agriculture Ministry has launched a Kisan Rath mobile application, which will connect farmers and traders to a network of more than 5 lakh trucks and 20,000 tractors.

Details

  • The application, developed by the National Informatics Centre, is meant to help farmers and traders who are searching for vehicles to move produce.
  • This includes primary transport from the farm to the mandis, local warehouses or the collection centres of farmer producer organisations, as well as the secondary transport from the local mandis to intra-and inter-State mandis, processing units, railway stations, warehouses or wholesalers.

Who will it help?

  • It will be a stepping stone towards provision of timely transportation service at competitive rates for farmers and traders, besides achieving a reduction in food wastage.
  • In a future beyond the pandemic, this app will enhance the connectivity of farmers directly to the seller and reduce the dependency of farmers in reaching the traders improving their profits and reducing the wastage of food.

MINOR FOREST PRODUCES IN EXEMPTION LIST

Focus: GS-III Agriculture

Why in news?

In the latest set of lockdown relaxations, the Ministry of Home Affairs has added the collection, harvesting and processing of minor forest produce to the list of activities that will be permitted.

Exclusions in the Lockdown

  • The new MHA guidelines have also expanded the types of plantations that will be permitted to resume activities with half their workforce from April 20 onwards.
  • Earlier, tea, coffee and rubber plantations were given exemptions from the lockdown.
  • Now, bamboo, cocoa, arecanut, and spices plantations — most of which are clustered in the southern States — will be added to the list, along with their harvesting, processing, packaging, sale and marketing.
  • Cooperative credit societies, which are crucial to provide crop loans to farmers, will be exempted.
  • Non- banking financial institutions, including housing finance companies and microfinance institutions, will also be allowed to function with a bare minimum of staff, the guidelines said.
  • The Home Ministry also added to the list of construction activities in rural areas which will be exempted from the lockdown from April 20. They now include construction projects related to water supply and sanitation, as well as the installation of power transmission lines and telecom optic fibre and cable.

Minor Forest Produce

Minor forest produce includes non-timber items such as bamboo and other grasses, edible or useful roots, seeds, fruits, flowers and plants.

A number of people from scheduled tribes and other forest dwelling communities depend on the collection and sale of such items for their livelihood.

MSP for MFP

  • Minimum Support Price Scheme (MSP) for Minor Forest Produce (MFP) is a centrally-sponsored scheme aimed to ensure fair and remunerative price to MFP gatherers.
  • The MSP for MFP scheme was first launched in 2013 but the severe gaps in its implementation led to the programme remaining dormant. To revitalize the programme the revised guidelines had been issued in 2019.

Implementing agency: TRIFED

TRIFED

  • TRIFED is The Tribal Cooperative Marketing Development Federation of India.
  • It was established in 1987. It became operational from April 1988.
  • The basic objective of the TRIFED is to provide good price of the ‘Minor Forest Produce (MFP) collected by the tribes of the country.
  • TRIFED is a national level apex organization functioning under the administrative control of Ministry of Tribal Affairs.

Objectives of the TRIFED are:

1. To provide fair price to the ‘Minor Forest Produce (MFP) collected by the tribes and enhance their level of income.

2. To ensure sustainable harvesting of ‘Minor Forest Produce (MFP).

3. To save the tribes from the exploitation of the business mediators who purchase the products of the tribes at cheap rate and sell at the higher prices. So TRIFED removed the mediators.

4. If the price of the products fluctuates then TRIFED arranges compensation for the tribes from the Ministry of Agriculture.

5. TRIFED also assures the tribes for purchasing their products at a particular price, primary processing of products, storage of products and transportation etc.

6. TRIFED provides information related to fair price markets for the ‘Minor Forest Produce (MFP). Like tribes of all over country sell their products in the trade fair organised at the Pragati Maidan, New Delhi every year.

7. TRIFED helps in increasing the bargaining power of the tribes to fetch good price of the MFP.

8. TRIFED provides adequate training to the tribes to make value addition to their products.

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