Weekly Current Affairs Prelims (12th to18th November, 2019)

India’s Export Falls

Weekly Current Affairs Prelims (12th to 18th November, 2019)

(Info-graphic Summary at the end)

Topic: India’s Export Falls

Topic in Syllabus: Indian Economy

India’s Export Falls

Context

India’s October trade figures deepen concerns about the health of our export sector. 

Figures

  • Merchandise exports fell 1.1% from a year earlier to $26.4 billion last month. 
  • Though it is smaller than September’s 6.6% decline, it’s still bad news. 
  • Exports have been stuck in negative territory for three months in a row. 
  • The good news is the sharp decline in the trade deficit to $11 billion in October from $18 billion a year earlier. 
  • This was due to a 16.3% decline in imports, to $37.4 billion.

Reasons for poor export growth

  • GST – Exporters had to suffer inordinate delays in the refunds due to them under the goods and services tax regime. 
  • RCEP – India’s decision to walk out of the RCEP, which will make access to a vast, rapidly-growing market difficult for them. 
  • Bilateral trade – bilateral trade deals are far not encouraging. India’s trade differences with the US are making matters worse. 

To revive exports

  • Policy – India has to reshape its policy mix in various ways. 
  • Manufacturing – Local manufacturers need to be competitive globally. 
  • Tax – recent reduction in corporate tax is a good move on the financial front. 
  • Tariff reduction – exposure to foreign competition requires lowering import tariffs, not raising them. 
  • Export-oriented reforms – needs to be undertaken.

Conclusion

But for these steps, India risks missing the opportunity to grab the global value chains disrupted by the US-China trade war.

Sample Question:

The gains from international trade depend on the

  1. Differences in cost rations in the two trading countries
  2. Terms of trade
  3. Size of the country

Select the correct answer using the codes given below:

a) 2 and 3 only

b) 1 and 2 only

c) 1 and 3 only

d) 1, 2, and 3

Answer : d


Topic: Insolvency & Bankruptcy Code

Topic in Syllabus: Indian Economy

Insolvency & Bankruptcy Code

Context

Supreme Court approved the resolution plan of ArcelorMittal to pay Rs 42,000 crore to local financial creditors and take over Essar Steel after setting aside a ruling of the NCLAT. 

IBC

  • Prominent case – This marks a closure to an important case under the Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code. 
  • CoC – The Court made it clear that the decision of the Committee of Creditors or lenders will be final and binding. This should help faster resolution of more such cases. 
  • Investment – it paved the way for the entry of the world’s largest steelmaker into one of the biggest markets.

Ancillary concerns

  • Supreme Court ruling on dues in adjusted gross revenue hit two major players, Vodafone Idea and Bharti Airtel. 
  • Vodafone reported the highest ever quarterly loss by an Indian corporate of Rs 50,921 crore a week ago, and Bharti Rs 23,045 crore.
  • Indian banks, which had an exposure of Rs 1.15 lakh crore to the telecom sector will get hit. 
  • These lenders will be further hit because of extra provisions and the need for capital if the issue is not swiftly sorted out by the government. 
  • Vodafone had indicated its inability to invest more. It is one of India’s largest FDI investors and a global telecom player. 
  • It has taken a lot of effort to undo the damage caused by the decision of the UPA government to tax the company retrospectively over seven years ago.

Problems with the ruling

  • Failure of the government and policymakers to recognise the interconnection of such decisions on other sectors such as banking. 
  • A good decision like the reduction of corporate tax, which makes India one of the most competitive tax regimes, will be neutralised.
  • This will hurt India’s hope to attract global supply chains shifting from China.

Conclusion

The government should move quickly on the strategic sell-off of BPCL and Air India, address sectoral issues and further strengthen India’s dominant state-owned banks to revive lending.

Sample Question:

According to provisions of Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code, who can initiate insolvency resolution process (IRP)?

  1. Debtor
  2. Creditor
  3. Government
  4. Reserve Bank of India

Select the correct answer from the options given below:

a)      Both 1 and 2

b)      Both 2 and 3

c)       Only 1, 2 and 3

d)      All are correct

Answer: a


Topic: Maharashtra under President’s Rule

Topic in Syllabus: Indian Governance

Maharashtra under President’s Rule

Context:

President Ram Nath Kovind approved a proclamation imposing President’s Rule in Maharashtra, following a recommendation from Governor Bhagat Singh Koshyari.

The Assembly will be kept under suspended animation.

Reasons behind president rule:

  • President issued a proclamation under Article 356(1) of the Constitution.
  • It was impossible to constitute or form a stable government in the State.
  • Government could not be carried on in accordance with provisions of the Constitution.

Constitutional Provisions of President Rule:

Article 356 of the Constitution provides for the imposition of President’s Rule in a state in “case of failure of the constitutional machinery in the state”.

Failure of Machinery:

  • If President on receipt of report by Governor of a State or otherwise is satisfied that a situation has arisen in which govt. of that state can’t be carried in accordance with provisions of the Constitution then President Rule can be imposed.
  • According to Article 365, every state shall comply with all directions given by Union on matters it empowers to do so. If any state fails to comply with directions of union then President Rule can be imposed.

Parliamentary Procedures:

  • Every proclamation to impose President Rule shall be laid down before each house of Parliament and must get approval in two months from date of issue.
  • If at time of proclamation, dissolution of Lok Sabha (LS) takes place in mean time (i.e. within two months from date of issue) then government must get approval of Rajya Sabha within 2 months. Such proclamation shall cease to operate after 30 days from first sitting of LS after its reconstitution, if does not get approval of new LS in 30 days.
  • Any of above resolution related to proclamation or renewal of emergency must be passed by both houses of Parliament by Simple majority.

Duration of President Rule:

If approved by both houses of Parliament then President Rule shall continue for 6 months and it can be renewed for maximum of 3 yrs by approval of Parliament after every 6 months.

44th amendment:

It introduced some constraints, that the President Rule can’t be imposed in any state beyond 1 year unless:-

  • A Proclamation of National Emergency is in operation, in the whole of India or, as the case may be, in the whole or any part of the State, at the time of the passing of such resolution.
  • The Election Commission certifies that the continuance of President Rule is necessary on account of difficulties in holding general elections to the Legislative Assembly of the State concerned.

Effects of President Rule:

Executive – The President may by proclamation of President Rule assume to himself all or any of functions of govt. of state and all or any of powers vested in Governor or anybody or authority in the state other than legislature of state and of High Court.

  • The President dismisses the Council of Ministers headed by CM and run state administration with help of Governor or advisors as he thinks fit.
  • Legislative – On imposition of President Rule, President either suspend or dissolves the legislature of state and declare that the powers of legislature of state shall be vested with Parliament.
  • The Parliament can confer on President the powers of legislature of state to make laws and authorizes the President to delegate such conferred powers to any other authority with subject to such conditions as he may thinks fit.
  • The President is authorized to give nod to pending sanction of expenditure from Consolidated Fund of State by Parliament when Lok Sabha is not in session.
  • The President can promulgate the Ordinances in relation to administration of State when the Parliament is not in session.

Possible Reasons behind President Rule:

  • Elections cannot be held as scheduled for any reason.
  • Elections were held but the assembly is hung, no party secures clear majority.
  • Party that secured a majority is unwilling to form ministry and a coalition cannot be formed.
  • Ministries resigned after suffering a vote of no confidence and no clear political successor emerges.
  • Internal subversion where govt. is deliberately not doing its duty.
  • Failure to comply with centre’s constitutional directives.
  • Wilful refusal to discharge constitutional duty.

Abuse of President Rule:

  • Ideological differences – used to dismiss state governments where the party in power is not the same as that ruling at the centre.
  • Hasty recommendations by central govt. to impose Presidents Rule due to increasing political divide and antagonism with hidden agendas of setting up its own govts. (e.g.- Arunachal Pradesh)
  • Eroding neutral political character of Governor – Governor controlled by a ruling party is making decisions that could result in a different political party either retaining or losing power, as was the case in Arunachal Pradesh and Uttarakhand.
  • Role of speaker of assembly can be questionable while using and applying Anti-defection law (10th schedule). It brings political uncertainty in the assembly.
  • Dissidents may form groups going against whip and blocking passage of important bills (e.g. – money bill) by colluding with opposition. However, safeguards are there but it could not prevent fall of congress govt. in Uttarakhand.
  • Less secure governments have a greater propensity to misuse President’s Rule.
  • On three occasions, President Rule has been imposed in absence of ‘Report of governor’. Two such cases were post elections events, first is when Janta Party govt. led by Morarji Desai came in power (1977) imposed President rule in 9 states where congress was in power and second is when congress party came in power in 1980 and imposed president rule in all non congress ruled states.

Supreme Court Guidelines for President Rule:

Following guidelines were issued by Supreme Court during S R Bommai case.

  • The Proclamation of President Rule is subjected to judicial review (as provided by 44th Amend 1978) on grounds of mala fide intention.
  • Proclamation shall be based on relevant material and centre has to justify the imposition of President Rule.
  • The court has power to revive dissolved or suspended state govt. if proclamation of President Rule founds unconstitutional and invalid.
  • The state assembly can’t be dissolved before approval of Parliament for imposition of President Rule and President can only suspend the assembly;
  • The grounds of serious allegations of corruption  against ministry of state and financial instability are not enough for imposition of President Rule;
  • The state govt shall be given enough opportunities to correct itself in cases where directives are issued;
  • Secularism is the basic feature of our constitution and any measure or action is taken by state govt for security of this feature can’t led to use of Article 356;
  • The power under Article 356 can’t be used to sort out intra party problems of ruling party;
  • If ministry of state resigns or dismissed or loses majority then governor cannot advise President to impose President Rule until enough measures are taken by governor for formation an alternative govt.
  • The SC held that power under Article 356 is an exceptional power and to be used only in case of exigencies.

Sarkaria Committee Recommendations:

  • The President’s Proclamation should include the ‘reasons’ as to why the State cannot be run as per the normal provisions of the Constitution.
  • As far as possible, the Centre should issue a warning to the State government before resorting to the use of Art. 356.
  • It should not be used to serve political purposes.
  • 356 should be amended so that the President is empowered to dissolve the State Legislature only after approval by the Parliament.

Sample Question:

Which  one  of  the  following  principles  did  not  emerge  out  of  Bommai  case  in  relation  to Article 356?

a) Proclamation issued under Art. 356 is subject to judicial review.

b) State Assembly should be dissolved only after the approval of proclamation by Parliament.

c) IF  a  new  political  party  assumes  power  at  the  Centre,  it  has  the  authority to  dismiss Ministries formed by other parties in the States.

d) The court  may  require  the  Union  Government  to  disclose  the,  materials  on  the  basis  of which Art.356 was invoked.

Ans C 


Topic: Suranga Bawadi’

Topic in Syllabus:Heritage & Culture

Suranga Bawadi’

Context:

Suranga Bawadi, an integral part of the ancient Karez system of supplying water through tunnels built during Adil Shah Era in Vijayapura, is now set to get funding for restoration.

A New York-based non-governmental organisation has included it in the World Monument Watch list for 2020 along with 24 other monuments from across the world.

World Monument fund:

  • It monitors restoration of ancient monuments across the globe.
  • It is a NGO.
  • It provides fund for restoration.
  • It would coordinate with the authorities concerned for restoration and create public awareness on its importance.
  • It works in collaboration with the local stakeholders, including the district administration, the Archaeological Survey of India, and local explorers of ancient monuments.

About Karez:

  • It is one of the best ancient water system in the world.
  • It was built in the 16th century by Ali Adil Shah–I.
  • He built the magnificent underground system to supply water to the city.

Sample Question:

In Ancient world Karez System was related to

a)      Taxation

b)      Trade

c)       Water engineering

d)      Temple architecture

Answer: C


Topic: OPEC+

Topic in Syllabus:International Affairs

OPEC+

Context:

  • According to the International Energy Agency (IEA), the Organisation of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC+) plus might face sharp demand fall due to a recent surge in crude oil production from the countries like USA, Norway, and Guyana.
  • The non-OPEC countries which export crude oil are termed as OPEC plus countries.
  • OPEC plus countries include Azerbaijan, Bahrain, Brunei, Kazakhstan, Malaysia, Mexico, Oman, Russia, South Sudan and Sudan.
  • Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC)

OPEC:

  • The Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) is a permanent, intergovernmental organization, created at the Baghdad Conference in 1960, by Iran, Iraq, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, and Venezuela.
  • It aims to manage the supply of oil in an effort to set the price of oil in the world market, in order to avoid fluctuations that might affect the economies of both producing and purchasing countries.
  • It is headquartered in Vienna, Austria.
  • OPEC membership is open to any country that is a substantial exporter of oil and which shares the ideals of the organization.
  • Gabon terminated its membership in January 1995. However, it rejoined the Organization in July 2016.
  • As of 2019, OPEC has a total of 14 Member Countries viz. Iran, Iraq, Kuwait, United Arab Emirates(UAE), Saudi Arabia, Algeria, Libya, Nigeria, Gabon, Equatorial Guinea, Republic of Congo, Angola, Ecuador and Venezuela are members of OPEC.

International Energy Agency

  • The International Energy Agency (IEA) is an autonomous organisation which works to ensure reliable, affordable and clean energy.
  • It was established in the wake of 1973 (set up in 1974) oil crisis after the OPEC cartel had shocked the world with a steep increase in oil prices.
  • It is headquartered in Paris, France

The IEA has four main areas of focus, i.e. 4Es:

  1. Energy security,
  2. Economic development,
  3. Environmental awareness and
  4. Engagement worldwide.

India became an associate member of the International Energy Agency in 2017.

Mexico officially became the International Energy Agency’s 30th member country in February 2018, and its first member in Latin America.

Sample Question:

‘Common but Differentiated Responsibilities and Respective Capabilities’ (CBDR-RC), which was in the news recently, is associated with which of the followings?
(a) To cut Oil output by OPEC countries
(b) Climate Change Agreement
(c) Domestic agricultural subsidies
(d) Intellectual Property Rights
Answer: b


Topic: Disqualification of Karnataka MLAs

Topic in Syllabus:Indian Polity

Disqualification of Karnataka MLAs

Context:

Recently, the Supreme Court upheld the disqualification of 17 dissident legislators approved by the then Karnataka Assembly Speaker K.R. Ramesh Kumar under the Tenth Schedule (Anti-Defection law).

Background

  • In 2019, a motion of no-confidence was to be considered in Karnataka Assembly against the ruling party. During this process, a few of the legislators resigned from their respective parties. However, their resignation was not taken under consideration by the then Assembly Speaker in lieu of the confidence vote that was to be held within a few days.
  • As soon as the trust vote was not achieved during the floor test by the ruling party, the Speaker disqualified those rebellious members. This raised the question of the disqualification of members under the Anti-defection law (Tenth Schedule) versus the role of Speaker to accept their resignation.
  • Also, the Speaker barred those MLAs from contesting elections till the time incumbent Assembly’s term gets over, i.e, by 2023. This raised another question whether disqualification under Tenth Schedule can lead to a bar upon legislators to contest by-elections during the tenure of the incumbent Legislative Assembly.

Supreme Court Ruling

  • Tenth Schedule versus Re-contesting elections: The Supreme Court upheld the disqualification of the dissident legislators however it also held that their ouster does not put any bar upon them from contesting by-polls.
  • According to the Court, ‘neither under the Constitution nor under the statutory scheme(i.e, Representation of the People Act, 1951 or the Anti-Defection Law) it is mentioned that disqualification under the Tenth Schedule would lead to a bar for contesting re-elections.’
  • The court also remarked that even the 91st Amendment Act, 2003 which did not allow a disqualified member to be appointed as a minister, did not give Speaker the power to put a ban upon them to contest elections till the end of the term.

Resignation versus Disqualification:

  • A member may choose to resign for a variety of reasons which represents an individual’s choice or will. An elected member if chooses to resign cannot be compelled to continue in the office. Whereas, a disqualification leads to the expulsion of the member from the office, irrespective of their will.
  • In this case, the court observed, ‘on the one hand, resignation does not take away the effect of a prior act that amounts to disqualification. On the other, Speakers are not given a free power to sit on resignation letters indefinitely.’
  • Under Article 190(3) of the Constitution, the Speaker has to ascertain the voluntary and genuine nature of a resignation before accepting it.
  • It is a limited inquiry process only to check if the letter is authentic and if the intent to quit is based on free will. Once it is clear, the Speaker has no option but to accept the resignation.
  • The Court also observed that a pending disqualification action does not become nonfunctional by mere submission of the resignation letter. This would defeat the purpose of the Tenth Schedule if it was held that disqualification proceedings would become unfruitful upon tendering resignation.

Anti-Defection Law

  • The Anti-Defection Law was passed in 1985 through the 52nd Amendment to the Constitution. It added the Tenth Schedule to the Indian Constitution. The main intent of the law was to combat “the evil of political defections”.
  • According to it, a member of a House belonging to any political party becomes disqualified for being a member of the House, (a) if he voluntarily gives up his membership of such political party; or (b) if he votes or abstains from voting in such House contrary to any direction issued by his political party without obtaining prior permission of such party and such act has not been condoned by the party within 15 days.

Powers of Speaker with regard to Anti-Defection Law

Any question regarding disqualification arising out of defection is to be decided by the presiding officer of the House.

After Kihoto Hollohan versus Zachilhu case (1993), the Supreme Court declared that the decision of the presiding officer is not final and can be questioned in any court. It is subject to judicial review on the grounds of malafide, perversity, etc.

Sample Question:

With reference to Indian Constitution, consider the following statements

  1. President can disqualify MLAs for holding an ‘office of profit’
  2. Office of profit seeks to enforce the principle of separation of power between the legislature and the executive
  3. State legislatures have power to enact laws for exempting certain offices from the purview of office of profit

Which of the given above statements is/are correct?

(a) 2 and 3

(b) 2 only

(c) 3 only

(d) 1, 2 and 3

Answer: d


Topic: Jellyfish Galaxies

Topic in Syllabus:Science & Technology

Jellyfish Galaxies

Background:

In 1936, Hubble classified galaxies into four main types.

  1. Spiral galaxies: More than two-thirds of all observed galaxies are spiral galaxies. A spiral galaxy has a flat, spinning disk with a central bulge surrounded by spiral arms. That spinning motion, at speeds of hundreds of kilometers a second, may cause matter in the disk to take on a distinctive spiral shape. E.g. Our Milky Way galaxy
  2. Elliptical galaxies: They are generally round but can stretch longer along one axis than along the other, so much so that some take on a cigar-like appearance. Elliptical galaxies may be very small, in which case they are called dwarf elliptical galaxies. They contain many older stars, but little dust and other interstellar matter. Their stars orbit the galactic center in more random directions. E.g. Andromeda galaxy.
  1. Lenticular galaxies: They’re called “lenticular” because they resemble lenses. Like spiral galaxies, they have a thin, rotating disk of stars and a central bulge, but they don’t have spiral arms. They seem to form more often in densely populated regions of space. E.g. Sombrero Galaxy.
  2. Irregular galaxies: These are galaxies that are not spiral, lenticular, or elliptical and lack a distinct form, often because they are within the gravitational influence of other galaxies close by. They are full of gas and dust, which makes them great nurseries for forming new stars. E.g. Large and Small Magellanic Clouds.

What is jellyfish galaxy?

  • Recently Astrosat has observed a jellyfish galaxy, JW100, by using its Ultraviolet Imaging Telescope (UVIT).
  • JW100 is located far away in the galaxy cluster Abell 2626. 
  • The star formation in JW100 was gauged using observations of the visible (H-alpha) spectrum using the MUSE instrument of the Very Large Telescope in Chile and the UVIT.
  • Jellyfish galaxies are called so because they are shaped like discs that have many tentacle-like arms streaming away from the disc.
  • Astrosat is a part of an international programme called GASP (Gas Stripping Phenomena in galaxies with MUSE), which is meant to observe gas-stripping jellyfish galaxies using the MUSE Integral Field Spectrograph, Chile. This programme is led by Bianca Poggianti of Padova Observatory, Italy.

Comparison with other galaxies:

  • Unlike usual galaxies that have stars forming in the disc, the jellyfish galaxies have star formation in the tentacles also.
  • They are different because of their orientation as they are seen edge-on so that the gas stripping can be seen perpendicular to one’s field of vision.
  • JW100 is different from other jellyfish galaxies such that star formation in other galaxies as estimated by the H-alpha observations matches with that calculated from ultraviolet observations. In JW100, there is higher contribution from H-alpha but much less from ultraviolet in the tail. 
  • This could mean that other mechanisms such as shocks or thermal conduction from the hot plasma of the galaxy cluster is contributing to H-alpha emission from these regions.

How a tail is formed?

  • They are formed when a disc-shaped galaxy rams into a galaxy cluster due to gravitational attraction of the cluster.
  • Then the x-ray emitting hot plasma in the cluster strips away the cold molecular gas of the disc, causing it to stream behind like tentacles.
  • What triggers star formation in these environments is yet to be found out because in galaxy clusters the realm between the galaxies is filled with hot, tenuous gas which acts like a headwind and can remove gas and dust from the hapless galaxy. This process is known as “ram pressure stripping.”
  • As galaxies run out of gas star formation stops. Thus galaxies in clusters stop forming new stars sooner than their relatives outside of clusters. 
  • Once the Webb telescope is launched, it will target sites of star formation at different points along the tail and study those sites to learn more about conditions there.

Webb telescope:

  • The James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) will be the world’s premier space science observatory which will be launched on an Ariane 5 rocket from French Guiana in 2021.
  • Webb is an international project led by NASA with its partners, ESA (European Space Agency) and the Canadian Space Agency.
  • Webb was formerly known as the “Next Generation Space Telescope (NGST)” and was renamed in September, 2002 after a former NASA administrator James Webb.

The JWST’s primary scientific mission has four key goals: 

  1. search for light from the first stars and galaxies that formed in the Universe after the Big Bang, 
  2. study the formation and evolution of galaxies, 
  3. understand the formation of stars and planetary systems, 
  4. study planetary systems and the origins of life.

These goals can be accomplished more effectively by observation in near-infrared light rather than light in the visible part of the spectrum. Hence JWST’s instruments will not measure visible or UV light like the Hubble Telescope, but will have a much greater capacity to perform infrared astronomy using Mid-Infrared Instrument (MIRI).

Sample Question:

What was the first galaxy to be discovered outside of the Milky Way galaxy?

a)      the Andromeda Galaxy

b)      the Virgo

c)      the Sagittarius Galaxy

d)     the Local Group

Answer: a


Topic: Housing Funds

Topic in Syllabus:Schemes & Programmes

Housing Funds

Context:

  • The proposed fund is to be set up as Category II Alternative Investment Fund(AIF). ₹10,000 crore is to be provided by GoI towards the fund.
  • Other firms like LIC and SBI along with sovereign wealth funds and pension funds will contribute Rs 15,000 crore.
  • The fund is to be registered with SEBI as an escrow account.
  • Under the special window, the projects that have been declared as NPAs (Non Performing Assets) and other projects that are undergoing insolvency at NCLT are also allowed to be kick started.

Affordable housing in India:

  • Affordable housing refers to housing units that are affordable for those with income below the average household income.
  • In India, affordable housing is provided for low income people, middle income people and economically weaker sections.
  • With the current progress of urbanisation, around 40% of the country’s population is expected to live in urban areas by 2030.
  • High land costs, delays in project approvals, increasing raw material costs and low profit margins have made low-cost housing projects less attractive to private developers. 

The following are some of the policies and initiatives undertaken by the GoI in Affordable Housing sector:

  • Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana (PMAY):Was launched in June 2015 to build 20 million houses for individuals who fall under Economically Weaker sections (EWS) and Lower Income Groups (LIG) categories. 
  • External Commercial Borrowing (ECB)has been allowed for affordable housing projects from 2012 to enable lower interest cost for developers and ensured better capital availability for developers of low-cost housing. 
  • Opening up of Foreign Direct Investment (FDI)for development of townships, housing, built-up infrastructure and construction-development. 
  • The Credit Risk Guarantee Fund with a corpus of Rs 1200 crore in collaboration with NHB was set up in 2012 to facilitate credit availability to low income customers without any collateral for loan amount up to ₹ 8 lakhs.
  • Urban Housing Fund Refinancing Schemewith a corpus of Rs 2000 crores in the year 2013-14 has been created. 
  • The GST Council has reduced tax rates for affordable housing from 8% to just 1% and has also enhanced the ceiling value of affordable housing to Rs 45 lakh.
  • As per the RBI incentive measures, the cost of affordable residential property should be less than Rs 65 lakh in metro cities and Rs 50 lakh in non-metros. The RBI also gives loans to affordable housing under priority sector lending.

Subsidies for housing:

  • Through PMAY the GoI aims to provide affordable housing to the urban poor population in India by 2022. 
  • Under the tagline “Housing for all”, this scheme focuses on slum rehabilitation, Credit Linked Subsidy Scheme (CLSS), making housing affordable for all and offer a subsidy for survey-led independent house construction or renovation.
  • Among the four focus areas, CLSS is the only central sector scheme and the remaining schemes are sponsored schemes. 

Credit Linked Subsidy Scheme (CLSS):

  • It is implemented by HUDCO and NHB.
  • It is effective from 1 January 2017. 
  • The prime objective is to help the urban poor population by increasing the institutional credit flow to meet their housing needs.
  • This interest rate subsidy will be credited during the initial stage of the loan to the beneficiary’s loan account through the lending institute.
  • To be eligible to avail a housing loan under CLSS, the beneficiary family should not own a pucca house in his/her or in the name of any member of his/her family in any part of India.
  • The funds borrowed by Economically Weaker Sections can be used to construct a new house or to add a room, kitchen, or balcony to their existing house.
  • When it comes to EWS and LIG, preference will be given to women, Scheduled Tribes, Scheduled Castes, backward classes, minorities, people with disabilities, and transgenders.

Credit Linked Subsidy Scheme (CLSS)

Under the Middle Income Group (MIG), there are two sets of beneficiaries.

the Middle Income Group (MIG)

Role of NHB:

The National Housing Bank (NHB), was set up on 9 July 1988 under the National Housing Bank Act, 1987. It is an apex financial institution for housing.

  • Its role in the growth of housing finance institutions in India are:
  • It promotes, establishes and supports housing finance institutions.
  • It grants loans and advances.
  • It purchases stocks shares, bonds, and other securities of companies involved in housing finance.
  • It guarantees for the loan taken by housing finance companies from the open market.
  • It underwrites for the issue of securities of housing finance institutions.
  • It draws, accepts, discounts and re-discounts bills of exchange for housing finance.
  • It buys or sells or deals in mortgage of immovable properties belonging to housing finance institutions.
  • It promotes mutual funds for undertaking housing finance.
  • It promotes mortgage banks or societies for providing housing finance.
  • It plays an important role in formulating housing schemes for EWS (economically weaker sections) – single tenement and radial houses.
  • It coordinates with LIC, UTI, GIC and other financial institutions.

Affordable housing fund (AHF):

  • It was established in NHB as announced in the General Budget for 2018-19. 
  • The objective of the fund is to improve the affordability of the target group to own their homes.
  • The corpus of the Fund will be 10,000 crores and will be contributed by Scheduled Commercial Banks as allocated by the Reserve Bank of India (RBI).
  • The AHF shall be utilized for refinancing the individual housing loans sanctioned and disbursed on or after 01-04-2017 falling under rural and urban category.

Those institutions eligible for refinance under AHF are:

  • Housing Finance Companies (HFCs)
  • Scheduled Commercial Banks (SCBs)
  • Scheduled Urban Cooperative Banks (UCBs)
  • Regional Rural Banks (RRBs)
  • Scheduled Cooperative Banks (SCoBs)
  • Small Finance Banks (SFBs)
  • Apex Cooperative Housing Finance Societies (ACHFS)
  • Agricultural & Rural Development Banks (ARDBs)

Eligible individual housing loans

  • Urban – Annual household income not exceeding ₹6 lakh.
  • Rural – (i) Weaker Sections as defined in the RBI’s priority sector guidelines (ii) Annual household income not exceeding ₹ 3 lakh (iii) Women.

Sample Question:

Who is the largest shareholder of National Housing Bank?

a)      Reserve Bank of India

b)      Government of India

c)      NABARD

d)     State Bank of India

Answer: a


Topic: Rights to Privacy and Social Media

Topic in Syllabus:Indian Society

Rights to Privacy and Social Media

How safe the WhatsApp to use?

  • The 100% security is always a myth. There is nothing in the cyber world which can be fully secured and so far this end-to-end encryption is concerned which means the encryption of messages only during the transit of the data when data travels from one person to another.
  • The source and destination is not encrypted. Therefore, if the sending or receiving mobile sets are compromised then the end-to-end encryption doesn’t matter or work. When the data is lying in the mobile then it is possible to hack the messages or information therein.

Should users be worried?

  • The users should be worried not because of the Pegasus controversy but because of the reason that there are many malicious apps in the play store or internet which can easily steal the data from the phones and the phone could be easily be turned into the spy phones.
  • This is again a wakeup call that we should not click on the ‘unknown links’ or attach the unknown people or download the random available apps.

To what extent the information was compromised under ‘Pegasus’ incident?

  • Anything and everything on the device was caught by the spyware.
  • WhatsApp claims that due to ‘Pegasus’ incident, information of around 1400 people across the globe was compromised and out of that 15 were from India.
  • The recent reports suggest that number of defence personnel and government officials who were targeted could be more than thought.
  • The petition was filed by the WhatsApp against the NSO group set up in California is an eye opener where the surveillance developer has been sued but the entities that used the tool are not covered and excluded.
  • The WhatsApp is trying to pass a judgement in this case but it is not the duty of the WhatsApp or Facebook to decide and the decision has to be made according to the national law.

What questions are raised about the privacy of an individual and also on the role of government agencies?

  • Even though the individual privacy is necessary, there has to be balance between the national security and individual privacy.
  • Today, the collective privacy of the nation is superior than the individual privacy. We as a collective society should seek certain amount of privacy for the nation so that the society remains safe and sound.
  • Governments across the world, law enforcement agencies and intelligence agencies across the world are bonafide users of surveillance technology. It is their national laws which defines how the tools are to be used, what level of accountability is there.
  • The WhatsApp decided not to inform the Indian government or other countries which also raises a question on their intention.
  • There is no proof also that the Indian victims were targeted by the Indian government which is is being said by some people.
  • The entire incident has become a scandalous because Jamal Khashoggi journalist was murdered inside the Saudi embassy in Turkey. His friend and colleagues were also using the same software.
  • India has integrity and enough mechanism in place to investigate the matter.

Is Privacy a myth in digital world?

  • Yes, it is a myth.
  • People are happily sharing the data with Facebook and WhatsApp and other companies but when the government asks for the consent of people for collecting their personal data due to security reasons, people raise the question of privacy.
  • We should understand this situation and logically analyse about the real dangers.

What are the intentions of WhatsApp?

  • They do not want to share the data with the government.
  • They want to dominate the digital space by taking individual decision.
  • They do not want the new player to enter the field.

What can users do?

Ask for professional help for checking the phone as even with high phone safety features advanced virus and malwares can hack the information. Therefore, professional help is required.

What the can government do?

There is an immediate need of ‘Data protection Law’ but first there is a need to create some kind of ‘constitutional mechanism’ to have some kind of parliamentary judicial oversight on the entire surveillance agencies of India.

Is there any need to bring more accountability to the social media?

Yes, government of India is in full right to put accountability on these social media platforms. We should have a very strong mechanism so that nothing goes wrong and if that happens then appropriate steps could be taken.

Sample Question:

Which of the following is not an example of privacy-browser?
a) Tor
b) Brave
c) Epic
d) Opera

Answer: d


Info-graphic Summary


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