Related Topics: Internal Security, Operation Blue Star
The Centre has removed from its blacklist — or the Central Adverse List as it is officially known — names of 312 Sikh foreign nationals involved in anti-India activities.
What is the Central Adverse List?
- The Ministry of Home Affairs maintains a list of individuals who supported the Khalistan movement in 1980s and 90s but left India to take asylum in foreign countries.
- This list included the name of “hardliners” who were in favour of a separate Sikh state and had opposed the Operation Blue Star.
- The list has names of those individuals who are suspected to have links with terrorist outfits or have violated visa norms in their previous visit to India.
- The list also includes the names of those persons who have indulged in criminal activities or have been accused of sexual crimes against children in their respective countries.
- It has more than 35,000 names on it.
- Various intelligence agencies constantly review this list and add new names to it.
Purpose of the List
- This list is constantly used by all Indian Missions and Consulates to stop the individuals named in it from entering India.
- It is a step taken by the Indian government to maintain internal security.
- The list is also used to keep serious offenders outside India as somebody may commit a crime in his native nation and then apply for an Indian visa to escape prosecution.
What does the recent action mean?
- The 312 Sikhs whose names have been removed from the Central Adverse list can now visit India and meet their families here.
- Most of these Sikh nationals have remained outside country since the 1980s and have not visited their families since then.
- With this decision of the government, they will now get access to consular services as well as an Indian visa.
- This list had a multiplier effect in denying visas as the family members of the persons on this list were also denied visas to other countries.
Related Topics: Government Policies & Interventions, Indian Economy
- As part of third stimulus package for the economy, Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman has unveiled a set of government decisions to boost exports and the housing sector.
- The decisions announced by the Minister follow two previous mega announcements designed to encourage private sector investment, and bring further stability into the banking system through several public sector bank mergers.
- India will also now host annual mega shopping festivals in 4 places.
Snapshot of Key Decisions
Export Sector Package
- A new attractive scheme for Remission of Duties or Taxes on Export Product (RoDTEP) was introduced to replace the existing Merchandise Exports from India Scheme (MEIS) from January 1, 2020.
- The existing dispensation in textiles of MEIS and the old ROSL (Rebate of State Levies) will continue up to December 31, 2019.
- Revised Priority sector lending norms for export credit will release an additional Rs 36,000 crore to Rs 68,000 crore as export credit under priority sector.
- RoDTEP will more than adequately incentivise exporters than existing schemes put together. The revenue foregone is projected at up to ₹50,000 crore per year.
- A fully electronic refund module for the quick and automated refund of input tax credits will become operational by the end of September, 2019.
- To increase bank credit to exporters, the Export Credit Guarantee Corporation (ECGC) will expand the scope of its Export Credit Insurance Scheme to provide a higher insurance cover to banks that are lending working capital for exports.
Housing Sector Package
- Rs 20,000 crore fund (Rs 10,000 crore from Government and roughly same amount from outside investors) would be set up to provide last mile funding for affordable and middle income housing.
- This fund will be used to support projects that are non-NPA and non-NCLT projects and the objective is to focus on construction of unfinished units.
- The fund would be set up as a Category-II AIF trust and would be professionally run with experts from housing and banking sector.
- External commercial borrowing (ECB) guidelines will be relaxed to facilitate financing of home buyers who are eligible under the PMAY, in consultation with RBI.
- On lines of the popular Dubai Shopping Festival, annual mega shopping festivals in India will be organised in four places in four themes.
- Focus of the shopping festivals will be gems and jewellery, handicrafts, yoga, tourism, textiles and leather.
Need for the Announcement
- India had reported its weakest growth in more than six years at 5 per cent in the June quarter.
- The economic slowdown has particularly been harsh on the automobile sector with domestic passenger vehicle sales having skidded for the 10th consecutive month in August 2019, registering a 31.57 percent decline.
- Exports were one of the drivers of India’s economic growth in the past decade. Between 2006 and 2010, merchandise exports grew at a compound annual growth rate of 15.4%, compared to global export growth of 5.9% in the same period. In 2010-11, they grew 37.5%.
- In contrast, they grew by a mere 9% in 2018-19 and according to the latest trade data, merchandise exports declined by 6% in August 2019.
- In the real estate space, the number of unsold homes has increased while fast-moving consumer goods companies have reported a decline in volume growth and lending to job-creating MSMEs by banks have actually slipped.
- Without enacting any major supply-side reforms like land and labour reforms that can raise potential growth, it is also hard to see how greater spending can raise growth for very long.
- The government should aim higher by trying to push through long-pending structural reforms that can raise India’s growth trajectory to the next level.
- The realty market requires a broad economic upturn to recover properly, while exports need a competitive edge sharpened by wider reforms that make space for high-quality stuff at low cost.
Related Topics: Banking Sector, Financial Inclusion
The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) released the draft guidelines for ‘on tap’ licensing of SFBs in the private sector.
Why ‘on tap’ licensing of SFBs?
- On tap’ licensing will enable entities to approach the RBI for obtaining licences for small finance banks on meeting laid-down criteria.
- Eligible entities would not have to wait for licences as it would be available on-demand basis.
What is a Small Finance Bank?
- A small finance bank is primarily set up to undertake basic banking activities of acceptance of deposits and lending to unserved and underserved sections, including small business units, small and marginal farmers, micro and small industries and unorganised sector entities.
- The objectives of setting up of SBFs are to further financial inclusion and supply of credit through high technology-low cost operations.
Key Features of Draft Guidelines
SFBs shall be registered as a public limited company under the Companies Act, 2013. It will be governed by the provisions of the Banking Regulation Act, 1949 and Reserve Bank of India Act, 1934.
- Existing non-banking financial companies (NBFCs), micro finance institutions and local area banks in the private sector, which are controlled by residents, can opt for conversion into small finance banks.
- Promoter of a payments bank is eligible to set up an SFB, provided both banks come under the non-operating financial holding company (NOFHC) structure.
- Proposals from public sector entities and large industrial house/business groups, and autonomous boards/bodies will not be entertained.
- The minimum paid-up voting equity capital for small finance banks shall be Rs 200 crore, except for such small finance banks which are converted from UCBs.
- RBI allowed primary urban cooperative banks (UCBs) to convert into SFBs, provided they comply with the on-tap licencing guidelines.
- The minimum net worth of such SFBs will be ₹100 crore and has to be increased to ₹200 crore within five years from commencement of business.
- In view of the inherent risk of an SFB, it shall be required to maintain a minimum capital adequacy ratio of 15 per cent of its risk weighted assets (RWA) on a continuous basis.
Promoters should hold a minimum of 40 per cent of the paid-up voting equity capital of the bank, which would remain locked in for five years from the date of commencement of the bank’s business.
Listing of SFBs
- The central bank maintained that SFBs should be listed within three years of reaching a net worth of ₹500 crore.
- SFBs having net worth of below Rs 500 crore could also get their shares listed voluntarily, subject to fulfilment of the requirements of the capital markets regulator.
The foreign shareholding in the small finance bank would be as per the extant foreign direct investment (FDI) policy for private sector banks.
[Source: Economic Times, Livemint]
FACTS OF THE DAY
NATIONAL REGISTER OF CITIZENS (NRC)
National Register of Citizens (NRC) authority has published the individual status of all the 3.3 crore people of Assam who had applied for inclusion in the updated citizens’ registry. The list – which has the names of those who have been accepted as citizens, those who have been rejected and those whose appeals are pending – was uploaded on the official NRC site. One has to key in the ARN, or Application Receipt Number, to view his or her citizenship status or that of the members of his or her family. Each applicant was provided a unique ARN generated after application for the NRC updating exercise. NRC is the register containing names of Indian Citizens in Assam.
SARDAR SAROVAR DAM
The water level in the Sardar Sarovar Dam at Kevadiya in Narmada district has reached its highest capacity at 138.68 metres, first time since its height was raised in 2017. The dam aims to provide drinking water to 131 urban centres and 9,633 villages (53 per cent of total 18,144 villages in Gujarat) and irrigation facilities for 18.54 hectares of land, covering 3,112 villages in 15 districts.
The prime minister will visit the dam at Kevadiya to attend “Namami Narmade Mahotsava” to mark filling up of the dam to its full capacity and celebrate his birthday. The Narmada Control Authority (NCA) had in 2014 granted the permission to raise the height of the mega dam to 138.68 metres from 121.92 metres. The dam was inaugurated by PM Modi on September 17, 2017.
BACTERIAL STRAIN CAPABLE OF REMOVING PESTICIDE
Researchers from IIT Bombay have identified a soil bacterial strain from the campus that helps in “complete remediation” of the carbaryl pesticide. Carbaryl pesticide continues to be used in the agricultural sector in spite of experimental studies in laboratory animals suggesting it to be a probable carcinogen to humans. Carbaryl is also persistent in nature leading to pollution of both soil and water ecosystems. The newly isolated bacterial strain utilises the pesticide as its source of carbon and nitrogen for its growth. The team was also able to identify the genes responsible and the metabolic pathway involved in the complete metabolism and bioremediation process. The bacterial strain, whose species is yet to be identified, comes under the Pseudomonas genus.