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Economic Current affairs 2021

Following the current events and news in the area of Economic is very very important for the general studies paper in the UPSC exam. In recent times questions are set on only those topics that have made news. Regular study of Economics from NCERT books or otherwise is no longer required. The idea is to follow the current affairs news related to Economics and understand the Economics behind those issues. This is true for all levels of teh IAS exam - prelims, mains and also the interview.

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Current Affairs in Economic - March 2021

LIDEA: It is an interactive AI Powered ChatBot solution. Birla Estates recently launched “LIDEA” for its customers on WhatsApp. The solution is aimed at providing information of its projects to users who are evaluating residential developments of Birla Estates. LIDEA which is powered with artificial intelligence, will answer the queries of the users regarding Birla Estates developments. It will also offer features like viewing location, configurations, amenities, virtual tours and accepting site visit requests. The launch of the ChatBot on WhatsApp adds to the digital experience of Birla Alokya, where the homes feature voice based automation and homebuyers can visualise their future home using an immersive Virtual Reality experience.

GoI: Recently, the Government of India (GoI) launched SPICe+, a web form that integrates 10 services of various ministries and departments. This will help boost Ease of Doing Business in India, especially for a startup. It was launched by the Secretary of Ministry of Corporate Affairs (MCA) Injeti Srinivas.

 SPICE+: It is an acronym for Simplified Performa for Incorporating Company Electronically Plus. This web form provides 10 services thereby saving time, cost for starting a business in India. The 10 services that it provides are DIN allotment, issue of PAN, TAN, EPFO and ESIC registration, opening bank account for a company, allotment of GSTIN, issue of Profession Tax, etc. Out of the ten services it will also provide services of the three Central Government Ministries like Ministry of Corporate Affairs, Ministry of Labour and the Department of Revenue in the Ministry of Finance.

Initiatives such as SPICE+ is necessary to improve India's ranking globally.

Union Cabinet: The Union Cabinet, chaired by the Prime Minister, Narendra Modi has approved the mega consolidation of ten PSBs into four PSBs. the 4 PSBs include the amalgamation of Oriental Bank of Commerce and United Bank of India into Punjab National Bank, amalgamation of Syndicate Bank into Canara Bank, amalgamation of Andhra Bank and Corporation Bank into Union Bank of India and amalgamation of Allahabad Bank into Indian Bank. The merger will come into effect from the new financial year 1st April 2020.

Vadhvan Port: The Union Cabinet chaired by the Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi, has given its 'in-principle' approval for setting up a Major Port at Vadhavan near Dahanu in Maharashtra. An amount of Rs 65,545 crores has been sanctioned by the Government of India for the project.

The Vadhavan port will be developed on the 'Landlord Model'. A Special Purpose Vehicle (SPV) will be set up to provide the necessary infrastructure to the port.

The SPV will develop the port infrastructure including reclamation, construction of breakwater, besides establishing connectivity to the hinterland. All business activities will be done by private developers under the PPP (private-public partnership) model.

The decision of setting a major port in Vadhavan is because the natural draft at the Vadhavan Port near the coast is about 20 meters. This makes it ideal to handle bigger vessels. The development of the Vadhavan port will house the container ships of 16,000 to 25,000 TEU capacities.

UNCTAD: It refers to the United Nations Conference on Trade, Investment and Development. UNCTAD has issued a warning that global foreign direct investment (FDI) could drop by up to 15% on previous estimates due to the Coronavirus outbreak.  The organization has predicted that as the visus spreads there will be further decline in the economic growth. COVID-19 outbreak would significantly drag down global FDI, which is a measure of cross-border private sector investment.

Surat: It is a city in the Indian state of Gujarat. It is known as the textile hub of the nation or the Silk City of India. It is very famous for its cotton mills and Surat Zari Craft. Surat is the biggest centre of MMF (man-made fibre) in India. It is also known for its diamond industry.

Recently, the Surat diamond industry is likely to face a loss of around Rs 8,000 crore in next two months. This is due to a state of emergency is declared in Hong Kong as well as other states of China due to the coronavirus outbreak.  Hong Kong is a major business hub for the Surat diamond industry and according to Gems and Jewellery Export Promotion Council (GJEPC) polished diamonds worth around Rs 50,000 crore are exported from Surat to Hong Kong every year. If the situation does not improve then the diamond industry of India will worsen

OIL: It refers to Oil India Limited. OIL, a Navratna PSU, is a fully integrated Exploration & Production (E&P) company in the upstream sector and is the second largest national oil and gas company of India as measured by total proved plus probable oil and natural gas reserves and production in India. Its operational headquarters is in Duliajan, Assam and the main headquarters is in Noida, New Delhi. It was founded in 18 February 1959. The company is a state-owned Navratna under the administrative control of India's Ministry of Petroleum and Natural Gas.

Recently, OIL signed the Crude Oil Sales Agreement (COSA) with Numaligarh Refinery. The agreement was signed by the finance directors of the two companies for purchase and sale of crude oil for a term of five years. The Crude Oil Sales Agreement (COSA) will come in effect from 1st April 2020 to 31st March 2025. The agreement will streamline the sale and purchase transactions of crude oil produced from fields in North East India.

Numaligarh Refinery: It is a joint venture (JV) between Bharat Petroleum (61.65%), Oil India (26%), and Government of Assam (12.35%). It is locate in Morangi, Assam and is owned by Numaligarh Refinery Limited.

Finance Commission: The Finance Commission was established by the President of India in 1951 under Article 280 of the Indian Constitution. It was formed to define the financial relations between the central government of India and the individual state governments. It was founded on 22 November 1951. It is headquartered in New Delhi.

Recently, the Finance Commission Constituted an 8-member committee under Shri N K Singh in order to build a fiscal consolidation road map for the centre and the states.

The first report by the Finance Commission was submitted to the GoI in February 2020. The Commission will submit its final report covering the financial years 2021-22 to 2025-26 by October 30.  NK Singh Committee will not only recommend the definition of deficit and debt but will also define contingent liabilities of PSUs.

FC: It refers to the Fiscal Consolidation. FC is a policy adopted by the Government to reduce the deficits. The objective behind the policy is to reduce debt stocks and deficits in the policies that are undertaken by the Government. The Fiscal Responsibility and Budget Management Act, 2003 (FRBMA) is the best example for the Fiscal Consolidation measure of the Government of India.

SIDBI: It refers to the Small Industries Development Bank of India. SIDBI is a development financial institution in India. It was founded on 2 April 1990 through an Act of Parliament. It is headquartered in Lucknow, Uttar Pradesh.  SIDBI also coordinates the functions of institutions engaged in similar activities.

Recently, SIDBI announced its plan to launch Swavalamban Express on 5 June 2020. It seeks to empower budding entrepreneurs under its mission Swavalamban. The aim is to promote budding business aspirants and entrepreneurs. The train is to cover more than 7,000 km in 15 days during which various workshops and programmes are to be organized. The Train is to visit 11 entrepreneurial cities which are Bengaluru, Kolakata, Bhubaneswar, Mumbai, Ahmedabad, Hyderabad, Delhi, Varanasi and Jammu. The train has been launched to fulfil the goal of India of 5 trillion USD by 2024-25. 

Carbon-Neutral Oil: Billionaire Mukesh Ambani’s Reliance Industries Ltd (RIL) has recently sourced the world’s first consignment of ‘carbon-neutral oil’ from the US.

  1. The move comes as the company looks to become a net zero-carbon company by 2035.
  2. Carbon-neutral oil was delivered to Reliance by Oxy Low Carbon Ventures (OLCV), a division of US oil Major Occidental. RIL got 2 million barrels of consignment Permian basin.
  3. The Very Large Crude Carrier (VLCC) Sea Pearl containing the carbon-neutral oil from Permian basin, unloaded the cargo at Jamnagar on January 28, 2021.
  4. Reliance operates the world’s largest single location oil refining complex at Jamnagar in Gujarat with capacity of 68.2 million tonnes a year.
  5. The transaction is a first step in the creation of a new market for climate-differentiated crude oil.

Background:

  1. Mukesh Ambani had in July 2020 unveiled plans to turn Reliance into a net carbon zero company by 2035. This will be done by embracing new technologies to convert its carbon dioxide emissions into useful products and chemicals.
  2. Occidental is the first US-based international energy company to announce an ambition to achieve net-zero GHG emissions associated with the use of its products by 2050. The company has been using carbon-dioxide in its enhanced oil recovery operations in the Permian Basin for over 40 years.

About RIL: Reliance Industries Limited (RIL) is an Indian multinational conglomerate company. The company is headquartered in Mumbai, Maharashtra, India. Reliance owns businesses across India engaged in energy, petrochemicals, textiles, natural resources, retail, and telecommunications. RIL was founded by Dhirubhai Ambani on 8 May 1973.

Mobile Components Unit in Tamil Nadu: Tata Electronics a subsidiary of Tata group signs MoU (Memorandum of Understanding) with Tamil Nadu to set up a facility to manufacture mobile components.

  1. The facility will be established in Krishnagiri to manufacture the mechanical enclosures of mobile phones.
  2. This project of Tata Electronics will cost around Rupees 4684 crores.
  3. The project seeks to help in creating jobs for 18,250 people in the state.

A MoU has also been signed by Tamil Nadu with the Grasim Industries Ltd in order to establish a paint manufacturing unit at Cheyyar with an investment of Rupees 750 crore.

Tamil Nadu, in total, has signed 28 MoUs for the projects for which the budget outlay is Rupees 28,000 crore.

About Tata Group:

  1. The Tata Group is an Indian multinational conglomerate. It is a private Company.
  2. It was founded in 1868 by Jamsetji Tata. It is headquartered in Mumbai.
  3. The company is one of the biggest and oldest industrial groups of India. Each of the Tata Company is operating independently under its own board of directors and shareholders.

The companies affiliated under the Tata include

  1. Tata Communications
  2. Tata Chemicals
  3. Tata Consumer Products
  4. Tata Consultancy Services (TCS)
  5. Tata Motors
  6. Tata Cliq
  7. Tata Elxsi
  8. Taj Air
  9. Tata Power
  10. Jamshedpur FC
  11. Tata Steel
  12. Indian Hotels Company Ltd
  13. Cromā
  14. Tata Starbucks
  15. Vistara
  16. Tanishq
  17. Voltas
  18. Tata Projects Ltd
  19. Tata Capital
  20. Titan
  21. Trent

About Grasim Industries Ltd:

  1. Grasim Industries Limited is an Indian manufacturing company based in Mumbai, Maharashtra. It was established in 1947 as a textile manufacturer in India.
  2. Grasim Industries was ranked 154th in a list of the world's best regarded firms compiled by Forbes. It is a subsidiary of Aditya Birla Group.
  3. The work of the company is diversified into Viscose Staple Fibre, sponge iron, cement, chemicals and Diversified Financial Services.The industry is the world’s largest producer of viscose rayon fibre that accounts for 24 per cent of the market share.

Drones for Agriculture: The Ministry of Agriculture & Farmers Welfare (MoAFW) was recently allowed to use drones.

Highlights:

  1. The Ministry of Civil Aviation (MoCA) and Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) granted conditional exemption for Remotely Piloted Aircraft System (RPAS) usage to the MoAFW.
  2. The permission allows drone deployment by the MoAFW for remote sensing data collection in agricultural areas of 100 districts of the country under Pradhan Mantri Fasal Bima Yojana (PMFBY).
  3. It will be used in production estimates at the gram Panchayat level.
  4. The exemption shall be valid from the one year from the date of issue of the permission or until the operationalisation of the Digital Sky Platform.
  5. However, this exemption shall be valid only if all conditions and limitations are strictly adhered to.
  6. In case of violation of any condition, this exemption shall become null & void and action may be initiated.

Takeover of DHFL Ltd by Piramal Group: The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) recently approved the acquisition of Diwan Housing Finance Corporation Ltd (DHFL) by Piramal Capital And Housing Finance.

The decision was taken by central bank after a month a Committee of Creditors (CoC) of DHFL voted in favor of Piramal’s bid. Following this, the resolution plan of the company has been approved by the RBI.

Now, the Piramal Group will require to take permission of National Company Law Tribunal to take over the DHFL.

Issue:

  1. DHFL was sent to bankruptcy court in December 2019 after the company defaulted to its lenders on debt worth Rs 90,000 crore.
  2. The Enforcement Directorate (ED) conducted a raid in the company and found links of money laundering activity with respect to the loans given to closely linked firms.
  3. Following this, in accordance with the RBI Act of 1934, RBI removed the board of directors DHFL alleging inadequate governance in the company.
  4. Piramal’s plan is to recover Rs 37,250 crore over the next five years for DHFL’s lenders.

About Dewan Housing Finance Corporation Ltd. (DHFL): DHFL is a deposit-taking housing finance company. It is headquartered in Mumbai. It was established in order to enable the access to the economical housing finance for the lower- and middle-income groups in the semi-urban and rural India. The company is the second housing finance company of India.

About Piramal Group: Piramal Group is a global business conglomerate with interests in Pharma, Financial Services, Information Management, Glass Packaging and Real Estate.

With offices in 30 countries and brand presence in over 100 markets, the Piramal Group has a global team of over 10,000 people from 21 diverse nationalities. It was founded in 1984. The current Chairman of Piramal Group is Ajay Piramal.

Central Employment Guarantee Council: The 22nd Meeting of the Central Employment Guarantee Council was recently held on 23.02.2021 under the Chairmanship of Union Minister of Rural Development, Agriculture and Farmers’ Welfare,Panchayati Raj and Food Processing Industries, Shri Narendra Singh Tomar.

Highlights:

 

  • The Central Employment Guarantee Council has been constituted under Section 10 of the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (Mahatma Gandhi NREGA), 2005.

  • Mahatma Gandhi NREGS has played a critical role in providing wage employment to the wage seekers in the current financial year 2020-21 amid the COVID-19 pandemic .

  • A total of 344 crore persondays employment was generated so far, which is the highest ever persondays generated and around 44% higher in comparison to that of previous year.

  • Around 69 crore new job cards were issued this year as compared to usual about 69 lacs in previous years reflecting the succor it provided to the migrant workers going back to their villages.

Central Electricity Regulatory Commission (CERC): Pravas Kumar Singh recently took oath as Member of Central Electricity Regulatory Commission (CERC).

Minister of State for Power (I/C) administered the Oath of Office and Secrecy to him was administered by the Minister of State for Power (I/C) Shri R. K. Singh.

Singh holds LLB Degree. He has worked as Member (legal) in Jharkhand SERC till he was appointed Member, CERC.

About CERC:

The CERC was established by the Government of India (GoI) under the provisions of the Electricity Regulatory Commissions Act, 1998.

CERC is the Central Commission for the purposes of the Electricity Act, 2003 which has repealed the ERC Act, 1998.

Major functions of CERC under the Act are:

 

  • To regulate the tariff of generating companies owned or controlled by the Central Government,

  • To regulate the inter-State transmission of electricity and to determine tariff for such transmission of electricity, etc.

  • Under the Act, CERC shall also advise the Central Government on formulation of National Electricity Policy and Tariff Policy.

  • The Commission consists of a Chairperson and 4 other Members including Chairperson, Central Electricity Authority who is the ex-officio Member of the Commission.

MoU between MCA and CBIC for Exchange of Data: The Ministry of Corporate Affairs (MCA) and Central Board of Indirect Taxes and Customs (CBIC) have recently signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) for data exchange between both the organizations.

Key Highlights:

It was signed by Joint Secretary of MCA, Shri Manoj Pandey and the ADG of CBIC, Shri B. B. Gupta.

The MoU came into force on 25 February 2021.

Data Exchange Steering Group:

 

  • A Data Exchange Steering Group has been constituted for the initiative.

  • The group will meet on regular basis to review the data exchange status.

  • It will also take steps to improve effectiveness of data sharing mechanism.

  • It is an ongoing initiative of MCA and CBIC, who are already collaborating through various existing mechanisms.

  • The move is expected to ease the sharing of data and information between MCA and CBIC on an automatic and regular basis.

  • It is in line with the vision of both organisations to harness data capabilities to ensure effective enforcement.

  • The agreement will enable sharing of the specific information such as the details of Shipping bill (exports), Bill of Entry (imports) Summary from CBIC and the financial statements filed with the Registrar by Corporates, returns of the allotment of shares.

  • In addition, MCA and CBIC will also be able to exchange with each other, on request, any detail available in their databases, for carrying out scrutiny, investigation, inspection and prosecution.

  • The data sharing agreement has become more significant in the context of development of MCA21 Version 3.

  • The MCA21 version will utilize state of the art technology to enhance ease of doing business across India. It will also improve the regulatory enforcement.

Embargo on Private Banks Lifted For Government Business: The Government has recently lifted the embargo on private sector banks for the conduct of Government-related banking transactions such as taxes and other revenue payment facilities, pension payments, small savings schemes, etc.

Key Highlights:

The decision was announced by the Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharman.

This step is expected to further enhance customer convenience, spur competition and higher efficiency in the standards of customer services.

 

 

 

  • With the lifting of the embargo, there is now no bar on RBI for authorization of private sector banks (in addition to public sector banks) for Government business, including Government agency business.

  • This move will enable private banks to conduct Government-related banking transactions include taxes and other revenue payments, pension payments, and small savings schemes.

  • Earlier, only a few private banks were permitted to engage in government businesses.

  • In 2015, the government had continued with the embargo, and allowed the private sector with existing government agency business to continue without any fresh authorisation to private banks.

  • The Reserve Bank of India (RBI), for undertaking government agency business, pays a commission to banks.

  • The central bank carries out the general banking business of the central and state governments through agency banks appointed under Section 45 of the RBI Act, 1934.

Insurance Ombudsman Rules: The Government of India (GoI) recently amended the “Insurance Ombudsman Rules, 2017”.

  • The amended rules are called as ' insurance Ombudsman (Amendment) Rules,2021'.

Highlights:

  • The Insurance Ombudsman Rules, 2017 was ammended on 2nd March, 2021 for better resolution of policyholders’ complaints regarding insurance service deficiencies.

  • It is also intended to improve the working of the Insurance Ombudsman mechanism which in turn will help in facilitating the resolution of the complaints with respect to the deficiencies in insurance services in a cost-effective and impartial manner on time.

  • The Ombudsman mechanism was administered by the Executive Council of Insurers. This has now been renamed as the Council for Insurance Ombudsmen.

The amendments are as follows:

  • The amendments in the rules have strengthened the scope of the complaints made to the ombudsman from disputes to deficiencies in service at the part of insurers, brokers, agents and intermediaries. Earlier, Earlier, the scope of complaints to Ombudsmen was limited to only disputes.

  • The insurance brokers have been brought within the ambit of the Ombudsman mechanism, by empowering the Ombudsmen to pass awards against insurance brokers as well.

  • Under the amended rules, the timeliness and cost-effectiveness of the mechanism has been substantially strengthened.

  • Policyholders will now be enabled for making complaints electronically to the Ombudsman.

  • The amended rules also seek to create a complaints management system so as to enable the policyholders to track status of their complaints online.

  • The rules also provide that Ombudsman can use video-conferencing to hear the cases.

  • In case there is vacancy in office of any particular Ombudsman, then to enable access to relief under the Ombudsman mechanism additional charge will be given to another Ombudsman.

  • The selection committee will now comprise of an individual having a track record of promoting the consumer rights or is advancing cause of consumer protection in insurance sector.

  • A number of amendments have been made for securing the independence and integrity of the Ombudsman selection process, while also building in safeguards to secure the independence and impartiality of the appointed persons while serving as Ombudsmen.

Who is an ombudsman?

  • Ombudsman is an official who is appointed to investigate the complaints regarding the service or on an administrative authority.

  • The ombudsman is usually appointed by governments however, the private companies can also appoint them.

  • The Union government has appointed ombudsman to resolve the grievances with respect to income tax, banking and insurance.

Matam Venkata Rao: Matam Venkata Rao has recently taken charge as the new Managing Director (MD) and Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Central Bank of India.

  • Rao till now held the position of Executive Director at Canara Bank.

  • Rao is a Certified Associate of the Indian Institute of Bankers (IIB).

  • His appointment is for a period of 3 years with effect from the date of assumption of office on or after March 1, 2021, or until further orders, whichever is earlier.

Central Bank of India:

  • Central Bank of India, a government-owned bank, is one of the oldest and largest commercial banks in India.

  • Established on 21 December 1911, Central Bank of India was the first Indian commercial bank which was wholly owned and managed by Indians.

  • It is based in Mumbai which is the financial capital of India and capital city of state of Maharashtra.

Wipro signs deal to acquire Capco: Wipro recently announced that it has signed an agreement to acquire Capco, a global management and technology consultancy providing digital, consulting and technology services to financial institutions in the Americas, Europe and the Asia Pacific for $1.45 billion.

  • This acquisition will make Wipro one of the largest end-to-end global consulting, technology and transformation service providers to the banking and financial services industry.

About Wipro:

  • Wipro Limited is an Indian multinational corporation that provides information technology, consulting and business process services.

  • It was founded on 29 December 1945 by M.H. Hasham Premji.

  • It is headquartered in Bangalore, Karnataka, India.

  • The current CEO of WIPRO is Thierry Delaporte.

Business Kisht Suraksha: HDFC ERGO General Insurance recently launched the “Business Kisht Suraksha” cover.

About Business Kisht Suraksha:

  • It is a unique cover which was launched with the aim of protecting the balance sheet of Micro finance Institutions (MFIs), financial institutions and banks if any catastrophe or natural disaster occurs.

  • The main objective of launching this kit is to limit the impacts on the balance sheet of financial institutions which occurs because of non-payment of EMIs by borrowers or because of several calamities like earthquakes, floods, cyclones.

  • The Business Kisht can be customized based on the needs of the individual MFI or financial institution (FI).

  • It can also be tailor-made based on the geographical presence of the borrower, MFI or any FIs.

  • The MFIs or FIs would also be given the option to select the number of EMIs which might need insurance coverage.

About HDFC ERGO:

  • 51:49 joint venture firm between Housing Development Finance Corporation Ltd. (HDFC) and ERGO International AG which is the primary insurance entities of Munich Re Group in Germany.

  • ERGO operates in the insurance field under BFSI sector.

  • HDFC ERGO offers the products in corporate, retail and rural sectors.

  • The retail sector products include motor, health, home, travel, cybersecurity policy and personal accident. The Corporate products include marine, liability and property insurance while the Rural sector is meant for the farmers with crop insurance and cattle insurance.

Housing Development Finance Corporation Limited (HDFC):

  • HDFC a financial services company based in Mumbai, Maharashtra in India.

  • It is a major housing finance provider in India.

  • It was founded in 1977 by Hasmukhbhai Parekh.

  • The company has its presence the sectors like banking, life and general insurance, venture capital realty, asset management, deposits, education and education loans.

  • The current MD & CEO is Ritesh Kumar.

Note: The merger of the HDFC ERGO Health Insurance and HDFC ERGO was completed and came into effect in November 2020. This was the second successful merger of insurance sector in India.

CRCL: It refers to the Central Revenues Control Laboratory. CRCL, New Delhi was recently recognized as a Regional Customs Laboratory (RCL) of the World Customs Organization (WCO) for Asia-Pacific Region.

  • With its recognition as RCL, CRCL joins a select group of Customs Laboratories in the region like those in Japan & Korea.

About CRCL, New Delhi:

  • CRCL, New Delhi is under the administrative control of Central Board of Indirect Taxes & Customs.

  • It was established in 1939.

  • It is the headquarters of 14 Revenue Laboratories, including 2 laboratories working at Government Opium & Alkaloid Works, Ghazipur & Neemuch.

About CBIC:

  • CBIC is an acronym for the Central Board of Indirect Taxes and Customs.

  • It is the nodal national agency responsible for administering Customs, GST, Central Excise, Service Tax and Narcotics in India.

  • It comes under the Department of Revenue, Ministry of Finance.

  • It was founded on 1 January 1964.

  • The current CBIC is M. Ajit Kumar.

About World Customs Organization (WCO):

  • The World Customs Organization (WCO) was established in 1952 as the Customs Co-operation Council (CCC).

  • It is an independent intergovernmental body whose mission is to enhance the effectiveness and efficiency of Customs administrations.

  • It is headquartered in Brussels, Belgium.

Agroforestry in the silk sector:

The Ministry of Agriculture and Farmers Welfare recently signed a MoU with the Central Silk Board (CSB) on a convergence model for the implementation of Agroforestry in the silk sector under the ongoing Sub-Mission on Agroforestry (SMAF) Scheme.

Highlights:

  • The MoU was signed in the presence of Union Minister of textile and Women & Child Development, Smriti Irani and the Minister of State for Agriculture & Farmers Welfare, Parshottam Rupala.

  • This initiative in sericulture sector is especially targeted for augmentation of sericulture host plants e.g. Mulberry, Asan, Arjuna, Bada Kesseru, Phanat, Som, Soalu, Kesseru, etc. to be cultivated both as block plantations and border or peripheral plantations on farmlands.

About CSB:

  • The Central Silk Board (CSB) is a Statutory Body, established during 1948.

  • It functions under the administrative control of the Ministry of Textiles.

  • It is headquartered in Bengaluru.

About Sub-Mission on Agroforestry (SMAF):

  • The Department of Agriculture, Cooperation and Farmers Welfare (DAC & FW) has been implementing the Sub-Mission on Agroforestry (SMAF) since 2016-17 as part of the recommendation of the National Agroforestry Policy 2014.

  • India was the first country to have such a comprehensive policy which was launched at the World Agroforestry Congress held in Delhi in February 2014.

  • At present, the scheme is being implemented in 20 States and 2 UTs.

Aim:

SMAF aims to encourage farmers to plant multi-purpose trees together with the agriculture crops for climate resilience and an additional source of income to the farmers, as well as enhanced feedstock to inter alia wood-based and herbal industry.

CSIR Floriculture Mission:

Union Health Minister Dr. Harsh Vardhan recently launched 'CSIR Floriculture Mission' through virtual mode in New Delhi.

Key Points:

  • The CSIR Floriculture Mission has been approved for implementation in 21 States and Union Territories (UTs) of India.

  • Under the mission, the available knowledgebase in CSIR Institutes will be utilized and leveraged to help Indian farmers and industry re-position themselves to meet the import requirements.

  • The CSIR Floriculture Mission will be implemented in collaboration with several bodies. These bodies are as follows:

  1. Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR)

  2. Khadi and Village Industries Commission (KVIC)

  3. Tribal Cooperative Marketing Development Federation of India Ltd. (TRIFED)

  4. Agricultural and Processed Food Products Export Development Authority (APEDA)

  5. Fragrance and Flavour Development Centre (FFDC)

  6. Ministry of Commerce and Ministry of Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSME).

Aim of CSIR Floriculture Mission:

  • The CSIR Floriculture Mission aims to focus on commercial floral crops, seasonal and annual crops, and cultivation of flower crops for honey bee rearing and wild ornaments.

  • Some of the popular floriculture crops include Marigold, Rose, Gladiolus, Gerbera, Canna, Carnation, Chrysanthemum, Lilium and Tuberose.

Significance of the mission:

  • Despite the fact that India has diverse agro-climatic and edaphic conditions, and rich plant diversity, it shares only 0.6 % of global floriculture market.

  • This is because the Indian Farmers have little knowledge regarding the floriculture which have the potential to give 5 times more return than the traditional crops.

  • It also has the potential to provide huge employment through floriculture farming, nursery raising, entrepreneurship development for nursery trade and export.

  • This mission is significant because it is expected to create opportunities for entrepreneurship development in floriculture.

  • Under the mission, CSIR will lead to infuse the latest technologies in the field of floriculture.

What is floriculture?

Floriculture, or flower farming, is a discipline of horticulture concerned with the cultivation of flowering and ornamental plants for gardens and for floristry, comprising the floral industry.

Additional Info:

  • Harsh Vardhan also launched CSIR’s Societal Portal along with the Android App.

  • This portal has been developed by CSIR Team with the help of MyGov Team.

  • The Portal is to facilitate the public to submit the societal problems that can be resolved using S&T interventions.

SmartUp Unnati programme: HDFC Bank recently announced the launch of a dedicated programme named “SmartUp Unnati” for mentoring wom

en entrepreneurs by women leaders at the bank.

Highlights:

  • The announcement was made on the occasion of International Women’ Day (IWD).

  • Under the SmartUp Unnati programme, over the next one year, senior women leaders from HDFC Bank will mentor women entrepreneurs in helping them achieve their goals.

  • This programme is available only to existing customers and will initially target more than 3,000 women entrepreneurs associated with the bank’s SmartUp programme.

About HDFC Bank Limited:

  • HDFC Bank Limited is an Indian banking and financial services company headquartered in Mumbai, Maharashtra.

  • A subsidiary of the Housing Development Finance Corporation, HDFC Bank was founded in August 1994.

  • It is India's largest private sector bank.

  • The current MD and CEO of HDFC Bank is Sashidhar Jagdishan who Succeeds Aditya Puri.

  • The tagline of HDFC Bank: We understand your world.

Naureen Hassan:

Indian-origin Naureen Hassan has recently been appointed as the first Vice President and Chief Operating Officer (COO) of the New York-based Federal Reserve Bank.

She was appointed by the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (FRS).

She is a 25-year veteran of the financial services industry with expertise in strategy, digital transformation, cybersecurity and regulatory/risk management.

Hassan has now become the second-highest-ranking officer of the New York Fed as well as an alternate voting member of the Federal Open Market Committee.

Prior to this, she was the Chief Digital Officer for Morgan Stanley Wealth Management (MSWM).

She took over the new role with effect from March 15, 2021.

Federal Reserve Bank (FRS):

  • The Federal Reserve System (FRS) is the central bank of the United States.

  • It was created on December 23, 1913, with the enactment of the Federal Reserve Act, after a series of financial panics led to the desire for central control of the monetary system in order to alleviate financial crises.

  • It is headquartered in New York, United States.

  • The current CEO of FRS is John C. Williams and the Chairman is Jerome Powell.

  • The FRS provides the country with a safe, flexible, and stable monetary and financial system.

  • Known simply as the Fed, it is composed of 12 regional Federal Reserve Banks that are each responsible for a specific geographic area of the U.S

Current Affairs in Economic - Feburary 2021

Indian Railways: Indian Railways is the largest rail network in Asia and the world's second largest has over 70,000 passenger coaches and more than 11,000 locomotives. The First train in India ran between Bombay and Thane on the 16th of April 1853. Indian Railways transports almost 2.5 crore passengers daily.

Recently, the Indian railways launched a high capacity parcel van at Delhi Safdarjung Railway Station. The Parcel van was designed and manufactured in Kapurthala Rail Coach Factory. The Speed of the train’s speed is 130 km per hour. The Indian Railways has launched an exclusive Banana Container train to boost the exports of the fruit.

Agricultural and Processed Food Products Export Development Authority(APEDA), along with State Government of Andhra Pradesh and one of the largest member exporter of banana, dispatched the first shipment of 890 MTs of high quality bananas, loaded in 43 refrigerated containers, from Tadipatri, Anantpur in Andhra Pradesh to Jawaharlal Nehru Port (JNPT) in Mumbai for export to international markets. More than 500 farmers cultivating bananas in more than 1800 hectares have been trained to boost the production and export of the fruit from Anantpur and nearby districts. Indian APEDA with the support of the State Government and exporters aims to provide a good opportunity for India to increase its share in the world trade of banana.

Economic Survey: The Economic Survey is a detailed report card on the economic performance in the year. The Survey brings out the economic trends in the country and facilitates a better appreciation of the mobilization of resources and their allocation in the Union Budget. It analyses the trends in agricultural and industrial production, infrastructure, employment, money supply, prices, exports, imports, foreign exchange reserves and other relevant economic factors that have a bearing on the Budget. It is presented in Parliament ahead of the Budget for the ensuing year.

Recently, the Economic Survey 2019-20 was tabled during the Budget Session of the Parliament on 31 January 2020 by Nirmala Sitharaman, Minister of Finance. The survey was prepared under the Chief Economic Advisor (CEA) Krishnamurthy V Subramanian. The theme for the survey 2020 is "Ethical Wealth Creation". The Survey 2020 focuses on the theme of Wealth Creation, Promotion of pro-business policies, strengthening of trust in the economy. The document outlines strategies for making India a $5 trillion dollar economy by 2024-25. The survey highlighted the fact that 2.62 crore new jobs were created in rural and urban areas between 2011-12 and 2017-18 in the country. The Economic Survey on Friday projected revival of economic growth to 6-6.5 per cent in the next fiscal beginning April 1 but suggested the government to relax the budget deficit target to boost growth from a decade low. For the current fiscal, it projected a GDP growth of 5 per cent, the lowest in 11 years, and worsening job prospects. The Survey emphasized on investment-led growth by focusing on reviving the MSME sector. The Survey 2020 also throws light on new ideas like Thalinomics, Adoption of China model, Trust and others, to boost growth and accelerate wealth creation.

BSE: It refers to Bombay Stock Exchange. It was founded in 9 July 1875. It is headquartered in Mumbai, Maharashtra. It is an Indian stock exchange located at Dalal Street, Mumbai. BSE provides a transparent market for trading in equity, debt instruments, equity derivatives, currency derivatives, commodity derivatives, interest rate derivatives, mutual funds and stock lending and borrowing. The current Chairman of BSE is Vikramajit Sen and the Managing Director and CEO of BSE is Ashish Kumar Chauhan.

Recently, the Bombay Stock Exchange (BSE) has signed a licensing agreement with Intercontinental Exchange (ICE) Futures Europe. Intercontinental Exchange (ICE) Futures Europe is an operator of global exchanges and clearinghouses.

India is one of the largest consumers and importers of crude oil in the world, and Brent crude is highly co-related with the Indian crude oil market. This agreement seeks to serve the needs and interests to the Indian energy commodities space and market participants to access Rupee-dominated Brent benchmark prices. It will also help Indian commodity markets by providing convenient and cost-effective onshore hedging products and enable the price discovery of Brent crude prices in the Indian time zone.

Union Budget: The Union Budget of India also referred to as the Annual Financial Statement in the Article 112 of the Constitution of India, is the annual budget of the Republic of India. The Government presents it on the first day of February so that it could be materialized before the beginning of new financial year in April.

Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman presented her second and 90th Union Budget of India for 2020-2021 in the Lok Sabha. The Finance Minister unveiled a series of far-reaching reforms, aimed at energizing the Indian economy through a combination of short-term, medium-term, and long term measures. The government has taken some measures towards reaching the target of a $5 trillion economy by the end of 2022.

The Budget introduced several new schemes besides allocating new funds for the already running Government schemes such as PM-Kisan, Ayushman Bharat, Swachh Bharat Mission, and others. The Union Budget 2020-2021 aims to boost incomes and enhance purchasing power.

The Union Budget has been structured on the overall theme of Ease of Living. The three prominant themes around which the budget has been woven are Aspirational India, Economic Development and Caring Society.

1. Aspirational India:

Under this theme, Union Budget 2020-21 with an allocation of Rs. 4,82401 cr focused on the aspects of:-

a. Agriculture, Irrigation, and Rural Development

b. Wellness, Water, and Sanitation Development and

c. Education and Skills Development

So that all sections of the society could seek better standards of living, with access to health, education and better jobs.

2. Economic development:

Under this theme, economic development for all i.e. – is ensuring SabkaSaath, SabkaVikas, SabkaVishwas”. Union Budget 2020-21 allocated a sum of Rs 2,37,604 cr for:-

a. Industry, Commerce and Investment

b. Infrastructure

c. New economy — led by startups and the tech ecosystem.

3. Caring Society:

Under this theme, the main focus was on creating a caring society which is both humane and compassionate a sum of Rs 62,626 cr was allocated.

a. Women & child

b. Social Welfare

c. Culture and Tourism.

d. Environment and Climate Change

The above themes are held together by Corruption free as well as policy-driven good governance and clean and sound financial sector.

The Key Budget Highlights are:-

INCOME TAX:

The income tax rates have been revised.

5% tax for in11come between Rs 2.5-5 lakh

10% tax for income between Rs 5-7.5 lakh as against 20%

15% tax for income between Rs 7.5-10 lakh as against 20%

20% tax for income between Rs 10-12.5 lakh as against 30%

25% tax for income between Rs 12.5-15 lakh as against 30%

30% tax for income above Rs 15 lakh

The Finance Minister said that the income tax rates would be significantly reduced for those who forego reliefs, exemptions.

HEALTHCARE

Rs 690 billion will be spent toward healthcare spending

TRANSPORT

100 more airports are planned by 2024.

Over 6,000 km of highways in 12 lots will be monetized by 2024.

One major airport will be privatized.

High-speed train between Mumbai and Ahmadabad will be actively pursued.

16-POINT ACTION PLAN FOR FARMERS

According to the Finance Minister, the government is committed to doubling farmers' income by 2022. She proposed to allocate Rs 2.83 lakh crore for agriculture and rural sectors such as irrigation.

MANUFACTURING

Those schemes that encourage manufacturing of mobile phones, electronic equipment and semiconductor packaging will be introduced

Private sector to build Data Centre Parks throughout the country will be encouraged.

80 billion rupees over five years to be provided for quantum technologies and applications and

Milk processing capacity which is to be doubled by 2025.

BANKING/INSURANCE

Insurance cover for bank depositors to be raised to Rs 5 lakh from Rs 1 lakh

INFRASTRUCTURE

5 new smart cities in public-private partnership mode.

Delhi-Mumbai Expressway to be completed by 2023.

100 more airports to be developed by 2024.

Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman said that the estimated nominal GDP growth rate for 2020-21 is 10 per cent. She further added that wealth creators would be respected in this country and tax harassment would not be tolerated.

RBI: It refers to Reserve Bank of India. The Reserve Bank of India is India's central bank, which controls the issue and supply of the Indian rupee. RBI is the regulator of entire Banking in India. RBI plays an important part in the Development Strategy of the Government of India. RBI was set up in 1935 in Kolkata under the Reserve Bank of India Act, 1934. It is headquartered in Mumbai. The 25th Governor of RBI is Shaktikant Das.

The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) will conduct the “Financial Literacy Week 2020” from February 10 to 14, 2020.

The theme of the Financial Literacy Week 2020 is “Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs)”.

The Financial Literacy Week 2020 will aim to aware people about the formalization, collateral free loan, discounting of receivables, rehabilitation of stressed units and timely repayment.

Financial Literacy Week (FLW) is being conducted by the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) every year since 2016 to disseminate financial education messages on a particular theme across the country.

South Indian Bank: South Indian Bank Limited is a major private sector bank. It is headquartered at Thrissur in Kerala, India. It was founded in 1929. South Indian Bank MD & CEO os the South Indian Bank is V.G. Mathew.

Recently, South Indian Bank bagged two awards at the Banking Technology 2019 awards. The awards were instituted by the Indian Banks’ Association. This event was held in Indian Bank Association’s 15th Annual Banking Technology Conference, Expo and Awards held in Mumbai, Maharashtra. The South Indian Bank won in the ‘Most Customer-Centric Bank Using Technology’ category and runner up in the ‘Best Payments Initiative’ category amongst small Banks’.

GoI: It refers to the Government of India. GoI will soon release a new one rupee currency note in India. The Union Ministry of Finance notified ‘Printing of One Rupee Currency Notes Rules, 2020’ vide Gazzette Notification G.S.R. 95(E) dated February 7, 2020. “The One Rupee notes shall be printed at the note printing presses for issue under the authority of Government of India for circulation. The notification has several details of one rupee notes to be printed under the authority of the Government of India for circulation. These include details about the colour, design, standard weight, dimensions etc.

History of currency note in India: Currency notes were introduced in India in 1861, and the one-rupee note was introduced by the British on November 30, 1917. According to the Reserve Bank of India’s (RBI) website, the printing of this note was first stopped in 1926 because its printing was costlier than its value. After that, its printing was resumed in 1940 which continued till 1994. It was ragain eintroduced in 2015 after a gap of 22 years.

RBI: It refers to the Reserve Bank of India. RBI recently, launched a National Strategy for Financial Inclusion (2019-24) to include all, particularly poor and underprivileged class, under formal access to finance - a key goal of the government. It is aimed at providing access to formal financial services in an affordable manner. It also aims to promote financial literacy among customers.

The strategy has been formulated by RBI after consultation with Securities Exchange Board of India(SEBI), Pension fund Regulatory and Development Authority of India (PFRDA) and Insurance Regulatory and Development Authority of India (IRDAI). The report has been ratified by Financial Inclusion Advisory Committee (FSDC).

The recommendations made by the committee are:

Universal Access to Financial Services

Access to Livelihood and Skill Development

Providing basic financial services

Financial Literacy and Education

Customer Protection and Grievance Redressal

Effective Co-ordination

Every adult registered under Pradhan Mantri Jan Dhan Yojana should be enrolled in pension scheme and insurance scheme.

Thai Mangur: It is also called the foreign Mangur or African Mangur. The walking catfish is a species of freshwater airbreathing catfish native to Southeast Asia and grows 3 feet to 5 feet. It prays on all kinds of life forms found in inland waterbodies except crocodiles. It is a danger to bio-diversity of water bodies and is also highly carcinogenic.

Recently, the Maharashtra Government has launched a special drive to destroy the cultivation centres of the exotic Thai Mangur fish. This step is being taken by the state government as Thai Mangur is cultivated in highly unhygienic conditions, which could lead to people falling sick after consuming it.

The National Green Tribunal in 2000 had banned the cultivation of the Thai Mangur. So far, the state government has destroyed stocks of some 32 tonnes of Thai Mangur in the state.

Reserve Bank of India (RBI): The RBI, which was established in April 1935, used to follow January-December as its accounting year before it was changed to July-June in March 1940.

Recently, the RBI decided to align its financial accounting year with that of the central government’s fiscal year with effect from 2020-21. The Fiscal Year begins in April and ends in March and the financial year is between July and June'.

The proposal was moved at the 582nd meeting of its Central Board of Directors in New Delhi. The move will help the central bank to do away with nearly eight decades of practice. The alignment was recommended by an expert committee led by Bimal Jalan.

ICD: It refers to the International Customs Day. ICD is celebrated on 26 January globally every year. It is the day designated to honour the custom officials and agencies for their function in taking care of the flow of goods across the world borders. On this day, members of the World Customs Organization (WCO) also showcase their efforts and activities.

The theme for 2021 as given by World Customs Organization (WCO) is “Customs bolstering Recovery, Renewal and Resilience for a sustainable supply chain”.

In India, the Central Board of Indirect Taxes and Customs (CBIC) observed the International Customs Day, 2021.

The day celebrated the 30th anniversary of the first CCC session. In 1994, the CCC was renamed the WCO. Today, the WCO is the only international body dedicated exclusively to international customs and border control matters.

It was on January 26, 1953 that the Customs Cooperation Council (CCC) had held its inaugural session in Brussels which was attended by representatives from 17 European countries.

In 1983, the CCC created International Customs Day.

In 1994, CCC was renamed as World Customs Organization (WCO).

WCO: World Customs Organization (WCO) is the only international body looking after international customs and matters concerning border control. It is headquartered in Brussels, Belgium. WCO currently has custom organizations from 182 countries as its members. More than 98% of world trade is administered by WCO.

What is customs?

Customs is the body in charge of tariffs collection in a country. The flow of goods (ranging from personal items, animals, precarious objects) in and out of the country is monitored by the customs. The aim of this agency is to safely bridge gaps while borders continue to demarcate. The agencies believe that by lending support and guidance to the customs administration process, they connect countries.

Customs management works towards creating a sustainable future by facilitating economic, social, environmental needs in the process

CBIC: It is an acronym for the Central Board of Indirect Taxes and Customs. CBIC is the nodal national agency responsible for administering Customs, GST, Central Excise, Service Tax  and Narcotics in India. It comes under the Department of Revenue, Ministry of Finance. It was founded on 1 January 1964. The current CBIC is M. Ajit Kumar.

MSP for Copra: The Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs (CCEA) chaired by the Prime Minister Narendra Modi recently gave its approval for the Minimum Support Price (MSP) of copra for 2021 season.

The MSPs was approved for for milling copra and ball copra. The approval is based on recommendations of the Commission for Agricultural Costs and Prices (CACP).

The government has increased MSP for Fair Average Quality (FAQ) of milling copra by ₹375 from 2020. Thus, the Copra would cost ₹10,335 per quintal and contributes in boosting the farmers’ income. This hike in MSP for copra will be impacting the farmers of 12 coastal states.

The cost of production for both the variants of copra is Rs. 6,800 and the government will be giving 52% and 55% more than the cost of production.

The National Agricultural Cooperative Marketing Federation of India Limited (NAFED) and National Cooperative Consumer Federation of India Limited (NCCF) will continue to act as Central Nodal Agencies to undertake price support operations at the MSP in the coconut growing States.

What is Copra?

Copra is the dried meat or kernel of the coconut, which is the fruit of the coconut palm (Cocos nucifera). Coconut oil is extracted from copra, making it an important agricultural commodity for many coconut-producing countries.

Minimum support price (MSP): The MSP is an agricultural product price which is set by the Government of India (GoI) to purchase the commodities directly from the farmer. The MSP is not enforcable by Law. MSP seeks to safeguard the farmer interest by providing them a minimum profit for their harvest in case the open market has lesser price than the actual cost incurred.

The price of the 23 commodities is set by the government twice a year.

The MSP is fixed based on the recommendations of the Commission for Agricultural Costs and Prices (CACP).

CACP sets the price since 2009 on the basis of cost of production, demand & supply, price fluctuations, market price trends, international market prices and agricultural wage rate.

Economic Survey 2020-21 - Skill Development: The Union Minister for Finance and Corporate Affairs Smt. Nirmala Sitharaman presented the Economic Survey 2020-21 in Parliament on 29th January 2021. The Economic Survey 2020-21 states that only 2.4% of the workforce of age 15-59 years has received formal vocational/technical training and another 8.9% of the workforce received training through informal sources.

Key Highlights:

  1. Out of the 8.9% workforce who received non-formal training, the largest chunk is contributed by on-the-job training (3.3 per cent), followed by self-learning (2.5 per cent) and hereditary sources (2.1 per cent) and other sources (1 per cent).
  2. Among those who received formal training, the most opted training course is IT-ITeS among both males and females.
  3. The Unified Skill Regulator- National Council for Vocational Education and Training (NCVET) was operationalized recently.
  4. Pradhan Mantri Kaushal Vikas Yojana 3.0 was rolled out in 2020-21 with a tentative target to skill 8 lakh candidates including migrants.

Economic Survey 2020-21 - Bare Necessities: The Union Minister for Finance and Corporate Affairs Smt. Nirmala Sitharaman presented the Economic Survey 2020-21 in Parliament on 29th January 2021. Economic Survey 2020-21 constructs a Bare Necessities Index (BNI) at the rural, urban and all India level.

Key Highlights:

  1. The BNI summarizes 26 indicators on five dimensions viz., water, sanitation, housing, micro-environment, and other facilities.
  2. The BNI has been created for all States for 2012 and 2018 using data from two NSO rounds viz., 69th and 76th on Drinking Water, Sanitation, Hygiene and Housing Condition in India.
  3. In most of the States the access to the Bare Necessities for the household in 2018 is significantly better compared to 2012.
  4. Access to drinking water to households in most of the States has improved in 2018 compared to 2012 in rural as well as urban areas.
  5. Regional disparity in access to sanitation has declined as the States having low access to sanitation in 2012 have gained more.
  6. Survey observes improvement in Housing Index also indicating improvement in access to housing and reduction in inter-States disparities with disproportionate benefits for the lowest income group in 2018 vis-à-vis 2012.
  7. The economic Survey also notes improvement in micro environment for all States in 2018 except for Assam in rural and Odisha and Assam in urban areas as compared to 2012.
  8. Survey also points to a positive correlation between access to bare necessities and better health and education outcome. It observes improvement in child survival, decline in still births, malnutrition, and infant mortality with improved access to sanitation and clean drinking water.

Economic Survey 2020-21 - Agriculture: The Union Minister for Finance and Corporate Affairs Smt. Nirmala Sitharaman presented the Economic Survey 2020-21 in Parliament on 29th January 2021. The Agriculture and Allied activities clocked a growth of 3.4 per cent at constant prices during 2020-21 (first advance estimate) says the Economic Survey 2020-21.

Key Highlights:

  1. As per the Provisional Estimates of National Income released by CSO on 29th May, 2020, the share of Agriculture and Allied Sectors in Gross Value Added (GVA) of the country at current prices is 17.8 per cent for the year 2019-20.
  2. In the Agriculture year 2019-20 (as per Fourth Advance Estimates), total food grain production in the country is estimated at record 296.65 million tonnes which is higher by 11.44 million tonnes than the production of food grain of 285.21 million tonnes achieved during 2018-19.
  3. In 2019-20, the major agricultural and allied export destinations were USA, Saudi Arabia, Iran, Nepal and Bangladesh.
  4. The top agriculture and related products exported from India were marine products, basmati rice, buffalo meat, spices, non-basmati rice, cotton raw, oil meals, sugar, castor oil and tea.
  5. The contribution of livestock in total agriculture and allied sector GVA (at Constant Prices) has increased from 24.32 per cent (2014-15) to 28.63 per cent (2018-19). Livestock sector contributed 4.19 per cent of total GVA in 2018-19.
  6. During the last 5 years ending 2018-19, Food Processing Industries (FPI) sector has been growing at an Average Annual Growth Rate (AAGR) of around 9.99 per cent as compared to around 3.12 per cent in Agriculture and 8.25 per cent in Manufacturing at 2011-12 prices.

Economic Survey 2020-21 - Pradhan Mantri Jan Arogya Yojana (PMJAY): The Union Minister for Finance and Corporate Affairs Smt. Nirmala Sitharaman presented the Economic Survey 2020-21 in Parliament on 29th January 2021. The Economic Survey 2020-21 said the PM-JAY reveals strong positive impact on Health Outcomes. This was stated in the Economic Survey 2020-21 which was laid by Union Minister for Finance & Corporate Affairs, Smt Nirmala Sitharaman in Parliament .

Key Highlights:

  1. PM-JAY is being used for high frequency but low-cost care such as dialysis.is being used for high frequency but low-cost care such as dialysis.
  2. The proportion of households with any usual member covered under health insurance or financing scheme increased by 54 per cent from NFHS 4 to NFHS 5 in the states that adopted PMJAY, it decreased by 10 per cent in the states that did not adopt PMJAY, reflecting the success of PMJAY in enhancing health insurance coverage.
  3. The reduction in Infant Mortality Rate (IMR) was 20 per cent vis-à-vis 12 per cent in PMJAY and non-PMJAY states respectively, an increment of 8 per cent for states that adopted PMJAY versus those that did not.
  4. The proportion of people ensuring family planning rose across all the states between the two surveys, the increase is much more significant in the states that adopted PM-JAY indicating its effectiveness.
  5. The proportion of women with total unmet family planning needs decreased by 31% in the PMJAY states, the decline in the non-PMJAY states was merely 10%.

PMJAY: It is a fully-funded government health insurance scheme that provides Rs 5 lakh medical insurance coverage per year for 107.4 million families identified as per the Socio-Economic Caste Census 2011.

Economic Survey 2020-21 - Saving a Life That Is In Jeopardy Is The Origin Of Dharma: The Union Minister for Finance and Corporate Affairs Smt. Nirmala Sitharaman presented the Economic Survey 2020-21 in Parliament on 29th January 2021. Economic Survey is all about how the governments, at the centre and states, have handled this once in a century crisis.

“Saving a life that is in jeopardy is the origin of Dharma”, the Economic Survey quotes from the epic Mahabharat while explaining the India’s policy response to the pandemic wherein the trade-offs between lives and livelihood was inherent in the crisis triggered by COVID-19.

Key Highlights:

  1. COVID-19 pandemic engendered a once-in-a-century global crisis in 2020 where 90 per cent of countries are expected to experience a contraction in GDP per capita and India’s efforts focused on saving lives and livelihoods by its willingness to take short-term pain for long term gain.
  2. The Economic Survey states the example of Spanish Flu to prove the point that the timing matters - early and extensive lockdowns leading to greater delays in reaching peak mortality, lower peak mortality rates and overall lower mortality burden.
  3. 40 day lockdown period was used for scaling up the necessary medical and para-medical infrastructure for active surveillance, expanding testing, contact tracing, isolation and management of cases and educating citizens about social distancing and masks.
  4. The Survey credits the flattening of curve and lives saved to the early lockdown imposed by the government.
  5. While the lockdown resulted in a 23.9 per cent contraction in GDP in Q1, the recovery has been a V-shaped one as seen in the 7.5 per cent decline in Q2 and the recovery across all key economic indicators.

Economic Survey 2020-21 - Employment: The Union Minister for Finance and Corporate Affairs Smt. Nirmala Sitharaman presented the Economic Survey 2020-21 in Parliament on 29th January 2021. The Economic Survey 2020-21 states that the years 2019 and 2020 are landmark years in the history of labour reforms.

The country saw the nearly 29 Central Labour laws being amalgamated, rationalized and simplified into four labour codes viz.:

  1. The Code on Wages, 2019,
  2. The Industrial Relations Code, 2020,
  3. The Occupational Safety, Health and Working Conditions Code, 2020 and
  4. The Code on Social Security, 2020.

COVID-19 has exposed the vulnerability of urban casual workers, who account for 11.2 per cent of urban workforce (All-India) as per Periodic Labour Force Survey (PLFS), January-March, 2020.

The size of labour force in 2018-19 was estimated at about 51.8 crore persons: about 48.8 crore employed and 3.0 crore unemployed.

Industry-wise estimates on workforce shows that the largest, about 21.5 crore persons are employed in 'Agriculture', which is still the largest employer with 42.5 per cent of workforce.

Next important industry is ‘other services’ where about 6.4 crore persons (13.8 per cent) were engaged.

'Manufacturing' and ‘Trade, hotel & restaurants’ each employed about 5.9 crore persons with the share of nearly 12.1 per cent and 12.6 per cent respectively, while ‘Construction’ sector employed about 5.7 crore persons in 2018-19 with share of 12.1 per cent.

Economic Survey 2020-21 - AatmaNirbhar Bharat Rojgar Yojana (ABRY): The Union Minister for Finance and Corporate Affairs Smt. Nirmala Sitharaman presented the Economic Survey 2020-21 in Parliament on 29th January 2021. The Economic Survey says that ABRY, a component of Aatmanirbhar Bharat package announced in November, 2020 has total estimated outlay of Rs 22,810 crore for the scheme period i.e., up to wage month 31st May, 2023.

The scheme proposes to pay:

1. Entire employees’ and employers’ contribution (12% of employees’ EPF and 12% of employers' EPF contribution or statutory rate applicable to establishment) i.e. 24% of wages towards EPF in respect of new employees in establishments employing up to 1000 employees (contributing EPF members with UAN) during the period from October, 2020 to June, 2021 and also to re-employ who lost their jobs due to COVID-19.

2. Only employees' share of EPF contribution (i.e. 12 per cent) of wages in respect of new employees in establishments employing more than 1000 employee during the period from October 2020 to June 2021, and also to re-employee who lost their jobs due to COVID-19.

Other Measures:

The Survey says that to provide relief to the organized sector employees, a notification issued on 28th March, 2020 by the Government provisioning non-refundable advance of 75% of outstanding balance or 3 months’ wages whichever is lower, allowed to the members of EPFO.

Under Prime Minister’s Garib Kalyan Package (PMGKP) financial assistance was given to building & other construction workers (BOCW) which largely included migrant workers from the funds collected under BOCW’s cess.

31 State/UT Governments have announced cash benefits, ranging from Rs. 1000 to Rs. 6000 per month to around 2.0 crore workers and total amount of Rs. 4973.65 crore was disbursed.

Economic Survey 2020-21 - Combined Social Sector Expenditure: The Union Minister for Finance and Corporate Affairs Smt. Nirmala Sitharaman presented the Economic Survey 2020-21 in Parliament on 29th January 2021. The Economic Survey 2020-21 states that the combined (Centre and States) social sector expenditure as per cent of GDP has increased in 2020-21 compared to last year.

Key Highlights:

  1. The expenditure on social services (education, health and other social sectors) by Centre and States combined as a proportion of GDP increased from 7.5% in 2019-20 (RE) to 8.8% in 2020-21 (BE).
  2. According to the Survey, India’s rank in HDI 2019 was recorded 131 compared to 129 in 2018, out of a total 189 countries.
  3. By looking at the sub-component wise performance of HDI indicators, India's "GNI per capita (2017 PPP $)" has increased from US$ 6,427 in 2018 to US$ 6,681 in 2019, and "life expectancy at birth" has improved from 69.4 to 69.7 years respectively.

Economic Survey 2020-21 - Sovereign Credit Ratings: The Union Minister for Finance and Corporate Affairs Smt. Nirmala Sitharaman presented the Economic Survey 2020-21 in Parliament on 29th January 2021. The Economic Survey 2020-21 has called for sovereign credit ratings methodology to be made more transparent, less subjective and better attuned to reflect an economy’s fundamentals.

Highlights:

  1. Never in the history of sovereign credit ratings, has the fifth largest economy in the world been rated at the lowest rung of the investment grade (BBB-/Baa3) except in the case of China and India.
  2. Reflecting on the economic size and thereby ability to repay debt, at all other times, the fifth largest economy has been predominantly rated AAA.
  3. The Survey points out that the Sovereign Credit Ratings can be pro-cyclical and affect equity and debt FPI flows of developing countries, causing damage and worsening crisis. Hence, it has called for addressing the bias and subjectivity inherent in sovereign credit ratings methodology
  4. India has already raised the issue of pro-cyclicality of credit ratings in G20.

Economic Survey 2020-21 - Banking Sector: The Union Minister for Finance and Corporate Affairs Smt. Nirmala Sitharaman presented the Economic Survey 2020-21 in Parliament on 29th January 2021. According to Economic Survey 2020-21, Gross Non-Performing Assets ratio of Scheduled Commercial Banks decreased from 8.21 per cent at the end of March 2020 to 7.49 per cent at the end of September 2020.

Key Highlights:

  1. This has to be seen in conjunction with the asset classification relief provided to borrowers on account of the pandemic, says the Economic Survey.
  2. Further, the Survey notes that Capital to risk-weighted asset ratio of Scheduled Commercial Banks increased from 14.7 per cent to 15.8 per cent between March 2020 and September 2020 with improvement in both Public and Private sector banks.
  3. The recovery rate for the Scheduled Commercial Banks through Insolvency & Bankruptcy code-IBC (since its inception) has been over 45 per cent.
  4. Due to the pandemic, initiation of Corporate Insolvency Resolution Process (CIRP) was suspended for any default. The suspension along with continued clearance has allowed a small decline in accumulated cases.
  5. The financial flows to the real economy however remained constrained on account of subdued credit growth by both banks and Non-Banking Financial Corporations.
  6. Credit growth of banks slowed down to 6.7 per cent as on January 1, 2021. The credit off take from banking sector also witnessed a broad-based slowdown in 2020-21.

Future Investment Initiative Forum 2021: The Union Minister for Health and Family Welfare Dr. Harsh Vardhan recently addressed the 4th edition of the Future Investment Initiative (FII) Forum, through Video Conference.

The purpose of this year's forum was to find solutions on how business and government can expand access to healthcare, train healthcare workers, remove regulatory barriers and encourage investment in advanced health technologies

The Future Investment Initiative (FII) is an annual investment forum. It is held in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, to discuss trends in the world economy and investment environment. It is hosted by the Public Investment Fund of Saudi Arabia (PIF).

The first event was held in October 2017.

MoU between India and Japan: A formal MoU (Memorandum of Understanding) signing ceremony was recently held between Textiles Committee, Ministry of Textiles, Government of India (GoI) and M/s. Nissenken Quality Evaluation Centre Japan.

The key aim of the MoU is to provide required support to textile’s trade and industry for ensuring quality as per the requirement of Japanese buyers through Testing, Inspection & Conformity Assessment.

It is expected that the MoU will strengthen the bilateral trade by enhancing India’s export of Textile and Apparels (T&A) to Japan, which is the third largest export destination of the world.

Textiles Committee: The Textiles Committee is a statutory body under the Ministry of Textiles to ensure quality of all textiles and textile products for domestic and export markets. It was established in the year 1963 by an Act of Parliament. It is the only body which provides for all the quality related needs of the entire Textiles Value Chain (TVC) in an integrated format on a pan-India basis.

 

Rama Mohan Rao Amara: SBI Cards and Payment Services Ltd (SBI Card) has recently appointed Rama Mohan Rao Amara as its Managing Director (MD) and Chief Executive Officer (CEO) for a period of two years.

Rao is a veteran banker, with a successful career spanning over 29 years at SBI, the credit card company. Prior to taking charge at SBI Card, he was the Chief General Manager, SBI Bhopal Circle.

Mr. Rao replaces Ashwini Kumar Tewari, who has been appointed as the Managing Director of State Bank of India (SBI).

SBI Card: SBI Cards & Payment Services Ltd., previously known as SBI Cards, is a payment solutions provider in India. It is the country’s largest pure play credit card issuer. SBI Card was launched in October 1998 by the State Bank of India (SBI), India's largest bank, and GE Capital. SBI Card is headquartered in Gurgaon, Haryana.

MetroNeo: By making a sizeable budgetary allocation for MetroNeo in the Union Budget, the central government has paved the way for the innovative system of mass transport, which could soon be replicated across the country.

Highlights:

  1. To be adopted for the first time in the country in Maharashtra’s Nashik, MetroNeo is a comfortable, rapid, energy-efficient and less noisy transport medium.
  2. The central government recently urged all state governments to consider using MetroNeo technology in their tier-2 and tier-3 cities.
  3. The MetroNeo service consists of electric bus coaches – their lengths varying from 18 to 25 metres – with a carrying capacity of 200 to 300 passengers at a time.
  4. The buses will have rubber tyres and draw power from an overhead electric wire with 600-750 V DC supply, similar to railways or trams.
  5. The buses will be air-conditioned, with automatic door closing system, level boarding, comfortable seats, passenger announcement system, and an information system with electronic display.
  6. The stations will be similar to other Metro rail stations. They will have a staircase, lift and escalators with passenger information display. The station entry and exit will be provided on both sides of the road.

Union Budget 2021-2022: The Union Budget 2021-2022 was presented by the Finance Minister Smt. Nirmala Sitharaman on 1st February 2020. It is the first budget of this new decade and also a digital one in the backdrop of unprecedented COVID-19 crisis. She is only the second woman in the history of Independent India to present the Union Budget. Ms. Sitharaman has also presented the General Budget

2019-20 in 2019. The first woman was Smt. Indira Gandhi who presented the Union Budget. In 1970, she presented the Union Budget of India for 1970-71, after she took briefly over the finance portfolio.

Smt. Nirmala Sitharaman carried the budget documents in a ‘Bahi Khata’ (traditional Indian ledger), a red parcel like bag with a key hole on the emblem, breaking the age-old tradition of carrying a briefcase.

Laying a vision for AatmaNirbhar Bharat, she said that this was an expression of 130 crore Indians who have full confidence in their capabilities and skills.

She said that Budget proposals will further strengthen the Sankalp of Nation First, Doubling Farmer’s Income, Strong Infrastructure, Healthy India, Good Governance, Opportunities for youth, Education for All, Women Empowerment, and Inclusive Development among others.

Additionally, also on the path to fast-implementation are the thirteen promises of Budget 2015-16 which were to materialize during the AmrutMahotsav of 2022, on the 75th year of our Independence. They too resonate with this vision of AatmaNirbharta

The Budget proposals for 2021-22 rest on 6 pillars.

  1. Health and Wellbeing
  2. Physical & Financial Capital, and Infrastructure
  3. Inclusive Development for Aspirational India
  4. Reinvigorating Human Capital
  5. Innovation and R&D
  6. Minimum Government and Maximum Governance

The highlights of this year’s budget:

Health and Sanitation:

 

  1. An allocation of ₹69,000 crore for the health sector.
  2. A new scheme, titled PM Atma Nirbhar Swasthya Bharat Yojana, to be launched to develop primary, secondary and tertiary healthcare
  3. Mission POSHAN 2.0 to improve nutritional outcomes across 112 aspirational districts
  4. Operationalisation of 17 new public health units at points of entry
  5. Modernising of existing health units at 32 airports, 15 seaports and land ports
  6. Expand Jan Aushadhi scheme to provide for all hospitals under Ayushman Bharat by 2025.
  7. Jal Jeevan Mission Urban aimed at better water supply nationwide
  8. Strengthening of Urban Swachh Bharat Mission

Infrastructure:

  1. Budget proposes to provide ₹1.7 lakh crore for transport infrastructure in 2021
  2. Vehicle scrapping policy to phase out old and unfit vehicles –  all vehicles to undergo fitness test in automated fitness centres every 20 years (personal vehicles), every 15 years (commercial vehicles)
  3. Highway and road works announced in Kerala, Tamil Nadu, West Bengal and Assam
  4. National Asset Monetising Pipeline launched to monitor asset monetisation process
  5. National Rail Plan created to bring a future ready Railway system by 2030
  6. 100% electrification of Railways to be completed by 2023
  7. 100 more airports will be developed by 2024 to support UDAN.
  8. Metro services announced in 27 cities, plus additional allocations for Kochi Metro, Chennai Metro Phase 2, Bengaluru Metro Phase 2A and B, Nashik and Nagpur Metros
  9. National Hydrogen Mission to be launched to generate hydrogen from green power sources
  10. Recycling capacity of ports to be doubled by 2024
  11. Gas pipeline project to be set up in Jammu and Kashmir
  12. Pradhan Mantri Ujjwala Yojana (LPG scheme) to be extended to cover 1 crore more beneficiaries

Agriculture:

  1. Agriculture infrastructure fund to be made available for APMCs for augmenting their infrastructure
  2. 1,000 more Mandis to be integrated into the E-NAM market place
  3. A multipurpose seaweed park to be established in Tamil Nadu
  4. Five major fishing hubs, including Chennai, Kochi and Paradip, to be developed

Education:

  1. ₹99,300 crore for education sector in 2021 and about ₹3,000 crore for skill development.
  2. 100 new Sainik Schools to be set up
  3. 750 Eklavya schools to be set up in tribal areas
  4. A Central University to come up in Ladakh

Employment:

  1. Margin capital required for loans via Stand-up India scheme reduced from 25% to 15% for SCs, STs and women
  2. A portal to be launched to maintain information on gig workers and construction workers
  3. Social security to be extended to gig and platform workers

Tax:

  1. No IT filing for people above 75 years who get pension and earn interest from deposits
  2. Reopening window for IT assessment cases reduced from 6 to 3 years. However, in case of serious tax evasion cases (Rs. 50 lakh or more), it can go up to 10 years
  3. Affordable housing projects to get a tax holiday for one year
  4. Compliance burden of small trusts whose annual receipts does not exceed Rs. 5 crore to be eased
  5. Duty of copper scrap and Naphtha reduced to 2.5% respectively
  6. Duty on solar inverters raised from 5% to 20%, and on solar lanterns from 5% to 15%
  7. Custom duty on gold and silver to be rationalized
  8. All nylon products charged with 5% customs duty
  9. Tunnel boring machines to attract customs duty of 7%
  10. Customs duty on cotton raised from 0 to 10%
  11. Agriculture infrastructure and development cess proposed on certain items including urea, apples, crude soyabean and sunflower oil, crude palm oil, kabuli chana and peas

Economy and Finance:

  1. Fiscal deficit stands at 9.5% of the GDP; estimated to be 6.8% in 2021-22
  2. Proposal to allow States to raise borrowings up to 4% of GSDP this year
  3. A Unified Securities Market Code to be created, consolidating provisions of the Sebi Act, Depositories Act, and two other laws
  4. Proposal to increase FDI limit from 49% to 74%
  5. An asset reconstruction company will be set up to take over stressed loans
  6. Deposit insurance increased from Rs 1 lakh to Rs 5 lakh for bank depositors
  7. Proposal to decriminalise Limited Liability Partnership Act of 2008
  8. Strategic sale of BPCL, IDBI Bank, Air India to be completed
  9. Two PSU bank and one general insurance firm to be disinvested this year
  10. An IPO of LIC to debut this fiscal

CCEA: The Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs (CCEA) recently accorded approval to the proposal of the Department of Fertilizers for Grant-in-aid of Rs.100 crore to Brahmaputra Valley Fertilizers Corporation Limited (BVFCL), Namrup (Assam).

The proposal was approved to sustain operations of its urea manufacturing units.

The grant in aid of Rs. 100 crore to BVFCL will restore the urea production capacity of 3.90 Lac MT per annum and ensure timely availability of Urea to Tea Industry & Farming Sector in the entire North Eastern region specially Assam.

About BVFCL:

BVFCL, Namrup is a Public Sector Undertaking formed as per Companies Act, under the administrative control of the Department of Fertilizers (DoF), Government of India (GoI).

Currently, the Company is operating its two vintage plants viz. Namrup-ll and Namrup-lll in the premises of BVFCL in Namrup, Assam.

SISFS: It refers to the Startup India Seed Fund Scheme. The SISFS has recently been approved for the period of next four years starting from 2021-22. It will be implemented with effect from 1st April 2021.

The objective of the Scheme is to provide financial assistance to startups for proof of concept, prototype development, product trials, market entry and commercialization.

The scheme is expected to support about 3600 startups as 945 Crore corpus will be divided over the next 4 years for providing seed funding to eligible startups through eligible incubators across India.

Financial Literacy Week: The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) recently launched the Financial Literacy Week (FLW) from February 8-12, 2021, to propagate financial education.

The theme for 2021 FLW is “Credit Discipline and Credit from Formal Institutions”.

RBI conducts Financial Literacy Week (FLW) every year since 2016 to propagate financial education messages on a particular theme every year across the country, through a focused campaign.

RBI: It refers to the Reserve Bank of India. The RBI is India's central bank, which controls the issue and supply of the Indian rupee. It carries out India's monetary policy and exercises supervision and control over banks and non-banking finance companies in India. RBI was set up in 1935 under the Reserve Bank of India Act, 1934. It is headquartered in Mumbai. RBI plays an important part in the Development Strategy of the Government of India. The current Governor of RBI is Shaktikanta Das.

World Pulses Day: The World Pulses Day falls on February 10 every year and recognised Pulses as a global food. On this day, people make efforts in creating awareness about the importance of Pulses in sustainable food production.

World Pulses Day for 2021 theme is #LovePulses.

The UN General Assembly after recognizing the value of pulses in 2013 adopted 2016 as the International Year of Pulses (IYP).

In 2018, the UN General Assembly decided to mark 10 February as World Pulses Day. The first WPD was held on February 10, 2019.

 On 20 December 2013, the UN General Assembly adopted a resolution (A/RES/68/231) proclaiming 2016 as the International Year of Pulses (IYP).

The celebration of the year, led by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), increased the public awareness of the nutritional and environmental benefits of pulses as part of sustainable food production.

Pulses: Pulses, also known as legumes, are the edible seeds of leguminous plants cultivated for food. Dried beans, lentils and peas are the most commonly known and consumed types of pulses..

Digital Insurance Policies via DigiLocker: IRDAI (Insurance Regulatory Authority of India) recently has advised all Insurance companies for issuance of Digital Insurance Policies via DigiLocker.

As per the circular, the Digilocker team in NeGD (National e-Governance Division) under Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology will provide necessary technical guidance and logistic support to facilitate adoption of Digilocker.

Benefits of Digilocker app:

  1. Issuance of the policies through the Digilocker app will result in to better customer experience.
  2. Using this app, claims processing and settlement of the policies will be faster.
  3. This app will also reduce the disputes and reduction in fraud.
  4. It will also enable the policyholders to preserve all their policy documents.
  5. Necessary technical guidance and logistic support to facilitate the adoption of Digi locker will be provided by the Digilocker team in National e-Governance Division (NeGD) under MeITY.

Digilocker: Digilocker is an initiative under the Digital India programme by the government where citizens can get authentic documents and certificate in digital format from original issuers of these certificates.

It aims at eliminating or minimizing the use of physical documents and will enhance effectiveness of service delivery, making this hassle free and friendly for the citizens.

IRDAI: The acronym stands for Insurance Regulatory and Development Authority of India. IRDAI is an autonomous, statutory body tasked with regulating and promoting the insurance and re-insurance industries in India. It was established by the Insurance Regulatory and Development Authority Act, 1999, an Act of Parliament passed by the Government of India. The agency's headquarters are in Hyderabad, Telangana, where it moved from Delhi in 2001. IRDAI is a 10-member body including the chairman, five full-time and four part-time members appointed by the government of India. The current Chairman of IRDAI is Subash Chandra Khuntia.

Current Affairs in Economic - January 2021

ADB: It refers to Asian Development Bank. ADB and Government of India signed a 490 million dollars loan for public-private partnership (PPP) project to upgrade about 2600 kilometers of state highways and major district roads from single-lane to two-lane widths in Madhya Pradesh. The loan agreement was signed by the Additional Secretary (Fund Bank and ADB) in Department of Economic Affairs in Finance Ministry Sameer Kumar Khare and Country Director of ADB’s India Resident Mission Kenichi Yokoyama. An additional $286 million investment will also be mobilized via private sector participation under PPP modality.

The projest aims to improve rural and peri-urban connectivity in state as well as improve access to markets and better services. It will also develop an e-maintenance system, which can record defects or required maintenance, along with a training program to develop capacity on contract implementation and project finance in the Madhya Pradesh Road Development Corporation.

The project continues ADB's engagement with the state's road sector since 2002. This will open a new partnership by introducing PPP through the hybrid-annuity model (HAM), thereby leveraging government financing and improving sustainability of capital investments.

HAM: It refers to hybrid-annuity model. The HAM is a mix of engineering, procurement, construction, and build-operate-transfer. This passes the responsibility of design, implementation, and operation and maintenance obligations to the private sector, while attracting some private sector financing.

Under the HAM, the government will release 6o% of the total project cost during construction, to be paid to the concessionaire in tranches linked to completion milestones. The remaining 40% is arranged by the concessionaire in the form of equity and commercial debt. After the completion of the project, the government will repay concessionaire’s financial investment over a period of 10 years.

MSME: It refers to Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises. Bank of Baroda signed an MoU with the Gujarat government to facilitate the flow of credit in the Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) sector. According to the agreement, the credit will be provided to the MSME sector for greenfield projects, startups, women entrepreneurs, and entrepreneurs from backward areas under the Gujarat Single Window Clearance Act 2017 & Ordinance Number 1 of 2019 dated October 24, 2019.The MoU with the Gujarat government is a step forward for MSME entrepreneurs. The MoU would not only speed up the process of the credit off take but also speed up industrial development.

HDFC Bank: HDFC Bank Ltd. is an Indian banking and financial services company headquartered in Mumbai, Maharashtra. It is India’s largest private sector lender by assets. It is the largest bank in India by market capitalization as of February 2016. It was founded in August 1994 in India.

HDFC Bank has become only the third Indian company to cross $100 billion in market capitalization. It now a rank 110th in the list of world’s most valued firms and is now in league of Reliance Industries Ltd (RIL), which has a market value of $140.74 billion, and Tata Consultancy Services Ltd. (TCS) that has a market capitalization of $114.60 billion.

SEBI: It refers to Securities and Exchange Board of India. SEBI is responsible for regulating Securities market in India. It was founded in 1988 as a non-statutory body for regulating securities market. Statutory Powers was given to SEBI on 30 January 1992 through Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI) Act, 1992.

Markets regulator SEBI has signed a bilateral memorandum of understanding (MoU) with Kazakhstan-based Astana Financial Services Authority (AFSA) for mutual co-operation and technical assistance.  The MoU was signed by SEBI Chairman Ajay Tyagi and the acting chief executive officer (CEO) of AFSA Mukhtar Bubeyev.

The objective of the MoU is to strengthen cross border co-operation in area of securities regulation. This would facilitate mutual assistance, contribute towards efficient performance of the supervisory functions, and enable effective enforcement of laws and regulations governing the securities markets.

eBkray: t is an e-auction platform to enable online auction of attached assets by banks. Finance Minister Sitharaman launched ‘eBkray’ auction platform. The platform provides navigational links to all PSB e-auction sites, property search feature. It also presents single-window access to information on properties up for e-auction, comparison of similar properties, and also contains videos and photographs of the uploaded properties. The e-auction platform is now linked on Indian Banks Auctions Mortgaged Properties Information (IBAPI) portal. IBAPI portal is an initiative of Indian Banks Association under the policy of the Department of Financial Services, Ministry of Finance was launched to provide a platform to give details of mortgaged properties to be auctioned online by Banks, starting with PSBs. Buyers can search in the IBAPI portal to get properties details and participate in auction process.

India-China Imports: India is set to finalize stricter quality standards for 371 items by March 2020. The move is primarily aimed at curbing imports of non-essential items such as toys, plastic goods, sports items and furniture, especially from China. The proposed rules to be framed by ministries in coordination with the Bureau of Indian Standards (BIS) will ensure stricter inspection of imports. According to the commerce ministry estimates, non-essential items imports from China amounts to about ₹4 trillion a year.

The proposed rules are aimed at curbing imports from China and narrowing the trade deficit with India’s northern neighbor, the rules will also apply to Indian producers so as to make the regulations World Trade Organization-compliant.

Darjeeling Tea: It consists of some of the worlds costliest stress-busting brews which are grown in the tea gardens of Darjeeling in West Bengal. Recently, Darjeeling tea and White tea had received a GI tag but has fallen back in global prices due to legal and illegal influx of Nepal Tea into the country which is cheaper than Darjeeling Tea. Darjeeling Tea was already suffering due to the impact of climate change, scarcity of skilled labor and high production cost. Now Nepal is stealing the business and glory of the original Darjeeling brew.

GI Tag: It refers to Geographical Indication Tag. It is a tag used on products that have a specific geographical origin and possess the qualities or reputation that are due to that origin. The Tag is provided to fetch an identity for the product international market and increase its exports. India enacted Geographical Indications of Goods (Registration and Protection) Act, 1999 under Article 22 of World Trade Organization.

Mani Mobile App: It is an acronym for Mobile Aided Note Identifier Mobile App. It helps the visually challenged people to identify denomination of currency notes.

The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) Governor Shaktikanta Das and other officials launched ‘MANI’ mobile app on January 1, 2020. The MANI app will work offline also once it is installed. The app is available both on Android and iOS operating systems. The users can scan the notes using the mobile camera and the audio output will give the result in Hindi as well as English.

However, as per the Central Bank the app does not authenticate a note as either genuine or counterfeit.

RBI: It refers to Reserve Bank of India. The RBI is India's central bank, which controls the issue and supply of the Indian rupee. RBI is the regulator of entire Banking in India. RBI plays an important part in the Development Strategy of the Government of India. It regulates commercial banks and non-banking finance companies working in India. It serves as the leader of the banking system and the money market. It was founded on 1 April 1935 in Kolkata. It is headquartered in Mumbai. The 25th Governor of RBI is Shaktikant Das.

Recently, on 9th january 2020 The RBI amended the Know Your Customer (KYC) norms for banks and other lending institutions. RBI, under the new amendments in KYC norms allows these lending institutions to use video-based Customer Identification Process (V-CIP).

The V-CIP is consent based alternate method of establishing the customer’s identity and for customer onboarding from remote areas while leveraging the digital channels for the Customer Identification Process (CIP) by Regulated Entities (REs). It also provides comfortability to banks and other regulated entities while holding to the RBI’s Know Your Customer (KYC) norms. The video files recorded as V-CIP are required to be stored bearing the date and time stamp while ensuring the safety and security of the video files.

RBI has advised banks to capture clear image of PAN card produced by the customer during the Customer Identification Process (CIP) and has also advised the banks and other regulated entities to record the customer’s location (Geotagging) to ensure the customer’s physical presence in India.

Reserve Bank of India (RBI): The Reserve Bank of India on Friday unveiled the five year (2019-24) National Strategy for Financial Inclusion (NSFI). The NSFI has been formulated by RBI under the aegis of Financial Inclusion Advisory Committee (FIAC). The report has been ratified by the Financial Stability Development Council (FSDC).

According to the official report, the NSFI 2019-2024 sets forth the vision and key objectives of the financial inclusion policies in India to help expand and sustain the financial inclusion process at the national level through a broad convergence of action involving all the stakeholders in the financial sector. The financial inclusion is a key driver of growth and poverty alleviation world over. Access to formal finance can boost job creation, reduce vulnerability to economic shocks and increase investments in human capital.

It also aims to include all, particularly poor and underprivileged class, under formal access to finance which is a key goal of the government of India. As per the reports, the 6 pillars which is a part of strategic objectives to achieve the aim of financial inclusion are:

Universal Access to Financial Services

Providing basic bouquet of financial services

Access to livelihood and Skill Development

Financial Literacy and Education

Customer Protection and Grievance Redressal

Effective Co-ordination

RBBG scheme: It stands for residential builder finance with buyer guarantee’ (RBBG) scheme. Recently, the State Bank of India announced the RBBG scheme with an aim to increasing residential sales and improving homebuyers’ confidence. The SBI will issue a guarantee for completion of select residential projects to customers who have availed home loans from it.

Initially, the scheme will focus on housing projects that are affordable and priced up to 2.50 crore rupees in 10 cities. The bank, under this scheme will give guarantee until the project gets the occupation certificate (OC).

2nd National GST Conference: The 2nd edition of National GST Conference of the Commissioners of State Tax and Chief Commissioners of Central Tax held under the chairmanship of Revenue Secretary of Ministry of Finance, Dr. Ajay Bhushan Pandey. It was held on 7 January 2020.

The conference was held to take necessary action to streamline the GST (Goods and Service Tax) system and also to plug revenue leakages. The meeting included measures to curb fraudulent refund claims, linking foreign exchange remittances with IGST refund, investigation of fraudulent Input Tax Credit (ITC) cases by the IT Department and a single bank account for foreign remittance receipt. The committee for taking measure will come out with detailed Standard Operating Procedure within a week, which may be implemented across the country by January end.

A Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) will be signed among the Central Board of Direct Taxes (CBDT), the Central Board of Indirect Taxes and Customs (CBIC) and the GST Network to exchange data through application program interface, from CBDT to GSTN and CBIC and vice-versa to be shared quarterly instead of being shared on a yearly basis.

All the chief commissioners of the Central Tax Zones, State Commissioners of State Taxes, Directors General (DG) of CBIC, members of CBIC, Chairman of CBDT and other officials were present in the conference.

The 1st National GST Conference of Commissioners of State Tax and Chief Commissioners/Director Generals of Central Tax was held on 25th November 2019. It was also held under the chairmanship of the Union Revenue Secretary Dr Ajay Bhushan Pandey, in New Delhi.

SBI: It refers to the State Bank of India. SBI is an Indian multinational, public sector banking and financial services statutory body. It is a government corporation statutory body. It is headquartered in Mumbai, Maharashtra. It was established in 1 July 1955. SBI is ranked as 236th in the Fortune Global 500 list of the world's biggest corporations of 2019. The current Chairperson is Rajnish Kumar

The South Central Zone (SCR) of Indian Railways has signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with SBI for door step banking. Under the MoU, the bank will enables to collect earnings generated from all 585 stations of the zone. The traffic earnings will be collected by SBI and transferred to the Government account. The direct pick up of cash from all the railway stations on SCR by SBI will save the tiring and complex activity of movement of cash earnings through ‘cash safes’ by trains and it will also speed up the pace of financial transactions and digitize the remittance of cash earnings of the Railways. Furthermore, railway stations will have uniform cash remittance mechanism, unnecessary accumulation of cash at the railway stations can be avoided with the above facility and there will be better supervision and accountability of the cash deposited by different stations.

Gold Hallmarking: The process of certifying the purity of gold is called hallmarking. The BIS system of hallmarking of gold jewellery began in April 2000 and around 40% of gold jewellery is being hallmarked currently. BIS is the National Standards Body of India established under the Bureau of Indian Standards Act 2016. It has provisions under Sections 14 and 16 for making hallmarking of mandatory by the Central Government. It certifies that the piece of jewellery conforms to a set of standards laid by the Bureau of Indian Standards, the national standards organization of India. India is the second biggest market for gold and its jewellery.

On January 14, 2020, The Union Minister of Consumer Affairs, Food and Public Distribution Ram Vilas Paswan announced that Indian jewellers will be allowed to sell hallmarked gold artifacts made of 14, 18 and 22-carat gold only. It has now become mandatory for all the Indian Jewellers to get the hallmarking of Gold jewellery and artefacts with Bureau of Indian Standards (BIS) to sell only hallmarked Gold jewellery & artefacts. The mandatory rule is to be implemented from 15 January 2021. Any violation in the new rule will result in one year imprisonment and a fine under the provisions of the Bureau of Indian Standards Act, 2016.

The purpose of making hallmarking mandatory is not only to curb frauds and fake gold but also to ensure that consumers are not cheated while buying gold ornaments and get the purity as marked on the ornaments.

GEFCO: It is an acronym for Griqualand Exploration and Finance Company Ltd. GEFCO Group is a world wxpert in supply chain solutions and the European leader in automotive logistics. It was founded in 1949 by the French car manufacturer Groupe PSA. It is headquartered in France. Its parent organization is the Russian Railways.

Global software major Infosys has signed a 5-year deal with leading European automotive logistics firm Gefco to digitize its worldwide operations. Infosys has partnered with GEFCO to strengthen its Digital Transformation. Infosys will help GEFCO to transform GEFCO’s next-generation business application management services. It will also help GEFCO to evolve into a ‘Digital Native’ organization. The main aim of the partnership is to support GEFCO to create new sustainable sources of competitive advantage and to constantly improve value for its customers.

Infosys: Infosys Limited is an Indian multinational corporation that provides business consulting, information technology and outsourcing services. It is headquartered in Bangalore, Karnataka, India. The Chief Executive Officer and Managing Director of Infosys is Salil Parekh.

RBI: It refers to the Reserve Bank of India. RBI is India's central bank, which controls the issue and supply of the Indian rupee.The RBI carries out India's monetary policy and exercises supervision and control over banks and non-banking finance companies in India. It was founded in 1st April 1935 under the Reserve Bank of India Act, 1934 in Kolkata, west Bengal. Its headquarters is in Mumbai. The current Governor isShaktikanta Das and the Deputy Governors are N S Vishwanathan, B P Kanungo and M K Jain.

Recently, the Appointments committee of the Cabinet approved the appointment of Michael Debabrata Patra as Deputy Governor of Reserve Bank of India (RBI). He has been appointed for the period of three years. He will be the fourth Deputy Governor of the RBI. The post fell vacant after Viral Acharya resigned on July 23 last year. Dr. Patra was Executive Director of the Reserve Bank before being elevated to the post of Deputy Governor. Mr. Patra is likely to retain the monetary policy department (MPC), which was handled by Mr. Acharya, as the deputy governor.

The RBI, headed by Governor Shaktikanta Das, can have a maximum of four deputy governors. N S Vishwanathan, B P Kanungo and M K Jain are the other deputy governors working at the central bank.

MPC: It refers to Monetary Policy Committee. It ia a panel of six members with 3 members from RBI and other 3 members are elected by the Government of India(GoI). MPC was constituted on 27 June 2016. Its aim is to determine interest rates in a more useful and transparent manner.

NPCI: It refers to the National Payments Corporation of India. The NPCI is an umbrella organisation for operating retail payments and settlement systems in India. it was founded in 2008 and is headquartered in Mumbai. The main objective of NPCI is to consolidate and integrate multiple systems with varying service levels into nation-wide uniform and standard business process for all retail payment system. The current MD & CEO of National Payments Corporation of India is Dilip Asbe.

Recently, NPCI launched a blockchain-technology based payment system ‘Vajra Platform’. The newly launched platform is based on the Distributed Ledger Technology (DLT). It has been designed for automating payment clearing and settlement processes of NPCI products such as unified payments interface (UPI) and Rupay card.

The platform has three types of nodes, namely, Clearing House node (CHN) for NPCI, UIDAI node for Aadhaar authentication and Participant node (PN) for all banks.

ICICI Bank: ICICI Bank Limited is an Indian multinational banking and financial services company. It was established by the Industrial Credit and Investment Corporation of India (ICICI), an Indian financial institution, as a wholly owned subsidiary in 1994. The bank was established as the Industrial Credit and Investment Corporation of India Bank, before it changed its name to the abbreviated ICICI Bank. it is headquartered in Mumbai, Maharashtra. The current MD & CEO of ICICI Bank is Sandeep Bakhshi.

Recently, ICICI Bank launched a “Cardless Cash Withdrawal” service through ATM. This service can be used for cash withdrawal from its ATMs with a per-day transaction limit of Rs 20,000. The service will enable the ICICI customers to withdraw cash from the ATM by simply putting a request on ICICI Internet Banking App “iMobile”. The advantage of this service is that the customers can withdraw money without using a debit card without any inconvenience and it is also secure .

DPIIT: It refers to Department of Industry and Internal Trade. DPIIT is a central government department under the Ministry of Commerce and Industry. it was founded in 1995 and its headquarters is in New Delhi. Its parent organization is the Ministry of Commerce and Industry. It is responsible for formulation and implementation of promotional and developmental measures for growth of the industrial sector, keeping in view the national priorities and socio-economic objectives. While individual administrative ministries look after the production, distribution, development and planning aspects of specific industries allocated to them, DPIIT is responsible for the overall industrial policy. It is also responsible for facilitating and increasing the foreign direct investment (FDI) flows to the country. Initially known as Department of Industrial Policy & Promotion was renamed as Department for Promotion of Industry and Internal Trade (DPIIT) after internal trade was added to its mandate. The current Minister is Piyush Goyal while the top bureaucrat is Secretary Guruprasad Mohapatra.

Recently, DPIIT, Ministry of Commerce and Industry has launched paperless licensing process through Petroleum and Explosives Safety Organization (PESO) for petroleum service stations. It was launched through Petroleum and Explosives Safety Organization (PESO) under the Petroleum Rules, 2002. This initiative for petroleum pump licensing is directly going to benefit more than 70,000 petroleum pump owners and oil marketing companies and even benefit the petroleum and gas industry.

This initiative is in line with the government vision to promote Ease of Doing Business towards paperless and green India that will provide simpler mechanism, ease of living and business to the petroleum road tanker owners.

PESO: It refers to Petroleum and Explosives Safety Organisation. PESO is a department formed by Government of India under Department for the Promotion of Industry and Internal Trade under Ministry of Commerce and Industry.

PESO administers Explosives Act 1884,Explosive Substance Act, Petroleum Act 1934, Inflammable substance Act 1952 and Environment Protection Act 1986. The main function of PESO is to control import, export, transport, storage and usage of explosive materials,flammable materials, pressure vessels, cryogenic vessels, design and installation of all necessary and relevant infrastructure etc. It is a regulatory authority with autonomous status. The Department is headed by Chief Controller of Explosives and is headquartered at Nagpur in the State of Maharashtra in India. The authority has framed various rules like Cinematographic Films Rules, 1948, Calcium Carbide Rules 1987, Petroleum Rules 2002, Gas Cylinder Rules 2002, Explosive Rules 2008, Static & Mobile Pressure Vessels (Unfired) 2016, Ammonium Nitrate Rules, etc. It is headquartered in Nagpur, Maharashtra.

Green National Highway Corridors: The World Bank and Government of India ( goI) recently signed a $500 Million(around Rs 3,692 crore) Green National Highways Corridors Project to build safe, green and resilient highways in states of Rajasthan, Andhra Pradesh, Himachal Pradesh and Uttar Pradesh.

The agreement between the Indian government and the World Bank was signed by an additional secretary, Department of economic affairs, CS Mohapatra, and World Bank acting country director of India, Sumila Gulyani.

The project will help reduce GHG emissions in the construction and maintenance of highways.

It will also support the Ministry of Road Transport and Highways in the construction of 783 km of highways by combining safe and green technology designs such as industrial byproducts, local and marginal materials, and other bioengineering solutions.

World Bank: The World Bank is an international financial institution that provides loans and grants to the governments of poorer countries for the purpose of pursuing capital projects. It comprises two institutions which are the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development, and the International Development Association. It is headquartered in Washington, D.C., United States. It was founded on July 1944 by John Maynard Keynes and Harry Dexter White. Its main aim is providing financing, advice, and research to developing nations to aid their economic advancement. The bank predominantly acts as an organization that attempts to fight poverty by offering developmental assistance to middle- and low-income countries. The current President of World Bank is David Malpass.

 

Bharatskills Portal: The Directorate General of Training (DGT) along with Microsoft and NASSCOM Foundation recently launched a digital learning programme for around 1.2 lakh students from nearly 3,000 Industrial Training Institutes (ITIs) in the country.

The digitized e-learning programme can be accessed on the Bharatskills portal, a central repository for skill development programmes.

The joint e-learning programme will provide ITI students with future-ready employability skilling content. The programme aims to enable digitization in education and impact thousands of students, and hopes to reach more students and teachers soon, the skill development and entrepreneurship.

About Bharatskills: The online portal called Bharatskills(https://bharatskills.gov.in) was launched by DGT  in Oct 2019.

It is a Central Repository for skills providing easy access for the trainees and trainers of the ITI ecosystem, to access updated curriculums and course content of all courses under the Craftsmen Training Scheme (CTS), Question Banks, mock/practice papers, learning videos, etc., hence enabling anytime, anywhere learning outside the classrooms.

The teachers and students can access a centralized, scalable and prosperous support ecosystem throug its industrial partners who can now learn the newer IR 4.0 skills to meet the demands of the industry.

DGT: It refers to the Directorate General of Training. DGT is an apex organization for development and coordination at National level for the programmes relating to vocational training including women's Vocational Training. It is headquartered in Noida, Uttar Pradesh (UP). Its current Chairman is KK Natarajan.

Swachhata Abhiyan: It is a mobile application launched by the Minister of State at the Ministry of Social Justice Empowerment Krishan Pal Gurjar.

The Minister urged all citizens to download the app, ''Swachhata Abhiyan'', and through it provide the authorities concerned details of any insanitary latrine or manual scavenger they notice.

This would help in rehabilitating all manual scavengers and replace insanitary latrines with sanitary ones.

Prohibition of Employment as Manual Scavengers and their Rehabilitation Act, 2013, mandates survey of insanitary latrines, their demolition and construction of sanitary ones in their place.

Note: The government has been implementing Swachh Bharat Mission for the same purpose. Under the Swachh Bharat Mission, more than nine crore sanitary latrines have been constructed but still insanitary latrines and manual scavengers in some isolated parts of the country exist.

The reported insanitary latrines and manual scavengers will be rehabilitated to provide dignity of life to them.

DFC: It refers to the Dedicated Freight Corridor. Prime Minister Narendra Modi recently inaugurated a 351-km section between Khurja and Bhaupur in Uttar Pradesh for commercial operations of the DFC. He also dedicated to the nation a state-of-the-art Operation Control Centre in Prayagraj.

The DFC consists of two arms. The first section launched recently is part of the 1,839-km Eastern DFC that starts at Sohnewal (Ludhiana) in Punjab and ends at Dankuni in West Bengal. The other arm is the around 1,500-km Western DFC from Dadri in Uttar Pradesh to JNPT in Mumbai, touching all major ports along the way.

The 351-km section stretches between Khurja, the 12th stop after Sohnewal in the North, to New Bhaupur, near Kanpur.

The other stretches are Sohnewal to Khurja (365 km), Bhaupur to Pandit Deen Dayal Upadhyay (Mughalsarai) (400 km), then to Sonnagar in West Bengal (137 km), then to Dankuni via Gomoh in Jharkhand (538 km).

A section between Dadri and Khurja to connect the Eastern and Western arms is also under construction.

Built at a cost of Rs 5,750 crore at a cost of Rs 5,750 crore is important as around 70% of the freight trains currently running on the Indian Railway network are slated to shift to the freight corridors, leaving the paths open for more passenger trains.

It is being built through a loan from World Bank (which is funding a majority of the EDFC; the WDFC is being funded by the Japan International Cooperation Agency).

Tracks on DFC are designed to carry heavier loads than most of Indian Railways. DFC will get track access charge from the parent Indian Railways, and also generate its own freight business.

NCMC: It is an abbreviation for National Common Mobility Card. NCMC is an automatic fare collection system. Recently, Prime Minister Narendra Modi inaugurated fully operational NCMC service on the Airport Express Line of Delhi Metro. The service was started in Ahmedabad last year.

The idea of NCMC was floated by the Nandan Nilekani committee set up by the Reserve Bank of India (RBI).

The NCMC will enable the passengers to travel on the Airport Express Line using the RuPay-Debit Card issued from any part of the country.

This facility will become available on the entire Delhi Metro network by 2022.

This one card will give integrated access to the commuters wherever they travel, whichever public transport they take.

It will allow entry and exit from Metro stations with the help of a smartphone, known as the automatic fare collection (AFC) system.

The main objective of the Government is dwelling on the process of consolidating all the systems into One Nation, One system. 

The other examples under this system are as follows:

  1. One Nation, One Fastag has made travel seamless on highways across the country.
  2. One Nation, One Power Grid, is ensuring adequate and continuous power availability in every part of the country.
  3. One Nation, One Taxe. GST has ended the complications in the tax system and has brought uniformity in indirect tax system.
  4. With One Nation, One Gas Grid, Seamless Gas Connectivity is being ensured of the parts where gas-based life and economy used to be a dream earlier.
  5. One Nation, One Health Insurance Scheme e. Ayushman Bharat through which millions of people from India are taking advantage anywhere in the country.
  6. Citizens moving from one place to another have got freedom from the trouble of making new ration cards through One Nation, One Ration Card.
  7. One Agriculture Market due to new agricultural reforms and arrangements like e-NAM.

Note: Prime Minister also inaugurated India’s first-ever driverless train operations on Delhi Metro’s Magenta Line. It was inaugurated through video conferencing along with fully operational NCMC service on the Airport Express Line

SIB: It stands for Social Impact Bond. SIB is also called pay-for-success bond or pay-for-success financing or simply social bond. SIB is basically a contract with public sector authority, where it pays for better social outcomes. It is a form of outcome-based contracting and aims at improving social outcomes for a specific group of citizens.

Recently, Pimpri Chinchwad Municipal Corporation (PCMC), Pune  signed an MoU with United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) India to co-create India’s first Social Impact Bond (SIB).

It is for the first time that a government body will act as the 'outcome funder' in a bond contrary to convention. Earlier, traditionally most government-funded public projects required large and early investments by the government with a substantial gestation period of outcomes and involve various kinds of risks.

Under this unique investment tool, PCMC will only have to bear the costing of public welfare projects which are related to the bond if the pre-defined targets of the projects are achieved.

The introduction of the SIB aims attract more investors from public and private sectors to fund public welfare projects and thus help to meet the investment deficit currently hindering India's roadmap to SDGs.

UNDP: It refers to United Nations Development Programme. UNDP was founded on 22 November 1965 to help countries eliminate poverty and achieve sustainable human development, an approach to economic growth that emphasizes improving the quality of life of all citizens while conserving the environment and natural resources for future generations. It is headquartered in New York, New York, United States. The current head of UNDP is Achim Steiner.

Freight Business Development Portal: It is the first-of- its-kind Indian Railways dedicated Freight portal. The portal is one stop solution for all the needs of freight customers. It was launched recently by the Railway Minister Piyush Goyal.

The portal will replace physical processes with online ones to minimize the need of human-to-human interaction. It will also bring more transparency and provide professional support.

The personalized dashboard of freight business portal provides customers a view with their business in railways, outstanding indents, on-run consignments, status of various interactions and facility to apply for various services and raising concerns.

Customers also get to know about discount schemes,  demurrage, diversion, rebooking and wharfage waivers, stacking permissions.

Toycathon-2021: The Union Education Minister Ramesh Pokhriyal ‘Nishank’ and Union Minister Women and Child Development and Textiles Smt. Smriti Zubin Irani jointly launched Toycathon-2021 and the Toycathon Portal.

Toycathon is being organized with an objective to develop India as the global Toy manufacturing hub.

Toycathon aims to provide a platform to conceptualize innovative toys based on the Indian value system which will inculcate the positive behavior and good value among the children. Here the students and teachers from schools and colleges, design experts, toy experts and startups will get together to crowd source ideas for developing toys and games that are based on Indian culture & ethos and local folklore & heroes.

These will not only help India develop into a global hub for toys and games, but it will also help the children to understand the ethos and values of Indian culture as envisaged in the National Education Policy 2020.

The Toycathon is based on nine themes:

  1. Indian Culture
  2. History
  3. Knowledge of India and Ethos
  4. Learning, Education and Schooling
  5. Occupations & specific fields
  6. Social and human values
  7. Environment
  8. Divyang
  9. Fitness and sport

 

LEI: It refers to the Legal Entity Identifier: The RBI (Reserve Bank of India) has recently introduced LEI for for payment transactions above Rs 50 crore including Real Time Gross Settlement (RTGS) and National Electronic Funds Transfer (NEFT).

This will come into effect from April 01, 2021.

The Legal Entity Identifier (LEI) is a 20-digit number used to uniquely identify parties to financial transactions worldwide.

RBI: It refers to the Reserve Bank of India. The RBI is India's central bank, which controls the issue and supply of the Indian rupee. It carries out India's monetary policy and exercises supervision and control over banks and non-banking finance companies in India. RBI was set up in 1935 under the Reserve Bank of India Act, 1934. It is headquartered in Mumbai. RBI plays an important part in the Development Strategy of the Government of India. The current Governor of RBI is Shaktikanta Das.

RBI: It refers to the Reserve Bank of India. The RBI is India's central bank, which controls the issue and supply of the Indian rupee. It carries out India's monetary policy and exercises supervision and control over banks and non-banking finance companies in India. RBI was set up in 1935 under the Reserve Bank of India Act, 1934. It is headquartered in Mumbai. RBI plays an important part in the Development Strategy of the Government of India. The current Governor of RBI is Shaktikanta Das.

Recently, the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) constituted a working group on digital lending including online platforms and mobile apps.

The working group was constituted to study all aspects of digital lending activities in the regulated and regulated financial sector. The group will ensure that an appropriate regulatory approach is put in the digital lending platform. RBI Working Group on Digital Lending

The working group consists of both internal and external members and is chaired by Jayant Kumar Dash, Executive Director, RBI.

The move comes in the backdrop of the 3 borrowers in Telangana who committed suicide over alleged harassment by personnel of such digital lenders and also as there were many more complaining of being subjected to coercive methods after defaulting on repayments.

Functions of the working group:

  1. It will evaluate digital lending activities in the country.
  2. It will assess the standards of outsourced digital lending activities in RBI regulated entities.
  3. It will recommend measures to expand statutory perimeter in digital lending.
  4. It will suggest regulatory changes to promote orderly growth of digital lending.
  5. It will identify risks to be faced by the unregulated digital lending. It will mainly focus on risks faced by consumers and regulated entities that are exposed to unregulated digital lending.
  6. It will also recommend measures for expansion of specific regulatory or statutory perimeter and suggest the role of various regulatory and government agencies. It will also recommend a robust fair practices code for digital lending players.

The group will submit its report within three months.

Benefits of digital lending:

  1. The Digital lending makes the financial products and services more efficient, inclusive and fair.
  2. Earlier digital lending played a peripheral supporting role. However, currently, it is now at the core of the design, delivery and pricing of financial services and products.

Digital Lending: Digital lending is the process of offering loans that are applied for, disbursed, and managed through digital channels, in which lenders use digitized data to inform credit decisions and build customer engagement. It consists of lending through web platforms or mobile apps, by taking advantage of technology for authentication and credit assessment.

Khadi Prakritik Paint: It is an eco-friendly, non-toxic paint, called “Khadi Prakritik Paint” is a first-of-its-kind product, with anti-fungal, anti-bacterial properties.

Recently, the Union Minister for Road Transport & Highways and MSME, Nitin Gadkari launched the first-of-its-kind and innovative new paint developed by Khadi and Village Industries Commission.

The paint has been certified by Bureau of Indian Standards. Khadi Prakritik Paint will be available in two forms. They are distemper and plastic emulsion

Khadi Prakritik Emulsion paint meets BIS 15489:2013 standards; whereas Khadi Prakritik Distemper paint meets BIS 428:2013 standards.

The project was conceptualized by Chairman KVIC in March 2020, and later developed by Kumarappa National Handmade Paper Institute, Jaipur (a KVIC unit).

Benefits of Khadi Prakritik Paint:

  1. It is based on cow dung as its main ingredient so the paint is cost-effective and odorless.
  2. Utilization of cow dung will also clean the environment and prevent clogging of drains.
  3. It is eco-friendly and non-toxic, with anti-fungal and anti-bacterial properties.
  4. The paint is free from heavy metals like lead, mercury, cadmium, chromium, arsenic and others.
  5. It will be a boost to local manufacturing and will create sustainable local employment through technology transfer.
  6. This technology will increase consumption of cow dung as a raw material for eco-friendly products and will generate additional revenue to farmers and gaushalas. This is estimated to generate additional income of Rs 30,000 (approx.) per annum per animal to gaushalas and farmers.

EBITDA: It stands for Earnings Before Interest, Taxes, Depreciation, and Amortization. The State-owned undertakings Bharat Sanchar Nigam Ltd. (BSNL) and Mahanagar Telephone Nigam Ltd. (MTNL) have turned EBITDA positive in first 6 months of this financial year 2020-21.

EBITDA is a metric used to evaluate a company’s overall financial performance. It is a measure of profits.It is now commonly used to compare the financial health of companies and to evaluate firms with different tax rates and depreciation policies.

Among its drawbacks, EBITDA is not a substitute for analyzing a company's cash flow and can make a company look like it has more money to make interest payments than it really does. It also ignores the quality of a company's earnings and can make it look cheaper than it really is.

Prarambh: It is a Startup India International Summit. The Union Minister of Commerce and Industry, Consumer Affairs and Food and Public Distribution, Piyush Goyal recently inaugurated the two-day ‘Prarambh’, Startup India International Summit in New Delhi on 15 January 2021.

The Summit was organized by the Department for Promotion of Industry and Internal Trade (DPIIT), under M/o Commerce & Industry.

The inaugural event witnessed the participation by The members of BIMSTEC (Bay of Bengal Initiative for Multi-Sectoral Technical and Economic Cooperation) countries.

The ‘Prarambh’ Summit aims to provide a platform to the startups and young minds from around the world to come together and collaborate to work collectively to come with new ideas, innovation and invention.

The focus of the Summit was on enhancing multilateral cooperation and engagement with countries from around the globe to collectively develop and strengthen the startup ecosystems.

The Summit marks the fifth anniversary of the Startup India initiative. It was launched by the Prime Minister Narendra Modi on 16 January 2016.

SAKSHAM: It is an annual one month long fuel conservation campaign named Saksham.  SAKSHAM means Sanrakshan Kshamata Mahotsav. Saksham was recently launched by Petroleum Conservation Research Association (PCRA). It was inaugurated by the Secretary, Ministry of Petroleum and Natural Gas, Tarun Kapoor in New Delhi.

Sanarakshan Kshmata Mahotsva 2021 or SAKSHAM 2021 was launched with an aim to spread awareness about green energy. The campaign will highlight the adverse health and environmental impacts of increasing carbon footprints.

The pan-India campaign will focus on adoption of cleaner fuels and also spread awareness about 7 key drivers that were recently mentioned by PM Modi to help the country move towards the cleaner energy..

7 Key drivers for clean energy are as follows:

  1. Moving towards a gas-based economy
  2. Cleaner use of fossil fuels
  3. Reliance on the domestic sources to drive bio-fuels
  4. Increasing the use of electric vehicles to decarbonize the mobility
  5. Achieving renewable targets with the set deadlines
  6. Increase in the use of cleaner fuels like Hydrogen
  7. Digital Innovation across all the energy systems

PCRA: Petroleum Conservation Research Association (PCRA) is a registered society set up under the aegis of Ministry of Petroleum & Natural Gas and is Headquartered at New Delhi.

As a non-profit organization, PCRA is a national government agency engaged in promoting energy efficiency in various sectors of economy.

It helps the government in proposing policies and strategies for petroleum conservation, aimed at reducing excessive dependence of the country on oil requirement.

BIC: It refers to Bank Investment Company. The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) recently expressed some concerns over zero-coupon bonds for the recapitalization of public sector banks (PSBs), so the Finance Ministry is examining other avenues for affordable capital infusion, including setting up of a Bank Investment Company (BIC).

The setting up a BIC as a holding company or a core investment company was suggested by the P.J. Nayak Committee in its report on ‘Governance of Boards of Banks in India’.

The report recommended transferring shares of the government in the banks to the BIC which would become the parent holding company of all these banks, as a result of this, all the PSBs would become ‘limited’ banks.

BIC will be autonomous and it will have the power to appoint the board of directors and make other policy decisions about subsidiaries.

What is a Zero-coupon bond?

A zero-coupon bond is a debt security instrument that does not pay interest. The zero-coupon bonds trade at deep discounts, offering full face value (par) profits at maturity. The difference between the purchase price of a zero-coupon bond and the par value, indicates the investor's return.

Tesla: Tesla, Inc. is an American electric vehicle and clean energy company. The company is based in Palo Alto, California, US. It was founded in 2003. Tesla's current products include electric cars, battery energy storage from home to grid scale, solar panels and solar roof tiles, as well as other related products and services. TESLA stands for Tera electron volt Energy Superconducting Linear Accelerator.

Recently, Tesla incorporated a fully owned subsidiary in Bengaluru as a first step to set up an R&D unit and a manufacturing plant for its electric vehicles in the country.

This Elon Musk-owned electric vehicle (EV) company Tesla has registered its 100 per cent subsidiary, as - Tesla India Motors and Energy Pvt Ltd, according to disclosures with the Ministry of Corporate Affairs.

It is a private unlisted company with an authorised capital of Rs 15,00,000 and a paid-up capital of Rs 1,00,000, according to the MCA filings.

It will enter India with the Model 3 Sedan, expectedly priced at around Rs 60 Lakh.

About the Vehicle: The vehicle is fully electric. It is powered by a 60kw hour lithium-ion battery pack with a range of 500 km. In a span of only 3.1 seconds, the Sedan speeds up from 0 to 60mph and has a top speed of around 250 km.

Bad Bank: The RBI Governor has recently agreed to look at a proposal for creating a bad bank. the reason for this is that the problem of non-performing assets (NPAs), or loans on which borrowers have defaulted, persists in a sector stressed by the pandemic.

What is a Bad Bank?

A bad bank conveys the impression that it will function as a bank but has bad assets to start with.

Technically, it is an asset reconstruction company (ARC) or an asset management company that takes over the bad loans of commercial banks, manages them and finally recovers the money over a period of time.

The bad bank is not involved in lending and taking deposits, but helps commercial banks clean up their balance sheets and resolve bad loans.

The takeover of bad loans is normally below the book value of the loan and the bad bank tries to recover as much as possible subsequently.

Note: US-based Mellon Bank created the first bad bank in 1988, after which the concept has been implemented in other countries including Sweden, Finland, France and Germany. However, resolution agencies or ARCs set up as banks, which originate or guarantee to lend, have ended up turning into reckless lenders in some countries.

The first idea to establish a Bad Bank in India was given in the Economic Survey 2017 and it was suggested to name it 'PARA' (Public Sector asset Rehabilitation Agency).

NPA: Non-performing asset (NPA), a loan whose borrower has stopped repaying interest or principal amount since last 90 or has not repaid 3 EMIs. These NPAs are also called bad loans.

Current Affairs in Economic - December 2020