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DAILY NEWS ANALYSIS

07 May, 2021

40 Min Read

Supreme Court declines EC plea to restrain media reports

GS-II : Governance Governance

Supreme Court declines EC plea to restrain media reports

  • Real-time reportage of court proceedings, including the oral exchanges in courtrooms between judges and lawyers, is part of the right to freedom of speech, the Supreme Court held in a judgment.
  • “With the advent of technology, we are seeing reporting proliferate through social media forums which provide real-time updates to a much wider audience. This is an extension of the freedom of speech and expression that the media possesses. This constitutes a virtual extension of the open court,” a Bench led by Justice D.Y. Chandrachud observed in a judgment.
  • Such live reporting of court proceedings is a cause of celebration rather than apprehension.

Madras HC remarks

  • The court declined a plea made by the Election Commission of India to restrain the media from reporting oral remarks made by a Division Bench of the Madras High court.
  • The HC judges had said that poll body officials should be charged with “murder” for allowing rallies and mass gatherings during the Tamil Nadu Assembly elections.
  • The judges had remarked that the EC was solely responsible for the COVID surge.
  • In the judgment, Justice Chandrachud said the case posed a delicate balancing of powers between the HC and the ECI, which are both constitutional authorities.
  • The court said that except in cases of child sexual abuse and marital issues, the phenomenon of free press should extend to court proceedings.
  • “Citizens have a right to know about what transpires in the course of judicial proceedings. The dialogue in a court indicates the manner in which a judicial proceeding is structured... Arguments addressed before the court, the response of opposing counsel and issues raised by the court are matters on which citizens have a legitimate right to be informed,” Justice Chandrachud observed.
  • The court referred to how the Gujarat High Court had recently introduced live-streaming of its proceedings in a bid to enhance public participation in the dispensation of justice.
  • “In this backdrop, it would be retrograde for this court to promote the rule of law and access to justice on one hand, and shield the daily operations of the High Courts and this court from the media in all its forms, by gagging the reporting of proceedings,” Justice Chandrachud said.
  • The court said oral observations made during course of a hearing do not bind the parties and do not form a part of the judgment. An exchange of views was intrinsic to the applicability of mind and the process of judging.

Source: TH

RBI measures against COVID-19

GS-III : Economic Issues RBI

RBI measures against COVID-19

The RBI Governor Shri Shaktikanta Das today announced a series of measures to support the nation’s fight against the second wave of COVID-19 infections.

1. Term Liquidity Facility of ?50,000 crore to Ease Access to Emergency Health Services

  • Term Liquidity Facility of Rs. 50,000 crore with tenure of up to 3 years, at repo rate, to ease access to emergency health services, for ramping up COVID-related health infrastructure & services.
  • Banks can give fresh lending support to variety of stakeholders under this facility.
  • This lending facility will be available up to March 31, 2022. Banks will be provided incentives to provide credit under this facility.

2. Special Long Term Repo Operations for Small Finance Banks

  • In order to provide further support to micro, small and other unorganized sector entities, 3-year repo operations of Rs. 10,000 crore at repo rate, for fresh lending up to Rs 10 lakh per borrower; facility is available up to 31 October, 2021.

3. Lending by Small Finance Banks (SFBs) to MFIs for on-lending to be classified as priority sector lending

  • In view of fresh challenges, SFBs are now permitted to regard fresh on-lending to MFIs with asset size up to Rs. 500 crore, as priority sector lending. This facility will be available up to 31 March, 2022.

4. Credit flow to MSME Entrepreneurs

  • To further incentivize inclusion of unbanked MSMEs into banking system, exemption provided in February, 2021 wherein scheduled banks were allowed to deduct credit given to new MSME borrowers from Net Time & Demand Liabilities for calculation of CRR, is now extended to December 31, 2021.

5. Stress Resolution Framework 2.0 for Individuals, Small Businesses and MSMEs

Following set of measures have been announced to relieve stress faced by most vulnerable categories of borrowers – namely individuals, borrowers and MSMEs.

  • Individuals, borrowers and MSMEs with aggregate exposure up to Rs. 25 crore, who have not availed restructuring under any previous frameworks, who were classified as standard on 31 March, 2021, will be eligible to be considered under Resolution Framework 2.0. Restructuring under new framework can be invoked till September 30, 2021 and will have to be implemented within 90 days after invocation.
  • For individuals and small businesses who have availed restructuring of loans under Resolution Framework 1.0, where moratorium of less than 2 years was permitted, lending institutions can now increase the period and/or extend residual tenure up to a total period of 2 years.
  • In respect of small businesses and MSMEs restructured earlier, lending institutions are now permitted to review working capital sanction limits, as a one-time measure.

6. Rationalization of KYC norms for enhanced customer experience

Steps being proposed include:

  • Extending scope to video KYC for new customer categories such as proprietorship firms,
  • Conversion of limited KYC accounts to fully KYC compliant accounts,
  • Introduction of more customer-friendly options in KYC updating and
  • enabling the use of KYC Identifier of Centralised KYC Registry (CKYCR) for V-CIP and submission of electronic documents as identify proof

7. Floating Provisions and Countercyclical Provisioning Buffer

  • Banks can now use 100% of floating provisions held by them, as on December 31, 2020, for making specific provisions for NPAs; such utilization is permitted up to March 31, 2022.

8. Relaxation of overdraft facility for states

  • Maximum number of days of overdraft in a quarter for state governments has been increased from 36 to 50 days. The number of consecutive days of OD has been increased from 14 to 21 days; facility available up to September 30, 2021.

Global economy is showing signs of recovery

  • IMF has in April, 2021 revised global growth projections for 2021 to 6% from 5.5%, on the assumption of availability of vaccines in advanced economies (Aes) and some emerging market economies (EMEs) by the summer of 2021 and in most other countries by the second half of 2022
  • Agricuture sector continues to be resilient with a record food grain production in 2020-21, which provides food security and support to other sectors.
  • IMD’s forecast of normal monsoon is also expected to sustain rural demand and overall output in 2021-22, thereby soothing inflationary pressures.
  • Localized and targeted containment measures are enabling businesses and households to adapt. Hence, effect on aggregate demand is expected to be moderate in comparison to last year.
  • CPI inflation is dubbed to 5.5% in March, 2021 from 5.0% in February, 2021, on the back of a pick-up in food and fuel inflation and Normal monsoon should help contain food price pressures, especially in cereals and pulses.
  • Merchandise imports and exports continue to witness robust growth performance, even in April 2021.
  • Foreign exchange reserves give us confidence to deal with global spill-over
  • Domestic financial conditions will remain easy, given abundant surplus liquidity
  • Given the positive market response, he announced that second purchase of Government securities for Rs. 35,000 crore will be conducted on May 20, 2021.

Source: PIB

Special Kharif Strategy for self-sufficiency in Pulses

GS-III : Economic Issues Agriculture

Special Kharif Strategy for self-sufficiency in Pulses

Progress until now

  • From a meagre production of 14.76 million tonnes in 2007-08, the figure has now reached 24.42 million tonnes in 2020-2021 (2nd advance estimates) which is a phenomenal increase of65%.
  • This success is largely attributed to several significant interventions at the central level.
  • The Government has consistently been focussing on bringing new areas under pulses along with ensuring that productivity is also increased in the existing areas under cultivation.
  • Therefore, the production and productivity of pulses must be further sustained and increased through the approach of both horizontal and vertical expansion.
  • From the year 2014-15, there has been a renewed focus on increasing the production of pulses through
  1. enhancing the budgetary outlays,
  2. focussing on special programmes in the different states/seasons,
  3. special action plans in low productivity districts,
  4. targeting rice fallow areas,
  5. technology transfer through the increased front line and cluster demonstrations,
  6. diversified production approaches such as demonstrations on ridge-furrow, tur transplanting/ intercropping, tur on rice bunds, etc.
  • Further, 119 of FPOs for pulses were also formed in11 states for value addition chain development and marketing.
  • From 2016-17 onwards, under the National Food Security Mission, 644 districts have been included in the pulses programme.
  • However, the most significant input for increasing production and productivity has been the focus of providing quality seeds to the farmers.
  • A major push towards this effort was made in 2016-17 with the creation of 150 pulses seed hubs in 24 states, covering Krishi Vigyan Kendras in 97 districts, 46 State Agricultural Universities and 7 ICAR institutions to provide location-specific varieties and quality seed quantities.
  • Along with this effort, Breeder Seed Production Centres’ infrastructure at 12 ICAR/SAU centres in 08 states was created for increasing Varietal Replacement and Seed Replacement.

Features of the strategy

  • With an aim to attain self-sufficiency in the production of pulses, the Ministry of Agriculture and Farmers Welfare has formulated a special Kharif strategy for implementation in the ensuing Kharif 2021 season.
  • Through consultations with the state governments, a detailed plan for both area expansion and productivity enhancement for Tur, Moong and Urad has been formulated.
  • Under the strategy, utilising all the high yielding varieties (HYVs) of seeds that are available either with the Central Seed Agencies or in the States will be distributed free of cost to increase area through intercropping and sole crop.
  • For the coming Kharif 2021, it is proposed to distribute 20,27,318 (almost 10 times more seed mini kits than 2020-21) amounting to Rs. 82.01 crores.
  • The total cost for these mini-kits will be borne by the Central Government to boost the production and productivity of tur, moong and urad.

The following mini-kits will be given;

  • 13,51,710 mini kits of arhar containing certified seeds of HYVs of arhar released during last ten years and productivity not less than 15 qtl/ha- for intercropping.
  • 4,73,295 mini kits of moong containing certified seeds of HYVs of moong released during last ten years but productivity not less than 10 qtl/ha- for intercropping.
  • 93,805 mini kits of urad containing certified seeds of HYVs of urad released during last ten years but productivity not less than 10 qtl/ha- for intercropping.
  • 1,08,508 mini kits of urad containing certified seeds of uradHYVs of Urad released during last 15 years and productivity not less than 10 qtl/ha - for Sole Crop.

The above mini-kits used for intercropping and urad sole crop will cover an area of 4.05 lakh hectare in the Kharif season 2021 to be funded by the Central Government. In addition to this, the usual programme of intercropping and area expansion by the states will continue on a sharing basis between the Centre and State.

  • Tur intercropping will be covered in 11 states and 187 districts. The states are Andhra Pradesh, Chattisgarh, Gujarat, Haryana, Karnataka, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Rajasthan, Tamil Nadu, Telangana and Uttar Pradesh.
  • Moong intercropping will be covered in 9 states and 85 districts. The states are Andhra Pradesh, Gujarat, Haryana, Karnataka, Maharashtra, Rajasthan, Tamil Nadu, Telangana and Uttar Pradesh.
  • Urad intercropping will be covered in 6 states in 60 districts. The states are Andhra Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Karnataka, Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu and Uttar Pradesh. Urad sole cropping will be covered in 6 states.
  • For effective implementation of the Kharif mini kit programme, a massive outreach with the concerned district will be held both through a series of webinars by the central government and state governments concerned to ensure that there are no hiccups.
  • District level training programmes during the crop season will be organized through the District Agriculture Office and the ATMA network for good agriculture practices and the use of new seeds in subsequent seasons as well.
  • The Agricultural Technology Application Research Institutes(ATARIs) and Krishi Vigyan Kendras will also be roped in for effective implementation and training to the farmers.

Source: PIB

China halts economic dialogue with Australia

GS-II : International Relations Australia

China halts economic dialogue with Australia

  • China cut off a channel for diplomatic and trade talks with Australia in a largely symbolic act of fury, following clashes over a wide range of issues, including human rights, espionage and the origins of COVID-19.
  • Tensions between the two sides have soared since Canberra called last year for an independent probe into the origins of the pandemic and banned telecom giant Huawei from building Australia’s 5G network.
  • China — Australia’s biggest trading partner — has already imposed tariffs or disrupted more than a dozen key industries, including wine, barley and coal, decimating exports.
  • In the latest volley, the China-Australia Strategic Economic Dialogue was pulled “based on the current attitude” of the Australian government, China’s National Development and Reform Commission said in a statement on Thursday, blaming some officials of a “Cold War mindset” and “ideological discrimination”.
  • Beijing will “indefinitely suspend all activities under the framework” of the agreement, the statement added.
  • Australia called the decision “disappointing”, with Trade Minister Dan Tehan saying the dialogue had provided an important forum for the two countries — though he added that no such talks had taken place since 2017.
  • It was not immediately clear if the row would impact on a free-trade agreement between the two that came into effect in 2015.
  • Canberra has previously described the avenue for talks — designed to boost trade between both sides and introduce large Chinese investors — as one of the “premier bilateral economic meetings with China”.
  • It called the first meeting in 2014 a chance for “closer economic ties” but relations between the two have since sunk into deep freeze.

Source: TH

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