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23 December, 2019

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Paper Topics Subject
GS-II India, Iran agree to accelerate Chabahar port development International Relations
FATF puts 150 questions to Pak.
UDAY scheme loses power, sharp spike in discom losses
Manual scavenging left 282 dead since 2016
What connects the NPR, NRIC and Census?
GS-III RBI wants yield curve to dance to Operation Twist Economic Issues
Monsoon decided history of Indian subcontinent
GS-II : International Relations
India, Iran agree to accelerate Chabahar port development

Syllabus subtopic: Bilateral, regional and global groupings and agreements involving India and/or affecting India's interests

 

Prelims and Mains focus:  About the 19th India-Iran joint commission meeting; Chabahar port and its significance for India’s diplomacy

 

News: The External Affairs Minister Subrahmanyam Jaishankar met with Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif for a meeting of the 19th India­Iran joint commission, including talks on the Chabahar port, during a visit that could see him dealing with concerns of Indian expatriates over the Citizenship (Amendment) Act as well.

 

Background

  • The meeting of the two ministers was the first since last month, when Mr. Zarif had told a group of visiting Indian journalists that he was `disappointed` that India had allowed itself to be `bullied` by the United States and stopped all oil imports from Iran. Speaking in Delhi, Iran’s Ambassador Ali Chegeni had earlier suggested that India’s adherence to U.S. sanctions was also affecting Chabahar port development plans.
  • In Washington last week, however, a senior U.S. official made it clear that it would continue its “narrow exemption” to India to develop the Chabahar port, recognising its role as `as a lifeline to Afghanistan in terms for India to be able to export humanitarian supplies and potentially helping Afghanistan diversify its export opportunities.`
  • Subsequently, diplomats from India, Iran and Afghanistan met in Delhi on Friday and discussed several new initiatives for the trilateral project at Chabahar.

 

 

About Chabahar Port

The Chabahar Agreement was signed in June 2015 and approved by Iran’s Guardian Council in November 2016. Chabahar is being seen as a gateway for trade by India, Iran and Afghanistan with Central Asian countries.

 

Location: Iran’s Chabahar port is located on the Gulf of Oman and is the only oceanic port of the country. The port gives access to the energy-rich Persian Gulf nations’ southern coast.

 

 

Significance for India

  • The first and foremost significance of the Chabahar port is the fact that India can bypass Pakistan in transporting goods to Afghanistan. Chabahar port will boost India’s access to Iran, the key gateway to the International North-South Transport Corridor that has sea, rail and road routes between India, Russia, Iran, Europe and Central Asia.
  • Chabahar port will be beneficial to India in countering Chinese presence in the Arabian Sea which China is trying to ensure by helping Pakistan develop the Gwadar port. Gwadar port is less than 400 km from Chabahar by road and 100 km by sea.
  • With Chabahar port being developed and operated by India, Iran also becomes a military ally to India. Chabahar could be used in case China decides to flex its navy muscles by stationing ships in Gwadar port to reckon its upper hand in the Indian Ocean, Persian Gulf and Middle East.
  • With Chabahar port becoming functional, there will be a significant boost in the import of iron ore, sugar and rice to India. The import cost of oil to India will also see a considerable decline. India has already increased its crude purchase from Iran since the West imposed ban on Iran was lifted.
  • Chabahar port will ensure in the establishment of a politically sustainable connectivity between India and Afghanistan. This will in turn, lead to better economic ties between the two countries.
  • From a diplomatic perspective, Chabahar port could be used as a point from where humanitarian operations could be coordinated.

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GS-II :
FATF puts 150 questions to Pak.

Syllabus subtopic: Bilateral, regional and global groupings and agreements involving India and/or affecting India's interests

 

Prelims and Mains focus: About FATF: objective and functions; about the black and grey lists and their significance

 

News: A global watchdog for terror financing has sought more clarifications and data from Pakistan on actions taken by it against madrasas belonging to the banned outfits, weeks after Islamabad submitted a report to the Paris-based body detailing steps taken by the country to curb terrorism and money laundering.

 

Background

  • The Financial Action Task Force (FATF), which kept Pakistan on the Grey List for an extended period till February 2020, had warned in October that Islamabad would be put on the Black List if it did not comply with the remaining 22 points in a list of 27 questions. Pakistan submitted a report comprising answers to 22 questions to the FATF on December 6.
  • In response to the report, the FATF’s Joint Group has sent 150 questions to Pakistan, seeking some clarifications, updates and actions taken against the madrasas belonging to the proscribed outfits.

 

About FATF

  • The Financial Action Task Force (FATF) is an inter-governmental body established in 1989 on the initiative of the G7.  It is a “policy-making body” which works to generate the necessary political will to bring about national legislative and regulatory reforms in various areas. The FATF Secretariat is housed at the OECD headquarters in Paris.

 

  • Objectives: The objectives of the FATF are to set standards and promote effective implementation of legal, regulatory and operational measures for combating money laundering, terrorist financing and other related threats to the integrity of the international financial system.

 

  • Functions: The FATF monitors the progress of its members in implementing necessary measures, reviews money laundering and terrorist financing techniques and counter-measures and promotes the adoption and implementation of appropriate measures globally.  In collaboration with other international stakeholders, the FATF works to identify national-level vulnerabilities with the aim of protecting the international financial system from misuse.

 

 About the Black list and Grey list

  • FATF maintains two different lists of countries: those that have deficiencies in their AML/CTF regimes, but they commit to an action plan to address these loopholes, and those that do not end up doing enough. The former is commonly known as grey list and latter as blacklist.
  • Once a country is blacklisted, FATF calls on other countries to apply enhanced due diligence and counter measures, increasing the cost of doing business with the country and in some cases severing it altogether. As of now there are only two countries in the blacklist — Iran and North Korea — and seven on the grey list, including Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Syria and Yemen.

 

 Asia-Pacific Group on Money Laundering (APG):

  • FATF Asia-Pacific Group is one of the regional affiliates of the Financial Action Task Force.

 

  • The Asia-Pacific Group on Money Laundering works to ensure that all the countries adopt and implement the anti-money laundering and counter-terrorist financing standards that are set out in the FATF’s 40 Recommendations and Eight Special Recommendations.

 

  • APG assists countries in implementing laws to deal with crime, assistance, punishment, investigations; provides guidance in setting proper reporting systems and helps in establishing financial intelligence units.

 

  • At present, there are 41 members of APG. Of these, 11 countries are also the members of the head FATF – India, China, Australia, Canada, Hong Kong, Japan, Korea, Malaysia, New Zealand Singapore and the United States.
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GS-II :
UDAY scheme loses power, sharp spike in discom losses

Syllabus subtopic: Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors and issues arising out of their design and implementation.

 

Prelims and Mains focus: About UDAY scheme and its significance; reasons for its failure and their consequences

 

News: Four years after it was launched, UDAY — the NDA government’s ``path breaking reform`` to revive electricity distribution companies (discoms) — is unravelling.

 

Context

  • Discom losses, which had progressively reduced in the first couple of years since the scheme’s rollout in November 2015, have rebounded in FY ’19 to nearly double the losses recorded the previous year. The UDAY (Ujwal Discom Assurance Yojana) scheme now seems to be charting the same course as the earlier two unsuccessful attempts to set right the distribution sector.

 

  • Book losses of discoms, which had reduced from Rs 51,562 crore in FY ’16 to Rs 15,132 crore in FY ’18, have nearly doubled this financial year to Rs 28,036 crore, according to data updated till September-end this year. The data also points to discoms lagging behind in eliminating the gap between the average cost of supply and realisable revenue (ACS-ARR gap). Discoms have also missed the FY ’19 UDAY target to bring down their aggregate technical and commercial (AT&C) losses to 15 per cent.

Possibility of a new scheme to be launched

  • Given the faltering achievements, officials indicated the possibility of a new scheme being rolled out to address UDAY’s shortcomings.
  • While the contours of this new scheme are being worked out, the broad idea is that in the revised scheme, discoms can only remain in the public sector if they get to a situation where their deficit is under control. Or else, states will be asked to implement different models involving the private sector, like the franchise or PPP models. The Centre is also likely to back up the new scheme by providing some grant support, which it did not do in UDAY.

 

 

What are the reasons for UDAY’s failure

  • The primary reason for failure, as is being recognised in policy circles, is the failure of discoms to collect the full cost that they pay for power — the same issue that had led to the floundering of the previous two schemes.
  • Of the 28 states that implemented it, 10 have shown either reduced losses or profits in FY ’19. Also, even as most states registered an improvement in reducing the ACS-ARR gap and in bringing down AT&C losses, they are way behind in achieving the targets as per the UDAY schedule — a trajectory that bears similarity to how the two previous attempts had run aground.
  • The cost of power supply for discoms and the bills they realise from consumers was pegged at close to Rs 1.5 lakh crore. This was despite states providing support of close to Rs 85,000-90,000 crore to distribution utilities. The gap leads to further stresses and forces discoms to default on payments.
  • As on December 17, only four states — Himachal Pradesh, Gujarat, Maharashtra and Karnataka — had recorded an ACS-ARR below 0, while the rest recorded gaps ranging from Rs 0.01/unit to Rs 2.13/unit. A major reason for discoms being unable to bridge this gap is delayed tariff hikes by states, say experts.
  • The Appellate Tribunal for Electricity (APTEL) in September had noted that, between 2015-16 and 2018-19, it had not received any compliance reports related to its earlier orders directing states to ensure timely tariff revisions every year. The UDAY website states that 25 out of 27 states and union territories revised their tariffs by December.
  • The problem with UDAY, and any other scheme like this, is that you can achieve (certain targets) in the short term by doing some financial engineering and providing some financial package. But, in order to sustain that improvement, you have to have efficiency gain in that system. This means the AT&C losses need to go down, and billing and collection efficiencies should go up. If you just try to generate profit or minimise losses by increasing tariffs, you are building in theft into the system.
  • The biggest problem, though, is that the outstanding dues of discoms towards power purchases have risen sharply, after registering a decline immediately post-UDAY — a clear sign that the scheme is losing impetus after some initial success. This, according to officials, could be an indication of financial stress in some discoms, entailing the risk of fiscal surprise from their future bailouts.

 

What are the consequences?

  • According to the government’s Payment Ratification and Analysis in Power Procurement for bringing Transparency in Invoicing of Generators (PRAAPTI) web portal, outstanding dues to power generators had risen to Rs 81,964 crore at the end of October 2019 from Rs 54,664 crore in the same period last year. Discoms across states have already started defaulting on power purchase agreements signed with renewable energy players.

 

  • There’s yet another ticking time bomb, which would play out after the scheme winds up in March 2020. Given that the coupon rate on UDAY bonds are at a premium over those on SDL (state development loans) bonds, the cost of debt servicing has gone up for the UDAY states. The impact on state finances is likely to continue much beyond the terminal year due to interest payment on UDAY bonds and redemption of these bonds — a grim prospect for most states combating a tight fiscal situation amid a continuing slowdown.

 

  • Outstanding liabilities of states have been growing at double digit rate since 2015-16 (except 2018-19), resulting in a rise in the debt to GDP ratios, and budget estimates suggest that 16 states and UTs expect to record higher debt-GSDP ratio in 2019-20, according to RBI data.

 

  • ``While the impact of UDAY on state finances from interest payments and redemptions is predictable, the impact of future losses takeover is inherently uncertain as it is dependent upon the realised financial performance of discoms,`` the RBI said in its latest report on state budgets. The unraveling of the scheme now deepens that uncertainty.

 

About UDAY and its significance

  • UDAY — launched by former Power Minister Piyush Goyal in November 2015, under which state governments took over 75 per cent of the debt of their discoms, issuing lower-interest bonds to service the rest of the debt — was packaged as a fix for a sector where the upstream side (generation) was drawing investments even as the downstream (distribution) side was leaking like a sieve. In return, discoms were given target dates (2017-19) to meet efficiency parameters like reduction in power lost through transmission, theft and faulty metering.
  • The Ministry of Power has maintained that UDAY was different from the earlier attempts as it factored in interventions in coal, generation and transmission sectors as well, instead of just focusing on distribution.
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GS-II :
Manual scavenging left 282 dead since 2016

Syllabus subtopic: Welfare schemes for vulnerable sections of the population by the Centre and States and the performance of these schemes; mechanisms, laws, institutions and bodies constituted for the protection and betterment of these vulnerable sections.

 

Prelims and Mains focus: about the problem of manual scavenging in India; reasons and govt’s efforts in curbing it.

 

News: As many as 282 people have died while cleaning sewers and septic tanks in the country between 2016 and November 2019, the Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment said in the Parliament.

 

Context

  • The Central government has put on record that there are about 60,440 manual scavengers identified across the country, in 17 States.
  • More than half of them, about 35,472, have been identified from Uttar Pradesh alone.
  • The Parliament had enacted the Prohibition of Employment as Manual Scavengers and their Rehabilitation Act, 2013 which came in force from December 6, 2013.

 

State-wise death tolls

  • Among the States, Tamil Nadu has recorded 40 deaths, the highest in number, in these four years. This is followed by Haryana with 31 deaths, and Gujarat and Delhi with 30 deaths each. Maharashtra and Uttar Pradesh have recorded 27 deaths each in the same period. These figures are on the basis of FIRs filed by the respective State governments.
  • According to the data tabled in the Rajya Sabha, 50 deaths were reported in 2016, 83 in 2017, 66 in 2018 and 83 till November 2019.

 

Higher than reported’

  • According to the data tabled in the Rajya Sabha, 50 deaths were reported in 2016, 83 in 2017, 66 in 2018 and 83 till November 2019.

 

  • Sanitation being a State subject, the people for cleaning of sewers and septic tanks are employed by local bodies. States and Union Territories have been requested to ensure filing of FIRs and prosecution in all cases of employment of persons for hazardous cleaning of sewers as per the provisions of The Prohibition of Employment as Manual Scavengers and their Rehabilitation Act 2013.

 

  • Bezwada Wilson, Magsaysay award winning activist and national convener of Safai Karmachari Andolan, an organisation working to eradicate manual scavenging, said that the deaths are much higher than what is reported in the official statistics.

 

What could be the reason?

  • The deaths have been higher in states like Tamil Nadu, Gujarat and Uttar Pradesh where there has been rapid and unplanned urbanization.
  • Reducing human intervention in cleaning septic tanks and sewers is important to bring these numbers down, he added.
  • There are technologies available not only to detect the presence of poisonous gas in sewers and septic tanks but also for mechanized cleaning of it.

 

About Manual Scavenging

  • Scavenging is the practice of manual cleaning of human excreta from service/ dry latrines. The scavengers crawl into the dry latrines and collect the human excreta with their bare hands, carry it as head-load in a container to dispose it off.
  • Manual scavenging refers to the practice of manually cleaning, carrying, disposing or handling in any manner, human excreta from dry latrines and sewers. It often involves using the most basic of tools such as buckets, brooms and baskets.

 

Problems/ challenges associated with it

  • Caste based: The practice of manual scavenging is linked to India’s caste system where so-called lower castes were expected to perform this job. Manual scavengers are amongst the poorest and most disadvantaged communities in India.
  • Absence of Alternate livelihood: manual scavenging for many may have ended as a form of employment, the stigma and discrimination associated with it lingers on, making it difficult for former or liberated manual scavengers to secure alternate livelihoods and raising the fear that people could once again return to manual scavenging in the absence of other opportunities to support their families.

 

The Prohibition of Employment as Manual Scavengers and their Rehabilitation Act 2013

This Act intends to, inter alia, achieve its objectives to:-

  • Eliminate the insanitary latrines.
  • Prohibit:-
  1. Employment as Manual Scavenger
  2. Hazardous manual cleaning of sewer and septic tanks.
  • Survey of Manual Scavengers and their rehabilitation, within a time bound manner.

  Main features of the Act are:-

  • Definitions of manual scavengers and insanitary latrines widened to cover not only dry latrines but other insanitary latrines as well.
  • Prohibition of person from engagement or employment for hazardous cleaning of a sewer or a septic tank.
  • Offences under the Act are cognizable and non-bailable and attract stringent penalties.
  • Vigilance/Monitoring Committee at sub-Division, District, State and Central Govt. levels.
  • National Commission for Safai Karamcharis (NCSK) would, inter alia, monitor implementation of the Act and enquire into complaints regarding contravention of the provisions of the Act.
  • Provision of construction of adequate number of sanitary community latrines in urban areas, within three years from the date of commencement of this Act to eliminate the practice of open defecation.
  • Survey of Manual Scavengers in Urban and rural areas: which should be conducted with a time bound framework
  • Comprehensive Rehabilitation of the Manual Scavengers within a time bound framework.

 

National Commission for Safai Karmacharis

  • The NCSK was established in the year 1993 as per the provisions of the NCSK Act 1993 initially for the period upto 1997.

 

Role of NCSK:

  • Recommend to the Government regarding specific programmes for welfare of Safai Karamcharis, study and evaluate the existing welfare programmes for Safai Karamcharis, investigate cases of specific grievances etc.
  • Also as per the provisions of the Prohibition of Employment as Manual Scavengers and their Rehabilitation Act, the NCSK has been assigned the work to monitor the implementation of the Act, tender advice for its effective implementation to the Centre and State Governments and enquire into complaints regarding contravention/non-implementation of the provisions of the Act.
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GS-II :
What connects the NPR, NRIC and Census?

Syllabus subtopic: Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors and issues arising out of their design and implementation.

 

Prelims and Mains focus: about NPR, NRIC and CAB; challenges and issues associated

 

Context:  As protests spread all across the country against the Citizenship (Amendment) Act (CAA), 2019 and the proposed National Register of Indian Citizens (NRIC), West Bengal and Kerala suspended work related to the preparation and update of the National Population Register in their respective States. The NPR, a register of residents of the country with demographic and biometric details, was supposed to be prepared between April 2020 and September 2020 ahead of the Census slated for 2021. Preliminary work on the NPR has begun in several States. In Bengal, civil rights activists had been protesting against the compilation of the NPR alleging that it had nothing to with the Census, but the ``first step to initiate the National Register of Citizens`` in the State. According to Section 14A of the Citizenship Act, 1955 (which was inserted in 2004), the Central Government may compulsorily register every citizen of India and issue a national identity card to him; and it may maintain a National Register of Indian Citizens.

                                                                         

What is the National Population Register (NPR)?

The NPR is a database containing a list of all usual residents of the country. Its objective is to have a comprehensive identity database of people residing in the country. It is generated through house-to-house enumeration during the ``house-listing`` phase of the census, which is held once in 10 years. The last census was in 2011, and the next will be done in 2021 (and will be conducted through a mobile phone application, according to the Home Minister, Amit Shah).

 

A usual resident for the purposes of NPR is a person who has resided in a place for six months or more, and intends to reside there for another six months or more

 

The census involves a detailed questionnaire — there were 29 items to be filled up in the 2011 census — aimed at eliciting the particulars of every person, including age, sex, marital status, children, occupation, birthplace, mother tongue, religion, disability and whether they belonged to any Scheduled Caste or Scheduled Tribe. On the other hand, the NPR collects basic demographic data and biometric particulars.

 

Once the basic details of the head of the family are taken by the enumerator, an acknowledgement slip will be issued. This slip may be required for enrolment in NPR, whenever that process begins.

 

And, once the details are recorded in every local (village or ward), sub-district (tehsil or taluk), district and State level, there will be a population register at each of these levels. Together, they constitute the National Population Register.

 

What is the legal basis for the NPR?

While the census is legally backed by the Census Act, 1948, the NPR is a mechanism outlined in a set of rules framed under the Citizenship Act, 1955.

 

Section 14A was inserted in the Citizenship Act, 1955, in 2004, providing for the compulsory registration of every citizen of India and the issue of a ``national identity card`` to him or her. It also said the Central government may maintain a ``National Register of Indian Citizens``.

 

The Registrar General India shall act as the ``National Registration Authority`` (and will function as the Registrar General of Citizen Registration). Incidentally, the Registrar General is also the country’s Census Commissioner.

 

The NPR is the first step towards establishing the NRIC.

 

Is there any link between the NPR and Aadhaar?

Better targeting and delivery of benefits and services under the government was one of the early objectives of the NPR. During the early days of the NPR enrolment, under the United Progressive Alliance regime, the Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI) scheme for issuance of Aadhaar numbers was also concurrently on. There was a conflict between the Union Home Ministry, which administers the NPR, and UIDAI, leaving the impression that there was duplication of work, as both involved gathering personal particulars, including biometric data.

 

Ultimately, they agreed that both databases will exist with different objectives, and that each will use the other’s biometric data. Those already enrolled for Aadhaar need not give their biometric details again during NPR. At the same time, data captured for NPR would be sent to UIDAI for ``de-duplication``. In case of discrepancy between Aadhaar and NPR data, the latter would prevail. The present regime decided to update the NPR originally created after the 2011 Census.

 

What will happen after the NPR is compiled?

Out of the NPR, a set of all usual residents of India, the government proposes to create a database of ``citizens of India``. Thus, the ``National Register of Indian Citizens`` (NRIC) is a sub-set of the NPR. The NRIC will be prepared at the local, sub-district, district and State levels after verifying the citizenship status of the residents.

 

The Citizenship (Registration of Citizens and Issue of National Identity Cards) Rules, 2003 spells out the rules for operationalising the idea of registering all citizens and issuing national identity cards to them. However, so far, there has been no decision on introducing a national identity card.

 

The rules say the particulars of every family and individual found in the Population Register ``shall be verified and scrutinized by the Local Registrar ...``. In the process, details of those “whose citizenship is doubtful`` will be entered with a comment suggesting further inquiry. The family or individual will be informed about it and given an opportunity of being heard by the Sub-district or Taluk Registrar of Citizen Registration before a final decision is made on excluding them from the NRIC. The decision should be made within 90 days.

 

Is the NRIC complete after this step?

No. A draft of the Local Register of Indian Citizens shall be published to invite objections or claims for inclusion or corrections.

 

Any objection or request for inclusion must be made within 30 days of the publication of the draft. The sub-district or taluk registrar shall summarily dispose of the objections within 90 days. Thereafter, the entries in the Local Register will be transferred to the National Registrar.

 

Any person aggrieved by an exclusion order can appeal to the District Registrar within 30 days, and the appeal should be disposed of within 90 days. In case, the appeal succeeds, the names of those concerned would be added to the NRIC.

 

What are the documents that would help establish citizenship?

The government is yet to notify a date for generation of the NRIC. It has not yet prescribed rules for the sort of documentary proof that would be required to prove citizenship. The government says any document that shows date of birth or place of birth, or both, will be sufficient. And that common documents will be accepted, and those unable to produce documents may produce witnesses or other proof supported by members of the community.

 

Many State governments have said the NPR would not be implemented. Is this possible?

As of now, this is a political decision. Kerala and West Bengal have put on hold activities related to NPR work. Most State governments would have, by now, re-issued a Central government notification on the initiation of work to update the NPR.

 

As the house-to-house enumeration is a part of the Census operation, it is unlikely that the NPR process can go ahead without State governments agreeing to deploy their staff for the purpose. The legal position is that while the Centre is in charge of the census, the State governments are expected to provide staff whenever required.

 

Section 4A of the Census Act, inserted through a 1994 amendment, says: ``Every local authority in a State shall, when so directed by a written order by the Central Government or by an authority appointed by that Government in this behalf, make available to any Director of Census Operations such staff as may be necessary for the performance of any duties in connection with the taking of census.``

 

Further, Rule 5 of the Citizenship (Registration of Citizens and Issue of National Identity Cards) Rules, 2003, lays down that ``Every official of the Central Government, State Government, local bodies or their undertakings shall assist the Registrar General of Citizen Registration or any person authorized by him in this behalf, in preparation of the database relating to each family and every person, and in implementing the provisions of these rules.``

 

In any case, it is compulsory on the part of every citizen to assist in the preparation of the National Register of Citizens, the rules say.

 

In practical terms, it may not be possible for the process to be undertaken without the State government’s cooperation at the local level.

 

What is the relationship between the NPR and the Citizenship (Amendment) Act?

There is no direct link. But remarks by the Home Minister that the CAA would be followed by the NRC has given rise to fears that when people are excluded from the final citizenship register, the CAA may help non-Muslims take the CAA route to apply for citizenship, and leave Muslims with no option. However, the government seeks to allay these fears.

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GS-III : Economic Issues
RBI wants yield curve to dance to Operation Twist

Syllabus subtopic: Indian Economy and issues relating to planning, mobilization of resources, growth, development and employment.

 

Prelims and Mains focus: About Operation Twist and its significance

 

News: The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) has put out a press release saying it wants to buy 10-year government securities worth Rs.10,000 crore and wants to sell 1-year government securities worth Rs.10,000 crore. This move has been labelled Operation Twist.

 

 

How does Operation Twist get its name?

The US Federal Reserve was the first central bank that attempted such an exercise of buying and selling government securities at the same time. This happened in 1961. At that time, the “twist” was a new dance craze sparked by singer Chubby Checker. Since then the name for such an exercise carried out by a central bank has stuck. Much later, Operation Twist was tried in the US in the aftermath of the financial crisis. In this case, the Federal Reserve purchased government securities with maturities varying from six years to 30 years and sold government securities with maturities of three years or less.

 

Why is this called Operation Twist?

The idea is to twist the yield curve. The yield curve is a graph that plots the yields of government securities (or other financial securities) of different maturities. The yield is the per-year return an investor can earn on a financial security by staying invested in it till maturity. When a central bank buys government securities, the prices go up. At a higher price, the yields or the returns come down as the interest paid on the securities stays the same. Vice versa, when the bank sells government securities, the prices fall and the return or the yield on the security goes up. This creates a visual effect of a twist in the yield curve.

 

Will money supply increase because of RBI’s move?

If the central bank buys government securities a few times, it will increase the money supply in the economy, which is likely to lead to higher inflation, with a greater amount of money chasing the same amount of goods and services. By selling securities worth a similar amount, RBI will not end up increasing the money supply because of this operation.

 

How has the bond market reacted?

Financial markets discount for possibilities. Though the buying and selling of government securities is slated for Monday, the yield on 10-year government securities fell up to 15 basis points to 6.6% on Friday. One basis point is one hundredth of a percentage point. This means long-term borrowing for the government has become slightly cheaper. Lending to the government is the most secure form of lending and as such the yields available on government securities tend to be a benchmark for all other forms of lending.

 

What’s the idea behind Operation Twist?

The idea is to drive down the yields on 10-year government securities. This can happen if the government continues with Operation Twist. A one-off operation will not help and yields will climb back soon. The hope is that with yields coming down, banks will cut lending rates given that lending to the government is deemed to be the safest, and if that comes down, so should the remaining rates as well

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GS-III :
Monsoon decided history of Indian subcontinent

Syllabus subtopic: Science and Technology- developments and their applications and effects in everyday life Achievements of Indians in science & technology; indigenization of technology and developing new technology.

 

Prelims and Mains focus: about the findings of the study and their significance

 

News: A recent study by researchers at Indian Institute of Technology, Kharagpur (IIT­KGP) has revealed that abrupt changes in the Indian monsoon in the last 900 years decided the course of human history in the sub- continent.

 

Context: A paper titled “Abrupt changes in Indian summer monsoon strength during the last 900 years and their linkages to socio-economic conditions in the Indian subcontinent” by Anil K. Gupta, professor at the geology and geophysics department of IIT­KGP, highlights that decline of Indian dynasties was linked to weak monsoon and reduced food production.

 

Findings on the study

  • Several dynasties, such as the Sena in Bengal, Solanki in Gujarat in the mid­13th century and Paramara and Yadav in the early to mid­14th century – all of which flourished during abundant rainfall — declined during the dry phases of Indian summer monsoon (ISM), suggesting role of the climate in the socio­political crisis, the study revealed.

 

  • Deficient rainfall led to the collapse of the Mansabdari system, started by Mughal emperor Akbar, in the late 17th century. Similarly, drought interspersed with violent monsoon rains sounded the death knell for the Khmer empire of south-east Asia in the 15th century.

 

  • The paper published in international journal PALEO 3 highlights three phases in the 900­year stretch — Medieval Climate Anomaly from 950 CE to 1350 CE, Little Ice Age from 1350 CE to 1800 CE and Current Warm Period from 1800 CE till today. The paper highlights strong monsoon during Medieval Climate Anomaly and Current Warm Period and phases of weak and strong monsoon in Little Ice Age.

 

  • For the study on long-term spatio-temporal variability of the ISM, a group of researchers, which also included experts from Wadia Institute of Himalayan Geology, looked at palaeoclimatic records using oxygen isotope proxy record from speleothems (a structure formed in a cave by deposition of minerals from water) at the Wah Shikar cave in Meghalaya.
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