Sarat Chandra IAS Academy

Sarat Chandra IAS Academy -UPSC Civils Daily Current Affairs 23rd July-2021

Topics

  • Insolvency and Bankruptcy Board of India (Insolvency Resolution Process for Corporate Persons) Regulations, 2016
  • Potential of geospatial technologies for the water sector in India
  • China-led South Asian Initiative
  • Reservations | Economic weaker sections
  • Avian Influenza
  • Lepakshi, two other sites to be ‘Adarsh Smarak’ of Andhra Pradesh

 

1.Insolvency and Bankruptcy Board of India (Insolvency Resolution Process for Corporate Persons) Regulations, 2016

#GS2 #Government policies #GS3 # Growth, Development and Employment

Context: Recently, the Insolvency and Bankruptcy Board of India (IBBI) notified the Insolvency and Bankruptcy Board of India (Insolvency Resolution Process for Corporate Persons) (Second Amendment) Regulations, 2016 .

Background:

  • The amendments are aimed at enhancing the discipline, transparency, and accountability in corporate insolvency proceedings.
  • A sub-committee of the Insolvency Law Committee (ILC) advised a pre-pack framework within the basic structure of the Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code (IBC), 2016.
  • The amended regulations are effective from 14th July, 2021

Key Amendments:

  • The amendment requires an Insolvency Professional (IP) conducting Corporate Insolvency Resolution Process (CIRP) to disclose all former names and registered office address(es) so changed in the two years preceding the commencement of insolvency along with the current name and registered office address of the Corporate Debtor (CD), in all its communications and records.
    • A CD may have changed its name or registered office address prior to commencement of insolvency. Therefore, the stakeholders may find it difficult to relate to the new name or registered office address and consequently fail to participate in the CIRP.
    • CIRP is a recovery mechanism for creditors. If a corporate becomes insolvent, a financial creditor, an operational creditor, or the corporate itself may initiate CIRP.
      • It includes necessary steps such as raising fresh funds for operation, looking for a new buyer to sell the company as a going concern, etc.
    • Corporate Debtor is any corporate organization which owes a debt to any person.
  • Amendment provides that the Interim Resolution Professional (IRP) or Resolution Professional (RP) may appoint a professional, other than registered valuers, if he is of the opinion that the services of such professional are required and such services are not available with the CD.
    • Such appointments shall be made on an arm’s length basis following an objective and transparent process.
  • Resolution Professionals (RPs) managing the operations of distressed companies undergoing corporate insolvency proceedings will now be required to assess and report whether the company has completed any transactions to siphon off funds prior to insolvency proceedings and file applications with the Adjudicating Authority seeking appropriate relief.
    • RPs will be required to provide an opinion on whether the company has been subject to avoidance transactions within 75 days of the start of corporate insolvency resolution process.
    • Such provisions would allow stakeholders to claw back lost value and would disincentivise stakeholders from entering into such transactions.

Issues with the amendment:

  • Experts noted that the time limit for RPs to give an opinion on any potential avoidance transactions may be difficult for some professionals to meet in the case of large corporations if the key personnel of such companies do not cooperate in sharing data with the RP.
  • The process of cooperation and issue of direction by NCLT is not fast enough to meet the strict timeline prescribed for assessment and determination of avoidance transaction.”

Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code,2016:

  • It is a bankruptcy law of India that seeks to create a single law for insolvency and bankruptcy.
  • The Code outlines separate insolvency resolution processes for individuals, companies, and partnership firms.
  • The process may be initiated by either the debtor or the creditors.
  • Time limit
    • For companies: 180 days, which may be extended by 90 days
    • For start-ups, small companies, and other companies (with asset less than Rs. 1 crore): 90 days of initiation of request which may be extended by 45 days.
  • The Insolvency and Bankruptcy Board of India will oversee the insolvency proceedings in the country.
  • The Board will have 10 members with representatives from the Ministries of Finance and Law, and the Reserve Bank of India.
  • The licensed professionals will manage the insolvency process.
  • Adjudicator:
    • National Company Law Tribunal for Companies and Limited Liability Partnership firms.
    • Debt Recovery Tribunal for individuals and partnerships.

What are Pre-packs?

  • A pre-pack is the process of debt resolution of a distressed company by an agreement between secured creditors and investors instead of a public bidding process.
  • This system of insolvency proceedings has become an increasingly popular mechanism for insolvency resolution in the UK and Europe over the past decade.
  • Under the pre-pack system, financial creditors will agree to terms with a potential investor and seek approval of the resolution plan from the National Company Law Tribunal (NCLT).
  • The approval of a minimum of 66 percent of financial creditors that are unrelated to the corporate debtor would be required before a resolution plan is submitted to the NCLT.
  • Further NCLTs are also required to either accept or reject any application for a pre-pack insolvency proceeding before considering a petition for a CIRP.

 

  1. Potential of geospatial technologies for the water sector in India

#GS3 #Infrastructure # Awareness in the fields of IT, Space, Computers, Robotics, Nano-technology #GS2 #Government Policies

Context: Recently, the Association of Geospatial Industries released a report titled “Potential of Geospatial Technologies for the Water Sector in India”. The report mentions opportunities in the Water sector that can benefit from the use of Geospatial technologies.

Background:

  • As the severity of the water crisis in India increases every year, central and state government agencies are using a variety of resources to tackle the water crisis. One among them is the adoption of Geospatial technologies.
  • Report provides an overview of how water sector programmes and projects in India is currently using geospatial technologies, and how to improve technology adoption in the future.
  • Precise, real-time, and continuous data that geospatial sources provide for the water sector have a significant impact in the prognosis of water related projects.
  • It enables better measurement, management, and maintenance of assets, monitoring of resources and even providing predictive and prescriptive analysis for forecasting and planned interventions.
  • As per the report, numerous Geospatial and Digital technologies, like Satellite based Remote Sensing, Surveying and Mapping, GPS based equipment and sensors, GIS and Spatial Analytics, Artificial Intelligence, Big Data Analytics, Internet of Things, 5G, Robotics and Digital Twin, can be effectively used to combat the water crisis.
    • Geospatial technologies is a term used to describe the range of modern tools contributing to the geographic mapping and analysis of the Earth and human societies.
    • The term ‘geospatial’ refers not to one single technology, but a collection of technologies that help to collect, analyse, store, manage, distribute, integrate, and present geographic information.

Highlights of the report:

Overview of Water Sector in India:

  • Demand-Supply Mismatch: India has about 17% of the world population, but only about 4% of the world’s freshwater reserves, and is currently facing a severe water challenge.
  • Low Rate of Collection: India receives 3,000 billion cubic metres of water every year through rainfall or other sources such as glaciers; of this, only 8% is collected.
  • Over Use: As the country that withdraws the largest quantity of underground water, India fills ground water aquifers at the rate of 458 bcm per year, while it extracts around 650 bcm of water from the earth.
    • 89% of India’s water resources are used for agriculture, out of which 65% is withdrawn from under the ground.
  • Water Stress: As per a NITI Aayog report, currently nearly 820 million people in 12 major river basins of India face extreme water stress.
  • Qualitative Issue: India also performs poorly in almost all aspects of Environment Performance Index as assessed by the Yale University that includes parameters like Sanitation and Drinking Water and Water Resources.
    • Groundwater in one-third of India’s 600 districts is contaminated mainly through fluoride and arsenic.
    • Further, there has been a 136 per cent increase in the number of grossly polluting industries between 2011-2018, according to the State of India’s Environment (SoE) In Figures, 2019
    • India’s economic burden through water borne diseases is approximately USD 600 million a year.
various aspects of the water sector in india | Insolvency and Bankruptcy Board of India
various aspects of the water sector in india
  • Of the 189 million households in Rural India, only 51 million (26%) have household tap water connection.

Need to Conserve Water:

  • Given the population density and requirement of water for agriculture, India is heavily dependent on groundwater and is one of the worst hit countries as far as the water crisis is concerned.
  • Availability of clean water to all for personal, industrial, and agricultural use will not only ensure India reaches its vision of becoming a USD 5 Trillion economy but will also enable it to achieve the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals.

Examples of Geospatial Technology for Water Sector:

  • Remote Sensing allows us to remotely capture features of Earth’s surface by using various sensors that are typically mounted on satellites or airborne vehicles.
    • Remote Sensing sensors record earth’s reflectance in different wavelength, and these received reflectance value are processed to create separate image for each wavelength.
    • It helps in assessing depth, water turbidity, understanding aqua culture, assessing water levels, river movement, understanding water-related disaster scenarios, overview of population spread etc.
  • Artificial Intelligence: The scientific field of geospatial artificial intelligence (geoAI) was recently formed from combining innovations in spatial science with the rapid growth of methods in artificial intelligence (AI), particularly machine learning, data mining, and high-performance computing to glean meaningful information from spatial big data.
    • GeoAI can help to automatically detect terrain features, densely distributed building footprints, extract information from scanned historical maps, cleanse data in subterranean utility networks, interpretation of utility drawings and asset recognition in images.
    • GIS combined with AI is also useful for developing and maintaining decision-making processes like smart water grids, smart sewage systems, and smart waste management systems.
  • Today, the Geospatial industry can deliver:
    • Daily/sub-daily revisit satellite images
    • Analysis ready base maps,
    • Cloud free coverage of satellite images,
    • Delivering satellite data within 24 hours of data capture and reducing the delivery gap to less than an hour,
    • Robotic sensors for capturing data of inaccessible places
    • Integrating historical data, for example, water level changes, rainfall, etc.
    • Global and local view allowing better management of water resources.

Way Forward:

  • Long-term Geospatial Vision: In order to derive maximum benefit from geospatial technology implementation in various programmes, user departments need to build a long-term vision of the outcomes of geospatial implementation.
  • Integrated Geospatial Platform: An integrated collaborative platform to connect the data and technology used by various organizations need to be developed for seamless access to information both locally and nationally and enable decision making.
  • Data and System Integration: Various datasets including demography, socio-cultural, economic, and other parameters need to be integrated with spatial and non-spatial data related to water, like soil moisture, annual rainfall, rivers, aquifer, groundwater levels, water quality etc.
  • Improving Water Use Efficiency: Agriculture sector is the largest user of water resources in our country.
    • They use 80-85% of water resources, while have only about 30-35% efficiency of water use.
    • Geospatial technologies can be used for increasing water use efficiency, so that this can be increased to at least 50%.
  • Sharing of Best Practices: A lot of good work has taken place in pockets within state governments or within programmes related to the water sector.
    • A lot of knowledge exists that can help stakeholders to leverage from and not reinvent the wheel.
    • A central repository of such a knowledge base, in the form of a Knowledge Portal can be created and maintained by the Ministry of Jal Shakti that includes case studies, best practices, tools, information on data sources etc.
Geospatial and water sector ecosystem | Insolvency and Bankruptcy Board of India
Geospatial and water sector ecosystem

 

3.China-led South Asian Initiative

#GS2 #Bilateral relation # Groupings & Agreements Involving India and/or Affecting India’s Interests

Context: Recently, Bangladesh has invited India to join the China-led South Asian initiative for Covid-19 vaccines and poverty alleviation.

  • It includes the creation of the China-South Asian Countries Emergency Supplies Reserve, and a Poverty Alleviation and Cooperative Development Centre set up in China.

About China-South Asian Initiative:

  • It started with the creation of the China-South Asian Countries Emergency Supplies Reserve, and a Poverty Alleviation and Cooperative Development Centre set up on July 8 in the Southern Chinese city of Chongqing.
  • It was the outcome of a meeting of the Foreign Ministers of China, Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka in April.
  • India, Bhutan and the Maldives are the other SAARC countries that are not part of this initiative.
  • Issues involved in the forum are common to all South Asian countries battling COVID and its impact on GDPs in the region.

India’s Stand: Given continuing tensions over Chinese PLA aggression at the Line of Actual Control in Ladakh, India’s stand is that other bilateral relations cannot move ahead without a resolution of the boundary stand-off.

  • Associated Issues: This initiative seems to be China ‘s strategy to contain and undermine India’s role in South Asia where China has different kinds of strategic, maritime, political and ideological interests.
  • This can be reflected in the following arguments:
    • Combinations of all SAARC member countries (other than India and Bhutan) led some experts to suggest this was meant to be a “Minus India” initiative.
  • This initiative is one of China’s attempts to dilute India’s role in the SAARC region.
    • The Chinese push to this regional grouping comes also at a time when India has been reluctant to revive SAARC, turning its focus more on yet another regional bloc–BIMSTEC.
    • Last week, Bhutan announced that it had been sent 50,000 doses of Sinopharm from the Chinese government, after the Indian decision to suspend its Vaccine Maitri programme after the second wave of the pandemic had left it in the lurch for second doses.
    • India is the only country of all eight SAARC nations that has not requested or accepted Chinese COVID vaccines.
  • Countering Quad: The China-led bloc could be its plan to create what some call a northern Himalayan Quad aimed at countering the US-led Quad of which India is an active member.
  • China also set up the China-South Asia Emergency Supply Reserve at Chengdu International Railway Port.
    • The reserve is a joint stockpile of emergency supplies as part of efforts to tackle the covid-19 pandemic and other crises.
    • The centre is part of efforts to foster longer-term cooperation under China’s Belt and Road Initiative.

Conclusion:

  • Chinese interests in South Asia stretch far beyond simply maintaining amicable relations in the region.
  • Rather, China is dissatisfied at the LAC with India and is trying to improve the situation to its liking.
  • China is also frustrated with India’s persistent support of the Dalai Lama and rejection of BRI. As a result, China seeks to undermine India by aligning closely with India’s neighbours.

Way Forward:

  • Demarcation of Indian external boundaries is yet to be completed. Resolution of border disputes will pave way for stable regional integration.
  • India should resist compromising bilateral relationships with neighbours for short economic interests.
  • Regional connectivity must be pursued with greater interest while security concerns being addressed through cost-effective, efficient and reliable technological measures which are in use in other parts of the world.
  • Implementing Gujral’s Doctrine: India’ neighbourhood policy should be based on the principles of Gujral Doctrine.
    • This would ensure India’s stature and strength cannot be isolated from the quality of its relations with its neighbours and there can be regional growth as well.

 

4.Reservations | Economic weaker sections

#GS2 # Government Policies and Interventions for Development in various sectors and Issues arising out of their Design and Implementation. #Mechanisms, Laws, Institutions and Bodies constituted for the Protection and Betterment of the Vulnerable Sections.

Context: Recently, the Andhra Pradesh government has announced 10% reservation for the Kapu community and other Economically Weaker Sections (EWS).

Key Details:

  • The reservation has been provided for appointments in the initial posts and services in the State government in accordance with the Constitution (103rd Amendment) Act, 2019.
  • It will benefit Kapus who are neither benefited under Backward Class (BC) quota nor under EWS quota and other Open Competition (OC) sections who are deprived of the benefits of reservation thus far due to non-implementation of the EWS quota.
  • However, this will be subject to the outcome of several writ petitions and Public Interest Litigations (PILs) filed in various courts and interim orders of the High Court.
  • With the quota for Kapus, the total reservation in state goes up to 55%, beyond 50% cap set by Supreme Court for reservations.
  • Andhra Pradesh already has 29% reservation for Backward Castes. Apart from this, 15% and 6% reservations exist for Scheduled Castes (SCs) and Scheduled Tribes (STs).

About Kapu Community:

  • The Kapus are primarily an agrarian community based in the Andhra-Telangana region.
  • The Kapu community has 27% population in Andhra Pradesh.
  • It is believed that they migrated from the Gangetic plains, probably from Kampilya (near Ayodhya) thousands of years ago.
  • They entered what is present-day Telangana and, after clearing the forests along the banks of the Godavari, settled down to farming.
  • It has been demanding reservations for decades.
  • The first major protest for the inclusion of the Kapus in the ‘Backward Castes’ was held in 1993.
  • Justice Manjunath commission constituted by present government had recommended reservation to Kapu community

Constitutional Provisions Related to Reservation:

  • The Preamble of the Indian Constitution aims at securing social, economic and political reservation for weaker sections of the society as an instrument of social justice.
  • Article 14 incorporates within itself ‘equal protection of the laws’ besides ‘equality before law’. This means that a state must treat all individuals equally in similar conditions and circumstances.
  • Article 15(4) enunciates that the State can make any special provisions for the advancement of any Socially or Educationally Backward Classes of citizens (SEBCs) or for SCs/STs.
  • Article 15(5) empowers the state to make any special provision, by law, in relation to the admission to educational institutions for the advancement of any SEBCs or for any SCs/STs.
  • Article 16(4) empowers the State to make special provision for the reservation of appointments or posts in favor of any backward class of citizens which in the opinion of the State are not adequately represented in the services under the State.
  • Article 46 directs the State to promote with special care the educational and economic interests of the weaker sections of the people, and, in particular, of the SCs/STs.

103rd Constitutional Amendment Act:

  • It introduced an economic reservation (10% quota) in jobs and admissions in education institutes for Economically Weaker Sections (EWS) by amending Articles 15 and 16. It inserted,
    • Article 15(6): Up to 10 per cent of seats may be reserved for EWS for admission in educational institutions. Such reservations will not apply to minority educational institutions.
    • Article 16(6): It permits the government to reserve up to 10 per cent of all government posts for the EWS.
  • This 10 per cent economic reservation is over and above the 50 per cent reservation cap.
  • It was enacted to promote the welfare of the poor not covered by the 50% reservation policy for SCs, STs and Socially and Educationally Backward Classes (SEBC).
  • It enables both Centre and the states to provide reservation to the EWS of society.

 

 

5.Avian Influenza

#GS2 #Issues related to health #GS3 #Disaster management

Context: India has recorded first death due to H5N1 avian influenza this year.

What is Avian Influenza?

  • It is also called as bird flu.
  • It is a disease caused by avian influenza Type A viruses found naturally in wild birds worldwide.
  • The virus can infect domestic poultry and there have been reports of H5N1 infection among pigs, cats, and even tigers in Thailand zoos.
  • Symptoms have ranged from mild to severe influenza-like illness.

 Classification:

  • Avian Influenza type A viruses are classified based on two proteins on their surfaces – Hemagglutinin(HA) and Neuraminidase(NA).
  • There are about 18 HA subtypes and 11 NA subtypes.
  • Several combinations of these two proteins are possible e.g., H5N1, H7N2, H9N6, H17N10, etc.

Spread:

  • There have been reports of avian and swine influenza infections in humans.
  • Human-to-human transmission of the H5N1 virus is very rare.
  • Children and adults below 40 were seen to be the most affected and mortality was high in 10-19 years old.
  • The infection is deadly as it has a high mortality rate of about 60%.
  • The most common route of virus transmission is direct contact. They can also be affected if they come in contact with contaminated surfaces or air near the infected poultry.
India has recorded first death due to H5N1 avian influenza this year |Insolvency and Bankruptcy Board of India
India has recorded first death due to H5N1 avian influenza this year

Impact:

  • Outbreaks can lead to devastating consequences for the country, particularly the poultry industry.
  • Farmers might experience a high level of mortality in their flocks, with rates often around 50%.

Prevention and Eradication:

  • There is a need to enhance monitoring of wild bird and animal disease in our environment to act as an early warning system of change/arrival of potential diseases.
  • Strict biosecurity measures and good hygiene are essential in protecting against disease outbreaks.
  • If the infection is detected in animals, a policy of culling infected and contact animals is normally used in an effort to rapidly contain, control and eradicate the disease.
  • WHO’s global laboratory system, the Global Influenza Surveillance and Response System (GISRS), identifies and monitors strains of circulating influenza viruses, and provides advice to countries on their risk to human health and available treatment or control measures.
  • The emphasis should be on monitoring multiple waterbird sites of local, national, and international importance.

 

  1. Lepakshi, two other sites to be ‘Adarsh Smarak’ of Andhra Pradesh

#GS1 # Indian Culture – Salient aspects of Art Forms, Literature and Architecture from ancient to modern times

Context: Monuments at Nagarjunakonda, Budhhist remains at Salihundam and Veerabhadra Temple at Lepakshi are identified as ‘Adarsh Smarak’ in Andhra Pradesh for providing additional facilities.

  • Gandikota Fort in Kadapa has been included in the Adopt a Heritage Scheme of Ministry of Tourism, which is taken up under the Public Private Partnership (PPP) mode.

About the Adarsh Smarak scheme:

  • Launched in 2014 for providing improved visitor amenities, especially for the physically challenged.
  • It is implemented by the Ministry of Culture.
  • The civic amenities are being augmented at the protected sites under the scheme.
  • Archaeological Survey of India had identified 100 monuments as “Adarsh Smarak” for upgradation.

Objectives of the Scheme:

  • To make the monument visitor friendly.
    • To upgrade/provide washrooms, drinking water, signages, cafeteria, and wi-fi facility.
    • To streamline wastewater and garbage disposal and a rainwater harvesting system.
  • To provide interpretation and audio-video centres.
  • To make the monument accessible to differently-abled people.
  • To implement Swachh Bharat Abhiyan.

 ‘Adopt a Heritage’ Scheme?

  • It is a collaboration between the Ministry of Tourism, Ministry of Culture, Archaeological Survey of India (ASI), and State/UTs governments.
  • It was launched on 27 September 2017 (World Tourism Day)
  • It aims to involve public sector companies, private sector companies, and corporate citizens/individuals to take up the responsibility for making our heritage and tourism more sustainable. I
    • t is to be done through the development, operation and maintenance of world-class tourist infrastructure and amenities at ASI/ State heritage sites and other important tourist sites in India.
  • Agencies/Companies would become ‘Monument Mitras’ through the innovative concept of ‘Vision Bidding’, where the agency with the best vision for the heritage site will be given an opportunity to associate pride with their CSR activities.
  • The project primarily focusses on providing basic amenities that includes cleanliness, drinking water, ease of access for differently abled and senior citizens, illumination and advanced amenities such as surveillance system, night viewing facilities that will result in more tourist footfalls, both domestic and foreign.

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