Sarat Chandra IAS Academy

SARAT CHANDRA IAS CURRENT AFFAIRS OF 15TH MARCH-2021

Topics

  • Sea buckthorn
  • AT1 bonds
  • Panel on mythical Saraswati river has been reconstituted
  • First Leaders’ Summit: QUAD
  • plea challenging the Places of Worship Act

Sea buckthorn

Context: Recently the Himachal Pradesh government has declared to plant sea buckthorn in the cold desert area of the state.

  • Sea buckthorn is a medicinal plant long used in herbal medicine.
  • Sea buckthorn fruit is sometimes used in sweet treats including jams, pies, and drinks.
  • Sea buckthorn has long been used to stimulate the digestive system, enhance heart and liver health, and treat skin disorders.
  • Available in supplement form, sea buckthorn extract contains a variety of essential fatty acids and antioxidants (including vitamin C, vitamin E, and anthocyanins)
  • Sea buckthorn fruit or fruit juice can be found in certain jellies, juices, purees, sauces, drinks, and liquors. People do not usually eat the berries raw because they are acidic.
  • The amount of sea buckthorn used in food is typically much less than that used for medicinal purposes.
  • Very few side effects from sea buckthorn have been reported. In some people who had high blood pressure, swelling, headache, dizziness and palpitations were noted. When used on the skin to treat burns, it sometimes caused a rash

AT1 bonds

Context: Recently, SEBI has slapped restrictions on mutual fund investments in Additional Tier 1 bonds

  • This decision has raised a storm in the MF and banking sectors.
  • it could lead to disruption in the investments of mutual funds and the fund-raising plans of banks.  

   Additional Tier-1 (AT-1) bonds

  • AT-1 bonds are a type of unsecured, perpetual bonds that banks issue to shore up their core capital base to meet theBasel-III norms.
  • AT-1 bonds are like any other bonds issued by banks and companies, but pay a slightly higher rate of interest compared to other bonds.
  • Investors cannot return these bonds to the issuing bank and get the money. i.e there is no put option available to its holders.
  • They have a call option, which can be used by the banks to buy these bonds back from investors. These bonds are typically used by banks to bolster their core or tier-1 capital. AT1 bonds are subordinate to all other debt and only senior to common equity.

Affect to MFs

  • Typically, MFs have treated the date of the call option on AT1 bonds as maturity date.
  • Now, if these bonds are treated as 100-year bonds, it raises the risk in these bonds as they become ultra long-term.
  • This could also lead to volatility in the prices of these bonds as the risk increases the yields on these bonds rises.
  • Bond yields and bond prices move in opposite directions and therefore, higher yield will drive down the price of bond, which in turn will lead to a decrease in the net asset value of MF schemes holding these bonds.

Impact on banks

  • AT1 bonds have emerged as the capital instrument of choice for state banks as they strive to shore up capital ratios.
  • If there are restrictions on investments by mutual funds in such bonds, banks will find it tough to raise capital at a time when they need funds in the wake of the soaring bad assets.
  • A major chunk of AT1 bonds is bought by mutual funds.

SEBI

Securities and Exchange Board of India is administered by its board of members. The board of SEBI consist of:

  • The Chairman by nominated by the Government of India
  • Two members from the finance ministry
  • One member from Reserve Bank of India
  • Five members nominated by Union Government of India

OBJECTIVES of SEBI

  • To control activities of the stock exchange
  • To safeguard the rights of stockholders and also to guarantee the security of their investment
  • To avoid fraudulence by harmonizing its statutory regulations and self-regulating business.
  • To administer and develop guidelines for intermediaries

FUNCTIONS of SEBI

  • It manages the security markets in India
  • It analyzes the trading of stocks and safes the security market from malpractices.
  • It controls the stockbrokers and sub- stockbrokers
  • It provides education regarding the market to the investors to enhance their knowledge

Panel on mythical Saraswati river has been reconstituted

Context: The Centre has reconstituted an advisory committee to chalk out a plan for studying the mythical Saraswati river for the next two years, after the earlier panel‟s term ended in 2019.

  • The Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) on March 10 issued a notification for “reconstitution of the Advisory Committee for the Multidisciplinary Study of the River Sarasvati”.
  • The ASI had first set up the committee on December 28, 2017 for a period of two years.

Saraswati River

  • The Sarasvati River is one of the main Rigvedic rivers mentioned in the scripture Rig Veda and later Vedic and post-Vedic texts.
  • The “Sapta Sindhu” in Rig Veda refers to the rivers Saraswati, Satadru (Sutlej), Vipasa (Beas), Asikni (Chenab), Purushni (Ravi), Vitasta (Jhelum) and Sindhu (Indus). Among these, the Saraswati and the Sindhu were major rivers that flowed from the mountains right up to the sea.
  • For 2000 years, between 6000 and 4000 B.C. The Saraswati flowed as a great river.
  • The river, which had originated from Kapal tirith in the Himalayas in the west of Kailash, was flowing southward to Mansarovar and then taking a turn towards west.

First Leaders’ Summit: QUAD

Context: Recently, the Prime Minister addressed the first summit of the leaders’ of the QUAD (Quadrilateral Framework).

Key highlights

  • Agreed to ensure “equitable” access to vaccines to counter the pandemic.
  • Agreed to a plan to pool their financial resources, manufacturing capabilities and logistical strengths.
  • Japan, USA and Australia will finance the vaccine initiative that India has welcomed. Appreciated the Vaccine Maitri initiative (India’s Vaccine Diplomacy) of India.
  • Vaccine Maitri Initiative is an initiative launched by India to give Covid-19 vaccines to neighbouring countries.

India’s Stand:

  • QUAD is united by its democratic values and will remain an important pillar of stability in the Indo-Pacific region.
  • Called the meet an extension of the ancient Indian philosophy ‘Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam’, which regards the world as one family.

QUAD

  • Quadrilateral Security Dialogue (Quad) is an informal strategic dialogue between India, USA, Japan and Australia with a shared objective to ensure and support a “free, open and prosperous” Indo-Pacific region.
  • In 2020, all four Quad Countries – Japan, India, Australia and the USA took part in the Malabar exercise.
  • Malabar exercise is an annual trilateral naval exercise between the navies of India, Japan, and the USAwhich is held alternately in the Indian and Pacific Ocean

Plea challenging the Places of Worship Act

Context: The Supreme Court has asked the government to respond to a plea challenging the Places of Worship Act enacted in 1991 which freezes the status of places of worship as it was on August 15, 1947.

  • A petition has been filed in the court terming the law as “arbitrary, irrational and retrospective”.

Key features:

  • The Act declares that the religious character of a place of worship shall continue to be the same as it was on August 15, 1947.
  • It says no person shall convert any place of worship of any religious denomination into one of a different denomination or section.
  • It declares that all suits, appeals or any other proceedings regarding converting the character of a place of worship, which are pending before any court or authority on August 15, 1947, will abate as soon as the law comes into force. No further legal proceedings can be instituted.

Objectives of the act

  • The aim of the Act was to freeze the status of any place of worship as it existed on August 15, 1947.
  • It was also to provide for the maintenance of the religious character of such a place of worship as on that day.
  • It was intended to pre-empt new claims by any group about the past status of any place of worship and attempts to reclaim the structures or the land on which they stood.

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