The HINDU Notes – 15th September 2018 - VISION

Material For Exam

Recent Update

Saturday, September 15, 2018

The HINDU Notes – 15th September 2018

📰 Government moves to stabilise rupee

Norms for FPIs eased; masala bonds issued till March 31, 2019, to be exempt from withholding tax

•The government announced a set of five measures late on Friday aimed at supporting the rupee, which has been under pressure in the last few weeks, and ensuring that the current account deficit stays in control.

•The government will also take necessary steps to cut down non-essential imports and increase exports, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley said at a press conference convened at short notice. “Necessary decisions will be taken and announced as and when they’re taken,” Mr. Jaitley said in what is seen as a clear signal to markets that the government will intervene to manage the current volatility in the forex market.

•To attract more foreign portfolio investors (FPI) into the corporate debt market, the government has said it will review a couple of restrictions on their investments. So, the condition that FPIs’ investment in a single corporate entity cannot exceed 20% of its corporate bond portfolio will be reviewed. The condition that FPIs cannot invest more than 50% of an issue of corporate bonds will also be reviewed, Mr. Jaitley said.

•In a bid to push Indian corporates to take the masala bond route, the government has exempted all such bond issues until March 31, 2019, from withholding tax. It has also said it will remove restrictions on Indian banks on market-making for such bonds and on underwriting them. Masala bonds are rupee-denominated instruments issued abroad by Indian borrowers.

•The advantage of these bonds is that any depreciation in the rupee will not affect the borrower.

•The government has also said it will review the mandatory hedging condition for infrastructure loans borrowed under the external commercial borrowing (ECB) route. Presently there is no compulsion on borrowers to hedge these loans.

•The fifth measure is that manufacturing companies borrowing up to $50 million through ECBs will be able to do so only for a one-year term as against the three-year term allowed earlier. The decisions were taken at a meeting where the RBI Governor Urjit Patel made a presentation to Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

📰 Welfare panels can’t evaluate dowry complaints, says SC

Modifies its own order setting up citizens’ committees

•The Supreme Court on Friday modified its July 2017 order which roped in retirees, wives of “working officers” and social workers to sift genuine complaints of dowry harassment from the frivolous ones.

•On July 27 last year, the court had ordered ‘family welfare committees’ to be set up in the districts. These committees, composed of choice citizens, were supposed to act as a vanguard against “disgruntled wives” using the anti-dowry harassment provision of Section 498-A of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) as a “weapon” against their husbands and in-laws, young and old, rather than a “shield.” Even the police could register an FIR only after the committee cleared the complaint as valid and not frivolous. Getting rid of these committees, a three-judge Bench led by Chief Justice of India Dipak Misra held that such panels had no place under the established criminal procedural law. They are beyond the Code of Criminal Procedure.

📰 SC questions ‘leprosy-free’ tag for India

‘Cases underestimated, funds diverted’

•India “underestimated” leprosy and diverted funds meant to eliminate the curable disease for 18 long years, the Supreme Court said on Friday.

•In its 22-page judgment, a Bench led by Chief Justice of India Dipak Misra pointed out that though the country was declared leprosy-free on December 31, 2005, the reality is “entirely different”.

•The Supreme Court referred to progress reports of the National Leprosy Eradication Programme (NLEP) to show that only 543 districts of the total 642 districts in the country had achieved the World Health Organisation-required prevalence rate of less than one case of leprosy for 10,000 persons.

Suffering continues

•“The underestimation of cases of leprosy and the declaration of elimination of leprosy has resulted in the integration of leprosy in general health services thereby leading to diversion of funds which would have otherwise been dedicated to eliminating leprosy,” Chief Justice Misra, who authored the verdict, wrote.

•Meanwhile, patients and their families continue to suffer from leprosy and its stigma. They are even denied their fundamental right to food. They are not issued BPL (Below Poverty Line) cards to claim the benefit of various welfare schemes such as the Antyodaya Anna Yojana (AAY). They are deprived of housing, basic civic amenities, adequate sanitary facilities and rehabilitation programmes.

•“At present, majority of the populace afflicted with leprosy live as a marginalised section in society, deprived of even basic human rights. This manifestly results in violation of the fundamental right to equality and right to live with dignity,” Chief Justice Misra observed for the Bench also comprising Justices A.M. Khanwilkar and D.Y. Chandrachud.

📰 The Supreme Court trans-formed

The ‘Navtej Johar’ judgment has created the conditions to dismantle gender biases in diverse ways

•The decriminalisation of homosexuality in the Navtej Johar judgment holds special relevance for transgender rights. Not only was Section 377 used disproportionately against transgender persons, the legal battle also took a new and positive turn from 2014 after the Supreme Court recognised the right to gender identity in NALSA v. Union of India. Therefore, it is only fitting that we bestow some attention to the contributions of the trans community to this outcome and examine how the judgment takes transgender rights forward.

Step by step

•When the Supreme Court in 2013 passed the Koushal judgment, overturning the Delhi High Court judgment reading down Section 377 in Naz v. Union of India, the LGBTQ community faced a huge setback. The silver lining, however, was that the LGBTQ movement on the ground was growing rapidly, with social acceptance for LGBTQ concerns increasing. Transgender persons, however, continued to be the most marginalised and vulnerable group within the community. They were routinely arrested and harassed by police, sexually abused, and had to bear the brunt of criminal threats as they were on the streets forced into begging and sex work.

•This changed with NALSA. In 2014, a bench of Justices K.S. Radhakrishnan and A.K. Sikri passed a judgment holding that transgender persons have the constitutional right to self-identify their gender as male, female or transgender even without medical re-assignment. The Supreme Court held that the rights to life, dignity and autonomy would include the right to one’s gender identity and sexual orientation.

•With the NALSA judgment, there was no looking back. This immediately gave new grounds, and indeed new hope, to revive the Section 377 challenge. In 2016, two fresh petitions were filed under Article 32 of the Constitution: the first by Navtej Johar and others, and the second by Akkai Padmashali, Umi and Sana, three transgender activists from Karnataka. Both petitions urged the Supreme Court to reassess the constitutionality of Section 377. This was also the first time that transgender voices were before the Supreme Court.

•In 2017 came another big judgment in Puttaswamy v. Union of India, in which the Supreme Court said that there is a constitutional right to privacy inherent in the right to life, equality and fundamental freedoms. It went on to hold that the right to privacy specifically includes the right to have intimate relations of one’s choice and the right to sexual orientation and gender identity, and that the Koushal judgment was incorrect.

•After Puttaswamy, more petitions and interventions were filed against Section 377. Finally, the Supreme Court, in a five-judge Bench led by the Chief Justice of India, unanimously held in Navtej Johar that Section 377 was unconstitutional to the extent that it criminalises consensual relationships of any kind between adults, and overruled Koushal.

•The impact of the Navtej Johar decision is unprecedented. Justice D.Y. Chandrachud recognised that Section 377 had consigned a group of citizens to the margins and was destructive of their identities, and held that lesbians, gay, bisexual and transgender persons have the constitutional rights to full and equal citizenship and protection of all fundamental rights.

Different minorities

•The most far-reaching contribution is the elaboration on the right against non-discrimination on the basis of sex, guaranteed in Article 15 of the Constitution. The Supreme Court confirmed that as held in NALSA, ‘sex’ under Articles 15 includes discrimination on the ground of gender identity. It went even further to say that discrimination on the grounds of ‘sex’ would also include discrimination due to sexual orientation or stereotypes. This means that being gender non-conforming or not adhering to society’s ‘norms’ of gender roles, be it in the way you dress, speak or behave, cannot be a ground for discrimination. The main reasons for violence against trans persons is that they do not conform to gender roles. This inclusion of discrimination on the ground of sex stereotyping will go a long way in dismantling gender stereotypes not just for the LGBTQ community, but also for women.

•In this way, with the Navtej Johar judgment, the court has gone far beyond the anti-sodomy judgments from around the world that were referred to it. By recognising these twin aspects of gender identity and sexual orientation, the court acknowledges the voices of the most vulnerable sexual minorities within the LGBTQ community and takes the stand that the Constitution protects the rights of all.

📰 ‘Wiping out AIDS by 2030 will not be easy’

‘Wiping out AIDS by 2030 will not be easy’
NACO’s HIV Estimations 2017 report shows there are still 21.4 lakh infected people in India

•India’s long battle against AIDS is not likely to end any time soon, if the latest figures released by the National AIDS Control Organisation (NACO) on Friday is any indication. The data revealed that, as of 2017, there were still around 21.40 lakh people living with HIV in India, with the prevalence among adults stood at 0.22 per cent.

•There were around 87,000 new HIV infections and over 69,000 AIDS-related deaths (ARDs) in 2017. Around 22,675 mothers needed Antiretroviral Therapy (ART) for prevention of mother-to-child transmission of HIV.

•“HIV Estimations 2017 corroborates the previous rounds in terms of the characteristic of the HIV epidemic in India -- national prevalence and incidence remains low, but the epidemic is high in some geographical regions and population groups. The report has noted that the rate of decline in annual new HIV infections has been relatively slower in recent years,” noted a release from the Health Ministry.

•India’s 2017 figures also do not show a significant positive shift from 2015, the previous year for which when such a survey had been carried out. In 2015, India had reported 86,000 new HIV infections. Of these, children (<15 years) accounted for 12 per cent (10,400) while the remaining (75,000) were adults (15+ years). In 2015, the total number of people living with HIV in India was estimated at 21.17 lakh, while the same figure was 22.26 lakh in 2007.

•The 2017 estimation report also indicates that there is no place for complacency as the country aims to achieve the ambitious goal of ending AIDS in India by 2030. It adds, however, that the impact of the HIV/AIDS control programme has been significant, with more than an 80 per cent decline in estimated new infections from the epidemic’s peak in 1995.

•“Similarly, estimated AIDS-related deaths declined by 71 per cent since its peak in 2005. As per UNAIDS 2018 report, the global average for decline in new infections and AIDS-related deaths from peak (sic) has been 47 per cent and 51 per cent respectively,’’ noted NACO.

•The objective of HIV estimations is to provide updated information on the status of the HIV epidemic in India at the national and State/Union Territory level.

•“Estimations of adult HIV prevalence, annual new infections (HIV incidence), AIDS-related mortality, and prevention of mother-to-child transmission (PMTCT) needs are produced as outcomes of HIV estimations. The modelled estimates are needed because there is no direct reliable way of measuring these core indicators, which are used to track the epidemic monitor and evaluate response around the world,” noted the release.

📰 Beyond recompense: on the ISRO spy case

Act against police officers who framed scientists in the ISRO spy case

•The ‘ISRO espionage case’ marked a disgraceful chapter in the history of police investigation in the country. The presence of a Maldivian woman in India became the pretext for a police witch-hunt against scientists belonging to the Indian Space Research Organisation in 1994. Three scientists were arrested on the grave charge of sharing official secrets related to space technology and launch missions with foreign agents. The order, mercifully, lasted only for a short time, as the investigation shifted from the Kerala Police to the Central Bureau of Investigation after a few weeks. The CBI recommended closure of the case, citing complete lack of evidence and pointing to grave lapses in the police probe, which also used questionable methods and proceeded on nothing but suspicion. Ever since the proceedings were dropped, one of those arrested, S. Nambi Narayanan, has been battling for the restoration of his honour and dignity. The attitude of the Kerala government has been obstinately ungracious. It opposed the CBI's closure report and made a peevish attempt to revive the investigation by its own police. It has been unsympathetic to the demand for action against its errant police officers, arguing petulantly that there is no court direction to take disciplinary action against them. The latest Supreme Court order, forming a committee headed by a retired Supreme Court judge to consider ways to take action against the officers, addresses this glaring inadequacy in the process of restorative justice for those maliciously arrested. The prosecution of these officers is long overdue.

•The court has reaffirmed the principle that compensation is a remedy for the violation of human rights. But the so-called espionage case remains a study in the crude and archaic methods used by the police. For a country where it is not uncommon for those arrested for heinous offences to be exonerated after long years in prison, it is possible to argue that the compensation principle may open the floodgates for innumerable claims. The only way to avoid such a situation is to have a proper oversight mechanism to ensure that all investigation into crimes and complaints remains lawful. While granting ₹50 lakh to Mr. Narayanan, the court has taken note of his wrongful imprisonment, malicious prosecution and humiliation. While his honour and dignity were restored long back, the delay in a consequential inquiry into the conduct of the police officers concerned is disconcerting. Justice is not only about relief and recompense, and should extend to action against those at fault too. Much of the blame must fall on the Kerala government, which did not muster the courage to proceed against its police personnel.

📰 Power games: on issues in the power sector

Policymakers, not courts, should take charge to resolve structural issues in the power sector

•The Supreme Court has ordered a stay on the Reserve Bank of India’s February 12 circular asking banks to recognise loans as non-performing even if repayment was delayed by just one day, and resolve them within 180 days. If banks failed to comply with the RBI’s new rules, these stressed assets had to be forced to undergo swift insolvency proceedings under the new Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code (IBC). This comes just weeks after the Allahabad High Court refused to grant relief to troubled power companies facing action from the RBI. The apex court’s decision to overturn RBI rules and transfer all pleas seeking exception from them to itself is clearly the biggest challenge against the IBC yet. It is likely to cause significant uncertainty in the resolution of stressed assets and undermine investor confidence in the bankruptcy process. The postponement of the Supreme Court’s next hearing of the case to mid-November will send the signal that in contrast to hopes that asset resolution under the new bankruptcy regime would be done within a strict time frame, there are likely to be considerable delays in the resolution of stressed assets. Distressed power companies, and a number of other firms in the shipping, sugar and textile sectors, however, will be relieved as they are spared from bankruptcy proceedings for now. According to the Association of Power Producers, the Supreme Court’s order will save stressed companies producing 13GW worth of power from being pushed to the doors of bankruptcy courts. Banks, too, will be happy as the reprieve will help them delay the recognition of bad loan losses.

•The Supreme Court’s decision to intervene, however, will do very little good in the long run to either stressed power companies or their lenders. The troubles of power companies can be traced to structural issues such as the absence of meaningful price reforms, unreliable fuel supply and the unsustainable finances of public sector power distribution companies. Banks, on the other hand, are unlikely to make much money out of these stressed assets until these structural problems are sorted adequately to attract investors. Policymakers, not courts, need to take charge and resolve these issues. That said, the current insolvency resolution process is not without its flaws. According to a report released by the Insolvency and Bankruptcy Board of India earlier this month, lenders could realistically expect to recover less than a tenth of their dues if stressed assets are to be liquidated. This could be attributed to the IBC’s overemphasis on the speedy resolution of bad loans over the recovery of maximum value from stressed assets. Not surprisingly, several power companies emphasise that their assets could yield better returns if the issues are resolved completely outside the purview of the IBC. The Supreme Court’s decision has now provided lenders the chance to test this argument.

📰 Family-owned firms fare better: CSRI

‘Indian businesses account for over 50% of top 30 performers in Asia in terms of growth, profitability’

•Indian family-owned businesses are among the best in Asia, accounting for more than 50% of the top 30 performers in terms of growth and profitability.

•Further, with a total of 111 companies and a market capitalisation of $839 billion, India is the third largest market globally in terms of number of family-owned companies, according to a latest study.

•Shares of Indian family-owned companies generated an average annual return of 13.9% since 2006, compared to 6% recorded by their non-family-owned peers, and such Indian firms, on an average, generated some of the highest absolute cash flow returns on investment across Asia-ex Japan group, showed an analysis by Credit Suisse Research Institute (CSRI).

•Companies such as Bajaj Finance, Page Industries, Eicher Motors, Berger Paints, MRF, Ashok Leyland, Natco Pharma, Pidilite Industries and Dewan Housing Finance are among those that made to the top list.

•Further, India was ranked number three with 111 companies, with the top spot being occupied by China with 159 companies, followed by the U.S. with 121.

Longer-term trend

•“The longer-term trend of out-performance of family-owned companies is clear... having delivered cumulative excess returns in every region and sector since 2006,” the report said.

•The trend could be due to superior financial performance driven by the longer-term focus that family-owned companies appear to have, according to CSRI.

•“The surveys show that family-owned companies have a greater focus on long-term quality growth than non-family-owned companies. Greater family ownership also tends to increase the use of longer-term financial targets for management remuneration and family-owned companies prefer conservative funding structures for investments,” it explained.

•The study defines a family business as one where either direct shareholding by founders or descendants is at least 20% or the voting rights held by the founders or descendants is at least 20%.

•Interestingly, the study further found that family-owned companies across emerging markets were much younger than their peers in developed markets.

•Family-owned companies in developed Europe were founded on an average 82 years ago compared to 37 years ago in the case of companies in Asia ex-Japan and 30 years in Europe, Middle East and Africa (EMEA).

📰 Pollution cools monsoon days, says study

Study says aerosol emissions cause temperature drop of 1 degree Celsius

•Increased emissions of aerosols into the atmosphere due to pollution are beginning to have a definite cooling effect of 1 degree C during the Indian summer monsoon period, a study has found.

•The increased cooling is seen during the day, while the night time temperature is increasing, thus shrinking the diurnal temperature difference. The diurnal temperature difference is what drives the convection process (where water evaporates and reaches the atmosphere as water vapour), and development of clouds.

Shape, characteristics

•As diurnal temperature difference decreases, the lower layer of the atmosphere will reduce in height and come closer to the earth’s surface. This will cause more aerosols to get into the atmosphere, thus impacting the lower atmospheric turbulence, which may eventually affect the distribution of moisture and rainfall.

•“The increased concentration of aerosols in the atmosphere also tends to change the shape and characteristics of rain-bearing clouds, leading to extreme rainfall events but weakened monsoon rainfall,” says Professor Sachchida Tripathi from the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT)-Kanpur.

Striking similarity

•The study by a team of researchers led by Professor Tripathi, and Dr. Vijay Kanawade from the University of Hyderabad, found striking similarity between satellite data (2002-2016) and a global reanalysis modelled data that showed cloud structure being modified with increased aerosol emission.

•Rain-bearing clouds were found to increase in number and height when aerosol emission is higher. The clouds also tend to have a far higher number of ice particles that are smaller in size when aerosol loading is higher, thus reducing the efficiency of water droplet growth, says the paper published in Nature Communications by Chandan Sarangi of IIT-Kanpur. “We found that when there is high aerosol loading, there will be more water droplets in the atmosphere. Once the droplets reach above the freezing level, ice formation begins. Heat is given off when ice formation processes begin. This acts as a fuel to make the cloud grow taller and thicker,” says Dr. Kanawade.

•“When aerosol loading is higher, the anvil (cloud top) contains more number of smaller ice particles, which tend to reflect the shortwave radiation from the top of the cloud, leading to increased cooling of the earth’s surface. Cooling by shortwave radiation surpasses warming by longwave radiation, leading to net reduction in daytime temperature during the summer monsoon,” says Prof. Tripathi.