The HINDU Notes – 29th April 2019 - VISION

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Monday, April 29, 2019

The HINDU Notes – 29th April 2019

πŸ“° SC: filthy language not criminal intimidation

Hearing on appeal of insurance surveyor

•Abusing a person with filthy language alone does not constitute the offence of criminal intimidation, the Supreme Court has held.

•“The threat must be with intention to cause alarm to the complainant to cause that person to do or omit to do any work. Mere expression of any words without any intention to cause alarm would not be sufficient to bring in the application of this section,” a Bench of Justices Ashok Bhushan and K.M. Joseph said in a judgment on April 26.

•Justice Bhushan observed that the “intentional insult must be of such a degree that it should provoke a person to break the public peace or commit any other offence.”

•“The mere allegation that the appellant came and abused the complainant does not satisfy the ingredients [of criminal intimidation],” the court said.

•The Bench was hearing an appeal filed by an insurance claim surveyor in Uttar Pradesh, who was accused of criminal intimidation by a factory owner in Mathura district.

πŸ“° Plea to protect accused in sexual abuse cases

•A petition has been filed in the Supreme Court to frame guidelines to protect the reputation and dignity of persons accused of sexual offences.

•The petition, filed by the Youth Bar Association of India, said a person was considered innocent unless proven guilty by a court of law. If a person was falsely accused, his reputation would be lost forever and exposed to public ridicule for no fault of his. This would be a violation of the fundamental right to life enshrined under Article 21 of the Constitution. “It does not only destroy an individual’s life but also creates a social stigma for the family members too… Some preventive measures must be taken to avoid and deal with such situations in the interest of justice,” it said.

•Disclosure of his identity, especially during trial, would lead to media trial. Besides, considering the wide reach of social media, the person’s name and even that of his family, which might include minors, would be exposed on the Internet. This would be a violation of their fundamental right to privacy. “In present times, where people are in a virtual world, the reputation and integrity of a person is always an easy target to destroy,” the petition said.

•The petition said it would be tragic that the person, even after being found innocent, would continue to be known as a suspected sex offender on social media because once his identity entered the public domain it would become searchable and permanent. “The previous identification as a suspect will endure in the public sphere,” the petition said.

πŸ“° Bangladesh-China-India-Myanmar (BCIM) Economic Corridor no longer listed under BRI umbrella

South Asia is covered by three major undertakings—the China-Myanmar Economic Corridor (CMEC), the Nepal-China Trans-Himalayan Multi-dimensional Connectivity Network, including Nepal-China cross-border railway, as well as the China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC).

•India’s decision to skip the Belt and Road Forum (BRF) may have led to the exclusion of the Bangladesh- China- India- Myanmar (BCIM) Economic corridor from the list of projects covered by the China-led Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) umbrella.

•In an annex tagged with the Joint CommuniquΓ© of the Leaders' Roundtable of the BRF, which concluded in Beijing on Saturday, the Chinese foreign ministry website has not listed the BCIM as a project covered by the BRI—the giant connectivity initiative speared by China to revive the ancient Silk Road across Eurasia and Africa.

•Instead, South Asia is covered by three major undertakings—the China-Myanmar Economic Corridor (CMEC), the Nepal-China Trans-Himalayan Multi-dimensional Connectivity Network, including Nepal-China cross-border railway, as well as the China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC).

•Citing “sovereignty” concerns, India, for the second time, has not officially participated in the BRF, as CPEC—a flagship of the BRI—passes through Pakistan occupied Kashmir (PoK).

•The 2800 km BCIM corridor proposes to link Kunming in China’s Yunnan province with Kolkata, passing though nodes such as Mandalay in Myanmar and Dhaka in Bangladesh before heading to Kolkata.

•Significantly, a report titled, “The Belt and Road Initiative Progress, Contributions and Prospects,” released by the Leading Group for Promoting the Belt and Road Initiative of the Communist Party of China (CPC) on April 22 does list the BCIM as a BRI project.

•“Over the past five years or so, the four countries [of the BCIM] have worked together to build this corridor in the framework of joint working groups, and have planned a number of major projects in institutional development, infrastructure connectivity, cooperation in trade and industrial parks, cooperation and opening up in the financial market, cultural exchange, and cooperation in enhancing people's wellbeing,” says the report.

•Last September, the BRI had got a high octane boost when Myanmar — facing the heat from the West because of the Rohingya refugee crisis — inked an agreement with Beijing to establish the CMEC.

•The 1,700-km corridor provides China yet another node to access the Indian Ocean. The CMEC will run from Yunnan Province of China to Mandalay in Central Myanmar. From there it will head towards Yangon, before terminating at the Kyaukpyu Special Economic Zone (SEZ) on the Bay of Bengal. Last August, the Industrial and Commercial Bank of China (ICBC) opened a new center in Yangon, which could help fund some of the CMEC driven projects, China’s state-run Xinhua news agency had reported.

•The CMEC will also reduce Beijing’s trade and energy reliance on the Malacca straits — the narrow passage that links the Indian Ocean with the Pacific. Chinese planners worry that the military domination over the Malacca straits of the United States — a country with which it is already engaged in a trade war — can threaten one of China’s major economic lifeline.

•Earlier, speaking to The Hindu, Long Xingchun, Associate Professor of China’s West Normal University, had said that, “The CMEC was proposed during Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi’s visit to Myanmar in November 2017, because India has not been acting on the BCIM sub regional cooperation proposal. So it is better for China to go for bilateral cooperation with Myanmar and simultaneously wait for India’s participation.”

•At a press conference ahead of the BRF, which was formally inaugurated on Saturday, Mr. Wang, the state councilor and foreign minister, was emphatic that ties between India and China were insulated from their differences on the Beijing-led Belt and Road Initiative (BRI). He had also stressed that China-India ties had a “bright future” and the two countries were preparing for a summit between their leaders as a follow-up to last year’s two-day across-the board Wuhan informal summit between President Xi Jinping and Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

•The Nepal-China Trans-Himalayan connectivity network listed by the annex starts from Chengdu, from where it is linked to Tibet by the Sichuan-Tibet Highway, or the Sichuan-Tibet Railway. It is proposed that the railway from Tibet will be further extended to Kathmandu, via Ya’an, Qamdo, Lhasa and Shigatse. Chinese planners visualise that that railway will be eventually connected with the Indian railway network, linking China and India across the Himalayas.

πŸ“° Public sector banks’ long-term strategy on Jan Dhan begins to pay off

Total deposits in the last three years have grown by over 2.5 times to ₹98,400 cr.

•Public sector banks stand to earn as much as ₹5,000 crore due to the increasing quantum of deposits placed in Jan Dhan accounts, and can vastly monetise this resource once they start implementing advanced analytics and begin lending to these customers, according to industry players and analysts.

•Over the last three years, the number of Jan Dhan beneficiaries has risen from 22 crore to 35 crore, as of April 10, 2019. This represents a growth of nearly 60% over the three years. The growth in the number of accounts has been pretty steady over the last three years, with the demonetisation year of 2016-17 seeing the fastest growth of about 27%, which then subsequently slowed to a nevertheless robust 10% in 2017-18 and 12% in 2018-19.

•Deposits, however, have seen a much stronger growth rate over this period. The total quantum of deposits in Jan Dhan accounts has grown from a little more than ₹36,000 crore in April 2016 to ₹98,400 crore in April 2019, a growth of more than 2.5 times.

•Demonetisation, as expected, resulted in a rapid increase in the quantum of deposits soon after the announcement. Deposits surged 66% from about ₹44,500 crore in mid-October 2016 to ₹74,000 crore by mid-December 2016.

•To put this in perspective, the growth in the same two-month period of the subsequent year was just 4.6%. Deposit levels declined over the next five months to fall to as low as ₹64,500 by June 2017, but have been consistently growing since then.

Rising balances

•“The story is how average balances are consistently rising,” Saurabh Tripathi, senior partner and leader of the Asia Pacific Financial Institutions Practice at the Boston Consulting Group said.

•“A balance of about ₹1 lakh crore is equal to a revenue of ₹3,000 crore and maybe up to ₹4,000-₹5,000 crore made by the banks with these accounts. With that amount of revenue, the banking system can start making it a break-even business, and if they start lending on top of it, it can really become viable.”

•“This is one of those stories where the public sector, because of its ownership, can take a longer term view while the private sector has a shorter horizon,” Mr. Tripathi added.

•This is a view taken by industry players as well, who say that the business of opening and maintaining Jan Dhan accounts must be viewed in the long-term, and must also be taken in combination with other activities that see the opening of bank accounts for the poorer sections of society.

•“We have a very strong microfinance programme where we are doing lending via self-help groups,” Suveer Kumar Gupta, MD and CEO of Shivalik Mercantile Co-operative Bank said.

•“Under that programme, we opened the accounts of marginal sections of society, predominantly women. These provide banking services to similar sections of society that are targeted by Jan Dhan.”

•“It must also be looked at in the long run, not just on a monthly basis,” Mr. Gupta added. The data also shows two distinct trends in the Jan Dhan accounts. The first is that the public sector banks make up an overwhelming 72.5% of the total number of Jan Dhan accounts, and 89.5% of total deposits. The bulk of the rest are made up by regional rural banks. Private sector banks make up only 3.3% of the accounts and 3.9% of the deposits.

•“For any bank account, the bank has to incur some expenses on opening and maintaining it regardless of whether there is any balance in the account or not,” Vishwas Utagi, former Secretary in the All India Bank Employees Association said. “That’s why Jan Dhan accounts are compulsory for the government-owned banks, but they have not made it compulsory for the private sector banks.”

πŸ“° No Bank of Maharashtra loans for drought-hit farmers

Lender cites high bad loans for drastic move in two States; Marathwada, Vidarbha to be impacted

•In an unusual move, a state-run lender, Bank of Maharashtra, has decided not to extend loans in eight zones in Maharashtra and Madhya Pradesh that include Aurangabad, Latur, Akola, and Amravati, which are hit by drought.

•The bank cited high bad loans from agricultural advances in the branches of these zones for the decision. The other zones are Solapur and Jalgaon in Maharashtra and Bhopal and Jabalpur in Madhya Pradesh.

•“The present condition of agriculture is pathetic, wherein gross NPAs under agriculture stood at 18.36%,” the bank said in a circular to the branches. A copy of the circular has been reviewed by The Hindu. The bank had seen fresh slippages of ₹1,300 crore during 2018-19 from agriculture loans.

•“It is observed that eight zones/its branches are having high % [percentage] of agri NPAs which are identified for curative action on NPA management,” the circular said.

Remedial action

•The remedial action, as suggested by the ‘top management’, says, “Branches having NPAs > 15% shall not sanction new/enhancement proposals under agriculture.”

•The bank has said genuine cases of existing borrowers with good track record or new clients should be tapped by these branches and recommended to the next authority for sanctioning.

•Furthermore, zonal managers of these eight zones have been asked to identify ‘chronic/stagnant’ branches, and should report the same to the planning department in the head office for merger or closure. The bank has asked all the zones to carry out a detailed analysis of NPA accounts and ascertain various measures for default. Among the eight zones, Aurangabad has the highest percentage of NPAs — almost 25% of advances — followed by Bhopal (21.4%), Solapur (19.1%), and Akola (16.5%).

•Advances to the agricultural sector come under priority sector lending.

πŸ“° Ishad mango, the pride of Ankola, is under the threat of becoming rare

•A local mango variety called Ishad, the pulp of which has been extracted for over a century for making value-added products, is facing the threat of becoming rare in its homeland, Ankola of Uttara Kannada district, thanks to competition from hybrid varieties.

•But hopes of its revival are not completely lost as a cooperative society, Hichkad Group Vividhoddeshagala Sahakari Sangha Niyamita, in this coastal town continues to extract and market its pulp under the brand name ‘Oriental (Ishad Mango Pulp)’, though in small quantities.

•Extraction and marketing of Ishad mango pulp has an interesting background, Shivananda Kalave, a Sirsi-based environmentalist, writer and green activist, told The Hindu. Oriental Canneries and Industries set up a unit in Ankola in 1908 to extract pulp from Ishad for making value-added products. The then Bombay government supported it by supplying wood. The pulp, which was also being exported, was being marketed by the then Bombay-based Veerachand Panachand Company. An old marketing brochure printed at Basel Mission, Mangaluru, says that the pulp was used for making juice, syrup, salad and ice cream. According to the brochure, the pulp could be used for making 48 recipes. It was being used in the United States, Australia and Sri Lanka.

•According to the brochure, the Hichkad Group purchased the processing unit in 1970 for ₹95, Mr. Kalave said.

•Pundalik Prabhu, president of the Hichkad cooperative society, said the pulp, which is thick, is still being marked under the old brand name. The production of pulp dropped from 20,000 tins a year a decade ago to between 10,000 and 12,000 tins now owing to shortage of mango as their trees are becoming rare. Each tin weighs 850 grams.

•The mango, harvested from mid-May, has a short shelf life of not more than two or three days. But its pulp lasts more than a year, Mr. Prabhu said, adding that now it was not being exported from the cooperative society. The main demand for the pulp is from Mumbai and Hubballi, he added.

•The mango has two variants — Kari Ishad, which has thin skin, more pulp and is sweeter, and Bili Ishad, which has thick skin and has less pulp and sweetness, Mr. Prabhu said.

•Some farmers did try to grow it outside Ankola taluk, but failed. It yields abundantly in Ankola, Mr. Prabhu said.

•A small quantity of the fruit is being marketed in Hubballi, Belagavi and Mangaluru during the season. “It is delicate to handle given its short shelf life. Hence, the fruit cannot be transported to faraway places,” he said, adding that the demand for the pulp has not come down as about 95% of the pulp made by the cooperative is sold every year. But there is a need to conserve this variety, Mr. Prabhu said.

πŸ“° As temperatures rise, pre-monsoon rainfall records 27% dip: IMD

East and northeast India division recorded 23% deficiency.

•Pre-monsoon rainfall from March to April, a phenomenon critical to agriculture in some parts of the country, has recorded 27% deficiency, according to the India Meteorological Department (IMD).

•The IMD recorded 43.3 millimetres of rainfall across the country from March 1 to April 24 as against the normal precipitation of 59.6 millimetres. This was 27% less of the Long Period Average (LPA).

•The highest deficiency of 38% was recorded in the northwest India division of the IMD, which comprises States of Uttar Pradesh, Delhi, Punjab, Haryana, Jammu and Kashmir, Uttarakhand, Himachal Pradesh.

•This was followed by the Southern peninsula division comprising all five States of the South India and the Union Territory of Puducherry, Goa and coastal Maharashtra, where the deficiency recorded was 31%, the IMD said.

•East and northeast India division recorded 23% deficiency.

•The Central India division is the only one to have recorded more 5% rainfall than the normal.

•Pre-monsoon showers, thunderstorms and lightning have killed more than 50 people in Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Gujarat and Rajasthan this month.

•Several parts of India receive pre-monsoon rainfall which is critical for those regions. The phenomenon, which is usually from March to May end, is vital as it helps in bringing the temperatures down.

•The situation also appears to be grim as large parts of the country have been witnessing heating and there has not been any major relief since April 17, said Mahesh Palawat, vice-president (Meteorology and Climate Change), Skymet.

•One of the reasons for a pre-monsoon rainfall is excessive heating from March to June which several parts of the country witness. The moisture from the Arabian Sea and the Bay of Bengal aids in creation of thunderstorms, Mritunjay Mohapatra, Additional Director General of the IMD said.

•“Pre-monsoon rainfall is important for horticulture crops in some parts of the country. In States like Odisha, ploughing is done in the pre-monsoon season,” he said.

•Laxman Singh Rathore, former Director General of the IMD, said in parts of northeast India and the Western Ghats, pre-monsoon rainfall is critical for plantation of crops.

•There will be “moisture stress” in case of a deficit, he said.

•Crops like sugarcane and cotton, planted in central India, survive on irrigation, but also require supplement of pre-monsoon rains, Mr. Rathore added.

•“In the forested regions of Himalayas, pre-monsoon rainfall is necessary for plantations like apple. Due to moisture, pre-monsoon rainfall also helps in minimising the occurrence of forest fires,” he said.

πŸ“° Cyclone Fani won’t hit State’s coast, says IMD

‘However, north T.N. might get mild rain’

•Cyclone Fani will not hit the Tamil Nadu coast, said officials of the India Meteorological Department on Sunday.

•S. Balachandran, Deputy Director General of Meteorology of the Regional Meteorological Centre (RMC), said, “The cyclone will not make landfall in Tamil Nadu. We will not have any direct impact because of this. But we may get some moderate rainfall in northern parts of the State when it nears the coast of northern Tamil Nadu.”

Minor respite from heat

•As far as Chennai is concerned, the residents may get minor respite from the heat as there could be some mild showers for a day or two this week, he said.

•The sky will remain partly cloudy.

•While the maximum will be around 36 degree Celsius, the minimum temperature is likely to be 28 degree Celsius. The storm now lies about 910 km off the coast and it is likely to bring in only moderate rains to some parts of northern Tamil Nadu.

Change of direction

•The cyclone may get as close as 300 km off the Tamil Nadu coast on April 30 and after that, there may occur a change of direction too, officials said.

•Cyclone Fani is likely to turn into a ‘severe cyclonic storm’.

•This may develop into an ‘extremely severe cyclone storm’ on Wednesday.

Fishermen told not to enter sea

•Fishermen are advised not to venture into the sea from April 29 to May 1. Also, fishermen in deep sea have been asked to return at the earliest.

πŸ“° Social media fraud rose 43% in 2018: report

•In a sign that platforms like Facebook and WhatsApp are emerging as new public square for criminal deception, a study has found that social media fraud increased 43% in 2018.

•The results suggest that cybercriminals are increasingly relying on Facebook, Instagram, WhatsApp and other legitimate social media and messaging platforms to communicate with each other and sell stolen identities, credit card numbers and other ill-gotten gains.

•Given the ease of use, absence of fees and other benefits of these platforms, continuation of this trend in 2019 should come as no surprise, said the whitepaper ‘Current State of Cybercrime — 2019’, released by RSA Security.

•According to the researchers, fraud in the mobile channel has grown significantly over the past several years, with 70% of artifice originating in the mobile channel in 2018. In particular, fraud from mobile apps increased 680% between 2015 and 2018, said the study, adding that the use of rogue mobile applications to defraud consumers was on the rise.

πŸ“° Comfort food leads to more weight gain during stress: study

The brain produces a molecule which stimulates eating

•Indulging in high-calorie ‘comfort’ foods when you are stressed can lead to more weight gain than usual, scientists say.

•Researchers from the Garvan Institute of Medical Research in Australia discovered a molecular pathway in the brain, controlled by insulin, which drives the additional weight gain.

•Using an animal model, the team showed that a high-calorie diet when combined with stress resulted in more weight gain than the same diet caused in a stress-free environment.

•“This study indicates that we have to be much more conscious about what we’re eating when we’re stressed,” said Herbert Herzog, who led the study.

•To understand what controls this ‘stress eating’, the team investigated different areas of the brain in mice. While food intake is mainly controlled by a part of the brain called the hypothalamus, another part of the brain — the amygdala — processes emotional responses, including anxiety.

•“Our study showed that when stressed over an extended period and high calorie food was available, mice became obese more quickly than those that consumed the same high fat food in a stress-free environment,” said Kenny Chi Kin Ip, lead author of the study published in the journal Cell Metabolism.

•At the centre of this weight gain, the scientists discovered, was a molecule called NPY, which the brain produces naturally in response to stress to stimulate eating in humans as well as mice. “We discovered that when we switched off the production of NPY in the amygdala weight gain was reduced. Without NPY, the weight gain on a high-fat diet with stress was the same as weight gain in the stress-free environment,” said Mr. Ip. “This shows a clear link between stress, obesity and NPY,” he said.

•To understand what might control the NPY boost under stress, the scientists analysed the nerve cells that produced NPY in the amygdala and found they had receptors, or ‘docking stations’, for insulin — one of the hormones which control our food intake.

•Under normal conditions, the body produces insulin just after a meal, which helps cells absorb glucose from the blood and sends a ‘stop eating’ signal to the hypothalamus feeding centre of the brain. The scientists discovered that chronic stress alone raised the blood insulin levels only slightly, but in combination with a high-calorie diet, the insulin levels were 10 times higher than mice that were stress-free and received a normal diet.

•The study showed that these prolonged, high levels of insulin in the amygdala caused the nerve cells to become desensitised to insulin, which stopped them from detecting insulin altogether. In turn, these desensitised nerve cells boosted their NPY levels, which both promoted eating and reduced the bodies’ normal response to burn energy through heat.

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