Current Affairs for IAS Exams - 10 August 2019


Current Affairs for IAS Exams - 10 August 2019


::NATIONAL::

Supreme court upholds law empowering home buyers

  • The Supreme Court on Friday upheld a central law which empowered harassed home buyers to initiate bankruptcy proceedings against errant real estate builders.

  • The judgment gains significance as many real estate builders have been under fire for incomplete projects leaving home buyers in dire straits.

  • The Act had brought the home buyers on par with the creditor banks of the property builder. Prior to the law, the home buyers were often left in the lurch. With their dreams of owning a home shattered, they were made to wait blindly for a solution to come up, either in the form of a completed apartment or a refund.

  • Before the Amendment Act of 2018 came into existence, the assets of the bankrupt builder were divided among his employees, creditor banks and other operational creditors. Home buyers had hardly figured, though their hard-earned savings may have provided a major chunk of the housing project.

  • The Amendment Act allowed home buyers, as financial creditors, to trigger bankruptcy proceedings under the Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code of 2016 and have their “rightful place” on the Committee of Creditors (CoC). The CoC, by voting, makes important decisions on the future of the bankrupt builder. These calls include what to do with his assets and who should finish the pending housing projects.

  • The builders had challenged the Amendment Act. They said making home buyers financial creditors was like “forcibly inserting a square peg in a round hole.”

Centre to ensure complete availability of Rotavirus vaccine by September 2019

  • “The Health Ministry has drawn an ambitious plan under the 100 days agenda of the newly elected government, wherein it has been decided to provide Rotavirus vaccine to every child across all States and Union Territories by September, 2019,” Union Health Minister Harsh Vardhan said on Friday.

  • He said diarrhoea was one of the biggest killers in children and Rotavirus was one of the most common causes of severe diarrhoea in children less than 2 years of age.

  • “Rotavirus vaccine along with proper sanitation, hand washing practices, ORS and zinc supplementation will go a long way in reducing the mortality and morbidity due to diarrhoea in children,” the Minister said. The government was also committed to increasing the full immunisation coverage and ensuring that the benefit of the life-saving vaccines was provided to every child.

  • In India, every year, 37 out of every 1,000 children born are unable to celebrate their 5th birthday, and one of the major reasons for this is diarrhoeal deaths. Out of all the causes of diarrhoea, Rotavirus is a leading cause of diarrhoea in children less than 5 years of age.

  • It is estimated that Rotavirus cause 8,72,000 hospitalisations; 32,70,000 outpatient visits and estimated 78,000 deaths annually in India. Rotavirus diarrhoea can be prevented through vaccination.

  • Other diarrhoea can be prevented through general measures like good hygiene, frequent hand washing, safe water and safe food consumption, exclusive breastfeeding and vitamin A supplementation.

::ECONOMY::

Growth in IIP slows down to four month low

  • Growth in industrial production slowed to a four-month low of 1.96% in June 2019, due in large part to a slowdown in the manufacturing sector and a dramatic contraction in the capital goods and consumer durables sectors.

  • Growth in the Index of Industrial Production (IIP) stood at 4.55% in May 2019, and at 6.53% in July of last year. Within the index, growth in the manufacturing sector slowed to 1.17% in June 2019 from 4.46% in the previous month. Growth in the mining sector also slowed to 1.62% from 2.42% over the same period.

  • “This confirms ongoing slowdown focussed in the industrial sector and also in the capital goods sector,” said D.K. Srivastava, chief policy adviser, EY India.

  • “Capital goods contraction shows the existence of unutilised capacity. New investments are not happening. The relatively serious news is the fall in consumer durables which reflects a broad-based consumption slowdown.”

  • The capital goods sector contracted by 6.48% in June, compared with a contraction of 1.41% in the previous month. The consumer durables sector also contracted in June by 5.5%, compared with a growth of 0.3% in May 2019.

  • Construction also slipped in June, contracting 1.83% compared with a growth of 1.78% in May. Electricity was the only one out of the major IIP groups that saw an acceleration in growth, at 8.19% in June compared with 7.41% in May.

  • “This looks like a trend that will continue until the end of the monsoon because the government’s capital expenditure was stalled first because of elections and then the rains,” he added.

Capital market participants concerned over tax issues

  • The government could risk missing its record Rs. 1.05 lakh crore divestment target that has been set for the current financial year as foreign portfolio investors (FPIs) could stay away from such share sales if the ongoing tax concerns are not resolved soon, according to capital market participants.

  • The participants, who met Finance Minister NirmalaSitharaman on Friday, also urged her to address the liquidity concerns of non-banking finance companies (NBFCs) — especially those focussed on consumer spending — before the festive season begins, to spur overall consumption growth in the country.

  • According to persons familiar with the deliberations, the government has taken the suggestions ‘positively’ and has hinted that it would take all possible steps to revive overseas investor interest in the Indian capital markets.

  • In the Union Budget 2019-20, the Finance Minister introduced a surcharge for individuals earning more than Rs. 2 crore. However, FPIs became the collateral damage of the proposal as bulk of such investors structure themselves as trusts or a Limited Liability Partnership (LLP) that are not recognised as a corporate entity by the Income Tax Act and hence are taxed as per the individual tax slabs based on their earnings.

  • FPIs, often looked upon as prime drivers of any bull run in the Indian stock market, ended July as net sellers at Rs. 12,419 crore. This was the first time since January 2019 when foreign investors ended a month as net sellers.

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::INTERNATIONAL::

India- Bangladesh to set up committee for optimum water usage

  • India and Bangladesh have agreed to set up a Joint Technical committee for optimum utilisation of Ganges water as being received by Bangladesh under the Ganga Water Sharing Treaty 1996.

  • After the Secretary-level meeting in Dhaka yesterday, both the countries also agreed to prepare a framework for interim water-sharing agreement for eight rivers including Feni, Gumti and Teesta. Both the countries also discussed issues related to pollution of trans boundary rivers.

  • The Secretary-level meeting was held after a gap of more than 8 years. It is an important step in enhancing bilateral cooperation in the water resources sector between India and Bangladesh.

  • Water Resources Secretary Upendra Prasad Singh led the Indian delegation in the talks while the Bangladesh side was led by his counterpart Kabir Bin Anwar.

  • The Ganges-Brahmaputra-Meghna mega-basin is the second largest hydraulic region in the world. Within this basin, fifty-four rivers cross the border between upstream India and downstream Bangladesh.

IMF warns U.S-China tariff war could affect China sharply

  • International Monetary Fund, IMF, has warned that increasing United States tariffs could cut China's growth sharply. China's economy is slowing already due to the trade conflict with the United States.

  • The IMF trimmed its growth forecast for China to 6.2 percent this year, assuming no new tariffs are imposed. But in the past week US President Donald Trump announced a new round of punitive tariffs on Chinese goods, despite a truce agreed with Chinese President Xi Jinping in May, and Beijing responded by halting all purchases of US agricultural goods.

  • Trump has accused Beijing of trying to keep its currency weaker to gain a trade advantage against the United States.

  • IMF has called for a quick resolution to the trade conflict between these two countries as the impact would have significant negative spillovers globally.

::SCIENCE & TECHNOLOGY::

Maharashtra sets up task force to study climate change post floods

  • In the wake of an unprecedented flood-like situation and record rainfall this season, the State government will constitute a task force comprising local and global experts to study impact of climate change on Mumbai.

  • The task force will study measures taken against flooding and unplanned reclamation in cities such as Venice, Geneva and London, and coordinate with the European Climate Change Programme of the European Union to prepare a blueprint. The task force will be set up by the environment department in coordination with Mumbai First, a not-for-profit, policy-influencing think tank, officials said.

  • NarinderNayar, chairman, Mumbai First, said the proposal for the task force has been sent to the government while only the last-minute modalities are remaining.

  • The task force will also study patterns of climate change and steps taken by leading countries such as the Netherlands, which has taken a lead in flood management and measures against climate change.

::SPORTS::

BCCI to come under the ambit of NADA

  • The Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) today agreed to come under the ambit of the National Anti-Doping Agency (NADA). This landmark decision makes Indian Cricket's governing body a sports federation as per government norms despite being financially autonomous.

  • The implication of this development is expected to be massive as BCCI now becomes a designated National Sports Federation and will face more pressure to come under the government's Right to Information Act.

  • The BCCI had been vehemently opposing signing up with NADA, calling itself an autonomous body, and not a National Sports Federation which relies on government funding.

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