IASbaba’s Daily Current Affairs (Prelims + Mains
Focus)- 02nd October 2018
IL&FS Crisis and role of National Company Law Tribunal (NCLT)
Part of: GS Prelims and Mains III – Indian Economy and related issues
- IL&FS Group sent shock waves through credit markets when it began missing debt repayments.
- The IL&FS, India’s leading infrastructure finance company, is facing a serious liquidity crisis and has failed to make over a dozen payments.
- IL&FS’ problems could threaten India’s economic growth as lenders cut exposure to non-banking finance companies (NBFCs) or shadow banks.
- More concerning is that potential defaults at so-called shadow banks could cripple many mutual funds that are heavily invested in their commercial paper.
- Government intervenes in the IL&FS crisis.
- The government moved National Company Law Tribunal (NCLT) to supersede the IL&FS board and change the company management.
- The company is listed as “systemically important” by the Reserve Bank of India, and with over ₹1,15,000 crore of assets and ₹91,000 crore of debt, it is too big to fail.
- The interlinkages between IL&FS and other financial sector entities such as banks, mutual funds and infrastructure players are too strong and the company would have taken them all down with it if it were allowed to fail.
Do you know?
About National Company Law Tribunal (NCLT)
The Central Government has constituted National Company Law Tribunal (NCLT) under section 408 of the Companies Act, 2013 (18 of 2013) w.e.f. 01st June 2016.
NCLT is a quasi-judicial body, exercising equitable jurisdiction, which was earlier being exercised by the High Court or the Central Government. The Tribunal has powers to regulate its own procedures.
The establishment of the National Company Law Tribunal (NCLT) consolidates the corporate jurisdiction of the following authorities:
- Company Law Board
- Board for Industrial and Financial Reconstruction.
- The Appellate Authority for Industrial and Financial Reconstruction.
- Jurisdiction and powers relating to winding up restructuring and other such provisions, vested in the High Courts.
Powers of NCLT
The NCLT has been empowered to exercise the following powers:
- Most of the powers of the Company Law Board under the Companies Act, 1956.
- All the powers of BIFR for revival and rehabilitation of sick industrial companies;
- Power of High Court in the matters of mergers, demergers, amalgamations, winding up, etc.;
- Power to order repayment of deposits accepted by Non-Banking Financial Companies as provided in section 45QA of the Reserve Bank of India Act, 1934;
- Power to wind up companies;
- Power to Review its own orders.
The NCLT shall have powers and jurisdiction of the Board for Industrial and Financial Reconstruction (BIFR), the Appellate Authority for Industrial and Financial Reconstruction (AAIFR), Company Law Board, High Courts relating to compromises, arrangements, mergers, amalgamations and reconstruction of companies, winding up etc. Thus, multiplicity of litigation before various courts or quasi-judicial bodies or forums have been sought to be avoided. The powers of the NCLT shall be exercised by the Benches constituted by its President.
Gir sees 21 lion deaths in 19 days
Part of: GS Prelims and Mains III – Animal conservation; Biodiversity
- As many as 21 lions have died in Gujarat’s Gir forest since September 12.
- Gir is considered as only abode of Asiatic lions in the world.
- Gir is home to India’s entire population of around 500 wild Asiatic lions.
- Reason – Infighting and infections in liver and kidney are the main causes for the recent death of lions.
- Relentless development near Gir — roads through the forest in the 1,400-square kilometre-wildlife sanctuary, expanding villages and illegal mining — is also forcing animal-human proximity.
Do you know?
- IUCN Status: Endangered
- The lion is one of five pantherine cats inhabiting India, along with the Bengal tiger, Indian leopard, snow leopard and clouded leopard.
- It was also known as “Indian lion” and “Persian lion”.
Early Warning for Tsunami and Earthquake
Part of: GS Prelims and Mains III – Disaster management
- Indian Tsunami Early Warning Centre (ITEWC), which is based at & operated by Indian National Center for Ocean Information Services (INCOIS), Hyderabad has all necessary infrastructure and capabilities to give tsunami advisories to India as well as to Indian Ocean countries.
Working of ITEWC
- ITEWC is providing tsunami warnings and related services to all countries in the Indian Ocean Rim (24 Countries) beyond fully serving the India’s coastline / Islands.
- The centre is capable of detecting tsunamigenic earthquakes occurring in the Indian Ocean as well as in the Global Oceans within 10 minutes of their occurrence.
- Key inputs for developing strategic plan for addressing issues of Climate Change impacts on the Himalayan ecosystem.
- As soon as the earthquake is detected, warning centre transmits information about location of earthquake, its magnitude, depth and other characters of the event.
- Though ITEWC scientists detected the earthquake on the Pacific Ocean bed, they failed to detect any unusual activity in the oceanic buoys and sea level tide gauges.
- Scientists puzzled by ‘peculiar’ tsunami, which struck Palu, Indonesia.
India and China: “Wuhan spirit”
Part of: GS Prelims and Mains II – India and its neighbours; International Relations
- After the Wuhan summit, mutual confidence between China and India was promoted.
- Experts and academicians feel – “China and India can cooperate under two-plus-one formula” to bring development in countries such as Maldives, Afghanistan and Nepal.
- The 2+1 mechanism (Wuhan Spirit) was proposed by China at Wuhan, where New Delhi and Beijing would coordinate their responses while engaging a third country in South Asia.
- The mechanism can enhance mutual trust between China and India and may also prevent other South Asian countries from being caught in between.
Person in news: Justice Gogoi
- Justice Gogoi will take over on October 3 as India’s 46th Chief Justice of India and the first top judge from Assam.
Person in news: Gita Gopinath
- International Monetary Fund (IMF) appointed India-born Gita Gopinath as Economic Counsellor and Director of the IMF’s Research Department.
Person in news: Tasuku Honjo and James Allison
- S.-Japanese pair win Nobel Medicine Prize
- Two immunologists, James Allison of the U.S. and Tasuku Honjo of Japan, won the 2018 Nobel Medicine Prize for research into how the body’s natural defences can fight cancer.
- Unique research: They figured out how to help the patient’s own immune system tackle the cancer more quickly.
Do you know?
- T-cells are a type of white blood cell that play a central role in the body’s natural immunity to disease.
- CTLA-4 (cytotoxic T-lymphocyte-associated protein 4) is a protein receptor that, functioning as an immune checkpoint, downregulates immune responses.
- Paper I: Essay
- General Studies 1: Personalities in Indian national movements
- General Studies 4: Ethics; Indian thinkers and philosophers
Gandhi: Philosophy and significance in present times
- The world prepares to celebrate Mahatma Gandhi’s 150th birth anniversary in 2019, also mourning the 70th anniversary of his assassination in January 1948.
- Opinions and views about his person and his non-violent technique of struggle remain deeply divided.
- For some, he was a puritanical, conservative critique of modernity. For them he created and perpetuated unrealistic and confused ideas about economic development and technological progress
- For his admirers, Gandhi was a man of spiritual truthfulness and democratic action, both at the public and personal levels, with a unique method of struggle that combined political pragmatism with ethical integrity.
- Some among these admirers evaluate Gandhi’s impact on human history as being as significant as that of Jesus, Buddha and Karl Marx.
- In the minds of people around the world, Gandhi represents two different and contradictory characters.
- The first Gandhi is the political Gandhi who fought against British colonialism and is the father of the modern Indian nation.
- This is the man Albert Einstein lauded as “a leader of his people, unsupported by any outward authority, a politician whose success rests not upon craft nor the mastery of technical devices, but simply on the convincing power of his personality.”
- The second Gandhi is the Ashramic Gandhi who is more of a mystic than a politician, who used fasting as a method of struggle, and who Rabindranath Tagore considered as the “Mahatma”, the “Great Soul”.
Quest for spiritual cause; Satya
- In Gandhi’s autobiography, The Story of My Experiments with Truth, one can find the idea that life is nothing but a spiritual experience with truth, and a struggle against all forms of untruth and injustice.
- As such, Gandhi claimed that his life was his message, simply because he extended his practice of satyagraha to all walks of life.
- Gandhi, in short, was a leader looking for a spiritual cause. He found it, of course, in his non-violence and, ultimately, in independence for India.
- Truth, Satya, was the central axis of the Gandhian system of thought and practice.
- For Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi, everything turned on Truth — satyagraha, swaraj, ahimsa, ashram, brahmacharya, yajna, charkha, khadi, and finally, moksha itself.
- Gandhi’s life and ideas arranged around the axial principle of Truth: “Truth is not merely that which we are expected to speak and follow. It is that which alone is, it is that of which all things are made, it is that which subsists by its own power, which alone is eternal.”
Truth alone triumphs?
- An example is the on-going controversy in the United States about the proposed appointment of Federal Judge Brett Kavanaugh to the U.S. Supreme Court as the nominee of the Republican Party, even as he stands accused of sexually assaulting a lady, when they were both teenagers.
- Outcome hinges exactly on the truth of her testimony versus his defence. Only one can be true.
- When Truth is rendered negotiable and dispensable, the balance of justice is disastrously upset. Arguably Americans, too, could have recourse to Gandhi, though perhaps not in the way that we in India might.
- Gandhi strained to hear the “small, still voice” within himself, the voice belonging to one he called “antaryami”, “atma” or “God” — an inner prompt, the self as a guide and a compass – so that he could keep moving ever closer to Truth.
- It was this voice that he followed, sometimes to the bafflement of others who could not hear it.
- This was the voice that made him undertake life-threatening fasts his health wouldn’t permit; withdraw from active politics at the most crucial junctures of India’s anti-colonial struggle; and many other decisions which are still difficult for us to understand.
- Even close and loyal associates like Jawaharlal Nehru and Vallabhbhai Patel were often confounded by Gandhi’s actions and decisions; more sceptical and antagonistic peers like M.A. Jinnah and B.R. Ambedkar couldn’t make sense of his motivations at all.
- No power on earth is able to steer Gandhi away from his self-charted path towards Truth.
- “The strangest experiment” was Gandhi’s move to have his young grand-niece Manu sleep next to him, as he travelled through ravaged Hindu and Muslim settlements in Bihar and Bengal during the height of communal violence on the eve of Partition.
- No matter what the reactions of his colleagues, for Gandhi it was not strange, precisely because it was one of his ‘experiments with truth’.
Home and the world
- Of late, many musicians in south India have faced vicious attacks from rightwing Hindutva groups for singing hymns and psalms, thereby allegedly hijacking “Hindu” Carnatic music for “Christian” evangelical aims.
- This despite the fact that the violin, central to the Carnatic system in modern times, is a European gift to Indian music.
- Both Christian and Muslim religious lyrics and poetry have been a constitutive part of the Carnatic repertoire throughout the 20th century.
- Gandhi made great use of the Bible in his prayers, teachings, writings and Ashram liturgies. He was often accused of being a crypto-Christian.
- However, he flatly refused to give preference to the Vedas over the Bible. He is no Sanatani Hindu who is narrow, bigoted and considers evil to be good if it has the sanction of antiquity and is to be found supported in any Sanskrit book.
- Just before the Kristallnacht (an incident known as “Kristallnacht”, Nazis in Germany torched synagogues, vandalized Jewish homes, schools and businesses and killed close to 100 Jews), Gandhi advised European Jews to relocate to Palestine and make it their homeland only with the cooperation and goodwill of native Arabs, and not otherwise.
- This appalled even sympathetic Jews like Buber and Magnes, who had admired and supported Gandhi at the time of the Salt March in 1930, before the Nazi takeover of Germany.
- But now the tables are turned, and a rightwing Israeli state under Benjamin Netanyahu seems hell-bent on exterminating the Palestinians.
- Gandhi’s counter-intuitive Truth informs the civil disobedience, passive resistance and non-violent protest of both Arab and Jewish activists who oppose the continuing occupation and takeover of dwindling and defenceless Palestinian territories by bellicose Israeli forces.
Gandhi a political thinker and a social reformer
- There is more to Gandhi which makes him a political thinker and a relevant social reformer. Gandhi was a dialogical thinker who was open to other horizons of thinking.
- He firmly believed that the spirit of genuine reciprocity and solidarity is not just a moral requirement, but also a geopolitical necessity.
- Gandhi rejected the idea that there is one privileged path to god. He also believed that all religious traditions are an unstable mixture of truth and error.
- He encouraged inter-religious and inter-cultural dialogue, so that individuals could see their faith and culture in a comparative and critical reflection of the other.
- As such, Gandhi considered interculturalism as a call for simultaneous awareness of commonalities, acceptance of differences, and recognition of shared values.
- Interestingly, Gandhi was a political thinker and a social practitioner who was constantly experimenting with modes of comparative and cross-border cultural constellations.
- In Gandhi’s political thinking, the experience of freedom derives not only from constitutional rights but mainly from the diverse modes of participation of the individual in a common humanity.
- Today, many around the world consider Gandhian ideas as impractical, not to say utopian.
- Gandhian ethics of social and political reconstruction are more relevant than ever, since they represent an act of self-transformation of humanity rather than an illusory dream of a political leader.
- Gandhi wanted to change the values that govern the social, political and economic activities in human society.
- Gandhi believed that decentralised politics and an egalitarian economy function better at the level of micro-communities, where citizens can operate in relations of reciprocity and mutuality.
- For him, it was clear that neither society nor the individual can live without a moral vision of the world. Gandhi had his moral and political dreams of changing humanity.
- There are ample events and incidents insisting that we can continue to consult Gandhi on all manner of issues that may trouble our individual or collective conscience.
- Truth is the key to Gandhi’s philosophy, and we rely on Gandhi even decades after his death and long after his supposed lapse into political irrelevance.
- To be sure, Gandhi certainly deserves the honour as a courageous fighter, a deep thinker, and a great leader of men and ideas.
- Gandhi was a man of experimentation, a man who insisted on the quest for truth. Therefore, it should not come to us as a surprise that the literal meaning of satyagraha is “asserting for truth”.
- As a dreamer who looked for a harmonious universe, Gandhi was a hedgehog, but as a pragmatist who had a devastating sense of reality, he was a fox who knew many things about the insane world of human beings filled with hatred, revenge, greed for power and violence.
Connecting the dots:
- Throw light on the significance of the thoughts of Mahatma Gandhi in the present times. (UPSC 2018: GS I; 10 marks)
(Note: Above article has been prepared by analysing two lead editorials, “The voice that is great within us” and “Gandhi: a fox or a hedgehog?” Case studies given in the article will be help full to prove the relevance of Gandhi in present times.)
TOPIC: General Studies 3
- Government policies and issues arising out of their design and implementation
- Environment pollution, control and mitigation
Up in the air
- The onset of the winter season has come to be associated with toxic atmospheric pollution in north India.
- This year will be a crucial test for a scheme piloted by the Union government to address the winter haze.
Causes of winter pollution in Delhi
- The road dust and pollution from heavy vehicles are primarily responsible for the noxious pall that sets on Delhi and other urban centres.
- The burning of paddy stubble by farmers to clear their fields for the next crop is considered to be responsible for 20% of the smog.
- Given Delhi’s geography, low wind speeds and a spike in local pollution (from vehicles, biomass burning, firecrackers, etc.) raise the particulate matter count dramatically during winter.
- To address this, and under directions from the Supreme Court-constituted Environment Pollution (Prevention and Control) Authority, or EPCA, the Centre is partnering with Punjab, Haryana and Uttar Pradesh to provide farmers with a range of mechanised implements to clear their fields of paddy crop residue to prepare for sowing wheat.
- There is a 50% subsidy to farmers, and a 75% waiver to cooperative societies, agencies that rent out equipment, farmers’ interest groups or gram panchayats to buy such machines.
- States have got nearly Rs. 650 crore to help farmers buy subsidised equipment such as Happy Seeder, paddy straw choppers and Zero Till Drill.
- Punjab, which of the three States has the largest acreage under paddy, has a target of procuring 24,315 machines by October 15.
- A task force, headed by the Principal Secretary to the Prime Minister and comprising Environment Ministry officials and Chief Secretaries of these States, have been meeting since January to prepare for the winter.
- Reports suggest that many farmers, particularly those with land holdings of less than 5 acres, remain sceptical of the efficiency of these machines.
- Among their concerns is whether these machines will affect productivity. Many have told officials that they are worried there could be damage to the soil.
- Ironically, it was technology that contributed to the problem in the first place.
- The rising cost of labour nudged farmers to adopt mechanised equipment that, while efficient, left behind much longer stalks of paddy than what the traditional practice of removing them by hand did.
- Just making technological tools available may not be enough; there needs to be proactive engagement to both persuade and reassure farmers.
- The greater availability of machines and the zero-tolerance policy need to be seen as works in progress to derive lessons on how to refine the crop-clearing process in an ecologically sound manner.
- There must also be a sense of proportion, as 80% of the atmospheric pollution in Delhi in winter draws from sources other than burning stubble.
- To be effective, the fight against pollution must necessarily be broad-based.
Connecting the dots:
- What are the causes of air pollution in Delhi, during winter season? Suggest measures to control it, also mention steps taken by central and local administration.
(TEST YOUR KNOWLEDGE)
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Q.1) National Company Law Appellate Tribunal (NCLAT) is appellate tribunal for which of the following?
- Insolvency and Bankruptcy Board of India
- Competition Commission of India (CCI)
- National Company Law Tribunal(s)
- All the above
Q.2) Consider the following statements about National Company Law Tribunal (NCLT)
- It is under the Ministry of Law and Justice
- It replaced the Company Law Board (CLB)
- It is set up at Mumbai, Delhi, Kolkata and Chennai only
Which of the following statement(s) is/are correct?
- Only 1
- 1 and 2
- Only 2
- 1 and 3
Q.3) Consider the following statements with reference to Asiatic Lion:
- The species are listed as ‘Critically Endangered’ on IUCN Red List.
- The lions face threat from poaching and habitat fragmentation.
- Currently, these are protected only in the Gir National Park.
Which of the statements given above is/are correct?
- 1 and 3
- Only 1
- Only 2
- 1,2 and 3
Q.4) Consider the following statements about Indian National Center for Ocean Information Services (INCOIS)
- It is under the aegis of Ministry of Earth Sciences (MoES)
- It is a permanent member of the Indian delegation to Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission of UNESCO
Select the correct statements
- 1 Only
- 2 Only
- Both 1 and 2
- Neither 1 nor 2
Q.5) Which of the following correctly defines ‘swell waves’?
- High waves generated by high tide during Spring Tide.
- High waves generated during Tsunamis.
- Collection of waves produced by storm winds raging hundreds of miles out to sea.
- Waves at the beach produced by change in local winds
Q.6) Consider the following statements about Tsunami
- The speed of tsunami waves depends on ocean depth rather than the distance from the source of the wave.
- These are generated by high magnitude earthquakes in the ocean floors or violent under sea volcanic eruptions or by massive undersea landslides.
Select the correct answer using the codes below:
- 1 only
- 2 only
- 1 and 2
- Neither 1 nor 2
The voice that is great within us
Up in the air — on stubble burning
The algebra of dissent
Gandhi for the young
Why Shastri matters today
Creating an India Consensus for growth
How Swachh Bharat created disruption