25th January Current Affairs

1.North East Council

News: The Union Home Minister chaired the 69th meeting of the North East Council (NEC) in Meghalaya.

About North-East Council:

Background:

  • The NEC came into existence by a Parliamentary Act called the North Eastern Council Act, 1971 to act as an advisory body for socio-economic and balanced development of the North-Eastern Areas. The Council started its functioning in 1972.

Details:

  • It is the nodal agency for the social and economic development of the North Eastern Region in India consisting of the 8 States of Assam, Arunachal Pradesh, Meghalaya, Manipur, Mizoram, Sikkim, Nagaland and Tripura. The establishment of the NE Council marked the beginning of a new era of planned and concerted efforts for the speedy development of that Region.
  • NEC members: the Governors and the Chief Ministers of the 8 states including Sikkim, Chairman and 3 members who are nominated by the country’s President.
  • NEC, over the last 35 years, has been much influential in creating new economic endeavours in the northeast part of India. Its activities are aimed at removing the major hurdles that stood in the way of the development of that region and has brought in a new ray of hope in this backward area that is filled with potential.

North Eastern Council – Functions

  • To discuss any matter in which some or all of the States represented in the Council have a common interest and advise the Central Government and the Governments of the States concerned as to the action to be taken on any such matter, particularly with regard to –
  • any matter of common interest in the field of economic and social planning;
  • any matter concerning inter-State Transport and Communications;
  • any matter relating to Power or Flood-control projects of common interest.
  • To formulate and forward proposals for securing the balanced development of the North-Eastern Areas particularly with regard to –
  • a unified and coordinated Regional Plan, which will be in addition to the State Plan, in regard to matters of common importance to that area;
  • prioritizing the projects and schemes included in the Regional Plan and recommend stages in which the Regional Plan may be implemented; and
  • regarding the location of the projects and schemes included in the Regional Plan to the Central

2.Beti Bachao Beti Padhao

News: The Beti Bachao Beti Padhao (BBBP) Scheme, launched by the Hon’ble Prime Minister on 22nd January, 2015 at Panipat in Haryanawith the objective of bringing behavioural change in the society towards birth and rights of a girl child, has resulted in increased awareness and sensitization of the masses regarding prevalence of gender bias and role of community in eradicating it.

About BBBP:

  • Beti Bachao Beti Padhao (BBBP) Scheme was launched in January, 2015. The scheme is aimed at promoting gender equality and the significance of educating girls.
  • The Scheme is targeted at improving the Child Sex Ratiothrough multi sectoral interventions including prevention of gender biased sex selection and promoting girls’ education and her holistic empowerment.
  • It is a tri-ministerial effortof Ministries of Women and Child Development, Health & Family Welfare and Human Resource Development.

Beti Bachao Beti Padhao: Achievements so far

  • During the last 6 years since its inception, the BBBP scheme has been aiming at changing the mindset of the public to acknowledge the rights of the girl child. The scheme has resulted in increased awareness and sensitization of the masses regarding prevalence of gender bias and role of community in eradicating it. It has raised concerns around the issue of declining CSR in India. As a result of collective consciousness of the people supporting the campaign, BBBP has found its place in public discourse.

Progress in terms of monitorable targets:

Sex Ratio at Birth:

  • Promising trends of improvement in Sex Ratio at Birth (SRB) have been observed at National level. SRB has improved by 16 points from 918 (2014-15) to 934 (2019-20), as per the HMIS data of MoH&FW.
  • Out of 640 districts covered under BBBP 422 districts have shown improvement in SRB from 2014-15 to 2018-2019.
  • Some Districts which had very low SRB in 2014-15 have shown huge improvement after implementation of the Scheme such as Mau (Uttar Pradesh) from 694 (2014-15) to 951 (2019-20), Karnal (Haryana) from 758 (2014-15) to 898 (2019-20), Mahendergarh (Haryana) from 791 (2014-15) to 919 (2019-20), Rewari (Haryana) from 803 (2014-15) to 924 (2019-20), and Patiala (Punjab) from 847 (2014-15) to 933 (2019-20),

Health :

  • Percentage of 1st Trimester ANC Registration has shown an improving trend from 61% in 2014-15 to 71% in 2019-20 ( As per HMIS, MoH&FW). Percentage of Institutional Deliveries has shown an improving trend from 87% in 2014-15 to 94% in 2019-20 (As per HMIS, MoH&FW).

Education :

  • Gross Enrolment Ratio of girls in the schools at secondary level has improved from 77.45 (2014-15) to 81.32 (2018-19-provisional figures) as per UDISE-data.
  • Percentage of schools with functional separate toilets for girls has shown improvement from 92.1% in 2014-15 to 95.1% in 2018-19 (2018-19 provisional figure, as per UDISE-data )

Attitudinal change:

  • The BBBP scheme has been able to bring the focus on important issue of female infanticide, lack of education amongst girls and deprivation of their rights on a life cycle continuum.The scheme has successfully engaged with Community to defy the age old biases against the girl child and introduce innovative practices to celebrate the girl child.
  • The BBBP logo has been much appreciated and accepted by people. People are using the BBBP logo on their own volition at various places such as school buses, building, stationeries, transport vehicles etc. to affirm their commitment to the cause. Logo has also been mentioned in popular Indian festivals i.e. Lohri, KalashYatra, Rakhi, Ganesh Chaturdashipandal, festival of flowers etc.
  • The frontline government employees have been successfully collaborating at the level of community for observing the son centric rituals while celebrating the birth of girl child i.e. Kuwapoojan, Thalibajana Now mothers and girl child are being felicitated at community level and in hospitals by Administration to establish the relevance of the girl child. BetiJanmotsavis one of the key programme celebrated in each district.

3.Bodoland Territorial Agreement

News: Union Home Minister attended a special function in Kokrajhar, Assam to celebrate the first anniversary of the historic Bodoland Territorial Region (BTR) agreement.

About Bodoland Territorial Region Agreement:

  • Bodoland Territorial Region would include the villages which are dominated by Bodos but are outside BTAD presently. Villages with non-Bodo population would be excluded from it. A committee will be formed to decide the exclusion and inclusion of new areas. Subsequently, the total number of Assembly seats will go up to 60, from the existing 40. Both the representatives of the All Bodo Students Union (ABSU)and of Bodoland Territorial Council (BTC) will be present in the committee.
  • Bodo-Kachari Welfare Councilwill be set up for focused development of Bodo villages outside BTAD. Bodos living in the hills would be conferred a Scheduled Hill Tribe status. Bodo language with Devanagari script would be the associate official language for the entire  However, the agreement has not addressed the issue of “citizenship or work permit” for non-domiciles in the BTAD yet.
  • Around 1500 cadres of NDFB will be rehabilitated and assimilatedby the Central and the state governments. The criminal cases registered against factions of NDFB members for non-heinous crimes shall be withdrawn and the cases of heinous crimes will be
  • Comprehensive solutionshave been made to redress the grievances of the people. Families of the people killed during the Bodo movement would get ₹5 lakh each. A Special Development Package of ₹1500 crore would be given by the Centre to undertake specific projects for the development of Bodo areas.

4.India’s Arctic Policy

News: India has unveiled a new draft ‘Arctic’ policy that and is committed to expanding scientific research, “sustainable tourism” and mineral oil and gas exploration in the Arctic region.

Why do we need to study Arctic?

  • The Arctic is home to almost four million inhabitants, of which approximately one-tenth are considered as indigenous people. Climate change has meant that seasons in the Arctic influence tropical weather.
  • The Arctic influences atmospheric, oceanographic and biogeochemical cycles of the earth’s ecosystem.
  • The loss of sea ice, ice caps, and warming of the ocean and atmosphere would lower salinity in the global oceans. This could increase the temperature differential between land and oceans in the tropical regions, dry subtropical areas and increase precipitation at higher latitudes. Arctic research will help India’s scientific community to study melting rates of the third pole — the Himalayan glaciers.

About the Policy:

  • India has designated Goa-based National Centre for Polar and Ocean Researchto lead scientific research and act as a nodal body to coordinate among various scientific bodies to promote domestic scientific research capacities in the Arctic.

Objectives:

  • Promoting Scientific Study of Arctic:Orient the curriculum on earth sciences, biological sciences, geosciences, climate change and space related programmes with Arctic imperatives in Indian Universities.
  • Planning Explorations:Formulating effective plans for Arctic related programmes for mineral/oil and gas exploration in petroleum research institutes
  • Promoting Arctic Tourism:Encouraging tourism and hospitality sectors by building specialised capacities and awareness by engaging with Arctic enterprises.

Arctic and India:

  • The Arctic region comprises the Arctic Ocean and parts of countries such as Canada, Denmark (Greenland), Norway, Russia, USA (Alaska), Finland, Sweden and Iceland.
  • These countries together form the core of the Arctic Council, an intergovernmental forum. The region is home to almost four million inhabitants, of which, about one-tenth are indigenous people.
  • India already has a research station in the Arctic, Himadri, for the research work. India received the ‘Observer’ country status in the Arctic Councilin 2013 and is one among the 13 countries across the world, including China, to have that position. The status was renewed in 2018.
  • Though none of India’s territory directly falls in the Arctic region, it is a crucial area as the Arctic influences atmospheric, oceanographic and biogeochemical cycles of the earth’s ecosystem.
  • Due to climate change, the region faces the loss of sea ice, ice caps, and warming of the ocean which in turn impacts the global climate. The frigid Arctic, which keeps losing ice due to global warming, is one of the batteries feeding the variations in Indian monsoons

5.RBI’s regulatory norms for NBFCs

News: The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) has suggested a tougher regulatory framework for the non-banking finance companies’ (NBFC) sector to prevent recurrence of any systemic risk to the country’s financial system.

Details:

  • The proposed framework is aimed at protecting financial stabilitywhile ensuring that smaller NBFCs continue to enjoy light regulations and grow with ease.
  • Proposed Classification of NBFC (The Four-Tier Structure):The regulatory and supervisory framework of NBFCs should be based on a four-layered structure:
  1. Base Layer:
  • NBFCs in the lower layer will be known as NBFC-Base Layer (NBFC-BL). For NBFCs in this layer least regulatory intervention is warranted.
  1. Middle Layer:
  • NBFCs in the middle layer will be known as NBFC-Middle Layer (NBFC-ML) The regulatory regime for this layer will be stricter compared to the base layer. Adverse regulatory arbitrage vis-à-vis banks can be addressed for NBFCs falling in this layer in order to reduce systemic risk spill-overs, where required.
  1. Upper Layer:
  • NBFC in the Upper Layer will be known as NBFC-Upper Layer (NBFC-UL)and will invite a new regulatory superstructure. This layer will be populated by NBFCs which have large potential of systemic spill-over of risks and have the ability to impact financial stability.
  • There is no parallel for this layer at present, as this will be a new layer for regulation.The regulatory framework for NBFCs falling in this layer will be bank-like, albeit with suitable and appropriate modifications. If an identified NBFC-UL does not meet the criteria for classification for four consecutive years, it will move out of the enhanced regulatory framework.
  1. Top Layer:
  • Ideally this layer is supposed to be empty. It is possible that supervisory judgment might push some NBFCs out of the upper layer of the systemically significant NBFCs for higher regulation/supervision.
  • These NBFCs will occupy the top of the upper layer as a distinct set. Ideally, this top layer of the pyramid will remain empty unless supervisors take a view on specific NBFCs.
  • If certain NBFCs lying in the upper layer are seen to pose extreme risks as per supervisory judgement, they can be put to higher and bespoke regulatory/supervisory requirements.

What are NBFCs?

  • Nonbank financial companies (NBFCs) are financial institutions that offer various banking services but do not have a banking license. An NBFC in India is a company registered under the Companies Act, 1956 engaged in the business of loans and advances, acquisition of shares/stocks/bonds/debentures/securities issued by a government or local authority or other marketable securities.
  • A non-banking institution which is a company and has principal business of receiving deposits under any scheme or arrangement in one lump sum or in instalments is also an NBFC.
  • NBFCs lend and make investments and hence their activities are akin to that of banks; however, there are a few differences as given below:
  • NBFC cannot accept demand deposits
  • NBFCs do not form part of the payment and settlement system and cannot issue cheques drawn on itself
  • The deposit insurance facility of Deposit Insurance and Credit Guarantee Corporation is not available to depositors of NBFCs, unlike in case of banks