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JULY 24, 2017


CAG flags delay in work on corvettes

  • The Comptroller and Auditor-General (CAG) has faulted the Navy and Garden Reach Shipbuilders and Engineers Ltd. for delay in construction of anti-submarine warfare corvettes and hampering their capabilities because of delayed decisions.

Weapons not installed

  • Against the 18 weapons and sensors to be installed on ASW corvettes, audit observed that the two ASW corvettes delivered were not fitted with ‘X’ weapon and sensor systems. Thus, ASW corvettes could not perform to its full potential as envisaged.

Trials incomplete

  • In addition, Sea Acceptance Test (SAT) on six weapons and sensors in the first corvette and all weapons and sensors on the second one were pending satisfactory completion.

CAG (Comptroller and Auditor General)

  • Article 148 – provides for an independent office of the CAG of India
  • He is the head of Indian Audit and Accounts department.
  • He is appointed by President.
  • Article 149 – duties and powers of CAG
  • Role : uphold the constitution of India and law of parliament in the field of administration.
  • He is an agent of the parliament and conduct audit of expenditure on behalf of the parliament.
  • He is responsible only to parliament.

Forum concerned at ‘secret’ RCEP talks

  • Civil society organisations and trade experts on Sunday raised concern over the secrecy surrounding the negotiations regarding a proposed mega-regional Free Trade Agreement (FTA) involving 16 Asia Pacific nations including India and China.
  • Technical level talks of the proposed FTA, officially known as Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP), are being held from July 18 to 28 at the Hyderabad International Convention Centre.
  • The RCEP, among other things, aims to liberalise investment norms as well as boost trade by eliminating/drastically reducing import duties on goods and bringing down ‘barriers’ in the services sector. The 16 nations account for a combined GDP of close to $50 trillion (or about 40% of the world’s GDP) and are home to around 3.5 billion people.
  • RCEP talks might include patents on seeds paving the way for control of the seed sector by multinational companies. It could lead to elimination of duties on milk products and result in huge imports of such items from countries including Australia and New Zealand.
    • Such a situation would hit small dairy producers in India.
    • Besides, it could allow foreign investors to sue governments in secret international arbitration cases under an Investor-State Dispute Settlement mechanism.

Russia keen on selling MiG-35 jets to India

  • Russia is keen on selling its new fighter jet MiG-35 to India with the MiG corporation’s chief saying the country has evinced interest in the aircraft and talks were on to understand its requirements.

Multi-purpose jet

  • The MiG-35 is Russia’s most advanced 4++ generation multipurpose fighter jet developed on the basis of the serial-produced MiG-29K/KUB and MiG-29M/M2 combat aircraft.
  • MiG aircraft have been used by India for almost 50 years.


 ‘India’s approach to U.S. and China differs’

  • India frequently and assertively tries to shape comments from the United States on Pakistan during crises, but it does not do so in the case of China, said Dr. Joshua T. White, a former White House and Pentagon official in the Barack Obama administration.

Doklam standoff

  • India is presently engaged in a major standoff with China at Doklam near the India-Bhutan-China tri-junction. On the Western side, there has been a flare-up in tensions along the Line of Control (LoC) with Pakistan. While the India-China stand off began in June 16, the flare up on the LoC has been going on since the terror attack on the Army camp in Uri in September last year.

‘I’m concerned about automation replacing jobs’

  • A Big component of that automation is robotics, another big component is machine learning, deep learning, AI-based type of technologies. We have to ask ourselves, as we get better automation overall, what is going to happen to the society.
  • Here in India, we have these large IT players, those type of coding jobs specially developed towards testing or other things, those jobs may get replaced by automated processes.
  • We need to make it easier for people to start new things and test those ideas, for those ideas to be acquired or combined with other ideas, new things to come about. We should celebrate the entrepreneurial spirit and reward it and challenge those entrepreneurs to always work on societies and most pressing problems.
  • It’s better to play less with the social media data [and] play more with the local data. Have a direct impact on the people in the local community. I think that has a phenomenal opportunity to lift up problems and have a direct impact.
  • How do we make sure that everyone has access to their data and what are the rights and make sure you understand the rights of that data? We also have to remind companies that if they are not holding up to their end of the social bargain, that’s when the regulations come in. And the regulations would come in such a draconian way that I am fearful that it would eliminate a large portion of things that other entrepreneurs wouldn’t be able to tackle.

India needs to be very concerned about the next democratic process around cybersecurity as well as fake news.

Payments bank: for the informal sector

  • There are two kinds of banking licences that are granted by the Reserve Bank of India – universal bank licence and differentiated bank licence. Payments bank comes under a differentiated bank licence
  • A payments bank cannot lend. It can take deposits upto Rs. 1 lakh per account and it can issue debit cards but not credit cards
  • The main objective of payments bank is to further financial inclusion by providing small savings accounts and payments/remittance services to migrant labour workforce, low income households, small businesses and other unorganised sector entities.
  • A payments bank can work as a business correspondent (BC) of another bank. They can also distribute simple financial products like mutual fund units and insurance products.
  • Four payments banks have started operations — Airtel Payments Bank, India Post Payments Bank, Paytm Payments Bank and Fino Payments Bank.
  • RBI has mandated the minimum paid-up equity capital for payments bank at Rs. 100 crore.
  • Apart from maintaining Cash Reserve Ratio (CRR), these entities have to invest a minimum 75% of demand deposit balances in Statutory Liquidity Ratio (SLR)-eligible government securities or treasury bills with maturity of up to one year and hold a maximum of 25% in current and time/fixed deposits with other commercial banks for operational purposes and liquidity management.
  • RBI permits non-bank Prepaid Payment Instrument (PPI) issuers, individuals and professionals, non-banking finance companies (NBFCs), corporate business correspondents (BCs), mobile telephone companies, super market chains, companies, real sector cooperatives that are owned and controlled by residents and public sector entities to apply for a payments bank licence. Setting up of a joint venture by a promoter with an existing commercial bank is also allowed.