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Rs. 2.11 lakh crore for PSU banks to boost lending

In News:

  • The Centre on Tuesday unveiled an ambitious plan to infuse Rs. 2.11 lakh crore capital over the next two years into public sector banks.
  • The move is vital for the slowing economy, as private investments remain elusive in the face of the “twin-balance sheet problem” afflicting corporate India and public sector banks reflected in slow bank credit growth.
  • The funding pattern would be front-loaded.
  • This would be funded through budgetary provisions and the sale of recapitalisation bonds worth Rs. 1.35 lakh crore. The balance would be raised by the banks themselves by diluting the government’s equity share.

 

Background:

 

  • The PSB’ has been saddled with high, non-performing assets and facing the prospect of having to take haircuts on loans stuck in insolvency proceedings.
  • Indiscriminate lending earlier by banks led to a high level of NPAs (non performing assets).
  • The capitalisation of  PSBs in a front-loaded manner,will support credit growth and job creation.
  • Front loaded funding:  A front-end load is a commission or sales charge applied at the time of the initial purchase for an investment, usually with mutual funds and insurance policy purchases. It is deducted from the investment amount and, as a result, lowers the size of the investment.

 

Cabinet approves Rs7 trillion road construction plan, including Bharatmala

 

In News:

  • Cabinet on Tuesday announced an outlay of Rs 6.92 trillion for building an 83,677 km road network over the next five years.
  • The largest ever outlay for road construction comes in the backdrop of the implementation of  the goods and services tax (GST) which aims to create a common market by dismantling inter-state tariff barriers.
  • The road construction push includes the Bharatmala Pariyojana. In addition, Rs1.57 trillion will be spent on the construction of 48,877km of roads by the state-run National Highway Authority of India (NHAI) and the ministry of road transport and highways.
  • To expedite the Bharatmala projects, NHAI and National Highways and Infrastructure Development Corporation Ltd (NHIDCL)—even respective state public works departments (PWDs) will also be roped in for timely execution.
  • The other projects under the marquee scheme include roads providing international connectivity, border roads, roads connecting economically important nodes, green field expressways.
  • With the implementation of this programme, India could get the much needed cost competitiveness in the manufacturing sector by bringing down the logistics cost which is currently one of the highest among the emerging markets and way above that prevalent in developed economies.

 

Background:

  • Bharatmala project: The ambitious umbrella programme for roads, Bharatmala, subsumed all existing highway projects including the flagship National Highways Development Project (NHDP).
  • Bharatmala will prepare a strong base for infrastructure development, enabling a person to travel across the country on a single road.
  • The government is working on raising capital by monetizing the operational road assets of NHAI that have been built by public funding.

 

Jaitley says economy is fine

 

In News:

  • The Finance Ministry on Tuesday defended the state of the economy with Finance Minister Arun Jaitley saying it was on strong macroeconomic fundamentals,
  • All indicators — IIP [Index of Industrial Production], core sector, automobile, consumer spending, etc. — pointing out a strong growth pick-up.
  • India grew at a very strong pace of 7.5% per year in the three years of 2014-17 with growth exceeding 8% in 2015-16.
  • The inflation numbers have come down from 2014 onwards.

Muddle over nod for GM mustard

 

In News:

  • In May, the Genetic Engineering Appraisal Committee (GEAC) cleared the controversial transgenic mustard, DMH-11, for commercial cultivation.
  • The records of that meeting, which was now made public, do not record any such approval.

 

Background:

 

GM MUSTARD:

 

  • A system of genes from soil bacterium that makes mustard have been used by the scientists. This is generally a self pollinating plant and is better suited to hybridization than current methods.
  • India’s dependence on edible oil imports makes it necessary to harness GM-mustard. About $12 billion is spent by India annually on import of edible oil.
  • As the population will increase, India will have to increase its productivity of oilseed crops.
  • DMH-11 is claimed to be one of the promising technologies to improve mustard yield in India, which has been almost stagnant since the last two decades.
  • The main reason for its objection is the use of GM technology for hybridisation involving use of alien genes.

 

Doctors’ participation in executions violates medical ethics: IMA

 

In News:

  • The participation of doctors in State executions — a hotly debated ethics issue across the world — has now been taken up by the Indian Medical Association (IMA).
  • The national body of over three lakh doctors has written to the Medical Council of India (MCI) requesting that a guideline be introduced, stating that physicians’ participation in execution is “unethical.”
  • In India, doctors are required to monitor vital signs during hanging and look for signs of life and then pronounce death.
  • Opposing the participation of doctors, the WMA came out with a “Resolution on Physician Participation in Capital Punishment” in 1981 and amended it in 2008.
  • The recently amended WMA Declaration of Geneva ‘The Physician’s Pledge’ adopted by the WMA general assembly has again reaffirmed this.

 

“There is no difference between a prisoner or a common patient and our participation in executions is against the core tenets of medical ethics of “do no harm” (non-maleficence) and “do good” (beneficence).”

 

Organic near-IR filter developed

 

In News:

  • An organic filter that allows only near-infrared (NIR) light to pass through has been developed by scientists at the CSIR-National Institute for Interdisciplinary Science and Technology (CSIR-NIIST).
  • The filter can be used for night vision glasses, night photography, and will have applications in security and forensics such as identifying blood stains on a dark fabric.
  • The filter was prepared by mixing a black dye (diketopyrrolopyrrole or DPP) having an amide group that helps the molecules to be in close contact with each other and interact leading to changes in their optical properties.
  • The organogel-based filter has the ability to absorb both ultraviolet and visible light while allowing the near-infrared light alone to pass through.
  • Dried blood stains on a black cloth that remained invisible to naked eyes became clearly visible and detectable when viewed through a camera with the NIR filter.
  • Another potential application of the new material is in the design of hidden security codes on documents which can be viewed only through a NIR-readable camera.
  • Only very little of the organogel has to be added to the polymer to make the filter.