AFA DAILY CURRENT AFFAIRS ANALYSIS- 14/01/2019


PRELIMS


Panel pulls up govt. for diverting coal cess:

  • The 42nd standing committee on energy in its report on stressed gas-based power plants tabled in Parliament earlier this month has pulled up the government for diverting coal cess to compensate States for revenue loss post-GST, and recommended financial support to the stressed gas-based power projects in the country from National Clean Energy Fund (NCEF).
  • The NCEF was created out of cess on coal at Rs. 400 per tonne to provide financial support to clean energy initiatives and an Inter Ministerial Group chaired by the Finance Secretary was constituted to approve the project/schemes eligible for financing under NCEF.
  • The Committee feels that the fund should be used for its intended purpose i.e. to support clean energy initiatives and it should not be diverted to compensate GST losses.
  • Diversion of this fund to unrelated activities reflects poorly on our commitment towards cleaner environment and shows government’s apathy towards clean energy projects. Since it is levied on coal as that is a polluting fuel, the amount collected should be used to promote cleaner fuel.

‘Stranded’ capacity:

  • Out of India’s total installed capacity of about 345 GW of power, gas-based capacity is about 25 GW or 7.2% of the total. However, its share in terms of generation is only 3.8% as 14,305.30 MW of gas-based capacity is stranded due to non availability of domestic gas and unaffordability of imported gas. The consequence is that a large amount of assets in this sector have turned ‘non-performing’ or ‘unproductive’.
  • Time has now come to understand the real benefits of gas-based projects which can be used as peak-based plants as also for ancillary services. As demand for energy is picking up due to government’s efforts in electrifying all households, revival of gas-based plants will help provide clean energy.

Ordinance on companies law re-issued:

  • The government has re-promulgated an ordinance to amend the companies law to further improve the ease of doing business as well as ensure better compliance levels.
  • Since the Bill to make amendments to the Companies Act, 2013, is pending in the Rajya Sabha, the ordinance has been re-promulgated.
  • The Lok Sabha passed the Bill on January 4. The Companies (Amendment) Ordinance, 2019, was issued on Saturday, according to the official gazette.

Consequence:

  •  On Thursday, the Cabinet cleared the proposal to re-issue the ordinance.
  • To amend the Companies Act, the government had first issued the ordinance in November and the same would have ceased to be operational from January 21.
  • The amendments would help reduce the burden on special courts and bring down applicable penalties for small companies, among others.

Muted Bhogali Bihu fete in Assam:

Many in the State are going on a fast in protest against Citizenship Bill
  • A contentious Bill to legitimise the stay of non-Muslim migrants from India’s neighbourhood has made many in Assam decide to break an age-old tradition — by fasting during an agrarian festival of feasting.
  • Large swathes of Assam have been witnessing protests since the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, 2016 was passed by the Lok Sabha on January 8.
  • The anger is believed to have diminished the intensity with which the mid-January Magh Bihu or Bhogali Bihu is celebrated.

India for Afghan-led peace talks:

Swaraj’s statement goes against Army chief’s suggestion for talks with Taliban
  •  “India supports the efforts of the government and the people of Afghanistan to build an inclusive nation, supports the people and the Government of Afghanistan in their efforts to build a united, sovereign, democratic, peaceful, stable, prosperous and inclusive nation. India supports all efforts for peace and reconciliation in Afghanistan which are inclusive and Afghan-led, Afghan-owned and Afghan-controlled India”,External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj said.
  • The statement indicated India’s support for a peace process that will help end the war that has haunted the country for decades.
  • “The violence and terror imposed on Afghan people should end. It should strengthen unity, sovereignty and territorial integrity of the country,” – said India.
  • The ministerial statement indicates India’s unchanged position regarding peace building in Afghanistan.

Land link:

A joint statement issued after the Samarkand meeting highlighted the opportunities that the collaborative platform would provide for the people of Afghanistan and asked for Kabul’s participation. The regional Ministers described Afghanistan as a “land link” in the region that will help in connectivity among the nations.


Govt. re-promulgates triple talaq ordinance:

Bill on earlier ordinance pending in RS
  • Under the Muslim Women (Protection of Rights on Marriage) Ordinance, 2019, issued on Saturday, divorcing through instant triple talaq will be illegal, void and would attract a jail term of three years for the husband.
  • A Bill to convert the earlier ordinance, issued in September, 2018, was cleared by the Lok Sabha in December and was pending in the Rajya Sabha. Since the Bill could not get the Parliamentary approval, the fresh ordinance was issued.
  • The Union Cabinet had last week approved re-issuance of the ordinance.
  • Seeking to allay fears that the proposed law could be misused, the government has included certain safeguards, such as adding a provision of bail for the accused before trial.
  • These amendments were cleared by the Cabinet on August 29, 2018. While the ordinance makes instant triple talaq a “non-bailable” offence, an accused can approach a magistrate even before trial to seek bail.

India to grow crops for UAE, Saudi Arabia:

  • The UAE and Saudi Arabia will use India as a base in addressing their social security concerns. For the first time, India’s export policy identifies the potential of agriculture along with horticulture, dairy, plantation and fisheries .
  • The farm-to-port project will be similar to a special economic zone but in the style of a corporatised farm, where crops would be grown keeping a specific UAE market in mind. The concept has been accepted by both governments.

At mini 2+2, India, U.S. review progress on pacts:

  • Click to enlarge

    India and the U.S. reviewed the progress on finalising two key agreements during the 2+2 intercession meeting last week, apart from taking stock of the overall defence cooperation. The agreements are the Industrial Security Annex (ISA) and the Basic Exchange and Cooperation Agreement for Geo-spatial Cooperation (BECA), a foundational agreement.
  • This was to follow up on the 2+2 dialogue and to keep the official-level dialogue going. The two sides reviewed the decisions taken at 2+2 and also exchanged notes on developments in the Indo-Pacific region, broadly the countries of interest. Also, the bilateral defence cooperation was reviewed, especially the greater Maritime Domain Awareness (MDA) and the first tri-service exercise which will take place later this year.
  • The third foundational agreement, Communications Compatibility and Security Agreement, was signed on the sidelines. As the next step in furthering defence cooperation, negotiations are on to conclude the ISA and BECA.

Know This:

  • The ISA is particularly essential as the Indian industry looks for a greater role in defence manufacturing. It allows sharing of classified information from the U.S. government and American companies with the Indian private sector, which is so far limited to the Indian government and the defence public sector undertakings.

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