PIB – December 26 , 2019


General Studies-III

Topic- Bilateral, regional and global groupings and agreements involving India and/or affecting India’s interests.

India and Saudi Arabia Relations

Context

The Union Cabinet, chaired by the Prime Minister has given ex-post facto approval on an Agreement on Security Cooperation between the Government of the Republic of India and the Government of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.

About

  • Cabinet approves Post Facto the Agreement on establishment of Strategic Partnership Council between India and Saudi Arabia.
  • The Agreement will enable the leadership at the highest-level in both countries to meet regularly and monitor progress in the ongoing initiatives/projects under the strategic partnership.

Objectives

  • The agreement aims to benefit the citizens with improved economic and commercial linkages with Saudi Arabia irrespective of any gender, class or income bias.
  • It will open new avenues of partnership in strategic areas like defence, security counter-terrorism, energy security and renewable energy.
  • It will help identify new areas for forging strategic engagement and will define the goals to be achieved and benefits to be derived.

India-Saudi Strategic Partnership Council

  • India-Saudi Strategic Partnership Council was formed to coordinate on strategically important issues. The council will be headed by the Prime Minister and Crown Prince Mohammed and will meet every two years.
  • India is the fourth country with which Saudi Arabia has formed such a strategic partnership, after the UK, France and China.
  • India also cleared an MoU that will help Hajj pilgrims to travel comfortably in Saudi Arabia during the pilgrimage seasons.
  • 12 Memorandum of Understandings (MoUs) on issues related to defence industries, security, air services, renewable energy, medicine products regulation, prevention of narcotics trafficking, and the use of RuPay cards in Saudi Arabia.

Economic Co-operations

  • Saudi Arabia’s annual investment forum, also known as ‘Davos in the Desert’.
  • This name was given in World Economic Forum’s annual meeting that is held in Davos, Switzerland.
  • The Saudi Arabia is India’s fourth largest trading partner, and India is the fourth largest market for Saudi exports.
  • Bilateral trade is in the region of $28 billion, most of it crude oil exports to India, which imports around 19% of its oil requirements from Saudi Arabia.
  • The Saudi Arabian oil major ‘Aramco’ and a partner UAE company had decided to invest half in a planned $ 44 bn in a refinery-cum-petrochemical project in Maharashtra.

Energy Co- operations

  • Saudi Arabia is keen to play a role in the creation of strategic petroleum reserves at Padur in Karnataka.
  • A study is being conducted for the setting up of the world’s largest greenfield refinery at Raigarh in Maharashtra by Saudi Aramco, Adnoc of the United Arab Emirates and Indian public sector oil companies.
  • The Prime Minister of India also invited Saudi companies to invest in India’s energy sector as India has set a target of $100 billion investment in the sector by 2024.

Defence Co-operations

  • India and Saudi Arabia condemned terrorism in all forms and stated that no particular religion, race or culture should be linked with international terrorism.
  • Earlier, the Saudi Arabia-India relationship had always been shadowed by the Kingdom’s close ties with Pakistan.
  • That has changed and the Kingdom has demonstrated geopolitical diversification in its relations with South Asia.
  • The rise of jihadist extremism, the gradual decline of American power, and the rise of China have brought about transformational changes in India’s engagements with the Gulf region.
  • The Delhi Declaration- signed between India and Saudi Arabia during King Abdullah‘s visit to India in 2006 stressed that terrorism was a scourge that “the governments would closely and actively cooperate” to fight against.
  • The Riyadh Declaration- signed in 2010 during then Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s visit to Saudi Arabia emphasized cooperation on information exchange on terrorism.
  • Enhanced security cooperation has added a new dimension in the bilateral ties between New Delhi and Riyadh.
  • India-Saudi Strategic Partnership Council was formed to coordinate on strategically important issues.
  • The council will be headed by the Prime Minister and Crown Prince Mohammed and will meet every two years.

Significance

  • The 2.6 million-strong Indian community is living in Saudi Arabi
  • It is the largest expatriate community in the Kingdom and is the ‘most preferred community’ due to their expertise, sense of discipline, law-abiding and peace-loving nature.
  • Haj pilgrimage is another important component of bilateral relations.
  • Saudi Arabia is a strategic partner of India since the signing of the Riyadh Declaration in 2010.
  • It is currently India’s second-largest supplier of crude oil – providing about 18 % of its energy needs.
  • It also has a major role in India’s Strategic Petroleum Reserves (SPRs).

General Studies-III

Topic- Indian Economy and issues relating to planning, mobilization, of resources, growth, development and employment.

The Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code (Amendment) Bill, 2019

Context

Cabinet approves Promulgation of the Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code (Amendment) Ordinance, 2019.

About

  • The Union Cabinet chaired by the Prime Minister approved a proposal to promulgate an Ordinance and to amend the Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code, 2016.
  • The Amendment will remove certain ambiguities in the Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code, 2016 and ensure smooth implementation of the Code.

About the The IBC (Amendment) Bill, 2019

  • The Bill amends the Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code, 2016.
  • The Code provides a time-bound process for resolving insolvency in companies and among individuals.
  • Insolvency is a situation where individuals or companies are unable to repay their outstanding debt.
  • The Bill addresses three issues
  • First– it strengthens provisions related to time-limits.
  • Second– it specifies the minimum payouts to operational creditors in any resolution plan.
  • Third– it specifies the manner in which the representative of a group of financial creditors (such as home-buyers) should vote.
  • Resolution plan– The Code provides that the resolution plan must ensure that the operational creditors receive an amount which should not be lesser than the amount they would receive in case of liquidation.
  • Time-limit for resolution process– The Code states that the insolvency resolution process must be completed within 180 days, extendable by a period of up to 90 days.
  • The Bill adds that the resolution process must be completed within 330 days.
  • On the enactment of the Bill, if any case is pending for over 330 days, the Bill states it must be resolved within 90 days.
  • Representative of financial creditors– The Code specifies that, in certain cases, such as when the debt is owed to a class of creditors beyond a specified number, the financial creditors will be represented on the committee of creditors by an authorised representative.
  • These representatives will vote on behalf of the financial creditors as per instructions received from them.

Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code, 2016

  • Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code, 2016 is considered as one of the biggest insolvency reforms in the economic history of India.
  • This was enacted for reorganization and insolvency resolution of corporate persons, partnership firms and individuals in a time bound manner for maximization of the value of assets of such persons.
  • The Code also consolidates provisions of the current legislative framework to form a common forum for debtors and creditors of all classes to resolve insolvency.

Key features of the Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code

  • The Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code 2016 is a comprehensive law and covers all individuals, companies, Limited Liability Partnerships (LLPs) and partnership firms.
  • The adjudicating authority is National Company Law Tribunal (NCLT) for companies.
  • LLPs and Debt Recovery Tribunal (DRT) are the adjudicating authority for individuals and partnership firms.
  • The insolvency resolution process can be initiated by any of the stakeholders, i.e. firm/ debtors/ creditors/ employees.
  • The code aims to resolve insolvencies in a strict time-bound manner – the evaluation and viability determination must be completed within 180 days.
  • Moratorium period of 180 days (extendable up to 270 days) for the Company.
  • For start-ups and small companies the resolution time period is 90 days which can be extended by 45 days.
  • Introduce a qualified insolvency professional (IP) as intermediaries to oversee the Process.

About Insolvency and Bankruptcy Board of India (IBBI)

  • The Insolvency and Bankruptcy Board of India (IBBI) was established under the Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code, 2016 (Code).
  • IBBI is the regulator for overseeing insolvency proceedings and entities like Insolvency Professional Agencies (IPA), Insolvency Professionals (IP) and Information Utilities (IU) in India.
  • The new code will speed up the resolution process for stressed assets in the country.
  • It attempts to simplify the process of insolvency and bankruptcy proceedings.
  • It handles the cases using two tribunals like NCLT (National company law tribunal) and Debt recovery tribunal.
  • It functions under Ministry of Commerce.
  • It covers Individuals, Companies, Limited Liability Partnerships and Partnership firms.

General Studies- II

Topic- Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors and issues arising out of their design and implementation.

Atal Bhujal Yojana

Context

The Union Cabinet chaired by the Prime Minister has given its approval for the implementation of the Atal Bhujal Yojana (ATAL JAL).

About

  • Atal Bhujal Yojana (ATAL JAL), is a Central Sector Scheme with a total outlay of Rs.6000 cror
  • It has to be implemented over a period of 5 years (2020-21 to 2024-25).
  • The scheme envisages undertaking this through various interventions, including awareness programmes, capacity building, convergence of ongoing/new schemes and improved agricultural practices etc.

Objective

  • The scheme aims to improve ground water management through community participation in identified priority areas in seven States.
  • These States are-
  • Gujarat, Haryana, Karnataka, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Rajasthan and Uttar Pradesh.
  • ATAL JAL will promote panchayat led ground water management and behavioural change with primary focus on demand side management.
  • ATAL JAL has been designed with the principal objective of strengthening the institutional framework for participatory ground water management and bringing about behavioral changes at the community level for sustainable ground water resource management.

Funds

  • Out of the total outlay of Rs. 6000 crore, 50% shall be in the form of World Bank loan, and be repaid by the Central Government.
  • The remaining 50% shall be through Central Assistance from regular budgetary support.
  • The entire World Bank’s loan component and Central Assistance shall be passed on to the States as Grants.

Components of Atal Jal Scheme

ATAL JAL has two major components-

  1. Institutional Strengthening and Capacity Building Component

For strengthening institutional arrangements for sustainable ground water management in the States including improving monitoring networks, capacity building, strengthening of Water User Associations, etc.

  1. Incentive Component for incentivising the States

For achievements in improved groundwater management practices namely, data dissemination, preparation of water security plans, implementation of management interventions through convergence of ongoing schemes, adopting demand side management practices etc.

Impact of the Scheme

  • Source sustainability for Jal Jeevan Mission in the project area with active participation of local communities.
  • Will contribute towards the goal of doubling the farmers’ income.
  • Will promote participatory ground water management.
  • Improved water use efficiency on a mass scale and improved cropping pattern;
  • Promotion of efficient and equitable use of ground water resources and behavioural change at the community level;

Expected Outcomes of ATAL JAL

  • Institutional strengthening for improving ground water monitoring networks and capacity building of stakeholders at different levels which will enhance ground water data storage, exchange, analysis and dissemination.
  • Improved and realistic water budgeting based on an improved database and preparation of community-led Water Security Plans at Panchayat level
  • Implementation of Water Security Plans through convergence of various ongoing/new schemes of the Government of India and State Governments to facilitate judicious and effective utilization of funds for sustainable ground water management.
  • Efficient use of available ground water resources with emphasis on demand side measures such as micro-irrigation, crop diversification, electricity feeder separation etc.

Background

  • Ground water contributes to nearly 65% of total irrigated area of the country and nearly 85% of the rural drinking water supply.
  • The limited ground water resources in the country are under threat due to the increasing demands of growing population, urbanization and industrialization.
  • Intensive, and unregulated ground water pumping in many areas has caused rapid and widespread decline in ground water levels as well as reduction in the sustainability of ground water abstraction structures.
  • The problem of reduction in ground water availability is further compounded by deteriorating ground water quality in some parts of the country.
  • The increasing stress on ground water due to over- exploitation, contamination and associated environmental impacts threaten to endanger the food security of the nation, unless necessary preventive / remedial measures are taken on priority.