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Insights Daily Current Events, 30 December 2014

Insights Daily Current Events, 30 December 2014

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Department Renamed

The Department of Disability Affairs (Nishaktata Karya Vibhag) under the Ministry of Social Justice & Empowerment has been renamed as Department of Empowerment of Persons with Disabilities (Viklangjan Sashaktikaran Vibhag).

  • It was carved out as separate department and christened the Department of Disability Affairs in 2012 to act as the nodal agency for matters pertaining to disabilities.
  • Seven national institutes including institutes for the differently-abled, visually challenged, mentally challenged, and empowerment of persons with multiple disabilities are functioning under this Department.

Census data on disabled persons:

  • Census 2001 has revealed that over 21 million people in India are suffering from one or the other kind of disability. This is equivalent to 1 per cent of the population.
  • Among the total disabled in the country, 6 million are males and 9.3 million are females.
  • The number of disabled is more in rural and urban areas. Such proportion has been reported between 57-58 % for males and 42-43 % females.
  • The disability rate (number of disabled per 100,000 populations) for the country as whole works out to 2130. This is 2,369in the case of males and 1,874 in the case of females.
  • Among the five types of disabilities on which data has been collected, disability in seeing at 48.5 persons emerges as the top category. Others in sequence are: In movement (27.9 per cent), Mental (10.3 per cent), in speech (7.5 per cent), and in hearing (5.8 per cent).
  • Across the country, the highest number of disabled has been reported from the state of Uttar Pradesh (3.6 million). Significant numbers of disabled have also been reported from the state like Bihar (1.9 million), West Bengal (1.8million), Tamil Nadu and Maharashtra (1.6 million each).
  • Tamil Nadu is the only state, which has a higher number of disabled females than males.
  • Among the states, Arunachal Pradesh has the highest proportion of disabled males (66.6 per cent) and lowest proportion of female disabled.

Sources: PIB, BS.

Nod for ordinance to amend Land Act

The Union Cabinet, chaired by the Prime Minister, has approved certain amendments in the Right to Fair Compensation and Transparency in Land Acquisition, Rehabilitation and Resettlement Act, 2013.

Why?

  • Many difficulties are being faced in the effective implementation of the Act. In order to remove them, these amendments have been made in the Act.
  • States, Ministries and stakeholders had been reporting many difficulties in the implementation of this Act.
  • The existing Act has kept 13 most frequently used Acts for Land Acquisition for the Central Government Projects out of the purview. These acts are applicable for national highways, metro rail, atomic energy projects, electricity related other projects etc. Thus a large percentage of famers and affected families were denied the compensation and R&R measures prescribed under the Act.

Objectives of the Amendments:

  • The amendments strengthen the provisions to protect the interests of the ‘affected families’. In addition, procedural difficulties in the acquisition of lands required for important national projects required to be mitigated.
  • Proposed amendments meet the objectives of farmer welfare; along with expeditiously meeting the strategic and developmental needs of the country.
  • They aim to speed up developmental and security related projects without compromising on the benefits/compensation to be given to the farmers.
  • The amendment benefits the farmers and the affected families.

New amendments:

  • Section 105 of the existing Act has been amended to include 13 statutes previously exempted from the rigours of payment of compensation. These Acts were listed in the Fourth Schedule of the existing Act.
  • The 13 statutes are Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Sites and Remains Act 1958, Atomic Energy Act 1962, Damodar Valley Corporation Act 1948, Indian Tramways Act 1886, Land Acquisition Act 1885, Metro Railways (Construction of Works) Act 1978, National Highways Act 1956, Petroleum and Minerals Pipelines Act 1962, Requisitioning and Acquisition of Immovable Property Act, 1948, Coal Bearing Areas Acquisition and Development Act 1957, Electricity Act 2003 and Railways Act 1989.
  • The new amendments allow a fast track process for defence and defence production, rural infrastructure including electrification, housing for poor including affordable housing, industrial corridors and infrastructure projects including projects taken up under Public Private Partnership mode where ownership of the land continues to be vested with the government.

2013 Act:

This Act provides for land acquisition as well as rehabilitation and resettlement.  It replaces the Land Acquisition Act, 1894.

  • The 2013 Act was the government’s answer to forced acquisitions, the previous law’s silence on rehabilitation and re-settlement of displaced persons, low rates of compensation and the ‘urgency clause’ — which allowed complete dispossession without prior notice to affected families — under the Colonial 1894 land acquisition law.
  • Under the 2013 Act, compensations were hiked up to four times and twice the market value in rural areas and urban areas, respectively.
  • The 2013 law had also required consent from 70% of the affected land owners in case of their lands being acquired for a public private partnership (PPP) project. If the acquisition was meant for private companies, consent from 80% of the affected owners was required.
  • The provision also mandated a Social Impact Assessment survey to be held along with the process of getting the families’ consent.
  • The Act said its objective was to transform the process of land acquisition into a “humane, participative, informed and transparent” process.

Sources: prsindia.org, PIB, The Hindu.

Banks vulnerable to financial contagion: Reserve Bank

The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) in its Financial Stability Report has warned markets against “accumulation of vulnerabilities” and “sudden and sharp overshooting in markets”, as the weak global outlook may prolong easy money stance in most advanced economies (AEs).

Other observations made by the Report:

  • Against the backdrop of low interest rates in advanced economies, portfolio flows to emerging market and developing economies have been robust, increasing the risk of reversals on possible adverse growth or financial market shocks, thus necessitating greater alertness. As of now, financial risk taking had not translated into commensurate economic risk taking.
  • On the domestic front, macro-economic vulnerabilities had abated significantly in recent months on the back of improvement in growth outlook, fall in inflation, recovery in the external sector and political stability.
  • Growth in the banking business and activity in primary capital markets have remained subdued due to moderate investment intentions. Sustaining the turnaround in business sentiment remains contingent on outcomes on the ground.
  • The growth of the Indian banking sector moderated further during 2013-14. Profitability declined on account of higher provisioning on banks’ delinquent loans and lacklustre credit growth.
  • The financial health of urban and rural co-operatives indicated divergent trends in terms of key indicators. While urban co-operative banks exhibited improved performance, the performance of primary agriculture credit societies and long term rural credit co-operatives remained a matter of concern with a further increase in their losses coupled with deterioration in asset quality.
  • While the asset size of the non-banking financial companies showed an expansion, asset quality deteriorated further during the period of review.
  • The asset quality of scheduled commercial banks may worsen from the current level if the macro-economic conditions deteriorate drastically, and banks are likely to fall short in terms of having sufficient provisions to meet expected losses under adverse macro-economic risk scenarios.
  • The banking sector, particularly the public sector banks, would require substantial capital to meet regulatory requirements with respect to additional capital buffers.
  • With the increased regulatory focus on segregating the cases of wilful defaults and ensuring the equity participation of promoters in the losses leading to defaults, there is a need for greater transparency in the process of carrying out a net economic value impact assessment of large Corporate Debt Restructuring (CDR) cases.

Sources: The Hindu, RBI.