Insights Daily Current Events, 30 January 2015
New Sangeet Natak Akademi chairman
Eminent singer and theatre director Shekhar Sen has been appointed the new chairman of the Sangeet Natak Akademi, the country’s premier institution for performing arts.
- Mr. Sen was awarded the Padma Shri on Republic Day.
- Mr. Sen has been appointed for a five-year term with immediate effect.
About the academy:
The Sangeet Natak Akademi – India’s national academy for music, dance and drama – is the first National Academy of the arts set-up by the Republic of India. It was created by a resolution of Government of India.
- It was set up in 1952.
- The academy functions as the apex body of the performing arts in the country to preserve and promote the vast cultural heritage of India expressed in music, dance and drama.
- It also works with governments and art academies in states and territories of the country.
- The academy Renders advice and assistance to the government of India in the task of formulating and implementing policies and programmes in the field. It carries a part of the responsibilities of the state for fostering cultural contacts between regions in the country, as well as between India and the world.
- The Akademi Awards are the highest national recognition conferred on eminent artistes.
- Each year the Academy awards Sangeet Natak Akademi Fellowships, Ratna Sadsya, to distinguished individuals for their contribution to the field of arts, music, dance and theatre.
- Ustad Bismillah Khan award is given to young artists for their talent in the fields of music, dance and drama.
Sources: The Hindu, sangeetnatak.gov.in.
Banks free to decide NPA norms
The Supreme Court has upheld a 2004 amendment enabling banks to follow different guidelines for declaring bad loans as non-performing assets.
- The SC also noted that quick recovery of bad loans was essential to keep the financial health of the country intact.
The amendment to Section 2, defines non-performing assets (NPA) under the Securitisation and Re-constitution of Financial Assets and Enforcement of Security Interests (SARFAESI) Act, 2002. The Act allowed a secured creditor bank to determine a bad debt as NPA and proceed to seize and sell the assets to recover the amount due to it as loan.
The court was deciding a batch of petitions filed by borrowers, contending that the amendment discriminated against between two classes of borrowers. Especially, when RBI guidelines gave only 60 days before a bad debt can be declared an NPA, while individual regulators were allowed up to 180 days to lapse before the secured loan is declared an NPA.
The 2004 amendment classified borrowers into two categories. One, those who got secured loans from institutions which followed RBI guidelines framed on the declaration of NPAs. Two, those who borrowed from institutions governed by guidelines set by their own regulators.
This act allows banks and financial institutions to auction properties (residential and commercial) when borrowers fail to repay their loans. It enables banks to reduce their non-performing assets (NPAs) by adopting measures for recovery or reconstruction.
- Upon loan default, banks can seize the securities (except agricultural land) without intervention of the court.
- SARFAESI is effective only for secured loans where bank can enforce the underlying security. In such cases, court intervention is not necessary, unless the security is invalid or fraudulent. However, if the asset in question is an unsecured asset, the bank would have to move the court to file civil case against the defaulters.
- The SARFAESI Act also provides for the establishment of Asset Reconstruction Companies (ARCs) regulated by RBI to acquire assets from banks and financial institutions.
- The Act provides for sale of financial assets by banks and financial institutions to asset reconstruction companies (ARCs). RBI has issued guidelines to banks on the process to be followed for sales of financial assets to ARCs.
The Act provides three alternative methods for recovery of non-performing assets, namely: –
- Asset Reconstruction
- Enforcement of Security without the intervention of the Court
The provisions of this Act are applicable only for NPA loans with outstanding above Rs. 1lac. NPA loan accounts where the amount is less than 20% of the principal and interest are not eligible to be dealt with under this Act.
The Act empowers the Bank:
- To issue demand notice to the defaulting borrower and guarantor, calling upon them to discharge their dues in full within 60 days from the date of the notice.
- To give notice to any person who has acquired any of the secured assets from the borrower to surrender the same to the Bank.
- To ask any debtor of the borrower to pay any sum due or becoming due to the borrower.
- Any Security Interest created over Agricultural Land cannot be proceeded with.
If the borrower fails to comply with the notice, the Bank may take recourse to one or more of the following measures:
- Take possession of the security
- Sale or lease or assign the right over the security
- Manage the same or appoint any person to manage the same
Sources: The Hindu, RBI.
Sharp rise in heat waves in urban areas
A team of scientists from India and the U.S, which examined data from 217 urban areas across the globe, found that prolonged periods of high temperature had increased significantly between 1973 and 2012.
- The largest number of heat waves had occurred in the most recent decade.
- Over the last 40 years, the world’s cities and towns have seen a sharp rise in heat waves they experience while cold snaps have become more infrequent.
- Extremely hot days had become significantly more frequent in almost half of the surveyed urban areas. Two-thirds of them had to endure more extremely hot nights.
Reasons for such change:
- Urban areas were affected by the warming occurring as a result of climate change as well as the ‘urban heat island’ effect whereby built-up places trapped heat more than surrounding rural areas.
- High levels of fine particles in the atmosphere (known as aerosols), which reduce the amount of sunlight reaching the ground, may be partly responsible for a slower rate of warming over this country.
Over half of the world’s population already lives in urban agglomerations, which are centres of wealth and infrastructure as well. It is therefore important to understand how such places would be affected by a changing climate and climatic extremes.
Sources: The Hindu.
Evolution of Kuchipudi
Kuchipudi ballet titled ‘Siva Dhrumamu’ which denotes Lord Nataraja’s ankle bell was staged in an event held recently in Kerala.
Kuchipudi is one of the classical dance forms of the South India. Kuchipudi derives its name from the Kuchipudi village of Andhra Pradesh.
- Kuchipudi exhibits scenes from the Hindu Epics, legends and mythological tales through a combination of music, dance and acting.
- Like other classical dances, Kuchipudi also comprises pure dance, mime and histrionics but it is the use of speech that distinguishes Kuchipudi’s presentation as dance drama.
- In its early form, the female roles were played by boys and young men of beautiful looks. The director (called Sutradhar) played the most important role. He combined the role of conductor, dancer, singer, musician, comedian, all in one. In modern times the Kuchipudi dance is considerably different than it originally used to be. Most of the performances are solo, done by female dancers.
- In 17th century Kuchipudi style of Yakshagaana was conceived by Siddhendra Yogi a Vaishnava poet and visionary who had the capacity to give concrete shape to some of his visions. He was steeped in the literary Yakshagaana tradition being guided by his guru Teerthanaaraayana Yogi who composed the Krishna-Leelatarangini in Sanskrit.
- It was Lakshminarayan Shastry (1886-1956) who introduced many new elements including solo dancing and training of female dancers in this dance style.
Kuchipudi has many features that are common to other classical dances of India.
- Kuchipudi carries the sensuousness and fluidity of Odissi with the geometric line of today’s Bharata Natyam.
- As in all other classical dance forms of India, the Kuchipudi dance is both interpretive and lyrical, making use of abstract dance sequences as well.
- Kuchipudi dance retains its devotional character with stress on dramatic outlook.
It is because of these qualities and features Kuchipudi dance enjoys great popularity and is recognized as one of the leading classical dance styles of India.
The music that accompanies the dance is according to the classical school of Carnatic music and is delightfully syncopatic. The accompanying musicians, besides the vocalist are: a mridangam player to provide percussion music, a violin or veena player or both for providing instrumental melodic music, and a cymbal player who usually conducts the orchestra.
Sources: The Hindu, ccrtindia.gov.in.
FCI revamp panel’s ideas will boost India’s rating: Moody’s
Moody’s Investors Service has said India’s sovereign rating might get a boost if the government implemented a high-powered panel’s recommendations on reforming the Food Corporation of India (FCI) and restructuring the food security law, as that would reduce inflationary pressures and fiscal deficit.
About the Panel:
The high level panel was set up by the Government on 20th August, 2014 under the chairmanship of Shanta Kumar. The major issue before the Committee was how to make the entire food grain management system more efficient by reorienting the role of FCI in MSP operations, procurement, storage and distribution of grains under Targeted Public Distribution System (TPDS).
Major recommendations made by the Committee:
- The committee has suggested cuts in the number of TPDS beneficiaries, outsourcing of foodgrain storage, an open-ended procurement system and entry of private players into bulk handling of food grains.
- It has recommended that the government “re-visit” the UPA’s National Food Security Act as well as the regime for minimum support price to farmers for the foodgrain procured from them for the Targeted Public Distribution System.
- It has suggested that TPDS beneficiaries be reduced to 40 per cent from the current 67 per cent and the rationed grains be priced at 50 per cent of the minimum support price paid to farmers.
- Each beneficiary should be given 7 kg of grain instead of 5 kg under the Act, and cash transfers be introduced in a phased manner. It is estimated that this will reduce the foodgrain requirement under TPDS from 61.4 million tonnes to about 40 million tonnes.
- The panel wants the FCI to hand over the procurement of wheat, paddy and rice to growing States such as Punjab, Haryana, Andhra Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Madhya Pradesh and Odisha with the rider that they will not give bonuses to farmers over and above the MSP determined by the Centre.
- The surplus States must procure for deficit States. The States must also contain the taxes and statutory levies at three per cent of the MSP from the current two to 14.2 per cent in Punjab. This would mean a cut in the revenues of the procuring States as well as in the income of middlemen.
There is also allegation that this report is moving and catering to a certain unhealthy purpose. It is also being said that privatization is the main intention behind this report.
Sources: The Hindu, PIB, BS.