Parliament passes NABARD (Amendment) Bill, 2017
Parliament has passed the National Bank for Agriculture and Rural Development (Amendment) Bill, 2017 with the approval of Rajya Sabha. Lok Sabha already had passed the bill in August 2017. The Bill seeks to amend National Bank for Agriculture and Rural Development (NABARD) Act, 1981. The Act establishes NABARD for providing and regulating facilities like credit for agricultural and industrial development in the rural areas.
Key Features of the Bill
The Bill allows Union Government to increase capital of NABARD from Rs. 5000 crore to Rs 30,000 crore. Further, it allows Union Government to increase the capital more than Rs 30,000 crore in consultation with the Reserve Bank of India (RBI), if necessary.
The Bill provides that Union Government alone must hold at least 51% capital share of NABARD. Further, it transfers share capital held by RBI valued at Rs. 20 crore to Union Government. Currently RBI holds 0.4% of paid-up capital of NABARD and remaining 99.6% is held by Union government and this causes conflict in RBI’s role as banking regulator and shareholder in NABARD.
The Bill replaces terms ‘small-scale industry’ and ‘industry in tiny and decentralised sector’ with terms ‘micro enterprise’, ‘small enterprise’ and ‘medium enterprise’ as defined in MSME Development Act, 2006. Further, it allows NABARD to provide financial assistance to banks if they provide financial assistance to banks if they provide loans to the MSMEs.
‘Perihelion’: Earth closest to sun
On January 3, the Earth will be at closest to the sun in a phenomenon called ‘Perihelion’. The event, however, cannot be observed. At 11.05 am on January 3rd, the earth will be at the closest point to the sun in its annual elliptical orbit, at a distance of 14,70,97,237 km approximately.
What you need to know?
Perihelion is an important event for research and educational purposes although the public cannot observe it. Commonly it is believed that the distance of the earth from the sun decides the season or temperature on the earth. But this is not true. The axial tilt (approx. 23.5 degrees) of the earth on its axis while revolving around the Sun regulates seasons on the earth with one of the hemispheres facing away or towards the Sun.
So, while the earth is closest to Sun this time in January, it is winter in India and countries in Northern Hemisphere, it is summer in the Southern Hemisphere.
On July 6, the earth will be at ‘Aphelion’ at 15,20,95,571 km from the sun, i.e. it will be at the farthest point from the sun.
Trai issues interconnect rules
The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (Trai) has issued the Telecommunication Interconnection Regulations, 2018, that are effective from February 1. It lay down the ground rules for telcos to enter into initial interconnect pacts, provision points of interconnection (POIs) needed to complete calls, undertake augmentation of such points and the associated charges. It has termed interconnection the “lifeline of telecommunication services”.
Phone companies have to ink interconnect pacts on a non- discriminatory basis within 30 days of receiving a request from any licensed carrier. Also, a telco receiving an interconnection request has to offer a draft interconnect pact within five days to the requestor, who, in turn, can submit suggestions/objections in the next five days. Currently, there is no explicit timeline for inking of interconnect agreements.
Telcos flouting Trai’s interconnection regulations would “be liable to pay an amount, by way of financial disincentive”, capped at “Rs 1lakh per day per licensed service area. A telco seeking POIs will be liable to furnish a six-month bank guarantee from the date of initial interconnection for the total number of ports sought, if such a demand is made by the telco offering interconnection.
However, interconnection levies such as set-up charges and infrastructure charges “may be mutually negotiated” between service providers as long as they are “reasonable, transparent and non-discriminatory”. But Trai has mandated a detailed process for disconnection of POIs, directing a telco to initially issue a show cause notice of 15 working days citing reasons for the same.
What is it? It is the independent regulator of the telecommunications business in India. It was established in 1997 by an Act of Parliament to regulate telecom services and tariffs in India.
What was it for? The TDSAT was set up to resolve any dispute between a licencor and a licensee, between two or more service providers, between a service provider and a group of consumers. In addition, any direction, TRAI orders or decisions can be challenged by appealing to TDSAT.
Disputes settlement: In January 2000, TRAI act was amended to establish the Telecom Disputes Settlement Appellate Tribunal (TDSAT) to take over the adjudicatory functions of the TRAI.
National Knowledge Network (NKN)
India has kicked off the process of appointing a telecom company that will connect and extend its state-of-the art National Knowledge Network (NKN) to research and education networks in six South Asian Association of Regional Cooperation member states — Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Maldives, Nepal and Sri Lanka. Pakistan is the only Saarc nation that has been left out of this initiative.
India has for long suspended official talks with Pakistan due to continuing terrorist attacks launched by groups from across the border and chill in the relations is now evident in sphere of research cooperation too.
What is it? NKN is a multi-gigabit pan-India network which facilitates the development of India’s communications infrastructure, stimulates research and creates next generation applications and services.
Aim: With its multi-gigabit capability, NKN aims to connect all universities, research institutions, libraries, laboratories, healthcare and agricultural institutions across the country to address such paradigm shift.
What it does? It enables collaboration among researchers from different educational networks such as TEIN4, GARUDA, CERN and Internet2. It also enables sharing of scientific databases and remote access to advanced research facilities. The leading mission oriented agencies in the fields of nuclear, space and defence research are also part of NKN.
India has now decided to extend the NKN to the global research and education networks in Saarc nations.
NKN will be connected from Afghanistan to Delhi or Mumbai, from Bangladesh to Kolkata or Delhi, from Bhutan to Kolkata or Delhi, from Nepal to Kolkata or Delhi, from Maldives to Chennai or Mumbai and from Sri Lanka to Chennai or Mumbai. A state-of-the-art management centre and Network Operations Centre will also be set up to run the NKN network. The connection from Afghanistan, Maldives and Sri Lanka to India would be through a submarine cable for international connectivity.