GS Paper I- History and Geography of the World and Society.

India Ranks 5th In The List Of Countries With Highest NPA Levels.

 

Background-

  • India has the highest level of non-performing assets (NPA) among BRICS countries and is ranked fifth on a list of countries with the highest levels of NPAs, a report by CARE Ratings revealed.
  • The only countries ranked higher than India on the list are Greece, Italy, Portugal, and Ireland. All these countries, along with Spain, are commonly referred to as PIIGS, and have been victims of sovereign debt crises in recent years.
  • Spain is the only PIIGS country ranked lower than India on the list, with an NPA ratio of 5.28 percent. At 9.85 percent, India’s NPA ratio is over 400 basis points higher.

 

Highlights Of The Development–

  • In its report, CARE Ratings said that ‘the seriousness of the NPA problem can be gauged by the absolute level of impaired assets in the system. Ever since the RBI had spoken of asset quality recognition (AQR) in 2015, there was an increase in the pace of recognizing these assets.
  • The rating agency also said that cleaning up bad loans from the system would be completed by March 2018 and any further rise in NPAs after that could be stemming from factors other than the ones identified by banks.
  • The report classified countries into four categories – those having very low levels of NPAs, those with low levels of NPAs, those with medium levels of NPAs and countries with high levels of NPAs.
  • Australia, Canada, Hong Kong, Republic of Korea and the United Kingdom were all found to have an NPA ratio of less than 1 percent and were classified in the first category.
  • The second category was largely made up of major economies from around the world like China, Germany, Japan, and the USA, all of who have NPA ratios of less than 2 percent.
  • The third category consisted of a few developed European countries but was largely constituted of fast-growing developing countries like Brazil, Indonesia, Thailand, South Africa and Turkey.

Sources- Moneycontrol.

 

GS Paper II- Polity.

Govt Announces Details Of Electoral Bonds For Political Funding.

Background

  • The union government on 2nd January, 2018 announced details of political funding that can be routed by donors to parties through electoral bonds, a scheme announced by it in Union Budget 2017.
  • Electoral bonds will allow a political donor to purchase bonds from authorized banks. These can be redeemed only through the registered accounts of a political party in a prescribed time frame.
  • In line with the Election Commission’s recommendation, the government in last year’s budget session also capped anonymous cash donations to political parties at Rs2,000.
  • Finance minister Arun Jaitley said the electoral bonds, which are interest-free banking instruments, can be bought from specified branches of State Bank of India in multiples of Rs1,000, Rs1 lakh, Rs10 lakh or Rs1 crore.

 

 

Highlights Of The Development-

  • The life of the electoral bonds will be 15 days and they can be encashed only by registered political parties through a designated bank account.
  • Jaitley told that the scheme has been placed before Parliament. Till now, people did not get explicit information on how much funds political parties got from which source and how they spent it. In 2001, Govt.introduced a change to enable funding through cheque. But the share of anonymous funding is still high. The electoral bonds scheme is meant to change this.
  • He said that whoever wants to donate electoral bonds, can buy them from any of the notified branches of SBI. The validity of the bonds is kept at 15 days so that this does not become a parallel currency.
  • Every political party will have to file returns to the Election Commission on how much funds have been received, he said, adding that this was the “beginning” of reforms in political funding and hinted at more measures later.
  • The electoral bonds will be available for purchase for a period of 10 days each in the months of January, April, July and October, as specified by the government. Additionally, a 30-day period will be specified by the central government in the year of general elections.
  • Analysts said the move could end up bringing in more opacity in political funding and could be misused, given the lack of disclosure requirements for individuals purchasing electoral bonds.

Sources- Livemint.

 

GS Paper III- Security.

Defence Ministry Gives Final Nod For Barak Missiles, PGM Bombs.

 

Background

  • Defence Ministry on 2n January, 2018 gave the final approvals for the procurement of 131 Barak missiles for the Navy and 240 precision-guided munitions (PGM) for the Indian Air Force (IAF), together estimated at ₹1,714 crore.
  • The proposals were cleared by Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman, the Ministry said in a statement.
  • This PGM is a variant of the KAB PGMs the IAF has in service and employed by Su-30 fighter jets. It is a regular procurement through the revenue expenditure. Due to the value of the contract, the approval of Defence Ministry was required.

Highlights Of The Development-

  • The 240 KAB-1500 PGMs will be procured from Rosoboronexport of Russia at a cost of ₹1,254 crore.
  • The second proposal was the final contract for 131 Barak surface-to-air missiles (SAM), which are installed on all frontline warships of the Navy.
  • Last April (2017), the Defence Acquisition Council (DAC), under the then Defence Minister Arun Jaitley, had cleared the procurement under “Buy Global” category of procurement procedure from Rafael Advance Defence Systems Ltd. of Israel at a cost of ₹460 crore.
  • Officials said the final contract had now been signed.

Sources- The Hindu.