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Daily Current AFfairs 07.08.2021 (Amid adjournments, Lok Sabha passes two Bills, RBI holds rates, MPC splits on stance, India’s history-making women fall agonisingly short)

Daily Current AFfairs 07.08.2021 (Amid adjournments, Lok Sabha passes two Bills, RBI holds rates, MPC splits on stance, India’s history-making women fall agonisingly short)

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1.Amid adjournments, Lok Sabha passes two Bills

House was adjourned for the day in the first half of the sitting itself

The Lok Sabha was adjourned for the day in the first half of the sitting itself and at the end of a third week of protests by Oppositions MPs on the Pegasus snooping issue and the three contentious farm laws, but managed to pass the Taxation Laws (Amendment) Bill, 2021, and the Central Universities (Amendment) Bill, 2021, without debate or discussion.

The House was adjourned a few minutes after it was convened, with Speaker Om Birla urging the protesting members to participate in the Question Hour. But continuing protests saw the House being adjourned till 12 noon. When it reconvened, Rajendra Agarwal, as presiding officer, asked the protesters to participate in discussions on the two Bills listed.

Leader of the Congress legislature party in the Lok Sabha, Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury, spoke before both the Bills were passed, urging the government to “give up” its “obduracy” in not considering the demands of the Opposition.

To this, Minister of State for Parliamentary Affairs Arjun Ram Meghwal said it was the Opposition that was blocking discussions, including the one proposed by Revolutionary Socialist Party (RSP) MP N.K. Premachandran on the COVID-19 pandemic.

In the midst of it, Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman moved the Taxation Laws (Amendment) Bill for consideration and passing. It had been introduced in the Lok Sabha on Thursday.

Making a short statement before the Bill was put to vote, Ms. Sitharaman said the Bill was a clarificatory amendment. The 2012 Finance Act provision that amended the Income Tax Act, making offshore transactions involving Indian assets (including those set up prior to the law being enacted) liable for tax in India, was considered “bad in law” as far as the BJP was concerned.

Former Finance Minister Arun Jaitley had set up a high-level committee after the Prime Minister Narendra Modi-led government came to power in 2014 to look into the issue, as the BJP, and later the government, did not support retrospective taxation. The Act had been caught up in litigation in courts in India and abroad, and the government was waiting for the conclusion of these actions to bring a law scrapping the retrospective tax. The Bill was passed by voice vote and without debate.

Ladakh Central varsity

Education Minister Dharmendra Pradhan moved the Central Universities (Amendment) Act for setting up a Central university in Ladakh. He said this would help in the emotional integration of the people of Ladakh, Leh and Kargil with the rest of the country.

The university, to be named Sindhu University, would have a 110-acre campus.

Again, this Bill was passed in the din with no discussion.

The House was adjourned for the day after the passage of the two Bills.

Union Education Minister Dharmendra Pradhan introduced the Central Universities (Amendment) Bill, 2021, in the Lok Sabha yesterday. It is the bill that seeks to amend the Central Universities Act, 2009, to provide for the establishment of a university in the Union territory of Ladakh that was introduced in Lok Sabha on Thursday.

As the bill was being introduced in the parliament, opposition leaders spoke out against it. Congress leader Manish Tewari said that there is a time-honored convention of the House that till the time the House is not in order no legislation can be discussed.

He further added, “What is happening is completely unconstitutional, it is the murder of democracy.” The bill was introduced by the education minister amid a din by opposition members over the Pegasus spying row and farmers’ issue.

According to the Statement of Objects and Reasons of the bill, piloted by Minister Pradhan, at present, there is no central university in Ladakh and therefore, the government has decided to establish a new central university there.

This university will ensure an increase in accessibility and quality of higher education and facilitate and promote avenues of higher education and research for the people of the Union territory.

Details of Central University (Amendment) Bill 2021

The establishment of a central university will help students in Ladakh to pursue their higher studies with ease and will also cater to the regional aspirations for years to come, according to the official statement made by the education minister.

According to the statement of objects, the bill seeks to amend the Central Universities Act, 2009, to provide for the establishment of a university in the name of “Sindhu Central University” in Ladakh.

The Union Cabinet had last month approved the establishment of a central university and an integrated multi-purpose infrastructure development corporation for Ladakh. The decision to set up the central university at a cost of Rs 750 crore and the corporation with a fund of Rs 25 crore for Ladakh was taken at a meeting of the Union Cabinet chaired by the prime minister.

Information and Broadcasting Minister Anurag Thakur said at a media briefing that the university will be set up with a total outlay of Rs 750 crore and will cater to all areas of Ladakh that include Leh and Kargil.

He said the university will help reduce the imbalance in the region in the education sector and students of Ladakh to get quality higher education opportunities. It will help in intellectual development and better higher education and will help improve the quality of education, the minister said.

Notes

Devices of Parliamentary Proceedings      

Question Hour     

The first hour of every parliamentary sitting is slotted for this. During this time, the members ask questions and the ministers usually give answers. The questions are of three kinds, namely, starred, unstarred and short notice.

1. A starred question (distinguished by an asterisk) requires an oral answer and hence supplementary questions can follow.

2. An unstarred question, on the other hand, requires a written answer and hence, supplementary questions cannot follow.

3. A short notice question is one that is asked by giving a notice of less than ten days. It is answered orally.

Closure Motion    

It is a motion moved by a member to cut short the debate on a matter before the House. If the motion is approved by the House, debate is stopped forthwith and the matter is put to vote. There are four kinds of closure motions :

(a) Simple Closure: It is one when a member moves that the ‘matter having been sufficiently discussed be now put to vote’.

(b) Closure by Compartments: In this case, the clauses of a bill or a lengthy resolution are grouped into parts before the commencement of the debate. The debate covers the part as a whole and the entire part is put to vote.

(c) Kangaroo Closure: Under this type, only important clauses are taken up for debate and voting and the intervening clauses are skipped over and taken as passed.

(d) Guillotine Closure: It is one when the undiscussed clauses of a bill or a resolution are also put to vote along with the discussed ones due to want of time (as the time allotted for the discussion is over).

No-Confidence Motion  

Article 75 of the Constitution says that the council of ministers shall be collectively responsible to the Lok Sabha. It means that the ministry stays in office so long as it enjoys confidence of the majority of the members of the Lok Sabha. In other words, the Lok Sabha can remove the ministry from office by passing a no-confidence motion. The motion needs the support of 50 members to be admitted.

Privilege Motion

It is concerned with the breach of parliamentary privileges by a minister. It is moved by a member when he feels that a minister has committed a breach of privilege of the House or one or more of its members by withholding facts of a case or by giving wrong or distorted facts. Its purpose is to censure the concerned minister.

Motion of Thanks

The first session after each general election and the first session of every fiscal year is addressed by the president. In this address, the president outlines the policies and programmes of the government in the preceding year and ensuing year. This address of the president, which corresponds to the ‘speech from the Throne in Britain’, is discussed in both the Houses of Parliament on a motion called the ‘Motion of Thanks’. At the end of the discussion, the motion is put to vote. This motion must be passed in the House. Otherwise, it amounts to the defeat of the government. This inaugural speech of the president is an occasion available to the members of Parliament to raise discussions and debates to ex-amine and criticise the government and administration for its lapses and failures.

Calling Attention Motion        

It is introduced in the Parliament by a member to call the attention of a minister to a matter of urgent public importance, and to seek an authoritative statement from him on that matter. Like the zero hour, it is also an Indian innovation in the parliamentary procedure and has been in existence since 1954. However, unlike the zero hour, it is mentioned in the Rules of Procedure.

No-Day-Yet-Named-Motion      

It is a motion that has been admitted by the Speaker but no date has been fixed for its discussion. The Speaker, after considering the state of business in the House and in consultation with the leader of the House or on the recommendation of the Business Advisory Committee, allots a day or days or part of a day for the discussion of such a motion.

Censure Motion   

It should state the reasons for its adoption in the Lok Sabha. It can be moved against an individual minister or a group of ministers or the entire council of ministers. It is moved for censuring the council of ministers for specific policies and actions. If it is passed in the Lok Sabha, the council of ministers need not resign from the office.

Half-an-Hour Discussion         

It is meant for discussing a matter of sufficient public importance, which has been subjected to a lot of debate and the answer to which needs elucidation on a matter of fact. The Speaker can allot three days in a week for such discussions. There is no formal motion or voting before the House.

Short Discussion 

It is also known as two-hour discussion as the time allotted for such a discussion should not exceed two hours. The members of the Parliament can raise such discussions on a matter of urgent public importance. The Speaker can allot two days in a week for such discussions. There is neither a formal motion before the house nor voting. This device has been in existence since 1953.

Point of Order     

A Member can raise a point of order when the proceedings of the House do not follow the normal rules of procedure. A point of order should relate to the interpretation or enforcement of the Rules of the House or such articles of the Constitution that regulate the business of the House and should raise a question that is within the cognizance of the Speaker. It is usually raised by an opposition member in order to control the government. It is an extraordinary device as it suspends the proceedings before the House. No debate is allowed on a point of order.

Special Mention   

A matter which is not a point of order or which cannot be raised during question hour, half-an hour discussion, short duration discussion or under adjournment motion, calling attention notice or under any rule of the House can be raised under the special mention in the Rajya Sabha. Its equivalent procedural device in the Lok Sabha is known as ‘Notice (Mention) Under Rule 377’.

Adjournment Motion     

When there is an urgent matter of public importance then a member may propose that the business of the house be adjourned for discussing that matter. This motion can be moved only with the consent of the Speaker. Generally such motions are discussed in the afternoon at 4.00 p.m.

Lame Duck Session       

It refers to the last session of the existing Lok Sabha, after a new Lok Sabha has been elected. Those members of the existing Lok Sabha who could not get re-elected to the new Lok Sabha are called lame-ducks.

Types of Budgetary Motions

The most popular and well known motions which are used by members in connection with the budget are three. The demand for grants are considered and passed by Lok Sabha. Hence, these motions can be moved only in Lok Sabha.

1. Policy Cut: The member moves that the demand be reduced to one rupee. The member moving this motion in fact wants to discuss the policy behind the demand in detail and gives alternative policy suggestions.

2. Economy Cut: In this motion the reduction in the amount of demand is substantial. The amount to be reduced is clearly stated and the object is to bring about economy in the expenditure.

3. Token Cut: In this motion the demand is sought to be reduced by Rs. 100/-. The object of the motion is to ventilate a specific grievances within the sphere of responsibility of the Government. Private Member’s Resolution A resolution may be moved by a Minister or by a private member. For private members generally afternoons are reserved on alternate Fridays. Resolutions are selected by ballot. Resolutions may be brought under Rule 200 of the Lok Sabha for the removal of the Speaker or the Deputy Speaker.

2.RBI holds rates, MPC splits on stance

One member votes against staying ‘accommodative’ for as long as necessary to support growth

The Reserve Bank of India’s Monetary Policy Committee (MPC) on Friday voted unanimously to keep the repo rate unchanged at 4% as part of the RBI’s sustained effort to help the economy recover from the shock of the COVID-19 pandemic.

One member, however, voted against the MPC’s majority decision to retain the ‘accommodative stance as long as necessary to revive and sustain growth on a durable basis’, while ensuring that ‘inflation remains within the target going forward’, Governor Shaktikanta Das said in a statement.

The central bank retained its projection for real GDP growth in the current fiscal year at 9.5% as it pegged Q1 growth at 21.4% followed by 7.3% in Q2, 6.3% in Q3 and 6.1% in Q4.

The MPC, however, raised its forecast for retail inflation for the year to 5.7%, from the 5.1% pace it had projected in June as the faster-than-expected CPI inflation readings in the first quarter and continuing price pressures forced it to recalibrate projections for the next three quarters: “5.9% in Q2; 5.3% in Q3; and 5.8% in Q4 of 2021-22, with risks broadly balanced”.

“Going forward, the revival of south-west monsoon and the pick-up in kharif sowing, buffered by adequate food stocks should help to control cereal price pressures,” the MPC said in its statement.

“Input prices are rising across manufacturing and services sectors, but weak demand and efforts towards cost cutting are tempering the pass-through to output prices. With crude oil prices at elevated levels, a calibrated reduction of the indirect tax component of pump prices by the Centre and States can help to substantially lessen cost pressures,” it added, reiterating an exhortation it has been repeatedly making to the governments.

“We are in a much better position than at the time of the MPC’s meeting in June 2021,” Mr. Das said, announcing the policy decision. “As the second wave of the pandemic ebbs, containment eases and we slowly build back, vaccine manufacturing and administration are steadily rising.

“Yet the need of the hour is not to drop our guard and to remain vigilant against any possibility of a third wave, especially in the background of rising infections in certain parts of the country,” he added.

‘Conditions still weak’

Mr. Das said the outlook for aggregate demand was improving, but the underlying conditions were still weak.

“Aggregate supply is also lagging below pre-pandemic levels. While several steps have been taken to ease supply constraints, more needs to be done to restore supply-demand balance in a number of sectors of the economy,” he stressed.

Notes

Unchanged Policy Rates:

  • The RBI has kept the repo rate under the Liquidity Adjustment Facility (LAF) unchanged at 4%.
    • The reverse repo rate under the LAF remains unchanged at 3.35% and the Marginal Standing Facility (MSF) rate and the Bank Rate at 4.25%.
  • Other Decisions:
    • Cash Reserve Ratio (CRR):
      • The RBI has decided to restore the CRR in a non-disruptive manner from 3% to 4% in two stages by May 2021.
    • Direct Retail Investment in Government Securities (G-Sec):
      • The RBI has proposed to allow small investors direct access to the G-Sec platform.
        • G-Sec is a tradable instrument issued by the Central Government or the State Governments and is considered to be the safest form of investment.
  • Accommodative Stance:
    • The Monetary Policy Committee (MPC) of the RBI also decided to continue with the accommodative stance as long as necessary to revive growth on a durable basis and mitigate the impact of Covid-19 on the economy, while ensuring that inflation remains within the target going forward.
    • These decisions are in consonance with the objective of achieving the medium-term target for Consumer Price Index (CPI) inflation of 4% within a band of +/- 2 %, while supporting growth.
      • The CPI calculates the difference in the price of commodities and services such as food, medical care, education, electronics etc, which Indian consumers buy for use.
      • The CPI has several sub-groups including food and beverages, fuel and light, housing and clothing, bedding and footwear.

Monetary Policy Committee

  • About:
    • The Monetary Policy Committee is a statutory and institutionalized framework under the Reserve Bank of India Act, 1934, for maintaining price stability, while keeping in mind the objective of growth.
  • Formation:
    • An RBI-appointed committee led by the then deputy governor Urjit Patel in 2014 recommended the establishment of the Monetary Policy Committee.
  • Chairman:
    • The Governor of RBI is ex-officio Chairman of the committee.
  • Members:
    • The committee comprises six members (including the Chairman) – three officials of the RBI and three external members nominated by the Government of India.
  • Decisions :
    • Decisions are taken by majority with the Governor having the casting vote in case of a tie.
  • Function:
    • The MPC determines the policy interest rate (repo rate) required to achieve the inflation target (4%).

Key Terms

  • Repo and Reverse Repo Rate:
    • Repo rate is the rate at which the central bank of a country (Reserve Bank of India in case of India) lends money to commercial banks in the event of any shortfall of funds. Here, the central bank purchases the security.
    • Reverse repo rate is the rate at which the RBI borrows money from commercial banks within the country.
  • Liquidity Adjustment Facility (LAF):
    • It is a tool used in monetary policy by the RBI, that allows banks to borrow money through repurchase agreements (repos) or for banks to make loans to the RBI through reverse repo agreements.
  • Bank Rate:
    • It is the rate charged by the RBI for lending funds to commercial banks.
  • Marginal Standing Facility (MSF):
    • MSF is a window for scheduled banks to borrow overnight from the RBI in an emergency situation when interbank liquidity dries up completely.
      • Under interbank lending, banks lend funds to one another for a specified term.
  • Cash Reserve Ratio (CRR):
    • Banks are required to hold a certain proportion of their deposits in the form of cash. This minimum ratio (that is the part of the total deposits to be held as cash) is stipulated by the RBI and is known as the CRR.

3.India’s history-making women fall agonisingly short

Great Britain takes bronze, bringing to an end a remarkable campaign by Rani’s team; the Dutch beat Argentina for gold

It was heartbreak for the Indian women as they lost 3-4 to defending champion Great Britain in the bronze medal match at the Tokyo Olympics on Friday.

It was a cagey affair to begin with, but Great Britain — which had beaten India 4-1 in the pool stage — soon looked threatening.

Testing the defence

Lily Owsley made a dizzying run down the right and won a penalty corner off Navjot Kaur in the ninth minute, and the Indian defence was tested again in the 11th. Goalkeeper Savita Punia denied Ellie Rayer and Sarah Jones from close range.

The second quarter witnessed a flurry of goals, with Britain storming ahead in the 16th minute. Rayer’s cross into the circle hit Deep Grace Ekka’s stick and went in. India’s first shot at goal, an attempt by Lalremsiami in the 19th minute, was easily saved by goalkeeper Maddie Hinch. Nisha picked up a green card three minutes later and the Brits made the most of their numerical advantage, doubling the lead in the 24th minute. Shona McCallin fed the ball to Sarah Robertson, who scored with an exquisite reverse-stick finish. The Indians reacted right away, as Gurjit Kaur slammed home a penalty corner in the 25th minute. Spurred on by the goal, Salima Tete made a mesmerising run the next minute and won another penalty corner. It was almost a replay of the earlier goal as Gurjit again nestled the ball into the far-bottom corner.

India went ahead in the 29th minute through a goalmouth scramble. Shushila Chanu’s cross deflected off Sharmila Devi’s stick and fell to Navneet Kaur. Navneet attempted a flick but missed it completely and the British defence uncharacteristically froze. Vandana pounced on the loose ball and caressed it home to give India a 3-2 lead.

Great Britain captain Hollie Pearne-Webb restored parity in the 36th minute. India ’keeper Savita produced a great save to deny Isabelle Petter. However, Sarah Jones chased the rebound and crossed it back to Petter, who padded it for Pearne-Webb to finish with a fierce strike.

Renewed vigour

Britain started the fourth quarter with renewed vigour, winning successive penalty corners and scoring off the fourth.

Grace Balsdon scored what proved the match-winner, her drag-flick beating Savita. Britain defended doggedly to prevent yet another Indian comeback.

India had started with three straight losses in the pool stage but displayed character and guts to stun Australia in the quarterfinals.

The Indian women may have lost out on a medal but won a billion hearts, having reached their first-ever Olympic semifinal. They had finished last (12th) in Rio.

The Netherlands defeated Argentina 3-1 to claim the gold medal. Caia van Maasakker scored two goals for the Dutch, who had won the silver in 2016.

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