IAS Gyan

Daily News Analysis


22nd April, 2020


1. Coronavirus | ICMR asks States to stop using rapid antibody tests for next 2 days

The Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) has directed the States not to use the COVID-19 rapid testing kits for the next two days following reports of wide variations in results.

—The kits would be tested and validated by ICMR teams and an advisory on their use issued in the next two days. If they were found to be not up to the mark, replacements would be sought from the manufacturers.

—The ICMR has maintained that among the total COVID-19 tests conducted so far, 69% were asymptomatic cases and 31% symptomatic.


About Rapid Antibody test

They will be carried out in highly affected areas on people showing influenza-like symptoms. These tests are relatively cheap as compared to the Reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) test, which is currently the standard test being carried out in the country.

—It costs Rs 4,500 to get an RT-PCR test done for Covid-19 in private labs. An antibody test costs approximately Rs 300, but the government will be doing these free of charge.

—RT-PCR test only works on DNA, hence RNA viruses like Covid-19 is first converted to DNA, which makes the process time-consuming.

—An antibody test, on the other hand, can give results in 15 minutes. Highly affected areas need to be tested much more and that is why rapid antibody tests are suitable. While they are quick and inexpensive, the most important factor is that it does not take a specialist to perform the test.

—The test is done by pricking a finger and putting some blood in it. It is similar to a pregnancy test. There is a control line, a G line that indicates IgG (Immunoglobulin G) antibodies, an M line that indicates IgM (Immunoglobulin M) antibodies and a negative line, which means there are no antibodies.

—The immune system produces IgM antibodies in the initial stages of infection and IgG at later stages. When enough number of people are infected, perhaps people with IgG antibodies can be given recovery certificates and they can travel freely.

—The distinction between IgM and IgG antibodies is not being made in India. Not all approved test kits in India tell the distinction between IgG and IgM antibodies. Additionally, private labs are not allowed to perform antibody tests yet. However, it is a step forward for ICMR.


Availability of blood

—“Portal ‘e-RaktKosh’ needs to be used for the real-time status monitoring of the current stock of each blood group.

— As part of the collaborative approach for COVID-19 management, Indian Red Cross has started a 24X7-control room in Delhi for blood services.

—The Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) was launching a randomised, blinded, two arms, active comparator-controlled clinical trial to evaluate drug efficacy to reduce mortality in critically ill COVID-19 patients, the Ministry said.


COVID India Seva

—The Health Ministry has also launched a COVID India Seva, an interactive platform “aimed at enabling transparent e-governance delivery in real-time and answering citizen queries swiftly.

—Through this, people can pose queries @CovidIndiaSeva and get them responded to in almost real-time.

—@CovidIndiaSeva works off a dashboard at the backend that helps process large volumes of tweets, converts them into resolvable tickets, and assigns them to the relevant authority for real-time resolution.


—The polymerase chain reaction (PCR)-based testing would continue to be done in an aggressive manner in the containment zones all over the State, while orders had been placed for procurement of its kits as per the demand.


Reference: https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/coronavirus-india-stops-rapid-antibody-tests-for-two-days/article31397179.ece


2. AIIMS deploys robots in COVID-19 ward


—The All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) in Delhi has deployed robots at its advanced COVID-19 ward to help promote physical distancing between health workers and infected patients.

—The institute is using two AI robots — Milagrow Floor Robot iMap 9.0 and Milagrow Humanoid ELF — in collaboration with consumer robotics brand Milagrow.

—According to the company, Milagrow Humanoid ELF enables doctors to monitor and interact with COVID-19 patients remotely thereby significantly reducing transmission risk.

—The Humanoid ELF can navigate around the ward independently and record activities in high definition video and audio.


Reference: https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/Delhi/aiims-deploys-robots-in-covid-19-ward/article31400705.ece


3. Denied alcohol, many take to ‘arishtams’


—Tipplers falling back on ‘arishtams’ and ‘asavams’ to replace alcohol is nothing new. In the lockdown period, however, the trend seems to be on the rise and doctors have warned against its health impacts.

—According to sources, Ayurveda pharmacy stores across the State have of late found a surge in demand for arishtams and asavams, which have alcohol content up to 10%.

—According to rules, individuals cannot store ‘arishtams’ and ‘asavams’ beyond a certain limit.

-Asavam are herbal decoctions prepared from fresh plants. It is similar to arishtams, except this, the herbal juices are not fermented before boiling as in arishtam.


Reference: https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/kerala/denied-alcohol-many-take-to-arishtams-and-asavams/article31399884.ece


4. Coronavirus | Drug for sepsis to be tested for COVID-19


Sepsivac, a drug jointly developed by the Ahmedabad-based Cadilla Pharmaceuticals and the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR), will be tested in 50 COVID-19 patients at the All-India Institute of Medical Sciences in Delhi and Bhopal, and Post Graduate Institute of Medical Education and Research, Chandigarh.

—Results from a human trial are expected in the next two months.


About Sepsivac

—It was originally developed for treating sepsis by a class of pathogens called gram-negative bacteria that are known to cause life-threatening infections.

—Given the similarities in the immune-system response in critically ill COVID-19 patients, it is theorised, the therapy could stimulate a benign response.

—A large quantity of cytokines, chemicals signalling the presence of an infection, are produced in the early stages of the body’s response against an infection to stimulate the production of antibodies.

—However, cytokines also cause inflammation of organs and can be counter-productive in protecting the body. Keeping them in check is the goal of so-called immuno-modulators, or medicines like Sepsivac.


Side effects: Some patients did experience adverse effects, most commonly, diarrhoea (10%).

—Hydroxychloroquine does not reduce viral load, randomised trial shows

—The drug uses the Mycobacterium (formally known as mycobacterium indicus pranii) as it produces a different immune-system response.

—Previous randomised trials in sepsis patients showed 11% absolute reduction and 55.5% relative reduction in mortality.

— Sepsivac reduces the days on ventilator, in ICU and hospital and incidence of secondary infection, Cadilla Pharmaceuticals have claimed on their website.

—The United States and Australia are also going to start testing the efficacy of the BCG, or tuberculosis vaccine that also employs a different strain of mycobacterium, in health care workers at the frontline of treating COVID-19 patients.


Reference: https://www.thehindu.com/sci-tech/health/coronavirus-drug-for-sepsis-to-be-tested-for-covid-19/article31399594.ece





1. States, UTs told to take steps to mitigate risks in waste disposal


—In the first matter heard through videoconferencing at the National Green Tribunal on Tuesday, the green panel directed all States and Union Territories to take adequate steps to mitigate risks in terms of unscientific disposal of bio-medical waste in view of the COVID-19 pandemic.

—An NGT Bench said only 1.1 lakh of the 2.7 lakh healthcare facilities identified across the country were authorised under the bio-medical waste management rules.


About CPCB

— The Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) of India is a statutory organisation under the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change (Mo.E.F.C). It was established in 1974 under the Water (Prevention and Control of pollution) Act, 1974. The CPCB is also entrusted with the powers and functions under the Air (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act, 1981.

—It serves as a field formation and also provides technical services to the Ministry of Environment and Forests under the provisions of the Environment (Protection) Act, 1986.

—It Co-ordinates the activities of the State Pollution Control Boards by providing technical assistance and guidance and also resolves disputes among them. It is the apex organisation in country in the field of pollution control, as a technical wing of MoEFC.

—The board is led by its Chairperson, who is generally a career civil servant from the Indian Administrative Service appointed by the Appointments Committee of the Cabinet of the Government of India.


Reference: https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/Delhi/states-uts-told-to-take-steps-to-mitigate-risks-in-waste-disposal/article31401274.ece


2. Guidelines issued for handling of waste generated during COVID-19 patient’s treatment


—Using double-layered bags, mandatory labelling and colour coded bins for the management of waste generated during the diagnostics and treatment of suspected and confirmed COVID-19 patients are part of the guidelines issued by the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB).

—The apex pollution monitoring body said specific guidelines are required to be followed by all, including isolation wards, quarantine centres, sample collection centres, laboratories, ULBs and common biomedical waste treatment and disposal facilities, in addition to existing practices under BMW Management Rules, 2016.

—The CPCB has also written to the state pollution control boards and pollution control committees to consider operation of common bio-medical waste treatment and disposal facility and its associated staff as essential service part of health infrastructure.

—These guidelines are based on current knowledge on COVID-19 and existing practices in management of infectious waste generated in hospitals while treating viral and other contagious diseases like HIV, H1N1, etc. These guidelines will be updated if need arises.

—This Revision-2 of guidelines is mainly to incorporate specific requirements and responsibilities of persons operating sewage treatment plants at healthcare facilities and to clarify on management of general waste from quarantine homes and masks/gloves from other households.


Reference: https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/guidelines-issued-for-handling-of-waste-generated-during-covid-19-patients-treatment/article31393724.ece




1. Delhi violence | Police books Jamia students under UAPA


—Delhi Police has booked Jamia students Meeran Haider and Safoora Zargar under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA) in a case related to communal violence in northeast Delhi over the Citizenship (Amendment) Act (CAA), said a lawyer.


About UAPA

— Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act is an Indian law aimed at effective prevention of unlawful activities associations in India. Its main objective was to make powers available for dealing with activities directed against the integrity and sovereignty of India.

— The National Integration Council appointed a Committee on National Integration and Regionalisation to look into, the aspect of putting reasonable restrictions in the interests of the sovereignty and integrity of India.

—Pursuant to the acceptance of recommendations of the Committee, the Constitution (Sixteenth Amendment) Act, 1963 was enacted to impose, by law, reasonable restrictions in the interests of the sovereignty and integrity of India. In order to implement the provisions of 1963 Act, the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Bill was introduced in the Parliament.


Reference: https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/Delhi/delhi-violence-police-books-jamia-students-under-uapa/article31398143.ece


2. Rise in child marriage, physical abuse complaints during lockdown


—The Karnataka State Commission for Protection of Child Rights is shocked to learn that ChildLine has been seeing an increase in the number of complaints pertaining to child marriage and physical abuse since the lockdown began.



— Child sexual abuse laws in India have been enacted as part of the child protection policies of India. The Parliament of India passed the 'Protection of Children Against Sexual Offences Bill, 2011' regarding child sexual abuse on 22 May 2012 into an Act].

—The rules formulated by the government in accordance with the law have also been notified on the November 2012 and the law has become ready for implementation.] There have been many calls for more stringent laws.

—India has one of the largest populations of children in the world - Census data from 2011 shows that India has a population of 472 million children below the age of eighteen.

—Protection of children by the state is guaranteed to Indian citizens by an expansive reading of Article 21 of the Indian constitution, and also mandated given India's status as signatory to the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child.


Reference: https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/karnataka/rise-in-child-marriage-physical-abuse-complaints-during-lockdown/article31400116.ece


3. The key strategy is fiscal empowerment of States


—At a time when governments, both at the Centre and in the States, are fiscally stressed, the pandemic has forced them to undertake huge expenditures to save lives, livelihoods and reduce distresses and even more, to create a stimulus to revive the economy as we map the exit strategy.


Need for relief

—Being closer to the people, the States have a much larger responsibility in fighting this war. Public health as well as public order are State subjects in the Constitution.

—Centre under Entry 29 of the Concurrent List has the powers to set the rules of implementation, which states, “Prevention of the extension from one State to another of infectious or contagious diseases or pests affecting men, animals or plants”.

—While Central intervention was done to enable, “consistency in the application and implementation of various measures across the country”, the actual implementation on the ground level will have to be done at the State level.

—Furthermore, States are better informed to decide the areas and activities where relaxations should be done as the corona virus curve is flattened.


Focus on health and economy

—The acute shortage of protective gear, testing kits, ventilators and hospital beds has been a major handicap and the immediate task of States is to ramp up their availability and supply.

—The pandemic has underlined the historical neglect of the health-care sector in the country. The total public expenditures of Centre and States works out to a mere 1.3% of GDP.

—The centrally sponsored scheme, the National Health Mission, is inadequately funded, micromanaged with grants given under more than 2,000 heads and poorly targeted.

—The focus of “Ayushman Bharat” has been to advocate insurance rather than building wellness centres.


Extensive revenue losses

While the requirement of States for immediate expenditures is large, they are severely crippled in their resources. In the lockdown period, there has virtually been no economic activity and they have not been able to generate any revenue from State excise duty, stamp duties and registration fees, motor vehicles tax or sales tax on high-speed diesel and motor spirit.

—The revenue from Goods and Services Tax is stagnant and compensation on time for the loss of revenue has not been forthcoming.

—There is only limited scope for expenditure switching and reprioritisation now. Their borrowing space too is limited by the fiscal responsibility and budget management limit of 3% of Gross State Domestic Product (GSDP).

—The announcement by the Reserve Bank of India on the increase in the limit of ways and means advances by 60% of the levels prescribed in March 31 could help States to plan their borrowing better; but that is too little to provide much relief.

—Therefore, it is important for the Central government to provide additional borrowing space by 2% of GSDP from the prevailing 3% of GSDP.


Reference: https://www.thehindu.com/opinion/lead/the-key-strategy-is-fiscal-empowerment-of-states/article31399930.ece


4. NHRC notice to Maharashtra DGP over Palghar lynching


—The National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) issued a notice to the Director-General of Police of Maharashtra over a mob lynching of three persons in Palghar district in the presence of police on April 16.


About NHRC

— The National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) of India is a Statutory public body constituted on 12 October 1993 under the Protection of Human Rights Ordinance of 28 September 1993. ] It was given a statutory basis by the Protection of Human Rights Act, 1993 (PHRA).

—The NHRC is the National Human Rights Commission of India, responsible for the protection and promotion of human rights, defined by the Act as "Rights Relating To Life, liberty, equality and dignity of the individual guaranteed by the Constitution or embodied in the International Covenants and enforceable by courts in India.”


The NHRC consists of:

--A Chairperson, who has been a Chief Justice of India or a Judge of the Supreme Court

--One member who is, or has been, a Judge of the Supreme Court of India

--One member who is, or has been, the Chief Justice of a High Court

--Three Members, out of which at least one shall be a woman to be appointed from amongst persons having knowledge of, or practical experience in, matters relating to human rights

--In addition, the Chairpersons of National Commissions viz., National Commission for Scheduled Castes, National Commission for Scheduled Tribes, National Commission for Women, National Commission for Minorities, National Commission for Backward Classes, National Commission for Protection of Child Rights; and the Chief Commissioner for Persons with Disabilities serve as ex officio members.


Reference: https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/nhrc-notice-to-maharashtra-dgp-over-palghar-lynching/article31400318.ece





1. Putting the SAGAR vision to the test


—In March 2015, Prime Minister Narendra Modi visited three small but significant Indian Ocean island states — Seychelles, Mauritius, and Sri Lanka. During this tour, he unveiled India’s strategic vision for the Indian Ocean: Security and Growth for All in the Region (SAGAR).

SAGAR seeks to differentiate India’s leadership from the modus operandi of other regionally active major powers and to reassure littoral states as India’s maritime influence grows.

— India’s recent admission as observer to the Indian Ocean Commission (IOC) will put this vision to the test.


IOC, a trusted regional actor

—Following a request from New Delhi, the IOC granted observer status to India on March 6 at the Commission’s 34th Council of Ministers.

—Founded in 1982, the IOC is an intergovernmental organisation comprising five small-island states in the Western Indian Ocean: the Comoros, Madagascar, Mauritius, Réunion (a French department), and Seychelles.

—Though Réunion brings a major power, France, into this small-state equation, decisions in the IOC are consensus-based, and while France’s foreign policy interests are represented, the specifics of Réunion’s regional decision-making emerge from its local governance structures.

— Over the years, the IOC has emerged as an active and trusted regional actor, working in and for the Western Indian Ocean and implementing a range of projects.

—More recently, the IOC has demonstrated leadership in the maritime security domain. Since maritime security is a prominent feature of India’s relations with Indian Ocean littoral states, India’s interest in the IOC should be understood in this context.

—However, India has preferred to engage bilaterally with smaller states in the region. What India will not find in the IOC is a cluster of small states seeking a ‘big brother’ partnership.

—The IOC has its own regional agenda, and has made impressive headway in the design and implementation of regional maritime security architecture in the Western Indian Ocean.

—In 2012, the IOC was one of the four regional organisations to launch the MASE Programme — the European Union-funded programme to promote Maritime Security in Eastern and Southern Africa and Indian Ocean.

Under MASE, the IOC has established a mechanism for surveillance and control of the Western Indian Ocean with two regional centres.

—The Regional Maritime Information Fusion Center (RMIFC), based in Madagascar, is designed to deepen maritime domain awareness by monitoring maritime activities and promoting information sharing and exchange.

— The Regional Coordination Operations Centre (RCOC), based in Seychelles, will eventually facilitate joint or jointly coordinated interventions at sea based on information gathered through the RMIFC.



—These centres are a response to the limitations that the states in the region face in policing and patrolling their often-enormous Exclusive Economic Zones (EEZs).

—They deliver an urgently needed deterrent against unabating maritime crime at sea, only partly addressed by the high-level counter-piracy presence of naval forces from the EU, the Combined Maritime Forces, and Independent Forces.

—The IOC has also wielded a disproportionate degree of convening power. In 2018 and 2019, it served as Chair of the Contact Group on Piracy off the Coast of Somalia (CGPCS).

—The IOC style of ‘bottom-up regionalism’ has produced a sub-regional view and definition of maritime security problems and local ownership of pathways towards workable solutions.

—The IOC has been seeking more sustainable ways of addressing maritime security threats in the region, with the RMIFC and RCOC as part of this response. Its regional maritime security architecture is viewed locally as the most effective and sustainable framework to improve maritime control and surveillance and allow littoral States to shape their own destiny.

—Moreover, with proper regional coordination, local successes at curbing maritime threats will have broader security dividends for the Indian Ocean space.

How can India contribute?

—The IOC’s maritime security activities have a strong foundation, but they require support and buy-in from additional regional actors. India has already signalled a strong interest in the work of the IOC through its request to be admitted as an observer.

—All would benefit from national information fusion centres that can link to those of the wider region. With its observer status, India will be called upon to extend its expertise to the region, put its satellite imagery to the service of the RMIFC, and establish links with its own Information Fusion Centre.

—If India seeks to calibrate its Indian Ocean strategy away from outdated, neo-imperialist conceptions of great power and spheres of influence that are costly to regional followership, one route will be to learn from and support sub-regional efforts such as those of the IOC.

—As a major stakeholder in the Indian Ocean with maritime security high on the agenda, India will continue to pursue its interests and tackle maritime security challenges at the macro level in the region.

—However, as an observer of the IOC, a specific, parallel opportunity to embrace bottom-up regionalism presents itself. There are those in the Western Indian Ocean who are closely watching how India’s “consultative, democratic and equitable” leadership will take shape.


Reference: https://www.thehindu.com/opinion/op-ed/putting-the-sagar-vision-to-the-test/article31399219.ece


2. Pakistan removes thousands of names from terrorist watch list: report


—Pakistan has quietly removed around 1,800 terrorists from its watch list, including that of the 2008 Mumbai attack mastermind and LeT operations commander Zaki-ur-Rehman Lakhvi, ahead of a new round of assessments by the global anti-money-laundering watchdog FATF.

—Pakistan is working to implement an action plan that has been mutually agreed to with the Paris-based The Financial Action Task Force (FATF), part of which involves demonstrating effective implementation of targeted financial sanctions.


About FATF:

-The Financial Action Task Force (FATF) is the global money laundering and terrorist financing watchdog. The inter-governmental body sets international standards that aim to prevent these illegal activities and the harm they cause to society.

-As a policy-making body, the FATF works to generate the necessary political will to bring about national legislative and regulatory reforms in these areas.

-The FATF has developed the FATF Recommendations, or FATF Standards, which ensure a co-ordinated global response to prevent organised crime, corruption and terrorism.

-They help authorities go after the money of criminals dealing in illegal drugs, human trafficking and other crimes.  The FATF also works to stop funding for weapons of mass destruction.


Reference: https://www.thehindu.com/news/international/pakistan-removes-thousands-of-names-from-terrorist-watch-list-report/article31394622.ece




1. Coronavirus | CBDT sticks with budget’s tax target of ₹13.2 lakh crores


—The Centre has gone ahead and set its Income Tax authorities a daunting target of collecting ₹13.2 lakh crores for the fiscal year ending in March 2021.

—In a correspondence to all Principal Chief Commissioners of Income Tax (PCCIT) dated April 16, the Central Board of Direct Taxes (CBDT) has spelt out zone wise targets for the collection of corporate tax, personal income tax and security transaction tax (STT).


About CBDT:

The Central Board of Direct Taxes is a statutory authority functioning under the Central Board of Revenue Act, 1963. The officials of the Board in their ex-officio capacity also function as a Division of the Ministry dealing with matters relating to levy and collection of direct taxes.


Reference: https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/cbdt-sticks-with-budgets-tax-target-of-132-lakh-cr/article31399467.ece


2. Explained | Why are oil futures in negative terrain?


Story so far:

—Prices of West Texas Intermediate (WTI), the American benchmark for crude oil, fell to less than zero in Monday’s trade.

—The price of a barrel of WTI fell to minus, yes that is right, minus $37.63 a barrel. What this means is that sellers have to pay buyers to get rid of their crude!


Why did prices fall like this?

—As with all trading in commodities, there is a huge speculative participation in oil futures trading too. Therefore, speculators buy and sell contracts with no intention of taking delivery (in the case of buyers) or offering delivery (in the case of sellers) of the physical oil, on the contracted date.

—These speculators have to unwind their “positions” on the contract expiry date. If they fail to do so, they will have to take physical delivery of the crude oil on the contracted date.

—Speculators who had taken large bets on May futures began to unwind their “positions”. This was because the futures contracts are set to expire today. Those not intending to take physical delivery have to square off their contracts before the expiry date.


May WTI futures prices went negative but June futures prices are still at $20.43 a barrel. Why?

—Traders expect demand to recover by June as lockdowns are lifted across the world and economic activity resumes.

—Traders also expect that storage space may be created as existing inventory is drawn down.

—Finally, contract expiry for June contracts is still a few weeks away, giving speculators that much more time to speculate.


Market reports talk about contango trades in the oil market. What do they mean?

—Simply put, contango kicks in when prices of a commodity in the futures market are considerably higher for deliveries many months later, compared to prices for immediate delivery.

—For instance, while May oil futures are negative and June is at $20.43 a barrel, November futures for the same grade of oil ended at a hefty $31.66 a barrel on Monday.

— Contango trades happen when traders anticipate a surge or rise in demand and hence value the commodity higher for the future.


So, why can’t traders buy cheap oil now and store them for release in future when demand and prices rise?

—Traders are doing the same now. Yearlong hiring contracts for VLCC (very large crude carriers) that can store up to 2 million barrels of oil are soaring through the roof.

—According to a report in the Wall Street Journal, VLCC hiring charges for yearlong contracts are now at $72,500 a day, compared to $30,500 a day a year ago.

—This shows rising demand for such floating storage to take advantage of low prices now. These tankers are moored off the South African coast, which is equidistant to the American and Asian markets.

—But the problem is that such floating storage is also fast running out of capacity; land storage in America is already overflowing.


The prices of Brent grade are still at $25.70 a barrel for May futures. What’s the reason for the difference?

—Brent oil has traditionally quoted higher than WTI, with the gulf being about $6-7 a barrel between the two. Brent is a superior grade produced in the North Sea off the British coast and is the accepted benchmark for this part of the world.

—The market that it serves is considerably larger than that of the United States and demand is, therefore, higher.

—Transporting oil from the U.S. to Asia is not economical, thus limiting the scope for the WTI grade. —Refineries in Europe are configured for Brent, rather than WTI. Prices of Brent are, therefore, always higher than those of WTI.


How is India benefiting from this price crash?

—In two ways. First, the oil import bill will fall sharply this fiscal year, giving tremendous relief to the government on the external account front. With merchandise exports from India badly hit due to the lockdown in the West, foreign exchange earnings are under pressure.

—Second, India is quietly building up its strategic reserves, taking advantage of the cheap prices. India has a capacity to hold over 39 million barrels of oil at its strategic reserves in Vishakhapatnam, Mangalore and Padur, near Udupi.


Reference: https://www.thehindu.com/business/explained-why-are-oil-prices-in-negative-terrain/article31394425.ece


3. Regulator sweetens TLTRO deal for banks lending to NBFCs


—The Reserve Bank of India has allowed banks to exclude loans extended to non-banking finance companies from the funds availed under the Targeted Long Term Repo Operations ((TLTRO) for determining priority sector targets. This is intended to incentivise banks to lend to NBFCs.

—Securities kept in the held-to-maturity category will now be excluded from computation of adjusted non-food bank credit,

—The banking regulator had announced TLTRO worth ₹50,000 crores for banks on April 17.

—The funds availed of under the facility should be deployed in investment-grade bonds, commercial papers (CPs) and non-convertible debentures (NCDs) of NBFCs, the RBI had said.

—At least 50% of the total funds availed should be invested in mid and small-sized NBFCs, including micro finance institutions, the RBI had mandated.

—The central bank had further clarified that if banks failed to deploy the funds availed within 30 days, there will be steep penalties.

—The first tranche of ₹25,000 crores in the next round of TLTRO will be made on April 23.


About LTRO

— In the last monetary policy, instead of cutting the policy rates, the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) introduced a tool called long-term repo operation (LTRO) to inject liquidity in the system, as well as to ensure transmission of rates.

—Under LTRO, RBI provides longer-term (one- to three-year) loans to banks at the prevailing repo rate. As banks, get long-term funds at lower rates, their cost of funds falls. In turn, they reduce interest rates for borrowers. LTRO helped RBI ensure that banks reduce their marginal cost of funds-based lending rate, without reducing policy rates.

—LTRO also showed the market that RBI will not only rely on revising repo rates and conducting open market operations for its monetary policy, but also use new tools to achieve its intended objectives.

Reference: https://www.thehindu.com/business/regulator-sweetens-tltro-deal-for-banks-lending-to-nbfcs/article31399658.ece


4. SEBI eases norms on IPO, rights issues


—The Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI) has relaxed certain regulatory requirements related to rights issues and initial public offers (IPOs) to make it easier for companies to raise funds at a time when the COVID-19 pandemic has made the secondary markets increasingly volatile.

—The capital markets regulator has said that any listed entity with a market capitalisation of at least ₹100 crores can use the fast track route for rights issue. Earlier, the base limit was set at ₹250 crores for such offerings.

—Further, any company that has been listed for 18 months can raise funds through fast track rights issue. The earlier eligibility was set at three years.

—Also, the minimum subscription requirement to make the issue successful has been lowered from the earlier 90% of the offer size to 75% of the issuance.

—Meanwhile, issuers have been allowed to amend the issue size by up to 50% — up from the current 20% — without the requirement of filing a fresh draft offer document.

—SEBI has also extended the validity of its observations issued on draft documents by six months for issuers whose observations have expired or will expire between March 1 and September 30.

— SEBI issues final observations on IPO draft documents after which the company has one year to launch the public issue.


About SEBI

— The Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI) is the regulator of the securities and commodity market in India owned by the Government of India.

—It was established in 1988 and given Statutory Powers on 30 January 1992 through the SEBI Act, 1992.

 The SEBI is managed by its members, which consists of the following:

--The chairman is nominated by the Union Government of India.

--Two members, i.e., Officers from the Union Finance Ministry.

--One member from the Reserve Bank of India.

--The remaining five members are nominated by the Union Government of India; out of them, at least three shall be whole-time members.

--After the amendment of 1999, collective investment schemes were brought under SEBI except nidhis, chit funds and cooperatives.


Reference: https://www.thehindu.com/business/sebi-eases-norms-on-ipo-rights-issues/article31399959.ece