Policy Reviews

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Highlights of this Issue

National lockdown extended till January 31, 2021 with no further modifications

The eleventh extension of the lockdown continues to maintain the same protocols as those currently in force.  The focus is on surveillance and containment so that new Covid-19 cases are reduced. 

Operational guidelines for COVID-19 vaccine released

The guidelines identify priority groups as healthcare and frontline workers, and those over 50 years of age.  It also specifies training and safety precautions, establishes a digital platform and surveillance systems to monitor progress.

Standing Committee submits report on management of COVID-19

Key recommendations include: (i) framing a national plan to deal with future crises, (ii) augmenting public health infrastructure, and (iii) ensuring interstate operability of rations until One-Nation One-Ration card is implemented. 

RBI announces additional measures for liquidity support

On-tap TLTRO (targeted long-term repo) scheme was extended to cover 26 COVID-related stressed sectors.  The temporary decision (taken in April) to prohibit banks from declaring dividend for 2019-20 was finalised.  

Union Cabinet approves the Atmanirbhar Bharat Rojgar Yojana

The central government will pay PF contribution (of both employers and employees) for new employees for two years.  For establishments with more than 1,000 employees, it will only fund the employees’ contribution.

Standard operating procedure for surveillance of new variant of SARS-CoV-2 issued

All passengers arriving from United Kingdom between November 25, 2020 – December 23, 2020 to be kept under observation.  Passengers arriving between December 21-23, 2020 must be subjected to RT-PCR test.

First round of the National Family Health Survey-5 released

The first round of the survey covers key indicators on population, child health, and nutrition for 17 states.  It finds: (i) most states have achieved targeted fertility rate, (ii) increase in malnutrition among children in several states.

National Capital Territory of Delhi Laws Act amended through an Ordinance

The validity of the 2011 Act was extended to December 31, 2023.   The unauthorised colonies: (i) which existed as on June 1, 2014, and (ii) having 50% development as on January 1, 2015 will be eligible for regularisation. 

Comments invited on the report of the expert committee on non-personal data

The revised draft of the report on non-personal data governance framework defines high-value datasets of non-personal data.   It provides for mandatory sharing of such high value datasets for public good purposes.

New framework for the proliferation of broadband through public wi-fi networks

The framework named Prime Minister’s Wi-Fi Access Network Interface (PM-WANI) will allow local shops and small establishments to set up public wi-fi access points without any licence, registration, or fees.

Draft Indian Ports Bill, 2020 released for public comments

The draft Bill proposes to establish a Maritime Port Regulatory Authority and state Maritime Boards for regulation of ports.  It lays down a dispute redressal mechanism, standards for safety, and mechanisms for waste management.

Comments invited on the Draft National Rail Plan

Projects worth Rs 38 lakh crore are proposed for augmentation of Railways infrastructure during the 2021-2051 period.  These include three new dedicated freight corridors and several high-speed rail corridors.

 

COVID-19

As of December 31, 2020, there were 1,02,66,674 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in India.[1]   Of these, 98,60,280 had been cured/discharged and 1,48,738 persons had died.1  For details on the number of daily cases in the country and across states, please see here.  

With the spread of COVID-19, the central government has announced several policy decisions to contain the spread, and financial measures to support citizens and businesses who would get affected.  For details on the major notifications released by centre and the states, please see here.  Key announcements made in this regard in December 2020 are as follows.

Lockdown extended till January 31, 2021 

Roshni Sinha (roshni@prsindia.org)

To contain the spread of COVID-19, the National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) had imposed a 21-day national lockdown in March.[2]  Since then, the lockdown has been extended eleven times, with the latest extension till January 31, 2020.[3]   The latest lockdown guidelines extend the applicability of the December 2020 lockdown guidelines by another month.[4]  The December 2020 guidelines stressed on containing further COVID cases by focusing on a prescribed containment strategy, surveillance, and strict observance of lockdown-related guidelines.  

For a summary of the December 2020 guidelines, please see here.

Operational guidelines for COVID-19 vaccine released 

Shruti Gupta (shruti@prsindia.org) 

The Ministry of Health and Family Welfare released operational guidelines for the COVID-19 vaccine.[5]  The guidelines note that over 274 candidate vaccines for the COVID-19 virus are in different stages of development globally.   These guidelines are a part of preparatory measures to ensure that vaccines can be rolled out expeditiously, whenever it is available.  Key features of the guidelines include:

  • Priority groups:  The vaccine will be rolled out in a phased manner.   Phase I will cover healthcare and frontline workers, and persons above 50 years of age.  This will be followed by people below the age of 50 years with associated co-morbidities.  The latest electoral rolls for Lok Sabha and State Assembly elections will be used for identifying population on the basis of age. 
     
  • Training:   The guidelines recommend carrying out training of trainers for enumerators, health functionaries and communication using a mix of virtual and face-to-face training.  It states that the vaccine will be introduced after all training is completed at the district and planning unit.  Cold chain handlers, and vaccinators will be trained on procedures for vaccine, logistics management, infection prevention and control precautions.
     
  • Sessions:  The vaccination process would be similar to election process, with states identifying specific days for vaccination.  A vaccination team will consist of: (i) a vaccinator officer including doctors, nurses, pharmacists, and others authorised to administer injections; (ii) two vaccination officers responsible for checking registration status, regulating entry and authenticating identification documents; and (iii) two vaccination officers acting as support staff to manage crowds and ensure a 30-minute waiting time post-vaccination.  
     
  • Tracking:  A digital platform, COVID-19 Vaccine Intelligence Network (Co-WIN) system, will be used to track enlisted beneficiaries for vaccination vaccines on a real-time basis.  The existing surveillance system monitoring adverse events following immunisation will be utilised to understand safety profiles.  This will be integrated with Co-WIN system to ensure rapid detection.
     
  • Safety and management:  Sufficient police arrangements must be made to ensure that there are no leakages in delivery systems for vaccines.  States must ensure that an adequate cold-chain storage capacity exists. 

Establishment of Indian SARS-CoV-2 Genomics Consortium proposed

Aditya Kumar (aditya@prsindia.org)

The Ministry of Health and Family Welfare proposed establishment of Indian SARS-CoV-2 Genomics Consortium (INSACOG), in view of new variant of SARS-CoV-2 virus.[6]   INSACOG will be responsible for expanding genomic sequencing of the SARS-CoV-2 virus in the country.  Genomic sequencing refers to the study of genetics.   The genomic sequencing of the virus will help in: (i) understanding current status of new variants of the virus in the country, (ii) establishing a surveillance mechanism for early detection of genomic variants, and (iii) determining genomic variants in unusual events (such as super-spreading and high mortality).

A two-level structure has been proposed to facilitate the genome sequencing in the country: (i) central level, and (ii) regional level.  At the central level, a nodal unit will be created at the National Centre for Disease Control, which will coordinate with state/district level surveillance units.  At the regional level, regional genome sequencing laboratories (RGSL) will conduct genome sequencing.

Sequencing will be conducted through ten RGSLs across the country.  All sequencing data will be maintained in a national database at National Institute of Biomedical Genomics, Kalyani and Institute of Genomics and Integrative Biology, Delhi.

Initially, the priority for genome sequencing will be given to: (i) RT-PCR positive samples during past two months, and (ii) RT-PCR positive arriving international passengers since November 23, 2020 till December 22, 2020.  In addition, a random sampling of 5% positive samples since November 23, 2020 will sent for genome sequencing in concerned RGSLs.  Further, each state will have to send 5% of positive samples, detected daily, to the nearest RGSL for the genome sequencing.  

As of December 29, 2020, out of all passengers who arrived at various Indian airports from United Kingdom between November 25, 2020 and December 23, 2020, 114 were found to be positive and their samples were sent for genome sequencing.  Six samples were found to be positive with the genome variant detected in United Kingdom and genome sequencing of other samples is under progress.[7]

Standard operating procedure for epidemiological surveillance and response to new variant of SARS-CoV-2 issued

Aditya Kumar (aditya@prsindia.org)

The Ministry of Health and Family Welfare issued standard operating procedure (SOP) for epidemiological surveillance and response in the context of new variant of SARS-CoV-2 virus detected in United Kingdom.[8]  The SOP provides for actions required at the point of entry in the country for all international passengers who travelling from or transited through United Kingdom since November 25, 2020 to December 23, 2020.  Key features of the SOP include:

  • Actions to be taken at international airports:  All international passengers arriving from United Kingdom between December 21-23, 2020 must be subjected to RT-PCR test.  For passengers who test positive, the spike gene-based RT-PCR test should be performed.  Passengers testing positive must be isolated in an isolation facility and the samples must be sent for genome sequencing.

In case the genome sequencing indicates new variant of SARS-CoV-2 virus, the isolation of the patient must be continued in a separate unit.   The patient must be tested on 14th day from the day of initial positive test result.  In case of positive test result, further sample may be taken until two consecutive samples, at an interval of 24 hours, test negative. 

  • Responsibilities of Bureau of Immigration:  The Bureau of Immigration must share the details of all flights (between November 25, 2020 to December 23, 2020), from United Kingdom at various international airports in India, to state government/integrated disease surveillance program (IDSP).
     
  • Surveillance by IDSP:  All contacts of RT-PCR positive international passengers arriving on December 21-23, 2020 must be quarantined in separate isolation units and must be subjected to be testing (RT-PCR test and if found positive, spike gene-based RT-PCR).  All RT-PCR negative passengers must be advised for home quarantine.  District surveillance officers should ensure daily follow up with passengers under observation for up to 28 days from the date of arrival in India.

RBI announces additional measures for liquidity support 

Madhunika Iyer (madhunika@prsindia.org)

Reserve Bank of India (RBI) announced policies to ease financial stress caused by COVID-19.[9]  The measures announced include:

  • Liquidity measure:  In October 2020, RBI had announced the launch of on-tap TLTRO (targeted long term repurchase operations), up to March 31, 2021.[10]  Under the scheme, banks can borrow money for a period of three years which may either be (i) invested in bonds and other financial instruments, or (ii) used to extend loans to entities operating in certain sectors.  Previously, sectors covered by the scheme were agriculture, agri-infrastructure, MSMEs (micro, small and medium enterprises), and drugs, pharmaceuticals and healthcare.  
     
  • The scheme has been expanded to cover entities in 26 stressed sectors (such as real estate, construction, and hospitality) identified by the Expert Committee on Resolution of COVID-19 related Stress.[11]  The Committee (Chair: K. V. Kamath) was constituted by RBI in August to make recommendations related to the Resolution Framework for COVID-related Stress.[12]
     
  • Freeze on dividend payment by banks:  In April 2020, RBI announced that banks could not declare dividend from the profits for the financial year 2019-20 until further assessment.[13]  The freeze was instituted as a measure to conserve capital of banks.  RBI has now finalised its decision to prevent banks from declaring dividend from the profits of the financial year 2019-20.

Union Cabinet approves the Atmanirbhar Bharat Rojgar Yojana 

Roshni Sinha (roshni@prsindia.org)

In November 2020, the Finance Minister announced measures to increase employment, and provide stimulus to certain sectors.[14]  One of these measures was a new scheme, i.e., the Atmanirbhar Bharat Rojgar Yojana to provide government subsidy for provident fund contributions.  The Union Cabinet has now approved the scheme.[15]    

The Employees’ Provident Fund and Miscellaneous Provisions Act, 1952 provides for a contribution-based provident fund scheme for employees in establishments.  As per the newly approved scheme, the central government will pay the employees’ provident fund (EPF) contribution for new employees for two years.   For establishments with less than 1,000 employees, the government will cover the EPF contribution of 12% each of both the employer and the employee.  For others, the government will only cover the employee’s EPF contribution. 

The benefit will be available to new employees earning less than Rs 15,000 per month and engaged between October 1, 2020 and June 30, 2021.  New employees are defined to mean: (i) employees who were not working in any establishment registered with the Employees’ Provident Fund Organisation (EPFO) before October 1, 2020 and did not have a Universal Account Number (UAN) or EPF member account number prior to October 1 2020, or (ii) any EPF member possessing UAN who left employment between March 1, 2020 and September 30, 2020 and did not join any EPF covered establishment up to September 30, 2020.  The UAN is a unique member number allotted by the EPFO (set up under the 1952 Act).  

The Union Cabinet approved an expenditure of Rs. 1,584 crores on the scheme for the current financial year and Rs 22,810 crore for the entire scheme period (2020-2023).  

Standing Committee submits report on management of COVID-19

Roshni Sinha (roshni@prsindia.org)

The Standing Committee on Home Affairs submitted its report on the management of the COVID-19 pandemic.[16]  Key recommendations of the Committee include: 

  • Preparedness:   The Committee noted that the sudden imposition of the lockdown caused an unprecedented economic disruption.  It also caused fear and anxiety among migrant workers leading to large-scale movement of migrants back to their home states.   To address such a crisis in the future, the Committee recommended framing a national plan and guidelines under the Disaster Management Act, 2005 and the Epidemic Diseases Act, 1897.
     
  • Health infrastructure:  The Committee noted that the central and state governments incurred heavy expenditure on COVID-19 treatment.  It noted the need for a strong public healthcare system to deal with such shocks.   Therefore, it recommended greater investment in health infrastructure to scale up public health services and increasing budgetary allocation to public hospitals.  
     
  • Vaccines:   The Committee recommended that while undertaking vaccine trials, all mandatory requirements must be fulfilled, and all phases of the trial must be completed.  The Committee noted that emergency use authorisation should only be used in the rarest of rare cases.
     
  • Data collection:   The Committee noted that a study is needed to understand the patterns in test rate, recovery and fatality rate.   It also recommended that relevant data should be made publicly available to the research community to provide inputs for COVID-19 management, and to provide real-time solutions to control the pandemic.  Such disclosure should follow principles of data anonymisation, security and privacy laws.
     
  • Malpractices:   The Committee noted reports of private hospitals selling beds for treatment and black-marketing and overpricing of certain medicines.  It recommended a comprehensive national public health Act to keep a check on private hospitals and black-marketing, and creating awareness campaigns on availability of cheaper and effective repurposed medicines. 
     
  • Social impact:   To address the social impact of COVID-19 on the poor, the Committee recommended that a national database on migrant workers be launched at the earliest to help in their identification and to ensure delivery of rations and benefits to them. 
     
  • Food distribution:  The Committee recommended that until all states implement One Nation One Ration card, inter-state operability of ration cards must be allowed.
     
  • Economic impact:   The Committee observed that MSMEs were very adversely affected sectors during the pandemic.  It noted the need to support MSMEs with dire working capital requirements to sustain the impact of COVID-19.  

For a PRS summary of the report, see here

Suspension of corporate insolvency proceedings under IBC extended 

Madhunika Iyer (madhunika@prsindia.org)

The Ministry of Corporate Affairs extended the suspension of corporate insolvency resolution proceedings under the Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code (IBC), 2016 for three months starting December 25, 2020.[17]  The suspension was extended by three months in September, 2020.[18]  The latest notification further extends the suspension such that no insolvency proceedings can be initiated for defaults occurring between March 25, 2020 and March 24, 2021. 

The Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code (Amendment) Ordinance, 2020 was promulgated in June 2020 to suspend the initiation of insolvency resolution proceedings against corporate debtors during COVID-19.[19]  It provided that no insolvency proceedings can be initiated against corporate debtors for defaults occurring between March 25 and September 24, 2020.  The Ordinance allowed the government to extend the suspension by up to six months.

Domestic civil flight capacity increased

Aditya Kumar (aditya@prsindia.org)

The Ministry of Civil Aviation increased the domestic civil flight operation capacity from 70% to 80%.[20]   Domestic civil flight operations were partially resumed with certain limitations in May 2020.[21]

Flights from United Kingdom to India temporarily suspended

Aditya Kumar (aditya@prsindia.org)

The Director General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) suspended all flights to and from United Kingdom till January 7, 2021.[22],[23]  The suspension of flights came into effect on December 22, 2020.  The suspension is not applicable to international all-cargo operations and flights specifically approved by DGCA.

Airlines are required to ensure that no passenger from United Kingdom boards any flight to India and to any destination within India.22

Any passenger arriving to India from United Kingdom is required to take an RT-PCR test at the arrival port in India.  Passengers testing COVID-19 positive will be quarantined as per the guidelines issued by the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare.  All medical costs incurred will be borne by the passengers.22

The Environment (Protection) Third Amendment Rules, 2020 notified

Aditya Kumar (aditya@prsindia.org)

The Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change notified the Environment (Protection) Third Amendment Rules, 2020 which amend the Environment (Protection) Rules, 1986.[24]  The 1986 Rules specify that the central government may prohibit/restrict industrial locations or industrial activities in an area, through notifications.[25]   Such restrictions may include: (i) limits on industrial pollutants and emissions (such as a limit on nitrogen oxide emission from thermal power plants), and (ii) proximity to human settlements (restrictions on industrial activities within certain areas from the boundaries of human settlements).

The amendments extend the validity of the notifications with such restrictions, expiring in financial year 2020-21, to June 30, 2021 in view of COVID-19 pandemic.

Directions for aeromedical disposition of COVID-19 positive aircrew issued

Aditya Kumar (aditya@prsindia.org)

The Director General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) issued directions for aeromedical disposition of COVID-19 positive aircrew.[26]  Aeromedical disposition refers to medical assessment of individuals for flying purposes.  The key features of the directions include:

  • Asymptomatic crew:  All asymptomatic aircrew is required to undergo 10 days home isolation.  After completion of this period, the aircrew may be declared fit for unrestricted flying by an authorised medical attendant. 
     
  • Mildly symptomatic crew:  Aircrew with mild symptoms will undergo home isolation.  After completing isolation period, the aircrew may be discharged from isolation after 10 days of no symptoms and three days of no fever.  Aircrew with up to 14 days of isolation period will have aeromedical disposition as that of asymptomatic crew. 
     
  • Aircrew with isolation period more than 14 days will be examined by the DGCA on completion of isolation.  The aircrew may commence flying on being declared fit for flying by DGCA. 
     
  • Moderately/severely symptomatic crew:  Aircrew with moderate or severe symptoms, after clinical recovery, will have to undergo special medical examination at Indian Air Force boarding centres.  Such pilots will be considered fit for flying if their clinical examinations and laboratory investigations reveal no functional deficit. 

SOP and guidelines for organising sports competitions released

Anurag Vaishnav (anurag@prsindia.org)

The Ministry of Youth Affairs and Sports has released the standard operating procedures (SOP) and guidelines for organising sports competitions in the country in a COVID-19 environment.[27]  Key features of the SOP include: 

  • Facility arrangements:  All workout areas, fields of play, gymnasiums, washrooms and other common areas at the sporting arena should be sanitised prior to beginning operations.  The medical unit at the sporting venue must have an isolation facility.  In the sporting arena, the number of breakout rooms or lounges where individuals gather should be reduced.  
     
  • Institutional arrangements:  A COVID task force must be constituted for each sporting event by the organising committee which will be responsible for implementation and monitoring of these guidelines.  The task force will also regulate and monitor the travel of sports personnel.
     
  • Spectator management:  As far as feasible, natural ventilation must be ensured and use of small enclosed spaces must be discouraged.  For outdoor events, spectators will be allowed up to a maximum of 50% of the total capacity of the stadium.  For closed enclosures, the guidelines by the central public works department specifying the air-conditioning temperature and humidity must be followed. 
     
  • Other safety measures:  Thermal screening of all sports personnel should be done before allowing access to the common field of play.  Depending on the risk perception and scale of event, the organising committee may undertake RT-PCT tests of athletes.  Only those with a negative report will be allowed to participate.  Athletes from containment zones will not be allowed entry. 

Export policies for medical goggles and gloves revised

Madhunika Iyer (madhunika@prsindia.org)

The Ministry of Commerce and Industry revised the export policy for medical goggles, and gloves.[28]  In January 2020, the export of medical goggles, and nitrile gloves was prohibited. [29]  In July 2020, the export policy for medical goggles was revised, permitting export of up to 20 lakh units per month.[30]   In October, the export policy for nitrile gloves was revised from prohibited to restricted.[31]   The latest notification removes the restrictions, making medical goggles and nitrile gloves freely exportable.

 

Macroeconomic Development

Madhunika Iyer (madhunika@prsindia.org)

Current account surplus at 2.4% of GDP during the second quarter of 2020-21

India’s current account balance in the second quarter (July-September) of 2020-21 recorded a surplus of USD 15.5 billion (2.4% of GDP) as compared to a deficit of USD 7.6 billion (1.1% of GDP) in the second quarter of 2019-20.[32]   The surplus is lower than the surplus of USD 19.2 billion (3.8% of GDP) recorded in the first quarter (April-June) of 2020-21.  The moderation in current account surplus from Q1 to Q2 of 2020-21 was primarily due to a rise in the trade deficit (excess of imports over exports) from USD 10.8 billion in Q1 to USD 14.8 billion in Q2 of 2020-21.  Trade deficit in Q2 of 2020-21 (USD 14.8 billion) was lower than the trade deficit in Q2 of 2019-20 (USD 39.7 billion). 

The capital account captures transactions that change the asset/liability position of entities in India.  Net inflow (inflow minus outflow) in the capital account was USD 15.4 billion in Q2 2020-21 higher than both Q2 of 2019-20 (USD 13.6 billion) and Q1 of 2020-21 (USD 1 billion).  This was primarily due to larger net inflow of foreign investment.

Foreign exchange reserves increased by USD 31.6 billion in the second quarter of 2020-21, higher than the increase of USD 5.1 billion in the second quarter of 2019-20, and USD 19.8 billion in the first quarter of 2020-21.

Overall, in H1 of 2020-21 (April-September 2020), India recorded a current account surplus of USD 34.7 billion (3.1% of GDP) compared to the deficit of USD 22.5 billion (1.6% of GDP) in H1 of 2019-20.  This was primarily due to a smaller trade deficit of USD 25.6 billion recorded in H1 of 2020-21 as compared to the deficit of USD 86.4 billion in the corresponding period of 2019-20.  Foreign exchange reserves increased by USD 51.4 billion in H1 of 2020-21, larger than the increase of USD 19.1 billion in H1 of 2019-20.

Table 1: Balance of Payments, Q2 2020-21 (USD billion)

 

Q2

Q1

Q2

2019-20

2020-21

2020-21

Current Account

-7.6

19.2

15.5

Capital Account

13.6

1.0

15.4

Errors and Omissions

-0.9

-0.4

0.6

Change in reserves

5.1

19.8

31.6

Sources: Reserve Bank of India; PRS.

Repo and reverse repo rates unchanged at 4% and 3.35% respectively

The Monetary Policy Committee (MPC) released its bi-monthly Monetary Policy Statement.[33]  The policy repo rate (the rate at which RBI lends money to banks) remained unchanged at 4%. Other decisions of the MPC include:

  • The reverse repo rate (the rate at which RBI borrows money from banks) remained unchanged at 3.35%.
     
  • The marginal standing facility rate (the rate at which banks can borrow additional money) and the bank rate (the rate at which the RBI buys bills of exchange) also remained unchanged at 4.25%.
     
  • The MPC decided to maintain an accommodative stance of monetary policy to revive economic growth on a durable basis while ensuring inflation remains within the target band (2% to 6%).

The MPC projected Consumer Price Index (CPI) inflation at 6.8% and 5.8% for the third and fourth quarter of 2020-21 respectively.  Inflation is expected to be between 5.2% and 4.6% in the first half of 2021-22.

 

Finance

Madhunika Iyer (madhunika@prsindia.org)

RBI released draft Directions for entities dealing in OTC derivatives

Reserve Bank of India (RBI) released the draft Market-makers in OTC Derivatives Directions, 2020 for public comments.[34]  The Directions will apply to entities such as banks and primary dealers that deal in over the counter (OTC) derivatives.   Derivatives are instruments that are settled at a future date and derive their value from changes in interest rate, exchange rate, or an underlying security.[35]  OTC derivatives are contracts that are directly traded between two parties (as opposed to those traded on a stock exchange).   For a derivative contract, an entity that provides both bids and offers at the same time is a market-maker.  The draft Directions seek to replace guidelines issued in 2007.[36]  The draft Directions provide:

  • Governance:  The Board of Directors and senior management of the market-maker should set up effective risk management and internal control policies before engaging in market making. 
     
  • Due diligence:  The market-maker must undertake due diligence at the time of introduction of an OTC derivative product.  This includes an assessment of the objectives of the product, target client, and key risks for the client from the product. 
     
  • Pricing and valuation:  Pricing and periodic valuations of derivatives must be documented.  Sellers cannot sell derivatives that they cannot price independently.  
     
  • User dealing conduct:  A seller of a derivative product must undertake due diligence about the buyer.  A seller can only sell a product that is understood by the buyer, suited to the buyer’s requirements.

Comments on the draft framework are invited till January 15, 2021.[37]

IFSCA notifies Regulations for operating a Bullion Exchange in the IFSC

The International Financial Services Centre Authority (IFSCA) notified the Bullion Exchange Regulations, 2020.[38]  The Regulations provide a framework for recognition of bullion exchanges, and bullion clearing corporations in the International Financial Services Centre (IFSC).  The Finance Minister had announced a plan to set up bullion exchanges in the IFSC in the 2020-21 Budget speech.[39]   Bullion is defined to include gold, silver, and other precious metals.  Bullion exchanges can trade contracts for purchase and sale of bullion, derivatives on bullion, and bullion depository receipts.  Bullion depository receipt is a document of title for bullion stored in an empanelled vault.  Key features of the Regulations include:

  • Recognition:  An applicant may be recognised as a bullion exchange or a bullion clearing corporation if the applicant meets certain criteria.  These include: (i) net worth of USD 30 million, (ii) requisite financial and functional expertise, and (iii) the directors meet the fit and proper criteria.
     
  • Functions of bullion exchange:  The bullion exchange is responsible for regulating bullion contracts and the conduct of intermediaries (such as trading members) for the protection of consumers.  Further, every exchange must avail the services of a clearing corporation.
     
  • Ownership:  Any bullion exchange or recognised stock exchange, Indian or of a foreign jurisdiction, may provide the services of a bullion exchange or clearing corporation in the IFSC.  Up to 51% of paid-up share capital can be held by the bullion or stock exchange (whether Indian or foreign).
     
  • Obligations:  Every bullion exchange must establish a consumer education and protection fund to compensate consumers in case of defaults.  Every bullion clearing corporation must establish a Fund to guarantee settlement of trades executed on a bullion exchange. 
     
  • Bullion depositories and vaults:  A bullion depository maintains records of transactions of bullion depository receipts, which are documents of title of bullion stored in vaults.  The Regulations outline the functions, duties and obligations of these entities. 

RBI permits Regional Rural Banks to access additional liquidity facilities

Reserve Bank of India (RBI) will permit Scheduled Regional Rural Banks to access the liquidity adjustment facility, the marginal standing facility, and the call money market.[40]   These measures are expected to improve liquidity management.  Until now, these facilities were available to scheduled commercial banks, certain co-operative banks and primary dealers.  Scheduled Regional Rural Banks that meet certain criteria (such as maintenance of adequate capital) will be eligible to avail the facilities. 

Liquidity adjustment facility (LAF) is a window through which RBI provides liquidity (at the repo rate) and absorbs liquidity (at the reverse repo rate).  Marginal standing facility (MSF) is a facility where banks can borrow additional liquidity over the limits prescribed under the LAF.  Call money market is a market for uncollateralised, interbank short-term lending. 

RBI releases draft circular on distribution of dividend by NBFCs 

Reserve Bank of India (RBI) released a draft circular on distribution of dividend by non-banking financial companies (NBFCs).[41]  Key features of the circular include:

  • Eligibility:  NBFCs that meet minimum threshold values for financial parameters such as non-performing assets (NPAs) may be eligible to declare dividend.  The financial parameter considered varies for different kinds of NBFCs.  For example, Deposit taking NBFC (NBFC-D), and Systemically Important Non-Deposit taking NBFC (SI-ND-NBFC), must maintain (i) capital adequacy ratio of at least 15%, and (ii) net NPA of less than 6%, for three successive years, including the year for which it proposes to declare dividend. 
     
  • NBFCs may be eligible to declare dividend even if the above criteria are not met for the previous two years, provided: (i) the norm for capital adequacy is achieved, and (ii) net NPA is less than 4%, for the year for which dividend is proposed to be declared.    
     
  • Amount of dividend payable:  The draft circular provides the maximum dividend pay-out ratio that will be permitted for various combinations of capital adequacy and net NPA.  NBFCs achieving higher capital adequacy ratio and lower net NPA will be allowed to declare a greater proportion of their net profit as dividend (dividend pay-out ratio).   The permissible pay-out ratio ranges from 10% to 50%. 
     
  • Restrictions on dividend pay-out ratio do not apply to NBFCs that don’t access or intend to access public funds, or interface with customers (Type I NBFC).[42] 
     
  • Applicability:  If notified, the circular would be applicable for dividend to be declared for financial year 2020-21 onwards.

Health

First round of the National Family Health Survey-5 released

Anya Bharat Ram (anya@prsindia.org)

The Ministry of Health and Family Welfare has completed the first round of the fifth phase of the National Family Health Survey (NFHS).[43]  The fourth round of NFHS was conducted five years ago in 2015-16.  The survey covers key indicators on population, reproductive and child health, family welfare, and nutrition.  The first phase covers 17 states and 5 union territories.  Key results of the survey include: 

  • Fertility rate:  The replacement level of fertility at which population stability is achieved (i.e., population replaces itself) has been achieved in 19 out of the 22 states and union territories.   Three states (Bihar, Manipur, and Meghalaya) have a total fertility rate (average number of children born to a woman) higher than the replacement level.
     
  • Sex ratio:  Sex ratio at birth refers to the number of female children born per 1,000 male children.  It was below 900 in Telangana, Himachal Pradesh, Goa, Daman and Diu, and Dadra and Nagar Haveli. 
     
  • Infant mortality:  Infant mortality rate has marginally declined in nearly all states.   Assam has seen one of the largest drops in it, from 48 deaths (per 1,000 live births) to 32 deaths.  It remains high in Bihar (47 deaths per 1,000 live births).
     
  • Malnutrition:  Nutritional status of children below 5 years of age is worsening.  Stunting or chronic malnutrition (i.e., low height with respect to age) has increased in 11 of the 17 states.  Proportion of severely wasted children has increased in 13 of the 17 states.    Wasting or acute malnutrition refers to low weight with respect to height.   Children who are stunted or wasted are more vulnerable to diseases and illness.
     
  • Internet usage:  Across all states, the proportion of men who have used the internet was higher than women, with the difference being higher than 25%-point in states such as Telangana, Gujarat, and Andhra Pradesh.  In Andhra Pradesh, Bihar, and Tripura, less than 25% women have used internet.

For a chart-based discussion on the survey, please see here.

ICMR paper discussing the health and economic impact of air-pollution released

Shruti Gupta (shruti@prsindia.org) 

The India State-level Disease Burden Initiative published a paper discussing the economic impact and disease burden attributable to air pollution for 2019.[44]   This initiative was launched in 2015 as a joint effort between more than 100 institutions under the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare (including Indian Council of Medical Research).  Key findings of the paper include: 

  • Deaths:  17 lakh deaths in India in the year 2019 can be attributed to air pollution.  This is 18% of the total deaths in India in 2019. 
     
  • Economic loss:  The economic loss due to lost output from premature deaths and morbidity was 1.4% of the GDP, equivalent to Rs 2.6 lakh crore.  The economic loss due to this as a percentage of state GDP was higher in norther states.  The highest among them were Uttar Pradesh (2.2% of the GSDP) and Bihar (2% of the GSDP).
     
  • Increase in death rate:  Between 1990 and 2019, death rate from outdoor ambient air pollution increased by 115%.

 

Heavy Industries

Anurag Vaishnav (anurag@prsindia.org)

Standing Committee submits report on downturn in the automobile sector

The Standing Committee on Industry submitted its report on ‘Downturn in Automobile Sector – its impact and measures for revival’.[45]  The Committee looked at the downturn in the sector in 2019-20, the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the sector, and recommended measures for the revival of the sector. 

The Committee observed that there has been a downturn in the sector from 2019-20.  The drop in sales has forced manufacturers to cut production, including the production of auto components and ancillaries.  As a result, about 3.45 lakh jobs in the auto sector have been lost.  Further, the national lockdown imposed due to the COVID-19 pandemic led to a complete shutdown of the industry, leading to a loss of approximately Rs 2,300 crore per day during the national lockdown.

Table 2: Domestic automobile sales

Grade

April-Sept 2019

Change from same period in 2018

Passenger vehicles

 13,33,251 

-23.6%

Commercial vehicles

 3,75,480 

-23.0%

3 Wheelers

 3,30,696 

-6.7%

2 Wheelers

 96,96,733 

-16.2%

Total

 1,17,36,976 

-17.1%

The Committee recommended the following measures for revival of the sector: 

  • Rationalisation of GST rates:  Internal combustion engine (ICE) based vehicles (includes all petrol and diesel-engine based vehicles) attract the highest GST rate of 28% and an additional compensation cess ranging from 1% to 22%.  The Committee recommended that a GST rate of 18% will help bring down the prices, and drive up the demand for these vehicles.  Further, the GST rate on used cars should be reduced from the current 12% or 18% to 4%.
     
  • Relief package:  The Committee observed that the relief package announced by the government to revive the economy post the COVID-19 pandemic falls short of addressing issues related to the automobile sector.  It held that the package is targeted to boost only the supply side of the economy.  It recommended that the government should announce a stimulus package for demand generation in the auto sector.
     
  • Other measures:  The Committee recommended: (i) expenditure incurred by auto sector companies for making payments to temporary and contract labour during the lockdown should be eligible for corporate social responsibility (CSR) expense, (ii) self-certification by manufacturers should be allowed for regulatory requirements instead of testing and subsequent approval by government agencies.

For a PRS summary of the report, see here

 

Sports

Shruti Gupta (shruti@prsindia.org) 

Standing Committee submits its report on Preparation for Olympic Games, 2021

The Standing Committee Education, Women, Children, Youth and Sports submitted its report on Preparation for Olympic Games, 2021.[46]   Key recommendations of the Committee include: 

  • Shortage of coaches:  The Committee noted that 561 vacancies exist for the positions of coaches.  It recommended filling these up in a time-bound fashion.   
     
  • Training:  Head coaches must create a customised 200-day plan for qualified athletes based on assessments taking into account physiological, mental and nutritional evaluations.
     
  • Procurement of sports equipment:  The Committee recommended appointing a Chief Procurement Officer to coordinate and fast-track procurement of sports equipment.  
     
  • Financial support:  The Committee recommended certain measures for providing financial support to sportspersons: (i) guaranteeing a minimum fixed financial aid for every athlete doing well at the national level, (ii) formulating a mechanism to ensure financial security for players and coaches during and post their careers based on their contribution, and (iii) covering life and health insurance for all Olympians.   Further, it recommended a 3% sports quota reservation in government jobs for all medal winning athletes. 
     
  • Funding:  The Committee recommended the Indian Olympic Association to sign up with a sponsorship management firm to gain corporate sponsorship for the Olympics.  
     
  • Investment:  The Committee recommended that state governments should recognise sports as an ‘industry’ under their industrial policies to encourage investment in the sector.   It also recommended taking measures to increase the Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) contributions to sports, which currently comprises only about 2% of all CSR funds. 

For a PRS summary of the report, see here

 

Urban Affairs

Aditya Kumar (aditya@prsindia.org)

The National Capital Territory of Delhi Laws Act amended

The National Capital Territory of Delhi Laws (Special Provisions) Second (Amendment) Ordinance, 2020 was promulgated on December 30, 2020.[47]  The Ordinance amends the National Capital Territory of Delhi Laws (Special Provisions) Second Act, 2011.[48]  

The 2011 Act provides for: (i) relocating slum dwellers and Jhuggi-Jhompri clusters in accordance with the provisions of the Delhi Shelter Improvement Board Act, 2010 and the Master Plan for Delhi, 2021, (ii) regularising unauthorised colonies, village abadi areas (and their extensions), (iii) creating a policy or plan for farm houses constructed beyond permissible building limits, and for all other areas of the National Capital Territory of Delhi, and (iv) not taking any punitive action and minimising inconvenience to the people of Delhi in case of any demolition or sealing of structures under the Master Plan for Delhi.  The Master Plan for Delhi 2021 was notified by the central government on February 7, 2007.   It provides for strategies of housing for urban poor as well as for dealing with the informal sector.

The 2011 Act was valid till December 31, 2020.  The Ordinance extends this deadline to December 31, 2023. 

The 2011 Act also provided for the regularisation of unauthorised colonies (i) which existed as on March 31, 2002, and (ii) where construction took place till June 1, 2014.  The Ordinance amends this to provide that the unauthorised colonies will be identified for regularisation as per the National Capital Territory of Delhi (Recognition of Property Rights of Residents in Unauthorised Colonies) Act, 2019, and the National Capital Territory of Delhi (Recognition of Property Rights of Residents in Unauthorised Colonies) Regulations, 2019.  Thus, the unauthorised colonies: (i) which existed as on June 1, 2014, and (ii) having 50% development as on January 1, 2015 will be eligible for regularisation.[49]

For a PRS summary of the report, see here

 

Transport

Metro Railways General Rules notified

Shruti Gupta (shruti@prsindia.org)

The Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs notified the Metro Railways General Rules, 2020 under the Metro Railways (Operation and Maintenance) Act, 2002.[50]  The Rules replace the Metro Railways General Rules, 2013.[51]  The 2020 Rules seek to regulate the operation and maintenance of all metro railways in India, except the Kolkata metro (which is under the purview of the Ministry of Railways).  Key features of the 2020 Rules include: 

  • Personnel:  The Rules provide directions on the conduct and specific duties for persons working in the Metro Authorities and those authorised to manage services within it.  The personnel regulated under the Rules include the station controller, platform supervisor and booking office staff.  The Rules also specify qualifications for train operators and other key personnel.  For instance, a driver must have a certificate of competence and medical fitness. 
     
  • Safety:  The Rules specify protocols to be followed to mitigate safety concerns like poor visibility and speed limits to be adhered with.   Stations must have emergency exits.   Protocols to be followed in cases of accidents, unusual occurrences, mechanical failures and flooding have also been laid down in the Rules.  For example, in case of flooding, those observing water accumulation on the tracks must report it to the traffic controller.  The traffic controller then must instruct and notify train operators of all trains required to pass through the area to reduce speed or not enter the area. 
     
  • Crowd management:  The Station Controller can decide when a build-up of passengers becomes unmanageable.  Flow of passengers can be reduced by: (i) making a warning announcement and stopping inwards escalators, (ii) switching out some inward automatic fare collection barriers, (iii) instructing the ticket sales staff to stop selling tickets, and (iv) closing station entrances for new passengers. 
     
  • Emergency evacuation:  The Station Controller can control evacuation due to cessation of train services or any other emergency.  In such an event: (i) all automatic fare collection barriers will be set to open freely in the exit direction, (ii) information will be passed using the public address system, (iii) inwards escalators may be used in the outward direction, and (iv) ticket sales will be suspended. 
     
  • Under the Rules, each station must also be provided with Station Working Orders specifying: (i) location of equipment and guidelines for use, (ii) emergency evacuation routes, (iii) designated entrances for police, fire and ambulance vehicles, and (iv) list of medical facilities which are locally available. 

Comments invited on the Draft National Rail Plan

Saket Surya (saket@prsindia.org)

The Ministry of Railways invited comments on the Draft National Rail Plan.[52],[53],[54]  The plan seeks to improve the infrastructural capacity of Railways to cater to growth in demand up to the year 2050.  It aims to increase the modal share of Railways in freight from 27% currently to 45% by 2030.  The implementation cost of projects under the plan will be about Rs 38 lakh crore (see Table 3).

These projects will be executed between 2021 and 2051.53  The plan envisages an initial surge in capital investment up to 2030.  Post 2030, it is expected that revenue surplus generated would be adequate to finance future capital investments and government funding will not be required. 

Table 3: Cost of National Rail Plan (in Rs lakh crore)

Head

2021

-26

2026

-31

2031

-41

2041

-51

Total

Dedicated Freight Corridors

-

1.5

0.5

0.3

2.3

High Speed Rail Corridors

-

5.1

2.9

7.0

15.0

Network improvements

1.3

0.7

2.2

1.8

6.0

Flyovers and Bypasses

0.8

-

-

-

0.8

Terminals

0.6

0.2

0.1

0.04

0.9

Rolling Stock

3.1

1.7

3.6

4.8

13.2

Total

5.8

9.2

9.3

13.9

38.2

Key proposals under the Plan are:

  • Dedicated freight corridors:  Three new dedicated freight corridors with a cumulative length of 5,750 km will be developed: (i) East coast (Kharagpur-Vijaywada), (ii) East-West (Palghar-Dankuni), and (iii) North-South (Pirthala-Arakkonam).53
     
  • High-speed rail corridors:  Several high-speed rail corridors with a cumulative length of 7,479 km will be developed (Table 3).  
  • Network improvements:  Number of lines will be increased on specified routes with higher capacity utilisation or high traffic demand such as Delhi-Howrah, Mumbai-Chennai, and Kharagpur-Udhna.  Connectivity with ports and industrial corridors will be improved.  These projects will cover 75,194 network kilometres.53

Table 4: Proposed High-Speed Rail Corridors

Phase

Corridors

2031

Delhi-Ayodhya-Varanasi, Varanasi- Patna, Patna-Kolkata, Delhi-Udaipur-Ahmedabad

2041

Hyderabad-Bangalore, Nagpur-Varanasi

2051

Mumbai-Nagpur, Mumbai-Hyderabad, Patna-Guwahati, Delhi-Chandigarh-Amritsar, Amritsar-Pathankot-Jammu, Chennai-Bengaluru-Mysuru

Comments on the draft Plan are invited until January 22, 2021.54

Draft Indian Ports Bill, 2020 released for public comments

Shruti Gupta (shruti@prsindia.org)

The Ministry of Ports, Shipping and Waterways released the draft Indian Ports Bill, 2020 for public comments.[55]  The draft Bill seeks to repeal the Indian Ports Act, 1908.[56]  It seeks to enable growth of ports and increased investment by establishing effective administration and management of all ports in India.[57]  Key features of the draft Bill include: 

  • Maritime Port Regulatory Authority:   The draft Bill proposes to establish the Maritime Port Regulatory Authority.  The Authority will consist of: (i) a Chairperson, two full-time members (with a term of five years) appointed by the central government, of which one will be in the legal field, and (iii) two part-time members (with a term of two years) nominated in rotation by coastal states.  Functions of the Authority include: (i) advising the central government on formulation of the National Port Policy, (ii) aiding in formulating and implementing short-term plans, (iii) monitoring and assessing ports, (iv) specifying standards for safety and quality of vessels and port assets, and (v) determining measures to promote investment, technological advancement, and growth in the sector. 
     
  • State Maritime Board:  Every state government must establish a State Maritime Board for ports other than Major Ports (notified by the central government).  State Maritime Boards can initiate plans for development of ports, and license infrastructure and services.
     
  • Dispute redressal:  For Major Ports, a Bench consisting of nominated members from the Authority will receive and adjudicate on complaints concerning: (i) anti-competitive practices, (ii) abuse of dominant positions, or (iii) disputes between Port service providers and terminal operators.   For all other ports, Adjudicatory Boards constituted by state governments can adjudicate on disputes concerning: (i) rights and obligations of ports, (ii) port officials, users, service providers and licensees, and (iii) private operators.  
     
  • The draft Bill lays down safety and security requirements to be followed by all ports and vessels.  For instance, every port must appoint officers and prepare plans to ensure security based on requirements notified by the central government.  It also mandates all ports and terminals to provide facilities for waste and pollution management. 

Draft rules issued to establish National Road Safety Board 

Shruti Gupta (shruti@prsindia.org)

The Ministry of Road Transport and Highways released the draft National Road Safety Board Rules, 2020 under the Motor Vehicles Act, 1988.[58],[59]  The draft Rules establish the National Road Safety Board proposed in the Motor Vehicle (Amendment) Act, 2019.59  Key features of the draft Rules include: 

  • Composition:   The draft Rules propose that the Board consist of: (i) the Chairman, (ii) three to seven members appointed by the central government, and (iii) the Secretary, Ministry of Road Transport and Highways or his representative (ex-officio member).  The Chairman and members must have at least 20 years of experience in fields of automobile, road safety, urban planning, or law, among others.  
     
  • Term and meetings:  The Chairman and members will have a term of three years and are eligible for re-appointment for one more term.  The Board is required to meet at least once every month. 
     
  • Functions: Functions of the Board include: (i) licensing and registration of motor vehicles, (ii) regulating billboards and commercial signage, (iii) formulating guidelines on standards for safety equipment, road infrastructure, control of traffic, establishing and operating trauma facilities and para-medical facilities. 
     
  • Technical Working Groups:  The Board can constitute Technical Working Groups consisting of a Chairman and independent technical experts with experience in the field of work.  These Groups may deliberate on matters including: (i) transport safety and road standards, (ii) traffic management, (iii) crash investigations, and (iv) motor vehicle, fuel and noise standards.

Comments on the draft Rules are invited till January 7, 2021.58 

Draft rules making provision of airbags in front passenger seats mandatory released

Shruti Gupta (shruti@prsindia.org)

The Ministry of Road Transport and Highways released the draft Central Motor Vehicles (Amendment) Rules, 2020 amending the Central Motor Vehicles Rules, 1989.[60]  The draft rules propose to make it mandatory for vehicles to be fitted with airbags for the front passenger seat.  It seeks to apply this requirement for vehicles manufactured on April 1, 2021 for new models and June 1, 2021 for existing models.  Comments on the draft Rules are invited till January 28, 2021.[61] 

Comments invited on the draft Aircraft (Investigation of Accident and Incident) Amendment Rules, 2020

Aditya Kumar (aditya@prsindia.org)

The Ministry of Civil Aviation invited comments on the draft Aircraft (Investigation of Accident and Incident) Amendment Rules, 2020.[62]  The draft Rules seek to amend the Aircraft (Investigation of Accidents & Incidents) Rules, 2017.[63]  Some of the key features of the draft Rules are:

  • Publication of investigation report:  The draft Rules require the Director General of Aircraft Accident Investigation Bureau to make the investigation report public.
     
  • Definition of missing aircraft and safety recommendation of global concern:  The draft Rules specify that an aircraft will be considered as missing when official search is terminated, and no wreckage is located.

The draft Rules also add that any safety recommendation regarding systemic deficiency with: (i) probability of recurrence, (ii) significant global consequences, and (iii) requirement of timely action to improve safety, will be termed as safety recommendation of global concern (SRGC).  Systemic deficiencies refer to lack of compliance to regulation or standard.

  • Classification of serious incidents:  The draft rules add that: (i) retraction of landing gear leg or wheels-up landing, and (ii) dragging of any part of an aircraft (such as wing tips and engine pods), will be considered as a serious incident when not classified as an accident.

Comments on the draft Rules are invited until January 15, 2021.

Electronics and Information Technology

Saket Surya (saket@prsindia.org)

Comments invited on the report of the expert committee on non-personal data

In July 2020, an Expert Committee constituted by the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology to study various issues relating to non-personal data had published a draft report for public consultation.[64]  Based on the feedback received, the Committee has released a revised version of the draft report.[65]  Key recommendations under the revised draft are:

  • Definition of non-personal data:   Under the first draft, non-personal data was defined as any data which is not personal data as defined under the Personal Data Protection Bill, 2019 (PDP Bill) or data without any personally identifiable information.  The PDP Bill defines personal data to include data pertaining to characteristics, traits, or attributes of identity, which can be used to identify an individual.  The revised draft retains this definition.  
     
  • The Committee recommended that the PDP Bill should be amended to remove provisions related to non-personal data so that there is no overlap between the two regulatory frameworks.  Currently, the PDP Bill empowers the central government to direct any entity to provide non-personal data for targeting of delivery of services or formulation of evidence-based policies by the government.
     
  • The first draft had categorised non-personal data among: (i) public: data collected or generated by government, (ii) community: raw or factual data which is sourced from a community of natural persons, and (iii) private: data which is collected or generated by private entities through privately owned processes (derived insights or proprietary knowledge).  In the revised draft, the Committee has removed this classification.  
     
  • High-value datasets:   The first draft provided that the government may specify certain datasets as high-value datasets at a national level.  The revised draft defines a high-value dataset as a dataset beneficial to the community at large and is shared as a public good, subject to certain guidelines.   It will include datasets useful for: (i) creation of new and high-quality jobs, (ii) creation of new businesses, and (iii) socio-economic objectives such as financial inclusion, healthcare, and urban planning.  A representative entity called data trustee may be appointed for creation, maintenance, and sharing of high-value datasets.  The data trustee will request the data custodian (entity collecting, processing, and storing data) to provide the required data.
     
  • Sharing of non-personal data: As per the first draft, sharing of non-personal data could be mandated for defined purposes including: (i) sovereign: national security, law enforcement, or regulatory purposes, (ii) public interest: community benefits, research and innovation, policy making for better delivery of public services, and (iii) economic: to encourage competition or provide level-playing field among for-profit entities.  The revised draft only requires data sharing for public good purpose.  It only mandates sharing of high-value datasets managed by data trustees.  The Committee observed that data sharing for sovereign purposes, and for business purposes between for-profit entities, already exist and hence, has not made any recommendations on it.  

Comments on the revised draft are invited by January 27, 2021.  For a summary of the revised draft of the report, see here.  For a summary of the first draft of the report, see here.

Comments invited on the draft National Strategy for Additive Manufacturing 

The Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology invited comments on the Draft National Strategy for Additive Manufacturing.[66]   Additive manufacturing (popularly known as 3D printing) refers to the construction of a three-dimensional object from a digital 3D model by adding materials layer by layer.  The technology is being utilised in a variety of industries such as aerospace, electronics, and consumer goods.  

The Ministry noted that the additive manufacturing industry is growing rapidly and is expected to be at USD 36 billion by 2023.  However, in comparison to countries such as USA, China, and Germany, the adoption of additive manufacturing has not seen much traction in India.66  It identifies certain key challenges in the adoption of additive manufacturing.  These include: (i) high cost of equipment and material due to dependence on import, (ii) lack of formal industry standards, (iii) lack of skilled manpower, and (iv) uncertainty in the regulatory and legal framework.  Key recommendations under the draft strategy include:

  • Promotion of additive manufacturing:   Government procurement policies should encourage the purchase of additive manufacturing machines, manufactured components, and systems for their operations.  Preferential market access policy should be developed to support local manufacturers.  Additive manufacturing should be included in the government schemes for technology upgradation for MSMEs.  Following benefits to the industry are suggested: (i) long term tax benefits, (ii) ready to use facilities at a subsidised rental cost, and (iii) benefit in electricity tariffs for units with high consumption requirement.
     
  • National Additive Manufacturing Centre: A dedicated Centre may be constituted to lead the national initiative for development and adoption of additive manufacturing technologies.  The Centre may take initiatives such as a study of the sectoral potential for integrating additive manufacturing and development of standards and certifications.  
     
  • Research:  A centre of excellence dedicated to additive manufacturing may be established.  The research efforts in the area of additive manufacturing could be supported by an increase in grants-in-aid.  Intellectual property developed through government-funded projects should be made accessible.  International partnership for research and development at government as well as industry level should be encouraged.
     
  • Skill development:  For the development of manpower for additive manufacturing, engineering curriculum, as well as industry-driven apprenticeship programs, should include additive manufacturing.  Free online resources, certifications, and diploma should be provided with training modules for all educational levels.  A special curriculum for the training of teachers should be developed to acclimatise them with the technology.  

 

Communications

Saket Surya (saket@prsindia.org)

New framework for the proliferation of broadband through public wi-fi released

The Department of Telecommunications (DoT) released a new framework called the Prime Minister’s Wi-Fi Access Network Interface (PM-WANI) for the proliferation of broadband through public wi-fi networks.[67],[68]  The framework seeks to improve last-mile broadband connectivity through a network of public wi-fi access points.  The framework will facilitate local shops and small establishments in becoming wi-fi service providers.  The PM-WANI framework will involve the following:

  • Public Data Office (PDO):  PDOs are entities which will procure internet bandwidth from telecom/internet service providers and establish and operate PM-WANI compliant wi-fi access points.  PDOs will not be required to obtain any licence or register with any authority.  No fees will be charged to PDOs for providing services.  
     
  • Public Data Officer Aggregator (PDOA):  PDOA will be an aggregator of PDOs and will perform the functions relating to authorisation of users and accounting of subscription charges on their behalf.  PDOAs will need to register with the DoT.
     
  • App provider:   App providers will develop an app to register a user, discover the PM-WANI compliant wi-fi access points in the nearby area, and display the same within the App to the users for accessing internet.  App providers will be required to register with the DoT.  The registration with DoT will provide permission for pan India operations to both PDOA and App provider.
     
  • Central Registry:  The central registry will maintain the details of PDOs, PDOAs, and App providers (made available through PDOAs).  It will certify the systems and software applications of PDOA and app providers for compliance with the specifications of the framework.

The potential user will need to download the app of any of the app providers, get authenticated, and thereafter access internet from any PM-WANI compliant wi-fi access point.  

Cabinet approves auction of spectrum

The Union Cabinet approved the proposal to conduct auction of spectrum in 700 MHz, 800 MHz, 900 MHz, 1,800 MHz, 2,100 MHz, 2,300 MHz, and 2,500 MHz frequency bands.[69] Spectrum worth Rs 3.9 lakh crore will be auctioned.  Spectrum will be assigned to the successful bidder for a period of 20 years.  

Successful bidders may pay entire bid amount in one go.  They will also have an option to pay a certain amount upfront and remaining amount in up to 16 equated annual instalments.  For spectrum in 700 MHz, 800 MHz, and 900 MHz bands, 25% of the bid amount will be required to be paid upfront.  For other bands, 50% of the bid amount will be required to be paid upfront.  A moratorium of two years will be available for payment of instalments.

In addition to the bid amount, successful bidders will also have to pay 3% of the Adjust Gross Revenue (AGR) as spectrum usage charges annually.  For this purpose, revenue from wireline services will not be included in the AGR.  AGR is arrived after subtracting certain charges and taxes from gross revenue, such as roaming charges passed on to other service providers and any service taxes and sales taxes included in the gross revenue.

Cabinet approves projects for improving telecom connectivity in remote areas

The Union Cabinet approved two projects for improvement in telecom connectivity in remote areas.  These projects will be funded from the Universal Service Obligation Fund (USOF).[70],[71]   USOF has been established to provide widespread, non-discriminatory, and affordable access to information and communication technology services to people in rural and remote areas.   Resources for USOF are raised through a levy on the revenue of all the telecom operators under various licenses.   The projects are:

  • Submarine optical fibre cable link between Kochi and Lakshadweep Islands:  Under this project, a direct communication link through a dedicated submarine optical fibre cable will be created between Kochi and 11 islands of Lakshadweep.  Currently, the only medium of providing telecom connectivity to Lakshadweep islands is through satellites, and the bandwidth available is limited to 1 Gbps.  The estimated cost of the project is Rs 1,072 crore.  The project is targeted to be completed by May 2023.
     
  • Mobile coverage in Arunachal Pradesh and parts of Assam:  This project will provide mobile coverage to 1,683 uncovered villages in Arunachal Pradesh, and 691 villages in Karbi Anglong and Dima Hasao districts of Assam.  The estimated cost of the project is Rs 2,029 crore.  The project is targeted to be completed by December 2022.

 

Information and Broadcasting

Anurag Vaishnav (anurag@prsindia.org)

Cabinet approves revision in guidelines for providing DTH services

The Union Cabinet approved revised guidelines for obtaining a license to provide Direct-To-Home (DTH) broadcasting service in India.[72]  A DTH license allows the operator to provide broadcasting service directly to the end-user.  Key changes made by the guidelines include: 

  • Period of license:  Currently, a DTH license is valid for a period of 10 years.   This has been increased to 20 years.   This license can be renewed for a period of 10 years. 
     
  • License fee:  Currently, the licensee is required to pay an annual license fee of 10% of the company’s gross revenue.  This has been revised to 8% of the adjusted gross revenue (AGR).  AGR is calculated by deducting GST from the gross revenue.  This revision will be prospectively applied (on licenses granted after these guidelines).   Further, the license fee will be collected every quarter instead of annually.
     
  • Platform services:  Distribution service providers offer certain programs which are not obtained from satellite-based broadcasters and are specific to each platform.  These programs are referred to as platform services.   The guidelines provide that DTH operators will be permitted to operate a maximum of 5% of its total channel carrying capacity as permitted platform channels.  A one-time non-refundable registration fee of Rs 10,000 will be levied for each such channel.
  • Sharing of infrastructure:  The DTH operators may share their hardware infrastructure with another operator voluntarily.  Sharing of infrastructure by the DTH operators may bring in more efficient use of satellite resources and reduce the costs borne by the consumers.

Advisory to comply with ASCI guidelines on online gaming and fantasy sports advertisements issued

The Ministry of Information and Broadcasting observed that a large number of advertisements on online gaming and fantasy sports have been appearing on the television.  In view of this, it has issued an advisory to all private satellite television channels to ensure compliance with the guidelines issued in November 2020 by the Advisory Standards Council of India (ASCI).  The guidelines by ASCI provide:[73] 

  • Advertisements must not depict any person under the age of 18 or anyone who appears below the age of 18 engaged in playing an online game for winning real money. 
     
  • It must carry a disclaimer stating that the game involves financial risk and may be addictive.  Such disclaimer should occupy at least 20% of the advertisement space.
     
  • The advertisements must not present ‘online gaming for real money winnings’ as an income opportunity or alternative career.   Further, it should not suggest that the person engaged in gaming activity is in any way more successful than others. 

 

Home Affairs

Roshni Sinha (roshni@prsindia.org)

Private Security Agency rules notified

The Ministry of Home Affairs notified the Private Security Agencies Central Model Rules, 2020 under the Private Security Agencies (Regulation) Act, 2005.[74]  This Act provides for the regulation of private security agencies in India.  The 2020 Rules replace the Private Security Agencies Central Model Rules, 2006.  Key features of the Rules include: 

  • License:  Security agencies will be required to apply to a controlling authority (appointed under the Act) for a license to operate.  To obtain the license, the agency will need to undergo a training session of at least six days covering various subjects such as VIP security, handling communications equipment, knowledge of legal provisions, and management of security agencies.  The license will be valid for a period of five years and agencies may apply for a renewal. 
     
  • Background check:  Before employing anyone as a security guard or supervisor, the agency must conduct a character and antecedents check on the applicant.  Towards this, the agency may rely on a character and antecedents verification certificate produced by the person, or may verify his antecedents through a check on electronic databases such as the Interoperable Criminal Justice System.
     
  • Training for guards:  An entry-level security guard must undergo 100 hours of classroom training and 60 hours of field training on various subjects including conduct in public, examining identification papers, use of first-aid, use of security equipment and basic knowledge of the Indian Penal Code, 1860.  Ex-servicemen and former police personnel will be required to attend a shorter course with 40 hours of classroom instruction and 16 hours of field training.   The detailed training syllabus will be prepared by the controlling authority.
     
  • Medical check:  The Rules prescribe standards of physical fitness for security guards.  These includes criteria based on height, eye sight, and hearing, among others.  All security agencies must also ensure that every guard undergoes a medical examination after every 12 months to ensure his continued maintenance of physical standards as prescribed for entry level.
     
  • Provision for Supervisors:  One supervisor may only supervise the work of up to 15 private security guards.  In case guards are on security duty in different premises and it is not practical to supervise their work by one supervisor, the agency must depute more supervisors so that there is at least one supervisor available for every six guards for assistance, advice and supervision. 

 

Agriculture                         

Draft National Fisheries Policy released

Suyash Tiwari (suyash@prsindia.org)

The Department of Fisheries released a revised draft of the National Fisheries Policy for public comments.[75]  The previous draft of the policy was released in February 2020.[76]  The policy aims to integrate the various policies relating to different aspects of fisheries (such as inland fisheries, marine plants and animals, processing, and marketing) for its comprehensive development.   Key features of the revised draft policy include:

  • Objectives:  The objectives of the policy include: (i) sustainable development of the fisheries sector during 2021-30, (ii) sound management and sustainable development of the resources and associated habitats, (iii) meeting the food and nutritional security of the growing population, (iv) protecting the rights of fishing communities and building their resilience, and (v) making Indian fish and fish products globally competitive.
     
  • Legal framework:  The Marine Fishing Regulation Acts of coastal states need to be amended to align them with international agreements to ensure that they cover all the aspects of fisheries management.  The central government will prepare a model Bill in this regard for consideration of the states.  Similarly, there is a need to prepare a model Bill for regulation of inland fisheries and aquaculture, which can be used by states to replace or amend their existing Acts to make them contemporary and in compliance with the topical requirements.
     
  • Sustainability:  The expertise of scientific institutions and fishers will be utilised to optimise fishing efforts and implement measures to check resource depletion and ensure sustainability.  Comprehensive fisheries management plans will be made to conserve and sustainably manage natural fisheries resources.  The policy will also focus on improving the ecological health of the riverine ecosystem and curbing the flow of pollution into rivers and their tributaries.
     
  • Coordination:  Kerala, Puducherry, and Tamil Nadu have set up co-management structures at different tiers for management of fisheries resources by the government and the community, through instruments such as a charter of rights and duties.  The policy aims to take forward such initiatives to the other inland and coastal states.  The policy also aims to enhance the mandate of the present Ministry under the Ministry of Fisheries and Maritime Affairs, an umbrella agency for effective fisheries governance.  The new Ministry will converge the various institutions working on aspects related to fisheries under different Ministries.  The policy also aims to set up a mechanism to allow for better coordination between all concerned agencies of the central and state governments through coordinating bodies.

Comments on the draft policy are invited till January 20, 2021.

Cabinet approves export subsidy for sugar for the 2020-21 season

Saket Surya (saket@prsindia.org)

The Union Cabinet approved export subsidy worth Rs 3,500 crore to sugar mills.[77]  The subsidy aims to reduce the surplus stock of sugar.  The subsidy will cover costs incurred by sugar mills in marketing including handling, upgrading, and other processing costs, and transport charges.  The subsidy has been approved for export of up to 60 lakh metric tonnes of sugar.

Due to surplus sugar stock with the mills, farmers are not getting their dues for sale of sugarcane to these mills.  Hence, the subsidy will be directly credited into farmers’ accounts on behalf of mills against the dues and subsequent balance, if any, will be transferred to the mills.

Cabinet approves revised interest subsidy scheme for increasing ethanol production

Saket Surya (saket@prsindia.org)

The Union Cabinet approved an expansion of the scheme to provide interest subvention to sugar mills and distilleries on loans for augmentation of ethanol production capacity.[78]   Interest subvention is provided at the rate of 6% per annum, or 50% of the rate of interest charged, whichever is lower.  Earlier, only sugar mills and molasses-based standalone distilleries which produce ethanol from sugarcane juice, sugar syrup, sugar, and B-heavy molasses were eligible under the scheme.78,[79]  The revised scheme aims to enhance the capacity for production of first-generation ethanol from other feed stocks as well such as sugar beet, and cereals including rice, wheat, sorghum, maize, and barley.  

The central government had fixed a target of 20% blending of fuel-grade ethanol with petrol by 2030, which it plans to prepone to 2025.78  The Ministry of Consumer Affairs, Food & Public Distribution noted that the blending target cannot be achieved only from the production of ethanol from sugarcane and sugar.  This also requires the production of ethanol from other feed stocks, but their current production capacity is not sufficient.

Under the revised scheme, interest subvention will be extended to loans taken for setting up or expanding: (i) distilleries to produce ethanol from other feed stocks producing first-generation ethanol, (ii) grain-based distilleries using dry milling process, and (iii) dual feed distilleries (using both molasses and grain or any other feed stocks).  It will also be provided on loans taken for conversion of molasses-based distillers or grain-based distilleries to dual feed distilleries.  Only those distilleries will be eligible under the revised scheme which supply at least 75% of the ethanol produced from added capacity to oil marketing companies for blending with petrol.

Education

Anurag Vaishnav (anurag@prsindia.org)

Ministry of Education released Policy on School Bag, 2020 

A working group constituted by the Ministry of Education, has released the School Bag Policy, 2020.[80]  The working group was constituted in 2018 after a Madras High Court ruling that directed the central government to formulate a policy for school bags.  The Policy provides recommendations for the reduction in the weight of the school bag.   

The Policy recommended that the universally accepted norm of limiting the weight of the school bag to 10% of the student’s weight should be followed from Class 1 to Class 10.  It observed that a heavy bag can affect a student’s spinal posture, foot shape, and walk.   It recommended that weight of school bag needs to be monitored and checked on a regular basis in the school.   Lockers may be installed for storing and retrieving books and other items for students with disabilities.

Further, it recommended that NCERT must develop guidelines to conduct bagless days in schools using different timetable, experiential pedagogies, and team teaching.  Note that the National Education Policy, 2020 had recommended a 10-day bagless period for grades 6-8 where they intern with local vocational experts such as artists and gardeners.[81] 

 

Environment

Aditya Kumar (aditya@prsindia.org)

Government constitutes high-level ministerial committee for implementation of Paris agreement

The Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change (MoEF) constituted a high-level inter-ministerial Apex Committee for Implementation of Paris agreement.[82]   Paris agreement is an international treaty on climate change, which is aimed at reducing greenhouse gas emissions globally.  The Committee consists of 17 members, which include: (i) Secretary of MoEF as Chairperson, (ii) Additional Secretary, MoEF as Vice-Chairperson, (iii) Additional Director General (Forest), MoEF, and (iii) Joint Secretaries from 14 ministries including Finance, Health and Power, as members.   

The Committee will be the national regulatory authority for carbon markets in India.  Its functions include: (i) developing policies and programmes to make India’s domestic climate change compliant to international obligations, (ii) coordinating communications of nationally determined contributions (NDCs) to United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), and (iii) define responsibilities of concerned ministries for achieving India’s NDC goals.   NDCs refer to the climate action plans of various countries around the world.  It includes actions planned by countries to reduce greenhouse gas emissions to achieve goals under the Paris agreement.

 

Power

Aditya Kumar (aditya@prsindia.org)

The Electricity (Rights of Consumers) Rules, 2020 issued

The Ministry of Power issued the Electricity (Rights of Consumers) Rules, 2020.[83],[84]   These have been issued under the Electricity Act, 2003.  Key features of the Rules include:

  • Servicing of consumer requests:  Discoms must provide for a web-based information system with details on various procedures and tracking mechanism for all applications for various services. These procedures and services include grant of new/temporary connection or modification of existing connections.   The grant of new connection or modification in existing connection must be completed within 7 days for metro cities, 15 days in municipal areas, and 30 days in rural areas from the date of application. 
     
  • Metering:  A new connection must be provided with a smart pre-payment meter or a pre-payment meter, unless approved otherwise by the State Electricity Regulatory Commission (SERC).  All defective meters will have to be replaced by the distribution licensees within: (i) 24 hours in urban areas, and (ii) 72 hours in rural areas. 
     
  • Prosumers:  Prosumers refer to people who produce as well as consume electricity.  Prosumers will have the rights of a general consumer.   They will also be allowed to set up renewable energy generation units.  The total generation capacity by prosumers should not exceed limits prescribed by the state regulatory commissions. 
     
  • Compensation for not adhering to performance standards:  SERCs will specify certain standards of performance for the distribution licensees such as limit on interruptions in power supply, maximum time for resolution of complaints and providing other consumer services.  If licensees fail to adhere to these standards, they will have to compensate the consumers.  The compensation amount will be specified by SERCs and will be provided to consumers as adjustments in their electricity bills.

 

New and Renewable Energy

Aditya Kumar (aditya@prsindia.org)

Guidelines for implementation of feeder level solarisation under component-C of PM-KUSUM scheme issued

The Ministry of New and Renewable Energy issued guidelines for implementation of feeder level solarisation under component-C of Pradhan Mantri Kisan Urja Suraksha evam Utthaan Mahaabhiyaan (PM-KUSUM) scheme.[85] Component-C of the scheme aims at solarisation of 15 lakh grid-connected agricultural pumps (including 7.5 lakh pumps with feeder level solarisation) by 2022.[86],[87]

The guidelines specify two methods for installing solar power plants for feeder level solarisation: (i) capital expenditure (CAPEX) mode, and (ii) renewable energy service company (RESCO) mode.  The distribution company (discom) will be the implementing agency in their respective areas of distribution.  Farmers with power consumption below the benchmark consumption (determined by discoms) will be incentivised.

Under CAPEX mode, 30% of total cost will be provided by the central government as central financial assistance (CFA).  The CFA for north-eastern states will be 50%.  40% of the total CFA amount will be provided to discoms on completion of tendering process and signing of agreement with the selected engineering, procurement, and construction (EPC) contractor.  

Under RESCO mode, 30% of the estimated cost of installation of solar plants will be provided to developers as CFA.  CFA will be disbursed through discoms on successful commissioning and declaration of commercial operation date of solar plant.  Bank guarantees, equivalent to CFA amount, will be required for release of CFA.

The project life of solar plants will be of 25 years.  In case of failure of plant within this period, the discom may have to refund CFA amount on pro-rata basis.

All components used in installation of solar power plants must confirm to applicable specifications and guidelines issued by Bureau of Indian Standards and the Ministry.   Further, the guidelines specify that the solar plants must mandatorily use indigenous solar panels (with indigenous solar cells and modules).

 

Space

Anurag Vaishnav (anurag@prsindia.org)

Department of Space releases technology transfer policy and guidelines

The Department of Space has released Technology Transfer Policy and Guidelines 2020.[88]  The guidelines provide the principle and mechanism for the transfer of technologies developed by the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) to the Indian industries.  

ISRO will be responsible for identifying technologies for transfer.   The Department of Space will be the approval body.  All transfer of technologies will be given effect through the New Space India Limited (NSIL) which will fix the license fee and other charges for the transfer.

Each centre of the ISRO must identify technologies which can be transferred, based on factors such as: (i) readiness of the technology, (ii) proven use of the technology, (iii) chances of success in the recipient organisation, and (iv) socio-economic or commercial viability.  A dedicated Technology Transfer Cell will be responsible for end-to-end coordination to ensure successful commercialisation of technologies.

Further, the guidelines state that transfer of technology must not be made to any individual.  For non-profit or non-government organisations seeking transfer of technologies which have societal application, no transfer of technology cost will be payable.  Ordinarily, the cost of transfer will include: (i) cost of direct material or components, (ii) direct staff costs, (iii) travel and logistics expenses, and (iv) intellectual expenses (nominal, up to 5% of total estimated cost).

 

[1] Ministry of Health and Family Welfare website, last accessed on March 31, 2020, https://www.mohfw.gov.in/index.html.

[2] Order No. 40-3/2020-DM-I(A), Ministry of Home Affairs, March 24, 2020, https://www.mha.gov.in/sites/default/files/MHAorder%20copy.pdf

[3] Order No. 40-3/2020-DM-I(A), Ministry of Home Affairs, December 28, 2020, https://www.mha.gov.in/sites/default/files/MHAOrderdt_281220.pdf.  

[4] Order No. 40-3/2020-DM-I(A), Ministry of Home Affairs, November 25, 2020, https://www.mha.gov.in/sites/default/files/MHAOrder25112020.pdf

[5] COVID-19 Vaccines: Operational Guidelines, Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, December 28, 2020, https://main.mohfw.gov.in/sites/default/files/COVID19VaccineOG111Chapter16.pdf

[6] Genomic Surveillance for SARS-CoV-2 in India - Indian SARS-CoV-2 Genomics Consortium (INSACOG), Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, https://main.mohfw.gov.in/sites/default/files/IndianSARSCoV2PDFGenomicsConsortiumGuidanceDocument.pdf.  

[7] Indian SARS-CoV-2 Genomics Consortium (INSACOG) Labs release initial results of Genome sequencing of mutant variant of SARS-CoV-2, Press Information Bureau, Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, December 29, 2020.

[8] Standard Operating Procedure for epidemiological surveillance and response in the context of new variant of SARS-CoV-2 virus detected in United Kingdom, Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, December 22, 2020, https://www.mohfw.gov.in/pdf/SOPforSurveillanceandresponseforthenewSARSCov2variant.pdf.  

[9] Statement on Developmental and Regulatory Policies, Reserve Bank of India, December 4, 2020, https://rbidocs.rbi.org.in/rdocs/PressRelease/PDFs/PR72151BDEC79C76948C68A6DE914991CC848.PDF

[10] “Reserve Bank announces On Tap Targeted Long-Term Repo Operations”, Press Release, Reserve Bank of India, October 21, 2020, https://rbidocs.rbi.org.in/rdocs/PressRelease/PDFs/PR520A1E17F473D714F3DA7618DDF70E358D5.PDF.

[11] Report of the Expert Committee on Resolution Framework for COVID-related Stress, Reserve Bank of India, September 4, 2020,

https://rbidocs.rbi.org.in/rdocs/PublicationReport/Pdfs/EXPERTCOMMITTEED58A96778C5E4799AE0E3FCC13DC67F2.PDF

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[13] “Declaration of dividends by banks”, Notifications, Reserve Bank of India, April 17, 2020, https://www.rbi.org.in/Scripts/NotificationUser.aspx?Id=11869&Mode=0

[14] Atmanirbhar Package 3.0, Ministry of Finance, November 12, 2020, https://static.pib.gov.in/WriteReadData/userfiles/MOF.pdf

[15] “Cabinet approves Atmanirbhar Bharat Rojgar Yojana”, Press Information Bureau, Ministry of Labour and Employment, December 9, 2020.  

[16] “Report No. 229: Management of COVID-19 Pandemic and Related Issues”, Standing Committee on Home Affairs, Rajya Sabha, December 21, 2020, https://rajyasabha.nic.in/rsnew/Committee_site/Committee_File/ReportFile/15/143/229_2020_12_18.pdf

[17] S.O. 4638(E), Ministry of Corporate Affaits, December 22, 2020, http://egazette.nic.in/WriteReadData/2020/223855.pdf

[18] S.O. 3265 (E), Ministry of Corporate Affairs, September 24, 2020, http://egazette.nic.in/WriteReadData/2020/221936.pdf

[19] The Insolvency and Bankruptcy (Amendment) Ordinance, 2020, https://www.prsindia.org/sites/default/files/bill_files/IBC.pdf

[20] Order No. 11/2020, Ministry of Civil Aviation, December 3, 2020, https://www.civilaviation.gov.in/sites/default/files/DOC120320-12032020182905.pdf.

[21] Order No. 01/2020, Ministry of Civil Aviation, May 21, 2020, https://www.civilaviation.gov.in/sites/default/files/DOC0522 20-05222020133918.pdf

[22] Circular No. 4/1/2020-IR: Temporary suspension of flights from United Kingdom to India - Reg, Director General of Civil Aviation, December 21, 2020, https://dgca.gov.in/digigov-portal/Upload?flag=iframeAttachView&attachId=150202802

[23] Circular No 4/1/2020-IR, Office of the Director General of Civil Aviation, Government of India, December 30, 2020, https://twitter.com/DGCAIndia/status/1344212868892217344/photo/1.  

[24] S.O. 4367 (E), Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change, December 3, 2020, http://egazette.nic.in/WriteReadData/2020/223458.pdf

[25] The Environment (Protection) Rules, 1986, Ministry of Environment and Forests, November 19, 1986, https://parivesh.nic.in/writereaddata/ENV/THE%20ENVIRONMENT.pdf.  

[26] Circular No. AV/22025/25A/DMS/MED: Aeromedical Disposition of COVID-19, Director General of Civil Aviation, December 18, 2020, https://dgca.gov.in/digigov-portal/Upload?flag=iframeAttachView&attachId=150198436

[27] “Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) & Guidelines for Organizing Sports Competitions in the Country in a COVID-19 Environment – Reg”, Circular, Ministry of Youth Affairs and Sports, https://yas.nic.in/sites/default/files/SOP FOR Competition.pdf.pdf.

[28] Notification No. 47/2015-2020, Directorate General of Foreign Trade, Ministry of Commerce and Industry, December 22, 2020, https://content.dgft.gov.in/Website/dgftprod/90dab10a-08ad-41bf-9fde-e05d2b0e4354/Noti%2047%20Eng.pdf

[29] Notification No. 44/2015-20, Directorate General of Foreign Trade, Ministry of Commerce and Industry, January 31, 2020, https://content.dgft.gov.in/Website/Noti%2044_0.pdf.

[30] Notification No. 21/2015-2020, Directorate General of Foreign Trade, Ministry of Commerce and Industry, July 28, 2020, https://content.dgft.gov.in/Website/dgftprod/e576fbb1-b0f9-4276-913e-cab13010b16b/Noti%2021%20Eng.pdf

[31] Notification No. 42/2015-20, Directorate General of Foreign Trade, Ministry of Commerce and Industry, October 22, 2020, https://content.dgft.gov.in/Website/dgftprod/b1ffbbc7-9e04-4314-be2d-6e68972e28d2/Noti%2042%20Eng.pdf

[32] “Developments in India’s Balance of Payments during the Second Quarter (July-September) of 2020-21”, Reserve Bank of India, December 30, 2020, https://rbidocs.rbi.org.in/rdocs/PressRelease/PDFs/PR8531713946561684EB3A0153A39DB219C57.PDF

[33] Monetary Policy Statement, 2020-21, Reserve Bank of India, December 4, 2020, https://rbidocs.rbi.org.in/rdocs/PressRelease/PDFs/PR720A9A40E7FC8884A6A9F158967DE9BFF20.PDF

[34] Draft Reserve Bank of India (Market-makers in OTC Derivatives) Regulations, 2020, https://rbidocs.rbi.org.in/rdocs/Content/PDFs/DIRDMMD2BE6D408A4DE4B138FC1DDB2863D2E81.PDF

[35] Section 45U, Reserve Bank of India Act, 1934.

[36] Comprehensive guidelines on derivatives, Reserve Bank of India, April 20, 2007, https://rbidocs.rbi.org.in/rdocs/content/PDFs/76927.pdf

[37] “RBI releases Draft Reserve Bank of India (Market-makers in OTC Derivatives) Directions, 2020 under Section 45 W of the RBI Act, 1934”, Press Release, Reserve Bank of India, December 4, 2020, https://www.rbi.org.in/Scripts/BS_PressReleaseDisplay.aspx?prid=50760

[38] The International Financial Services Centre Authority (Bullion Exchanges) Regulations, 2020, https://ifsca.gov.in/Viewer/Index/127

[39] Budget Speech, Union Budget 2020-21, https://www.indiabudget.gov.in/doc/Budget_Speech.pdf

[40] “Introduction of Liquidity Adjustment Facility (LAF) and Marginal Standing Facility (MSF) for Regional Rural Banks (RRBs)”, Reserve Bank of India, December 4, 2020, https://www.rbi.org.in/Scripts/NotificationUser.aspx?Id=12004&Mode=0

[41] “Declaration of Dividend by NBFCs”, Draft Circular, Reserve Bank of India, December 9, 2020, https://rbidocs.rbi.org.in/rdocs/Content/PDFs/DECLARATIONNBFCS2B8209A722B248CB9869F12BB33D1A3A.PDF

[42] “RBI decides to simplify and rationalise the process of registration of new NBFCs”, Press Release, Reserve Bank of India, June 17, 2016, https://www.rbi.org.in/Scripts/BS_PressReleaseDisplay.aspx?prid=37253.

[43] “National Family Health Survey-5”, Press Information Bureau, Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, December 15, 2020.

[44] Comprehensive estimates of disease burden attributable to air pollution and its economic impact in every state of India in 2019, Indian Council for Medical Research, December 22, 2020, https://main.icmr.nic.in/sites/default/files/press_realease_files/ICMR_Press_Release_Air_Pollution_22122020.pdf

[45] “Downturn in automobile sector – its impact and measures for revival”, 303rd Report, Standing Committee on Industry, December 15, 2020, https://rajyasabha.nic.in/rsnew/Committee_site/Committee_File/ReportFile/17/145/303_2020_12_14.pdf.

[46] Preparation for Olympic Games, 2021, Department related Parliamentary Standing Committee on Education, Women, Children Youth and Sports, December 24, 2020, https://rajyasabha.nic.in/rsnew/Committee_site/Committee_File/ReportFile/16/144/317_2020_12_13.pdf

[47] The National Capital Territory of Delhi Laws (Special Provisions) Second (Amendment) Ordinance, 2020, Ministry of Law and Justice, December 30, 2020, http://www.egazette.nic.in/WriteReadData/2020/224015.pdf

[48] The National Capital Territory of Delhi Laws (Special Provisions) Second Act, 2011, http://legislative.gov.in/sites/default/files/A2011-20_1.pdf

[49] The National Capital Territory of Delhi (Recognition of Property Rights of Residents in Unauthorised Colonies) Regulations, 2019, Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs, October 29, 2019, http://egazette.nic.in/WriteReadData/2019/213492.pdf

[50] GSR 769(E), Gazette of India, Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs, http://egazette.nic.in/WriteReadData/2020/223749.pdf

[51] Metro Railways General Rules, 2013, Ministry of Urban Development, 2013, http://mohua.gov.in/upload/uploadfiles/files/MR_General_Rules_Public_Carriage_Passengers_Rules_2013.pdf

[52] “Indian Railways issues draft National Rail Plan”, Press Information Bureau, Ministry of Railways, December 18, 2020.

[53] “Draft Final Report on the National Rail Plan”, Ministry of Railways, December 2020, http://indianrailways.gov.in/NRP-%20Draft%20Final%20Report%20with%20annexures.pdf

[54] “Suggestions on the Draft National Rail Plan”, MyGov Portal, as accessed on December 24, 2020, https://www.mygov.in/group-issue/suggestions-draft-national-rail-plan/

[55] Draft Indian Ports Act, 2020, Ministry of Ports, Shipping and Waterways, http://shipmin.gov.in/sites/default/files/Draft%20Indian%20Ports%20Bill%202020.pdf

[56] Indian Ports Act, 1908, Ministry of Shipping, http://legislative.gov.in/sites/default/files/A1908-15.pdf

[57] Draft Indian Ports Bill, 2020 issued for Public Consultation, Ministry of Ports, Shipping and Waterways, Press Information Bureau, December 11, 2020. 

[58] GSR 754(E), Gazette of India, Ministry of Road Transport and Highways, December 8, 2020, http://egazette.nic.in/WriteReadData/2020/223589.pdf

[59] The Motor Vehicles (Amendment) Act, 2019, Gazette of India, Ministry of Law and Justice, August 9, 2019, https://www.prsindia.org/sites/default/files/bill_files/Motor%20Vehicles%20%28Amendment%29%20Act%2C%202019.pdf

[60] GSR 797(E), Gazette of India, Ministry of Road Transport and Highways, December 28, 2020, http://egazette.nic.in/WriteReadData/2020/223970.pdf

[61] Public comments invited for proposed mandatory provision of co-driver airbags, Ministry of Road Transport and Highways, Press Information Bureau, December 29, 2020. 

[62] G.S.R 761 (E), Ministry of Civil Aviation, December 15, 2020, http://egazette.nic.in/WriteReadData/2020/223716.pdf 

[63] The Aircraft (Investigation of Accidents & Incidents) Rules, 2017, Ministry of Civil Aviation, August 7, 2017, http://egazette.nic.in/WriteReadData/2017/178054.pdf

[64] “Report by the Committee of Experts on Non-Personal Data Governance Framework”, Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology, July 2020, https://static.mygov.in/rest/s3fs-public/mygov_159453381955063671.pdf

[65] “Report by the Committee of Experts on Non-Personal Data Governance Framework”, Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology, December 16, 2020, https://static.mygov.in/rest/s3fs-public/mygov_160922880751553221.pdf.

[66] National Strategy for Additive Manufacturing, Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology, December 9, 2020, https://www.meity.gov.in/content/national-strategy-additive-manufacturing.  

[67] Wi-Fi Access Network Interface (WANI)

and Framework and Guidelines for Registration, Department of Telecommunications, December 2020, https://dot.gov.in/sites/default/files/2020_12_11%20WANI%20Framework%20Guidelines.pdf?download=1

[68] “Prime Minister’s Wi-Fi Access Network Interface (PM-WANI) to proliferate broadband access through Public Wi-Fi Hotspots across the country”, Press Information Bureau, Union Cabinet, December 9, 2020.

[69] “Cabinet approves Auction of spectrum”, Press Information Bureau, Cabinet, December 16, 2020.

[70] “Cabinet approves Provision of Submarine Optical Fibre Cable Connectivity between Mainland (Kochi) and Lakshadweep Islands (KLI Project)”, Press Information Bureau, Union Cabinet, December 9, 2020.

[71] “Cabinet approves Universal Service Obligation Fund Scheme for providing Mobile Coverage in Arunachal Pradesh and two Districts of Assam under the Comprehensive Telecom Development Plan for North Eastern Region”, Press Information Bureau, Union Cabinet, December 9, 2020.

[72] “Cabinet approves Revision in guidelines for providing Direct to Home (DTH) Services in India”, Press Information Bureau, Ministry of Information and Broadcasting, December 23, 2020.

[73] “Advisory on advertisements on online gaming, fantasy sports”, Ministry of Information and Broadcasting, December 4, 2020, https://mib.gov.in/sites/default/files/Advisory.pdf.

[74] The Private Security Agencies Central Model Rules, 2020 http://www.egazette.nic.in/WriteReadData/2020/223767.pdf

[75] National Fisheries Policy, 2020, Department of Fisheries, December 31, 2020, http://dof.gov.in/sites/default/files/2020-12/Policy_0.pdf.

[76] National Fisheries Policy, 2020, National Fisheries Development Board, Department of Fisheries, February 6, 2020, http://nfdb.gov.in/PDF/National_Fisheries_Policy_2020.pdf.

[77] “Cabinet approves assistance of about Rs. 3,500 crore for sugarcane farmers (Ganna Kisan)”, Press Information Bureau, Department of Food and Public Distribution, December 16, 2020.

[78] “Cabinet approves modified scheme to enhance ethanol distillation capacity in the country”, Press Information Bureau, The Ministry of Consumer Affairs, Food & Public Distribution, December 30, 2020.

[79] “Government intervenes to support sugar sector and sugarcane farmers by means of enhancement and augmentation of ethanol production capacity”, Press Information Bureau, The Ministry of Consumer Affairs, Food & Public Distribution, March 7, 2019.

[80] Policy on School Bag 2020, Ministry of Education, December 2020, https://www.education.gov.in/sites/upload_files/mhrd/files/School_Bag_Policy_2020.pdf.

[81] National Education Policy 2020, Ministry of Education, https://www.education.gov.in/sites/upload_files/mhrd/files/NEP_Final_English_0.pdf.

[82] Government constitutes High-level Ministerial Committee for implementation of Paris Agreement, Press Information Bureau, Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change, December 2, 2020. 

[83] Union Government for the first time lays down Rights to the Electricity Consumers through “Electricity (Rights of Consumers) Rules, 2020”, Press Information Bureau, Ministry of Power, December 21, 2020. 

[84] The Electricity (Rights of Consumers) Rules, 2020, Ministry of Power, https://static.pib.gov.in/WriteReadData/userfiles/final%20-%20Copy%202.pdf

[85] Office Memorandum: Guidelines for Implementation of Feeder Level Solarisation under Component - C of PM-KUSUM Scheme, Ministry of New and Renewable Energy, December 4, 2020, https://mnre.gov.in/img/documents/uploads/file_f-1607073371212.pdf

[86] Pradhan Mantri Urja Suraksha evam Utthaan Mahaabhiyaan (PM-KUSUM), Ministry of New and Renewable Energy, https://mnre.gov.in/solar/schemes/

[87] Order No. 32/645/2017-SPV Division – “Scale-up and expansion of Pradhan Mantri Urja Suraksha evam Utthaan Mahaabhiyaan (PM-KUSUM), Ministry of New and Renewable Energy, November 4, 2020, https://mnre.gov.in/img/documents/uploads/file_f1604916951612.pdf

[88] “Revised Technology Transfer Policy and Guidelines 2020”, Department of Space, December 2, 2020, https://www.isro.gov.in/sites/default/files/tt_approved_policy_2020-with_cover_for_public_feedback_1.pdf.

 

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इस अंक की झलकियां

2020-21 की दूसरी तिमाही में जीडीपी में 7.5का संकुचन

2020-21 की जुलाई-सितंबर की तिमाही में जीडीपी (स्थिर मूल्यों पर) में 7.5का संकुचन हुआ। कृषि, मैन्यूफैक्चरिंग और बिजली में वृद्धि हुई, व्यापार और हॉस्पिटैबिलिटी, सार्वजनिक सेवाओं और खनन में गिरावट हुई। 

कंटेनमेंट पर विशेष ध्यान के साथ देशव्यापी लॉकडाउन 31 दिसंबर तक बढ़ा

नए आदेशों में कोविड संबंधी उपयुक्त व्यवहार हेतु दिशानिर्देश, कंटेनमेंट एवं निगरानी रणनीति का निर्धारण और लॉकडाउन संबंधी दिशानिर्देशों के सख्त पालन को सुनिश्चित करना शामिल है ताकि कोविड-19 के मामलों को कम किया जा सके।  

सरकार ने आत्मनिर्भर भारत 3.0 के अंतर्गत उपायों की घोषणा की

नए रोजगार के सृजन को बढ़ावा देने, इंफ्रास्ट्रक्चर और रियल ऐस्टेट जैसे क्षेत्रों को प्रोत्साहित करने और अधिक उधारकर्ताओं को क्रेडिट लाइन गारंटी योजनाओं के दायरे में लाने के लिए उपायों की घोषणा की गई।

आर्बिट्रेशन और कंसीलिएशन (संशोधन) अध्यादेश जारी

अध्यादेश के अनुसार, अगर आर्बिट्रेशन का फैसला धोखाधड़ी से प्रेरित या प्रभावित था, तो उस पर स्वतः स्टे लग जाएगा (उसके निवारण हेतु आवेदन के बावजूद)। अध्यादेश आर्बिट्रेटर्स के क्वालिफिकेशन के लिए सूचीबद्ध मानदंडों को भी हटाता है।

सामाजिक सुरक्षा, और व्यवसायगत सुरक्षा पर संहिताओं के अंतर्गत ड्राफ्ट नियम जारी

ड्राफ्ट सामाजिक सुरक्षा नियम श्रमिकों की भर्ती और इस्टैबलिशमेंट्स के रजिस्ट्रेशन की विस्तृत प्रक्रिया प्रस्तुत करते हैं। व्यवसायगत सुरक्षा नियम कहते हैं कि 12 घंटे की अवधि में कोई श्रमिक एक दिन में आठ घंटे से ज्यादा काम नहीं करेगा।

सर्वोच्च न्यायालय ने 2020 के ट्रिब्यूनल नियमों पर फैसला सुनाया

फैसले के मुख्य बिंदुओं में निम्नलिखित शामिल हैं: (iस्वतंत्र राष्ट्रीय ट्रिब्यूनल आयोग का गठन, और (iiन्यायिक सदस्यों के फैसलों को प्रमुखता देने के लिए सिलेक्शन पैनल के संयोजन में परिवर्तन।

विदेशी योगदान (रेगुलेशन) नियमों में संशोधन अधिसूचित

विदेशी योगदान लेने हेतु रजिस्ट्रेशन के लिए आवेदक को पिछले तीन वर्षों के दौरान 15 लाख रुपए या उससे अधिक खर्च करना चाहिए। रजिस्ट्रेशन या पूर्व अनुमति हासिल करने के लिए आवेदन शुल्क को भी बढ़ाया गया है।

टैक्सी एग्रीगेटर के लिए दिशानिर्देश जारी

टैक्सी एग्रीगेटर को मोटर वाहन एक्ट, 1988 के ड्राइवरों और वाहनों से संबंधित प्रावधानों का अनुपालन सुनिश्चित करना होगा। दिशानिर्देश न्यूनतम और अधिकतम किराए का विवरण प्रस्तुत करते हैं।    

स्टैंडिंग कमिटी ने कोविड-19 महामारी पर अपनी रिपोर्ट सौंपी

कोविड-19 के प्रबंधन में सुधार हेतु कमिटी ने निम्नलिखित सुझाव दिए: (iसरकारी स्वास्थ्य व्यय को बढ़ाना, (iiसरकारी अस्पतालों में बिस्तरों की संख्या बढ़ाना, और (iiiटेस्टिंग के भरोसेमंद तरीकों का इस्तेमाल, इत्यादि।

निजी बैंकों के ओनरशिप की समीक्षा करने वाले वर्किंग ग्रुप ने अपनी रिपोर्ट सौंपी

सुझावों में निम्नलिखित शामिल हैं: (i) निजी बैंकों में दीर्घावधि की प्रमोटर शेयरहोल्डिंग को 15से बढ़ाकर 26करना, और (iiबड़े व्यापारिक घरानों को बैंकों के स्वामित्व की अनुमति देना, हितों के टकराव के प्रबंधन उपायों के साथ। 

यूनिवर्सिटी और कॉलेज को खोलने के लिए यूजीसी ने दिशानिर्देश जारी किए

दिशानिर्देशों में कंटेनमेंट जोन्स से बाहर संस्थानों को खोलने की अनुमति है जोकि फिजिकल क्लासेज़ की व्यावहारिकता पर निर्भर होगा। संस्थान उपयुक्त सुरक्षा उपायों को अपनाते हुए चरणबद्ध तरीके से खोले जाएंगे। 

राष्ट्रीय सुरक्षा और सार्वजनिक व्यवस्था के आधार पर 43 मोबाइल ऐप्स प्रतिबंधित

इन ऐप्स का उपयोग इनफॉरमेशन टेक्नोलॉजी एक्ट, 2000 के अंतर्गत प्रतिबंधित किया गया है क्योंकि ये यूजर डेटा को चुराकर भारत के बाहर के सर्वरों में ट्रांसमिट कर सकते हैं जिससे राष्ट्रीय सुरक्षा को खतरा हो सकता है।

 

कोविड-19

1 दिसंबर, 2020 तक भारत में कोविड-19 के 94,62,809 पुष्ट मामले थे।[1]   इनमें से 88,89,585 मरीजों का इलाज हो चुका है/उन्हें डिस्चार्ज किया जा चुका है और 1,37,621 की मृत्यु हुई है।1  देश और विभिन्न राज्यों में दैनिक मामलों की संख्या के लिए कृपया यहां देखें

केंद्र सरकार ने महामारी की रोकथाम के लिए अनेक नीतिगत फैसलों और इससे प्रभावित नागरिकों और व्यवसायों को मदद देने हेतु वित्तीय उपायों की घोषणा की है। केंद्र और राज्यों द्वारा जारी मुख्य अधिसूचनाओं के विवरण के लिए कृपया यहां देखें। नवंबर 2020 में इस संबंध में मुख्य घोषणाएं इस प्रकार हैं।

लॉकडाउन 31 दिसंबर तक बढ़ाया गयाअतिरिक्त राहत दी गई

Roshni Sinha (roshni@prsindia.org)

कोविड-19 को फैलने से रोकने के लिए राष्ट्रीय आपदा प्रबंधन अथॉरिटी (एनडीएमए) ने मार्च में 21 दिनों का देशव्यापी लॉकडाउन किया था।[2] इसके बाद लॉकडाउन को दस बार बढ़ाया गया है जोकि इस बार 31 दिसंबर, 2020 तक लागू है।[3] लॉकडाउन के संशोधित दिशानिर्देशों में कोविड के बढ़ते मामलों की रोकथाम के लिए निर्दिष्ट कंटेनमेंट रणनीति, निगरानी और दिशानिर्देशों का सख्ती से पालन शामिल है। इसके मुख्य पहलुओं में निम्नलिखित शामिल हैं: 

  • कोविड के अनुकूल व्यवहारराज्यों को कोविड के अनुकूल व्यवहार को बढ़ावा देने के लिए कुछ कदम उठाने चाहिए। इनमें निम्नलिखित शामिल हो सकते हैं: (iप्रशासनिक कार्रवाई, जैसे फेस मास्क न पहनने पर जुर्माना, (iiबाजारों में भीड़भाड़ रोकने के लिए स्वास्थ्य एवं परिवार कल्याण मंत्रालय द्वारा जारी सोप्स की सख्ती से निगरानी, और (iiiसार्वजनिक परिवहन के साधनों (जैसे बस) को रेगुलेट करने के लिए दिशानिर्देश जारी करना।
     
  • निगरानी और कंटेनमेंटकंटेनमेंट जोन्स में लॉकडाउन जारी रहेगा, जिसे जिला अथॉरिटीज़ द्वारा चिन्हित किया जाएगा। इन जोन्स में: (iकेवल अनिवार्य गतिविधियों की अनुमति होगी, (ii) मेडिकल इमरजेंसी और अनिवार्य वस्तुओं एवं सेवाओं की सप्लाई की अनुमति होगी, और (iiiकोविड-पॉजिटिव लोगों के कॉन्टैक्ट्स की लिस्टिंग की जाएगी, उनकी ट्रैंकिंग, पहचान, क्वारंटाइन और फॉलोअप किया जाएगा। 72 घंटे के भीतर 80कॉन्टैक्ट्स को ट्रेस किया जाएगा। राज्यों को इन उपायों को लागू करने के लिए जिम्मेदार अधिकारियों की जवाबदेही सुनिश्चित करनी होगी।
     
  • सोप्स का पालनकंटेनमेंट जोन्स के बाहर के क्षेत्रों में अधिकतर गतिविधियां बहाल हैं। जिन गतिविधियों को सीमित प्रतिबंधों के साथ चालू किया गया है, उनमें निम्नलिखित शामिल हैं: (iकेवल विदेश मामलों के मंत्रालय की अनुमति से अंतरराष्ट्रीय हवाई उड़ान, (iiसिनेमा और थियेटर सिर्फ 50% क्षमता के साथ संचालित किए जा सकते हैं(iii) स्विमिंग पूल सिर्फ खिलाड़ियों को प्रशिक्षित करने के लिए इस्तेमाल किए जा सकते हैं(iv) एग्जीबिशन हॉल्स सिर्फ बिजनेस टू बिजनेस के लिए इस्तेमाल किए जा सकते हैंऔर (v) सामाजिकधार्मिकराजनीतिक और दूसरे उद्देश्यों के लिए क्लोस्ड स्पेस वाले हॉल में जमावड़े के लिए अधिकतम 50% क्षमता और 200 लोगों की अधिकतम सीमा की अनुमति है (राज्य उसे 100 लोग भी कर सकते हैं)। संबंधित अथॉरिटीज़ को इन दिशानिर्देशों को कड़ाई से लागू करना चाहिए।

राज्यों को केंद्र सरकार की पूर्व सलाह लिए बिना कंटेनमेंट जोन्स के बाहर स्थानीय लॉकडाउन करने की अनुमति नहीं है।3  जिन शहरों में वीकली पॉजिटिव रेट 10से अधिक है, वे कार्यालय के लिए अलग-अलग समय निश्चित कर सकते हैं या एक ही समय पर कार्यालय आने वाले कर्मचारियों की संख्या को कम करने के उपाय कर सकते हैं। इसके अतिरिक्त व्यक्तियों और वस्तुओं की राज्यों के भीतर या राज्यों के बीच की आवाजाही पर प्रतिबंध नहीं लगाया जा सकता और इसमें पड़ोसी देशों के साथ लैंड बॉर्डर ट्रेड (संधियों के आधार पर) के जरिए आने वाले भी शामिल हैं।

दिशानिर्देशों में कार्यस्थलों और सार्वजनिक स्थलों पर कोविड-19 के प्रबंधन के लिए कुछ डायरेक्टिव्स अनिवार्य किए गए हैं। इन उपायों में निम्नलिखित शामिल हैं (i) सार्वजनिक स्थलों और काम करने के स्थानों में फेस कवर को अनिवार्य रूप से पहनना, और (ii) सभी कार्यस्थलों पर काम के अलग अलग घंटे।

सरकार ने आत्मनिर्भर भारत 3.0 के लिए प्रोत्साहन पैकेज की घोषणा की 

Madhunika Iyer (madhunika@prsindia.org)

वित्त मंत्री ने रोजगार बढ़ाने और इंफ्रास्ट्रक्चर एवं रियल ऐस्टेट जैसे क्षेत्रों को प्रोत्साहित करने के लिए उपायों की घोषणा की।[4] इन उपायों में निम्नलिखित शामिल हैं:

  • ईपीएफ अंशदानकेंद्र सरकार नए कर्मचारियों के लिए कर्मचारी भविष्य निधि (ईपीएफके अंशदान का दो साल के लिए भुगतान करेगी। नए कर्मचारी को उन लोगों को शामिल करने के लिए परिभाषित किया गया है (iजो ईपीएफ संगठन में रजिस्टर्ड इस्टैबलिशमेंट में पहली बार शामिल हुए हैंया (ii) जिनकी 1 मार्च से 30 सितंबर, 2020 के बीच नौकरी चली गई थी लेकिन अक्टूबर, 2020 से वह दोबारा कार्यबल में शामिल हो गए हैं। योजना 30 जून, 2021 तक लागू है और प्रति माह 15,000 रुपए से कम आय वाले कर्मचारियों पर लागू होती है। 1,000 से कम कर्मचारियों वाले इस्टैबलिशमेंट के लिएनियोक्ता और कर्मचारी दोनों के ईपीएफ अंशदान को कवर किया जाएगा। दूसरों के लिएसरकार केवल कर्मचारी के ईपीएफ अंशदान को कवर करेगी।
     
  • ऋण गारंटी योजना का विस्तार: इमरजेंसी क्रेडिट लाइन गारंटी योजना की घोषणा मई में आत्मनिर्भार भारत अभियान के अंग के रूप में की गई थी।[5] यह पात्र एंटिटीज़ को सीमित ब्याज दरों पर 29 फरवरी, 2020 तक बकाया ऋण मूल्य के अधिकतम 20% तक अतिरिक्त कोलेट्रल फ्री ऋण प्रदान करता है। पात्र एंटिटीज़ में निम्नलिखित शामिल हैं: (i) एमएसएमईवे जो व्यावसायिक उद्देश्यों के लिए व्यक्तिगत ऋण का लाभ उठाते हैंऔर (ii) जिनके पास 25 करोड़ रुपए तक का बकाया ऋण हैऔर 100 करोड़ रुपए तक का वार्षिक कारोबार है। ऋण की अवधि चार वर्ष हैपुनर्भुगतान पर एक वर्ष का मोराटोरियम और तीन वर्ष की पुनर्भुगतान अवधि। 100% अतिरिक्त क्रेडिट की गारंटी सरकार द्वारा दी जाती है। यह योजना 30 नवंबर, 2020 तक वैध थी।[6]  
     
  • नवीनतम घोषणा इस योजना को 31 मार्च, 2021 तक बढ़ाती हैजिसमें 50 करोड़ रुपए तक का बकाया ऋण वाली इकाइयां शामिल हैं (टर्नओवर के आधार पर बिना किसी प्रतिबंध के)।[7] इसके अतिरिक्त इस योजना का विस्तार कोविड-19 संबंधी स्ट्रेस को कम करने पर विशेषज्ञ समिति द्वारा चिन्हित 26 स्ट्रेस्ड क्षेत्रों (जैसे रियल ऐस्टेटनिर्माण और हॉस्पिटैलिटी) की एंटिटीज़ को कवर करने के लिए किया गया है।[8]  इन क्षेत्रों में 50 करोड़ रुपए से 250 करोड़ रुपए तक के ऋण वाली एंटिटीज़ इस योजना के लिए पात्र हैं। ऋण की अवधि पांच वर्षएक वर्ष का मोराटोरियम और चार वर्ष की अदायगी होगी।
     
  • अतिरिक्त बजटीय आबंटनकेंद्र सरकार ने शहरी क्षेत्रों में आवास निर्माण के लिए प्रधानमंत्री आवास योजना के अंतर्गत खर्च में 18,000 करोड़ रुपए की वृद्धि करने का प्रस्ताव किया है। यह 2020-21 के बजट में योजना के लिए आबंटित 8,000 करोड़ रुपए के अतिरिक्त है।
     
  • रियल ऐस्टेट के लिए इनकम टैक्स में राहत: इनकम टैक्स, 1961 के अंतर्गतएक घर खरीदार या एक अचल संपत्ति डेवलपर (विक्रेता) को घर के सर्किल दर और लेनदेन मूल्य के बीच अंतर पर कर का भुगतान करना पड़ता हैयदि अंतर 10% से अधिक है। इस सीमा को बढ़ाकर 20कर दिया गया है। सर्किल रेट सरकार द्वारा स्टांप ड्यूटी की गणना के लिए उपयोग की गई संपत्ति का निर्धारित मूल्य है।

यूजीसी ने यूनिवर्सिटी और कॉलेज खोलने के लिए दिशानिर्देश जारी किए 

Anurag Vaishnav (anurag@prsindia.org)

विश्वविद्यालय अनुदान आयोग (यूजीसी) ने यूनिवर्सिटी और कॉलेज खोलने के लिए दिशानिर्देश जारी किए जिनमें सुरक्षा एवं संस्थागत उपायों का विवरण है।[9]  कोविड-19 महामारी के कारण 16 मार्च, 2020 से सभी यूनिवर्सिटी और अन्य शैक्षणिक संस्थानों बंद हैं। 

यूनिवर्सिटी और कॉलेजों को केवल तभी खोलने की अनुमति दी जाएगी जब वे कंटेनमेंट जोन्स से बाहर हों। इसके अतिरिक्त कंटेनमेंट जोन्स में रहने वाले विद्यार्थियों और कर्मचारियों को कॉलेज आने की अनुमति नहीं दी जाएगी। कंटेनमेंट जोन्स के बाहर केंद्रीय वित्त पोषित उच्चतर शिक्षा संस्थानों के लिए, संस्थान प्रमुख फिजिकल क्लास को फिर से शुरू करने की व्यवहार्यता तय करेंगे। अन्य संस्थानों के लिए, निर्णय संबंधित राज्य सरकार द्वारा किया जाएगा। दिशानिर्देशों के निम्नलिखित शामिल हैं:

  • चरणबद्ध तरीके से संस्थान को खोलनायूनिवर्सिटी चरणबद्ध तरीके से चालू हो सकती हैं जिनमें कुछ श्रेणी के विद्यार्थियों को पहले आने की अनुमति दी जाए। इनमें निम्नलिखित शामिल हैं: (i) रिसर्च प्रोग्राम्स वाले स्टूडेंट्स या विज्ञान एवं टेक्नोलॉजी प्रोग्राम्स वाले पोस्ट ग्रैजुएट स्टूडेंट्स (चूंकि इन प्रोग्राम्स में अपेक्षाकृत कम स्टूडेंट्स होते हैं), और (ii) फाइनल ईयर के स्टूडेंट्स (एकैडमिक या प्लेसमेंट उद्देश्यों के लिए)।
     
  • अन्य प्रोग्राम्स के लिए ऑनलाइन/डिस्टेंस लर्निंग को शिक्षण का पसंदीदा माध्यम बना रहना चाहिए। शिक्षण के घंटे बढ़ाए जा सकते हैं और छह-दिन के शेड्यूल का पालन किया जा सकता है ताकि दूरियां सुनिश्चित करने के लिए कक्षाओं को कई वर्गों में बांटकर चरणों का संचालन किया जा सके।
     
  • सुरक्षा उपायक्लास में आने की अनुमति देने से पहले अलग-अलग जगहों से आने वाले स्टूडेंट्स को 14 दिनों के क्वारंटाइन में रखा जाना चाहिए। लक्षण वाले व्यक्तियों को परिसर में आने की अनुमति नहीं होनी चाहिए। दूसरे सुरक्षा उपायों में निम्नलिखित शामिल हैं:(i) एंट्री और एक्जिट प्वाइंट्स पर थर्मल स्कैनर, सैनिटाइजर और फेस मास्क, (iiअलग से आइसोलेशन और क्वारंटाइन की सुविधा, (iii) सभी एक्स्ट्राकरिकुलर गतिविधियों से बचना, जिनमें फिजिकल डिस्टेंसिंग संभव नहीं, और (ivमहामारी के संबंध में स्टूडेंट्स, शिक्षकों और कर्मचारियों को जानकारी देना। 

कोविड-19 महामारी पर स्वास्थ्य संबंधी स्टैंडिंग कमिटी ने रिपोर्ट सौंपी 

Anya Bharat Ram (anya@prsindia.org)

स्वास्थ्य एवं परिवार कल्याण संबंधी स्टैंडिंग कमिटी ने कोविड-19 महामारी के प्रकोप और उसके प्रबंधन पर अपनी रिपोर्ट सौंपी।[10] 11 मार्च2020 को विश्व स्वास्थ्य संगठन ने कोविड-19 को महामारी घोषित किया था। कमिटी ने कहा है कि कोविड-19 के मामलों में गिरावट देखी जा रही है लेकिन दूसरी लहर का भी काफी खतरा है। इस संबंध में कमिटी ने निम्न सुझाव दिए:

  • स्वास्थ्य क्षेत्र के लिए वित्तपोषणकमिटी ने सुझाव दिया कि दो वर्षों के भीतर स्वास्थ्य सेवाओं पर जीडीपी का 2.5खर्च किया जाना चाहिए (2019-20 में जीडीपी के 1.6% की तुलना में)। 
     
  • स्वास्थ्य इंफ्रास्ट्रक्चरकमिटी ने कहा कि कोविड-19 के मामलों में बढ़ोतरी से निपटने के लिए सरकारी अस्पतालों में बिस्तरों की संख्या पर्याप्त नहीं थी। इसके अतिरिक्त उसने कहा कि सरकार ने कोविड-19 के इलाज के लिए जो लागत और कीमत तय की हैउसके कारण छोटे निजी अस्पताल बंद होने की कगार पर हैं। कमिटी ने सुझाव दिया कि निजी अस्पतालों में कोविड-19 के इलाज की लागत और कीमत वाजिब होनी चाहिए।
     
  • स्वास्थ्यकर्मी: कमिटी ने गौर किया कि राज्य संचालित अस्पतालों में रिक्तियों के कारण स्वास्थ्य कर्मचारियों की कमी है। उसने सुझाव दिया कि इन रिक्तियों को जल्द से जल्द भरा जाना चाहिए। इसके अतिरिक्त उसने सुझाव दिया कि स्वास्थ्य सेवाओं की कार्यप्रणाली को दुरुस्त करने के लिए भारतीय प्रशासनिक सेवा की तरह सार्वजनिक स्वास्थ्य कैडर के तौर पर भारतीय स्वास्थ्य सेवा बनाई जानी चाहिए।
     
  • टेस्टिंग और ट्रेसिंग: कमिटी ने कहा कि कॉन्टैक्ट ट्रेसिंग न होना और टेस्टिंग कम होना भी कोविड-19 के मामलों की बढ़ोतरी के कारण हो सकते हैं। इसके अतिरिक्त उसने कहा कि रैपिड एंटीजन टेस्ट का बड़े पैमाने पर इस्तेमाल होने के कारण (जोकि आरटी-पीसीआर टेस्ट से कम भरोसेमंद हैं)कंटेनमेंट रणनीति पर प्रतिकूल असर पड़ सकता है। कमिटी ने सुझाव दिया कि टेस्टिंग को बढ़ाया चाहिए और सही टेस्टिंग जैसे आरटी-पीसीआर टेस्ट का इस्तेमाल किया जाना चाहिए।
     
  • वैक्सीनकमिटी ने कहा सभी लोगों को वैक्सीन लगाई जानी चाहिए। इस संबंध में कमिटी ने सुझाव दिया कि: (iसमाज के कमजोर तबकों के लिए वैक्सीन की कीमत सबसिडीयुक्त होनी चाहिए(iiदेश के कोल्ड स्टोरेज सिस्टम को अपग्रेड किया जाना चाहिएऔर (iiiवैक्सीन को विश्व स्वास्थ्य संगठन के रणनीतिक आबंटन के एप्रोच या मल्टी टियर रिस्क बेस्ड एप्रोच के अनुसार प्रबंधित किया जाना चाहिए।

रिपोर्ट पर पीआरएस सारांश के लिए कृपया देखें।

कंटेनमेंट जोन्स के बाहर आंगनवाड़ी खोलने के संबंध में राज्यों को आदेश जारी 

Prachi Kaur (prachi@prsindia.org)

महिला एवं बाल विकास मंत्रालय ने कंटेनमेंट जोन्स के बाहर आंगनवाड़ियों को खोलने की अनुमति देने के लिए राज्य सरकार को आदेश जारी किया।[11]  स्वास्थ्य एवं परिवार कल्याण मंत्रालय के कोविड-19 के निर्देशों का पालन करते हुए राज्यों को अपने स्वयं के स्टैंडर्ड ऑपरेटिंग प्रोसीजर्स बनाने की अनुमति दी गई है। महिला एवं बाल विकास मंत्रालय ने आंगनवाड़ी सेवाओं की निरंतरता के लिए कुछ परिचालनगत दिशानिर्देश प्रदान किए हैं। इसमें निम्नलिखित शामिल हैं:

  • अनुपूरक पोषण: राज्य स्थानीय स्थिति को देखते हुए आंगनवाड़ियों में पका हुआ खाना या घर ले जाने के लिए राशन दे सकते हैं या उन्हें घर पर पहुंचा सकते हैं। 
     
  • विकास पर निगरानी रखने वाली सेवाएं: गंभीर रूप से कुपोषित बच्चों, उच्च जोखिम वाली गर्भवती महिलाओं और स्तनपान कराने वाली माताओं पर कड़ी निगरानी रखी जानी चाहिए और उन्हें घर पर ही सेवाएं तथा घर ले जाने वाला पका हुआ भोजन प्रदान किया जाना चाहिए।
     
  • काउंसिलिंग सेवाएंमातृत्व, शिशु एवं छोटे बच्चों की देखभाल और उनके खान पान के संबंध में सलाह दी जानी चाहिए, भले ही वह सलाह घर जाकर दी जाए या वीडियो/टेलीफोन कॉल अथवा व्हॉट्सएप मैसेज द्वारा।
     
  • प्रारंभिक बाल्यकाल देखभाल और शिक्षा: आंगनवाड़ियों में हर दिन पांच से आठ बच्चों के छोटे समूह के साथ स्कूल पूर्व शिक्षा को फिर से शुरू किया जा सकता है। बच्चे हफ्ते में एक बार आंगनवाड़ी जा सकते हैं और माता-पिता की मदद से घर पर पाठ का अभ्यास कर सकते हैं। जहां भी संभव हो, ऑनलाइन शिक्षा को प्रोत्साहन दिया जाना चाहिए।  

आरोग्य सेतु डेटा एक्सेस एंड नॉलेज शेयरिंग प्रोटोकॉल, 2020 को मई 2021 तक बढ़ाया गया

Saket Surya (saket@prsindia.org)

मई 2020 में इलेक्ट्रॉनिक और इनफॉरमेशन टेक्नोलॉजी मंत्रालय ने आरोग्य सेतु मोबाइल एप्लिकेशन (ऐप) के संबंध में आरोग्य सेतु डेटा एक्सेस एंड नॉलेज शेयरिंग प्रोटोकॉल, 2020 को जारी किया था।[12] यह प्रोटोकॉल मूल रूप से 10 नवंबर, 2020 तक लागू था (अधिसूचना की तारीख से छह महीने)। अब इसे छह महीने के लिए बढ़ा दिया गया है, यानी 10 मई, 2021 तक।[13]  आरोग्य सेतु ऐप को केंद्र सरकार ने अप्रैल 2020 में शुरू किया था ताकि कॉन्टैक्ट ट्रेसिंग की जा सके (कोविड-19 से संक्रमित होने के उच्च जोखिम वाले लोगों की पहचान और उनकी निगरानी) और यूजर्स यह जांच सकें कि उनके अपने संक्रमित होने का कितना खतरा है। प्रोटोकॉल का उद्देश्य यह सुनिश्चित करना है कि एप्लिकेशन के द्वारा सुरक्षित तथा प्रभावी डेटा कलेक्शन और शेयरिंग हो और लोगों के पर्सनल डेटा को सुरक्षित रखा जा सके। 

प्रोटोकॉल पर अधिक विवरण के लिए कृपया देखें

मंत्रालय ने आरोग्य सेतु ऐप के बैकएंड कोड को जारी किया है।[14]  मई 2020 में आरोग्य सेतु ऐप को ओपन सोर्स करने का फैसला किया गया था।[15] ओपन सोर्स सॉफ्टवेयर का सोर्स कोड मॉडिफिकेशन और पुनर्वितरण हेतु स्वतंत्र रूप से उपलब्ध है। एन्ड्रॉयड और आईओएस एप्लिकेशंस का सोर्स कोड पहले जारी किया गया था।15

 

समष्टि आर्थिक (मैक्रोइकोनॉमिक) विकास

Madhunika Iyer (madhunika@prsindia.org)

2020-21 की दूसरी तिमाही में जीडीपी में 7.5का संकुचन

2019-20 की दूसरी तिमाही (जुलाई-सितंबर) के मुकाबले 2020-21 में इसी अवधि के दौरान सकल घरेलू उत्पाद (जीडीपी) (2011-12 के स्थिर मूल्यों पर) में 7.5% प्रतिशत का संकुचन हुआ।[16] इससे पहले मौजूदा वित्त वर्ष की पहली तिमाही में जीडीपी में 23.9की गिरावट हुई थी और यह निरंतर दूसरी तिमाही है जब गिरावट दर्ज की गई है। इसकी तुलना में 2019-20 की दूसरी तिमाही में जीडीपी की वृद्धि 4.4% और पहली तिमाही में 5.2% थी। 

पिछले वर्ष की पहली छमाही के मुकाबले संचयी रूप से 2020-21 की पहली छमाही में जीडीपी में 15.7का संकुचन हुआ। 

रेखाचित्र 1: जीडीपी में वृद्धि (%,वर्ष दर वर्ष)

 image

SourcesMinistry of Statistics and Programme Implementation; PRS.

अर्थव्यवस्था के विभिन्न क्षेत्रों में जीडीपी को सकल मूल्य संवर्धन (जीवीए) के लिहाज से मापा जाता है। 2020-21 की पहली तिमाही में सबसे अधिक संकुचन वाले चार क्षेत्रों (निर्माण, व्यापार, मैन्यूफैक्चरिंग और खनन) के प्रदर्शन में दूसरी तिमाही के दौरान सुधार हुआ। जबकि निर्माण, व्यापार और खनन में संकुचन जारी है, मैन्यूफैक्चरिंग 0.6की दर से बढ़ी। 2020-21 की दूसरी तिमाही में जिन अन्य क्षेत्रों में वृद्धि दर्ज की गई, वे हैं, कृषि और बिजली। तालिका 1 में जीवीए में क्षेत्रगत वृद्धि का विवरण दिया गया है। 

तालिका 2: 2020-21 की दूसरी तिमाही में विभिन्न क्षेत्रों में सकल मूल्य संवर्धन में वृद्धि (%वर्ष दर वर्ष) 

क्षेत्र

ति 2

2019-20

ति 1

2020-21

ति 2

2020-21

कृषि

3.5%

3.4%

3.4%

खनन

-1.1%

-23.3%

-9.1%

मैन्यूफैक्चरिंग

-0.6%

-39.3%

0.6%

बिजली

3.9%

-7.0%

4.4%

निर्माण

2.6%

-50.3%

-8.6%

व्यापार

4.1%

-47.0%

-15.6%

वित्तीय सेवाएं

6.0%

-5.3%

-8.1%

जन सेवाएं

10.9%

-10.3%

-12.2%

जीवीए

4.3%

-22.8%

-7.0%

जीडीपी

4.4%

-23.9%

-7.5%

Note : GVA is GDP without taxes and subsidies, at constant prices (2011-12 base year). 

SourcesMinistry of Statistics and Programme Implementation; PRS.

वित्त

निजी बैंकों में ओनरशिप और कॉरपोरेट संरचना की समीक्षा करने वाले वर्किंग ग्रुप ने रिपोर्ट सौंपी

Madhunika Iyer (madhunika@prsindia.org)

निजी क्षेत्र के भारतीय बैंकों में एक्सटैंट ओनरशिप के दिशानिर्देशों और कॉरपोरेट संरचना की समीक्षा करने वाले वर्किंग ग्रुप ने भारतीय रिजर्व बैंक को अपनी रिपोर्ट सौंपी।[17] ग्रुप के संदर्भ की शर्तों में निम्नलिखित की समीक्षा शामिल है: (iनिजी बैंकों में ओनरशिप और नियंत्रण से संबंधित रेगुलेशन, (iiबैंकिंग लाइसेंस के लिए आवेदन करने वाले बैंकों के लिए पात्रता के मानदंड, और (iiiप्रमोटर शेयरहोल्डिंग के नियम। ग्रुप के मुख्य सुझावों में निम्नलिखित शामिल हैं:

  • प्रमोटर शेयरहोल्डिंग: मौजूदा दिशानिर्देशों में नए बैंक के संचालन के पहले पांच वर्षों में प्रमोटरों की हिस्सेदारी कम से कम 40होनी चाहिए। इसके बादप्रमोटर की हिस्सेदारी बैंक के संचालन के 10 साल के भीतर अधिकतम 30और 15 साल के भीतर घटकर 15हो जानी चाहिए। ग्रुप ने सुझाव दिया कि 40के मूल लॉक-इन को बरकरार रखा जाए, 15 वर्ष की हिस्सेदारी को 15से बढ़ाकर 26किया जाएऔर मध्यवर्ती लक्ष्यों को हटा दिया जाए।
     
  • नॉन प्रमोटर शेयरहोल्डिंग: मौजूदा दिशानिर्देश निजी बैंकों में विभिन्न प्रकार के निवेशकों के लिए दीर्घावधि की हिस्सेदारी के लिए अलग-अलग सीमा तय करते हैं। उदाहरण के लिए कोई व्यक्ति और गैर-वित्तीय संस्थान निजी बैंकों में 10तक शेयर रख सकते हैंविविध सरकारी वित्तीय संस्थाएं 40तक शेयर रख सकती हैं। ग्रुप ने लंबे समय तक नॉन प्रमोटर शेयरहोल्डिंग पर एक समान 15की सीमा तय करने का सुझाव दिया।
     
  • बैंकों पर व्यापारिक घरानों का ओनरशिपग्रुप ने सुझाव दिया कि बड़े व्यापारिक घरानों को बैंकों का प्रमोटर बनने की अनुमति दी जाए। हालांकि उसने कहा कि इसके लिए एक ही व्यापारिक घराने की प्रमोटेड कंपनियों को बैंक द्वारा ऋण देने के लिए कानूनी ढांचे की आवश्यकता होगी। बड़े व्यापारिक घरानों के स्वामित्व को भी समेकित पर्यवेक्षण के लिए एक रूपरेखा की आवश्यकता होगी।
     
  • बैंकों में रूपांतरणसुचारू रूप से चलने वाली गैर बैंकिंग वित्तीय कंपनियां (एनबीएफसीज़), जिनका एसेट साइज 50,000 करोड़ रुपए से अधिक का है, और जिन पर बड़े व्यापारिक घरानों का स्वामित्व है, बैंक में रूपांतरित की जा सकती हैं। 10 वर्ष से अधिक समय से संचालित होने वाली एनबीएफसीज़ को इसकी अनुमति दी जा सकती है और हितों के संभावित टकराव को दूर करने के लिए उपयुक्त सुरक्षा उपायों के अधीन हो सकती हैं (जिसे निर्दिष्ट किया जा सकता है)। 
     
  • नए बैंकों की लाइसेंसिंगग्रुप ने सुझाव दिया कि नए बैंकों की लाइसेंसिंग के लिए न्यूनतम प्रारंभिक पूंजी की आवश्यकता को बढ़ाया जा सकता है: (iयूनिवर्सल बैंकों के लिए 500 करोड़ से 1,000 करोड़ रुपए, और (iiछोटे वित्तीय बैंकों के लिए 100 करोड़ रुपए से 300 करोड़ रुपए।

कैबिनेट ने सामाजिक इंफ्रास्ट्रक्चर के लिए वायबिलिटी गैप फंडिंग के नियमों में संशोधनों को मंजूरी दी

Suyash Tiwari (suyash@prsindia.org)

केंद्रीय कैबिनेट ने इंफ्रास्ट्रक्चर प्रॉजेक्ट्स के लिए सार्वजनिक निजी भागीदारी (पीपीपी) को वित्तीय समर्थन देने हेतु वायबिलिटी गैप फंडिंग (वीजीएफ) योजना में संशोधनों को मंजूरी दी।[18]   इस योजना को 2006 में शुरू किया गया था जिससे ऐसे इंफ्रास्ट्रक्चर प्रॉजेक्ट्स को सहयोग दिया जा सके, जोकि आर्थिक रूप से उचित हैं, लेकिन निम्नलिखित कारणों से व्यावसायिक रूप से अव्यवहार्य हैं: (i) अधिक पूंजीगत निवेश की जरूरत, (iiविकसित होने की लंबी अवधि, और (iiiव्यावसायिक स्तर पर यूजर चार्ज को बढ़ाने में सक्षम न होना। मौजूदा योजना के अंतर्गत केंद्र सरकार प्रॉजेक्ट की लागत का अधिकतम 20तक वीजीएफ के अंतर्गत कवर करती है। पीपीपी का सार्वजनिक हिस्सेदार (जैसे मंत्रालय, राज्य सरकार या सांविधिक अथॉरिटी) अतिरिक्त 20को कवर कर सकती है। संशोधित योजना के अंतर्गत विभिन्न सामाजिक इंफ्रास्ट्रक्चर प्रॉजेक्ट्स के लिए उच्च वीजीएफ को मंजूर किया गया है: 

  • सामाजिक क्षेत्रकेंद्र सरकार सामाजिक क्षेत्रों (जैसे शिक्षास्वास्थ्यजल आपूर्तिअपशिष्ट जल उपचारऔर ठोस अपशिष्ट प्रबंधन) में इंफ्रास्ट्रक्चर प्रॉजेक्ट्स के लिए अधिकतम 30लागत का उच्च वीजीएफ प्रदान करेगी। प्रॉजेक्ट में सार्वजनिक भागीदार अतिरिक्त रूप से परियोजना लागत का 30तक कवर कर सकता है।
     
  • पायलट प्रॉजेक्ट्सकेंद्र और राज्य सरकार शिक्षा एवं स्वास्थ्य क्षेत्रों में पायलट प्रॉजेक्ट्स की अधिकतम 80% लागत के लिए वीजीएफ प्रदान करेंगी। इसके अतिरिक्त वे उसके पांच वर्ष तक के व्यावसायिक संचालन की अधिकतम 50लागत प्रदान करेगी। केंद्र सरकार का हिस्सा प्रॉजेक्ट की लागत का अधिकतम 40और परिचालन लागत का 25होगा।

2020-21 से 2024-25 की अवधि के लिए संशोधित योजना हेतु 8,100 करोड़ रुपए के परिव्यय को मंजूरी दी गई है। सामाजिक इंफ्रास्ट्रक्चर प्रॉजेक्ट्स की मदद के रूप में अनुमानित 2,100 करोड़ रुपए प्रदान किए जाएंगेशेष 6,000 करोड़ रुपए आर्थिक इंफ्रास्ट्रक्चर प्रॉजेक्ट्स के लिए रखे जाएंगे। 

आईएफएससी में रीटेल बिजनेस डेवलपमेंट पर गठित कमिटी ने रिपोर्ट सौंपी

Madhunika Iyer (madhunika@prsindia.org)

अंतरराष्ट्रीय वित्तीय सेवा केंद्र (आईएफएससी) अंतरराष्ट्रीय रीटेल बिजनेस डेवलमेंट कमिटी (चेयरपर्सनइंजेती श्रीनिवास) ने अंतरराष्ट्रीय वित्तीय सेवा केंद्र अथॉरिटी (आईएफएससीए) को अपनी रिपोर्ट सौंपी।[19] कमिटी ने आईएफएससी के बैंकिंग, बीमा और पूंजी बाजार सेगमेंट्स में रीटेल भागीदारी को विकसित करने के संबंध में सुझाव दिए हैं। मुख्य सुझावों में निम्नलिखित शामिल हैं:[20]

  • बैंकिंगआईएफएससी में बैंकिंग इकाइयों को निवासी भारतीय रीटेल ग्राहकों को बैंकिंग सेवाएं प्रदान करने की अनुमति होनी चाहिए। ग्राहकों को अपनी पसंद की करंसी में करंट, सेविंग्स और टर्म डिपॉजिट एकाउंट्स खोलने की भी अनुमति होनी चाहिए। भारतीय रिजर्व बैंक (आरबीआई) का सर्कुलर, जोकि आईएफएससी में संचालित होने वाले बैंकों को रेगुलेट करता है, उन्हें नॉन रीटेल ग्राहकों को सेवाएं प्रदान करने की अनुमति देता है।[21]  कमिटी ने यह सुझाव भी दिया कि भारत के निवासियों को आईएफएससी में एकाउंट में धन राशि को भेजने के लिए लिबराइज्ड रेमिटेंस स्कीम (एलआरएस) का इस्तेमाल करने की अनुमति होनी चाहिए। एलआरएस से लोग स्वीकृत लेनदेन के लिए विदेशी करंसी को भेज सकते हैं।[22]
     
  • आईएफएससीए ने आरबीआई सर्कुलर के स्थान पर आईएफएससी में संचालित होने वाली बैंकिंग इकाइयों के लिए बैंकिंग रेगुलेशंस, 2020 को अधिसूचित किया।[23] इन रेगुलेशंस में रेगुलेटर नियम दिए गए हैं और बैंकिंग इकाइयों के लिए स्वीकृत गतिविधियां भी दर्ज हैं। कमिटी के कुछ सुझावों को लागू करते हुएयह भारत के निवासियों और अनिवासियों, जिनके पास कुल मिलाकर एक मिलियन USD से कम की संपत्ति है, को विदेशी करंसी एकाउंट्स खोलने की अनुमति देता है। यह भारतीय निवासियों को एलआरएस का उपयोग करके स्वीकृत लेनदेन करने की अनुमति देता है।
     
  • बीमा: अनिवासी भारतीयों (एनआरआई) और भारतीय मूल के व्यक्तियों (पीआईओ) को आईएफएससी में बीमाकर्ताओं से भारत और विदेश में स्थित अपने और परिवार के सदस्यों के लिए बीमा पॉलिसी खरीदने की अनुमति दी जानी चाहिए। बीमा प्रीमियम किसी भी करंसी और पोर्टेबल (बाद में भुगतान की करंसी में परिवर्तन की अनुमति देने के लिए) देय होना चाहिए। वर्तमान में आईएफएससी में कार्यरत बीमाकर्ताओं को केवल विदेशी करंसी में लेनदेन करने की अनुमति है।[24]  कमिटी ने यह भी सुझाव दिया कि निवासी भारतीयों को दुनिया में कहीं भी चिकित्सा उपचार के लिए विदेशी स्वास्थ्य बीमा खरीदने की अनुमति दी जानी चाहिए। वर्तमान में आईएफएससी के अंतर्गत आने वाले बीमाकर्ताओं को आईएफएससी के भीतरभारत में अन्य विशेष आर्थिक क्षेत्रों के साथया भारत के बाहर संस्थाओं के साथ लेनदेन करने की अनुमति है।
     
  • पूंजी बाजारनिवासी भारतीयों को निम्नलिखित में निवेश की अनुमति होनी चाहिए(iआईएफएससी स्टॉक एक्सचेंजों में सूचीबद्ध कंपनियों में(iiआईएफएससी में वैकल्पिक निवेश फंड्स, और म्यूचुअल फंड (एलआरएस मार्ग के माध्यम से) में। वर्तमान मेंनिवासी भारतीय आईएफएससी में एंटिटीज़ में निवेश कर सकते हैंबशर्ते कि उनका निवल मूल्य कम से कम एक मिलियन USD हो और वे अपतटीय निवेश करने के लिए विदेशी मुद्रा प्रबंधन एक्ट (फेमा) के अंतर्गत पात्र हों।[25]

 

विधि एवं न्याय 

आर्बिट्रेशन और कंसीलिएशन (संशोधन) अध्यादेश जारी

Roshni Sinha (roshni@prsindia.org)

आर्बिट्रेशन और कंसीलिएशन (संशोधन) अध्यादेश, 2020 को जारी किया गया है।[26] यह आर्बिट्रेशन और कंसीलिएशन एक्ट, 1996 में संशोधन करता है। एक्ट में घरेलू और अंतरराष्ट्रीय आर्बिट्रेशन से संबंधित प्रावधान हैं और यह सुलह प्रक्रिया को संचालित करने से संबंधित कानून को स्पष्ट करता है। अध्यादेश की मुख्य विशेषताएं निम्नलिखित हैं: 

  • फैसले पर ऑटोमैटिक स्टे: 1996 के एक्ट में विभिन्न पक्षों को इस बात की अनुमति दी गई है कि वे आर्बिट्रेशन संबंधी किसी फैसले (आर्बिट्रेशन अवार्ड यानी आर्बिट्रेशन की प्रक्रिया में दिए गया कोई आदेश) के निवारण (सेटिंग असाइड) के लिए आवेदन दे सकते हैं। अदालतों ने इस प्रावधान की व्याख्या इस तरह की कि अदालत के समक्ष जैसे ही निवारण के लिए कोई आवेदन रखा जाता हैउसी क्षण आर्बिट्रेशन के फैसले पर ऑटोमैटिक स्टे लग जाएगा। 2015 में इस एक्ट में संशोधन किया गया और कहा गया कि आर्बिट्रेशन संबंधी किसी फैसले पर सिर्फ इस वजह से स्टे नहीं लगाया जाएगाक्योंकि उसके निवारण के लिए अदालत में कोई आवेदन दायर किया गया है।
     
  • अध्यादेश में निर्दिष्ट किया गया है कि आर्बिट्रेशन संबंधी किसी फैसले पर स्टे दिया जा सकता है (आवेदन के लंबित रहने के बावजूद)अगर अदालत को इस बात का विश्वास है कि: (i) संबंधित आर्बिट्रेशन एग्रीमेंट या कॉन्ट्रैक्टया (ii) फैसलाधोखाधड़ी या भ्रष्टाचार से प्रेरित या प्रभावित था। यह बदलाव 23 अक्टूबर2015 से प्रभावी होगा।
     
  • आर्बिट्रेटर्स की क्वालिफिकेशन: एक्ट एक अलग अनुसूची में आर्बिट्रेटर्स की कुछ क्वालिफिकेशंसअनुभव और एक्रेडेशन के नियमों को निर्दिष्ट करता है। अनुसूची के अंतर्गत शर्तों में कहा गया है कि आर्बिट्रेटर को (i) 1961 के एडवोकेट्स एक्ट के अंतर्गत वकील होना चाहिए और उसे 10 वर्ष का अनुभव होना चाहिएया (ii) उसे इंडियन लीगल सर्विस का एक अधिकारी होना चाहिए। इसके अतिरिक्त आर्बिट्रेटर पर लागू सामान्य नियमों में यह भी शामिल है कि उन्हें भारतीय संविधान का जानकार होना चाहिए। 
     
  • अध्यादेश में इस अनुसूची को हटा दिया गया है और कहा गया है कि आर्बिट्रेटर्स की क्वालिफिकेशनअनुभव और एक्रेडेशन के नियमों को रेगुलेशंस द्वारा निर्दिष्ट किया जाएगा।

अध्यादेश पर पीआरएस सारांश के लिए कृपया देखें

सर्वोच्च न्यायालय ने 2020 ट्रिब्यूनल कानूनों पर फैसला सुनाया

Aditya Kumar (aditya@prsindia.org)

सर्वोच्च न्यायालय ने ट्रिब्यूनल, अपीलीय ट्रिब्यूनल और अन्य अथॉरिटीज़ (सदस्यों की क्वालिफिकेशन, अनुभव और अन्य सेवा शर्त) नियम, 2020 के विभिन्न पहलुओं पर फैसला सुनाया।[27] ये नियम 19 ट्रिब्यूनलों के सदस्यों की क्वालिफिकेशन, सेवा शर्तों और कार्यकाल को निर्धारित करते हैं।[28]

2019 में सर्वोच्च न्यायालय ने 2017 में अधिसूचित नियमों के एक पूर्व संस्करण को रद्द कर दिया था।[29] तब अदालत ने कहा था कि ये नियम संविधान के उन विभिन्न सिद्धांतों के विरोधी हैं जिनमें न्यायपालिका की स्वतंत्रता की रक्षा करने पर बल दिया गया है। सरकार को इन नियमों को दोबारा बनाने को कहा गया था जिससे वे अदालत के पूर्व फैसलों के अनुकूल हो सकें। इसके बाद 2020 के नियमों को अधिसूचित किया गया।  

इस फैसले की मुख्य झलकियां निम्नलिखित हैं:

  • स्वतंत्र निकायअदालत ने केंद्र सरकार को निर्देश दिया कि वह ट्रिब्यूनल में नियुक्तियों, साथ ही उनके कामकाज और प्रशासन के प्रबंधन के लिए एक स्वतंत्र निकाय का गठन करे, जिसे राष्ट्रीय ट्रिब्यूनल आयोग का नाम दिया जाए। इसके लिए वित्त मंत्रालय के अंतर्गत एक अलग प्रभाग का गठन किया जा सकता है जोकि आयोग का गठन होने तक ट्रिब्यूनलों की आवश्यकताओं का पर्यवेक्षण करे।
     
  • सिलेक्शन कमिटीअदालत ने कहा कि सिलेक्शन कमिटी फैसला लेते समय न्यायिक सदस्यों को प्रमुखता नहीं देती।  उसने निर्दिष्ट किया कि कमिटी में निम्नलिखित शामिल होने चाहिए: (iभारत के मुख्य न्यायाधीश या उनके नॉमिनी (कास्टिंग वोट के साथ), (iiट्रिब्यूनल के पीठासीन अधिकारी या अगर पीठासीन अधिकारी न्यायिक सदस्य न हो या वह पुनर्नियुक्ति की मांग कर रहा हो तो सर्वोच्च न्यायालय के सेवानिवृत्त न्यायाधीश या उच्च न्यायालय के मुख्य न्यायाधीश, (iiiविधि एवं न्याय मंत्रालय के सचिव, (ivनॉन पेरेंट मंत्रालय के केंद्र सरकार के सचिव, और (v) पेरेंट मंत्रालय के सचिव (कास्टिंग वोट के बिना)।
     
  • एडवोकेट्स की क्वालिफिकेशन10 वर्ष के अनुभव वाले एडवोकेट्स ट्रिब्यूनल में न्यायिक सदस्य के रूप में नियुक्ति के लिए पात्र होंगे (कुछ ट्रिब्यूनल में 25 वर्ष के अनुभव की वर्तमान शर्ते के स्थान पर)। 
     
  • कार्यकालट्रिब्यूनल के सदस्यों का कार्यकाल चार के बजाय पांच वर्ष का होगा। इसके अतिरिक्त वाइस चेयरपर्सन, वाइस प्रेज़िडेंट, और अन्य सदस्यों का कार्यकाल उनके 67 वर्ष के होने तक होगा (65 वर्ष के स्थान पर)।
     
  • 2020 के नियमों का प्रभाव2020 के नियम का प्रत्याशित असर होगा और यह अधिसूचना की तारीख (12 फरवरी, 2020) से लागू होंगे। इसके अतिरिक्त फैसले की तारीख तक नियमों के अंतर्गत नियुक्तियां वैध होंगी। 
     
  • नियुक्तियां: केंद्र सरकार को सिलेक्शन कमिटी के सुझावों के तीन महीने के अंदर ट्रिब्यूनल की सभी नियुक्तियां करनी होंगी। 

 

गृह मामले

Anurag Vaishnav (anurag@prsindia.org)

गृह मंत्रालय ने विदेशी योगदान रेगुलेशन नियमों में संशोधन अधिसूचित किए

गृह मामलों के मंत्रालय ने विदेशी योगदान (रेगुलेशन) नियम, 2011 में संशोधनों को अधिसूचित किया।[30] इन संशोधनों को विदेशी योगदान रेगुलेशन एक्ट, 2010 के अंतर्गत अधिसूचित किया गया है।[31] 2020 के नियमों में मुख्य संशोधनों में निम्नलिखित शामिल हैं:

  • रजिस्ट्रेशन या पूर्व अनुमति की शर्तें: एक्ट के अंतर्गत कोई व्यक्ति विदेशी योगदान ले सकता है, अगर उसके पास: (iरजिस्ट्रेशन का सर्टिफिकेट है, या (iiविदेशी योगदान हासिल करने के लिए पूर्व सरकारी अनुमति है। इसके अतिरिक्त वह विदेशी योगदान का उपयोग करके, समाज को लाभ पहुंचाने के लिए किसी चुनींदा क्षेत्र में कार्य करता है। नियम विदेशी योगदान के उपयोग की शर्तों को निर्दिष्ट करते हैं। रजिस्ट्रेशन हासिल करने के लिए आवेदक के लिए अन्य शर्तों के साथ यह अनिवार्य है कि उसने पिछले तीन वित्तीय वर्षों के दौरान समाज के फायदे के लिए न्यूनतम 15 लाख रुपए खर्च किए हों।
     
  • पूर्व अनुमति के लिए आवेदक को दाता (डोनर) की तरफ से कमिटमेंट लेटर सौंपना होगा जिसमें विदेशी योगदान की राशि और इस बात का जिक्र होना चाहिए कि वह योगदान किसलिए दिया गया है। इसके अतिरिक्त अगर दाता संगठन और प्राप्तकर्ता में एक समान सदस्य हैं, तो यह अनुमति निम्नलिखित शर्तों के अधीन होगी: (iप्राप्तकर्ता संगठन का मुख्य पदाधिकारी दाता संगठन का हिस्सा नहीं होना चाहिए, और (iiउसके गवर्निंग बॉडी के 75सदस्य विदेशी दाता संगठन का हिस्सा नहीं होने चाहिए। 
     
  • राजनैतिक प्रकृति के संगठनएक्ट के अंतर्गत राजनैतिक प्रकृति के संगठन विदेशी योगदान नहीं ले सकते। 2011 के नियम सरकार के लिए दिशानिर्देश निर्धारित करते हैं जिनके अंतर्गत वह किसी संगठन को राजनैतिक प्रकृति का संगठन घोषित कर सकती है। इसमें निम्नलिखित संगठन शामिल हैं(क) ट्रेड यूनियन्स जिनका उद्देश्य राजनैतिक लक्ष्य हासिल करना है, (ख) किसानों, श्रमिकों, स्टूडेंट्स या युवाओं के संगठन, जिनका उद्देश्य कुछ समूहों के राजनैतिक हितों को आगे बढ़ाना है, और (ग) ऐसे संगठन जोकि राजनैतिक कार्यों को नियोजित करते हैं, जैसे बंद या हड़ताल। किसानों, श्रमिकों, या स्टूडेंट्स के संगठनों या ऐसे संगठन जोकि राजनैतिक कार्यों, जैसे बंद को नियोजित करते हैं, के लिए 2020 के नियमों में निर्दिष्ट किया गया है कि अगर वे सक्रिय राजनीति में हिस्सा लेते हैं तो उन्हें राजनैतिक प्रकृति का माना जाएगा।
     
  • आवेदन के शुल्क में वृद्धिनियमों में आवेदन शुल्क को बढ़ाया गया है: (iरजिस्ट्रेशन के शुल्क को 3,000 रुपए से बढ़ाकर 5,000 रुपए किया गया है, (iiपूर्व अनुमति के शुल्क को 5,000 रुपए से बढ़ाकर 10,000 रुपए किया गया है, और (iiiरजिस्ट्रेशन को रीन्यू कराने का शुल्क 1,500 रुपए से बढ़ाकर 5,000 रुपए किया गया है।

 

श्रम एवं रोजगार

व्यवसायगत सुरक्षा और स्वास्थ्य संहिता के अंतर्गत ड्राफ्ट नियम सार्वजनिक टिप्पणियों के लिए जारी

Madhunika Iyer (madhunika@prsindia.org)

श्रम एवं रोजगार मंत्रालय ने व्यवसायगत सुरक्षा, स्वास्थ्य एवं कार्य स्थिति संहिता, 2020 के अंतर्गत ड्राफ्ट केंद्रीय नियमों को जारी किया।[32],[33] ड्राफ्ट नियम उन इस्टैबलिशमेंट्स पर लागू होंगे, जोकि केंद्र सरकार के नियंत्रण में आते हैं और इन मामलों पर 13 पूर्व केंद्रीय कानूनों का स्थान लेंगे। ड्राफ्ट नियमों की मुख्य विशेषताओं में निम्नलिखित शामिल हैं:

  • काम के घंटेसंहिता में प्रावधान है कि किसी श्रमिक से एक दिन में आठ घंटे से ज्यादा काम नहीं कराया जाएगा। इसमें यह अपेक्षा की गई है कि आठ घंटे की अधिकतम सीमा को पूरा करने के लिए नियमों के जरिए अंतराल और स्प्रेड ओवर को अधिसूचित किया जाए। ड्राफ्ट नियम निर्दिष्ट करते हैं कि स्प्रेड ओवर 12 घंटे से अधिक नहीं होना चाहिए जिसमें आराम के लिए अंतराल शामिल है। इसके अतिरिक्त किसी श्रमिक को हर हफ्ते 48 घंटे से अधिक काम करने की अनुमति नहीं होगी।
     
  • ओवरटाइम काम: संहिता में प्रावधान है कि अगर श्रमिक हर दिन आठ घंटे से अधिक काम करता है तो वह सामान्य वेतन दर से दुगुने के ओवरटाइम वेतन के लिए पात्र है। ड्राफ्ट नियम में कहा गया है कि एक तिमाही में कोई श्रमिक 125 घंटे से अधिक ओवरटाइम नहीं कर सकता।
     
  • मुफ्त स्वास्थ्य जांचसंहिता में कहा गया है कि नियोक्ता कुछ वर्ग के कर्मचारियों के लिए और कुछ वर्गों के इस्टैबलिशमेंट्स में मुफ्त सालाना स्वास्थ्य जांच के लिए प्रबंध करेंगे जिसे संबंधित सरकार निर्दिष्ट कर सकती है। नियमों में कहा गया है कि कारखानों, डॉक, खदानों और भवन निर्माण या अन्य निर्माण श्रमिकों के नियोक्ताओं को 45 वर्ष से अधिक उम्र के हर श्रमिक की मुफ्त चिकित्सा जांच का प्रबंध करना होगा। 
     
  • सेफ्टी कमिटीसंहिता में कुछ वर्गों के इस्टैबलिशमेंट्स में सेफ्टी कमिटी के गठन का प्रावधान है जिसे निर्दिष्ट किया जा सकता है। ड्राफ्ट नियमों में कहा गया है कि 500 या उससे अधिक श्रमिकों वाले हर इस्टैबलिशमेंट को एक सेफ्टी कमिटी बनानी होगी। 

ड्राफ्ट नियमों पर 3 जनवरी, 2021 तक टिप्पणियां आमंत्रित हैं। 

सामाजिक सुरक्षा संहिता पर ड्राफ्ट नियम टिप्पणियों के लिए जारी

Roshni Sinha (roshni@prsindia.org)

श्रम एवं रोजगार मंत्रालय ने सामाजिक सुरक्षा संहिता, 2020 के अंतर्गत ड्राफ्ट केंद्रीय कानूनों को जारी किया।[34],[35]  ड्राफ्ट नियम उन इस्टैबलिशमेंट्स पर लागू होंगे जिन पर केंद्र सरकार का नियंत्रण है और वे इन मामलों पर पूर्व केंद्रीय नियमों का स्थान लेंगे। ड्राफ्ट नियमों की मुख्य विशेषताएं निम्नलिखित हैं:

  • संगठित क्षेत्र की योजनाएं: संहिता के अंतर्गत केंद्र सरकार श्रमिकों के लाभ के लिए विभिन्न सामाजिक सुरक्षा योजनाओं को अधिसूचित कर सकती है जिसमें भविष्य निधि (पीएफ) और कर्मचारी बीमा (बीएसआई), साथ ही मातृत्व लाभ और ग्रैच्युटी शामिल हैं। नियमों में इन लाभों के भुगतान के लिए विस्तृत प्रक्रियाओं को निर्दिष्ट किया गया है और प्रावधान किया गया है कि श्रमिकों को पीएफ और ईएसआई का लाभ देने के लिए इस्टैबलिशमेंट्स को रजिस्ट्रेशन कराना होगा। 
     
  • निर्माण श्रमिकसंहिता में निर्माण श्रमिकों के कल्याण के लिए सेस के भुगतान और इन लाभों को हासिल करने के लिए रजिस्ट्रेशन का प्रावधान है। नियमों में केंद्र या राज्य सरकार या राज्य कल्याण बोर्ड्स के पोर्टल पर निर्माण श्रमिकों के आधार- आधारित रजिस्ट्रेशन का प्रावधान है। सेस सेल्फ एसेसमेंट के आधार पर देय होगा जिसे चार्टर्ड इंजीनियर द्वारा सर्टिफाई किया जाएगा। जब निर्माण श्रमिक एक राज्य से दूसरे राज्य में प्रवास करेगा, तो वह जिस राज्य में काम करेगा, वहां के लाभ हासिल करने का पात्र होगा और यह उस राज्य कल्याण बोर्ड की जिम्मेदारी होगी कि वह उस श्रमिक को लाभ प्रदान करे।
     
  • असंगठित श्रमिक, और गिग एवं प्लेटफॉर्म वर्कर: संहिता असंगठित, गिग और प्लेटफॉर्म वर्कर्स के रजिस्ट्रेशन और उनके लाभ के लिए सामाजिक सुरक्षा योजनाओं की अधिसूचना का प्रावधान करती है। गिग वर्कर्स ऐसे श्रमिक होते हैं जो परंपरागत नियोक्ता-कर्मचारी संबंध से बाहर के होते हैं (जैसे फ्रीलांसर्स)। प्लेटफॉर्म वर्कर्स ऐसे श्रमिक होते हैं जो ऑनलाइन प्लेटफॉर्म्स का इस्तेमाल करते हुए संगठनों या व्यक्तियों को एक्सेस करते हैं और उन्हें विशिष्ट सेवाएं प्रदान करके धन अर्जित करते हैं। असंगठित श्रमिकों में गृह आधारित और स्व रोजगार प्राप्त श्रमिक शामिल हैं। 
     
  • नियमों में प्रावधान किया गया है कि असंगठित, गिग और प्लेटफॉर्म वर्कर्स केंद्र सरकार के पोर्टल पर सेल्स रजिस्ट्रेशन सहित आधार-आधारित रजिस्ट्रेशन करें। संहिता के अंतर्गत सामाजिक सुरक्षा योजनाओं के लाभ लेने के लिए असंगठित, गिग और प्लेटफॉर्म वर्कर्स को पोर्टल पर रजिस्टर करना होगा। 
     
  • 16 से 60 वर्ष के बीच के गिग और प्लेटफॉर्म वर्कर्स रजिस्टर करने के पात्र हैं। इसके अतिरिक्त हर एग्रीगेटर से यह अपेक्षा की जाती है कि गिग और प्लेटफॉर्म वर्कर्स को देय सामाजिक सुरक्षा अंशदान को हर साल 30 जून तक चुका देगा।

अधिसूचना जारी होने (13 नवंबर, 2020) के 45 दिनों के भीतर टिप्पणियां आमंत्रित हैं। 

 

आयुष

Anya Bharat Ram (anya@prsindia.org)

पोस्ट ग्रैजुएट आयुर्वेद शिक्षा पर रेगुलेशन अधिसूचित

सेंट्रल काउंसिल ऑफ इंडियन मेडिसिन ने इंडियन मेडिसिन सेंट्रल काउंसिल (पोस्ट ग्रैजुएट आयुर्वेद एजुकेशन) संशोधन रेगुलेशन, 2020 को अधिसूचित किया।[36]  यह आयुर्वेद में पोस्ट ग्रैजुएट शिक्षा पर 2016 के रेगुलेशंस को संशोधित करता है। 

2020 के रेगुलेशन में निर्दिष्ट किया गया है कि शल्य (सामान्य सर्जरी) और शालक्य (आंख, नाक, गला, सिर और मुंह एवं दांत) के पोस्ट ग्रैजुएट स्टूडेंट को स्वतंत्र रूप से कुछ किस्म की सर्जरी करने के लिए व्यावहारिक रूप से प्रशिक्षित होना चाहिए। शल्य स्टूडेंट्स के लिए सर्जरी में निम्नलिखित शामिल हैं: (i) ड्रेनेज ऑफ अबसेसेज़, (ii) स्किन ग्राफ्टिंग और (iii) एम्प्यूटेशन ऑफ गैंगरीन। शालक्य स्टूडेंट्स के लिए सर्जरी में निम्नलिखित शामिल हैं: (i) टॉन्सिलेक्टॉमी, (ii) डेविएटेड सेप्टम, (iii) मोतियाबिंद, और (iv) रूट कनाल ट्रीटमेंट। 

 

सूचना एवं प्रसारण

राष्ट्रीय सुरक्षा और सार्वजनिक व्यवस्था के आधार पर 43 मोबाइल ऐप्स बैन 

Saket Surya (saket@prsindia.org)

इलेक्ट्रॉनिक्स और इनफॉरमेशन टेक्नोलॉजी मंत्रालय ने इस आधार पर 43 ऐप्स पर प्रतिबंध लगा दिया कि उनसे राज्य की संप्रभुता, एकता, रक्षा और सुरक्षा तथा सार्वजनिक व्यवस्था को खतरा है।[37] इन ऐप्स में अलीएक्सप्रेस, लालामोव और स्नैक वीडियो शामिल हैं। मोबाइल और नॉन मोबाइल इंटरनेट एनेबल्ड डिवाइस पर इन ऐप्स के इस्तेमाल को नामंजूर किया गया है। जून 2020 में मंत्रालय ने 59 मोबाइल ऐप्स और सितंबर 2020 में 118 मोबाइल ऐप्स को इसी आधार पर प्रतिबंधित किया था। इन प्रतिबंधित ऐप्स में टिकटॉक, शेयरइट, यूसी ब्राउजर और पबजी मोबाइल लाइट शामिल हैं।[38],[39]

टेलीविजन रेटिंग एजेंसियों के दिशानिर्देशों की समीक्षा हेतु कमिटी का गठन 

Anurag Vaishnav (anurag@prsindia.org)

सूचना एवं प्रसारण मंत्रालय ने टेलीविजन रेटिंग एजेंसियों के मौजूदा दिशानिर्देशों की समीक्षा के लिए एक कमिटी का गठन किया है।[40] दिशानिर्देश टेलीविजन रेटिंग एजेंसियों के लिए पात्रता मानदंड और रजिस्ट्रेशन प्रक्रिया को निर्दिष्ट करते हैं। ये ऑडियंस मेजरमेंट का तरीका भी निर्दिष्ट करते हैं।

टेलीविजन रेटिंग्स की पैमाइश के लिए मौजूदा दिशानिर्देश (2014) घरों के एक पूल से पैनल सिलेक्शन का निर्धारण करते हैं जहां ऑडियंस मेजरमेंट डिवाइस रखा जाता है (रेटिंग्स के मेजरमेंट के लिए सैंपल साइज)।[41]   यह 20,000 घरों का सैंपल साइज निर्धारित करता है जिसे हर साल 10,000 बढ़ा दिया जाता है, जब तक कि वह 50,000 घर न हो जाए।

मंत्रालय ने कहा था कि तकनीकी तरक्की को देखते हुए दिशानिर्देशों की समीक्षा की जरूरत है, और इस सिलसिले में टेलीकॉम रेगुलेटरी अथॉरिटी ऑफ इंडिया (ट्राई) को कुछ सुझाव दिए थे। इसके लिए उसने कमिटी (चेयरपर्सनशशि एस. वेमपति, सीईओ, प्रसार भारती) का गठन किया जोकि मौजूदा दिशानिर्देशों में संशोधनों का सुझाव दे। कमिटी के संदर्भ की शर्तों में निम्नलिखित शामिल हैं: (i) इस विषय पर पहले के सुझावों का अध्ययन, (ii) पारदर्शी और जवाबदेह रेटिंग सिस्टम के लिए सुझाव देना, और (iii) क्षेत्र में प्रतिस्पर्धा को बढ़ावा देने के लिए उपायों का सुझाव देना।

उल्लेखनीय है कि अप्रैल 2020 में ट्राई ने भारत में टेलीविजन रेटिंग सिस्टम पर सुझाव जारी किए थे।[42]  इसमें कहा गया है कि देश में टेलीविजन रेटिंग करने वाली सिर्फ एक कंपनी मंत्रालय के साथ रजिस्टर है (ब्रॉडकास्ट ऑडियंस रिसर्च काउंसिल या बार्क जोकि उद्योग की अपनी बॉडी है)। उसने बार्क के संयोजन में बदलाव करने का सुझाव दिया था ताकि हितों के टकराव को कम किया जा सके। इसके अतिरिक्त उसने सुझाव दिया था कि 2020 के अंत तक पैनल साइज को 44,000 से बढ़ाकर 60,000 किया जाए और 2022 के अंत तक एक लाख। ट्राई ने कहा कि बड़े सैंपल साइज से मेजरमेंट रेटिंग की मजबूती बढ़ती है।

डिजिटल मीडिया और ऑनलाइन प्लेटफॉर्म्स का कंटेंट सूचना एवं प्रसारण मंत्रालय के अंतर्गत 

Anurag Vaishnav (anurag@prsindia.org)

सरकार ने ऑनलाइन प्लेटफॉर्म के कुछ कंटेट को सूचना एवं प्रसारण मंत्रालय के अंतर्गत लाने के लिए कार्य आबंटन नियम, 1961 में संशोधन किए हैं।[43] मंत्रालय के कार्यों में अब निम्नलिखित शामिल होगा: (i) ऑनलाइन कंटेंट प्रोवाइडर्स द्वारा उपलब्ध फिल्म और ऑडियो-विजुअल प्रोग्राम्स, और (ii) ऑनलाइन प्लेटफॉर्म्स पर न्यूज और करंट अफेयर्स कंटेंट। 

संविधान के अनुच्छेद 77 के अंतर्गत भारत के राष्ट्रपति द्वारा कार्य आबंटन नियम बनाए जाते हैं जोकि सरकार के विभिन्न मंत्रालयों के कार्य संचालन का प्रावधान करते हैं।[44]  उल्लेखनीय है कि इन नियमों के अंतर्गत इंटरनेट, साइबर कानून और दूसरे आईटी नियम इलेक्ट्रॉनिक्स और इनफॉरमेशन टेक्नोलॉजी मंत्रालय के दायरे में आते हैं।

ड्राफ्ट डेटा सेंटर पॉलिसी पर टिप्पणियां आमंत्रित 

Saket Surya (saket@prsindia.org)

इलेक्ट्रॉनिक्स और इनफॉरमेशन टेक्नोलॉजी मंत्रालय ने ड्राफ्ट डेटा सेंटर पॉलिसी, 2020 पर टिप्पणियों को आमंत्रित किया है।[45] पॉलिसी देश में डेटा सेंटर सेक्टर को बढ़ावा देने का प्रयास करती है। डेटा सेंटर्स ऐसे केंद्रीयकृत लोकेशंस होते हैं जहां कंप्यूटिंग और नेटवर्किंग उपकरण डेटा कलेक्शन, स्टोरिंग, प्रोसेसिंग और वितरण तथा बड़ी मात्रा में उनके एक्सेस के लिए लगाए जाते हैं। मंत्रालय ने कहा कि दुनिया भर में डिजिटल अर्थव्यवस्था के आगमन से भारत को वैश्विक डेटा सेंटर हब बनने का अवसर मिला है। उसने यह कहा कि विभिन्न डेटा संरक्षण नियमों के अंतर्गत डेटा स्थानीयकरण प्रावधानों के कारण देश की सीमाओं के भीतर डेटा सेंटर के इंफ्रास्ट्रक्चर की आवश्यकता और अधिक है। ड्राफ्ट पॉलिसी की प्रमुख विशेषताओं में निम्नलिखित शामिल हैं:

  • इंफ्रास्ट्रक्चर स्टेटस: केंद्र सरकार रेलवे और बिजली जैसे अन्य इंफ्रास्ट्रक्चर सेक्टर के साथडेटा सेंटर सेक्टर के लिए इंफ्रास्ट्रक्चर स्टेटस देने की दिशा में काम करेगी। यह डेटा सेंटर ऑपरेटरों को दीर्घकालिक ऋण लेने में सक्षम करेगा और इस प्रकार क्षेत्र में निवेश को बढ़ावा देगा। अनिवार्य सेवा रखरखाव एक्ट, 1968 के अंतर्गत डेटा सेंटर को एक आवश्यक सेवा के रूप में भी घोषित किया जाएगा। यह कानून केंद्र सरकार को अनिवार्य सेवाएं प्रदान करने कर्मचारियों को हड़ताल करने से रोकने का अधिकार देता है।
     
  • डेटा सेंटर इकोनॉमिक जोन और पार्क: केंद्र सरकार देश में केंद्रीय क्षेत्र की योजना के तौर पर कम से कम चार डेटा सेंटर इकोनॉमिक जोन बनाएगी। राज्यों को सड़कबिजली और उच्च क्षमता वाली इंटरनेट कनेक्टिविटी के लिए भूमि पार्सलों का सीमांकित करने के लिए प्रोत्साहित किया जाएगा ताकि डेटा सेंटर पार्क स्थापित किए जा सकें।
     
  • डेटा सेंटर प्रोत्साहन योजना: केंद्र सरकार द्वारा डेटा सेंटर्स को बढ़ावा देने के लिए राजकोषीय और गैर-राजकोषीय प्रोत्साहन प्रदान करने हेतु एक योजना बनाई जाएगी। भारत में निर्मित हार्डवेयर और अन्य उपकरणों के उपयोग के लिए प्रोत्साहन भी प्रदान किया जाएगा।
     
  • संस्थागत तंत्र: मंत्रालय के सचिव की अध्यक्षता में एक अंतर-मंत्रालयीय एम्पावर्ड कमिटी का गठन किया जाएगा। कमिटी पॉलिसी के प्रभावी कार्यान्वयन के लिए मुख्य निर्णय लेने वाली संस्था होगी। कमिटी के अंतर्गत काम करने और उसके निर्णयों के कार्यान्वयन को सहयोग देने के लिए नोडल एजेंसी के रूप में मंत्रालय के भीतर एक डेटा सेंटर सुविधा इकाई की स्थापना की जाएगी। 

 

संचार

Saket Surya (saket@prsindia.org)

अन्य सेवा प्रदाताओं के लिए नए दिशानिर्देश जारी किए गए

दूरसंचार विभाग (डॉट) ने अन्य सेवा प्रदाताओं (ओएसपी) के लिए नए दिशानिर्देशों को जारी किया।[46] नए दिशानिर्देश बिजनेस प्रोसेस आउटसोर्सिंग (बीपीओ) और आईटी एनेबल्ड सर्विस इंडस्ट्री के लिए अनुपालन के बोझ को कम करने का प्रयास करते हैं।[47] ये अगस्त 2008 में जारी दिशानिर्देशों का स्थान लेते हैं।[48]  नए दिशानिर्देशों की मुख्य विशेषताओं में निम्नलिखित शामिल हैं:

  • ओएसपी की परिभाषा: पहले ओएसपी को ऐसी कंपनियों के रूप में परिभाषित किया गया था जोकि अधिकृत टेलीकॉम सेवा प्रदाताओं के टेलीकॉम रिसोर्सेज का इस्तेमाल करते हुए विभिन्न एप्लीकेशन सेवाएं जैसे टेली बैंकिंग, टेली-कॉमर्स, कॉल सेंटर और दूसरी आईटी-एनेब्ल्ड सेवाएं प्रदान करती हैं।48,[49] नए दिशानिर्देशों में कहा गया है कि ओएसपी ऐसी कंपनियां होती हैं जोकि वॉयस बेस्ड बिजनेस प्रोसेस आउटसोर्सिंग (बीपीओ) सेवाएं प्रदान करती हैं। इसलिए नए दिशानिर्देशों के अनुसार, डेटा संबंधित कार्य करने वाले बीपीओ ओएसपी दिशानिर्देशों के दायरे से बाहर हो जाएंगे।
     
  • ओएसपी का रजिस्ट्रेशन: पूर्व दिशानिर्देशों के अनुसार, देश में सेवाएं प्रदान करने के लिए ओएसपीज़ को डॉट में रजिस्टर करना होता था। नए दिशानिर्देशों में रजिस्ट्रेशन की जरूरत को हटा दिया गया है। 
     
  • वर्क फ्रॉम होम की सुविधा: ओएसपी उन व्यक्तियों को नियुक्त कर सकते हैं जो घर से काम करते हैं। इससे पहलेओएसपी को डॉट से अनुमति लेने और वर्क फ्रॉम होम के लिए बैंक गारंटी प्रदान करने की आवश्यकता थी। नए दिशानिर्देश वर्क फ्रॉम होम के लिए इन आवश्यकताओं को हटाते हैं।
     
  • इंफ्रास्ट्रक्चर को साझा करनाइससे पहलेघरेलू और अंतरराष्ट्रीय ओएसपी के बीच इंफ्रास्ट्रक्चर के साझाकरण को डॉट से पूर्व अनुमोदन के साथ अनुमति दी गई थी। एक ही कंपनी की एंटिटीज़ के बीच साझाकरण की अनुमति दी गई थी। ओएसपी को इस उद्देश्य के लिए बैंक गारंटी देना जरूरी था। नए दिशानिर्देश घरेलू और अंतरराष्ट्रीय ओएसपी के बीच इंफ्रास्ट्रक्चर के साझाकरण की अनुमति देते हैं। इस उद्देश्य के लिए किसी बैंक गारंटी की आवश्यकता नहीं होगी।

 

सड़क परिवहन

Prachee Mishra (prachee@prsindia.org)

टैक्सी एग्रीगेटर्स के लिए दिशानिर्देश जारी

सड़क परिवहन एवं राजमार्ग मंत्रालय ने मोटर वाहन (संशोधन) कानून, 2019 के अनुसार वाहन एग्रीगेटर दिशानिर्देश 2020 जारी किया।[50],[51] यह कानून एग्रीगेटर्स को डिजिटल इंटरमीडियरी या मार्केटप्लेस के रूप में परिभाषित करता हैजिनका उपयोग यात्रियों द्वारा परिवहन (टैक्सी सेवाएं) हेतु ड्राइवर के साथ जुड़ने के लिए किया जा सकता है। एग्रीगेटर्स को काम करने के लिए राज्य सरकार से लाइसेंस प्राप्त करना होगा। राज्य सरकारें केंद्र सरकार द्वारा जारी दिशानिर्देशों के आधार पर एग्रीगेटर्स को रेगुलेट कर सकती हैं।

दिशानिर्देश साझा मोबिलिटी को रेगुलेट करनेयातायात की भीड़ और प्रदूषण को कम करने और सुगम तरीके से कम करने, ग्राहक सुरक्षाऔर ड्राइवर वेल्फेयर को संभव बनाने का प्रयास करते हैं। दिशानिर्देशों की मुख्य विशेषताओं में शामिल हैं:

  • पात्रता: एक आवेदक को कंपनी एक्ट, 2013 के अंतर्गत कंपनी के रूप में पंजीकृत होना चाहिए या सहकारी समिति एक्ट, 1912 के अंतर्गत एक सहकारी समिति होनी चाहिए। उनके पास भारत में पंजीकृत एक कार्यालय भी होना चाहिए।
     
  • लाइसेंसिंग: एग्रीगेटर्स को जारी किया गया लाइसेंस पांच साल के लिए वैध होगा जिसके बाद उन्हें संबंधित अथॉरिटी द्वारा नवीनीकृत किया जाएगा। यदि एग्रीगेटर इन दिशानिर्देशों का पालन नहीं करता है तो अथॉरिटी द्वारा लाइसेंस रद्द किया जा सकता है। अथॉरिटी राज्य परिवहन अथॉरिटी के पोर्टल पर लाइसेंस की सूची को अपडेट करेगा।
     
  • ड्राइवर के लिए दिशानिर्देशड्राइवरों के संबंध में आवेदकों को विभिन्न दिशानिर्देशों का पालन करना होगा: (i) निर्धारित दिशानिर्देशों के अनुसार उनकी ड्राइविंग क्षमता की परीक्षा लेना (जैसे मोटर वाहन एक्ट, 1988 से परिचित होनाजेंडर सेंसिटाइजेशन), (ii) एक वैध आईडी प्रूफ और ड्राइवर्स लाइसेंस सुनिश्चित करना, (iii) पुलिस वैरिफिकेशनऔर (iv) निर्देशों के अनुसार प्रत्येक ड्राइवर का स्वास्थ्य और टर्म इंश्योरेंस सुनिश्चित करना।
     
  • वाहन अनुपालन: आवेदकों को वाहनों के संबंध में निम्नलिखित अनुपालनों को सुनिश्चित करना होगा जैसे: (i) वैध रजिस्ट्रेशनपरमिट और फिटनेस सर्टिफिकेट, (ii) वैध थर्ड पार्टी इंश्योरेंस, (iii) ईंधन संबंधी मानदंडों का अनुपालन, (iv) करों का भुगतान और (iv) सेंट्रल लॉकिंग सिस्टम के मैनुअल ओवरराइड को सक्षम करना। 
     
  • किराए का रेगुलेशन: मौजूदा वर्ष के लिए बेस किराया डब्ल्यूपीआई द्वारा अनुक्रमित शहर की टैक्सी का किराया होगा। एग्रीगेटर को बेस फेयर से 50% कम और बेस फेयर के अधिकतम सर्ज प्राइसिंग से 50% कम चार्ज करने की अनुमति होगी। एक ड्राइवर को एक राइड पर कम से कम 80% किराया मिलना चाहिए।

2017 से पहले बेचे गए वाहनों के लिए फास्टैग अनिवार्य

सड़क परिवहन एवं राजमार्ग मंत्रालय ने अधिसूचित किया है कि 1 जनवरी, 2021 से फास्टैग उन वाहनों के लिए अनिवार्य है जो 2017 से पहले बेचे गए हैं।[52] इसके अतिरिक्त नए थर्ड पार्टी इंश्योरेंस को हासिल करने के लिए वैध फास्टैग अनिवार्य होगा। फास्टैग नेशनल हाईवे अथॉरिटी ऑफ इंडिया द्वारा संचालित इलेक्ट्रॉनिक टोल कलेक्शन सिस्टम है। 2017 में यह नए चारपहिया वाहनों के रजिस्ट्रेशन के लिए अनिवार्य कर दिया गया था।

सड़क परिवहन मंत्रालय ने कई ड्राफ्ट नियम जारी किए

सड़क परिवहन एव राजमार्ग मंत्रालय ने केंद्रीय मोटर वाहन नियम, 1989 में संशोधन करने वाले कई ड्राफ्ट नियम जारी किए। इन ड्राफ्ट नियमों की मुख्य विशेषताओं में निम्नलिखित शामिल हैं:

विंटेज मोटर वाहन: वर्तमान में हेरिटेज वैल्यू के वाहनों के रजिस्ट्रेशन की प्रक्रिया को रेगुलेट करने के लिए कोई नियम नहीं हैं। ड्राफ्ट नियम विंटेज मोटर वाहनों को उन सभी वाहनों (गैर-वाणिज्यिक/व्यक्तिगत उपयोग के लिए इस्तेमाल किए जाने वाले दोपहिया और चारपहिया) के रूप में परिभाषित करते हैंऔर उनका पहला रजिस्ट्रेशन 50 वर्ष से भी पहले हुआ हो (आयातित वाहनों सहित)। वाहन की बहुत अधिक ओवरहालिंग नहीं होनी चाहिए।[53]  

राज्य सरकार एक विंटेज मोटर वाहन राज्य/केंद्र शासित प्रदेश कमिटी की नियुक्ति करेगीजो पुराने मोटर वाहनों के अनुमोदन या अस्वीकृति के बारे में सभी निर्णयों को अंतिम रूप देगी। राज्य ऐसे वाहनों के रजिस्ट्रेशन के लिए सभी आवेदनों को प्रोसेस करने के लिए एक नोडल अधिकारी नियुक्त करेगा। ऐसे रजिस्टर्ड वाहनों की बिक्री और खरीद के लिए क्रेता और विक्रेता संबंधित राज्य परिवहन अथॉरिटी को सूचित करेंगे और नए मालिक के नाम पर रजिस्ट्रेशन को रिकॉर्ड किया जाएगा। 

एक विंटेज मोटर वाहन को केवल कुछ आधार जैसे प्रदर्शनीतकनीकी अनुसंधानएक विंटेज कार रैली में भाग लेने और ईंधन भरने और रखरखाव के लिए भारतीय सड़कों पर चलाने की अनुमति होगी।

मोटर वाहन के मालिक के नॉमिनी का रजिस्ट्रेशन: ड्राफ्ट नियमों में प्रावधान है कि मोटर वाहन का मालिक वाहन के रजिस्ट्रेशन के समय एक व्यक्ति को नॉमिनी बनाएगा। इससे वाहन मालिक की मृत्यु होने पर मोटर वाहन को नॉमिनी के नाम पर रजिस्टर या ट्रांसफर करने में मदद मिलेगी।[54]

 

आवासन एवं शहरी मामले

Prachee Mishra (prachee@prsindia.org)

सस्ते आवास के लिए स्टांप ड्यूटी और रजिस्ट्रेशन शुल्क को कम करने हेतु राजस्व तटस्थ प्रस्ताव पर रिपोर्ट जारी

आवासन और शहरी मामलों के मंत्रालय ने स्टांप ड्यूटी और रजिस्ट्रेशन शुल्क में बदलाव के असर पर एक रिपोर्ट जारी की।[55] यह रिपोर्ट राज्यों को कम मूल्य के आवासों के लिए अपनी स्टांप ड्यूटी और पंजीकरण शुल्क कम करने का औचित्य प्रदान करती है, लेकिन इस बदलाव का असर उनके समूचे राजस्व पर नहीं पड़ेगा। रिपोर्ट में मुख्य निष्कर्षों में शामिल हैं: 

  • सभी के लिए आवासइस नीति का उद्देश्य 2022 तक सभी नागरिकों को आवास प्रदान करना है। इस नीति के अंतर्गतसरकार निजी डेवलपर्स को प्रोत्साहित करके आवासों की संख्या में वृद्धि करना चाहती है। हालांकिनीति सीधे हाई रियल ऐस्टेट की कीमतों के मुद्दे को संबोधित नहीं करती है। हाई हाउसिंग की कीमतों के प्रमुख कारणों में से एक लेनदेन के समय राज्य सरकारों द्वारा लगाया जाने वाला उच्च स्टांप ड्यूटी और रजिस्ट्रेशन शुल्क है।
     
  • स्टांप शुल्क और पंजीकरण: जबकि इन कर दरों में पिछले कुछ वर्षों में गिरावट आई हैवे अभी भी अधिक हैंऔर संपत्ति के मूल्य का 5-13% है। हालांकिइन करों से राज्य सरकारों को काफी राजस्व मिलता है (लगभग 7%), इसलिए वे इन करों को कम करने की इच्छुक नहीं हैं जो घर खरीदने की प्रभावी लागत को कम कर सकता है। इसकी तुलना में अन्य देशों (यूकेजापानजर्मनी) में स्टांप ड्यूटी की दरें कम हैं।
     
  • मुद्दे: स्टांप ड्यूटी के ज्यादा होने से लेनदेन की पूरी जानकारी नहीं दी जाती और कर चोरी भी होती है। जानकारी न देने के कई परिणाम होते हैं जैसे: (i) भूमि और संपत्ति को पूरी तरह से कोलेट्रलाइज नहीं किया जाता, (ii) सरकारी राजस्व में हानि, (iii) काले धन के लेन-देन में वृद्धिऔर (iv) बाजार प्राइज बबल के लिए अतिसंवेदनशील होता है। इससे निपटने के लिए सर्किल रेट या गाइडेंस वैल्यू को शुरू किया गया थालेकिन वे सफल नहीं हुए।
     
  • राजस्व तटस्थ प्रस्ताव: रिपोर्ट बताती है कि यदि राज्य कम मूल्य के आवास के लिए स्टांप शुल्क कम करते हैं तो वे राजस्व तटस्थ (या राजस्व भी बढ़ा सकते हैं) रह सकते हैं। करों को कम करने से जितने राजस्व का नुकसान होता है, उसकी भरपाई सभी के लिए आवास के अंतर्गत बनाए गए हाउसिंग स्टॉक से प्राप्त अतिरिक्त कर राजस्व से की जाएगी। करों को कम करने से मांग बढ़ सकती है जो आवास नीति के बिना भी अतिरिक्त सप्लाई को बढ़ावा देगी। यह प्रस्ताव करता है कि कम मूल्य के आवास के लिए स्टांप ड्यूटी या तो कम कर दी जाए या पूरी तरह से हटा दी जाएजबकि उच्च मूल्य के आवास के लिए शुल्क पहले की तरह बने रहें। 

 

नागरिक उड्डयन

Aditya Kumar (aditya@prsindia.org)

डिफेंस एयरोड्रोम्स से हवाई परिवहन सेवाओं का संचालन फिर से अधिकृत

नागरिक उड्डयन मंत्रालय ने कुछ डिफेंस एयरोड्रोम्स से 30 जून, 2012 तक हवाई परिवहन सेवाओं का संचालन फिर से अधिकृत कर दिया है।[56]  ये एयरोड्रोम डिफेंस एयरोड्रोम हैंजिन्हें नागरिक उड्डयन महानिदेशक (डीजीसीए) ने किसी भी यात्री या मालवाहक विमानों के उतरने और प्रस्थान के नियमित स्थान के रूप में अनुमोदित नहीं किया है। इससे पहलेऐसे एयरोड्रोम से हवाई परिवहन सेवाओं को 30 जून, 2020 तक अनुमति दी गई थी।[57]

ड्राफ्ट नेशनल अनमैन्ड एयरक्राफ्ट सिस्टम मैनेजमेंट नीति पर टिप्पणियां आमंत्रित

नागरिक उडड्यन मंत्रालय ने ड्राफ्ट नेशनल अनमैन्ड एयरक्राफ्ट सिस्टम ट्रैफिक मैनेजमेंट (यूटीएम) नीति जारी की।[58] इसी नीति का उद्देश्य निम्न-स्तरीय हवाई क्षेत्र में मानव रहित विमान संचालन के लिए एक अलग सुरक्षित इकोसिस्टम बनाना है (जमीनी स्तर से 1,000 फीट ऊपर)। नीति 11 यूटीएम परिचालन परिदृश्यों की पहचान करती है। इन परिदृश्यों में शामिल हैं: (i) परीक्षण या मनोरंजक उद्देश्य, (ii) दृश्य सीमा के भीतर और उससे परे उड़ान, (iii) नो-फ्लाई जोन में उड़ान भरनाऔर (iv) रात में विमान संचालन। नीति में मौजूदा हवाई यातायात के साथ यूटीएम को बाद में एकीकृत करने के लिए एक रूपरेखा भी प्रदान की गई है।

एयरपोर्ट अथॉरिटी ऑफ इंडिया (एएआई) नागरिक उड्डयन महानिदेशक (डीजीसीएकी ओर से परिचालन को रेगुलेट करने के लिए नोडल एजेंसी होगी। डीजीसीए द्वारा स्वीकार्य विभिन्न मानकों के संचालन का अनुपालन सुनिश्चित करने के लिए एएआई जिम्मेदार होगा।

मानव रहित विमान प्रणालियों की डेटा सुरक्षा और गोपनीयता प्रस्तावित पर्सनल डेटा प्रोटेक्शन एक्ट द्वारा शासित होगी। नीति भारत में सभी सॉफ्टवेयर और हार्डवेयर प्रणालियों की मेजबानी करने का सुझाव देती है। 

इसके अतिरिक्त नीति इकोसिस्टम के विभिन्न पहलुओं के विवरण प्रदान करती है जिनमें निम्नलिखित शामिल हैं: (i) सुरक्षा जोखिम प्रबंधन, (ii) संकट का जोखिम प्रबंधन, (iii) परिचालनगत जोखिम प्रबंधन, और (iv) रियल टाइम पहचान और ट्रैकिंग।

 

बिजली

Aditya Kumar (aditya@prsindia.org)

मिश्रित स्रोतों से चौबीसों घंटे बिजली की खरीद के लिए प्रतिस्पर्धात्मक बोली प्रक्रिया के दिशानिर्देशों में संशोधन

बिजली मंत्रालय ने कोयला आधारित थर्मल पावर स्रोतों से बिजली के साथ अक्षय ऊर्जा (आरई) स्रोतों से चौबीसों घंटे (राउंड-द-क्लॉक) (आरटीसी) बिजली की खरीद के लिए टैरिफ-आधारित प्रतिस्पर्धी बोली प्रक्रिया के दिशानिर्देशों में संशोधन किया।[59]  जुलाई 2020 में दिशानिर्देश जारी किए गए थे ताकि अक्षय ऊर्जा की अनिरंतर प्रकृति के मद्देनजर ऊर्जा के थर्मल स्रोतों के साथ अक्षय ऊर्जा की बंडलिंग को आसान बनाया जा सके।[60] संशोधन ऊर्जा के किसी भी स्रोत के साथ अक्षय ऊर्जा की बंडलिंग को सक्षम बनाते हैं। इससे आरटीसी खरीद के लिए सस्ती ऊर्जा उपलब्ध होगी। प्रमुख संशोधनों में निम्नलिखित शामिल हैं:

  • नीलामी के मानदंडपहले के मानदंडों के अनुसार, कंपोजिट टैरिफ (बिजली के अन्य स्रोत के साथ अक्षय ऊर्जा हेतु टैरिफ) बोली प्रक्रिया का मानदंड था। संशोधन में मूल्यांकन के मानदंड के रूप में आरटीसी बिजली की प्रति यूनिट आपूर्ति के वेटेड एवरेज लेवलाइज्ड टैरिफ को निर्दिष्ट किया गया है। वेटेड एवरेज लेवलाइज्ड टैरिफ ऐसा शुल्क होता है जो पावर परचेज एग्रीमेंट (पीपीए) में निर्दिष्ट आरई स्रोतों और गैर-आरई स्रोतों से ऊर्जा के अनुपात पर विचार करके निर्धारित किया गया है। इसमें निम्नलिखित शामिल होंगे: (i) आरई बिजली और गैर-आरई बिजली (जैसे उपकरण और बुनियादी ढांचे में निवेश) के निश्चित घटक। टैरिफ के निर्धारित घटक को पीपीए की अवधि के प्रत्येक वर्ष में प्रस्तुत किया जाना आवश्यक है। परिवर्तनशील घटक को कमीशनिंग की निर्धारित तिथि पर प्रस्तुत किया जाना आवश्यक है।
     
  • बिजली की उपलब्धता में कमी के लिए जुर्माना: जुलाई 2020 में जारी किए गए दिशानिर्देशों में यह निर्दिष्ट किया गया है कि: (i) सालाना कम से कम 51% बिजली अक्षय स्रोतों से आनी चाहिए, और (ii) अक्षय उर्जा के उत्पादक को एक वर्ष में और पीक आवर के दौरान कम से कम 85% उपलब्धता सुनिश्चित करनी होगी। यदि इन लक्ष्यों को प्राप्त नहीं किया जाता है तो बिजली उत्पादक इस कमी की 25% लागत को जुर्माने के तौर पर चुकाएगा। (वर्ष के दौरान देय अधिकतम कंपोजिट टैरिफ के आधार पर कैलुकेशन किया जाएगा)। संशोधनों में इस संख्या को 400% तक कर दिया गया है जोकि वर्ष के दौरान देय टैरिफ के आधार पर कैलकुलेट किया जाएगा। 
     
  • पीक आवर्सवर्तमान में पीक आवर्स में दिन के चार घंटों को गिना जाता है जोकि या तो शाम के होते हैं या सुबह के, जैसा कि खरीदार के दस्तावेजों में लिखा हो। संशोधनों के अनुसार, पीक आवर दिन के वे चार घंटे होंगे जिन्हें क्षेत्रीय लोड डिसपैच सेंटर द्वारा निर्दिष्ट किया जाए।

अंतरराज्यीय ट्रांसमिशन प्रणाली के लिए ट्रांसमिशन सेवा प्रदाता के चयन के लिए इक्विटी लॉक-इन पीरियड में संशोधन

बिजली मंत्रालय ने अंतरराज्यीय ट्रांसमिशन प्रणाली को स्थापित करने के लिए टैरिफ आधारित प्रतिस्पर्धी नीलामी प्रक्रिया के जरिए ट्रांसमिशन सेवा प्रदाता के चयन के लिए मानक नीलामी दस्तावेजों में निर्दिष्ट इक्विटी लॉक इन पीरियड में संशोधन किया।[61]

पहले के प्रावधान के अनुसार चयनित बोलीदाता को कमर्शियल ऑपरेशन की तारीख से दो वर्षों के लिए कम से कम 51% और उसके बाद तीन तीन वर्ष के लिए 26% पेड अप इक्विटी शेयर कैपिटल को होल्ड करना होता था। संशोधनों में कहा गया है कि चयनित बोलीदाता को कमर्शियल ऑपरेशन की तारीख से एक वर्ष के लिए कम से कम 51% पेड अप इक्विटी शेयर पूंजी को होल्ड करना होगा।

रिक्वेस्ट फॉर प्रपोजल्स के लिए बोली लगाने वाले कंसोर्टियम के मामले में, कंसोर्टियम को कमर्शियल ऑपरेटिंग की तारीख के बाद दो साल के लिए 51% इक्विटी शेयर कैपिटल को होल्ड करना जरूरी था जिसमें मुख्य सदस्य के पास कमर्शियल ऑपरेशन की तारीख से पांच साल तक 26% शेयरहोल्डिंग होनी चाहिए। संशोधनों को इन दोनों के लिए एक वर्ष की अवधि तय की गई है।

पीएम-कुसुम योजना के लक्ष्यों में संशोधन

नवीन और अक्षय ऊर्जा मंत्रालय ने प्रधानमंत्री किसान ऊर्जा सुरक्षा और उत्थान महाभियान (पीएम-कुसुम) योजना के लक्ष्य में संशोधन किया है।[62] कृषि पंपों के सोलराइजेशन के लिए यह योजना मार्च 2019 में शुरू की गई थी। इस योजना के अंतर्गत 34,422 करोड़ रुपए की कुल वित्तीय सहायता से 2022 तक 25.8 GW अतिरिक्त सोलर और अन्य अक्षय क्षमता को जोड़ने का लक्ष्य था।[63] अब योजना का दायरा बढ़ाया गया है। अब केंद्र सरकार की 34,035 करोड़ रुपए की वित्तीय सहायता से 2022 तक 30.8 GW की सौर क्षमता को हासिल करने का लक्ष्य है।

योजना के तीन घटक हैं- ए, बी और सी। पूर्व लक्ष्यों के अनुसार, घटक ए का लक्ष्य 1000 MW वाले विकेंद्रित ग्राउंड माउंटेड ग्रिड कनेक्टेड सोलर पावर प्लांट लगाना था जिसमें प्रत्येक प्लांट का आकार 2 MW हो। घटक बी का लक्ष्य 7.5 HP की व्यक्तिगत क्षमता वाले 17.5 लाख स्टैंडएलोन सोलर पावर्ड कृषि पंप लगाना था। घटक सी का लक्ष्य 7.5 HP की व्यक्तिगत क्षमता वाले 10 लाख ग्रिड कनेक्टेड कृषि पंप का सोलराइजेशन करना था।63 घटक ए के लक्ष्य में तो कोई बदलाव नहीं हुआ है लेकिन संशोधित योजना के अंतर्गत: (i) घटक बी के अंतर्गत प्लांट लगाने का लक्ष्य 17.5 लाख से बढ़ाकर 20 लाख कर दिया गया है, और (ii) घटक सी के अंतर्गत सोलराइजेशन के लक्ष्य को 10 लाख से बढ़ाकर 15 लाख कर दिया गया है।

 

[1]Ministry of Health and Family Welfare website, last accessed on November 1, 2020, https://www.mohfw.gov.in/index.html.

[2] Order No40-3/2020-DM-I(A), Ministry of Home Affairs, March 24, 2020, https://www.mha.gov.in/sites/default/files/MHAorder%20copy.pdf

[3] Order No40-3/2020-DM-I(A), Ministry of Home Affairs, November 25, 2020, https://www.mha.gov.in/sites/default/files/MHAOrder25112020.pdf.

[4] Atmanirbhar Package 3.0, Ministry of Finance, November 12, 2020, https://static.pib.gov.in/WriteReadData/userfiles/MOF.pdf

[5] Presentation made by Union Finance & Corporate Affairs Minister SmtNirmala Sitharaman under Aatmanirbhar Bharat Abhiyaan to support Indian economy in fight against COVID-19, Ministry of Finance, May 13, 2020,

https://static.pib.gov.in/WriteReadData/userfiles/Aatmanirbhar%20Presentation%20Part-1%20Business%20including%20MSMEs%2013-5-2020.pdf

[6] Government extends Emergency Credit Line Guarantee Scheme by one month, Press Information Bureau, Ministry of Finance, November 2, 2020

[7] Extension of Emergency Credit Line Guarantee Scheme through ECLGS 2.0 for the 26 sectors identified by the Kamath Committee and the healthcare sector, Press Information Bureau, Ministry of Finance, November 26, 2020

[8] Report of the Expert Committee on Resolution Framework for COVID-related Stress, Reserve Bank of India, September 4, 2020,

https://rbidocs.rbi.org.in/rdocs/PublicationReport/Pdfs/EXPERTCOMMITTEED58A96778C5E4799AE0E3FCC13DC67F2.PDF

[9] “UGC Guidelines for reopening the universities and colleges post lockdown due to COVID-19 pandemic, University Grants Commission, November 5, 2020, https://www.ugc.ac.in/pdfnews/4423963_UGC-Guidelines-for-Re-Opening-Universities-Colleges.pdf.

[10] Report no123, The outbreak of the pandemic COVID-19 and its management, Standing Committee on Health and Family Welfare, November 21, 2020.

[11] “FNoPA/85/2020-CPMU C No 85941, Ministry of Women and Child Development, November 11, 2020, https://wcd.nic.in/sites/default/files/AWC%20services%20continuation_0.pdf

[12] No.(10)/2020-CLeS, Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology, May 11, 2020, https://www.meity.gov.in/writereaddata/files/Aarogya_Setu_data_access_knowledge_Protocol.pdf

[13] No.(10)/2020-CLeS, Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology, November 10, 2020, https://www.meity.gov.in/writereaddata/files/Order_Aarogya_Setu10112020.pdf

[14] “Backend Code of Aarogya Setu released in Open Domain, Press Information Bureau, Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology, November 20, 2020

[15] “AarogyaSetu is now open source, Press Information Bureau, Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology, May 26, 2020.

[16] “Estimates of Gross Domestic Product for the Second Quarter (July-September2020-2021Press Release, Central Statistics Office, Ministry of Statistics and Programme Implementation, November 27, 2020, https://www.mospi.gov.in/documents/213904/416359//PRESS_NOTE-Q2_2020-211606480008567.pdf/f2b98a11-a06d-8b6f-6f37-621f33ca8f25

[17] Report of the Internal Working Group to Review Extant Ownership Guidelines and Corporate Structure for Indian Private Sector Banks, November 2020, https://rbidocs.rbi.org.in/rdocs//PublicationReport/Pdfs/IWG988615AAEB4A42729542102111DCA5FC.PDF

[18]Cabinet approves Continuation and Revamping of the Scheme for Financial Support to Public Private Partnerships in Infrastructure Viability Gap Funding VGF Scheme, Press Information Bureau, Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs, November 11, 2020.

[19]IFSC International Retail Business Development Committee presented the final report to IFSCA, Press Information Bureau, Ministry of Finance, November 11, 2020, https://pib.gov.in/Pressreleaseshare.aspx?PRID=1672000

[20] International Financial Services Centre (IFSCInternational Retail Business Development Committee, November 2020,  https://ifsca.gov.in/Viewer/ReportandPublication/1

[21]Setting up of IFSC Banking Units (IBUs), Reserve Bank of India, April 1, 2015, https://rbidocs.rbi.org.in/rdocs/notification/PDFs/FNIBU010415CIRN.PDF

[22]Liberalised Remittance Scheme, FAQs, Reserve Bank of India, https://m.rbi.org.in/Scripts/FAQView.aspx?Id=115

[23]The International Financial Services Centres Authority (BankingRegulations, 2020, http://egazette.nic.in/WriteReadData/2020/223204.pdf.

[24] Insurance Regulatory and Development Authority of India {Registration and Operations of International Financial Service Centre Insurance Offices(IIO)} Guidelines, 2017, https://ifsca.gov.in/Viewer/Index/91

[27] Madras Bar Association vs Union of India & Anr., Civil Writ Petition No804 of 2020, November 27, 2020, https://main.sci.gov.in/supremecourt/2020/16100/16100_2020_35_1501_24869_Judgement_27-Nov-2020.pdf

[28] Notification NoG.S.R109(E) - The  Tribunal, Appellate Tribunal and other Authorities (Qualifications, Experience and other Conditions of Service of MembersRules, 2020, Ministry of Finance, February, 12, 2020, http://egazette.nic.in/WriteReadData/2020/216109.pdf

[29] Rojer Mathew vs South Indian Bank Ltd& Ors., Civil Appeal No8588 of 2019, November 13, 2019, https://main.sci.gov.in/supremecourt/2017/9680/9680_2017_1_1501_18247_Judgement_13-Nov-2019.pdf

[30] G.S.R695(E), Notification, Ministry of Home Affairs, The Gazette of India, November 10, 2020, http://egazette.nic.in/WriteReadData/2020/223040.pdf.

[31] The Foreign Contribution (RegulationAct, 2010, http://legislative.gov.in/sites/default/files/A2010-42.pdf.

[32]The Occupational Safety, Health and Working Conditions (CentralRules, 2020, https://labour.gov.in/sites/default/files/OSH_Rules.pdf

[34]G.S.R684(E), Gazette of India, Ministry of Labour and Employment, October 29, 2020, http://www.egazette.nic.in/WriteReadData/2020/222829.pdf

[35]The Industrial Relations Code, 2020, http://egazette.nic.in/WriteReadData/2020/222118.pdf

[36] FNo4-90/2018-P.GRegulation (Ayurved)Indian Medicine Central Council (Post Graduate Ayurveda EducationAmendment Regulations, 2020, Central Council of Indian Medicine, November 19, 2020, https://www.ccimindia.org/latestupdate/223208-website.pdf.

[37] “Government of India blocks 43 mobile apps from accessing by users in India” Press Information Bureau, Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology, November 24, 2020.

[38] “Government Bans 59 mobile apps which are prejudicial to sovereignty and integrity of India, defence of India, security of state and public order, Press Information Bureau, Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology, June 29, 2020.

[39] “Government Blocks 118 mobile apps which are prejudicial to sovereignty and integrity of India, defence of India, security of state and public order, Press Information Bureau, Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology, September 2, 2020.

[40] “Constitution of a Committee to review guidelines on Television Rating Agencies in India’ notified by Ministry of Information & Broadcasting – Regarding, Order No3601 1 I 1312020-BP&L, November 2020, Ministry of Information and Broadcasting, https://mib.gov.in/sites/default/files/Constitution of a Committee to review TRP.pdf.

[41] “Policy Guidelines for Television Rating Agencies in India, January 2014, Ministry of Information and Broadcasting, https://mib.gov.in/sites/default/files/TRP_Guidelines_16.01.2014_0.pdf.

[42] “Recommendations on Review of Television Audience Measurement and Rating System in India, Telecom Regulatory Authority of India, April 28, 2020, https://trai.gov.in/sites/default/files/Recommendation_28042 020_0.pdf.

[43] S.O4040(E), Notification, Cabinet Secretariat, The Gazette of India, November 9, 2020, http://egazette.nic.in/WriteReadData/2020/223032.pdf.

[44] The Government of India (Allocation of BusinessRules, 1961, Cabinet Secretariat, https://cabsec.gov.in/writereaddata/allocationbusinessrule/completeaobrules/english/1_Upload_2603.pdf.

[45] “Draft Data Centre Policy 2020, Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology, November 5, 2020, http://meity.gov.in/content/commentssuggestions-draft-data-centre-policy.

[46] No18-8/2020-CS-I, Department of Telecommunications, November 5, 2020, https://dot.gov.in/sites/default/files/2020_11_05%20OSP%20CS.pdf

[47] “Massive encouragement for Other Service Provider’ Industry in BPO and ITeS Sectors; Liberalized Guidelines issued by Government of India, Press Information Bureau, Ministry of Communications, November 5, 2020.

[48]  No.182/2008-CS-I, Department of Telecommunications, August 5, 2008, https://dot.gov.in/sites/default/files/2016_11_03%20OSP-CS.pdf?download=1.

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[50] Motor Vehicle Aggregator Guidelines issued to regulate shared mobility and reducing traffic congestion and pollution, Press Information Bureau, Ministry of Road Transport and Highways, November 27, 2020

[51] Motor Vehicles Aggregator Guidelines, Ministry of Road Transport and Highways, November 27, 2020, https://morth.nic.in/sites/default/files/notifications_document/Motor%20Vehicle%20Aggregators27112020150046.pdf

[52] G.S.R.690(E)Ministry of Road Transport and Highways, November 6, 2020, http://egazette.nic.in/WriteReadData/2020/222985.pdf

[53] Public comments invited for proposed rules on registering vintage vehicles, Press Information Bureau, Ministry of Road Transport and Highways, November 26, 2020; G.S.R.734(E), Ministry of Road Transport and Highways, November 25, 2020, http://egazette.nic.in/WriteReadData/2020/223346.pdf

[54] Public suggestions invited for notifying rules for registering nominees of motor vehicle owners, Press Information Bureau, Ministry of Road Transport and Highways, November 26, 2020; G.S.R739(E)Ministry of Road Transport and Highways, November 25, 2020, http://egazette.nic.in/WriteReadData/2020/223347.pdf

[55] A Revenue Neutral Approach to Lower Stamp Duty and Registration Charges for Affordable Housing, Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs, September 2020, http://mohua.gov.in/upload/uploadfiles/files/Revenure-Neutral-Approach-to-Lower-Stamp-Duty-and-Registration-Charges-for-Affordable-Housing.pdf.  

[56] Notification NoAV-11012/4/2005-A, Ministry of Civil Aviation, October 29, 2020, http://egazette.nic.in/WriteReadData/2020/223014.pdf.

[57] Notification NoAV-11012/4/2005-A, Ministry of Civil Aviation, September 17, 2019, http://egazette.nic.in/WriteReadData/2019/212697.pdf

[58] Discussion draftNational Unmanned Aircraft System Traffic Management Policy – version 1.0, Ministry of Civil Aviation, November 30, 2020, https://www.civilaviation.gov.in/sites/default/files/National-UTM-Policy-Discussion-Draft-30-Nov-2020-updated.pdf.

[59] Gazette Resolution No23/05/2020-R&R.-1.0, Ministry of Power, November 3, 2020, New Delhi, http://egazette.nic.in/WriteReadData/2020/222946.pdf

[60] Resolution No23/05/2020-R&R, Ministry of Power, July 22, 2020, https://powermin.nic.in/sites/default/files/webform/notices/Notification_dated_22_July_2020.pdf

[61]No15/1/2017-Trans. (Part 3), Ministry of Power, November 5, 2020, https://powermin.nic.in/sites/default/files/webform/notices/Amendment_in_Equity_lock_in_period.pdf.  

[62]Order No32/645/2017-SPV Division – “Scale-up and expansion of Pradhan Mantri Urja Suraksha evam Utthaan Mahaabhiyaan (PM-KUSUM), Ministry of New and Renewable Energy, November 4, 2020, https://mnre.gov.in/img/documents/uploads/file_f-1604916951612.pdf

[63]Pradhan Mantri Urja Suraksha evam Utthaan Mahaabhiyaan (PM-KUSUM), Ministry of New and Renewable Energy, https://mnre.gov.in/solar/schemes/

 

अस्वीकरणः प्रस्तुत रिपोर्ट आपके समक्ष सूचना प्रदान करने के लिए प्रस्तुत की गई है। पीआरएस लेजिसलेटिव रिसर्च (पीआरएस) के नाम उल्लेख के साथ इस रिपोर्ट का पूर्ण रूपेण या आंशिक रूप से गैर व्यावसायिक उद्देश्य के लिए पुनःप्रयोग या पुनर्वितरण किया जा सकता है। रिपोर्ट में प्रस्तुत विचार के लिए अंततः लेखक या लेखिका उत्तरदायी हैं। यद्यपि पीआरएस विश्वसनीय और व्यापक सूचना का प्रयोग करने का हर संभव प्रयास करता है किंतु पीआरएस दावा नहीं करता कि प्रस्तुत रिपोर्ट की सामग्री सही या पूर्ण है। पीआरएस एक स्वतंत्रअलाभकारी समूह है। रिपोर्ट को इसे प्राप्त करने वाले व्यक्तियों के उद्देश्यों अथवा विचारों से निरपेक्ष होकर तैयार किया गया है। यह सारांश मूल रूप से अंग्रेजी में तैयार किया गया था। हिंदी रूपांतरण में किसी भी प्रकार की अस्पष्टता की स्थिति में अंग्रेजी के मूल सारांश से इसकी पुष्टि की जा सकती है।

Highlights of this Issue

GDP contracted by 7.5% in the second quarter of 2020-21

GDP (at constant prices) contracted by 7.5% in the July-September quarter of 2020-21. While agriculture, manufacturing, and electricity recorded growth, trade & hospitality, public services, and mining contracted.  

National lockdown extended till December 31 with focus on containment

The new orders specify guidelines for inducing COVID appropriate behaviours, prescribing a containment and surveillance strategy, and ensuring strict compliance with lockdown-related guidelines, to reduce COVID-19 cases. 

Government announces stimulus under Aatma Nirbhar Bharat 3.0

Measures were announced to incentivise creation of new employment, provide stimulus to certain sectors such as infrastructure and real estate, and expand coverage of the credit line guarantee scheme to more borrowers.  

Arbitration and Conciliation (Amendment) Ordinance issued

The Ordinance allows an arbitration award to be stayed (even if an application to set it aside has been filed) in case the agreement or the award was induced by fraud.  Further, it removes the qualification criteria listed for arbitrators.

Draft Rules under Codes on Social Security, and Occupational Safety released

Draft social security rules set out detailed procedures for enrolment of workers and registration of establishments.   Occupational safety rules provide that no worker shall work more than eight hours a day, over a 12-hour period.

Supreme Court passes judgement on the 2020 tribunal rules

Key highlights of the judgement include: (i) constitution of an independent National Tribunals Commission, and (ii) changes to the composition of selection panels to give dominance to decisions made by judicial members.

Amendment to Foreign Contribution (Regulation) Rules notified

For obtaining registration for receiving foreign contribution, the applicant should have spent Rs 15 lakh or more during last three years.  The application fee for seeking registration or prior permission has been increased. 

Guidelines for taxi aggregators released

Taxi aggregators will be required to ensure compliance of drivers and vehicles with various provisions of the Motor Vehicles Act, 1988.   The guidelines also provide details of the minimum and maximum fare to be charged. 

Standing Committee submits its report on the COVID-19 pandemic

To improve management of COVID-19, the Committee recommended: (i) increasing public health funding, (ii) increasing the number of beds in government hospitals, and (iii) using reliable testing methods, among others.

Working Group reviewing ownership of private banks submitted its report

Recommendations include: (i) increase in long-term promoter shareholding in private banks from 15% to 26%, and (ii) permitting ownership of banks by large business houses, with safeguards to manage conflicts of interest.

Guidelines for reopening of universities and colleges issued by the UGC

The guidelines permit institutions outside of containment zones to re-open based on feasibility of restarting physical classes.   Institutions will be reopened in a phased manner after adopting adequate safety measures.  

43 mobile apps banned on the grounds of national security and public order

Use of these apps has disallowed under the Information Technology Act, 2000 for engaging in stealing and unauthorised transmission of users’ data to servers outside India which may threaten national security. 
 

 

COVID-19

As of December 1, 2020, there were 94,62,809 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in India.[1]   Of these, 88,89,585 had been cured/discharged and 1,37,621 persons had died.1  For details on the number of daily cases in the country and across states, please see here.

The central government has announced several policy decisions to contain the spread of the disease, and financial measures to support citizens and businesses who would get affected.  For details on the major notifications released by the centre and the states, please see here. Key announcements made in this regard in October 2020 are as follows.

Lockdown extended till December 31 with additional relaxations

Roshni Sinha (roshni@prsindia.org)

To contain the spread of COVID-19, the National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) had imposed a 21-day national lockdown in March.[2]  Since then, the lockdown has been extended ten times, with the latest extension till December 31, 2020.[3]  The revised lockdown guidelines stress on containing further COVID cases by focusing on a prescribed containment strategy, surveillance, and strict observance of lockdown-related guidelines.   Key features of these guidelines include: 

  • COVID appropriate behaviour:  States must take steps to promote COVID-19 appropriate behaviour.  These may include: (i) administrative actions, such as fines, for not wearing face masks, (ii) strict observance of SOPs issued by the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare to regulate overcrowding in marketplaces, and (iii) issuance of guidelines for regulating travel in modes of public transport (e.g., buses).  
     
  • Surveillance and containment:  Lockdown will continue to remain in force in containment zones, demarcated by district authorities.  In such zones: (i) only essential activities will be permitted, (ii) movement will only be permitted for medical emergencies and supply of essential goods and services, and (iii) listing of contacts of COVID positive persons will be carried out, along with their tracking, identification, quarantine, and follow up.  80% of all contacts must be traced within 72 hours.  States must ensure accountability of officers responsible for implementing these measures. 
     
  • Compliance with SOPs:  In areas outside containment zones, most activities have resumed.   Activities that continue to operate with restrictions include: (i) international air travel, except as permitted by the Ministry of Home Affairs, (ii) cinema halls and theatres up to 50% capacity, (iii) swimming pools, only for training of sports persons, (iv) exhibition halls only for business to business purposes, and (v) congregations in closed spaces for social, religious, political, and other purposes up to 50% hall capacity with a ceiling of 200 persons (which states may reduce to 100 persons).  Strict compliance of these must be enforced by competent authorities.  

States cannot impose local lockdown outside the containment zones without consultation with the central government.3  In cities where the weekly positive rate exceeds 10%, states may implement staggered office timings or take other measures to reduce the number of employees attending office at the same time.  Further, no restriction may be imposed on intra-state and inter-state movement of persons and goods including those for land-border trade with neighbouring countries (based on treaties).  

The guidelines continue to mandate directives for COVID-19 management in workplaces and public spaces.  These measures include: (i) compulsory wearing of face cover in public spaces and workplaces, and (ii) staggering of work hours in all workplaces. 

Government announces stimulus under Aatma Nirbhar Bharat 3.0 

Madhunika Iyer (madhunika@prsindia.org)

The Finance Minister announced measures to increase employment, and provide stimulus to certain sectors such as infrastructure and real estate.[4]  These measures include:

  • EPF contribution: The central government will pay the employee provident fund (EPF) contribution for new employees for two years.  New employees are defined to include those who (i) joined an EPF Organisation registered establishment for the first time, or (ii) lost employment between March 1 and September 30, 2020, but re-joined the workforce from October 1, 2020.  The scheme is open till June 30, 2021, and applies to employees earning less than Rs 15,000 per month.  For establishments with less than 1,000 employees, EPF contribution of both the employer and the employee will be covered.  For others, the government will only cover the employee’s EPF contribution.    
     
  • Extension of credit guarantee scheme: The Emergency Credit Line Guarantee Scheme was announced as part of the Aatma Nirbhar Bharat Abhiyaan in May.[5]  It provides eligible entities additional, collateral-free credit of up to 20% of the outstanding loan value as on February 29, 2020, at capped interest rates.   Eligible entities include: (i) MSMEs, those availing individual loans for business purposes, among others, and (ii) those with outstanding credit of up to Rs 25 crore, and annual turnover of up to Rs 100 crore.  The period of the loan is four years, one-year moratorium on repayment and three-year repayment period.  100% of the additional credit is guaranteed by the government.  The scheme was valid till November 30, 2020.[6]  
     
  • The latest announcement extends the scheme till March 31, 2021, covering entities with outstanding loans of up to Rs 50 crore (without any restriction based on turnover).[7]  Further, the scheme has been expanded to cover entities in 26 stressed sectors (such as real estate, construction, and hospitality) identified by the Expert Committee on Resolution of COVID-19 related Stress.[8]  Entities in these sectors with outstanding loan of between Rs 50 crore and Rs 250 crore are eligible for the scheme.  The period of the loan will be five years, one-year moratorium and four-year repayment. 
     
  • Additional budgetary allocation: The central government has proposed to increase spending under the Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana -Urban by Rs 18,000 crore for construction of housing in urban areas.  This is in addition to Rs 8,000 crore allocated for the scheme in the 2020-21 Budget. 
     
  • Income tax relief for real estate: Under the Income Tax Act, 1961, a home buyer or a real estate developer (seller) has to pay tax on the difference between the circle rate of the house and the transaction value, if the difference exceeds 10%.  This limit has been raised to 20%.  The circle rate is the government determined value of a property used for calculating stamp duty.  

UGC issues guidelines for reopening of universities and colleges 

Anurag Vaishnav (anurag@prsindia.org)

The University Grants Commission (UGC) has issued guidelines for re-opening of universities and colleges, which provide safety and other institutional measures to be taken.[9]  Universities and other educational institutions have been closed since March 16, 2020 on account of the COVID-19 pandemic.  

The universities and colleges shall be allowed to open only if they are outside the containment zones. Further, students and staff living in containment zones will not be allowed to attend the colleges.   For centrally funded higher education institutions outside containment zones, the head of the institution will decide the feasibility of restarting physical classes.  For other institutes, the decision will be made by the respective state government.  Other aspects of the guidelines include:

  • Phased reopening: Universities may reopen in phases, by permitting certain categories of students to join first.  These include: (i) students in research programmes, or post-graduates in science and technology programmes (as the number of students in such programmes is comparatively less), and (ii) final year students (for academic and placement purposes).  For other programmes, online/distance learning should continue to be the preferred mode of teaching.  Teaching hours may be extended and a six-day schedule may be followed to conduct classes in phases by breaking classes into multiple sections to ensure distancing.
     
  • Safety measures: Students coming from different locations should remain in quarantine for 14 days before being allowed to attend classes. Symptomatic persons should not be permitted to enter the campus.  Other safety measures include: (i) thermal scanners, sanitizers and face masks at entry/exit points, (ii) separate isolation and quarantine facilities, and (iii) avoiding all extracurricular activities where physical distancing is not possible, and (iv) sensitising students, teachers and staff regarding the pandemic. 

Standing Committee on Health submits report on the COVID-19 pandemic 

Anya Bharat Ram (anya@prsindia.org)

The Standing Committee on Health and Family Welfare submitted its report on the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic and its management.[10] COVID-19 was declared a pandemic by the World Health Organisation on March 11, 2020.  The Committee noted that a downward trend in COVID-19 cases has begun, however the threat of a second wave is high.  In this regard, it recommended the following: 

  • Financing the health sector: The Committee recommended that healthcare spending should be increased to 2.5% of the GDP (as compared to 1.6% of GDP in 2019-20) within two years.  
     
  • Health infrastructure: The Committee observed that the total number of government hospital beds were inadequate to deal with the rise in cases of COVID-19.  Further, it noted that the cost and price set for COVID-19 treatment by the government was causing small private hospitals to shut down.  It suggested that the government institute fair costing and pricing for COVID-19 treatment in private hospitals.
     
  • Healthcare workers: The Committee observed a shortage of healthcare workers due to vacancies in state run hospitals.  It recommended that these vacancies be filled at the earliest.   Further, it recommended the creation of the Indian Health Service as a public health cadre similar to the Indian Administrative Service. 
     
  • Testing and tracing: The Committee noted that poor contact tracing and less testing could have been a factor in the growth of COVID-19 cases in the country.  Further, it observed that the large-scale use of less reliable rapid antigen tests may adversely impact the containment strategy.  It recommended that the number of testing facilities should be increased and accurate tests, such as the RT-PCR test, should be utilised.
     
  • Vaccines: The Committee recommended that the whole population should be vaccinated.  In this regard, it suggested that: (i) the cost of the vaccine should be subsidised for weaker sections of society, (ii) the cold-storage system across the country should be upgraded, and (iii) vaccines should be administered based on a risk-based approach (where high-risk individuals are vaccinated first). 

For a PRS summary of the report, see here.

Order issued to allow states to reopen anganwadis outside containment zones 

Prachi Kaur (prachi@prsindia.org)

The Ministry of Women and Child Development issued an order allowing states to reopen anganwadis outside containment zones.[11]  States have been allowed to formulate their own Standard Operating Procedures, while adhering to COVID-19 directions given by the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare.  The Ministry of Women and Child Development has provided some operational guidelines for the continuation of anganwadi services.  These include:

  • Supplementary nutrition: States may provide cooked food or take-home ration at anganwadis or deliver them at homes, based on the prevailing local situation.  
     
  • Growth monitoring services: Severely malnourished children, high-risk pregnancy, and lactating mothers should be monitored strictly and be provided home-based service delivery and take-home cooked food.
     
  • Counselling services: Counselling on maternal, infant, and young child care and feeding practices may be carried out during home visits, or through video/ telephone calls, or WhatsApp messages. 
  • Early childhood care and education: Preschool education may be resumed in anganwadis in small groups of five to eight children per day.  Children may visit the anganwadi once a week and follow up on the lessons at home, with their parent’s help.  Online preschool education should be encouraged, wherever possible.

Aarogya Setu Data Access and Knowledge Sharing Protocol, 2020 extended up to May 2021

Saket Surya (saket@prsindia.org)

In May 2020, the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology had released the Aarogya Setu Data Access and Knowledge Sharing Protocol, 2020 in reference to the Aarogya Setu mobile application (app).[12]  The protocol was originally applicable up to November 10, 2020 (six months from the date of notification).  It has now been extended for another six months, i.e., up to May 10, 2021.[13]  The Aarogya Setu app was launched by the central government in April 2020 to enable contact tracing (identification and monitoring of persons who are at a higher risk of being infected by COVID-19) and for users to assess their own risk of getting infected. The protocol aims to ensure secure and efficient collection and sharing of data by the application to protect the personal data of individuals.  

For more details on the protocol, please see here.

The Ministry has released the backend code of the Aarogya Setu app.[14]  In May 2020, the decision to make Aarogya Setu app open source was announced.[15]   Source code of an open source software is freely available for possible modification and redistribution.  The source code of the android and iOS applications were released earlier.15

 

Macroeconomic Development

Madhunika Iyer (madhunika@prsindia.org)

GDP contracted by 7.5% in the second quarter of 2020-21

Gross Domestic Product (GDP) (at constant 2011-12 prices) contracted by 7.5% in the second quarter (July-September) of 2020-21 over the corresponding period in 2019-20.[16]  This is the second consecutive quarter of contraction in GDP after the contraction of 23.9% in the first quarter of 2020-21.  In comparison, GDP growth was 4.4% in the second quarter of 2019-20 and 5.2% in the first quarter of 2019-20.

Cumulatively, GDP contracted by 15.7% in the first half of 2020-21 (April- September) over the corresponding period in 2019-20.  

Figure 1: Growth in GDP (%, year-on-year)

 image

Sources: Ministry of Statistics and Programme Implementation; PRS.

GDP across economic sectors is measured in terms of Gross Value Added (GVA).  The four sectors with the largest contraction in the first quarter of 2020-21 (construction, trade, manufacturing, and mining) improved their performance in the second quarter.  While construction, trade, and mining continued to contract, manufacturing grew by 0.6%.  The other sectors recording a growth in the second quarter of 2020-21 were agriculture and electricity.  Table 1 provides details on sectoral growth in GVA.

Table 1: Growth in Gross Value Added across sectors in Q2 of 2020-21 (%, year-on-year)

Sector

Q2

2019-20

Q1

2020-21

Q2

2020-21

Agriculture

3.5%

3.4%

3.4%

Mining

-1.1%

-23.3%

-9.1%

Manufacturing

-0.6%

-39.3%

0.6%

Electricity

3.9%

-7.0%

4.4%

Construction

2.6%

-50.3%

-8.6%

Trade

4.1%

-47.0%

-15.6%

Financial services

6.0%

-5.3%

-8.1%

Public services

10.9%

-10.3%

-12.2%

GVA

4.3%

-22.8%

-7.0%

GDP

4.4%

-23.9%

-7.5%

Sources: Ministry of Statistics and Programme Implementation; PRS.
 

Finance

Working Group reviewing ownership and corporate structure in private banks submits report

Madhunika Iyer (madhunika@prsindia.org)

The Internal Working Group to Review Extant Ownership Guidelines and Corporate Structure for Indian Private Sector Banks submitted its report to the Reserve Bank of India.[17]  The Terms of Reference of the Group included review of: (i) regulations regarding ownership and control in private banks, (ii) eligibility criteria for entities to apply for banking license, and (iii) norms for promoter shareholding.  Key recommendations of the Group include:

  • Promoter shareholding: The existing guidelines require promoters’ shareholding to be at least 40% in the first five years of operations of a new bank.   Thereafter, promoter shareholding must be reduced to a maximum of 30 % within 10 years of commencement of operations of the bank, and to 15% within 15 years.  The Group recommended retaining the original lock-in of 40%, raising the ceiling on the 15-year promoter shareholding from 15% to 26%, and removing the intermediate targets.    
     
  • Non-promoter shareholding: The existing guidelines impose different ceilings on long-run shareholding for different kinds of investors in private banks.   For instance, while individuals and non-financial institutions can hold up to 10% shares in private banks, well diversified government financial institutions can hold up to 40% of the shares.   The Group recommended a uniform 15% ceiling on long-run, non-promoter shareholding. 
     
  • Ownership of banks by business houses: The Group recommended that large business houses may be permitted to be promoters of banks.  However, it was noted that this would require a legal framework to address lending by the bank to other companies promoted by the same business house.   Ownership by large business houses would also require a framework for consolidated supervision. 
     
  • Conversion to banks: Well-run non-banking financial companies (NBFCs), with asset size of over Rs 50,000 crore, including those owned by large business houses may be converted to a bank.  This may be allowed for those NBFCs that have been in operation for over 10 years, and would be subject to suitable safeguards (as may be specified) to manage potential conflict of interest.  
     
  • Licensing new banks: The Group recommended increasing the minimum initial capital requirement for licensing new banks: (i) for universal banks, from Rs 500 crore to Rs 1,000 crore, (ii) for small finance banks, from Rs 100 crore to Rs 300 crore.   

Cabinet approves revised Viability Gap Funding norms for social infrastructure

Suyash Tiwari (suyash@prsindia.org)

The Union Cabinet approved a revised Viability Gap Funding (VGF) scheme for providing financial support to Public Private Partnerships (PPPs) for infrastructure projects.[18]  The scheme was started in 2006 to support infrastructure projects that are economically justified, but commercially unviable due to: (i) high capital investment requirements, (ii) long gestation period, and (iii) the inability to increase user charges to commercial levels.  Under the existing scheme, the central government provides VGF to cover up to 20% of the project cost.  The public partner in the PPP project (e.g. the concerned Ministry, state government, or statutory authority) may additionally cover up to 20% of the project cost.  Under the revised scheme, a higher VGF has been approved for the following kinds of social infrastructure projects:

  • Social sectors:  The central government will provide a higher VGF of up to 30% of the project cost to infrastructure projects in social sectors (such as education, health, water supply, waste water treatment, and solid waste management).  The public partner in the project may additionally cover up to 30% of the project cost.
     
  • Pilot projects:  The central and state governments will provide a total VGF of up to 80% of the project cost to pilot projects in education and health sectors.  Additionally, they may provide up to 50% of the project’s operational cost for the first five years of its commercial operation.  Share of the central government will be capped at 40% of the project cost and 25% of the operational cost.

An outlay of Rs 8,100 crore has been approved for the revised scheme for the period 2020-21 to 2024-25.  An estimated Rs 2,100 crore will be provided as support to social infrastructure projects, with the remaining Rs 6,000 crore earmarked for economic infrastructure projects.

Committee on retail business development in the IFSC submits report

Madhunika Iyer (madhunika@prsindia.org)

The International Financial Services Centre (IFSC) International Retail Business Development Committee (Chairman: Mr. Injeti Srinivas) submitted its report to the International Financial Services Centre Authority (IFSCA).[19]  The Committee made recommendations to develop retail participation in the banking, insurance, and capital markets segments in the IFSC.   Key recommendations include:[20]

  • Banking: Banking units in the IFSC should be allowed to provide banking services to resident Indian retail clients.  Clients must also be permitted to open current, savings, and term deposit accounts in any currency of their choice.  The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) circular regulating banks operating in the IFSC, allow them to serve non-retail clients.[21]  The Committee also recommended that resident Indians be allowed to use the Liberalised Remittance Scheme (LRS) to remit money to an account in the IFSC.  LRS allows resident individuals to remit foreign currency for permitted transactions.[22]
     
  • IFSCA notified the Banking Regulations, 2020 for operating banking units in the IFSC, in supersession of RBI’s circular.[23]  The Regulations outline the regulatory norms, and the set of permitted activities for banking units.  Implementing certain recommendations of the Committee, it allows Indian and non-Indian residents, with net worth not less than USD one million, to open foreign currency accounts.  It allows Indian residents to undertake permissible transactions using LRS.  
     
  • Insurance: Non-resident Indians (NRIs) and Persons of Indian Origin (PIOs) should be allowed to buy insurance policies for themselves and family members who are based in India and abroad from insurers in the IFSC.  The insurance premium should be payable in any currency and portable (to later permit a change in the currency of payment).  Currently, insurers operating in the IFSC are allowed to only transact in foreign currency.[24]  The Committee also recommended that resident Indians should be allowed to buy overseas health insurance for medical treatment anywhere in the world.  Currently, insurers operating in the IFSC are permitted to transact within the IFSC, with other Special Economic Zones in India, or with entities outside India. 
     
  • Capital markets: Resident Indians should be allowed to invest in (i) companies listed on the IFSC stock exchanges, (ii) alternative investment funds, and mutual funds in the IFSC (through the LRS route).  Currently, resident Indians may invest in entities in the IFSC provided their net worth is at least USD one million and are eligible under Foreign Exchange Management Act (FEMA) to invest funds offshore.[25]

 

Law and Justice

Arbitration and Conciliation (Amendment) Ordinance issued

Roshni Sinha (roshni@prsindia.org)

The Arbitration and Conciliation (Amendment) Ordinance, 2020 was promulgated.[26]  It amends the Arbitration and Conciliation Act, 1996.  The Act contains provisions to deal with domestic and international arbitration and defines the law for conducting conciliation proceedings.   Key features of the Ordinance include the following:  

  • Automatic stay on awards:  The 1996 Act allowed a party to file an application to set aside an arbitral award (i.e., the order given in an arbitration proceeding).   Courts had interpreted this provision to mean that an automatic stay on an arbitral award was granted the moment an application for setting aside an arbitral award was made before a court.  In 2015, the Act was amended to state that an arbitral award would not be automatically stayed merely because an application is made to a court to set aside the arbitral award. 
     
  • The Ordinance specifies that a stay on arbitral award can be provided (even during the pendency of the setting aside application) if the court is satisfied that: (i) the relevant arbitration agreement, or (ii) the making of the award, was induced or effected by fraud or corruption.   This change will be effective from October 23, 2015.  
     
  • Qualification of arbitrators:   The Act specified certain qualifications, experience and accreditation norms for arbitrators in a separate schedule.  The requirements under this schedule included that the arbitrator must be: (i) an advocate under the Advocates Act, 1962 with 10 years of experience, or (ii) an officer of the Indian Legal Service.  Further, the general norms applicable to arbitrators required them to be familiar with the Constitution of India. 
     
  • The Ordinance omits the Schedule for arbitrators and states that the qualifications, experience and norms for accreditation of arbitrations will be specified by regulations.

For a PRS Summary of the Ordinance, see here.

Supreme Court passes judgement on the 2020 tribunal rules

Aditya Kumar (aditya@prsindia.org)

The Supreme Court passed a judgement on several aspects of the Tribunal, Appellate Tribunal and other Authorities (Qualifications, Experience and other Conditions of Service of Members) Rules, 2020.[27]  These Rules set out the qualification, conditions of service and term of members of 19 tribunals.[28]

In 2019, the Supreme Court had struck down an earlier version of the Rules notified in 2017.[29]  The Court had then held that these Rules conflicted with various principles of the Constitution which stressed on the need to preserve the independence of the judiciary.  The government was asked to re-formulate the rules to align them with the previous judgements of the Court, following which the 2020 Rules were notified.

Key highlights of the recent judgement include:

  • Independent body: The Court directed the central government to constitute an independent body called the National Tribunals Commission to supervise appointments, as well as functioning and administration of the tribunals.  A separate wing under the Ministry of Finance may be set up to supervise the needs of the tribunals till the Commission is constituted.
     
  • Selection committee: The Court noted that the selection committees did not give primacy to judicial members in decision making.  It specified that the committee should consist of: (i) Chief Justice of India or his nominee (with a casting vote), (ii) the presiding officer of the tribunal OR a retired Supreme Court judge or Chief Justice of High Court in case the presiding officer is not a judicial member or if he is seeking re-appointment, (iii) Secretary to the Ministry of Law and Justice, (iv) Secretary to central government from non-parent Ministry, and (v) Secretary from parent Ministry (without a vote). 
     
  • Qualification of advocates: Advocates with experience of 10 years will be eligible for appointment as judicial members in tribunals (instead of the current requirement of 25 years in some tribunals). 
     
  • Term:   Tribunal members will have a term of five years instead of four years.  Further, the vice-chairman, vice-president and other members will be allowed to hold office till they reach 67 years of age
    (instead of 65). 

     
  • Effect of the 2020 Rules: The 2020 Rules will have prospective effect and will be applicable from the date of its notification (February 12, 2020).  Further, all appointments made till date of the judgement under the Rules will be valid.
     
  • Appointments:  Central government must make all tribunal appointments within three months of the recommendations made by the Selection Committee. 

 

Home

Anurag Vaishnav (anurag@prsindia.org)

MHA notifies amendment to Foreign Contribution Regulation Rules

The Ministry of Home Affairs notified amendments to the Foreign Contribution (Regulation) Rules, 2011.[30]  These amendments have been notified under the Foreign Contribution Regulation Act, 2010.[31]  Key changes made by the 2020 Rules include:

  • Conditions for obtaining registration or prior permission: Under the Act, a person may accept foreign contribution if they have: (i) a certificate of registration, or (ii) prior permission from the government to accept foreign contribution.  Further, they should have undertaken activities in its chosen field for the benefit of society by utilising the foreign contribution.  The Rules specify the conditions for utilisation of foreign contribution.  For obtaining registration, the applicant should have spent a minimum of Rs 15 lakh for the benefit of society during the last three financial years, among other conditions. 
     
  • For obtaining prior permission, the applicant should submit a commitment letter from the donor indicating the amount of foreign contribution and the purpose for which it is given.  Further, if the donor organisation and the recipient have common members, the permission will be subjected to certain conditions such as: (i) the chief functionary of the recipient should not be part of the donor organisation, and (ii) 75% of its governing body members should not be part of the foreign donor organisation. 
     
  • Organisations of political nature: Under the Act, organisations of political nature are prohibited from accepting foreign contribution.  The 2011 Rules specify guidelines for the government to declare an organisation to be of political nature.  This includes organisations such as: (a) trade unions which aim to promote political goals, (b) organisations of farmers, workers, students or youth with objectives to advance political interests of certain groups, and (c) organisations which employs political actions such as ‘bandh’ or ‘hartal’.  For organisations of farmers, workers or students, and for organisations which employs political actions such as ‘bandh’, the 2020 Rules specify that they will be considered to be of political nature if they participate in active politics. 
     
  • Increase in application fee: The Rules have increased the application fee: (i) for seeking registration from Rs 3,000 to Rs 5,000, (ii) for seeking prior permission from Rs 5,000 to Rs 10,000, and (iii) for renewal of registration from Rs 1,500 to Rs 5,000.

 

Labour and Employment

Draft Rules under the Occupational Safety and Health Code released for public comments

Madhunika Iyer (madhunika@prsindia.org)

The Ministry of Labour and Employment released the draft central rules under the Occupational Safety, Health and Working Conditions Code, 2020.[32],[33]  The draft Rules will apply to establishments which are under the control of the central government and will replace 13 previous central rules on these matters. Key features of the draft Rules include:

  • Work hours: The Code provides that no worker shall be allowed to work for more than eight hours a day.  It requires the Rules to notify intervals and spread over to meet the eight hours maximum work limit.  The draft Rules specify that the work day should not spread over more than 12 hours including intervals for rest.  Further, no worker will be allowed to work for more than 48 hours every week. 
     
  • Overtime work: The Code provides that if a worker exceeds eight hours of work per day, he is entitled to overtime wages at twice the ordinary wage rate.  The draft Rules provide that no worker can exceed 125 hours of overtime work in a quarter. 
     
  • Free health examination: The Code provides that employers will arrange for free annual health examinations for such class of employees, and in such class of establishments as may be prescribed by the appropriate government.   The Rules provide that employers of factory, dock, mine, and building or other construction work, must arrange for free medical examination for every worker, above the age of 45 years.  
     
  • Safety Committee: The Code provides for the constitution of a Safety Committee in such class of establishments as may be prescribed.  The draft Rules provide that every establishment employing 500 or more workers shall constitute a Safety Committee.  

Comments on the draft Rules are invited until January 3, 2021. 

Draft Rules under Code on Social Security released for comments

Roshni Sinha (roshni@prsindia.org)

The Ministry of Labour and Employment released the draft central rules under the Code on Social Security, 2020.[34],[35]  The Draft Rules will apply to establishments which are under the control of the central government and will replace previous central rules on these matters.  Key features of the Draft Rules include: 

  • Organised sector schemes:  Under the Code, the central government may notify various social security schemes for the benefit of workers, including provident fund (PF) and employees’ insurance (ESI) benefits, as well as maternity benefits and gratuity.   The Rules specify detailed procedures for payment of these benefits and provide for the registration of establishments required to pay PF and ESI benefits for workers.
     
  • Construction workers:  The Code provides for the payment of a cess for the welfare of construction workers and registration to avail of these benefits.  The Rules provide for Aadhaar-based registration of construction workers on the portal of the central or state government or the state welfare boards.   Cess will be payable on the basis of self-assessment certified by a chartered engineer.  When a construction worker migrates from one state to another, he will be entitled to benefits in the state where he is working, and it will be the responsibility of that state’s welfare board to provide benefits to such a worker.  
     
  • Unorganised workers, and gig and platform workers:  The Code makes provisions for registration of unorganised, gig and platform workers, and for notification of social security schemes for their benefits.   Gig workers refer to workers outside of the traditional employer-employee relationship (e.g., freelancers). Platform workers are workers who access other organisations or individuals using online platforms and earn money by providing them with specific services. Unorganised workers include home-based and self-employed workers.
     
  • The Rules provide for Aadhaar-based registration including self-registration by unorganised, gig and platform workers on a portal of the central government.  An unorganised, gig or platform worker must be registered on the portal to avail benefits under social security schemes framed under the Code. 
     
  • Gig and platform workers will be eligible to register if they are between 16 and 60 years of age.  Further, every aggregator is required to make an annual provisional contribution by June 30 of the year for social security contributions payable to such gig and platform workers.  

Comments are invited within 45 days of notification (from November 13, 2020). 

 

AYUSH

Anya Bharat Ram (anya@prsindia.org)

Regulations on post graduate Ayurveda education notified

The Central Council of Indian Medicine notified the Indian Medicine Central Council (Post Graduate Ayurveda Education) Amendment Regulations, 2020.[36]  It amends the 2016 Regulations issued to regulate post graduate education in Ayurveda.   

The 2020 Regulations specify that a post graduate student of Shalya (general surgeries), and Shalakya (diseases of the eye, nose, throat, head, and oro-dentistry) must be practically trained to independently perform certain surgeries.  For Shalya students, these surgeries include: (i) drainage of abscesses, (ii) skin grafting, and (iii) amputation of gangrene.  For Shalakya students, these surgeries include: (i) tonsillectomy, (ii) deviated septum, (iii) cataract, and (iv) root canal treatment.

 

Information and Broadcasting

43 mobile apps banned on the grounds of national security and public order

Saket Surya (saket@prsindia.org)

The Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology banned 43 apps on the grounds that these pose a threat to the sovereignty, integrity, defence and security of the state, and public order.[37] These apps include AliExpress, Lalamove, and Snack Video.   Use of these apps has been disallowed in both mobile and non-mobile internet-enabled devices.  The Ministry had banned 59 mobile apps in June 2020 and 118 mobile apps in September 2020 on similar grounds. The earlier banned apps include TikTok, Shareit, UC Browser, and PUBG Mobile Lite.[38],[39]

Committee constituted to review guidelines on television rating agencies 

Anurag Vaishnav (anurag@prsindia.org)

The Ministry of Information and Broadcasting has constituted a Committee to review the existing guidelines on television rating agencies.[40]  The guidelines specify the eligibility criteria and registration process for television rating agencies.  It also specifies the methodology for audience measurement.  

For measurement of television ratings, the existing guidelines (2014) prescribed a panel selection from a pool of households where the audience measurement device is placed (sample size for measurement of ratings).[41]  It prescribed a sample size of 20,000 households, which was to be increased by 10,000 every year till it reaches 50,000 households.

The Ministry stated that there is a need to review the guidelines keeping in view the technological advancements, and certain recommendations made by the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) in this regard.   For this purpose, it has constituted a Committee (Chairperson: Shashi S. Vempati, CEO, Prasar Bharti) to recommend changes in the existing guidelines.  The terms and reference of the Committee include: (i) studying past recommendations made on the subject, (ii) making recommendations for a transparent and accountable rating system, and (iii) suggesting steps to enhance competition in the sector.

Note that in April 2020, the TRAI released recommendations on the television rating system in India.[42]  It observed that currently, there is only one company registered with the Ministry for providing television rating agencies in the country (Broadcast Audience Research Council, or BARC, an industry-led body).  It had recommended changes in the composition of BARC to mitigate the potential risk of conflict of interest.  Further, it had recommended that the panel size should be increased from the existing 44,000 to 60,000 by the end of 2020, and to one lakh by the end of 2022.  TRAI observed that a larger sample size improves the robustness of measurement rating.

Content provided by digital media and online platforms brought under the Ministry of I&B

Anurag Vaishnav (anurag@prsindia.org)

The government has amended the Allocation of Business Rules, 1961 to bring certain content provided by online platforms under the ambit of Ministry of Information and Broadcasting.[43]  The Ministry’s business will now include: (i) films and audio-visual programmes made available by online content providers, and (ii) news and current affairs content on online platforms. 

The Allocation of Business Rules are made by the President of India under Article 77 of the Constitution which provides for the conduct of business by the different ministries of the government.[44]  Note that, under the Rules, policy matters related to internet, cyber-laws and other IT laws are under the purview of the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology.  

Comments invited on the Draft Data Centre Policy 

Saket Surya (saket@prsindia.org)

The Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MEITY) invited comments on the Draft Data Centre Policy 2020.[45]  The Policy seeks to promote the data centre sector in the country.  Data Centres are centralised locations where computing and networking equipment is concentrated for the purpose of collecting, storing, processing, distributing, or allowing access to large amounts of data.  The Ministry observed that the advent of the digital economy around the world presents an opportunity for India to become a global data centre hub.  It also noted that the need for data centre infrastructure within the boundaries of the country is further necessitated due to the data localisation provisions under various data protection regulations.  Key features of the Draft Policy include the following:

  • Infrastructure status: The central government will work towards providing infrastructure status for the data centre sector, at par with other infrastructure sectors such as Railways and Power.  This will enable the data centre operators to avail long-term credit and thus, provide a boost to investments in the sector.  Data centre will also be declared as an essential service under the Essential Services Maintenance Act, 1968.  The Act empowers the central government to prohibit strikes by employees engaged in rendering essential services.
     
  • Data centre economic zones and parks:   The central government will set up at least four data centre economic zones in the country as a central sector scheme.  States will be encouraged to demarcate land parcels with necessary infrastructures such as road, power, and high capacity internet connectivity for setting up data centre parks.
     
  • Data Centre Incentivisation Scheme: A scheme will be formulated by the central government to provide fiscal and non-fiscal incentives for promotion of data centres.  Incentives will also be provided for usage of hardware and other equipment manufactured in India.
     
  • Institutional mechanism: An Inter-Ministerial Empowered Committee will be set up under the chairmanship of the secretary of the MEITY. The committee will be the key decision-making body for the effective implementation of the policy.  A Data Centre Facilitation Unit will be set up within the Ministry as the nodal agency to work under the Committee and support the implementation of its decisions.

 

Communications

Saket Surya (saket@prsindia.org)

New guidelines for other service providers released

The Department of Telecommunications (DoT) released new guidelines for Other Service Providers (OSPs).[46]  The new guidelines seek to reduce the compliance burden for the Business Process Outsourcing (BPO) and IT-enabled services industry.[47]  It replaces the guidelines issued in August 2008.[48]  Key features of the new guidelines are:

  • Definition of OSPs: Earlier, the OSPs were defined as companies providing application services including tele-banking, telecommerce, call centre, and other IT-enabled services, by using telecom resources provided by authorised telecom service providers.48,[49]   The new guidelines define OSPs as companies providing voice-based business process outsourcing (BPO) services.   Hence, as per the new guidelines, BPOs engaged in data-related work will be out of the ambit of OSP regulations.
     
  • Registration of OSPs: As per the earlier guidelines, OSPs were required to register with the DoT for offering services in the country. The new guidelines remove the requirement for registration.
     
  • Work from home facility: OSPs may employ persons who work from home. Earlier, OSPs were required to seek permission from DoT and provide a bank guarantee for extending the work from home facility. The new guidelines remove these requirements for extending work from home facility.
     
  • Sharing of infrastructure: Earlier, sharing of infrastructure between domestic and international OSPs was permitted with prior approval from DoT.  The sharing was allowed only between entities of the same company.  The OSPs were required to provide a bank guarantee for this purpose.   The new guidelines allow the sharing of infrastructure between domestic and international OSPs. No bank guarantee will be required for this purpose.

 

Road Transport

Prachee Mishra (prachee@prsindia.org)

Guidelines for taxi aggregators released

The Ministry of Road Transport and Highways released the Vehicle Aggregator Guidelines 2020 as per the Motor Vehicles (Amendment) Act, 2019.[50],[51]  The Act defines aggregators as digital intermediaries or market places which can be used by passengers to connect with a driver for transportation purposes (taxi services).  Aggregators must obtain licenses from the state government to operate.   State governments may regulate aggregators based on the guidelines issued by the central government.   

The guidelines seek to regulate shared mobility, reduce traffic congestion and pollution, and provide ease of doing business, customer safety, and driver welfare.  Key features of the guidelines include:

  • Eligibility:  An applicant must be registered as a company under the Companies Act, 2013, or a co-operative society under the Co-operative Societies Act, 1912.  They must also have an office registered in India.
     
  • Licensing:  License issued to aggregators will be valid for five years after which they will be renewed by the Competent Authority.  Licenses may be cancelled by the Authority if the aggregator does not comply with these guidelines.  The Authority will update the list of licenses on the state transport authority’s portal.  
     
  • Driver guidelines:  Applicants will also have to comply with various guidelines with regard to the drivers including: (i) testing their driving ability as per prescribed guidelines (such as familiarity with the Motor Vehicles Act, 1988, gender sensitisation), (ii) ensuring a valid ID proof and driver’s license, (iii) police verification, and (iv) ensuring a health and term insurance for each driver as specified.   
     
  • Vehicle compliance:  Applicants will have to ensure compliances with regard to the vehicles such as: (i) valid registration, permits and fitness certificate, (ii) valid third-party insurance, (iii) compliance with fuel norms, (iv) payment of applicable taxes, and (iv) enabled manual override of central locking system. 
     
  • Fare regulation:  The base fare will be the city taxi fare indexed by WPI for the current year.  The aggregator will be allowed to charge a fare 50% lower than the base fare and maximum surge pricing of 1.5 times the base fare.  A driver must receive at least 80% of the fare charged on a ride.  

FASTags made mandatory for vehicles sold before 2017

The Ministry of Road Transport and Highways notified that from January 1, 2021, FASTag will be mandatory for vehicles that were sold before 2017.[52]  Further, a valid FASTag will be mandatory when getting a new third-party insurance.   FASTag is an electronic toll collection system operated by the National Highway Authority of India.  It was made mandatory for registration of new four-wheeler vehicles in 2017.  

Ministry of Road Transport releases several draft rules

The Ministry of Road Transport and Highways released several draft rules amending the Central Motor Vehicles Rules, 1989.  Key features of these draft rules include:

Vintage motor vehicles:  Currently there are no rules to regulate the registration process of vehicles of heritage value.  The draft Rules define vintage motor vehicles as all those vehicles (two-wheelers and four-wheelers used for non-commercial/personal use), and are more than 50 years old from the date of their first registration (including imported vehicles).  The vehicle should not have undergone any substantial overhaul.[53]  

The state government will appoint a Vintage Motor Vehicles State/ Union Territory Committee which will finalise all decisions regarding approval or rejection of vintage motor vehicles.  The state will appoint a nodal officer to process all applications for registration of such vehicles.  Sale and purchase of such registered vehicles will be permitted if the buyer and seller inform respective State Transport Authority and registration under the new owner’s name would be recorded.  A vintage motor vehicle will be allowed to run on Indian roads only for certain things such as display, technical research, taking part in a vintage car rally, and refueling and maintenance.

Registering nominees of motor vehicle owners:  The draft Rules provide for the motor vehicle owner to nominate a person when registering a vehicle.  This seeks to help the motor vehicle to be registered or transferred in the name of the nominee, in case of the death of the owner of the vehicle.[54]

 

Housing and Urban Affairs

Prachee Mishra (prachee@prsindia.org)

Report of revenue neutral approach to lower Stamp Duty and Registration Charges for affordable housing released

The Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs released a report on the impact of changes in stamp duty and registration charges on registration property.[55]  This report seeks to provide a rationale for states to lower their stamp duty and registration charges especially for low value housing without compromising their overall revenues from these taxes.  Key findings in the report include:

  • Housing for All:  The policy aims to provide housing to all citizens by 2022.  Under this policy, the government seeks to increase housing supply by incentivising private developers.  However, the policy does not address the issue of high real estate prices directly.  One of the key reasons for high housing prices is the high stamp duty and registration charges levied by state governments at the time of a transaction.
      
  • Stamp duty and registration:  While these tax rates have declines over the past few years, they are still high, and range from 5-13% of the property value.  However, since these taxes generate significant revenue for the state governments (around 7%), they are reluctant to lower these taxes which would lower the effective cost of buying a house.  In comparison other countries (UK, Japan, Germany) have lower stamp duty rates. 
     
  • Issues:   High stamp duty incentivises under-reporting of transactions and tax evasion.  Under-reporting has several consequences such as: (i) inability to fully collateralise land and property, (ii) loss in government revenue, (iii) growth in black money transactions, and (iv) market becoming susceptible to price bubbles.  Circle rates or Guidance Values were instituted to curb such under-reporting however they have not been successful.
     
  • Revenue neutral approach:  The report suggests that states could remain revenue neutral (or even increase revenues) if they lower stamp duties for low value housing.  Any revenue lost by lowering taxes would be compensated by additional tax revenues that the new housing stock created under Housing for All would yield.  Lowering taxes could spur demand that would bring in additional supply even without the housing policy.  It proposes that stamp duties for low value housing are either reduced or removed completely, while duties for higher value housing remain as before.  

 

Civil Aviation

Aditya Kumar (aditya@prsindia.org)

Operation of air transport services from certain defence aerodromes re-authorised

The Ministry of Civil Aviation re-authorised the operation of air transport services from certain defence aerodromes till June 30, 2021.[56]  These aerodromes are defence aerodromes which have not been approved by Director General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) as a regular place of landing and departure for any passenger or cargo aircraft.  Earlier, air transport services from such aerodromes were allowed till June 30, 2020.[57]

Comments invited on draft national unmanned aircraft system traffic management policy

The Ministry of Civil Aviation released the draft national unmanned aircraft system traffic management (UTM) policy.[58]  The policy is aimed at creating a separate safe ecosystem for unmanned aircraft operations in low-level airspace (within 1,000 feet above ground level).  The policy identifies 11 UTM operational scenarios.   These scenarios include: (i) testing or recreational purposes, (ii) flying within and beyond visual line of sight, (iii) flying in no-fly zones, and (iv) night operations.  The policy also provides for a framework to subsequently integrate UTM with existing aircraft traffic.  

Airports Authority of India (AAI) will be the nodal agency for regulating the operations on behalf of Director General of Civil Aviation (DGCA).  AAI will be responsible to ensure compliance of operations to various standards acceptable by DGCA.

Data security and privacy of unmanned aircraft systems will be governed by the proposed Personal Data Protection Act.  The policy recommends all software and hardware systems to be hosted in India.

Further, the policy provides for details on several aspects of the ecosystem including: (i) safety risk management, (ii) hazard risk management, (iii) operational risk management, and (iv) real-time identification and tracking.

 

Power

Aditya Kumar (aditya@prsindia.org)

Guidelines for a competitive bidding process for procurement of round the clock power from mixed sources amended 

The Ministry of Power amended the guidelines for the tariff-based competitive bidding process for procurement of round-the-clock (RTC) power from renewable energy (RE) sources, complemented with power from coal-based thermal power sources.[59]  The guidelines were released in July 2020 to facilitate bundling of renewable energy with thermal sources of energy to address the intermittent nature of renewable energy.[60]  The amendments enable bundling of renewable energy with any source of energy.  This will facilitate availability of cheap energy for RTC procurement.  The key amendments include the following:

  • Bidding parameter: As per earlier provisions, the composite tariff (tariff for renewable energy complimented with any other source of energy) was the parameter for bid evaluation.  The amendments specify weighted average levelized tariff per unit supply of RTC power as the parameter for bid evaluation.  The weighted average levelized tariff is the tariff determined by considering the proportion of energy from RE sources and non-RE sources as specified in the power purchase agreement (PPA).  It will include: (i) fixed component of RE power and non-RE power (such as investment on equipment and infrastructure).  The fixed component of tariff is required to be quoted in each year of the duration of PPA.  The variable component is required to be quoted as on the scheduled date of commissioning.
     
  • Penalty for shortfall in power availability: The guidelines released in July 2020 specified that:(i) annually at least 51% of power must come from renewable sources, and (ii) the renewable power generator is required to ensure at least 85% availability of power annually and during the peak hours.  In case these targets are not achieved, the power generators were subject to a penalty of 25% of the cost of this shortfall in energy terms (calculated at the maximum composite tariff payable during the year).  The amendments increase the penalty to 400% of the cost of this shortfall in energy terms, calculated at the applicable tariff payable during the year.
     
  • Peak hours: Currently, peak hours are defined as four hours a day during either evening or morning as mentioned in the bidding documents by the procurer.  As per the amendments, the peak hours will be four hours a day as defined by the regional load despatch centres.  

Equity lock-in period for selection of transmission service provider for interstate transmission system amended

The Ministry of Power amended the equity lock in period specified in the standard bidding documents for selecting transmission service provider through tariff-based competitive bidding process to establish inter-state transmission system.[61]

As per earlier provision, the selected bidder was required to hold at least 51% paid up equity share capital for two years after the commercial operation date and 26% for a period of three years thereafter.   The amendments specify that the selected bidder is required to hold at least 51% paid up equity share capital only for one year after the commercial operation date.  

In case of a consortium of bidders for Request for Proposals, the consortium was required to hold an aggregate equity share capital of 51% for two years after commercial operating date with lead member having 26% of shareholding for five years after commercial operation date.   The amendments now require the consortium to hold aggregate equity share capital of 51% for one year after commercial operating date with the lead member having 26% of shareholding for one year after the commercial operation date of the project.  

PM-KUSUM scheme targets revised

The Ministry of New and Renewable Energy revised the targets of Pradhan Mantri Kisan Urja Suraksha evam Utthaan Mahaabhiyaan (PM-KUSUM) scheme.[62]  The scheme was launched in March 2019 for solarisation of agriculture pumps.  The scheme planned to add solar and other renewable capacity of 25.8 GW by 2022 with total financial support of Rs 34,422 crore.[63]   The scheme is being expanded to achieve 30.8 GW of enhanced solar capacity by 2022 with revised financial support of Rs 34,035 crore from the central government.  

The scheme is divided into three components – A, B, and C.  As per earlier target, component A was aimed at achieving 10,000 MW of decentralised ground mounted grid-connected solar power plants of individual plant size of 2 MW.   Component B was aimed at installation of 17.5 lakh standalone solar powered agricultural pumps of individual capacity up to 7.5 HP.  Component C was aimed at solarisation of 10 lakh grid-connected agricultural pumps of individual pump capacity up to 7.5 HP.63  While there is no change in the target under Component A, under the revised scheme,: (i) the installation target under Component B has been increased from 17.5 lakh pumps to 20 lakh pumps, and (ii) solarisation target under Component C has been increased from 10 lakh pumps to 15 lakh pumps.

 

 

[1]Ministry of Health and Family Welfare website, last accessed on November 1, 2020, https://www.mohfw.gov.in/index.html.

[2] Order No. 40-3/2020-DM-I(A), Ministry of Home Affairs, March 24, 2020, https://www.mha.gov.in/sites/default/files/MHAorder%20copy.pdf

[3] Order No. 40-3/2020-DM-I(A), Ministry of Home Affairs, November 25, 2020, https://www.mha.gov.in/sites/default/files/MHAOrder25112020.pdf.

[4] Atmanirbhar Package 3.0, Ministry of Finance, November 12, 2020, https://static.pib.gov.in/WriteReadData/userfiles/MOF.pdf

[5] Presentation made by Union Finance & Corporate Affairs Minister Smt. Nirmala Sitharaman under Aatmanirbhar Bharat Abhiyaan to support Indian economy in fight against COVID-19, Ministry of Finance, May 13, 2020,

https://static.pib.gov.in/WriteReadData/userfiles/Aatmanirbhar%20Presentation%20Part-1%20Business%20including%20MSMEs%2013-5-2020.pdf

[6] “Government extends Emergency Credit Line Guarantee Scheme by one month”, Press Information Bureau, Ministry of Finance, November 2, 2020. 

[7] “Extension of Emergency Credit Line Guarantee Scheme through ECLGS 2.0 for the 26 sectors identified by the Kamath Committee and the healthcare sector”, Press Information Bureau, Ministry of Finance, November 26, 2020. 

[8] Report of the Expert Committee on Resolution Framework for COVID-related Stress, Reserve Bank of India, September 4, 2020,

https://rbidocs.rbi.org.in/rdocs/PublicationReport/Pdfs/EXPERTCOMMITTEED58A96778C5E4799AE0E3FCC13DC67F2.PDF

[9] “UGC Guidelines for reopening the universities and colleges post lockdown due to COVID-19 pandemic”, University Grants Commission, November 5, 2020, https://www.ugc.ac.in/pdfnews/4423963_UGC-Guidelines-for-Re-Opening-Universities-Colleges.pdf.

[10] Report no. 123, “The outbreak of the pandemic COVID-19 and its management”, Standing Committee on Health and Family Welfare, November 21, 2020.

[11] “F. No. PA/85/2020-CPMU C No 85941, Ministry of Women and Child Development, November 11, 2020, https://wcd.nic.in/sites/default/files/AWC%20services%20continuation_0.pdf

[12] No.2 (10)/2020-CLeS, Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology, May 11, 2020, https://www.meity.gov.in/writereaddata/files/Aarogya_Setu_data_access_knowledge_Protocol.pdf

[13] No.2 (10)/2020-CLeS, Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology, November 10, 2020, https://www.meity.gov.in/writereaddata/files/Order_Aarogya_Setu10112020.pdf

[14] “Backend Code of Aarogya Setu released in Open Domain”, Press Information Bureau, Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology, November 20, 2020. 

[15] “AarogyaSetu is now open source”, Press Information Bureau, Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology, May 26, 2020.

[16] “Estimates of Gross Domestic Product for the Second Quarter (July-September) 2020-2021”Press Release, Central Statistics Office, Ministry of Statistics and Programme Implementation, November 27, 2020, https://www.mospi.gov.in/documents/213904/416359//PRESS_NOTE-Q2_2020-211606480008567.pdf/f2b98a11-a06d-8b6f-6f37-621f33ca8f25

[17] Report of the Internal Working Group to Review Extant Ownership Guidelines and Corporate Structure for Indian Private Sector Banks, November 2020, https://rbidocs.rbi.org.in/rdocs//PublicationReport/Pdfs/IWG988615AAEB4A42729542102111DCA5FC.PDF

[18]“Cabinet approves Continuation and Revamping of the Scheme for Financial Support to Public Private Partnerships in Infrastructure Viability Gap Funding VGF Scheme”, Press Information Bureau, Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs, November 11, 2020.

[19]“IFSC International Retail Business Development Committee presented the final report to IFSCA”, Press Information Bureau, Ministry of Finance, November 11, 2020, https://pib.gov.in/Pressreleaseshare.aspx?PRID=1672000

[20] International Financial Services Centre (IFSC) International Retail Business Development Committee, November 2020,  https://ifsca.gov.in/Viewer/ReportandPublication/1

[21]“Setting up of IFSC Banking Units (IBUs), Reserve Bank of India, April 1, 2015, https://rbidocs.rbi.org.in/rdocs/notification/PDFs/FNIBU010415CIRN.PDF

[22]Liberalised Remittance Scheme, FAQs, Reserve Bank of India, https://m.rbi.org.in/Scripts/FAQView.aspx?Id=115

[23]The International Financial Services Centres Authority (Banking) Regulations, 2020, http://egazette.nic.in/WriteReadData/2020/223204.pdf.

[24] Insurance Regulatory and Development Authority of India {Registration and Operations of International Financial Service Centre Insurance Offices(IIO)} Guidelines, 2017, https://ifsca.gov.in/Viewer/Index/91

[27] Madras Bar Association vs Union of India & Anr., Civil Writ Petition No. 804 of 2020, November 27, 2020, https://main.sci.gov.in/supremecourt/2020/16100/16100_2020_35_1501_24869_Judgement_27-Nov-2020.pdf

[28] Notification No. G.S.R. 109(E) - The  Tribunal, Appellate Tribunal and other Authorities (Qualifications, Experience and other Conditions of Service of Members) Rules, 2020, Ministry of Finance, February, 12, 2020, http://egazette.nic.in/WriteReadData/2020/216109.pdf

[29] Rojer Mathew vs South Indian Bank Ltd. & Ors., Civil Appeal No. 8588 of 2019, November 13, 2019, https://main.sci.gov.in/supremecourt/2017/9680/9680_2017_1_1501_18247_Judgement_13-Nov-2019.pdf

[30] G.S.R. 695(E), Notification, Ministry of Home Affairs, The Gazette of India, November 10, 2020, http://egazette.nic.in/WriteReadData/2020/223040.pdf.

[31] The Foreign Contribution (Regulation) Act, 2010, http://legislative.gov.in/sites/default/files/A2010-42.pdf.

[32]The Occupational Safety, Health and Working Conditions (Central) Rules, 2020, https://labour.gov.in/sites/default/files/OSH_Rules.pdf

[34]G.S.R. 684(E), Gazette of India, Ministry of Labour and Employment, October 29, 2020, http://www.egazette.nic.in/WriteReadData/2020/222829.pdf

[35]The Industrial Relations Code, 2020, http://egazette.nic.in/WriteReadData/2020/222118.pdf

[36] F. No. 4-90/2018-P.G. Regulation (Ayurved), “Indian Medicine Central Council (Post Graduate Ayurveda Education) Amendment Regulations, 2020”, Central Council of Indian Medicine, November 19, 2020, https://www.ccimindia.org/latestupdate/223208-website.pdf.

[37] “Government of India blocks 43 mobile apps from accessing by users in India” Press Information Bureau, Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology, November 24, 2020.

[38] “Government Bans 59 mobile apps which are prejudicial to sovereignty and integrity of India, defence of India, security of state and public order”, Press Information Bureau, Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology, June 29, 2020.

[39] “Government Blocks 118 mobile apps which are prejudicial to sovereignty and integrity of India, defence of India, security of state and public order”, Press Information Bureau, Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology, September 2, 2020.

[40] “Constitution of a Committee to review ‘guidelines on Television Rating Agencies in India’ notified by Ministry of Information & Broadcasting – Regarding”, Order No. 3601 1 I 1312020-BP&L, November 2020, Ministry of Information and Broadcasting, https://mib.gov.in/sites/default/files/Constitution of a Committee to review TRP.pdf.

[41] “Policy Guidelines for Television Rating Agencies in India, January 2014, Ministry of Information and Broadcasting, https://mib.gov.in/sites/default/files/TRP_Guidelines_16.01.2014_0.pdf.

[42] “Recommendations on Review of Television Audience Measurement and Rating System in India”, Telecom Regulatory Authority of India, April 28, 2020, https://trai.gov.in/sites/default/files/Recommendation_28042 020_0.pdf.

[43] S.O. 4040(E), Notification, Cabinet Secretariat, The Gazette of India, November 9, 2020, http://egazette.nic.in/WriteReadData/2020/223032.pdf.

[44] The Government of India (Allocation of Business) Rules, 1961, Cabinet Secretariat, https://cabsec.gov.in/writereaddata/allocationbusinessrule/completeaobrules/english/1_Upload_2603.pdf.

[45] “Draft Data Centre Policy 2020”, Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology, November 5, 2020, http://meity.gov.in/content/commentssuggestions-draft-data-centre-policy.

[46] No. 18-8/2020-CS-I, Department of Telecommunications, November 5, 2020, https://dot.gov.in/sites/default/files/2020_11_05%20OSP%20CS.pdf

[47] “Massive encouragement for ‘Other Service Provider’ Industry in BPO and ITeS Sectors; Liberalized Guidelines issued by Government of India”, Press Information Bureau, Ministry of Communications, November 5, 2020.

[48]  No.18- 2/2008-CS-I, Department of Telecommunications, August 5, 2008, https://dot.gov.in/sites/default/files/2016_11_03%20OSP-CS.pdf?download=1.

[49] “Recommendations on Review of Terms and Conditions for registration of Other Service Providers (OSPs)”, Telecom Regulatory Authority of India, October 21, 2019, https://trai.gov.in/sites/default/files/Recommendation_21102019.pdf

[50] “Motor Vehicle Aggregator Guidelines issued to regulate shared mobility and reducing traffic congestion and pollution”, Press Information Bureau, Ministry of Road Transport and Highways, November 27, 2020. 

[51] Motor Vehicles Aggregator Guidelines, Ministry of Road Transport and Highways, November 27, 2020, https://morth.nic.in/sites/default/files/notifications_document/Motor%20Vehicle%20Aggregators27112020150046.pdf

[52] G.S.R.690(E), Ministry of Road Transport and Highways, November 6, 2020, http://egazette.nic.in/WriteReadData/2020/222985.pdf

[53] “Public comments invited for proposed rules on registering vintage vehicles”, Press Information Bureau, Ministry of Road Transport and Highways, November 26, 2020; G.S.R.734(E), Ministry of Road Transport and Highways, November 25, 2020, http://egazette.nic.in/WriteReadData/2020/223346.pdf

[54] Public suggestions invited for notifying rules for registering nominees of motor vehicle owners”, Press Information Bureau, Ministry of Road Transport and Highways, November 26, 2020; G.S.R. 739(E), Ministry of Road Transport and Highways, November 25, 2020, http://egazette.nic.in/WriteReadData/2020/223347.pdf

[55] A Revenue Neutral Approach to Lower Stamp Duty and Registration Charges for Affordable Housing, Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs, September 2020, http://mohua.gov.in/upload/uploadfiles/files/Revenure-Neutral-Approach-to-Lower-Stamp-Duty-and-Registration-Charges-for-Affordable-Housing.pdf.  

[56] Notification No. AV-11012/4/2005-A, Ministry of Civil Aviation, October 29, 2020, http://egazette.nic.in/WriteReadData/2020/223014.pdf.

[57] Notification No. AV-11012/4/2005-A, Ministry of Civil Aviation, September 17, 2019, http://egazette.nic.in/WriteReadData/2019/212697.pdf

[58] Discussion draft: National Unmanned Aircraft System Traffic Management Policy – version 1.0, Ministry of Civil Aviation, November 30, 2020, https://www.civilaviation.gov.in/sites/default/files/National-UTM-Policy-Discussion-Draft-30-Nov-2020-updated.pdf.

[59] Gazette Resolution No. 23/05/2020-R&R.-1.0, Ministry of Power, November 3, 2020, New Delhi, http://egazette.nic.in/WriteReadData/2020/222946.pdf

[60] Resolution No. 23/05/2020-R&R, Ministry of Power, July 22, 2020, https://powermin.nic.in/sites/default/files/webform/notices/Notification_dated_22_July_2020.pdf

[61]No. 15/1/2017-Trans. (Part 3), Ministry of Power, November 5, 2020, https://powermin.nic.in/sites/default/files/webform/notices/Amendment_in_Equity_lock_in_period.pdf.  

[62]Order No. 32/645/2017-SPV Division – “Scale-up and expansion of Pradhan Mantri Urja Suraksha evam Utthaan Mahaabhiyaan (PM-KUSUM), Ministry of New and Renewable Energy, November 4, 2020, https://mnre.gov.in/img/documents/uploads/file_f-1604916951612.pdf

[63]Pradhan Mantri Urja Suraksha evam Utthaan Mahaabhiyaan (PM-KUSUM), Ministry of New and Renewable Energy, https://mnre.gov.in/solar/schemes/

 

DISCLAIMER: This document is being furnished to you for your information.  You may choose to reproduce or redistribute this report for non-commercial purposes in part or in full to any other person with due acknowledgement of PRS Legislative Research (“PRS”).  The opinions expressed herein are entirely those of the author(s).  PRS makes every effort to use reliable and comprehensive information, but PRS does not represent that the contents of the report are accurate or complete.  PRS is an independent, not-for-profit group.  This document has been prepared without regard to the objectives or opinions of those who may receive it.

Highlights of this Issue

Parliamentary Standing Committees identify subjects for examination in 2020-21

Some of the subjects for this year include status of COVID-19 vaccine production in India, management of COVID-19 pandemic, various central government schemes, and social security and welfare measures for migrant workers.

Ordinance issued to set up a commission for air quality management in NCR

The Commission will aim at better co-ordination, research, identification, and resolution of problems related to air quality in National Capital Region and adjoining areas in states of Haryana, Punjab, Rajasthan, and Uttar Pradesh.

National lockdown extended till November 30 with additional relaxations

Most rules have been extended.  Standard operating procedures for cinema halls and business exhibitions include staggered timings and distancing norms.  Requirements for international travel for OCIs/ PIOs have been relaxed.

Measures to increase consumer spending and capital expenditure were announced

Government employees will be given cash vouchers in lieu of their leave travel benefits.  To increase capital expenditure, the government will spend Rs 25,000 crore and lend Rs 12,000 crore to states as interest-free loan. 

RBI announces additional measures to increase liquidity and credit flow

RBI will conduct open market operations in state government bonds to improve liquidity for these bonds.  RBI revised norms to reduce the cost of credit for banks for exposures to individuals and small businesses.

Consumer Price Index inflation was 6.9% in the second quarter of 2020-21

CPI inflation increased from 6.7% in July to 7.3% in September 2020.  Food inflation increased from 9.3% to 10.7% between July and September.  WPI inflation increased from -0.2% to 1.3% in this period.

Central government revises its borrowing plan to meet GST compensation shortfall

The central government will borrow Rs 1.1 lakh crore in 2020-21 to meet the shortfall in GST compensation cess collections.  This amount will be passed on to states as back-to-back loans in lieu of their GST compensation grants.

Notifications issued to apply certain central and state laws to Jammu and Kashmir

The central laws include application of various labour laws (such as the Factories Act, 1948 and Industrial Disputes Act, 1947).  The state laws include amendments which allow non-residents to purchase land in Jammu and Kashmir.

Draft Model Tenancy Act, 2020 released for public comments

The draft states that a written tenancy agreement must be delivered to the Rent Authority.  It caps security deposit for non-commercial use at two months’ rent and places restrictions on sub-letting.

Draft Rules under Industrial Relations Code, 2020 released for public comments

The draft Rules will apply to all central sphere establishments.  It sets out the notice period for applying to the government for permission to lay off or retrench workers.  It also sets up a re-skilling fund for retrenched workers.

Amendments to Central Motor Vehicle Rules, 1989 released

The rules detail protection for a good samaritan, i.e., a person who helps an accident victim.  They also require incorporation of ownership category in vehicle registration documents.

Strengthening Teaching-Learning and Results for States project approved

The Union Cabinet approved the STARS project which aims to improve the quality of education in the country.  It will focus on six states, namely Himachal Pradesh, Kerala, Odisha, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, and Rajasthan.

 

Parliament

Suyash Tiwari (suyash@prsindia.org)

Standing Committees identify subjects for examination during 2020-21

Fourteen of the 24 Departmentally Related Standing Committees of Parliament have identified subjects for detailed examination during the year 2020-21.  The subjects chosen by these Committees are listed in the Annexure.

 

COVID-19

As of November 1, 2020, there were 81,84,082 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in India.[1]   Of these, 74,91,513 had been cured/ discharged and 1,22,111 persons had died.1  For details on the number of daily cases in the country and across states, please see here.

The central government has announced several policy decisions to contain the spread of the disease, and financial measures to support citizens and businesses who would get affected.  For details on the major notifications released by the centre and the states, please see here.  Key announcements made in this regard in October 2020 are as follows.

Lockdown extended till November 30 with additional relaxations

Anya Bharat Ram (anya@prsindia.org)

To contain the spread of COVID-19, the National Disaster Management Authority had imposed a national lockdown in March.   Since then, the lockdown has been extended nine times, with the latest extension till November 30, 2020.  Key aspects of the extension include:[2]

  • Containment zones: The lockdown will continue to remain in force in containment zones.  In such zones, movement will only be permitted for medical emergencies and supply of essential goods and services.  States and union territories may not institute any lockdown outside the containment zones without adequate consultation with the central government.
     
  • Domestic travel: There will be no restrictions on inter-state and intra-state movements such as requirements for additional permits or approvals.
     
  • Restrictions on activities: In areas outside containment zones, most activities have resumed.  Activities that continue to operate with restrictions include metro rail, shopping malls, hotels and restaurants, religious places, gymnasiums, and cinemas.  Other restrictions include: (i) swimming pools may only be used for training sportspersons, (ii) exhibition halls may only be used for business to business purposes, (iii) cinemas and theatres may only function at 50% capacity, and (iv) congregations in closed spaces for social, religious, political, and other purposes must not exceed 50% hall capacity with a ceiling of 200 persons.
  •  
  • International travel:[3] Overseas Citizenship of India and Person of Indian Origin card holders, and all other foreign nationals can enter India through authorized airports and seaports, except on a tourist visa.  Further, all existing visas (except electronic visa, tourist visa, and medical visa) will be restored.  If such visas have expired, new visas can be obtained from the concerned Indian missions and posts.

Measures to increase consumer spending and capital expenditure were announced

Madhunika Iyer (madhunika@prsindia.org)

The Finance Minister, Ms. Nirmala Sitharaman, announced certain stimulus measures to increase consumer spending and capital expenditure in the year 2020-21.[4]  These measures are:

Consumer spending

  • LTC cash voucher scheme: Under the scheme, government employees will be provided cash voucher in lieu of their Leave Travel Concession (LTC) benefits.  Under LTC, government employees can claim: (i) reimbursement of the air or rail fare and (ii) leave encashment for up to 10 days.  They can claim LTC twice in a period of four years (current period ends on December 31, 2021).

Under this scheme, employees will be given cash voucher against one LTC (out of the two available for 2018-21) even when they are not travelling, provided they fulfil certain conditions.  These include: (i) voucher is used to buy goods or services worth the amount of the 10-day leave encashment plus three times the fare allowed to the employee, (ii) such spending is done before March 31, 2021, and (iii) the money is used to buy goods or services attracting a GST rate of 12% or more, using digital payment.

  • The scheme is available for central and state government employees and employees of public sector banks and undertakings.  The government estimates this scheme to create a demand of Rs 28,000 crore.  Private sector may offer the scheme where employees are eligible for LTC.  All employees will be eligible to claim income tax exemption on the amount received in the form of LTC fare through the cash voucher.[5]
     
  • Festival advance scheme: All central government employees will be eligible for an interest-free festival advance of Rs 10,000 in 2020-21, which can be repaid in up to 10 instalments.  This is estimated to generate a demand of Rs 8,000 crore (assuming half of the state governments also give the advance).

Capital expenditure

  • Additional budgetary allocation: The central government will increase spending for capital expenditure by Rs 25,000 crore (6.1% of the 2020-21 budget allocation for capital expenditure).   This amount will be spent on sectors such as roads, water supply, urban development and defence.
     
  • Interest-free loan to states: The government will provide an interest-free loan to states for their capital expenditure in 2020-21.  The loan can be repaid after 50 years and requires no intermediate debt servicing.   This loan will be in addition to the borrowing limits approved for states for the year 2020-21.
     
  • The government will provide Rs 10,000 crore to states through interest-free loans.  The share of different states will be as follows: (i) the eight north-eastern states will receive Rs 200 crore each, (ii) Himachal Pradesh and Uttarakhand will receive Rs 450 crore each, (iii) Rs 7,500 crore will be distributed among the remaining states as per their devolution share, as recommended by the 15th Finance Commission.  In addition, Rs 2,000 crore will be distributed as loans among states that implement at least three out of the four reforms specified under the Aatma Nirbhar Bharat Economic Package (i.e. one nation one ration card, ease of doing business, urban local body revenue, and power distribution).

RBI announces additional measures to increase liquidity and credit flow

Madhunika Iyer (madhunika@prsindia.org)

The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) announced measures to enhance liquidity support for financial markets and increase credit flow to ease stress caused by COVID-19.[6]  The measures announced by RBI include:

  • Liquidity: RBI will conduct on tap TLTRO (targeted long-term repurchase operations) for up to one lakh crore rupees, up to March 31, 2021.   Under the scheme, banks can borrow money for a period of three years at a floating interest rate linked to the repo rate.  Money availed under this scheme may either be (i) invested in bonds and other financial instruments, or (ii) used to extend loans to entities operating in certain sectors.   These sectors include agriculture, MSMEs (micro, small and medium enterprises), and drugs, pharmaceuticals, and healthcare.[7]  Investment in financial instruments must be incremental to the amount outstanding as on September 30, 2020.
     
  • RBI will conduct open market operations (OMOs) in state development loans (SDLs) as a special case for the financial year 2020-21.   SDLs are securities issued by the state governments.[8]  The OMO will be conducted for a basket of SDLs issued by various states.
     
  • Support for exports: In 2016, RBI introduced automated caution/ de-caution listing of exporters.[9]  Exporters would be caution listed if any shipping bill against them remains outstanding for more than two years.  Exporters on the caution list lose further access to certain kinds of credit.[10]  Once bills are realised, exporters will be automatically de-caution listed.  RBI may also caution/ de-caution list on recommendation by banks.  RBI will now discontinue automatic caution/ de-caution listing though such listing will continue on recommendation by banks.  This is expected to provide exporters flexibility in realisation of export proceeds, as caution listing will be done on a case by case basis.
     
  • Lower risk weight for retail exposures: Exposures (loans) usually carry a risk-weight of 100%, which indicates the extent of capital to be maintained.  A higher risk weight results in higher capital requirement, and hence higher cost of credit.  Exposures to individuals and small businesses of up to Rs 5 crore are eligible to be included in the regulatory retail portfolio, with a risk weight of 75%.[11]  RBI has increased the limit to Rs 7.5 crore.  This is expected to reduce the cost of credit for banks for such exposures.

Guidelines issued to provide relief to borrowers from compounding of interest

Suyash Tiwari (suyash@prsindia.org)

The Ministry of Finance issued guidelines to provide relief to borrowers from compounding of interest on their loans during the moratorium period, following the directions of the Supreme Court in this regard.[12],[13]  RBI had allowed lending institutions to grant a six-month moratorium (during March-August 2020) to borrowers on all payments due against their term loans, including interest payment.[14],[15]  Borrowers who opted for the moratorium and deferred payment of interest are required to pay an interest on the deferred interest payment.  To provide relief to borrowers from payment of ‘interest on interest’, in view of the COVID-19 pandemic, the government will make an ex-gratia payment to loan accounts of eligible borrowers through lending institutions.  The amount of payment will be equivalent to the difference between the compound interest and simple interest payable for the period March-August 2020 (interests to be calculated based on the loan amount outstanding as on February 29, 2020).   This payment will also be made to those borrowers who did not opt for the moratorium.

Borrowers having an aggregate outstanding amount of up to Rs 2 crore (across all loans and lending institutions) are eligible for the scheme.  The following kinds of loans will be taken into consideration for the scheme: (i) housing loans, (ii) education loans, (iii) consumer durable loans, (iv) automobile loans, (v) consumption loans, (vi) personal loans to professionals, (vii) loans to MSMEs (including cash credit and overdraft facilities), and (viii) credit card dues.  Loans that were Non-Performing Assets, as on February 29, 2020, will not be considered under the scheme.

Guidelines released for reopening of schools and coaching institutes

Anya Bharat Ram (anya@prsindia.org)

The Ministry of Education issued guidelines for reopening of schools and coaching institutes.[16]  As per the guidelines, states and union territories (UTs) may decide on the reopening of schools and coaching institutes after October 15, 2020 in a graded manner.  States and UTs should consult the respective school or institution management and decide based on the local situation.  Key aspects of the guidelines include:

  • Health and safety:  Health and safety precautions include: (i) disinfecting of all areas, (ii) schools to make their own standard operating procedures based on state guidelines, (iii) social distancing, (iv) wearing of masks at all times, and (v) flexible attendance and sick leave policy.
     
  • Delivery of education: States and UTs should facilitate learning while ensuring social distancing by: (i) requiring creation of an updated academic calendar, (ii) reintegrating students into schools, (iii) sensitising students to the pandemic, and (iv) using diverse teaching techniques that promote social distancing, such as peer teaching and learning, technology, and empowering family members to teach.

SOPs issued for exhibition of films

Prachi Kaur (prachi@prsindia.org)

The Ministry of Information and Broadcasting issued Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) for exhibition of films to prevent the spread of COVID-19.[17]  The SOPs include physical distancing and mandatory wearing of masks, thermal screening of staff and visitors on entry, staggered row exit, maximum occupancy of 50%, and staggering the show timings of different screens in multiplexes.  States may specify additional measures as per their field assessment.  Exhibition of films is not allowed in containment zones.

SOP issued for holding B2B trade exhibitions during COVID-19

Madhunika Iyer (madhunika@prsindia.org)

The Ministry of Commerce and Industry issued the SOP for holding business to business (B2B) trade exhibitions during COVID-19.[18]   Trade exhibitions are allowed to be held outside containment zones.  The SOP requires physical distancing, wearing masks, and mandatory use of Aarogya Setu app for attendees with smartphones.  The venue provider must ensure thermal screening and create an isolation centre.  The exhibition organizer must stagger the hours of exhibition, manage pre-registration, and keep a record of participants, and transfer suspected COVID-19 patients to the isolation centre.

Ministry of Commerce revises export policy for masks, sanitisers, and gloves

Madhunika Iyer (madhunika@prsindia.org)

The Ministry of Commerce and Industry revised the export policy for N95 masks, alcohol-based hand sanitisers, and gloves: [19],[20],[21]  

  • In January 2020, the export of N95 masks was prohibited.[22]   This restriction was partly eased in August 2020, allowing total export of up to 50 lakh units of N95 masks per month.[23]  The latest notification provides that N95 masks can be freely exported.
  • In March 2020, the export of all types of sanitisers was prohibited.[24]  The restrictions were partly eased in May and June 2020, making all, except alcohol-based sanitisers in disposer pumps, freely exportable.[25],[26]  The latest notification removes this restriction, making all sanitisers freely exportable.
     
  • In January 2020, the export of Nitrile gloves was prohibited.22 22 The latest notification revises the export policy for Nitrile gloves from prohibited to restricted.

Domestic air travel guidelines updated

Aditya Kumar (aditya@prsindia.org)

The Ministry of Civil Aviation issued updated guidelines for domestic air travel.[27]  Domestic civil flight operations were partially resumed with certain limitations in May 2020.[28]  Earlier, only those who did not test COVID-19 positive in the three weeks before the date of travel were allowed for domestic air travel.  The updated guidelines allow persons to travel as soon as they have recovered or tested COVID-19 negative.

Further, only one-third of the operations are presently permitted and airlines have to adhere to the fare limits prescribed by the Ministry.  These limitations were valid till November 24, 2020.[29],[30]  They have now been extended by three months till February 24, 2021.[31]

Environment Impact Assessment (EIA) notification 2006 amended

Aditya Kumar (aditya@prsindia.org)

The Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change amended the EIA Notification 2006 to extend the tenure of the State Environment Impact Assessment Authorities (SEIAA) and appraisal committees constituted for giving out prior environmental clearances under the Notification.[32]   The Notification is aimed at regulation of social and environment impact of various projects such as dams, mines, airports, and highways.  Certain specified categories of projects require prior environmental clearances from SEIAA on the recommendation of the appraisal committee.  SEIAA and appraisal committees are constituted by the central government for a fixed term of three years.  In May 2020, considering COVID-19 as an exceptional circumstance, the Ministry amended the EIA notification 2006 to allow six months extension in the tenure of the existing SEIAA and appraisal committees.  The amendments increase the period of extension in the tenure of SEIAA and appraisal committees from six months to twelve months.

 

Macroeconomic Development

Madhunika Iyer (madhunika@prsindia.org)

Consumer Price Index inflation was 6.9% in the second quarter of 2020-21

Consumer Price Index (CPI) inflation (base year 2011-12) was 6.9% in second quarter of 2020-21 (July to September 2020) over the corresponding period in 2019.[33]  Inflation was 3.4% in the second quarter of 2019-20 (corresponding quarter of the previous year) and 6.6% in the first quarter of 2020-21 (previous quarter).

Food inflation increased from 9.3% in July to 10.7% in September 2020, recording 9.7% for the second quarter of 2020-21.   This is higher than the inflation of 3.5% in the second quarter of 2019-20 and the inflation of 9.2% in the first quarter of 2020-21.

Wholesale Price Index (WPI) inflation was 0.4% in the second quarter of 2020-21, lower than the inflation of 0.9% in the second quarter of 2019-20 and higher than the inflation of -2.2% in the first quarter of 2020-21.[34]  

Figure 1: Monthly inflation in Q2 of 2020-21 (% change, year-on-year)

image

Sources: Ministry of Statistics and Programme Implementation; Ministry of Commerce and Industry; PRS.

Repo and reverse repo rates remain unchanged at 4% and 3.35% respectively

The Monetary Policy Committee (MPC) released the bi-monthly Monetary Policy Statement.[35]  The policy repo rate (the rate at which RBI lends money to banks) remained unchanged at 4%.  Other decisions of the MPC include the following:

  • The reverse repo rate (the rate at which RBI borrows money from banks) remained unchanged at 3.35%.
     
  • The marginal standing facility rate (the rate at which banks can borrow additional money) and the bank rate (the rate at which the RBI buys bills of exchange) also remained unchanged at 4.25%.
     
  • The MPC decided to maintain an accommodative stance of monetary policy to revive economic growth and mitigate the impact of COVID-19 on the economy.

 

Finance

Central government revises its borrowing plan to meet GST compensation shortfall

Suyash Tiwari (suyash@prsindia.org)

The central government revised its borrowing plan for 2020-21 to meet the shortfall arising in GST compensation cess collections during the year.[36]  Under the GST (Compensation to States) Act, 2017, the central government is required to pay compensation to states if their GST revenue growth is less than 14% in any year during the period July 2017-June 2022.  To generate funds for this purpose, the Act provides for the levy of GST compensation cess on certain luxury and sin goods, such as cigarettes, tobacco products, pan masala, coal, and certain passenger vehicles and beverages.   In 2020-21, the cess collection is expected to be lower than the compensation requirement of states for the year, resulting in a shortfall of nearly Rs 2.3 lakh crore.[37]   Of the total shortfall, the central government has proposed an additional borrowing of Rs 1.1 lakh crore in 2020-21 to meet the shortfall related to ‘GST implementation’.  The remaining shortfall will be paid to states after June 2022 from future cess collections.  The repayment of Rs 1.1 lakh crore borrowing and the interest payment on it will also be through future cess collections.  To enable this, the GST Council has recommended the central government to extend the levy of the compensation cess beyond June 2022 for such period as may be required to meet the shortfall.[38]

The borrowing of Rs 1.1 lakh crore done by the central government will be passed on to states (which agree to borrow through this mechanism) as back-to-back loans in lieu of their GST compensation grants.  The amount borrowed by states will increase their fiscal deficit, but will not be counted within the fiscal deficit limit of 5% of GSDP approved for states for 2020-21.

The borrowing of Rs 1.1 lakh crore increases the central government’s gross market borrowing target for 2020-21 by 9.2% to Rs 13.1 lakh crore.   The central government has stated that this additional borrowing will not have any impact on its fiscal deficit or the debt of the general government (i.e. central and state governments).

Report of the Committee on Standalone Microinsurance Company was submitted

Madhunika Iyer (madhunika@prsindia.org)

The Committee on Standalone Microinsurance Company (Chair: Ms. Mirai Chatterjee) submitted its report to the Insurance Regulatory and Development Authority of India (IRDAI).[39]  Microinsurance is a mechanism to protect low-income individuals against risks such as death, accident, illness, and natural disasters.  Key recommendations include:

  • Standalone microinsurance company: The Committee noted the inadequacy of existing insurance companies to undertake microinsurance business effectively due to high transaction cost and low average premium.   It recommended that standalone microinsurance companies should be set up.
     
  • Regulatory framework: Insurance business is regulated under the Insurance Act, 1938.  The Committee recommended that the Act be amended to include a chapter on microinsurance and define related terms.  The Committee noted that this can also create an enabling regulatory environment for growth of NGOs and co-operatives currently offering microinsurance products.
     
  • Minimum capital requirement: The Insurance Act, 1938 provides for a minimum capital of Rs 100 crore to operate an insurance business.  The Committee recommended reducing this limit to Rs 20 crore or less for microinsurance companies.
     
  • Scope of business: The Committee recommended that microinsurance companies should be allowed to offer both life and non-life insurance products.
     
  • Risk-based capital framework: The Committee recommended that microinsurance companies should implement a risk-based capital framework.  Insurers will have to maintain capital based on the size and risk profile of their business.   Currently, insurers follow the factor-based solvency system where capital maintained is a fixed multiple of total liabilities.
     
  • Microinsurance development fund: The Committee recommended a fund be set-up with initial corpus of fifty crore rupees.  The fund may assist development of technical infrastructure, human resource training, and product development, among other functions, for microinsurance companies. 

Comments on the Report are invited till November 9, 2020.

IRDAI constituted a Working Group to study Cyber Liability Insurance

Madhunika Iyer (madhunika@prsindia.org)

IRDAI constituted a Working Group to study the need for a standard Cyber Liability Insurance product.[40]  Cyber liability insurance could provide cover against cyber-attacks and data breaches for individuals and establishments.  These may include identity theft, unauthorised transactions, malware intrusions, or cyber extortions.  These events are not covered by general liability insurance which covers bodily injury and property damage.

The Working Group will be headed by Mr. P. Umesh and will include eight other members.  The Terms of Reference for the Group include: (i) study statutory provisions on information and cyber security, (ii) evaluate critical legal issues in transactions in the cyber space, (iii) examine incidents involving cyber security and possible insurance coverage for those incidents, (iv) examine cyber liability insurance products currently available, and (v) recommend scope of cyber liability insurance.

The Group is required to submit its Report by December 19, 2020.

IFSCA introduces a framework for regulatory sandbox

Madhunika Iyer (madhunika@prsindia.org)

The International Financial Services Centres Authority (IFSCA) released a framework for a regulatory sandbox.[41]  A regulatory sandbox provides an environment that allows market participants to test new FinTech solutions (products, services, or business models) with customers in a controlled manner during a limited testing period.  Key features of the framework include:

  • Participation: Entities eligible to participate in the regulatory sandbox include: (i) entities registered with RBI, IRDAI, the Securities and Exchange Board of India, and the Pension Fund Regulatory and Development Authority, (ii) startups registered with Startup India, (iii) companies incorporated and registered in India, and (iv) companies incorporated and registered in jurisdictions compliant with the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) with operations based out of the International Financial Service Centre in India (GIFT City).  FATF is an inter-governmental body that sets standards to tackle money laundering and terror financing. 
     
  • Project eligibility: Applications to participate in the sandbox must demonstrate: (i) need for live testing, (ii) identifiable benefits to investors, entities, or the capital markets, (iii) safeguards against risk from testing the solution, and (iv) intention to deploy the solution on a broader scale. 
     
  • Exemption from regulations: Entities participating in the sandbox may be granted exemptions from compliance with certain regulations.  These could be a comprehensive exemption or on a case-by-case basis.  No exemptions would be granted from Know Your Customer (KYC) and Anti-Money Laundering rules. 
     
  • Testing: The entity must obtain informed consent from the user before inclusion in the testing.   Maximum duration of the testing will be 12 months, which may be extended upon request.  IFSCA may revoke approval to participate in the sandbox before the end of the testing period in certain situations.  These situations include: (i) the entity fails to implement methods to mitigate risk, and (ii) it undergoes liquidation, among others.

RBI issues directions for interoperability of QR code

Madhunika Iyer (madhunika@prsindia.org)

RBI issued directions for interoperability of the Quick Response (QR) code infrastructure for facilitating digital payments.[42]  This measure is among the recommendations from the Committee on the Analysis of QR Code which submitted its report in July 2020.[43]  QR code is a two-dimensional bar code that can be read by imaging devices such as smartphones.43  It facilitates digital payments without the need for point of sale terminals.  An interoperable QR code enables consumers to make payments using any payment app.   Without interoperability, QR codes of particular payment system operators (PSOs) can each be scanned only by an associated payment app.

As per RBI’s notification, two interoperable QR codes that are currently in existence, UPI QR and Bharat QR, will continue to operate.42  PSOs, such as certain mobile wallet providers, that use proprietary (non-interoperable) QR codes must shift to interoperable QR codes by March 31, 2022.  PSOs are not allowed to launch new proprietary (non-interoperable) QR codes.

 

Environment

Aditya Kumar (aditya@prsindia.org)

Ordinance issued to set up a commission for air quality management in NCR

The Commission for Air Quality Management in National Capital Region and Adjoining Areas Ordinance, 2020 was promulgated.[44]  The Ordinance establishes a Commission for better co-ordination, research, identification, and resolution of problems related to air quality in the national capital region (NCR) and adjoining areas.  Adjoining areas refers to areas in the states of Haryana, Punjab, Rajasthan, and Uttar Pradesh where any source of pollution may cause adverse impact on air quality in the NCR.  The key provisions of the Ordinance include:

  • Functions:  Functions of the Commission include: (i) coordinating actions taken under the Ordinance by the concerned state governments (Delhi, Haryana, Punjab, Rajasthan, and Uttar Pradesh), (ii) planning and executing plans to prevent and control air pollution in the region, (iii) conducting research and development through networking with technical institutions, (iv) training and creating a special work force to deal with issues related to air pollution, and (v) preparing various action plans such as increasing plantation and addressing stubble burning.
     
  • Powers:  Powers of the Commission include: (i) restricting activities influencing air quality, (ii) investigating and conducting research on air pollution, (iii) preparing codes and guidelines to prevent and control air pollution, and (iv) issuing directions which will be bounding on the concerned person or authority.   In case of any conflict, the orders of the Commission will prevail over the orders of the concerned state governments, the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB), or any other state-level statutory body.
  • Composition: The Commission will consist of: (i) a Chairperson, (ii) two Joint Secretaries from the central government, (iii) three persons with knowledge and expertise related to air pollution, and (iv) three members from non-government organisations.   Further, the Commission will include ex-officio members: (i) as members from the central government and concerned state governments, and (ii) as technical members from CPCB, the Indian Space Research Organisation, and NITI Aayog.  The Chairperson and members will have a tenure of three years or till the age of seventy years, whichever is earlier.
  • Penalties: Non-compliance with or violation of the Ordinance, and orders and directions of the Commission is punishable with imprisonment of up to five years or fine of up to one crore rupees or both.  All appeals against the orders of the Commission will be heard by the National Green Tribunal.

For a summary of the Ordinance, see here.

Environment (Protection) Amendment Rules, 2020 notified

The Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change notified the Environment (Protection) Amendment Rules, 2020.[45]   The Rules amend the Environment (Protection) Rules, 1986, which is aimed at regulating the environmental pollutants and emission standards.[46]  The 2020 Amendment Rules increase the particulate matter emission standard threshold of oxides of nitrogen (NOx) for thermal power plants (installed between January 1, 2003 and December 31, 2016) from 300 mg per normal cubic metre to 450 mg per normal cubic metre.

Hazardous and Other Wastes Amendment Rules, 2020 notified

The Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change notified the Hazardous and Other Wastes (Management and Transboundary Movement) Amendment Rules, 2020.[47]   It amends the 2016 Rules which provide a framework for hazardous waste management.[48]   Hazardous waste refers to any waste which may be dangerous for health or environment.  As per the 2016 Rules, workers involved in recycling, pre-processing, and other utilisation activities related to hazardous wastes were entitled to certain benefits including: (i) recognition and registration of workers, (ii) industrial skill development, and (iii) annual health and safety monitoring.   The 2020 Amendment Rules extend the scope of these benefits to include workers involved in generation, handling, collection, reception, treatment, transport, storage, reuse, disposal, and recovery of hazardous wastes.

Chemicals listed as hazardous under the Stockholm Convention banned

The Union Cabinet ratified ban of seven persistent organic pollutants (POPs) listed under the Stockholm Convention as chemicals hazardous to health and environment.[49]   The Stockholm Convention is a global treaty to protect human health and environment from POPs.  The exposure to POPs may: (i) lead to cancer, (ii) damage nervous system, (iii) harm immune system, (iv) cause reproductive disorders, and (v) impact child development.49

 

Labour and Employment

Roshni Sinha (roshni@prsindia.org)

Draft Rules under Industrial Relations Code, 2020 released for comments

The Ministry of Labour and Employment released the draft central rules under the Industrial Relations Code, 2020.[50],[51]  The draft Rules will apply to establishments which are under the control of the central government and will replace the previous central rules on these matters.  Key features of the draft Rules include:

  • Layoffs, retrenchment and closure:  Factories, mines, and plantations with 300 or more workers need to apply for prior permission before laying off or retrenching workers, or before closing an establishment.  The draft Rules provide that the application to the government must be made at least 15 days before the intended date of layoff, 60 days before the intended date of retrenchment, and 90 days before the intended date of closure.
     
  • National Tribunal:  The Code provides for the constitution of National Industrial Tribunals (consisting of a judicial and administrative member) for settling disputes which: (i) involve questions of national importance, or (ii) could impact establishments situated in more than one state.  The Rules specify the composition of the Selection Committees which will recommend members to the Tribunals.
     
  • The Committees will include: (i) the Chief Justice of India or a Supreme Court Judge nominated by him (as Chairperson), (ii) a sitting member of the other National Industrial Tribunal (which will either be a judicial or administrative member, depending on who is being appointed), and (iii) Secretaries in the Ministry of Labour and Employment and the Department for Promotion of Industry and Internal Trade.
     
  • Re-skilling fund:  The Code proposed a re-skilling fund which will consist of contributions, from employers, equal to 15 days (or as specified by the central government) of the last drawn wages of every retrenched worker.  The Rules provide that within 10 days of retrenchment, employers will be required to transfer 15 days’ wages into an account maintained by the government.  These funds will be transferred to workers within 45 days of receiving the amount from the employer.
     
  • Constitution of Works Committee:  The Code provides for the constitution of Works Committees in establishments with more than 100 employees to resolve conflicts between workers and employers.  The draft Rules state that the Works Committee will consist of up to 20 members.

Comments on the draft Rules are invited within 30 days of notification (from October 29, 2020).

Supreme Court strikes down exemption notification issued by the government of Gujarat under Factories Act, 1948

The Factories Act, 1948 regulates the safety, health, and welfare of workers in factories with at least 10 or 20 workers (based on use of power).  The Act enables the government to exempt any factory or class of factories from its provisions in the case of a ‘public emergency’.  ‘Public emergency’ is defined to include a ‘grave emergency’ which threatens the security of the state by way of war, external aggression, or internal disturbance.

In April 2020, the government of Gujarat issued notifications under the Act to exempt factories in the state from several provisions of the Act in view of the COVID-19 pandemic.[52]  These included: (i) increase in maximum weekly work hours from 48 hours to 72 hours, (ii) increase in maximum daily work hours from 9 hours to 12 hours, (iii) change in the mandatory rest periods from once every five hours to once every six hours, and (iv) revision in the formula for calculating overtime wages from twice the rate of wages to a rate which is proportionate to existing wages.  The notifications were valid from April 20, 2020 to October 19, 2020.  

These notifications were challenged before the Supreme Court.  The question before the Court was whether the COVID-19 pandemic and the consequent lockdown created a ‘public emergency’ as defined in the Act.  The Court noted the state’s argument that the pandemic created an economic slowdown and that the situation was on the “brink of an internal disturbance”.  However, the Court concluded that the slowdown did not affect the security of India or any part of its territory in a way that disturbed its peace and integrity.   Therefore, the Court struck down the notifications because the economic slowdown created by the pandemic did not qualify as an ‘internal disturbance’ that posed a ‘grave emergency’ and which threatened the security of the state.[53]

The Court also observed that the denial of humane working conditions and payment of overtime wages as provided by law constituted an affront to Articles 21 (right to life) and Article 23 (prohibition against forced labour) of the Constitution of India.  The Court further directed that overtime wages be paid to all workers who have been working since the date of the issuance of the notifications, at the original rate of double the ordinary wages.

CAG submitted performance audit report on the National Pension Scheme

The Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) submitted its performance audit report on the National Pension Scheme (NPS).[54]  The NPS is a contributions-based pension scheme mandatory for central government employees and their autonomous bodies (except armed forces).  State governments and their autonomous bodies also adopt the NPS architecture on different occasions for their employees.  The NPS is regulated by the Pension Fund Regulatory and Development Authority (PFRDA).  Key findings and recommendations of CAG include:

  • Planning:  CAG noted that: (i) the rules on service conditions and retirement benefits for employees covered by the NPS were still not finalised, and (ii) a Minimum Assured Returns Scheme was still not framed, to ensure that NPS subscribers receive minimum returns, in violation of the PFRDA Act, 2013.  CAG recommended taking remedial measures to finalise service rules and to provide a minimum assured returns scheme.   Further, it noted that there was no indication that actuarial evaluation of the fund/ scheme was conducted once in two years (recommended by a High-Level Expert Group) or that any other mechanism was adopted to assess its viability.
     
  • Implementation:  CAG noted that during the formulation of the scheme, no controls were established to ensure that 100% of employees were covered.  It recommended that a system be put in place to ensure that all nodal officers and eligible employees are registered under NPS.  Further, it noted non-remittances or delayed remittances of contributions by the nodal officers to trustee banks in certain cases.   Trustee banks are responsible for day-to-day fund flows and banking facilities under the scheme.  It recommended amendments to the PFRDA Act to clearly define the responsibility, accountability, and penalty for delay at each level to ensure that contributions are remitted to the bank and credited to subscribers’ accounts in time.
     
  • Monitoring:  CAG noted that in 2009, it was decided that all central government ministries/ departments would constitute committees comprising the Joint Secretary and other officials to oversee the implementation of the NPS in their respective ministries.  It noted that out of 66-68 ministries/ departments between 2012-13 and 2018-19, not all had constituted these committees.

 

Home Affairs

Roshni Sinha (roshni@prsindia.org)

Notifications to apply certain central and state laws in Jammu and Kashmir issued

The central government issued a notification to apply 14 central laws to the Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir (J&K), with certain amendments.[55],[56]  These laws include the Trade Unions Act, 1926, the Factories Act, 1948, and the Industrial Disputes Act, 1947.  The amendments include: (i) allowing women to work between 6 AM and 7 PM with their consent under the Factories Act, and (ii) provisions for compounding (settling) of offences under the Industrial Disputes Act.

Additionally, 37 laws (which were applicable in the former state of J&K) have been applied to the union territory, with amendments, or have been repealed in some cases.55,56,[57]  The effect of some of these amendments and repealed laws is to remove the provisions which only allowed permanent residents of J&K to purchase property in the territory.  Some other amended laws include those which cover the levy of goods and service tax, agrarian reforms, and salaries and allowances of members of the legislature.   The government also amended the Jammu and Kashmir Panchayati Raj Act, 1989 to create provisions for setting up elected bodies called District Development Councils in every district in the union territory (except for those territories which are included in a municipality or municipal corporation).

 

Law and Justice

Anurag Vaishnav (anurag@prsindia.org)

NITI Aayog Expert Committee on online dispute resolution submits its draft report

The NITI Aayog Expert Committee constituted to build a framework for online dispute resolution in India submitted a draft report for discussion.[58]  Online Dispute Resolution (ODR) refers to use of information and communication technology for resolution of disputes (for instance, through use of video-conferencing and digital circulation of files for resolution).  The Committee noted the need for an implementation framework for ODR by facilitating adoption and amending existing regulations, especially in view of the COVID-19 induced lockdown.

ODR offers several potential benefits, such as: (i) reduction in costs (does not require parties to travel, reduced legal fees), (ii) faster dispute resolution, and (iii) reduction in unconsciousness bias that may arise from physical presence while resolving disputes.  However, there are several challenges in the adoption of ODR.  These include: (i) lack of digital infrastructure and digital literacy, (ii) lack of awareness and trust in ODR services, (iii) archaic legal processes which require physical presence, and (iv) concerns on privacy.  In this regard, the Committee held:

  • Access to digital infrastructure: The Committee observed that further development of ODR in the country is contingent on successful implementation of initiatives such as Digital India and National Broadband Mission to create digital infrastructure, PM Gramin Digital Sakasharta Abhiyaan for digital literacy, and the eCourts project by the judiciary. 
     
  • Improving adoption and trust in ODR: Currently, the SAMADHAAN portal, operated by the Ministry of MSMEs is used for facilitating online disputes related to MSMEs.   However, it only covers issues related to delay in payment to MSMEs.  The Committee recommended that the portal can be scaled up to cover all MSME related disputes.  Noting that the government is the largest party to litigation (46% of litigation in the country), it recommended that ODR can be mandated for certain categories of government litigation disputes.
     
  • Phased implementation: The Committee recommended that ODR should be adopted in a phased manner.  In the first phase, focus should be on using ODR for COVID-19 related disputes.  In the second phase, ODR should be made more mainstream by deploying digital infrastructure, building trust in ODR, and modifying legislations to enable ODR.  In the third and final phase, the government and judiciary should focus towards making ODR the primary mode of dispute resolution.

Comments on the draft report are invited till November 11, 2020.

 

Housing and Urban Affairs

Prachi Kaur (prachi@prsindia.org)

Draft Model Tenancy Act, 2020 released for public comments

The Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs released the draft Model Tenancy Act, 2020, to be enacted by state and union territory legislatures, for public comments.[59]  Key features of the draft Act include:

  • Tenancy agreement:   The draft Act provides that a written agreement will be required by the landlord and the tenant to let or take any premises on rent.  The rent payable and the time period for the tenancy will be agreed upon between the landlord and the tenant and specified in the tenancy agreement.  This has to be informed to the Rent Authority within two months from the date of the agreement.
     
  • Security deposit: The draft Act provides that the security deposit for the residential premises shall not exceed two months’ rent.  In case of non-residential premises, it shall be as per the terms of tenancy agreement subject to a maximum of six-months’ rent.  Further, the security deposit shall be refunded by the landlord at the time of taking over vacant possession of the premises, after making due deductions.
     
  • Tenancy period: The draft Act provides that the tenant may request the landlord for renewal or extension of the tenancy period.  If a tenancy for a fixed term ends and has not been renewed and if the tenant fails to vacate the premises, then such tenant will be liable to pay an enhanced rent to the landlord.  Further, the landlord is entitled for double the monthly rent for the first two months and then, four times of the monthly rent in case of default by tenant to vacate the premises after termination of tenancy.
     
  • The draft Act also provides that if the term of tenancy ends at the time when the locality (where the rented premises is situated) experiences any disastrous event, the landlord shall allow the tenant to continue possession of the premises for one month from the cessation of such event.  The draft Act defines such an event to include flood, drought, war, fire, cyclone, and earthquake.
     
  • Rent Authority: The District Collector, with prior approval of the state/ union territory government, will appoint the Rent Authority (at the rank of Deputy Collector).   The Rent Authority, on receiving information on a tenancy agreement, must upload details of the agreement on its website.  The Authority may also, on application by the landowner or tenant, fix or revise the rent, and the date from which the revised rent will apply.  Appeals against the Authority’s orders will lie with the Rent Court, and must be made within 30 days from the date of the order.

Comments on the draft Act are invited till November 28, 2020.

 

Transport

Various amendments to the Central Motor Vehicles Rules, 1989 released

Prachee Mishra (prachee@prsindia.org)

The Ministry of Road Transport and Highways released several amendments to the Central Motor Vehicles Rules, 1989.60,61,62  These include the following:

Protection of good Samaritans

The Motor Vehicles Act, 1988 defines a good Samaritan as a person who renders emergency medical or non-medical assistance to a victim at the scene of an accident.  The assistance must have been (i) in good faith, (ii) voluntary, and (iii) without the expectation of any reward.  Such a person will not be liable for any civil or criminal action for any injury to or death of an accident victim, caused due to their negligence in providing assistance to the victim.  The amended Rules provide for the following:60

  • A good Samaritan who has informed the police of a motor accident, or has transported an accident victim to the hospital, will not be subjected to any further requirements by the police or the hospital, and will be permitted to leave immediately.[60]   No police officer or any other person should compel them to disclose their personal details.  The good Samaritan may voluntarily choose to disclose these details to the police officer.  They will also not be required to fulfil any admission related procedures for the victim at the hospital or bear any costs for treatment.
     
  • If a good Samaritan agrees to become a witness, they will be questioned at a time and place of their convenience.  They may choose to have the questioning done at the police station.  They must be permitted to give evidence on an affidavit as per the Code of Criminal Procedure.

Ownership in vehicle registration documents:  The Ministry notified amendments to the 1989 Rules incorporating ownership in motor vehicle registration documents.[61]   The amended Rules add a new section which provides for ownership type.  Categories under this include: (i) autonomous body, (ii) central government, (iii) driving school, (iv) Divyangjan, (v) firm, (vi) individual, (vii) police department, and (viii) multiple owners, among others.

In addition, the Ministry also released draft amendments to the Central Motor Vehicles Rules, 1989 amending the requirements to obtain an international driving permit.[62]   The proposed amendments include:

  • Documents required:  Currently an application for an International Driving Permit (IDP) must include several documents such as valid driving license, medical certificate, valid proof of Indian nationality, valid proof of passport, and valid visa proof, among others.  The draft amendments remove the requirement of the medical certificate and the visa proof.
     
  • Fee:  Currently, the application for an IDP has to be accompanied with a fee of Rs 500.  The draft amendments increase this fee to Rs 1,000.
     
  • Application form details:  Currently, an applicant has to specify in their application form if he has been disqualified for obtaining a driving license, and the reasons for such disqualification.  The draft amendments add that the applicant also has to specify if he has been barred by the current country to drive in that country, along with the relevant reasons.

Draft Coastal Shipping Bill, 2020 released for public comments

Shruti Gupta (shruti@prsindia.org)

The Ministry of Shipping released the draft Coastal Shipping Bill, 2020 for public comments.[63]   Coastal shipping refers to the transport of goods and passengers by sea.  Coastal shipping is currently regulated under the Merchant Shipping Act, 1958.  The draft Bill seeks to provide a standalone framework for the sector.[64],[65]  Only registered or licenced vehicles may engage in trade, exploration, or research in the coastal waters of India.

The Bill states that a strategic plan to improve and manage existing water networks must be developed within two years.  It should include: (i) an assessment of shipping routes, (ii) identification of operational improvements required, (iii) long-term forecasts on water networks, and (iv) best practices to improve overall performance.

Comments are invited on the draft Bill till November 6, 2020.

Draft amendments to Merchant Shipping (Maritime Labour) Rules, 2016 released

Prachee Mishra (prachee@prsindia.org)

The Directorate General of Shipping has invited comments on amendments to the Merchant Shipping (Maritime Labour) Rules, 2016.[66]  Key amendments proposed include:

A seafarer’s employment agreement will continue to have effect while the seafarer is held captive on or off the ship due to an act of piracy or armed robbery against the ship.   This will be regardless of whether the employment agreement is set to expire or either party has given a notice to terminate it.  Piracy includes any acts of violence, detention, or destruction committed for private ends against persons or property on board a ship on the high seas or outside the jurisdiction of a state.[67]

Further, when a seafarer is held captive under an act of piracy or armed robbery, wages and other entitlements including repatriation (under the employment agreement) will continue to be paid to him.  The ship-owner must ensure that these are paid throughout the period of captivity and until: (i) the seafarer is released and duly repatriated, or (ii) the date of death, if the seafarer dies in captivity.

Ministry of Shipping amends Right of First Refusal licensing conditions

Prachee Mishra (prachee@prsindia.org)

The Ministry of Shipping has reviewed the Right of First Refusal licensing conditions for chartering of ships through tender process for all types of requirements.[68]  As per the amended guidelines, priority in chartering of vessels will be as follows:

  • Indian built, Indian flagged (registered in India), and Indian owned;
     
  • Foreign built, Indian flagged, and Indian owned vessels;
     
  • Indian built, foreign flagged, and foreign owned vessels. 

All ships registered in India up to the date of issue of new circular by the Director General of Shipping will be deemed to be Indian built and will fall in the first category.

The duration of licence to such chartered ships will be limited to the period of building of the ship, as mentioned in the shipbuilding contract.  The revised guidelines seek to give a boost to the domestic shipbuilding and shipping industries.

Directorate General of Shipping notified as National Authority for Ships Recycling

Prachee Mishra (prachee@prsindia.org)

The Directorate General of Shipping has been notified as the National Authority for Recycling of Ships under the Recycling of Ships Act, 2019.[69]  The National Authority will administer, supervise, and monitor all activities relating to ship recycling under the Act.

As per the Act, ships should not use prohibited hazardous materials as notified.  The National Authority will carry out periodic surveys to verify the prescribed requirements.  The owner of every new ship must apply to the National Authority to obtain a certificate on the inventory of hazardous materials.  Further, a ship owner must apply to the National Authority for a ready for recycling certificate before recycling his ship.  Decisions of the National Authority may be appealed with the central government within 30 days of receiving such decision.

 

Railways

Saket Surya (saket@prsindia.org)

Policy on development of goods-sheds at small stations through private investment

The Ministry of Railways issued a policy on the development of goods-sheds at small/ road-side stations through private investment.[70]  The policy seeks to promote setting up of new goods-shed facilities as well as the development of existing goods-sheds.  Key features include:

  • Types of facilities: The policy covers the development of goods wharf, loading/ unloading facilities, resting space for workers, approach road, covered shed, and other related infrastructure.  The facilities will be developed by the private party through its own investment.  Responsibility for maintenance of assets and facilities will be vested with the developer during the agreement period.  Railways will not levy any charges for the construction.  These facilities will be used as a common user facility.  No preference or priority will be granted in access to these facilities.
     
  • Bid parameter: The developer will be selected through a competitive bidding process.   The bidding parameter will be a share in the terminal charges and terminal access charges to be levied on the traffic at the goods-sheds for a period of five years.
     
  • Additional source of revenue: The developer will be allowed to earn additional revenue through the utilisation of available space for establishing canteen, tea shops, and advertisements.

 

Power

Aditya Kumar (aditya@prsindia.org)

Draft Electricity (Change in Law, Must-run status, and other Matters) Rules, 2020 released 

The Ministry of Power released the draft Electricity (Change in Law, Must-run status, and other Matters) Rules, 2020.[71]  The draft Rules, issued under the Electricity Act, 2003, are aimed at facilitating pass through and compensating renewable energy generators for lack of demand from buyers.  Pass through refers to the mechanism in which any additional expenditure is accounted in the cost and is charged to the consumer.  Key features of the draft Rules are:

  • Tariff adjustment on change in law: In case of any change in law event, the tariff will be adjusted to compensate the affected party.  The change of law often results in additional capital expenditure which impacts tariff.   The compensation will be aimed at restoring the economic status of the affected party to the position as if the change in the law had not occurred.  The pass-through will be allowed on per unit basis of electricity and will come into effect automatically after 30 days of the change in law event.  The formula for determining the pass-through should be mentioned in the bidding document or the Power Purchase Agreement (PPA).  Otherwise, the formula prescribed in the government guidelines may be used to determine the pass-through.  The state electricity regulatory commission will have to complete the claim verification process within 60 days of the pass-through coming into effect.  The verification will be based on the documents submitted by generators and buyers.
     
  • Must-run power plants: All renewable energy power plants (such as wind, wind-solar, and hydro) with PPA to sell power will be treated as a must-run power plant.  A must-run power plant will be subjected to curtailment or regulation only in case of any technical constraints in the electricity grid or for reasons related to the security of the grid.  In case of curtailment due to any other reasons, the buyers will have to compensate the generators.  The rate of compensation should be mentioned in the PPA, else the compensation will be at the rate of 75% of the PPA rate per unit.
     
  • Trading license to procure power for distribution companies: Intermediary buyer will be allowed to procure power for distribution companies through a bidding process.  In case of multiple suppliers at different rates, the weighted average of all bids will be the resultant bid rate.

Draft Electricity (Late Payment Surcharge) Rules, 2020 released

The Ministry of Power released the draft Electricity (Late Payment Surcharge) Rules, 2020.[72]  The Rules, issued under the Electricity Act, 2003, are aimed at regulating the late payment surcharge payable by (i) a distribution licensee to a generating company, or (ii) a transmission system user to a transmission licensee.  Late payment surcharge refers to the charge payable for delay beyond the due date in payment of monthly charges of power purchased or to use the transmission system.  It will apply to all payments outstanding after the due date.  

The rate of the surcharge will be as per the applicable bank rate or the rate provided in the agreement of supply or transmission of power, whichever is lower.  The bank rate refers to the State Bank of India’s rate of marginal cost of funds-based lending for one year plus 500 basis points.  If the applicable rate is less than the rate provided in the agreement, the rate will increase by 50 basis points per month after one month from the due date.  The maximum limit of the late payment surcharge will be at applicable bank rate plus 200 basis points.

All payments by a distribution licensee to a generating company or by a transmission system user to a transmission licensee will be first adjusted towards the late payment surcharge.

 

New and Renewable Energy

Aditya Kumar (aditya@prsindia.org)

Guidelines released for bidding process for procurement of power from grid-connected wind-solar hybrid projects

The Ministry of New and Renewable Energy released guidelines to provide for a framework based on competitive and transparent tariff-based bidding process for procurement of power from grid-connected wind-solar hybrid projects.[73]  This is in accordance with the Wind-Solar Hybrid Policy issued in May 2018.[74]  The policy is aimed at providing a framework for the promotion of grid-connected wind-solar hybrid projects for achieving better grid stability.  Some of the key features of the guidelines are:

  • Applicability: The guidelines will be applicable on the long-term procurement of electricity from hybrid projects with capacity of more than 50 MW at one site, where the rated capacity of one of the resources (wind or solar) must be at least 33% of total contracted capacity.
     
  • Bid structure and process: A bidder will be allowed to bid for a minimum of 50 MW of project capacity at one site.  The maximum capacity for allotment to a bidder may be decided by the distribution licensee.  The maximum limit for allotment will be decided based on economies of scale, land availability, expected competition, and need for the development of the market.   The tariff quoted by the bidder will be the bidding parameter for the process.  The bidder will provide either of the following kinds of tariff-based bidding: (i) fixed tariff in Rs/ kWh for 25 years or more, (ii) escalating tariff in Rs/ kWh with pre-defined annual escalation, and the number of years from which such escalation will be provided.  The procurer (distribution company) may also opt for e-reverse auction for final selection.
     
  • Power purchase agreement: A power purchase agreement (PPA) will be signed by the selected bidder.  The minimum duration of PPA should be 25 years from the scheduled commissioning date.   If the selected bidder is a single company, its shareholding in the project company, without prior approval, must not decrease below 51% in the first year after the commercial operation date.

Draft policy framework released for DRE livelihood applications in rural areas

The Ministry of New and Renewable Energy invited comments on the draft policy framework for developing and promoting decentralised renewable energy (DRE) livelihood applications in rural areas.[75]  DRE livelihood applications refers to the applications of renewable energy to earn livelihoods (such as solar dryer and solar powered cold storage).  Key features include:

  • Assessment of demand: Demand potential for DRE livelihood applications will be assessed across rural areas in various regions of the country.  The Ministry will prepare a list of the livelihood applications of DRE and map needs of the beneficiaries.
     
  • Research and development: Research and development activities related to DRE technologies will be encouraged to promote efficiency.  These activities will be conducted in collaboration with the civil society and organisations such as NGOs.
     
  • Skill development and capacity building: Skill development programs will be facilitated in the areas of operation and maintenance, installation, and fabrication of DRE livelihood applications.  Various community level platforms (such as self-help groups and farmer producer organisations) will be developed for capacity building of potential buyers.
  • Public awareness and implementation agency: The central and state government ministries/ departments under their existing programmes may take up public awareness campaigns to push adoption of DRE livelihood applications.  The state nodal agencies with expertise in the renewable energy sector will be responsible for implementation and providing technical support in rural areas.

 

Agriculture

Saket Surya (saket@prsindia.org)

Cabinet approves revised mechanism for procurement of ethanol by oil companies

The Union Cabinet approved a revised mechanism for procurement of ethanol by public sector Oil Marketing Companies (OMCs), under the Ethanol Blended Petrol Programme launched in 2013.[76]  Under the programme, OMCs procure ethanol from distilleries at administered prices and sell petrol blended with ethanol up to 10%.  The programme also seeks to promote ethanol production from sugarcane-based raw materials, with the aim of reducing sugar production in the country.   The earlier mechanism required the OMCs to prioritise procurement of ethanol made from sources using higher sugar content (sugarcane juice followed by various kinds of molasses).  The approved mechanism seeks to provide a fair opportunity to the localised industry and reduce the haphazard movement of ethanol across states.  Under this mechanism, OMCs will decide the criteria for determining the priority of ethanol procurement from various sources.  The criteria would account for factors such as transportation cost and availability, and will apply within the state boundaries.

The Cabinet also approved an increase in the prices of ethanol for the supply year 2020-21 (December 2020-November 2021).   The increase in price is as follows:

  • for ethanol from sugarcane juice, sugar, or sugar syrup, from Rs 59.48 per litre to Rs 62.65 per litre,
     
  • for ethanol from B heavy molasses (used for sugar production, but still contains some sugar content), from Rs 54.27 per litre to Rs 57.61 per litre, and 
     
  • for ethanol from C heavy molasses (end product left after sugar processing), from Rs 43.75 per litre to Rs 45.69 per litre.

 

Water Resources

Prachi Kaur (prachi@prsindia.org)

Campaign launched for safe piped water supply in schools and anganwadi centres

The Ministry of Jal Shakti launched a 100 days campaign to ensure safe piped water supply in schools and anganwadi centres across the country.[77]   This campaign comes under the Jal Jeevan Mission (JJM) which aims to provide universal coverage of tap water connection to every rural household by 2024.  Key features of the campaign include the following:77,[78]

  • Components: Key components of the campaign include: (i) provision of piped water supply for anganwadi centres, schools, tribal hostels, health and wellness centres, and community toilets, (ii) greywater treatment and reuse to ensure improved environmental sanitation, (iii) water quality monitoring at delivery points, and (iv) human resource development for operations and maintenance.
     
  • Administration: The Public Health Engineering Department of states will be the nodal department to head the campaign.  It will involve the Gram Panchayats and its sub-committees, along with other departments such as education, women and child welfare, panchayati raj, rural development, and tribal welfare.
     
  • Facilities to provide safe drinking water will be operated and maintained by the Gram Panchayat and its sub-committee, i.e. Village Water and Sanitation Committee.
     
  • Implementation: Implementation strategies for various situations include: (i) institutions with functional tap water connections: provide adequate and safe water for long term, (ii) institutions with defunct piped water supply: water supply to be improved, (iii) institutions with no proposed piped water supply: provision of standalone water supply schemes such as tubewell with required purification be made permanent piped water supply, along with planning for 100% functional tap water connections.

 

Education

Anya Bharat Ram (anya@prsindia.org)

Strengthening Teaching-Learning and Results for States project approved

The Union Cabinet approved the Strengthening Teaching-Learning and Results for States (STARS) project.[79]  The project aims to improve the quality of education in the country.

At the national level, the scheme aims to (i) strengthen data collected on retention, transition, and completion rates of students, (ii) set up a National Assessment Centre to facilitate inter-state communication, and (iii) set up a Contingency Emergency Response Component to facilitate education during natural and man-made disasters, amongst others.   At the state-level, the scheme will focus on matters such as (i) strengthening early childhood education and foundational learning, (ii) improving learning assessment systems, and (iii) strengthening vocational education and classroom instruction.

It will focus on the following six states: Himachal Pradesh, Kerala, Odisha, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, and Rajasthan.

The total cost of the project will be Rs 5,718 crore.  A financial assistance of Rs 3,700 crore will be provided by the World Bank for the project.   It will be implemented as a new scheme sponsored by the central government.

 

Annexure

The subjects identified by various Parliamentary Standing Committees for examination during the year 2020-21 are given in Table 1.

Table 1:  Subjects identified by the Standing Committees for examination during 2020-21

Agriculture

Department of Agriculture, Co-operation and Farmers’ Welfare

  1. Production and Availability of Certified Seeds in the Country.
  2. Implementation of Pradhan Mantri Krishi Sinchayi Yojana (PMKSY) – A Review.
  3. Functioning of Agricultural Credit System in the Country.
  4. Role of Primary Agriculture Cooperative Societies in Comprehensive Development of Agriculture in the Country – An Evaluation.
  5. Pradhan Mantri Fasal Bima Yojana – An Evaluation.
  6. Production and Availability of Oil Seeds and Pulses in the Country.
  7. National Bamboo Mission – A Review.
  8. Zero-Budget Natural Farming – Prospects and Challenges.

Department of Agricultural Research and Education

  1. ICAR-Central Coastal Agricultural Research Institute, Goa – A Performance Review.
  2. Contribution of ICAR in Agricultural Research for Tribal and Hilly Regions.
  3. Research and Development in Farm Mechanisation for Small and Marginal Farmers in the Country.

Department of Animal Husbandry and Dairying

  1. Status of Veterinary Services and Availability of Animal Vaccine in the Country.
  2. Evaluation of Livestock Insurance Schemes.
  3. Gender Perspective in Animal Husbandry and Dairying Sector.
  4. National Livestock Mission – An Appraisal.
  5. Status and Promotion of Poultry Sector in the Country.
  6. National Bovine Genomic Centre for Indigenous Breeds (NBGC-IB) – A Performance Review.

Department of Fisheries

  1. Employment Generation and Revenue Earning Potential of Fisheries Sector.
  2. Role of National Fisheries Development Board (NFDB) in Training and Extension Facilities to Fishermen in view of Pradhan Mantri Matsya Sampada Yojana.
  1. Development of Deep-Sea Fishing.
  2. Infrastructure and Post-Harvest Management in Fisheries Sector – An Overview.

Ministry of Food Processing Industries

  1. Scheme for Creation/ Expansion of Food Processing and Preservative Capacities – An Evaluation.
  2. Skill Development and Employment Generation in Food Processing Sector.
  3. Initiatives taken in the Food Processing Sector under 'Make in India' Program.

Chemicals and Fertilizers

Department of Fertilizers

  1. Revival of Closed and Sick Fertilizer Units.
  2. Excessive Use of Fertilizers, its Effect on Soil/ Environment/ Health and Slow Growth of Use of Organic Fertilizers.
  3. Tax Structure on Fertilizer Sector in terms of GST and Import Duties – Analysis of the Tax Structure of Raw Material and Final Products and its Impact on Self-Sufficiency and Use of Fertilizers.

Department of Chemicals and Petrochemicals

  1. Demand and Availability of Petrochemicals including Imports and Exports.
  2. Vision 2024 – To Establish India as a Leading Manufacturer of Chemicals and Petrochemicals.
  3. Insecticides – Promotion and Development including Safe Usage – Licensing Regime for Insecticides.

Department of Pharmaceuticals

  1. Review of Pradhan Mantri Bhartiya Janaushadhi Pariyojana (PMBJP).
  2. Promotion of Medical Device Industry.
  3. Status of COVID-19 Vaccine Production in India.

Coal and Steel

Ministry of Coal

  1. Land Acquisition and Issues of Rehabilitation and Resettlement in Coal/ Lignite Mining Areas.
  2. R&D in Coal Sector.
  3. Future of Coal in India’s Energy Mix.
  4. Review of Coal Mines Workers Welfare Programme.
  5. Safety in Coal Mines.
  6. Production of Coal and Lignite – Projection and Planning.
  7. Skill Development in Coal Sector.
  8. Performance of Coal Controller's Office.
  9. Implementation of Information Technology and Vigilance Activities to Curb Illegal Coal Mining and Theft of Coal in the Country.
  10. Compliance of Environmental Norms by Coal/ Lignite Companies.
  11. Import of Coal – Trends and Issue of Self Reliance.
  12. Coal Handling Infrastructure at Ports.
  13. Coal Conservation and Development of Infrastructure for Transportation of Coal Across the Country.

Ministry of Mines

  1. New Auction Mechanism and Self Reliance in Minerals and Mineral Based Products.
  2. Mineral Exploration Activities in North Eastern States and its Overall Impact on Development of the Region.
  3. Development of Aluminium and Copper Industries in India.
  4. Measures to Curb Illegal Mining of Iron Ore, Manganese and Bauxite in the Country.
  5. Organisational Structure and Performance of Geological Survey of India (GSI) – A Review.
  6. Organisational Structure and Performance of Indian Bureau of Mines (IBM) – A Review.
  7. Expediting and Simplifying the Environment and Forest Clearance Process for Mining Projects.
  8. Measures for Abatement of Pollution due to Mining Activities and Environmental Protection.

Ministry of Steel

  1. Development of Leased Out Iron Ore Mines and Optimum Capacity Utilisation.
  2. Review of Steel Policy and its Impact on Development of Steel Sector.
  3. Major Policy Changes Assisting Secondary Steel Sector.
  4. Management of Energy Efficiency by Steel Plants and Environmental Issues related to Iron Ore Mining.
  5. Safety Management and Practices in Steel PSUs.
  6. Development of Manganese Ore Industry in India.
  7. Skill Development in Steel Sector.
  8. Promotion of Steel Usage.
  9. Status of Greenfield and Brownfield Projects of Steel PSUs.

Energy

Ministry of Power

  1. Role of Regulators in Electricity Sector – An Evaluation.
  2. Energy Audit – An Evaluation.
  3. Integrated Power Development Scheme – An Evaluation.
  4. Functioning of Power System Operation Corporation Limited in Grid Management.
  5. Development of Power Sector.
  6. Evaluation of Power Transmission System – Performance Efficiency in Matching Evacuation Demands.
  7. Review of Power Tariff Policy – Need for Uniformity in Tariff Structure Across the Country.
  8. Contribution of Central Electricity Authority in Balanced Development of Electricity Sector.
  9. Operations of Load Dispatch Centres and Power Exchanges.
  10. Performance of Power Plants of Thermal and Hydro Sectors.
  11. Deen Dayal Upadhyaya Gram Jyoti Yojana.
  12. Saubhagya – Pradhan Mantri Sahaj Bijli Har Ghar Yojana.
  13. Role and Significance of Ujwal DISCOM Assurance Yojana (UDAY) in Financial Turnaround of DISCOMs.
  14. Carbon Footprints of Power Generation in India.
  15. Delay in Execution/ Completion of Power Projects by Power Sector Companies.
  16. Development of Coal Blocks Allocated to Power Sector Companies.

Ministry of New and Renewable Energy

  1. Role of PSUs/ Institutions under Ministry of New and Renewable Energy in Development of Renewable Energy Schemes.
  2. Grid Connectivity – Grid Connection for Renewable Energy including Captive Renewable Power Plants.
  3. Action Plan for Achievement of 175 Giga Watt (GW) Renewable Energy Target.
  4. Measures to Make Distribution/ Marketing of Renewable Energy Affordable and Effective.
  5. Need for Long Term Renewable Energy Policy and Legal Reforms.
  6. Research, Design and Development in Renewable Energy Sector.
  7. Tidal Power Development in India.
  8. Renewable Energy – Potential and Harnessing.
  9. Evaluation of the Role of Renewable Energy in Electricity Sector.
  10. Reasons for Lack of Manufacturing Base for Renewable Components/ Equipment.
  11. Financial Constraints in Renewable Energy Sector.
  12. Evaluation of Solar and Wind Energy in India.

External Affairs

  1. COVID-19 Pandemic – Global Response, India’s Contribution and the Way Forward.
  2. India’s Soft Power and Cultural Diplomacy – Prospects and Limitations.
  3. India and International Law, including its Extradition Treaties with Foreign Countries, Asylum Issues, International Cyber-Security and Issues of Financial Crimes.
  4. India’s Neighbourhood First Policy.
  5. India and Bilateral Investment Treaties.
  6. India-USA Relations – A Critical Review.
  7. India’s Position in the Ongoing Climate Change Negotiations.
  8. Welfare of Indian Diaspora – Policies/ Schemes.
  9. Performance of Passport Issuance System including Issuance of E-Passports.
  10. India’s Extended Neighbourhood – From Look East to Act East.
  11. The European Union and India.
  12. Functioning of Missions Abroad including Critical Evaluation of Political/ Economic/ Cultural and Consular Responsibilities.
  13. India and Indo-Pacific Region – Strategies for Engagement and Cooperation.
  14. Progress in Restructuring and Strengthening of IFS Cadre.
  15. India’s Engagement with the African Countries.
  16. Reforming the United Nations – Imperatives and Challenges.
  17. Potential for Developing Relations with Latin America.
  18. India’s West Asia Policy – An Overview/ India’s Foreign Policy in West Asia.
  19. Countering Global Terrorism at Regional and International Level.

Home Affairs

  1. Atrocities and Crime Against Women.
  2. Human Trafficking in the Country.
  3. National Security, Intelligence Coordination and Counter Terrorism.
  4. Police – Training, Modernisation and Reforms.
  5. Prison – Conditions, Infrastructure and Reforms.
  6. Administration, Development and People’s Welfare in the Union Territories of: (i) Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh, and (ii) Andaman and Nicobar Islands.
  7. Coastal Security.
  8. Management of COVID-19 Pandemic and Related Issues.
  9. Rising Crime in Delhi and NCR.

Information Technology

Ministry of Information and Broadcasting

  1. Review of Functioning of Prasar Bharati Organisation.
  1. Ethical Standards in Media Coverage.
  2. Film Industry – Problems and Challenges.
  1. Review of Functioning of Central Board of Film Certification (CBFC).
  2. Review of Functioning and Outreach of Doordarshan Channels.

Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology

  1. Citizens’ Data Security and Privacy.
  1. Digital Payment and Online Security Measures for Data Protection.
  2. Review of Functioning of Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI).
  3. Safeguarding Citizens’ Rights and Prevention of Misuse of Social/ Online News Media Platforms including Special Emphasis on Women Security in the Digital Space.
  4. Promotion of Electronics/ IT Hardware Manufacturing Sector and Measures for Reduction of Imports.
  5. Policy Issues in Information Technology including Cross Border Data Flows, Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Internet of Things (IoT), etc.
  6. Technology Initiatives taken by MEITY in the wake of COVID-19 Pandemic.
  7. Review of Cyber Security Scenario in India.

Department of Posts

  1. Real Estate Management in the Department of Posts.
  1. Department of Posts – Initiatives and Challenges.

Department of Telecommunications

  1. Review of Functioning of BSNL and MTNL and Plan for Enhancing their Performance.
  2. Review of Functioning of TRAI.
  1. Review of the Performance of Schemes under Universal Service Obligation Fund (USOF) with Special Emphasis on North East and LWE Affected Areas.
  2. India’s Preparedness for 5G.
  3. Suspension of Telecom Services/ Internet and its Impact.
  4. Issues Confronting Telecom Sector including Telecom Service Providers (TSPs).
  5. Review of Functioning of Centre for Development of Telematics (C-DOT).
  6. Inter-Sectoral Review of Challenges of Emerging and Converging Technologies, Entities and Practices.

Labour

Ministry of Labour and Employment

  1. Measures for Implementing the ILO Conventions Binding on India – An Appraisal.
  2. Working Conditions and Welfare of Mine Workers, and Assessment of Working of Directorate General of Mines Safety (DGMS).
  3. Deployment of Contract/ Casual/ Sanitation Workers for Jobs of Perennial Nature in Government/ PSU Offices/ Establishments.
  4. Status of and Welfare Measures for Workers Deployed by Outsourced Agencies/ Companies.
  5. Welfare of Plantation Workers.
  6. Functioning of the Employees Provident Fund Organisation with Special Reference to EPF Pension Scheme.
  7. The Employees' State Insurance Corporation – Applicability and Benefits under ESI Scheme and Management of Corpus Fund.
  8. Functioning of Central Board for Workers Education.
  9. Implementation of Centrally Sponsored Schemes.
  10. National Policy on Child Labour – An Assessment.
  11. Identification and Rehabilitation of Bonded Labour.
  12. Assessment of Present Categories of Scheduled Employment.
  13. Implementation of Labour Laws concerning the Welfare of Contract/ Casual Labour.
  14. Social Security Measures for Workers in IT and Telecommunication Sectors like BPOs/ Call Centres.
  15. Implementation of Prescribed Minimum Wages in Scheduled Employment Sector.
  16. Social Security and Welfare Measures for Inter-State Migrant Workers.
  17. Social Security and Welfare Measures for Unorganised/ Informal Sector Workers including Scheme Workers, Street Vendors and Fishermen.
  18. Safeguards and Measures for Protecting the Interest of Overseas Contract Workers and the Returnees, Particularly in the Middle East Region.

Ministry of Textiles

  1. Development and Promotion of Jute Industry.
  2. Skill Development vis-à-vis Manufacturing and Upgradation in Textiles Sector.
  3. Welfare Schemes of the Ministry of Textiles – An Appraisal.
  4. Challenges/ Opportunities in Indian Textile Industry.
  5. Development of Cotton Sector.
  6. Schemes/ Programmes of Central Silk Board for Development and Promotion of Silk Industry.
  7. Status/ Performance of Handloom Sector.
  8. Status and Reforming of Powerloom Sector.
  9. Performance of Marketing Agencies of Handlooms and Handicrafts.
  10. Functioning of National Institute of Fashion Technology (NIFT).
  11. Development of Manmade Fibre.
  12. Functioning of National Textile Corporation.

Ministry of Skill Development and Entrepreneurship

  1. Pradhan Mantri Kaushal Vikas Yojana.
  2. National Skills Qualifications Framework – An Assessment.
  3. Functioning of Directorate General of Training.
  4. Functioning of National Skill Development Corporation (NSDC).
  5. Implementation of National Apprenticeship Promotion Scheme (NAPS).
  6. Implementation of Skill Acquisition and Knowledge Awareness for Livelihood Promotion (SANKALP) Project.

Petroleum and Natural Gas

  1. Allotment of Retail Outlets and LPG Distributorships.
  2. Pricing, Marketing and Supply of Petroleum Products including Natural Gas.
  3. Litigations involving Oil PSUs.
  4. Contract Management and Transparency in Procurement Procedures in Oil PSUs.
  5. Energy Security with Specific Reference to Hydrocarbon Resources and Electric Vehicles.
  6. Oil Refineries – A Review.
  7. CSR Activities of Oil PSUs.
  8. National Gas Grid including PNG and CNG.
  9. Review of Performance of Oil PSUs with Specific Reference to Financial Performance and Investments in Other Sectors.
  10. Human Resource Policy of Oil PSUs.
  11. Disinvestment, Mergers and Acquisitions in Petroleum Sector.
  12. International Cooperation in Petroleum Sector.
  13. Review of Progress in Production of Non-Conventional Fuels.
  14. Review of LNG Infrastructure.
  15. The Challenges and Opportunities for Public Sector Oil Companies.
  16. Strategic Petroleum Reserves in India.
  17. Safety and Security of Oil Installations of Public Sector Oil Companies.
  18. Review of Ongoing Projects of Oil PSUs.
  19. Exploration and Production Activities of Public Sector Oil Companies.
  20. Reservation Policy in Allotment, Marketing and Distribution of Petroleum Products.
  21. Alternate Sources of Energy.

Railways

  1. Expansion of Rail Network.
  2. Passenger Amenities including Modernisation of Railway Stations.
  3. Protection and Usage of Surplus Railway Land.
  4. Last Mile Port Connectivity with Indian Railways.
  5. Dedicated Freight Corridor Projects of Indian Railways.
  6. Introduction of High-Speed Trains.
  7. Passenger Reservation System of Indian Railways.
  8. Recruitment in Indian Railways.
  9. National Projects and Strategic Lines of Indian Railways.
  10. Digitalisation in Indian Railways.
  11. Corporate Social Responsibilities (CSR) related Activities of PSUs of Indian Railways.
  12. Sub-Urban Train Services of Indian Railways.
  13. Performance of Production Units of Indian Railways.
  14. Safety Measures in Railway Operations.
  15. Reconstitution and Restructuring of Railway Zones.
  16. Modernisation and Capacity Utilisation of Workshops in Indian Railways.
  17. Rashtriya Rail Sanraksha Kosh (RRSK).
  18. Requirement, Procurement and Utilisation of Wagons by Indian Railways.
  19. Staff Welfare Measures in Rail PSUs.
  20. Kisan Rail Train Services.
  21. Impact of COVID-19 Pandemic on Railway Operations.

Rural Development

Department of Rural Development

  1. Shyama Prasad Mukherji Rurban Mission.
  2. Pradhan Mantri Gram Sadak Yojana (PMGSY).
  3. Pradhan Mantri Aawas Yojana – Gramin.
  4. Critical Evaluation of Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MGNREGA).
  5. Deendayal Antyodaya Yojana – National Rural Livelihoods Mission (DAY-NRLM).
  6. Realisation of the Vision ‘Make in India’ under Deen Dayal Upadhyaya Grameen Kaushalya Yojana (DDU-GKY).
  7. Role of Banks in the Financial Inclusion of Rural Population.
  8. Impact of National Social Assistance Programme (NSAP) on the Poor and Destitute in the Villages.
  9. Creation of Adarsh Grams under Saansad Adarsh Gram Yojana (SAGY).
  10. Status and Utilisation of Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) Fund among PSUs in the Area of Rural Development.

Department of Land Resources

  1. Implementation of Digital India Land Records Modernisation Programme (DILRMP).

Ministry of Panchayati Raj

  1. Rashtriya Gram Swaraj Abhiyan (RGSA).

Social Justice and Empowerment

  1. Priority Sector Lending by Banks to SCs, STs, OBCs, Differently Abled Persons and the Minorities.
  2. Grants-in-Aid to NGOs Working for Social Welfare and Evaluation of their Functioning and Performance.

Department of Social Justice and Empowerment

  1. Babu Jagjivan Ram Chhatrawas Yojana for SC Boys and Girls.
  2. Pre-Matric Scholarship Scheme for the Children of those Engaged in Hazardous and Unclean Occupations.
  3. Free Coaching Scheme for Scheduled Castes and Other Backward Classes.
  4. Grants-in-Aid to Voluntary and Other Organisations working for Scheduled Castes.
  5. Schemes/ Programmes Implemented for the Welfare of SCs/ OBCs under Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR).

Department of Empowerment of Persons with Disabilities

  1. Review/ Functioning of Rehabilitation Council of India (RCI).
  2. Assessment of Scheme for Implementation of Persons with Disabilities Act (SIPDA).
  3. Review of the Functioning of National Institutes Established for Different Types of Disabilities.
  4. Assessment of Deendayal Disabled Rehabilitation Scheme (DDRS).
  5. Schemes/ Programmes Implemented for the Welfare of Divyangjan under Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR).

Ministry of Tribal Affairs

  1. Development of Particularly Vulnerable Tribal Groups (PVTGs).
  2. Implementation of Scheduled Tribes and Other Traditional Forest Dwellers (Recognition of Forest Rights) Act, 2006 vis-à-vis Displacement of Tribals.
  3. Review of the Functioning of the National Scheduled Tribes Finance and Development Corporation (NSTFDC).
  4. Review of the Functioning of the Tribal Cooperative Marketing Development Federation of India Limited (TRIFED).
  5. Review of the Functioning of Eklavya Model Residential Schools (EMRS).
  6. Schemes/ Programmes Implemented for the Welfare of Tribals under Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR).

Ministry of Minority Affairs

  1. Review of the Functioning of the National Minorities Development and Finance Corporation (NMDFC).
  2. Promotion of Education Amongst the Weaker Sections of Minorities by Minority Educational Institutions with Particular Reference to Maulana Azad Education Foundation (MAEF).
  3. Implementation of Prime Minister’s New 15-Point Programme for the Welfare of Minorities.
  4. Scholarship Schemes for Minority Students.
  5. Schemes/ Programmes Implemented for the Welfare of Minorities under Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR).

Transport, Tourism and Culture

  1. Role of Highways in Nation Building.
  2. Promotion of Infrastructure in India’s Maritime Sector.
  3. Potential of Tourist Spots in the Country – Connectivity and Outreach.
  4. Development and Conservation of Museums and Archaeological Sites – Challenges and Opportunities.
  5. Functioning of Airports Authority of India.
  6. Status of Aviation Connectivity in the Country.

Urban Development

  1. Smart Cities Mission – An Evaluation.
  2. Pradhan Mantri Aawas Yojana (Urban) and Related Issues.
  3. Atal Mission for Rejuvenation and Urban Transformation (AMRUT).
  4. Finding Solution to Air Pollution in Urban Areas including Delhi NCR.
  5. Management and Planning of Urban Transport Services and Infrastructure.
  6. Implementation of Various Metro Projects and Available Alternatives.
  7. Water Conservation, Restoration and Recharge of Ground Water and Re-Use of Water in Urban Areas – Evaluation of Jal Shakti Abhiyan in Urban Areas.
  8. Re-Evaluation of Progress and Impact of Swachh Bharat Mission (Urban) in Improving the Overall Sanitation Coverage in Urban Areas including Solid Waste Management.
  9. Poverty Alleviation and Creation of Employment Opportunities in Urban Areas – Deen Dayal Antyodaya Yojana – NULM.
  10. Need for Formulating Master Plans for Every City in the Country for Holistic Development.
  11. Reviewing Functioning of CPWD.
  12. Implementation of Street Vendors Act (Protection of Livelihood and Regulation of Street Vending Act, 2014).
  13. Implementation of National Building Code in Urban Areas.
  14. Improving the Quality of Living in Urban Cities, Sewage Treatment, Proper Drainage System.

Sources: Various issues of Bulletin-II, Lok Sabha; PRS.

 

 

[1] Ministry of Health and Family Welfare website, last accessed on November 1, 2020, https://www.mohfw.gov.in/index.html.

[2] “MHA extends the Guidelines for Re-opening”, Press Information Bureau, Ministry of Home Affairs, October 27, 2020.

[3] “Graded relaxation in visa and travel restrictions”, Press Information Bureau, Ministry of Home Affairs, October 22, 2020.

[4] “Finance Minister announces measures of Rs 73,000 crore to stimulate consumer spending before end of this Financial Year in fight against COVID-19”, Press Information Bureau, Ministry of Finance, October 12, 2020.

[5] “Income-tax Exemption for payment of deemed LTC fare for non-Central Government employees”, Press Release, Central Board of Direct Taxes, Ministry of Finance, October 29, 2020, https://www.incometaxindia.gov.in/Lists/Press%20Releases/Attachments/870/Press-Release-IT-Exemption-for-payment-of-deemed-LTC-dated-29-10-2020.pdf.

[6] Statement on Developmental and Regulatory Policies, Reserve Bank of India, October 9, 2020, https://rbidocs.rbi.org.in/rdocs/PressRelease/PDFs/PR4549545265F1CB74304A99F879D7C2074B4.PDF.  

[7] “Reserve Bank announces On Tap Targeted Long-Term Repo Operations”, Press Release, Reserve Bank of India, October 21, 2020, https://rbidocs.rbi.org.in/rdocs/PressRelease/PDFs/PR520A1E17F473D714F3DA7618DDF70E358D5.PDF

[8] Government Securities Market in India- A Primer, Reserve Bank of India, https://m.rbi.org.in/Scripts/FAQView.aspx?Id=79

[9] RBI/2015-16/414 A.P. (DIR Series) Circular No. 74, Reserve Bank of India, May 26, 2016, https://rbidocs.rbi.org.in/rdocs/notification/PDFs/NT4147D02EB7EF9534555A50D7CA952A686E6.PDF

[10] Master Direction- Export of Goods and Services, Reserve Bank of India, January 1, 2016, https://rbidocs.rbi.org.in/rdocs/notification/PDFs/11MDEGS1205163428383952204B77831A3A086E82FDDF.PDF

[11] Master Circular – Prudential Guidelines on Capital Adequacy and Market Discipline- New Capital Adequacy Framework, July 1, 2015, https://rbidocs.rbi.org.in/rdocs/notification/PDFs/85BL4697A788DAB5485B826CFA24D35EA1BE.PDF

[12] F.No. 2/12/2020-BOA.I, Department of Financial Services, Ministry of Finance, October 23, 2020, https://financialservices.gov.in/sites/default/files/Scheme%20Letter.pdf.

[13] Order dated October 5, 2020, Gajendra Sharma vs Union of India and Anr., W.P. (C) No. 825 of 2020, Supreme Court of India, October 5, 2020, https://main.sci.gov.in/supremecourt/2020/11127/11127_2020_34_1_24234_Order_05-Oct-2020.pdf.

[14] “COVID-19 – Regulatory Package”, Notifications, Reserve Bank of India, March 27, 2020, https://www.rbi.org.in/Scripts/NotificationUser.aspx?Id=11835.

[15] “COVID-19 – Regulatory Package”, Notifications, Reserve Bank of India, May 23, 2020, https://www.rbi.org.in/Scripts/NotificationUser.aspx?Id=11902&Mode=0.

[16] “Department of School Education and Literacy, Ministry of Education issues SOP/Guidelines for reopening of schools today”, Press Information Bureau, Ministry of Education, October 5, 2020.

[17] SOPs for Exhibition of Films on preventive measures to contain spread of COVID-19, Ministry of Information & Broadcasting, October 6, 2020, https://mib.gov.in/sites/default/files/SOP%20for%20exhibition%20of%20films.pdf

[18] Standard Operating Procedure (SOP)/ Preventive measures to be taken while holding of Business to Business (B2B) Trade Exhibitions to contain spread of COVID-19, Ministry of Commerce and Industry, October 15, 2020, https://commerce.gov.in/writereaddata/uploadedfile/MOC_6

[19] Notification No. 36/2015-20, Directorate General of Foreign Trade, Ministry of Commerce and Industry, October 6, 2020, https://content.dgft.gov.in/Website/dgftprod/72cf63ac-f3bd-41f7-a9eb-d621341fc2cb/Noti%20No.36%20Engpdf.pdf

[20] Notification No. 40/2015-20, Directorate General of Foreign Trade, Ministry of Commerce and Industry, October 15, 2020, https://content.dgft.gov.in/Website/dgftprod/9b7cc415-9145-4593-bff0-8ca65dfdde16/Noti%2040%20Eng.pdf

[21] Notification No. 42/2015-20, Directorate General of Foreign Trade, Ministry of Commerce and Industry, October 22, 2020, https://content.dgft.gov.in/Website/dgftprod/b1ffbbc7-9e04-4314-be2d-6e68972e28d2/Noti%2042%20Eng.pdf

[22] Notification No. 44/2015-20, Directorate General of Foreign Trade, Ministry of Commerce and Industry, January 31, 2020, https://content.dgft.gov.in/Website/Noti%2044_0.pdf

[23] Notification No. 29/2015-2020, Directorate General of Foreign Trade, Ministry of Commerce and Industry, August 25, 2020, https://content.dgft.gov.in/Website/dgftprod/044dee49-bea7-4bf0-9cb7-5511f5cdab52/Noti%20%2029%20Eng.pdf

[24] Notification No. 53/2015-20, Directorate General of Foreign Trade, Ministry of Commerce and Industry, March 24, 2020, https://content.dgft.gov.in/Website/Noti%2053_0.pdf

[25] Notification No. 04/2015-20, Directorate General of Foreign Trade, Ministry of Commerce and Industry, May 6, 2020, https://content.dgft.gov.in/Website/Noti%204%20dt%2006.05.2020%20Eng_0.pdf

[26] Notification No. 08/2015-20, Directorate General of Foreign Trade, Ministry of Commerce and Industry, June 1, 2020, https://content.dgft.gov.in/Website/noti%2008%20eng_0.pdf

[27] Office Memorandum F. No. AV. 29017/5/2020-DT, Ministry of Civil Aviation, October 19, 2020, https://www.civilaviation.gov.in/sites/default/files/DOC101920-10192020183946.pdf.

[28] Order No. 01/2020, Ministry of Civil Aviation, May 21, 2020, https://www.civilaviation.gov.in/sites/default/files/DOC052220-05222020133918.pdf

[29] Order No. 04/2020, Ministry of Civil Aviation, July 24, 2020, https://www.civilaviation.gov.in/sites/default/files/order_04_of_2020_dt_24072020.pdf.

[30] Order No. 05/2020, Ministry of Civil Aviation, July 24, 2020, https://www.civilaviation.gov.in/sites/default/files/order_05_of_2020_dt_24072020.pdf

[31] Order No. 07/2020, Ministry of Civil Aviation, October 29, 2020, https://www.civilaviation.gov.in/sites/default/files/DOC102920-10292020164701.pdf

[32] S.O. 3752 (E), Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change, October 20, 2020, http://egazette.nic.in/WriteReadData/2020/222661.pdf

[33] “Consumer Price Index Numbers on Base 2012=100 for Rural, Urban and Combined for the Month of September 2020”, Press Release, Ministry Of Statistics And Programme Implementation, October 12, 2020, http://www.mospi.gov.in/sites/default/files/press_release/Press%20Statementsept20.pdf

[34] “Index Numbers of Wholesale Price in India for the month of September, 2020”, Press Release, Ministry of Commerce & Industry, October 14, 2020, https://www.eaindustry.nic.in/pdf_files/cmonthly.pdf.

[35] Monetary Policy Statement, 2020-21, Reserve Bank of India, October 9, 2020, https://rbidocs.rbi.org.in/rdocs/PressRelease/PDFs/PR4533A1E0B5339824F16A86DD4F47711BFAE.PDF

[36] “Special Window to States for meeting the GST Compensation Cess shortfall”, Press Information Bureau, Ministry of Finance, October 15, 2020.

[37] “Borrowing options to meet the GST Compensation requirement for 2020-21”, Press Information Bureau, Ministry of Finance, August 29, 2020.

[38] “Recommendations of the 42nd GST Council Meeting”, Press Information Bureau, Ministry of Finance, October 5, 2020.

[39] Report of the Committee for development of a concept paper on standalone Micro Insurance Companies, Insurance Regulatory and Development Authority of India, October 8, 2020, https://www.irdai.gov.in/ADMINCMS/cms/whatsNew_Layout.aspx?page=PageNo4260&flag=1.  

[40] Order No. IRDAI/NL/ORD/MISC/260/10/2020, Insurance Regulatory and Development Authority of India, October 19, 2020, https://www.irdai.gov.in/ADMINCMS/cms/whatsNew_Layout.aspx?page=PageNo4267&flag=1

[41] Circular No. 71/IFSCA/CMD-RS/2020-21, International Financial Services Centres Authority, October 19, 2020, https://ifsca.gov.in/Viewer/Index/99

[42] Notification RBI/2020-21/59, Reserve Bank of India, October 22, 2020, https://rbidocs.rbi.org.in/rdocs/notification/PDFs/NT597FAB5678F14F46359E7B535EBDE0E412.PDF

[43] Report of the Committee on the Analysis of QR (Quick Response) Code, Reserve Bank of India, July 2020, https://rbidocs.rbi.org.in/rdocs/PublicationReport/Pdfs/ANALYSISQRCODED11971A9B9874EAFA1A61478F461E238.PDF

[44] The Commission for Air Quality Management in National Capital Region and Adjoining Areas Ordinance, 2020, Ministry of Law and Justice, October 28, 2020, http://www.egazette.nic.in/WriteReadData/2020/222804.pdf

[45] G.S.R 662 (E) – ‘Environment (Protection) Amendment Rules, 2020’, Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change, October 19, 2020, http://egazette.nic.in/WriteReadData/2020/222659.pdf

[46] The Environment (Protection) Rules, 1986, Ministry of Environment and Forests, November 19, 1986, https://upload.indiacode.nic.in/showfile?actid=AC_MP_74_308_00003_00003_1543231806694&type=rule&filename=ep_rules_1986.pdf

[47] G.S.R. 641 (E), Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change, October 9, 2020, http://egazette.nic.in/WriteReadData/2020/222527.pdf

[48] The Hazardous and Other Wastes (Management and Transboundary Movement) Amendment Rules, 2016, Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change, April 4, 2016, https://upload.indiacode.nic.in/showfile?actid=AC_RJ_83_1096_00001_00001_1563872109827&type=rule&filename=hazardous_and_other_wastes_(management_and_transboundary_movement)_rules,_2016.pdf

[49] “Cabinet ratifies ban on seven chemicals that are hazardous to health & environment listed under Stockholm Convention”, Press Information Bureau, Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change, October 7, 2020.

[50] G.S.R. 684(E), Gazette of India, Ministry of Labour and Employment, October 29, 2020, http://www.egazette.nic.in/WriteReadData/2020/222829.pdf

[51] The Industrial Relations Code, 2020, http://egazette.nic.in/WriteReadData/2020/222118.pdf

[52] Notification No. GHR/2020/56/FAC/142020/346/M3, Labour and Employment Department, Government of Gujarat, April 17, 2020, https://prsindia.org/files/covid19/notifications/3373.GJ_Lockdown_Relaxations_Factories_Apr%2017.pdf.

[53] Gujarat Mazdoor Sabha vs. State of Gujarat, Writ Petition No. 708 of 2020, https://main.sci.gov.in/supremecourt/2020/11439/11439_2020_34_1501_24245_Judgement_01-Oct-2020.pdf

[54] “Report No. 13 of 2020: Report of the CAG on National Pension System”, Performance Audit Report, Comptroller and Auditor General of India, August 4, 2020, https://cag.gov.in/uploads/download_audit_report/2020/Report%20No.%2013%20of%202020_NPS_English-05f8952c04a4417.54539256.pdf

[55] S.O. 3465 (E) and 3466(E), Gazette of India, Ministry of Home affairs, October 5, 2020, http://www.egazette.nic.in/WriteReadData/2020/222257.pdf

[56] S.O. 3807(E), Gazette of India, Ministry of Home Affairs, October 26, 2020, http://www.egazette.nic.in/WriteReadData/2020/222750.pdf

[57] S.O. 3654(E), Gazette of India, Ministry of Home Affairs, October 16, 2020, http://www.egazette.nic.in/WriteReadData/2020/222521.pdf

[58] Designing the Future of Dispute Resolution: The ODR Policy Plan for India (Draft), NITI Aayog, October 2020, https://niti.gov.in/sites/default/files/2020-10/Draft-ODR-Report-NITI-Aayog-Committee.pdf.

[60] “Rules published for protection of Good Samaritans”, Press Information Bureau, Ministry of Road Transport and Highways, October 1, 2020.

[61] “MoRTH notifies amendment for incorporating divyangjan's ownership in registration documents”, Press Information Bureau, Ministry of Road Transport and Highways, October 23, 2020, https://pib.gov.in/PressReleasePage.aspx?PRID=1667034

[63] SR 20020/2/2020-ML (CN: 342743), Introduction of the Coastal Shipping Bill, Ministry of Shipping, Government of India, October 16, 2020, http://shipmin.gov.in/sites/default/files/uploaded_Ministrywebsitenew_new.pdf

[64] “Coastal Shipping Bill 2020: Explanation of Key Provisions”, Ministry of Shipping, Government of India, October 16, 2020, http://shipmin.gov.in/sites/default/files/Explanation%20Note%20for%20Public%20Consultation.pdf

[65] Draft Coastal Shipping Bill, 2020, Ministry of Shipping, Government of India, October 16, 2020, http://shipmin.gov.in/sites/default/files/Draft%20Coastal%20Shipping%20Bill%202020%20-%20For%20Public%20Comments.xls

[66] Amendments to Merchant Shipping (Maritime Labour) Rules, 2016 – Request for suggestion of stakeholders, F.No.23-60011/2/2020-Crew-DGS, Directorate General of Shipping, October 12, 2020, https://www.dgshipping.gov.in/writereaddata/News/202010120234575075999MSL.pdf

[67] United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, https://www.un.org/depts/los/convention_agreements/texts/unclos/unclos_e.pdf.

[68] “To boost shipbuilding in India, Ministry of Shipping amends Right of First Refusal (ROFR) licensing conditions”, Press Information Bureau, Ministry of Shipping, October 22, 2020. 

[69] “Directorate General of Shipping notified as National Authority for Ships Recycling”, Press Information Bureau, Ministry of Shipping, October 15, 2020, https://pib.gov.in/PressReleasePage.aspx?PRID=1664703

[70] “Ministry of Railways issues "Policy on Development of Goods-sheds at small/road-side stations through Private Investment”, Press Information Bureau, Ministry of Railways, October 15, 2020.

[71] ‘Draft Electricity (Change in Law, Must-run status, and other Matters) Rules, 2020’, Ministry of Power, October 1, 2020, https://powermin.nic.in/sites/default/files/webform/notices/Draft_Electricity_Change_in_Law_Must_run_status_and_other_Matters_Rules_2020.pdf

[72] ‘Draft Electricity (Late Payment Surcharge) Rules, 2020, Ministry of Power, October 8, 2020, https://powermin.nic.in/sites/default/files/webform/notices/Draft%20Electricity%20%28Late%20Payment%20Surcharge%29%20Rules%2C%202020.pdf

[73] ‘Guidelines for tariff based competitive bidding process for procurement of power from grid connected wind-solar hybrid projects’, Ministry of New and Renewable Energy, October 14, 2020, https://mnre.gov.in/img/documents/uploads/file_f-1603290789230.PDF

[74] National Wind-Solar Hybrid Policy, Ministry of New and Renewable Energy, May 14, 2018, https://mnre.gov.in/img/documents/uploads/2775b59919174bb7aeb00bb1d5cd269c.pdf.

[75] ‘Draft Policy Framework for developing and promoting decentralised renewable energy livelihood applications in rural areas’, Ministry of New and Renewable Energy, October 19, 2020, https://mnre.gov.in/img/documents/uploads/file_f-1603098738291.pdf

[76] “Cabinet approves Mechanism for procurement of

ethanol by Public Sector Oil Marketing Companies

under Ethanol Blended Petrol Programme”, Press Information Bureau, Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs, October 29, 2020.

[77] JJM Document number 8, 100 days campaign to provide Piped Water Supplying Anganwadi Centres, Asharmshalas, and Schools, Ministry of Jal Shakti, October 2, 2020, https://jalshakti-ddws.gov.in/sites/default/files/100_Days_Campaign_10_Oct_2020.pdf

[78] “100-days Campaign to be launched on the occasion of Gandhi Jayanti under the Jal Jeevan Mission to provide potable piped water supply in Schools & Anganwadi Centres”, Press Information Bureau, October 1, 2020, https://pib.gov.in/PressReleseDetail.aspx?PRID=1660770

[79] Press Information Bureau, “Cabinet approves Rs. 5718 crore World Bank aided project STARS”, Ministry of Education, October 14, 2020.

DISCLAIMER: This document is being furnished to you for your information. You may choose to reproduce or redistribute this report for non-commercial purposes in part or in full to any other person with due acknowledgement of PRS Legislative Research (“PRS”). The opinions expressed herein are entirely those of the author(s). PRS makes every effort to use reliable and comprehensive information, but PRS does not represent that the contents of the report are accurate or complete. PRS is an independent, not-for-profit group. This document has been prepared without regard to the objectives or opinions of those who may receive it.

Highlights of this Issue

Monsoon session 2020 of Parliament held; 25 Bills passed

Bills passed in the session include three Bills related to agriculture trade and contract farming, three labour Codes that consolidate and replace 25 Acts, and an amendment to the Foreign Contribution Regulation Act, 2010.

20 Bills introduced in Parliament during Monsoon session

These include the Factoring Regulation (Amendment) Bill, 2020, the Assisted Reproductive Technology (Regulation) Bill, 2020, and the National Commission for Allied and Healthcare Professions Bill, 2020.

First supplementary Demands for Grants for 2020-21 passed by Parliament

The first Supplementary Demands propose an incremental cash outgo of Rs 1,66,984 crore, an increase of 5.5% in expenditure over the Rs 30,42,230 crore approved in the 2020-21 budget. 

National lockdown extended till October 31 with several relaxations

Only essential activities will be permitted in containment zones.  Restrictions on opening of schools, theatres, and large-scale congregations to be eased from October 15, subject to certain conditions.

Draft regulatory guidelines for development of vaccines released

These guidelines aim to ensure consistent and safe manufacturing of vaccines with a focus on COVID-19 vaccine.  It specifies procedures and minimum requirements for trial, safety assessment, manufacturing, testing, and delivery.

Current account surplus at 3.9% of GDP during the first quarter of 2020-21

Current account balance in the first quarter of 2020-21 recorded a surplus of USD 19.8 billion (3.9% of GDP) as compared to a current account deficit of USD 15 billion (2.1% of GDP) in the first quarter of 2019-20.

FDI policy in defence amended to permit FDI up to 74% under automatic route

The policy allows 100% FDI in defence with up to 74% allowed under the automatic route for investment in companies seeking new licenses.  FDI beyond 74% requires government approval.   Earlier, this limit was 49%.

Defence Acquisition Procedure, 2020 released

The Defence Acquisition Procedure revises the Defence Procurement Procedure, 2016.  It adds a new category for acquisition, and increases the indigenous content requirement for various categories of acquisition.

Standing Committee submits report on virtual courts

Recommendations include: (i) continuing the virtual court system on an experimental basis with consent of parties, and (ii) ultimately implementing a full-fledged virtual court system on a pilot basis through a consultative process. 

Standing Committee on Finance submits report on financing for startups

The Committee recommended ways to expand financing for startups such as abolition of long-term capital gains tax on investment in startups and allowing insurance companies and banks to channelise investment in startups.

Guidelines to regulate and control groundwater extraction notified

The guidelines exempt domestic consumers, rural drinking water schemes, armed forces, farmers, and micro and small enterprises drawing water up to certain a limit from the requirement of a no objection certificate.

TRAI releases guidelines on OTT communication and cloud computing services

TRAI recommended that there should be no regulatory intervention on over-the-top (OTT) communication services at the moment.   It also provided its recommendations on the industry body of cloud computing service providers.

 

Parliament

Prachi Kaur (prachi@prsindia.org)

Monsoon Session 2020 of Parliament held

The Monsoon session of Parliament was held from September 14, 2020 to September 23, 2020.[1]  Arrangements were made in both the Houses to ensure physical distancing protocols owing to the Coronavirus pandemic.  During the session, Parliament functioned in two parts with one House sitting in the morning and the other sitting in the afternoon.1  The session was curtailed by eight days because of the public health emergency and several MPs getting infected with COVID-19.1 

During this session, 20 Bills were introduced (excluding the Appropriation Bills).[2]  Of these, 11 were to replace Ordinances.  

25 Bills were passed by Parliament (excluding the Appropriation Bills).2  These include three Bills related to agriculture trade and contract farming, the three labour Codes on Social Security, Industrial Relations, and Occupational Safety, the Foreign Contribution (Regulation) Amendment Bill, 2020, the Epidemic Diseases (Amendment) Bill, 2020, and the Aircraft (Amendment) Bill, 2019.2  Of the 20 Bills introduced, 17 Bills (85%) were passed within this session.2

For more details on legislative business taken up during the Monsoon Session 2020, please see here.  For details on the functioning of Parliament during the session, please see here

 

COVID-19

As of September 30, 2020, there were 62,25,763 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in India.[3]   Of these, 51,87,825 had been cured/discharged and 97,497 persons had died.3  For details on the number of daily cases in the country and across states, please see here.  

With the spread of COVID-19, the central government has announced several policy decisions to contain the spread, and financial measures to support citizens and businesses who would get affected.  For details on the major notifications released by centre and the states, please see here.  Key announcements made in this regard in September 2020 are as follows.

Lockdown extended till October 31 with additional relaxations

Roshni Sinha (roshni@prsindia.org)

To contain the spread of COVID-19, the National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) had imposed a 21-day national lockdown in March.[4]  Since then, the lockdown has been extended eight times, with the latest extension till October 31, 2020.[5]  The lockdown will continue to remain in force in containment zones, demarcated on the basis of guidelines issued by the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare (MoHFW).   In such zones, movement will only be permitted for medical emergencies and for supply of essential goods and services.   

States are not permitted to impose local lockdown outside the containment zones without prior consultation with the central government.   In areas outside containment zones, only certain activities will remain prohibited, with provisions for their phased resumption.   

First, states may decide to re-open educational institutions and coaching institutions after October 15, 2020 in a graded manner, and in consultation with school/institution management.  This will be subject to certain conditions such as: (i) online/distance learning must continue to be the preferred mode of learning, and (ii) students may attend schools/institutions with written consent of parents.  Further, research scholars and postgraduate students in science and technology stream requiring laboratory or experimental works may access their institutes from October 15, 2020 based on satisfaction of the Head of Institution (for centrally funded institutions) and based on state government decision for all other institutions.  

Second, the following activities will be allowed to re-open from October 15, 2020: (i) swimming pools used for training of sportspersons, based on standard operating procedures (SOPs) issued by the Ministry of Youth Affairs and Sports, (ii) cinemas, theatres and multiplexes up to 50% capacity in areas outside containment zones based on SOPs issued by the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting, and (iii) entertainment parks and similar places based on SOPs issued by MoHFW.  

Third, social, academic, political and other large-scale congregations beyond 100 persons will be permitted from October 15, 2020 in areas outside containment zones subject to: (i) maximum 50% capacity with a ceiling of 200 persons in closed spaces, and (ii) assessment of the size of the ground/space and other social distancing measures in open spaces.  State governments will issue detailed SOPs in this regard.  

Fourth, international travel will be prohibited, unless permitted by Ministry of Home Affairs.   Travel by trains, domestic air travel, and international movement will continue to be regulated by SOPs issued in this regard.  Further, no restriction may be imposed on intra-state and inter-state movement of persons and goods including those for land-border trade with neighbouring countries (based on treaties).  

The Epidemic Diseases (Amendment) Bill, 2020 passed

Shruti Gupta (shruti@prsindia.org

The Epidemic Diseases (Amendment) Bill, 2020 was passed by Parliament.[6]  It amends the Epidemic Diseases Act, 1897.  The Act provides for the prevention of the spread of dangerous epidemic diseases.  The Bill replaces an Ordinance which amends the Act to provide for protection for healthcare personnel from acts of violence.  It also penalises any action that causes damage to property, in which a healthcare service personnel has direct interest, in relation to the epidemic.[7],[8]  

For a PRS Bill Summary, see here.  

Parliament passed the Bill to amend taxation laws and relax certain provisions

Suyash Tiwari (suyash@prsindia.org)

The Taxation and Other Laws (Relaxation and Amendment of Certain Provisions) Bill, 2020 was passed by Parliament.[9]  It replaces the Ordinance promulgated in March 2020.[10]  The Bill provides certain compliance-related relaxations under tax laws such as the Income Tax Act, 1961 (IT Act).   These relaxations have been provided in view of the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic.  

The Bill extends various deadlines including those for filing returns and claiming deductions under the IT Act.  It also allows the central government to extend the deadlines for various GST-related compliances and actions under the Central Goods and Services Tax Act, 2017.

For more details on the Bill, please see here.

The Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code (Second Amendment) Bill, 2020 passed by Parliament

Saket Surya (saket@prsindia.org)

The Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code (Second Amendment) Bill, 2020 was passed by Parliament.[11]  It replaces the Ordinance promulgated on June 5, 2020 to amend the Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code, 2016.[12]  The Code provides a time-bound process for resolving insolvency in companies and among individuals.  Insolvency is a situation where individuals or companies are unable to repay their outstanding debt.  The Bill seeks to temporarily suspend initiation of the corporate insolvency resolution process (CIRP) for defaults that occur for a period of six months from March 25, 2020.  It allows the central government to extend this period by six months.

For an analysis of the Bill, see here.

Suspension period extended by three months

The Ministry of Corporate Affairs notified an extension in the suspension of CIRP under the Insolvency and Bankruptcy (Second Amendment) Act, 2020 for a further period of three months from September 25, 2020.[13]

Bills to reduce salaries and entitlements of MPs and Ministers passed by Parliament 

Prachi Kaur (prachi@prsindia.org)

Parliament passed two Bills to amend Acts which provide for the salaries and emoluments of MPs and Ministers.[14],[15]  These Bills replace Ordinances which were promulgated in April 2020.  They reduce the salary (one lakh rupees per month) of MPs by 30% for one year.  There is also a reduction of 30% in the sumptuary allowance of Ministers (meant for official entertainment of visitors, which was Rs 3,000 per month for the Prime Minister, Rs 2,000 per month for cabinet ministers, and Rs 1,000 per month for ministers of state).14,15

For an analysis of the Bills, please see here.

Draft regulatory guidelines for development of vaccines released 

Shruti Gupta (shruti@prsindia.org

The Central Drugs Standard Control Organisation (CDSCO) released draft regulatory guidelines on development of vaccines, with a special focus on COVID-19 vaccines.[16]  The guidelines seek to ensure: (i) that vaccines are well-characterised and manufactured consistently, (ii) the stability of vaccines in storage and throughout its shelf-life, (iii) data generation to measure immune response, (iv) conducting clinical trials to establish safety, and (v) assessment of adverse effects following immunisation and vaccination.  Key features of the guidelines include:  

  • Manufacturing: It prescribes the following to ensure safe and standard manufacturing: (i) use of appropriate laboratory methods, (ii) consistency in production, (iii) use of representative vaccine lots in pre-clinical studies, (iv) robust stability testing and testing by CDSCO and concerned State Licensing Authority, and (v) non-clinical studies to measure immune response.
     
  • Non-clinical trials: The guidelines state that a COVID-19 vaccine carries a threat of vaccine-associated Enhanced Respiratory Disease (ERD) and prescribes non-clinical safety studies before initiating clinical trials to ensure minimal risk.  ERD is the result of certain immunisations where antibodies to infectious diseases are not produced.  
     
  • Immunogenicity: Immunogenicity is the ability of a foreign substance (like a vaccine) to provoke an immune response.  To study immunogenicity across different factors and samples, the guidelines state that the trials should be conducted to analyse formulation, vaccine response, co-administration, and maternal immunisation in a comparative framework. 

Comments on the draft guidelines are invited by October 12, 2020.[17]

Insurance for health workers under PMGKP extended by six months 

Shruti Gupta (shruti@prsindia.org

The government has extended the insurance scheme for health workers under the Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Package (PMGKP).  The Scheme was announced in March 2020 for a period of 90 days.[18]  The government has now extended the scheme by six months, till December 2020.[19]

Under the Scheme, insurance cover of up to Rs 50 lakh is provided to 22 lakh healthcare providers, including private hospital staff engaged in responsibilities related to the COVID-19 pandemic.[20]  The insurance provided is over and above any other insurance cover being availed by the beneficiary and does not require any additional registration.  The premium for the Scheme is borne by the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare.    

Advisory guidelines for migrant workers returning to destination states issued

Roshni Sinha (roshni@prsindia.org)

The Ministry of Labour and Employment issued advisory guidelines to state governments for welfare of migrant workers returning to destination states during COVID-19.[21]  These guidelines include: 

  • Nodal officers:  States may nominate nodal officers at the state and district/block/tehsil level to coordinate all issues for migrant workers.  The nodal officers of the origin and destination states may hold periodic review meetings in this regard.
     
  • Screening and testing:  The origin and destination states must ensure screening and testing of migrant workers as per protocols developed by the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare.   Workers should not be put through any financial burden for testing, treatment or quarantine for COVID-19.
     
  • Database:  To build a database of migrant workers, the origin state must collect data in respect of migrant workers (in format specified in the advisory) and share the information with the destination state.  
     
  • Enrolment in schemes:  Origin and destination state governments must ensure enrolment of migrant workers in various government schemes for social security.  Further, data of workers who are not covered by these schemes should be shared with: (i) the Director General of Labour Welfare to facilitate their coverage by these schemes, and (ii) concerned labour authorities to facilitate compliance with existing labour laws on wages, occupational safety, health and working conditions.  Origin and destination state governments must also ensure enrolment of migrant workers in Ayushman Bharat scheme.  
     
  • Provision of ration:  Vulnerable migrant workers should be identified and provided ration by the district administration.  

Limits for spending under State Disaster Response Fund specified

Roshni Sinha (roshni@prsindia.org)

The Disaster Management Act, 2005, mandates the creation of State Disaster Response Funds to manage disasters.  The Ministry of Home Affairs has allowed states to spend up to 50% of the funds lying in the State Disaster Response Fund (SDRF) to contain COVID-19.[22]   This limit was previously set at 35%.[23]  

The permission applies towards expenditure on: (i) quarantine, sample collection and screening facilities, and (ii) procurement of essential equipment/labs for COVID-19.  

Report of the Expert Committee on Resolution Framework for COVID-related Stress released 

Madhunika Iyer (madhunika@prsindia.org)

An Expert Committee (Chair: K. V. Kamath), constituted to make recommendations related to the Resolution Framework for COVID-related Stress, submitted its Report to the Reserve Bank of India (RBI).[24]  The Resolution Framework was released by RBI in August 2020.[25]  

The Framework provides a special window for resolution of borrower stress caused by COVID-19.   Borrower accounts that were standard (not overdue or overdue for less than 30 days) on March 1, 2020 are eligible to restructure their loan (by implementing a resolution plan) without triggering a downgrade in asset classification.  The Framework must be invoked by December 31, 2020.  Separate frameworks have been provided for personal and non-personal loans.  

The Committee was constituted to identify sector-wise financial parameters to be used in assessment of a resolution plan for non-personal borrowers.  The Committee was also asked to evaluate resolution plans involving borrowers with total exposure of Rs 1,500 crore and above.  

The Committee identified five financial ratios related to solvency, liquidity, and coverage for assessment of resolution plans.  Solvency ratios (such as total debt to earnings before interest, depreciation and tax ratio) denote the ability of a company to meet long-term financial obligations.  Liquidity ratio or current ratio denotes the ability to meet short-term obligations.   Coverage ratio (such as debt service coverage ratio) denotes the extent to which cash flow can cover debt payments (in a given time period).  

The Committee selected 26 sectors, including power, construction, and real estate, and recommended sector-specific values for the financial ratios to be used to assess whether resolution plans may be undertaken for certain borrowers.  For example, in the construction sector, resolution plans may be considered for those borrowers whose financial performance is projected to be such that the total debt/EBIDTA ratio will be four or less by 2021-22 and debt service coverage ratio will be one or more by 2022-23 (among other parameter thresholds).

For sectors where thresholds have not been specified: (i) lenders can make their own assessment regarding the solvency ratios, (ii) the current ratio and