26th January 2021

UN: FDI inflows fall in major economies; India, China outliers

  • Recently, an ‘investment trends monitor’ namely World Economic Situation and Prospects  has been issued by the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD).
  • According to the United Nations, Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) into India rose by 13 per cent in 2020, boosted by interest in the digital sector.
  • Fund flows “declined most strongly” in major economies like the UK, the USA and Russia due to the Covid-19 pandemic, India and China “bucked the trend”.
  • Global foreign direct investment (FDI) collapsed in 2020 by 42 per cent to an estimated $859 billion from $1.5 trillion in 2019.
  • Such a low level was last seen in the 1990s and is more than 30 per cent below the investment trough that followed the 2008-2009 global financial crisis.
  • The decline in FDI in flows was concentrated in developed countries, where fund flows decreased by 69 per cent to an estimated $229 billion. However, FDI in India rose 13 percent, boosted by investments in the digital sector.
  • The government policies and reforms have made India a preferred destination for foreign direct investments and the inflows grew at the fastest rate among top economies.
  • India’s economy is estimated to contract by 9.6 per cent in 2020, as lockdowns and other efforts to control Covid-19 slashed domestic consumption without halting the spread of the disease, and the growth is expected to recover and grow at 7.3 percentin2021.
  • In 2020, the world economy shrank by 4.3 per cent, over two and half times more than during the global financial crisis of 2009.

 

Sexual assault under POCSO needs skin to skin contact: Bombay HC

The Nagpur bench of Bombay High Court acquitted a man of sexual assault on the grounds that pressing the breasts of a child over her clothes without direct “skin to skin” physical contact does not constitute “sexual assault” under the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act.

  • It could have implications on a range of cases. It set aside the ruling of a lower court under Section 8 of POCSO applicable to “sexual assault” on children, against convict.
  • Section 8 of POCSO provides for stringent punishment of five years’ of rigorous imprisonment (RI), the High Court observed that “stricter proof and serious allegations are required”.
  • As such there is no direct physical contact i.e. skin to skin with sexual intent without penetration”.
  • The bench observed that “the act of pressing breast can be a criminal force to a woman/girl with the intention to outrage her modesty.”
  • This Court holds that the appellant is acquitted under Section 8 of the POCSO Act and convicted under minor offence u/s 354 of IPC and sentenced him to undergo RI. The maximum sentence is five years and the minimum one year for an offence under this section.
  • POCSO’s definition of sexual assault:  As per the definition, the offence involves following necessary ingredients — act must have been committed with sexual intent, act must involve touching the vagina, penis, anus or breast of the child or making the child touch the vagina, penis, anus or breast of such person or any other person or doing any other act with sexual intent which involve contact without penetration.”
  • As per the definition of ‘sexual assault’, a ‘physical contact with sexual intent without penetration’ is an essential ingredient of the offence.
  • The words ‘any other act’ encompasses within itself the nature of the acts which are similar to the acts which have been specifically mentioned in the definition on the premise of the principle of ejusdem generis (of the same kind). The act should be of the same nature or close to that.”

e-EPIC
Recently, on National Voter’s Day on 25 January 2021, e-EPIC has been launched.

  • e-EPIC will be a non-editable secure portable document format (PDF) version of the EPIC which can be downloaded on mobile or in a self-printable form on the computer.
  • A voter can thus store the card on his mobile, upload it on Digi locker or print it and self-laminate it.
  • This is in addition to PVC EPIC being issued for fresh registration.

Benefits to Citizens

  • Alternate and faster mode of obtaining Electoral Photo Identity Card in a digital format.
  • Equally valid as a proof of document for voter identification.
  • Can be printed at the convenience of the voter and can bring it as proof during poling.
  • Self-service model.

NATIONAL VOTERS DAY (NVD):

  • The 11th NVD is being celebrated by the Election Commission of India (ECI).
  • It is celebrated since 2011.
  • According to the government, over 10 lakh locations across the country that include polling stations, sub-divisions, district headquarters celebrate this day to mark the foundation day of the ECI, which was founded on 25 January 1950.

PURPOSE OF NVD

  • To encourage, facilitate and maximize the enrolment of new voters and bring them in the democratic system.
  • Dedicated to the voters in the country, the day witnesses activities aimed at promoting the participation of voters in the electoral process.
  • Theme 2021 NVD: Making Our Voters Empowered, Vigilant, Safe and Informed

 

Biju Patnaik

A room in Indonesian embassy was designated as Biju Patnail room to honour his contribution towards Indonesian’s Independence.

  • He was conferred Indonesia’s ‘Bintang Jasa Utama’ award for the heroic role he had played when Dutch colonialists had tried to gain control over the country in 1947.
  • He started his training as an ace pilot at the Delhi Flying Club in 1930 and joined the Royal Indian Air Force in 1936.
  • He played an important role in the Indian freedom struggle.
  • He had air dropped leaflets on the Quit India Movement for Indian soldiers fighting against Maynmar as part of the British Indian armed forces.
  • He helped ferry freedom fighters from one place to another during the independence struggle.
  • During this time, he became friends with Jawaharlal Nehru.

 

Supply of COVID-19 vaccines to South Africa
South African Health Products Regulatory Authority (SAHPRA) has granted approval to the world’s largest drug Manufacturer of India (SII) to supply COVID-19 vaccines to the country.

  • SII is producing the COVID-19 vaccines in collaboration with University of Oxford and AstraZeneca, to supply the drug to the country.
  • The approval comes amid growing concerns that the 1.5 million vaccine doses to be shipped to South Africa in the next few weeks had not been approved by the local regulator.

 

UP tops in disbursing vendor loans; Bengal, Kerala lowest
Even as several state governments and their local administrations are pushing the PM SVANidhi Yojana, the Centre’s micro-credit scheme for urban street vendors, there are stark differences in the pace of implementation of the scheme across states.

  • Uttar Pradesh has disbursed over 3.5 lakh loans, and Telangana and Madhya Pradesh have given out over 2 lakh loans each over the past seven months, West Bengal, Assam, and Kerala have disbursed only a small fraction of those numbers.
  • The PM Street Vendors’ Atmanirbhar Nidhi (PM SVANidhi) scheme, launched in June 2020 amid the Covid-19 pandemic, provides street vendors collateral-free loans of Rs10,000 at concessional rates. All vendors who have been vending since March 24, 2020, and have a certificate of vending, can avail of the loan.
  • UP tops the implementation list, with banks in the state having disbursed loans aggregating to Rs 347.4 crore to 3.54 lakh individuals as of 20 January 2021.
  • West Bengal sits at the bottom of the list – a mere Rs 9 lakh has been disbursed during this period under the scheme to just 95 individuals across the state, data on the PM SVANidhi website show.
  • The disbursal numbers in West Bengal are lower than states that are far smaller in area and population, such as Tripura, Mizoram, and Goa.
  • Kerala is among the worst performers and it has so far disbursed a total Rs 6.09 crore to 6,144 individuals, scoring above only West Bengal and Assam among the bigger states.

 

In the works, CSR-like policy for scientific community

  • The Ministry of Science and Technology has drafted a policy on the lines of the mandatory corporate social responsibility model for the country’s scientific community, this was necessitated by scientists’ “isolation” from societal needs.
  • The “Scientific Social Responsibility” policy, under consultation for a year now, has been finalised and will soon be sent to the Union cabinet for approval.
  • As per the draft policy, every “knowledge worker” has to devote atleast 10 person-days each year to SSR activity, which can include giving lectures in schools and colleges, sharing infrastructure, conducting skill development workshops, and coming up with solutions to local environmental or health issues.
  • Beneficiaries can include students, school and college teachers, local bodies, communities, women’s groups, NGOs and MSMEs, among others.
  • While the knowledge worker would be given wide latitude in choosing the SSR activity, it should necessarily pertain to the transmission of scientific knowledge to society.
  • The policy envisages an SSR monitoring system in each institution to assess institutional projects and individual activity.
  • Institutes are also to publish their SSR activity as part of their annual reports. Individual SSR work is to be given due weightage in “performance evaluation of the knowledge worker, such as the performance-based assessment system the output of university and college teachers”.
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