There are two aspects to the news- knowing the headline and understanding the intricacies of it. We at The Connectere focus on both. While The First Forum edition gives a brief about the headlines, The Weekly Analysis Edition is meant to educate the reader on what do various news mean and what are their intricacies. This initiative is meant to educate the reader on how to understand the important news. In the Thirty Seventh Edition we are covering the following news:
- Demise of Tarun Gogoi and his Impact on Assam’s Politics
- What is China’s Chang’e-5 probe to the Moon about?
- LAKSHMI VILAS BANK MORATORIUM CASE
- PM Narendra Modi bats for New Global Index at G20
- Kerala puts Libel Law on hold after backlash
Former Assam chief minister Tarun Gogoi, who had been battling for his life with post-Covid complications in a hospital for weeks, died of multiple organ failure this week. Tarun Gogoi was a popular leader and a veteran administrator, who had years of political experience in Assam as well as the Centre. His tenure as the Chief Minister of Assam is seen as the most impactful and groundbreaking tenure in Assam’s politics as he was the one led the Indian National Congress party to a record three consecutive electoral victories and was the longest serving Chief Minister of the state. During his tenure as the chief minister, he is credited with ending militant insurgency and mitigating violence in addition to improving the state’s fiscal condition.
When Gogoi took charge of Assam in 2001, he inherited a state ravaged by two decades of militancy, security crackdowns and ethnic violence. Older generations remember Guwahati coming to a standstill after dark and midnight knocks on the door. Under the Asom Gana Parishad government, “secret killings” proliferated. These were targeted assassinations of militants from the United Liberation Front of Asom and their relatives, usually by surrendered ULFA cadres and allegedly with the tacit consent of the government. Meanwhile, the economy was in a shambles – Assam had a budgetary deficit of Rs 780 crore and the state did not even have enough money to pay its own employees.
Under Gogoi Fiscal discipline was restored, welfare schemes and police reforms were implemented as Gogoi went about the painful work of restoring trust between people and the state. By 2009, Assam had a budgetary surplus. The brooding streets of Guwahati were lit up by new malls and hotels. Meanwhile, the secret killings stopped. An inquiry commission set up by the state government found complicity between the SULFA, as the surrendered militants were called, and the police and army. A state human rights commission was set up.
The Gogoi years also saw a tentative architecture for peace put in place. There were peace talks with a section of the ULFA and Bodo militants, and autonomous councils for six ethnic minorities.
With his passing, Indian politics has lost one of the old guard. It took a complex politician like Gogoi to lead a complex state like Assam for 15 years and leave it better off than when he took charge.
On November 24, China’s Chang’e-5 lunar mission became the first probe in over four decades set to bring back samples of lunar rock from a previously unexplored portion of the Moon. Early in 2019, China’s Chang’e-4 probe successfully transmitted images from the far side of the Moon, also referred to as the dark side. This was the first probe to land in this portion of the Moon.
Chang’e-5 probe, which is named after the Chinese Moon goddess who is traditionally accompanied by a white or jade rabbit, is the Chinese National Space Administration’s (CNSA) lunar sample return mission that was launched from the Wenchang Space Launch Center on Hainan Island in China. The goal of the mission is to land in the Mons Rumker region of the moon, where it will operate for one lunar day, which is two weeks long and return a 2 kg sample of the lunar rock possibly by digging about 2 metres deep into the surface of the Moon.
The mission comprises a lunar orbiter, a lander and an ascent probe that will lift the lunar samples back into orbit and return them back to Earth. Chang’e-5 comprises a robotic arm, a coring drill, a sample chamber and is also equipped with a camera, penetrating radar and a spectrometer.
When the samples are returned to Earth, scientists will be able to analyze the structure, physical properties, and material composition of the moon’s soil. The mission may help answer questions such as how long the moon remained volcanically active in its interior, and when its magnetic field key to protecting any form of life from the sun’s radiation dissipated.
If successful, the mission will make China only the third country to have retrieved lunar samples, following the United States and the Soviet Union decades ago.
Similar to its past decisions of putting PMC Bank and Yes Bank under moratorium due their respective financial problems, RBI has put one more such struggling bank called Lakshmi Vilas Bank under a 30-day moratorium in wake of ‘serious deterioration in the financial position’ of the bank. It has superseded the company’s board of directors and announced a draft scheme for amalgamation with DBS Bank India, a subsidiary of Singapore based bank called DBS. It is the first time that RBI is seeking help from a foreign bank to manage the crisis in a domestic bank. Under this resolution, RBI has restricted withdrawals by depositors at Rs 25,000 from saving and current accounts and expenditure on any item at Rs 50,000 per month. It must be noted that the speed at which this resolution has been announced by RBI after putting the bank under moratorium was unprecedented.
Talking of the decline in financial position, Lakshmi Vilas Bank has been continuously facing losses over the last three years. The net worth of bank has been eroded and with declining advances and mounting NPAs, the losses are expected to continue. RBI had been continually engaging with the Bank’s management to find ways to augment the capital funds to comply with the capital adequacy norms. The bank management had indicated to the central bank that it was in talks with certain investors but it failed to submit any concrete proposal to the RBI. In the meantime, the bank was facing regular outflow of liquidity. It posted a net loss of Rs 397 crore in the September quarter of FY21, as against a loss of Rs 112 crore in June quarter. Also, almost one fourth of bank’s advances have turned bad assets with NPA ratio standing at 25.40% of the advances as of June 2020. The deposit base has also been continuously shrinking from 23,565 crore in December 2019 to 20,973 crore in September 2020. After taking these developments into consideration, the RBI has come to a conclusion that in the view of protection of depositor’s interest and in absence of a credible revival plan, there is no alternative but to apply to the Central Government for imposing a moratorium under section 45 of Banking Regulation Act,1949. In wake of this, it is highly probable that the shareholders of Lakshmi Vilas Bank, which majorly include general public, may not get anything from the DBS deal, turning the investment of all of depositors into an entire loss. Other shareholders also include LIC, Aditya Birla Sun Life Insurance, India Bulls Financing House etc.
The Lakshmi Vilas bank’s moratorium announcement seriously points out the financial problems which are penetrating deeply into the banking sector, thus making the banking companies extremely vulnerable to falling deposits and monetary losses. RBI’s immediate plan of action to save Lakshmi Vilas Bank from turning bankrupt is appreciated, but some concrete resolution for solving the banking companies woes is the need of the hour to save the banking industry from entering into further dead-ends.
Saudi Arabia chaired the 15th G20 Summit virtually on 21st Nov 2020 in a first for an Arab nation. The summit was important amid a raging pandemic, economic crisis, US President Donald Trump’s refusal to accept the latest election results and criticism for G20s inadequate response to the global recession. In the summit, Prime Minister Narendra Modi urged the world leaders to extend an arm and take decisive action towards preserving our planet in addition to trade and economic recovery. The PM put forward a New Global Index for the post-pandemic world to the leaders. The index comprises of four key elements:
- Dealing with the planet with a spirit of trusteeship,
- Creation of a vast talent pool,
- Transparency in systems of governance, and
- Ensuring that technology reaches all segments of the society.
The PM stressed upon the fact that India is not only meeting but exceeding its Paris Agreement targets. The need of the hour is to focus on re-skilling and multi-skilling, over and above capital and finance. PM Modi suggested an integrated, comprehensive and holistic approach to fight climate change with more finance and support to the developing nations. He emphasized on greater transparency in governance that will enhance the confidence of citizens and inspire them to deal with common challenges. Handling and dealing with nature and environment as trustees instead of owners would inspire people for a healthy and holistic lifestyle. Apart from Climate Change, he also suggested a G20 Virtual Secretariat as a follow-up and documentation repository in the times of the new normal.
Elaborating on India’s achievement, Modi highlighted how LED lights are saving around 38 Million tons of Carbon Dioxide per year, smoke-free kitchens are now available under Ujjwala Scheme to more than 8 Crore households and that India will reach its target of 175 Giga Watts of renewable energy by 2022 before time. India currently aims to restore around 26 Million hectares of degraded land and achieve 450 Giga Watts of renewable energy by 2030. Not only PM Modi, but Japanese PM Yoshihide Suga too emphasized that Japan will make international efforts to fight climate change with an aim for net-zero emissions by 2050. Chinese President Xi Jinping also said about China’s plan for carbon neutrality by 2060.
After backlash, the Kerala government has decided to put its new ordinance that gave powers to prosecute persons spreading defamatory content on hold. The government would now seek a consensus by having a debate in the Assembly and hearing the views of all parties for the same.
The ordinance, signed by the Kerala Governor Arif Muhammad Khan, sought for punishing the expression, publication and dissemination of matters that are humiliating, insulting, defamatory and threatening. The decision to put on hold was taken after CM Vijayan held discussions with the Left Democratic Front (LDF) and CPI (M) State secretariat.The widespread criticism of the move was in the light that the new ordinance could be used to target media by suppressing free speech and silencing critics. The opposition was majorly from civil right activists and journalists that regarded the new ordinance as a “black law”. The ordinance allowed arrest for online posts that are deemed as offensive. Offenders could be subjected to up to 3 years of jail, fine of Rs. 10000 or both.
Mr. Vijayan cited “widespread malicious campaigns” on social media a threat to dignity, individual freedom and constitutionally ensured citizens. Additionally, A. Vijayaraghavan, LDF Convener and CPI (M) acting State secretary, said that the law was necessary to prevent the misuse of social media for targeting children, women and families. However, the opposition parties denied these claims repeatedly as the scope of the abuse of law was very wide including conventional as well as social media under its ambit. They alleged that it was a move by the state government to reduce criticism as the assembly polls are merely six months apart. The law left the abuse to the independent and subjective interpretation of the police. Also, the police could independently examine broadcasted and published content and register case without any complaint.Even rival BJP and Congress were on a common stance in this matter opposing the implementation of the Section 118A of the Kerala Police Act, 2011. K Surendran, Kerala BJP Chief, referred to the new amendment as a “tool of repression” and also moved to the High Court against the amendment. Shashi Tharoor, MP from Kerala, regarded the ordinance as loosely drafted that could be used against political opponents. According to few officials, the LDF government is likely to lapse the ordinance.