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 Twenty-Eighth Edition we are covering the following news:
- China attacked Indian satellite communications: US Report
- Saudi Arabia suspends flights to and from India
- SBI’s retail loan recast scheme
- Why is this year’s US presidential election so significant?
- Labour Law Reforms
“Computer network attack against Indian satellite communications in 2017” is one among a few of counter-space activities carried out by China since 2007, listed in a new report by US-based China Aerospace Studies Institute(CASI), which provides China’s space narrative among other things.
Isro, whil conceding that cyber-attacks are a constant threat, maintains that its systems has not been compromised so far.
The 142-page report notes that between 2012 and 2018, China carried out multiple cyber-attacks, but elaborates on the result on the result only in one case.
In 2012, a Chinese network based computer attack on the Jet Propulsion Laboratory(JPL), report points out, “allowed’full functional control’ over JPL networks.” The report quotes multiple sources while listing out some of these attacks.
India, as part of its counter-space capabilities, demonstrated Anti-Satellite(A-Sat) missile technology on March 27,2019, which equipped India with a ‘kinetic kill’ option to destroy enemy satellites. But the CASI report points to how China has multiple other counter-space technologies that are intended to threaten adversary space systems from ground to geosynchronous orbit(GEO). These include direct-ascent kinetic-kill vehicles(anti-satellite missiles), co-orbital satellites, directed energy weapons, jammers and cyber capabilities.
CASI, a think tank, supports the secretary, chief of staff of the US Air Force, the US chief of space operations, and other senior air and space leaders. It provides expert research and analysis supporting decisions and policymakers in the US Department of Defense and across the US government.
CASI supplements findings of a recent US Pentagon report which had said that the PLA continues to acquire and develop technologies that China could use to “blind and deafen the enemy”.
“China has investments in developing ground, air and space-based radio frequency jammers that target uplinks, downlinks, and crosslinks involved in either control of space systems or data transmission,” the report reads.
ISRO, multiple insiders said, hasn’t been able to pinpoint sources of cyber-attacks over the years. “Cyber threats are a given but it cannot be ascertained who are behind such attacks. We’ve systems in place to alert us and I don’t think we’ve ever been compromised,” a senior scientist said.
The General Authority of Civil Aviation (GACA) of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia has suspended all flights to and from India in wake of the increasing number of Covid-19 cases here. Besides India, air travel to and from Brazil and Argentina has also been suspended by Saudi Arabia.
In an official statement, GACA said: “Saudi Arabia has suspended travel to and from India, Brazil, and Argentina; including any person who has been there 14 days prior to their proposed arrival in Saudi.” However, passengers who have official government invitations have been excluded from this suspension. Saudi Arabia and the UAE host a significant Indian migrant population. Five days back, Air India Express had said the Dubai Civil Aviation Authority (DCAA) suspended its flights for 24 hours for bringing two passengers with Covid-positive certificates on August 28 and September 4. According to rules of the UAE government, every passenger travelling from India is required to bring an original Covid-negative certificate of an RT-PCR test done within 96 hours prior to the journey.
Hong Kong also banned Air India flights from Sunday till October 3 after a few passengers on its flight tested positive for Covid-19 post arrival, a senior government official said.
The number of Covid-19 cases in India reached 56,46,010, and the death toll climbed to 90,020 with 1,085 people succumbing to the disease in the past 24 hours, the health ministry’s data updated at 8 am on Wednesday showed.
SBI led banks are offering a 2 years’ moratorium to retail investors who have taken home, education, auto or personal loans under the loan restructuring policy approved by the Reserve Bank of India with usual applicable interest and an additional interest of 0.35% per annum for this period to offset the partial cost of additional provisions required to be made by the bank.
Although SBI was the first to take this step, other public sector banks are gearing up to offer similar products in the coming days.
Under this scheme, the relaxations include moratorium of up to a maximum of 24 months, rescheduling of instalments, and extension of tenure by a period equivalent to the moratorium granted subject to a maximum of 2 years. During this period, borrowers don’t have to pay EMIs on the loan but if the borrowers have surplus cash during the moratorium, they can pay EMIs. This will help in reducing the interest amount. The tenure of the loan will be extended by the period of the moratorium and the EMI payable after the moratorium will be recalculated and advised to the customers.
However, there are strict conditions for considering a retail borrower as affected by the Covid-19 pandemic which includes the borrower’s salary getting reduced in August as compared to February of 2020, or reduction in pension, or loss of job and closure of the business.
The maximum age up to which the tenor of the loan can be extended is product specific but in any case, the maximum extension can be granted only up to 24 months under this framework.
The retail loan restructuring is on liberal terms when compared to the corporate loan recast plan recommended by the KV Kamath Committee. The RBI has broadly accepted the Committee’s recommendation to take into account five specific financial ratios and sector-specific thresholds for each ratio in respect of 26 sectors while finalising the resolution plans but the process is complicated.
With the upcoming US presidential election in November, a global audience is practically hanging at the edge of its seat as it awaits the outcome because of its existential importance. The echoes of ‘Black Lives Matter’ and protests have been felt across every continent.
US being a major super power in the world, its elections are always of importance to the rest of the world but to understand why this November’s one is of such international significance let’s go back to 2016, when President Donald Trump’s election heralded a populist revolution. This election’s outcome will indicate whether that populist revolution, global in its scope even if it’s anti-globalist in its intent, has run its course or not. Even before Trump’s election there were problems with the liberal consensus. For instance, market driven societies were slowly evolving into oligarchies, where rich corporations simply bought up their competitors and barely paid any taxes; and the capitalist system failed to prevent the 2008 global financial crash.
Those problems burst out in the open with the re-emergence of pre-World War II style nationalism and many seeking to emulate the Chinese hyper-nationalist model.
Populist nationalism model knows very well what it’s against and is capable of coming up with compelling diagnoses of what ails the liberal order but its solutions are simplistic like banning immigrants, not importing goods from other countries or treating independent institutions and media as enemies of the people. These cures are not workable solutions; in fact, they give rise to more problems. For example, in response to the problem of illegal immigrants in India the solution was to institute an NRC that will compel every Indian citizen to prove citizenship all over again to the satisfaction of some petty bureaucrat. The advent of social media has amplified the chaos which often blurs the distinction between news, hate speech and conspiracy theories.
Today, social media often reinforces confirmation bias, seeking out only that information which reinforced already existing beliefs. Joe Biden, in his, nomination acceptance speech, had said that this election stands apart from the rest because “science and democracy are themselves on the ballot”. There is an open letter by 81 Nobel laureates in science endorsing Biden for president, citing his “willingness to listen to experts” and his appreciation for “the value of science in formulating public policy”.
As far as India is concerned, a Biden victory will work far better. Trump heading the US would strengthen the hands of the Chinese Communist Party, regardless of what Trump’s accusations against China because the powerful nations always trample the weaker ones and in the long run, China might even overpower US as it is China has already shown that it handled the COVID-19 crisis much better than Trump-led US. There is also the issue of Trump’s questionable response to racial discrimination in the country and him trying to deny proper healthcare to the LGBTQ+ community and ignoring the climate change crisis. Trump’s re-election could not only worsen America’s internal crisis but also delay action on the climate change crisis for the next four years thereby endangering the planet.
What are the two most important things you need to run a business? Capital and labour. Any sort of business requires these two elements possibly in varying quantities and/or degrees. Hence, labour and capital become to central to any economy. The Rajya Sabha, the upper house of the Parliament, recently approved 3 labour codes subsuming 25 labour laws, putting in force a major reform that had been on the table for 17 years now.
What are the trivial details of these labour codes and how do they really help, is what we try to find out in this piece. The three codes on — social security, industrial relations and occupational safety – already cleared by the Lok Sabha, will now offer industries flexibility in doing business, hiring and firing, make industrial strikes difficult while promoting fixed term employment, reducing influence of trade unions and expanding social security net for informal sector workers. Along with the Wage Code, passed in August 2019, the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) government has now merged 29 central laws into four codes reducing compliance hassles, and streamlining laws – which have been the demands of industries for decades. After the assent of the President, India will have four labour codes henceforth.
Some of the existing laws date back to pre-independence. Some of central laws which have merged with these codes are the Factories Act, the Industrial Disputes Act, the Trade Union Act, the Mines Act, the EPF Act, the Employees State Insurance Corporation Act, and Maternity Benefit Act, among others.
In the Industrial Relations Code Bill, 2020, the government has proposed to introduce more conditions restricting the rights of workers to strike, alongside an increase in the threshold relating to layoffs and retrenchment in industrial establishments having 300 workers from 100 workers or more at present — steps that are likely to provide more flexibility to employers for hiring and firing workers without government permission. The Industrial Relations Code has raised the threshold for requirement of a standing order — rules of conduct for workmen employed in industrial establishments — to over 300 workers. This implies industrial establishments with up to 300 workers will not be required to furnish a standing order, a move which experts say would enable companies to introduce arbitrary service conditions for workers.
Now that we get a gist of what the reforms really mean and do, let us have a closer look at some of the apprehensions that have arisen in the minds of experts and whether it is a good thing or a bad. Analysts say the increase in the threshold for standing orders will water down the labour rights for workers in small establishments having less than 300 workers.
The Industrial Relations Code also introduces new conditions for carrying out a legal strike. The time period for arbitration proceedings has been included in the conditions for workers before going on a legal strike as against only the time for conciliation at present. For instance, the IR Code proposes that no person employed in any industrial establishment shall go on strike without a 60-day notice and during the pendency of proceedings before a Tribunal or a National Industrial Tribunal and sixty days after the conclusion of such proceedings. Thus, elongating the legally permissible time frame before the workers can go on a legal strike, making a legal strike well-nigh impossible. The IR code has expanded to cover all industrial establishments for the required notice period and other conditions for a legal strike. The Standing Committee on Labour had recommended against the expansion of the required notice period for strike beyond the public utility services like water, electricity, natural gas, telephone and other essential services. At present, a person employed in a public utility service cannot go on strike unless he gives notice for a strike within six weeks before going on strike or within fourteen days of giving such notice, which the IR Code now proposes to apply for all the industrial establishments.