Welcome to the Endeavor Editors Current Affairs Choicest Blog series. Get a weekly roundup -on news from business, economy, markets, policy, and more. A quick capsule format news summary and update to keep you abreast with all the latest current affairs.
Current Affairs March 2021 – Week 1
1. Global Economy
Budget 2021: What did the UK chancellor layout and is it enough? – BBC Newsnight
The UK has announced over £280 billion of support, protecting jobs, keeping businesses afloat, and helping families get by the unprecedented damage Covid-19 has done. Since March 2019, over 700,000 people have lost their jobs. The economy has shrunk by 10% – the largest fall in over 300 years and UK’s borrowing is the highest it has been outside of wartime.
The Budget will meet the moment with a three-part plan to protect the jobs and livelihoods of the British people. First, it will continue doing whatever it takes to support the British people and businesses through this moment of crisis. Second, once the country is on its way to recovery, it will begin fixing the public finances. And, third, to begin the work of building the future economy. UK Budget 2021
Watch the full video below:
The Senate just passed the American Rescue Plan—here’s how it differs from the House version
Senate Democrats passed their version of the near-$1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan Act Saturday afternoon, but not before making some major changes from the version of the bill passed by the House of Representatives last week.
Some of the most notable changes between the two relief bills include dropping a provision to gradually increase the minimum wage to $15 per hour and reducing the number of people who will qualify for a $1,400 stimulus payment. For details visit.
Senators worked throughout night to reach deal in coronavirus relief package
2. Indian Economy
Bank privatization: Talks between unions, government draw a blank ahead of two-day strike
A meeting between bank employee unions and senior finance ministry officials to discuss the government’s plan to privatize public sector banks ended in an impasse, as both sides failed to find a common ground. The two sides will meet again on March 9. Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman in Union Budget 2021 announced the plan to privatize two state-run banks without giving their names. There is speculation that the Bank of Maharashtra, Bank of India, Central Bank of India, and Indian Overseas Bank are being considered for privatization in the first phase. For details visit.
Opinion: Will there be takers for NPA-ridden government banks?
The privatization of PSBs is a politically sensitive move. Bank employee trade unions have already raised objections against the proposed privatization move. Trade unions continue to have a say in the running of these institutions, which will force the government to convince the trade unions about the merit of the privatization agenda.
The government will have to first implement the bad bank plan to address the problem of NPAs in PSBs and clean up their balance sheets. If the books are healthy, there could be potential takers for these banks among NBFCs and business houses for these banks. The government, along with the RBI, will have to then work out reasonable terms for the privatization of these banks. For details visit.
Haryana govt brings reservation in pvt sector jobs: Is the policy good for economy?
Haryana Government has passed a bill reserving 75% of the jobs in the state for the locals in the private sector. While the quota has been appreciated by members of the BJP party, opposition, and India Inc. have slammed the move. India Inc. has called the new job quota in Haryana disastrous. This comes at a time when the country is already battling with a rise in the numbers of unemployment. For details visit.
Entire fiscal stimulus to be funded by borrowing, revenues: Nirmala Sitharaman
The Aatmanirbhar Bharat package announced by the government in 2020 to perk up the economy was estimated to be about ?27.1 lakh crore, which amounts to more than 13 percent of GDP. This also includes liquidity measures announced by the RBI.
Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman on Friday said the entire fiscal stimulus announced by the government would be funded by borrowings and revenues, and taxpayers will not be charged even a single penny. For details visit.
Indian economy to do better than -8% prediction: Finance ministry
The Department of Economic Affairs in its monthly report said, economic activity in India has gathered pace with mild stiffening of the COVID-19 curve, failing to deter a steady uptick in consumer sentiment, which has been bolstered by the inoculation drive. “Positive GDP growth in Q3 of FY21 for the first time since the onset of the pandemic adds to the positive sentiment as the economy is set to close the year with activity levels higher than measured in the second advance estimates of GDP,” the report said. It said the Reserve Bank’s industrial outlook survey (IOS) conducted in Q3 of FY21 has also re-affirmed this optimism. For details visit.
Five Big Elections That Will Decide India’s Political Discourse In 2021
The Assembly elections lined up in West Bengal, Kerala, Tamil Nadu, Assam, and Puducherry in the first half of 2021, will play a huge role in setting the tone of national politics. Why are these elections so crucial and who are the key players? To know more watch the video below:
High stakes: On the upcoming Assembly elections in India
Assembly elections in Assam, West Bengal, Tamil Nadu, Kerala, and the Union Territory of Puducherry will be taking place in changed circumstances. Polls will begin on March 27, with the results on May 2. The BJP’s performance in West Bengal will be the most eagerly watched aspect in these elections. The significant strength of Muslim voters in West Bengal is often cited as a demographic barrier for the Hindu nationalist party. For details visit.
The End of Democracy in Myanmar
Rumors had been swirling for days before Myanmar’s military launched a coup, taking back power and ousting the civilian leader, Daw Aung San Suu Kyi. Ms. Aung San Suu Kyi’s relationship with the military has defined much of her life. That military, founded by her father, an independence hero, placed her under house arrest for 15 years. She defended its ethnic cleansing of the Rohingya, a Muslim ethnic minority group. And now, it has ejected her from power.
The nation’s political experiment appears to be over, with military generals in control and the civilian leader, Aung San Suu Kyi, under house arrest. We look at her rise and fall. Listen to the full podcast here.
Opinion: Restoration of its parliament is the only way ahead for Myanmar
Myanmar needs a new constitution and deserves a representative government. A new election, especially if it is held without the (National League for Democracy) NLD, will not restore faith in democracy. Nor can a new constitution be imposed. The parliament that was to have met a month ago is the only legitimate body that can initiate the process of getting a new constitution drafted, and it is precisely this prospect that the generals seem scared of. Yet, that’s what the demonstrators want and should be the international community’s focus. For details visit.
UK lacks plan to reach net-zero emissions by 2050, say MPs
A high-profile UK parliamentary committee has criticized the government for having “no co-ordinated plan” to achieve its goal of net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050. The government has been accused of not having yet outlined how it intended to achieve the net-zero target, which was set in 2019, and of lacking a joined-up system for monitoring progress and not doing enough to ensure that investments were made with climate goals in mind. Department for Business, Energy, and Industrial Strategy has said it plans to publish its net-zero strategy before COP26 (Conference of the Parties-26th Session). For details visit.
In Iceland, 18,000 earthquakes over days signal possible eruption on the horizon
Iceland sits on a tectonic plate boundary that continually splits apart, pushing North America and Eurasia away from each other along the line of the Mid-Atlantic Ridge and hence is always prone to earthquakes. Most of the ridge is deep underwater and much of its seismic activity cannot be felt by humans, but earthquakes as strong as at least 6.9-magnitude have been felt in Iceland in the past. This unusual uptick in large tremors could be enough to trigger an eruption from one of the multiple nearby volcanoes, Iceland’s meteorological agency warned. However, experts said an eruption “should not threaten inhabited areas of the peninsula.” For details visit.
Mutual fund penetration in India among lowest, shows Jefferies report
An analysis done by Jefferies shows India’s MF AUM (Assets under Management) as a percentage of GDP at 12 percent is among the lowest and a fraction of the global average of 63 percent. Assets of equity-oriented schemes at the end of January stood at Rs 8.91 trillion. Developed economies like the US and Canada have 75 percent and 55 percent as their equity AUM to GDP. For details visit.
Value of delisting offers at record-high amid pandemic surge, shows data
The value of delisting offers in FY21, so far, stands at a record Rs 22,165.5 crore, show numbers from Prime Database. With one month still to go in the financial year, this is already the highest since records are available — since FY04. It is a whopping 4x the previous high of Rs 5,479.4 crore in FY16.
Sebi prepared a consultation paper in November 2020 to improve the existing delisting framework. Changes proposed included shorter timelines for concluding the offer and requiring promoters to accept the delisting price if it is the same as the minimum price given earlier. The move was seen to help iron out issues in the delisting process. For details visit.
PLI scheme likely to boost India’s manufacturing output by $520 billion in 5 years: PM Modi
In this year’s Budget, about ?2 lakh crore was earmarked for the PLI (production linked incentive) scheme for the next five years. The Prime Minister said the government is working to reduce the compliance burden, further improve ease of doing business, and cut down logistics costs for the industry. There is an expectation that the current workforce in the sectors, which will avail the benefits of the PLI scheme, will be doubled and job creation will also increase. According to analysts, electronics, particularly mobile phone manufacturers, stand to be the biggest beneficiary of the scheme. Other sectors that will benefit include automobile, battery, pharma, food, textiles, and telecom. For details visit.
DHFL auditor finds another fraud of ?1,424 crore, files affidavits in NCLT
As per the findings of Grant Thornton (transaction auditor), the estimated amount involved in the fraud places the monetary impact of the concerned transactions at approximately ?1,424.32 crores (which includes ?29.94 crores towards notional loss of interest on account of charging a lower rate of interest), said the company. The concerned transactions occurred during 2017-18 and 2018-19. The company keeps on informing about such findings from time to time. Various such frauds have been unearthed by GT including the recent one in the last month involving fraud of over ?6,180 crores. For details visit.
Wipro signs deal to acquire global tech company Capco for $1.45 bn
Wipro, in its biggest acquisition so far, has signed an agreement to buy London-based Capco, a global management and technology consultancy, for $1.45 billion. Capco provides digital, consulting, and technology services to financial institutions in the Americas, Europe, and the Asia Pacific. The company said this acquisition would make Wipro one of the largest end-to-end global consulting, technology, and transformation service providers to the banking and financial services industry. It will add revenues of $700 million and will see 5,000 technology and business consultants joining Wipro. For details visit.
Petrol prices can come down to Rs. 75, diesel to Rs. 68 under GST: SBI economists
The SBI economists said bringing petrol and diesel under the goods and services tax is an unfinished agenda of the GST framework and getting the prices under the new indirect taxes framework can help. Currently, every state has its own tax structure. The states choose to levy a combination of ad valorem tax, cess, extra VAT/Surcharge based on their needs. These taxes are imposed after taking into account the crude price, the transportation charge, the dealer commission, and the flat excise duty imposed by the center. The multiple taxes have made POL product prices one of the highest in the world. For details visit.
Farm laws explained
The Farmers’ Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation) Act, 2020, The Farmers (Empowerment and Protection) Agreement on Price Assurance and Farm Services Act, 2020 The Essential Commodities (Amendment) Act, 2020 – are the three key legislations passed by Parliament in September 2020. The government says the farm laws open up new avenues for the farmers to increase their income. The protesters, on the other hand, say the new laws will make them vulnerable to private traders.
On the implementation of the contentious farm laws, the Supreme Court has ordered a stay hoping that it will end the protest. But it did not pay off. Eleven rounds of talks between the Centre and farm leaders have failed to make any breakthrough. Even the Centre’s proposal to suspend implementation of the laws was rejected by the farm union leaders. For details visit.
Indian farmer protests EXPLAINED – BBC My World
For months, farmers in India have been protesting against new laws introduced by the government. Protesters have set up camp around the capital Delhi as they demand the laws are repealed. Know the reasons why the farmers are protesting against the farm laws.
New guidelines for Social Media, OTT Platforms: How will it impact you?
The Centre notified new regulations governing the digital media industry to ensure greater compliance with local laws, in a move expected to significantly alter the way social media companies such as Google, Facebook, and Twitter as well as popular streaming services such as Netflix and Amazon Prime operate in the country. What the below video for more details.
Qatar up for 2032 Olympics bid despite IOC backing Brisbane
The International Olympic Committee used its new, more flexible bidding process last week to name the Australian coastal city its preferred choice more than 11 years before the Games. One factor weighing against Qatar is searing heat in the July-August slot the IOC prefers to hold the Summer Games. Doha hosted the 2019 track and field world championships from late-September into October. For details visit.
Delhi, Mumbai top picks to host global sports events
Delhi, Mumbai, Bhubaneswar, Bengaluru, and Ahmedabad have emerged as the top five cities with the required infrastructure to host international sporting events, said a joint report by consulting, auditing, and advisory firm Grant Thornton Bharat and the Confederation of Indian Industry. While Delhi has the good quality infrastructure, the presence of federations, and sports businesses, it needs to improve on the number of people attending sports tournaments and proper utilization of sports facilities in certain stadiums. Despite space constraints, Mumbai, also hosted 20 major international events in the last four years, with an average of five events being hosted annually. It needs to improve on the quality of stadium and active involvement of people to play sports. For details visit.
Privatization: What Does It Really Mean?
In conversation with Raghuram Rajan
Key suggestions – Improve governance of PSBs, Bring in more professionals to run PSBs, Give the BOD of the bank to hire and fire the CEO, learn from the dismal history of our record of privatization.
The Post-Pandemic Economy – What next?
After this pandemic Budget, what comes next? Where is India heading? How will India come back on the growth trajectory? Prannoy Roy discusses these questions with the world’s leading experts, four of whom are Nobel Prize winners. Listen to what Paul Milgrom, Abhijit Banerjee, Michael Kremer, Raghuram Rajan, Kaushik Basu, and Amartya Sen have to say about the post-pandemic world.
Our foreign trade policy should focus on online exports
India’s foreign trade policy should take a holistic approach, enabling the handholding of micro, small and medium enterprises so that they can access new markets. The policy framework needs to recognize the role that e-com platforms with international reach can play in the emergence of India as an online export powerhouse. For details visit.
Is Facebook too powerful? – BBC News
Amid growing calls to break up the social media giant Facebook, Ros Atkins looks at its power. He considers its roles in Myanmar, the storming of the Capitol building in Washington, and the company’s decision to block news in Australia.
Are the problems of checks between Britain and Northern Ireland insurmountable? – BBC Newsnight
The UK government has unilaterally extended another of the Irish Sea border grace periods — this time for parcels. It comes a day after the UK extended grace periods for checks on agri-foods, a move the EU said was illegal. Maroš Šef?ovi? has said that “infringement proceedings” are being prepared. What happens next? Are the problems of checks between Britain and Northern Ireland insurmountable? And might the new US administration step in?
Bitcoin cannot replace the banks
One argument in favour of buying and holding bitcoin is that cryptocurrencies will eventually replace banks themselves, as their services for storing and transferring money will no longer be needed. This will make bitcoins valuable enough to replace dollars. But this argument is based on a flawed understanding of how dollars work, and who creates them now. Bitcoin is turning out to be a good way to reinforce the banking system we already have. But there isn’t much, so far, that Bitcoin seems to have done to fix these things, and it’s not at all clear how it will. For details visit.
10. Other Topics
Centre reacts after global freedom watchdog downgrades India to ‘partly free’
The Freedom House report had demoted India’s freedom score from “free” to “partly free”, decreasing it to 67 from 71, with 100 being the ranking for the most free country. The report noted that the rights and civil liberties “have been eroding since Narendra Modi became Prime Minister in 2014”.
In a statement, the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting (MIB) offered a rebuttal to specific points mentioned in the report, including discriminatory policies against Muslims, last year’s North East Delhi riots, sedition law, coronavirus lockdown, among others. For details visit.
With that, we come to an end for our Weekly Current Affairs March 2021 -week 1. Hope you have liked it. Write in your feedback in the comments below and let us know if anything else you would like us to cover.
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