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The Companies (Amendment) Bill, 2019

Why in news?

Lok Sabha has passed the Companies (Amendment) Bill, 2019.

About the bill

  • It is a bill to amend the Companies Act, 2013.

Key amendments

  1. Corporate Social Responsibility
  • As of now, companies that are required to budget for CSR (2% of profit) must disclose in their annual reports the reasons why they were unable to fully spend these funds.
  • Now, any unspent annual CSR funds must be transferred to one of the funds under Schedule 7 of the Act (for example, the Prime Minister’s Relief Fund) within six months of the financial year.
  1. Issue of dematerialized shares
  • Under the 2013 Act, certain classes of public companies can issue shares only in demat form.
 
  • The Bill states this may be prescribed for other classes of unlisted companies as well.
  1. Re-categorisation of Offences
  • Under the 2013 Act, there are 81 compoundable offences that carry punishments of a fine and/or prison terms, which are heard by courts.
  • The Bill makes 16 of these offences civil defaults, where government-appointed adjudicating officers may levy penalties.
  • The Bill also amends penalties for some other offences.
  1. Debarring auditors
  • Under the Act, the National Financial Reporting Authority can debar a member or firm from practising as a Chartered Accountant for six months to 10 years in case of proven misconduct.
  • The Bill amends this punishment to provide for debarment from appointment as an auditor or internal auditor of a company, or performing a company’s valuation, for the same period.
  1. Registration of charges
  • Under the Act, companies must register charges (mortgages, etc.) on their property within 30 days of creation of the charge, extendable up to 300 days with permission from the Registrar of Companies.
  • The Bill changes the deadline to 60 days (extendable by 60 days).
  1. Change in approving authority
  • Under the Act, change in period of financial year for a company associated with a foreign company, has to be approved by the National Company Law Tribunal (NCLT).
  • Any alteration in the incorporation document of a public company which has the effect of converting it to a private company, too, has to be approved by the NCLT.
  • Under the Bill, these powers have been transferred to the central government.
  1. Compounding
  • Under the 2013 Act, a regional director can compound (settle) offences with a penalty of up to Rs 5 lakh.
  • This ceiling has been raised to Rs 25 lakh in the amendment.
  1. Bar on holding office
  • Under the existing Act, the central government or certain shareholders can apply to the NCLT for relief against mismanagement of the affairs of the company.
  • The Bill states that in such a complaint, the government may also make a case against an officer of the company on the ground that he is not fit to hold office in the company, for reasons such as fraud or negligence.
  • If the NCLT passes an order against the officer, he will not be eligible to hold office in any company for five years.

Polity and Governance

Private Member’s Bill

Why in news?

Congress MP moved a private member’s bill in the Rajya Sabha that seeks removal of the limit and state funding

 

 of elections as part of reforms to the way polls are financed in India.

About the news

  • The bill asks for two key amendments in the Representation of the People Act.
  1. The current per candidate expenditure limit of ₹70 lakh should be lifted.
  2. There should be state funding to ensure a cleaner polity.

What is a Private Member’s Bill?

  • A Member of Parliament (MP) who is not a Minister in the Union Cabinet is called a Private Member.
  • Bills introduced by such members are called Private Member's Bills.
  • A Private Member Bill (PMB) can be introduced in either the Lok Sabha or Rajya Sabha.
  • Bills introduced by ministers are called Government Bills.
  • Generally, the 2.00 pm to 6.00 pm slot on alternate Fridays during sessions are reserved for discussion on PMBs.
  • There are no restrictions as to what a PMB should be about.
  • The scope of a PMB is same as that of a Government Bill.
  • These bills can deal with any issue and can also be a Constitutional Amendment Bill.
  • Unlike a Government Bill, a PMB is not discussed by the Council of Ministers internally.

The procedure

  • PMBs are drafted by MPs themselves or by their staff.
  • The member has to provide a one-month notice along with a copy of the ‘Statement of Object and Reasons’.
  • There is also a Parliamentary Committee on Private Member's Bills and Resolutions that goes through all PMBs.
  • The committee classifies these Bills based on their urgency and importance, which in turn, determines which would be discussed first.

World Affairs

International Charter "Space and Major Disasters"

Why in news?

India has received satellite data on its flood-hit regions from eight nations, including the US, China and Russia, as part of a multilateral mechanism for sharing space-based data for countries affected by natural or man-made disasters.

About the charter

  • The International Charter "Space and Major Disasters" is a non-binding charter which provides for the charitable and humanitarian retasked acquisition of and transmission of space satellite data to relief organizations in the event of major
 
  • It was initiated by the European Space Agency and the French space agency CNES after the UNISPACE III conference held in Vienna, Austria in July 1999.
  • It officially came into operation on November 1, 2000 after the Canadian Space Agency signed onto the charter on October 20, 2000.

How it works?

  • Whenever there is a natural disaster, the National Remote Sensing Center (NRSC) and member space agencies of 32 other countries which are a part of the International Charter Space and Major Disasters can activate the platform.
  • The charter then seeks the information pertaining to the disaster-hit area available with all the 33 member space agencies.
  • The NRSC represents the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) as a member of the charter which has been set up under the UN-SPIDER (United Nations Platform for Space-based Information for Disaster Management and Emergency Response).

About UN-SPIDER

  • UN-SPIDER is a platform which facilitates the use of space-based technologies for disaster management and emergency response.
  • It stands for United Nations Platform for Space-based Information for Disaster Management and Emergency Response.
  • It is a programme under the auspices of the United Nations Office for Outer Space Affairs (UNOOSA), Vienna, Austria.

What is UNISPACE?

  • It is the United Nations conference on the exploration and peaceful uses of outer space.
  • Since 1968, the United Nations has held three conferences on the exploration and peaceful uses of outer space.
  1. UNISPACE I, Vienna, 1968
  2. UNISPACE II, Vienna, 1982
  3. UNISPACE III, Vienna, 1999
  • UNISPACE+50 will mark the fiftieth anniversary of the first UNISPACE conference and take stock of the contributions to global space governance of the three UNISPACE conferences.

Security

Apache Helicopters

Why in news?

U.S. aerospace major Boeing handed over the first four of the 22 Apache attack helicopters to the Indian Air Force.

About Apache Helicopter

  • The AH-64E Apache is one of the world’s most advanced multi -role combat helicopters.
  • It is an American attack helicopter with twin-turbo shaft and tail wheel-type landing gear.
  • It has a cockpit for a crew of two and features a nose-mounted sensor suite for target acquisition and night vision systems.
 
  • It is armed with a chain gun and has systems for carrying armament and stores such as missiles and rocket pods.
  • It is the only available combat helicopter with a spectrum of capabilities for virtually any mission requirement which includes greater thrust and lift, joint digital operability, improved survivability and cognitive decision aiding.

Related Information (PLUS)

About Chinook Helicopter

  • It is an American twin-engine, tandem rotor, heavy-lift helicopter.
  • It is a transport helicopter and is among the heaviest lifting Western helicopters.

Science and Technology

Deep Ocean Mission

Why in News?

Centre to launch Deep Ocean Mission in October 31, 2019.

About the mission

  • It is a five-year, ₹8,000-crore plan to explore the deepest recesses of the ocean.
  • The Union Earth Sciences Ministry is tasked with coordinating the exercise and unveiled a blueprint of the ‘Deep Ocean Mission (DOM)’.
  • The mission proposes to explore the deep ocean similar to the space exploration started by ISRO about 35 years ago.

Key goals

  1. An offshore desalination plant that will work with tidal energy.
  2. Developing a submersible vehicle that can go to a depth of at least 6,000 metres with three people on board.

Why it is important?

  • India has been allotted a site of 75,000 square kilometres in the Central Indian Ocean Basin (CIOB) by the UN International Sea Bed Authority for exploitation of polymetallic nodules (PMN).
  • These are rocks scattered on the seabed containing iron, manganese, nickel and cobalt.
  • It is envisaged that 10% of recovery of that large reserve can meet the energy requirement of India for the next 100 years.
  • It has been estimated that 380 million metric tonnes of polymetallic nodules are available at the bottom of the seas in the Central Indian Ocean.
  • The focus will be on technologies for deep-sea mining, underwater vehicles, under water robotics and ocean climate change advisory services.

Polymetallic nodules

  • Polymetallic nodules are rounded accretions of manganese and iron hydroxides that cover vast areas of the seafloor.
  • They are most abundant on abyssal plains at water depths of 4000-6500 metres.
  • They form through the aggregation of layers of iron and manganese hydroxides around a central particle (such as a shell or
 
  • small rock fragment), and range in size from a few millimeters to tens of centimeters.
  • The composition of nodules varies with their environment of formation, but in additon to manganese and iron, they can contain nickel, copper and cobalt in commercially attractive concentrations as well as traces of other valuable metals such as molybdenum, zirconium and REEs.

About International Seabed Authority (ISA)

  • The International Seabed Authority (ISA) is an intergovernmental body that was established to organize, regulate and control all mineral-related activities in the international seabed area beyond the limits of national jurisdiction, an area underlying most of the world’s oceans.
  • It is based in Kingston, Jamaica.
  • It is an autonomous international organization established under the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) and the 1994 Agreement relating to the Implementation of Part XI of the UNCLOS.
Zero budget natural farming (ZBNF)

Why in news?

Finance Minister thrust the innovative model of zero budget farming to more States, as this can help in doubling farmers’ income in time for 75th year of Independence.

What is it?

  • Zero budget natural farming (ZBNF) is a method of chemical-free agriculture drawing from traditional Indian practices.
  • It is different from organic farming.
  • The word Zero Budget refers to zero net cost of production of all crops.
  • The main aim of ZBNF is eliminate use of chemical pesticides and uses biological pesticides and promote of good agronomic practices.

How did it come about?

  • It was originally promoted by Maharashtrian agriculturist Subhash Palekar, who developed it in the mid-1990s as an alternative to the Green Revolution’s methods driven by chemical fertilizers and pesticides and intensive irrigation.
  • The ZBNF method also promotes
  • Soil aeration
  • Minimal watering
  • Intercropping
  • Bunds and topsoil mulching
  • Discourages intensive irrigation
  • Deep ploughing.
 
  • ZBNF is against vermicomposting, which is the mainstay of typical organic farming, as it introduces the most common composting worm, the European red wiggler (Eisenia fetida) to Indian soils.
  • These worms absorb toxic metals and poison groundwater and soil.

Four Wheels of ZBNF

  1. Bijamrita (Seed Treatment using local cow dung and cow urine),
  2. Jiwamrita (applying inoculation made of local cow dung and cow urine without any fertilizers and pesticides)
  3. Mulching (activities to ensure favorable microclimate in the soil)
  4. Waaphasa (soil aeration)

Place in news

Ream Naval Base

Why in news?

China and Cambodia have signed a secret agreement that allows Beijing exclusive use of the Ream Naval Base on the Gulf of Thailand.

Ream Naval Base - Location

  • Ream Naval Base is a facility operated by the Royal Cambodian Navy on the coast of the Gulf of Thailand in Cambodia.
  • The Gulf of Thailand, also known as the Gulf of Siam, is a shallow inlet in the western part of the South China Sea.
  • The gulf is surrounded on the north, west and southwest by Thailand, on the northeast by Cambodia and Vietnam.
  • The South China Sea is to the southeast.
  • Dara Sakor International airport being built by a Chinese company in Cambodia is in proximity to the Ream base.

Current Affair Capsules

Dolutegravir (DTG)
  • Dolutegravir (DTG), sold under the brand name Tivicay, is an antiretroviral medication used, together with other medication, to treat HIV/AIDS.
  • The WHO recommends the use of the HIV drug dolutegravir (DTG) as the preferred first-line and second-line treatment for all populations, including pregnant women and those of childbearing potential.
PHEMA (poly (2-hydroxyethyl methacrylate))
  • It is a reversible superglue inspired by snail epiphragm, the method by which snails shrink into their shells when they are startled or encounter discomfort.
  • They secrete a mucous film around the opening of their shell, which on drying forms a glassy structure that both seals them in and fixes them strongly to the object they are sitting on, the structure so formed by the dry mucous is called an epiphragm.

Map Aided Programme     

Zoji La
  • Zoji La is a high mountain pass in the Indian state of Jammu and Kashmir, located on National Highway 1 between Srinagar and Leh in the western section of the Himalayan mountain range.
  • It separates Kashmir Valley to its west from Dras Valley to its northeast.
  • Zoji La is about 100 km from Srinagar, the state capital, and 15 km from Sonmarg.
  • It provides a vital link between Ladakh and Kashmir Valley.

Previous Year Questions Revision Series (Pqrs)

  1. The Consider the following pairs:

National Highway Cities connected        

  1. NH 4 :           Chennai and Hyderabad
  2. NH 6 :           Mumbai and Kolkata
  3. NH 15 :           Ahmedabad and Jodhpur

Which of the above pairs is / are correctly matched?

  • 1 and 2 only (b) 3 only                    

(c) 1, 2 and 3                     (d) None

To know more: https://www.neoias.com/index.php/malayalam-optional.html