Current Affair-Feb 22, 2021

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CURRENT AFFAIRS

Model Bill on Conclusive Land Titling

Agricultural economist T. Haque chaired the Special Cell on Land Policy at NITI Aayog and recommended a shift to conclusive titling in a 2017 report.
What is Conclusive land titling?
Under a conclusive land titling system, land records designate actual ownership. The title is granted by the government, which takes the responsibility for accuracy.

  • Once a title is granted, any other claimant will have to settle disputes with the government, not the title holder.
  • The government may provide compensation to claimants in case of disputes, but the title holder is not in any danger of losing ownership,

Current system: Presumptive land titling

  • Presumptive land titling means that land records are maintained, with information on possession, which is determined through details of past transactions. Ownership, then, is established on the basis of current possession.
  • Registration of land is actually a registration of transactions, such as sale deeds, records of inheritance, mortgage and lease.
  • Holding registration papers does not actually involve the government or the legal framework guaranteeing the ownership title of the land.

Need for Conclusive Land titling

  1. It would drastically lower litigation related to land. According to a 2007 World Bank study on ‘Land Policies for growth and poverty reduction’, landrelated disputes accounted for twothirds of all pending court cases in India.
  2. Niti aayog study: Disputes on land or real estate take an average time of 20 yrs.
  3. As Land titles are based on transactions, people have to keep the entire chain of transaction records, and a dispute on any link in that chain causes ambiguity in ownership.
  4. Investors who want to purchase land for business activities will be able to do so without facing the constant risk that their ownership may be questioned and their entire investment may go to waste,
  5. Present system creates hurdles for infrastructure development and housing construction, leading to costly delays and inefficiency.
  6. In cities, urban local bodies depend on property taxes that can be levied properly only if there is clear ownership data available.
  7. Ambiguity in ownership also results in a black market for land transactions, which deprives the government of taxes.
  8. In rural areas: Access to agricultural credit is dependent on the ability to use land as collateral. Without being able to prove their ownership of land and access formal credit from banks, small and marginal farmers are often left at the mercy of unscrupulous moneylenders.

Features of Model

  1. Land Authorities to be set up by each State government, which will appoint a Title Registration Officer (TRO) to prepare and publish a draft list of land titles based on existing records and documents. This will be considered a valid notice to all potential claimants interested in the property, who will have to file their claims or objections within a set period of time.
  2. If disputing claims are received, the TRO will verify all the relevant documents and refer the case to a Land Dispute Resolution Officer (LDRO) for resolution. However, disputes which are already pending in courts cannot be resolved in this way.
  3. Having considered and resolved all the disputed claims, the Land Authority will publish a Record of Titles. Over a three year period, these titles and the decisions of the TRO and the LDRO can be challenged before Land Titling Appellate Tribunals,
  4. which will be set up under the law. After a three year period, entries in the Record of Titles will be considered conclusive proof of ownership. Further appeals can only be taken up in High Courts

What are the difficulties?

  • Land records have not been updated for decades, especially in rural and semi-urban areas.
  • Land records are often in the name of the grandparents of the current owner, with no proof of inheritance.

Way forward

  • Comprehensive village-level surveys with community involvement are a necessary precursor to the land titling process.
  • Relying on current records or even satellite imagery will not provide the same accuracy as actual, on-the-ground, local surveys.
  • However, local governments have not been provided with the resources or manpower to conduct such surveys, says Dr. Haque.
  • If surveys are not conducted, the onus falls on village claimants, many of whom have no access to documentation, to proactively challenge the titling during the three year period.
Source: The Hindu

How the ground is being set for LIC IPO

Decks are being cleared for the mega listing of Life Insurance Corporation of India (LIC), India’s largest financial institution with assets of over Rs 32 lakh crore. The government is systematically removing hurdles in the way, and market regulator SEBI has relaxed norms to make the listing process smoother.

What has SEBI done to smoothen the LIC IPO process?

  • Currently, issuers with a post-issue market capitalisation of Rs 4,000 crore are required to offer at least 10% of the post-issue capital to the public and achieve a minimum public holding of 25% within three years.
  • SEBI has now said the issuer needs to make an offer of Rs 10,000 crore and 5% of the incremental amount beyond Rs 1 lakh crore. The size will ultimately depend on the valuation.

When is the IPO expected?

  • The IPO is expected in the third quarter of the new financial year.
  • The government has announced that up to 10 percent of the IPO issue size would be reserved for policyholders. LIC currently services almost 30 crore policies across the country, and smooth sailing is expected for the IPO.

What has happened on listing formalities so far?

  • The government has made The LIC Amendment Act part of the Finance Bill, thereby bringing the required legislative amendment for launching the IPO. Although LIC is currently under the supervision of the Insurance Regulatory and Development Authority, it is governed by the LIC Act of 1956, which enables LIC to obtain a special dispensation in several areas, including higher stakes in companies.
  • The Department of Investment and Public Asset Management (DIPAM), which oversees the government’s equity in public sector firms, has already selected actuarial firm Milliman Advisors for ascertaining the embedded value of LIC.
  • Deloitte and SBI Caps have been appointed as pre-IPO transaction advisors.

What could attract investors to LIC?

  1. Market experts say the sheer size of LIC — its total first year premium of over Rs 1.75 lakh crore in the year ended March 2020, its agent network of over 22.5 lakh individuals, the real estate assets that it owns across the country — is a draw in itself, and there is huge growth potential.
  2. Industry insiders say that if 22 lakh agents sell even one additional policy in a year, it will add huge volume.
  3. LIC is the biggest institutional investor in India with a huge investment portfolio that can generate big investment returns.
  4. It is also important to note that while LIC will have a corporate structure

Concerns

  • If bringing efficiency across its large number of agents is a big task, the insurer will also have to ensure that it doesn’t lose its market share to private players in a big way.
  • Also, the government is looking for a high valuation, and investors will have to analyse the issue price closely before subscribing.
Source: Indian Express

What Sputnik V’s emergency use application may mean for India?

Dr Reddy’s Laboratories has approached India’s apex drug regulatory body for emergency approval of Sputnik V.

What is Sputnik V?

  • This is a vaccine that uses two different human common cold viruses (adenovirus) that have been modified so that the gene causing the cold infection is removed and instead replaced with a code to make SARS-CoV-2’s ‘spike protein’ (the spikes seen on the surface of the virus, which allows it to penetrate the cells and replicate).
  • The human adenoviruses then act as a vehicle to transport this code to the cells when a person is vaccinated so that the body can develop an immune response in the form of antibodies to protect it in the event the real virus tries to infect

What would an emergency approval of Sputnik V here mean for India?

  • If cleared by the regulator, Sputnik V would not only become the third Covid-19 vaccine to be approved here, but also a potentially more promising vaccine in terms of its ability to prevent symptomatic Covid-19 cases in those vaccinated.
  • This is because interim results published in The Lancet from ongoing phase 3 trials of Sputnik V in Russia showed the vaccine demonstrated an efficacy rate of 91.6 percent. The efficacy of a vaccine shows its ability to prevent symptomatic cases of Covid-19 in the population being inoculated.
  • While this two-dose vaccine seems to be slightly less efficacious than the vaccines developed by Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna-NIAID (which have an efficacy of around 95 and 94 percent), it is so far the only candidate in India with higher known efficacy than the vaccines currently in use.

What happens now?

  • Once the application to the Central Drugs Standard Control Organisation is submitted, the request will be studied by a Subject Expert Committee.
  • The SEC will make recommendations about whether a restricted approval should be given to Sputnik V on an emergency basis in India.
  • Based on these recommendations, the Drug Controller General of India will take a call on whether Sputnik V will be allowed for use in India at this stage of the pandemic.
Source: Indian Express

India and Maldives sign defence pact

  • India and the Maldives signed a defense Line of Credit agreement worth $50 million during the ongoing visit by External Affairs Minister S. Jaishankar.
  • Both sides agreed to maintain peace and security in the Indian Ocean Region.
  • The defense line of Credit will facilitate capability building in the maritime domain.
  • Indicating deepening security cooperation, an agreement to develop, support and maintain a Maldives National Defence Force Coast Guard Harbour at Sifvaru was also signed.
  • The credit line agreement for defense projects was signed between the Finance Ministry of Maldives and the Export-Import Bank of India to boost the maritime capabilities of the strategically vital Indian Ocean island nation.
  • India also extended a new line of credit of US dollar 40 million for the development of new sports infrastructure in the Maldives.

Source: The Hindu

Webinar on ‘International mother day’

  • Vice President of India, Shri M. Venkaiah Naidu inaugurated the Webinar on the occasion of ‘International Mother Language Day’.
  • The Webinar on ‘Fostering Multilingualism for Inclusion in Education and Society’ is being organised jointly by the Ministry of Education, Ministry of Culture and IGNCA.
  • The day is celebrated on 21 February every year.
  • The declaration of 21st February as the International Mother Language Day, (Matribhasha Diwas) was done by UNESCO in 1999.
Source: PIB

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