The disaster next door
- In a span of two weeks, almost 300,000 Rohingya have crossed over to Bangladesh from the northern Rakhine state in Myanmar.
- This puts Bangladesh under immense strain and compelling the refugees to find shelter in squalid, unsanitary camps scattered along the Myanmar-Bangladesh border.
- Excluded from the 135 officially recognised ethnic groups, the Rohingya have been harassed and hounded by the Myanmar authorities for decades.
- The latest surge follows attacks on police posts by an extremist Rohingya group in late August and military action.
- While the Myanmar authorities claim that 400 lives have been lost, advocates cite double this number.
- The flight of the Rohingya has quickened in the past two weeks, but Rohingya refugees have been trying to find a home outside their native Rakhine for years now, braving human traffickers and fraught conditions on rickety, overcrowded boats.
Rohingyas & India:
- The Rohingya have sought refuge in India where they have been shunned, denied basic public services and deemed by authorities as ‘the undesirables’.
- While the government has called them to be illegal immigrants and trespassers.
Indias Attitude towards refugees:
- Throughout its history,India has been generously accommodative towards refugees in the neighbourhood fleeing persecution, which includes Parsis, Tibetans, Afghans, Sri Lankan Tamils, and Bangladeshis during the war of liberation in 1971.
- India has prided itself in its tradition of Atithi Devo Bhava (the guest is equivalent to god).
Refugees go to SC against Article 35A
A petition filed quoting nearly 3 lakh refugees had arrived from West Pakistan, but those settled in Jammu and Kashmir had been denied the rights guaranteed under Article 35A.
- Some refugees from West Pakistan, who had migrated to India during Partition, have moved the Supreme Court challenging Article 35A of the Constitution relating to special rights and privileges of permanent residents of Jammu and Kashmir.
- A Bench of Chief Justice Dipak Misra and Justices A.M. Khanwilkar and D.Y. Chandrachud tagged the plea of the refugees, who are settled in Kathua district of Jammu and Kashmir, with similar matters pending before it.
- The court had, on the request of the Jammu and Kashmir government, posted the matters challenging the Article for hearing after the Deepavali holidays.
Rohingya militants declare ceasefire
- Rohingya militants in Myanmar, whose raids sparked an Army crackdown that has seen nearly 300,000 Muslim Rohingya flee to Bangladesh, declared a unilateral ceasefire but the government declared it would not negotiate with “terrorists”.
- The UN said 2,94,000 Rohingya refugees have arrived in Bangladesh since the militants’ attacks on Myanmar security forces in neighbouring Rakhine state on August 25 sparked a major military backlash.
- In addition to Rohingya, some 27,000 ethnic Rakhine Buddhists as well as Hindus have also fled violence in the northern part of Rakhine state.
- ARSA called on Myanmar to “reciprocate this humanitarian pause” in fighting.
- Myanmar, which has previously labelled ARSA as “terrorists”, appeared to reject the overture.
- Rohingya refugees claims that Army operations against ARSA led to mass killing of civilians and the burning of hundreds of villages, sending them across the border.
‘NPAs: challenge is to avoid delays’
- In the last week of August, RBI sent banks another list comprising 26 accounts, which they must resolve by December 31, failing which those cases have to be taken up for bankruptcy as well.
- On June 13, the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) came up with an advisory asking banks to file insolvency and bankruptcy proceedings for 12 loan accounts, in which banks had an exposure of more than Rs. 5,000 crore each.
- This constituted about 25% of the system’s bad loans whose total is estimated at Rs. 7 lakh crore.
- The central bank had asked banks to file bankruptcy cases with the National Companies Law Tribunal (NCLT) within June 30.
- The RBI had also advised banks to make higher provisions for these accounts to be referred to the Tribunal under the Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code (IBC).
- According to RBI deputy governor Viral Acharya, the move was intended to improve bank provision coverage ratios and to ensure that banks are fully protected against likely losses in the resolution process.
A forest policy on today’s terms
This article claims that there is no official definition for the term ‘forest’ yet, despite ministries and government departments being named after it
- In order to couch the laudable goals of the 1988 National Forest Policy, in valid terms, we would first need to define the term ‘forest’.
- Since a forest is a self-sown and self-regenerating community of plants that supports a community of creatures dependent on those plants, and on each other, for food and shelter.
- The ‘self-sown’ bit is important in the Indian context, since vast amounts of public money have been spent on ‘planting forests’, which is an oxymoron.
- Naturally there are no results to show for these ‘planted forests’.
- Haryana has recently shown the way by practically stopping ‘forest plantation’ in favour of protecting and permitting existing vegetation to grow.
Primary aim of 1988 National Forest policy:
- “Maintenance of a healthy natural environment through preservation and, where necessary, restoration of the original natural ecosystems that have been adversely affected by over-exploitation of the forests and other natural resources of the country.”
Search for quality
- Credit rating agencies may be in for a tough ride as the Securities and Exchange Board of India continues to tighten the screws on them.
- The market regulator has released a consultation paper seeking feedback on a new set of rules drafted to improve “market efficiency” and enhance “the governance, accountability and functioning of credit rating agencies”.
Key aspects in Consultation paper:
- Provisions to restrict cross-shareholding between rating agencies without regulatory approval to 10%,
- Increase the minimum net worth requirement for existing and new agencies from Rs. 5 crore to Rs. 50 crore.
- Mandates at least five years’ experience for promoters of rating agencies.
- Proposed disclosure norms to improve investor awareness about the operations of rating agencies.
SEBI’s proposed move to impose further quality requirements on rating agencies is unlikely to change things for the better, or raise further barriers.