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Daily Current Affairs – 2020

Topic: For Prelims and Mains

Epidemic Disease Act, 1897

Why in News?

Recently a high level meeting to tackle COVID-19 has been decided that all States/Union Territories should be advised to invoke provisions of Section 2 of the Epidemic Disease Act, 1897.

What is Section 2 of the 1897 Act?

It gives the power to take special measures and prescribe regulations as to dangerous epidemic disease. Under the act, temporary provisions or regulations can be made to be observed by the public to tackle or prevent the outbreak of a disease.

  • The act says, “The Central Government may take measures and prescribe regulations for the inspection of any ship or vessel leaving or arriving at any port in 2 [the territories to which this act extends] and for such detention thereof, or of any person intending to sail therein, or arriving thereby, as may be necessary.]”
  • It may also give authorities the power to inspect persons travelling by railway or otherwise, and the segregation, in hospital, temporary accommodation or otherwise, of persons suspected by the inspecting officer of being infected with any such disease.
  • Any person disobeying any regulation or order made under this Act shall be deemed to have committed an offence punishable under section 188 of the Indian Penal Code.
  • It was introduced by colonial government to tackle the epidemic of bubonic plague that had spread in the erstwhile Bombay Presidency in the 1890s.

Examples of implementation:

1.   In 2018, the district collector of Gujarat’s Vadodara issued a notification under the Act declaring the Khedkarmsiya village in Waghodia taluka as cholera-affected after 31 persons complained of symptoms of the disease.

2.   In 2015, to deal with malaria and dengue in Chandigarh, the Act was implemented and controlling officers were instructed to ensure the issuance of notices and challans of Rs 500 to offenders.

3.     In 2009, to tackle the swine flu outbreak in Pune, Section 2 powers were used to open screening centres in civic hospitals across the city, and swine flu was declared a notifiable disease.

 

Additional Tier-1 Bonds (AT-1)

What are AT-1 Bonds

AT-1, short for Additional Tier-1 bonds, are a type of unsecured, perpetual bonds that banks issue to shore up their core capital base to meet the Basel-III norms.

  • These bonds are perpetual and carry no maturity date.
  • Instead, they carry call options that allow banks to redeem them after five or 10 years.
  • But banks are not obliged to use this call option and can opt to pay only interest on these bonds for eternity.
  • Banks issuing AT-1 bonds can skip interest payouts for a particular year or even reduce the bonds’ face value without getting into hot water with their investors, provided their capital ratios fall below certain threshold levels, These thresholds are specified in their offer terms.
  • If the RBI feels that a bank is tottering on the brink and needs a rescue, it can simply ask the bank to cancel its outstanding AT-1 bonds without consulting its investors.
  • AT-1 bonds are complex hybrid instruments, ideally meant for institutions and smart investors who can decipher their terms and assess if their higher rates compensate for their higher risks.
  • But in India, these bonds seem to have been sold to a fair number of retail investors as fixed deposit or NCD substitutes.
  • AT-1 bonds carry a face value of Rs10 lakh per bond.

There are two routes through which retailers have acquired these bonds

  1. Initial private placement offers of AT-1 bonds by banks seeking to raise money; or
  2. Secondary market buys of already-traded AT-1 bonds based on recommendations from brokers.

About the Basel III norms:

After the global financial crisis in 2008, central banks got together and decided to formulate new rules called the Basel-III norms to make banks maintain stronger balance sheets.

  • The Basel III norms limit the amount of debt a bank can owe even further, this is called the Leverage Ratio.
  • This is especially applicable for banks that trade in high-risk assets like derivatives.
  • Capital is money that is invested in assets like equity or government bonds.

Facts for Prelims

Bihar’s Valmiki Tiger Reserve (VTR):

Gaur(Bos Gaurus) have recently been attracted to Bihar’s Valmiki Tiger Reserve (VTR), due to an increase in grassland cover.

Key facts:

  1. Gaur is the largest extant bovine in the world.
  2. Gaur are grassland specialists and their main food is grass.
  3. Native to south and southeast Asia.
  4. The species is listed as ‘vulnerable’ on the International Union for Conservation of Nature’s Red List of Threatened Species since 1986.

About VTR:

VTR was set up in the early 1990s. It is spread over 899 square kilometres in Bihar’s West Champaran district, bordering Nepal’s Chitwan National Park to its north and Uttar Pradesh to its west.

 

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