Politics & the Nation
  • NRIs likely to get voting rights soon
    • NRIs may be able to vote in the 2014 Lok Sabha elections, with a group of ministers (GoM) clearing a draft bill giving them right to franchise. A long-pending demand of NRIs, the proposal is now ready for the Union Cabinet’s nod. The bill, seeking to amend the People’s Representation Act, was under the scrutiny of a GoM headed by defence minister A K Antony.
    • The bill was drafted four years ago in a bid to encourage participation of NRIs in the country’s economic growth by giving them an opportunity to be part of the democratic process. It was introduced in Rajya Sabha in 2006 and then referred to a parliamentary standing committee, following which it was examined by the GoM comprising Mr Ravi, parliamentary affairs minister Pawan Kumar Bansal and law minister M Veerappa Moily.
    • Under the existing law, an NRI’s name gets deleted from the voters’ list if the person is outside the country for more than six months at a stretch. The proposed amendments will allow an Indian citizen residing abroad to enroll in the voter’s list and exercise the franchise if the person is present in the constituency on the polling day. There are around 50 lakh NRIs, with Kerala alone having over 21 lakh NRIs.
Finance & Economy
  • Listed companies which have defaulted on loan payments to be named
    • A committee comprising senior government officials and financial regulators has proposed mandatory disclosure of loan defaults by listed companies, a move aimed at protecting shareholders’ interest and boosting investor’s confidence.
    • The proposal was reportedly discussed at the May 24 meeting of the High-Level Coordination Committee on Financial Markets. Market regulator Securities & Exchange Board of India (Sebi) will examine the practical aspects of the proposal.
    • At present, information on loan defaults is available only to the lenders, RBI and credit information companies such as CIBIL. As per the current practice, banks disclose a list of defaulters to RBI on a quarterly basis.
    • Industry officials and policymakers are of the opinion that disclosure on loan defaults will promote transparency and strengthen corporate governance.
    • Under the current laws, a company will have to disclose on a quarterly basis if its promoters have pledged shares amounting to 1% or more of the company’s capital. When promoters fail to repay, lenders dump their shares to recover their dues. Retail investors suffer in this whole process as they do not have access to information.
    • A section of industry officials and market analysts fear that such disclosures may lead to panic in the capital market.
    • If a company fails to repay the loan, the banks give a window of 90 days. Failure to make repayments in this period results in the loan being classified as a bad loan or non-performing asset (NPA).
  • BASICs meet in July
    • Ahead of the August round of negotiations at Bonn, the BASIC (Brazil, South Africa, India and China) countries will meet in Rio de Janeiro in late July.
    • It is expected that the other developing countries will be invited to take part in the deliberations. This is a part of the agreement that the four countries agreed to at their May meeting in Cape Town. In a departure from practice, the Rio meeting will have technical segment followed by the high-level ministerial segment. The technical segment would focus on three issues — equity, leveraging private finance, and science and possible scenarios.
    • Each of the four countries is working on a model for equity in carbon space. India has prepared a paper on a burdensharing model based on the principle of per capita emission, South Africa is working on a study which is based on the global development rights framework, China is preparing a carbon budget as well. Brazil already has an equity study, which it prepared in 1997.
    • For more on what these aim to do, read this news story.
  • On the predicament of Europe over its debt crisis
    • The text book solution to a sovereign debt crisis and loss of competitiveness — as is the case with Greece, Spain, Portugal and Italy — is a substantial cut in government spending and a deep enough currency devaluation that makes the country's exports competitive. In addition, structural reforms to address the problem of inflexible labour markets and loss of competitiveness are needed. If there is enough appetite for the country's exports in the rest of the world, fiscal consolidation and a stable economy should be the end result. This economic prescription is difficult to follow in crisis-ridden Europe because the eurozone countries are unable to individually depreciate their currency. This robs these countries of a very potent tool to address the crisis and regaining competitiveness sans currency depreciation would be harder and more painful involving recession and deflation.
  • Saina Nehwal wins Indian Open
    • Saina Nehwal, the women's top seed and World No.6 overcame a stiff challenge from Choo Wong Mew of Malaysia, the second seed, to win 20-22, 21-14, 21-12 in 56 minutes in the singles final in the $1,20,000 Yonex Sunrise-India Open Grand Prix gold badminton championships.

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