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Important Current Affairs for CLAT-18th September 2023

SIDBI Plans Rs 10,000 Crore Rights Issue for Fiscal Expansion

Small Industries Development Bank of India (SIDBI), a key player in SME loan refinancing, has unveiled plans to raise Rs 10,000 crore through a rights issue in the upcoming fiscal year. This strategic move is aimed at bolstering its equity capital as the institution anticipates an expansion of its assets, targeting Rs 5 lakh crore by March 2024 from its current standing at approximately Rs 4 lakh crore as of March 2023.

SIDBI’s growth outlook is primarily driven by the surging demand for direct financing, a segment that has grown significantly over the past two years, now constituting 14% of its loan portfolio compared to a mere 7% previously.

Ownership Structure:

The ownership landscape of SIDBI includes the central government with a 20.8% stake, the State Bank of India holding 15.65%, and Life Insurance Corporation at 13.33%. The remaining equity is distributed among various public financial institutions and banks. It is expected that these stakeholders will subscribe to the proposed rights issue.

Rights Issue Details:

SIDBI’s Chairman and Managing Director, Sivasubramanian Ramann, has disclosed that the rights issue will be executed in two tranches of Rs 5,000 crore each during the next fiscal year. This strategy will augment the institution’s capital base by a total of Rs 10,000 crore, providing vital support for its burgeoning balance sheet, which is projected to expand by a quarter from its current size.

Capital Adequacy and Growth:

While SIDBI’s capital adequacy ratio (CAR) witnessed a decline, dropping from 24.28% in FY22 to 19.29% in FY23 and further to 15.63% in the June 2023 quarter, this reduction is attributed to the efficient utilization of capital in expanding the bank’s portfolio.

Notably, rating agency ICRA views this level of capitalization as comfortable, mainly due to lower risk weights for the refinance book. In terms of growth, SIDBI’s asset base witnessed a remarkable 63% increase, surging from Rs 2,47,379 crore in FY22 to Rs 4,02,383 crore in FY23, accompanied by a substantial 102% rise in income, reaching Rs 18,485 crore. The bank posted a net income of Rs 3,344 crore, reflecting a robust 71% increase compared to the previous year.

Leverage and Regulatory Compliance:

ICRA points out that despite the substantial growth, SIDBI’s leverage remained within the permissible regulatory limit. Leveraging rose from 9.22 times as of March 2022 to 14.36 times as of March 2023. However, it is anticipated to remain within the allowed limit of 18 times until March 2024.

Direct Lending Focus:

Currently, direct lending represents only 14% of SIDBI’s operations, with the remaining 86% attributed to refinancing activities. However, Mr. Ramann anticipates a shift, with direct lending growing to account for 25% of SIDBI’s activities over the next three years.

SME Loan Landscape:

As of March 2023, the SME loan book of commercial banks in India stood at a substantial Rs 25 lakh crore, according to RBI data. This underscores the significance of SIDBI’s role in supporting small and medium-sized enterprises within the larger credit market, which totals slightly over Rs 145 lakh crore.

Assam Governor Unveils ‘Sarpanch Samvad’ Mobile App

In a significant step towards empowering grassroots leaders, Assam Governor Gulab Chand Kataria unveiled the ‘Sarpanch Samvad‘ app in a grand launch ceremony held at the Raj Bhavan. This groundbreaking initiative is set to revolutionize the way Sarpanchs, who are village headmen, communicate, collaborate, and access vital resources. The event witnessed the participation of more than 30 Sarpanchs from various corners of the country, signifying the app’s importance in fostering community development.

Developed by the Quality Council of India

The ‘Sarpanch Samvad’ app has been meticulously developed by the Quality Council of India (QCI). QCI, as the apex organization responsible for establishing and operating the third-party national accreditation system, plays a vital role in improving quality across various sectors and advising the government and stakeholders on quality-related matters.

‘Sarpanch Samvad’: Multilingual Support

At present, the application offers support for seven languages, including English, Hindi, Punjabi, Gujarati, Marathi, Kannada, and Telugu.

‘Sarpanch Samvad’: Exclusivity for Serving Sarpanchs and Post-Tenure Considerations

This application is exclusively designed for Sarpanchs actively serving in Gram Panchayat Offices. Once a Sarpanch’s tenure concludes, certain features, including their profile, are automatically frozen within the mobile application. In specific cases, subject to administrative approval, former Sarpanchs who have previously served in Gram Panchayats may obtain an advisory role if they wish to contribute to the mobile application’s development.

Fostering Leadership and Progress

Jaxay Shah, Chairperson of QCI, highlighted the primary objective of the ‘Sarpanch Samvad’ app, which is to provide comprehensive support to Sarpanchs and nurture their growth as effective leaders. This initiative is timely, considering India’s ambitious goal of becoming a $5 trillion economy by 2025, with its villages, housing 65% of the population, playing a pivotal role in this journey.

Connecting 2.5 Lakh Sarpanchs Nationwide

The ‘Sarpanch Samvad’ app is designed to connect approximately 2.5 lakh Sarpanchs across India. It serves as a holistic platform that facilitates networking, knowledge dissemination, and collaboration among these grassroots leaders. The app not only ensures a single platform for idea-sharing but also reinforces QCI’s commitment to empowering grassroots leaders.

In an era where technology bridges gaps and fosters collaboration, the ‘Sarpanch Samvad’ app promises to be a game-changer in the realm of rural development. It signifies a collective effort to empower those at the grassroots level, ensuring that their dedication and hard work translate into real progress for the nation. With this initiative, Assam Governor Gulab Chand Kataria and the Quality Council of India have taken a significant step towards building a brighter, more prosperous future for India’s villages.

Neeraj Chopra Finishes Second In Diamond League Final

Neeraj Chopra, India’s star javelin thrower and the reigning World champion, displayed his skill and resolve at the Diamond League finals in Eugene. His best throw of 83.80 meters secured him the second position in this prestigious competition, where he engaged in a remarkable battle against formidable opponents.

A Recap of Neeraj Chopra’s Journey

Neeraj Chopra had previously clinched the Diamond League crown in 2022, making a remarkable best attempt of 88.44 meters. His remarkable journey in the field of javelin throwing had already garnered attention worldwide, and he was poised to continue his impressive streak in the 2023 edition of the competition.

Initial Setbacks and Steady Progress

Chopra experienced a setback during his first attempt when he faced a “no throw.” On his second try, Chopra made a significant comeback, landing the javelin at an impressive distance of 83.80 meters. This throw put him back in contention and served as a testament to his resilience and skill.

Chopra followed up his noteworthy effort with throws of 81.37, 80.74, and 80.90 meters. While these throws were commendable, they were not enough to surpass the eventual Diamond League champion, Jakub Vadlejch of the Czech Republic.

Jakub Vadlejch: The Diamond League Champion

Jakub Vadlejch, who had also earned the bronze medal at the World Championships that year, established his dominance from the very beginning. His opening throw of 84.01 meters set the tone for his performance. However, what made his victory even more impressive was his final attempt, where he improved upon his initial distance, landing the javelin at an outstanding 84.24 meters. Vadlejch’s consistent performance throughout the competition ultimately earned him the title of Diamond League champion.

Intense Competition and Oliver Helander’s Challenge

Neeraj Chopra not only had to contend with Jakub Vadlejch but also faced stiff competition from Finland’s Oliver Helander, who secured the third position. Helander’s best throw of 83.74 meters was a mere six centimeters short of Chopra’s mark. This close competition added to the drama of the event and showcased the high level of talent on display at the Diamond League finals.

Neeraj Chopra’s Upcoming Challenges

With the Diamond League finals behind him, Neeraj Chopra now shifts his focus to the upcoming Asian Games in Hangzhou, commencing on September 23. As a prominent figure in Indian athletics, he carries the hopes and aspirations of a nation eager to see him excel on the international stage once again.

E-rupee worth ₹16.39 crore in circulation as of March 2023: RBI

The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) has disclosed that as of March 2023, the circulation of the E-rupee, India’s Central Bank Digital Currency (CBDC), has reached ₹16.39 crore. This digital currency, which mirrors the country’s physical legal tender, comes in different denominations and serves both wholesale and retail purposes.

Breakdown of E-rupee Circulation:

  • Total E-rupee circulation: ₹16.39 crore.

  • Wholesale CBDC (e₹-W): ₹10.69 crore.

  • Retail CBDC (e₹-R): ₹5.70 crore.

  • The highest circulation is in ₹500 CBDC notes, amounting to ₹2.71 crore.

  • ₹200 notes follow with a circulation of 1.16%.

Denominations and Distribution:

  • Denominations range from 50 paise to ₹100.

  • Circulation for these denominations falls between 0.01% to 0.83%.

CBDC Pilot Initiatives:

  • Wholesale CBDC (e₹-W) was launched in November 2022, initially limited to settling secondary market transactions in government securities.

  • RBI plans to expand the use of E-rupee in other inter-bank money markets.

  • Retail CBDC (e₹-R) was launched a month later in December 2022 within a closed user group consisting of participating customers, banks, and merchants.

  • Initially launched with eight public and private sector banks, the retail E-rupee is now extended to more banks.

  • Retail E-rupee has been made interoperable with UPI QR codes.

UPI Interoperability and Future Plans:

  • RBI Deputy Governor T Rabi Sankar announced that 13 banks are involved in the retail CBDC pilot for UPI interoperability.

  • Expanding UPI interoperability to the remaining top 20–25 banks is an ongoing process.

  • UPI interoperability allows E-rupee payments using existing QR codes for the UPI ecosystem.

  • Even if a merchant lacks a CBDC wallet, CBDC payments via UPI will enable the E-rupee to be deposited directly into the merchant’s or receiver’s bank account.

Future Focus on E-rupee Transactions:

  • As of now, there are approximately 15,000 E-rupee transactions daily.

  • The RBI aims to scale this number to one million (10 lakh) transactions.

  • Recent efforts have focused on making E-rupee interoperable with UPI QR codes, and the next step is to enhance transaction volumes.

Fashion Designer Rahul Mishra Honored With France’s “Chevalier de l’Ordre des Arts et des Lettres” award

Rahul Mishra, the visionary Indian designer was honored with the Chevalier de l’Ordre des Arts et des Lettres (Knight of the Order of Arts and Letters) by the French government, joining a distinguished list of fellow countrymen and women including Ritu Kumar, Ritu Beri, Wendell Rodricks, and Manish Arora who have previously received this award.

A Champion of Ethical and Sustainable Fashion

Rahul Mishra’s journey through the world of fashion has been guided by a strong commitment to ethical and sustainable practices. His creations not only captivate the eye but also inspire change by highlighting the highest standards and craft of local artisans in India. Mishra’s designs are an exquisite blend of traditional Indian hand-woven textiles and intricate embroidery techniques, showcasing the country’s rich heritage and culture. Through his work, he has become a staunch advocate for ethical and sustainable fashion, setting a remarkable example for the global fashion industry.

From Mumbai to Paris: A Global Presence

Mishra’s designs have graced the runways of some of the most prestigious fashion weeks around the world, from Paris and Milan to Mumbai. His unique ability to seamlessly blend traditional Indian craftsmanship with modern design aesthetics has earned him international acclaim. His creations have been worn by a host of celebrities, including the likes of Priyanka Chopra Jonas, Zendaya, and Viola Davis, further solidifying his status as a designer of global repute.

Environment, Employment, and Empowerment: Rahul Mishra’s Design Philosophy

At the heart of Rahul Mishra’s design philosophy lies a deep commitment to the principles of environment, employment, and empowerment. He believes in creating fashion that not only makes a statement but also leaves a positive impact on the world. By championing sustainable practices and promoting the work of local artisans, Mishra ensures that his designs contribute to the well-being of both the environment and the people involved in the production process.

A Trail of Honors and Awards

Before receiving the prestigious Chevalier de l’Ordre des Arts et des Lettres in 2020, awarded by the government of France, Rahul Mishra had already earned a slew of accolades and awards that celebrated his exceptional talent and dedication to sustainable fashion. In 2019, he was honored with the Rarete Award (Rare Talent of the Year) in Paris. In 2018, he received the International Fashion Award for Sustainable and Ethical Brand from the Chambre Monégasque de la Mode in Monte Carlo. In 2015, he clinched the International Woolmark Prize in Milan, further establishing his prominence on the global fashion stage.

Recognition at Home and Abroad

In his home country, India, Rahul Mishra’s contributions to the fashion industry have also been duly recognized. In 2019, he received the National Award for Special Achievement in Fashion, a testament to his exceptional talent and dedication. Additionally, he was honored with the Best Green Initiative by a Designer at the Consortium of Green Fashion Awards in 2013, highlighting his ongoing commitment to sustainable and environmentally conscious design.

Indian Bank Launches ‘IB SAATHI’ to Enhance Financial Inclusion Services

Indian Bank has introduced a new initiative called ‘IB SAATHI’ (Sustainable Access and Aligning Technology for Holistic Inclusion) to bolster its financial inclusion efforts. The primary goal of IB SAATHI is to provide essential banking services to various stakeholders through the business correspondent (BC) channel.

Enhanced Banking Services:

Under this revamped model, Indian Bank is committed to offering basic banking services at all its centers for a minimum of four hours each day through fixed outlets. This initiative is a significant step towards ensuring widespread access to banking services.

Doorstep Banking Convenience:

In addition to the fixed outlets, BC agents will also extend their services directly to the doorstep of customers. This move aims to make financial services more accessible, convenient, and inclusive, especially for those in remote or underserved areas.

Expansion Plans:

Indian Bank has set ambitious targets for expanding its BC network. The bank plans to deploy over 5,000 new BCs by March 2024. Currently, it already has 10,750 BCs and 10 corporate business correspondents (CBCs). These numbers are set to increase significantly to 15,000 BCs and 15 CBCs, enhancing the bank’s reach and coverage.

Service Portfolio:

Indian Bank currently provides 36 different services to customers through its BC channel. However, in the coming years, the bank has plans to introduce an additional 60 services by FY25. This expansion of services will further empower customers and promote financial inclusion.

India Hosts Inaugural UNCITRAL South Asia Conference

India recently played host to the inaugural United Nations Commission on International Trade Law (UNCITRAL) South Asia conference, held from September 14 to 16. This significant event was jointly organized by the Ministry of External Affairs, UNCITRAL, and the organization’s national coordination committee for India.

Distinguished Attendees

The conference saw the presence of notable dignitaries, including Minister of State for External Affairs, Rajkumar Ranjan Singh, Chief Justice of India, DY Chandrachud, and Attorney General R Venkataramani, among others.

Continuation of a Historic Event

This three-day conference marked a continuation of a significant event held in New Delhi in 2016, which celebrated 50 years of UNCITRAL’s existence.

Enhancing Engagement with UNCITRAL

The primary goal of the conference was to foster closer ties between India and UNCITRAL while encouraging active interaction among UNCITRAL, the judiciary, the bureaucracy, academia, and the legal fraternity.

UNCITRAL: A Vital Legal Entity

UNCITRAL, described as “the principal legal entity within the United Nations system dedicated to international trade law,” has been instrumental in reforming and harmonizing international business rules worldwide for over half a century.

India’s Historical Relationship with UNCITRAL

Minister of State Dr. Rajkumar Ranjan Singh emphasized India’s unique and enduring relationship with UNCITRAL, highlighting India’s membership since its inception as one of the first 29 member states.

The Regional Focus

Attorney General Venkataramani stressed the necessity of a Declaration on Global Investment Law, underlining the conference’s regional significance.

Comprehensive Agenda

The conference featured a comprehensive agenda, including sessions led by global and regional experts covering a wide range of topics such as:

  1. Digital Economy: Discussions on the impact of the digital economy on international trade.

  2. MSMEs and Access to Credit: Insights into how small and medium-sized enterprises can better access credit.

  3. Insolvency: Consideration of international insolvency regulations.

  4. Investor-State Dispute Settlement Reform: Deliberations on reforming dispute resolution mechanisms for investors.

  5. International Commercial Arbitration: Exploration of best practices in international commercial arbitration.

  6. Mediation: Discussions on the role of mediation in resolving international trade disputes.

Highlight: High-level Roundtable

A high-level roundtable addressed regional perspectives on UNCITRAL, shedding light on the significance of UNCITRAL’s work within the South Asian context.

Promoting India as an Arbitration Hub

An essential focus of the conference was to position India as a hub for international arbitration, recognizing the country’s potential in this field.

The Final Day: Alternative Dispute Resolution

The concluding day of the conference highlighted developments in alternative dispute resolution. A notable session featured judges from four high courts across India, discussing strategies to make India a prominent hub for arbitration.


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