Today's Headlines

Today's Headlines - 26 January 2023

India's First-ever SGrBs Auction

GS Paper - 3 (Economy)

The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) auctioned maiden sovereign green bonds (SGrBs) worth Rs 8,000 crore on 25 January 2023. This is part of the Rs 16,000 crore Sovereign Green Bond auction that the RBI will conduct in the current financial year. The second green bond auction will be conducted on 9 February 2023.

What are Green Bonds?

  1. Green bonds are bonds issued by any sovereign entityinter-governmental groups or alliances and corporates with the aim that the proceeds of the bonds are utilised for projects classified as environmentally sustainable.
  2. The framework for the sovereign green bond was issued by the government on 9 November 2022.
  3. The RBI is auctioning two green bonds with tenures of 5 and 10 years, worth Rs 4,000 crore each. The two bonds auctioned today are New GOI SGrB 2028 and New GOI SGrB 2033.

Why are these bonds important?

  1. Over the last few years, Green Bonds have emerged as an important financial instrument to deal with the threats of climate change and related challenges.
  2. According to the International Finance Corporation (IFC), a World Bank Group’s institution, climate change threatens communities and economies, and it poses risks for agriculturefood, and water supplies.
  3. lot of financing is needed to address these challenges. It’s critical to connect environmental projects with capital markets and investors and channel capital towards sustainable development – and Green Bonds are a way to make that connection.

How beneficial is it for investors?

  1. Green Bonds offer investors a platform to engage in good practicesinfluencing the business strategy of bond issuers.
  2. They provide a means to hedge against climate change risks while achieving at least similar, if not better, returns on their investment.
  3. In this way, the growth in Green Bonds and green finance also indirectly works to disincentivise high carbon-emitting projects, as per the IFC.

Where will the proceeds go?

  1. The government will use the proceeds raised from SGrBs to finance or refinance expenditure (in parts or whole) for various green projects, including in renewable energyclean transportationenergy efficiencyclimate change adaptationsustainable water and waste managementpollution and prevention control and green buildings.
  2. In renewable energy, investments will be made in solarwindbiomass and hydropower energy projects.


Norovirus cases detected

GS Paper - 3 (Health and Diseases)

The Kerala Health Department confirmed two cases of the gastrointestinal infection norovirus in class 1 students in Ernakulam district. The two samples were tested after 62 persons — students and their parents — developed symptoms such as diarrhoeaabdominal painvomitingnausea, a high temperatureheadache, and body aches.

What is norovirus and how common are infections?

  1. Norovirus is not new; it has been circulating among humans for over 50 years and is thought to be one of the primary causes of gastroenteritis.
  2. The virus is estimated to kill 200,000 persons globally every year, with most deaths occurring among those below the age of five years and those over the age of 65 years.
  3. The virus is capable of surviving low temperatures, and outbreaks tend to be more common during the winter and in colder countries — that is why it is sometimes referred to as “winter vomiting disease”.
  4. A 2022 study published in the peer reviewed journal Viruses says that norovirus infections are more frequently detected in high income countries, with almost 40% cases being seen in long-term care facilities.
  5. In contrast, the cases in India have mostly been detected in settings like schools and hostels, where people share food.

What are the symptoms and how to prevent its spread?

  1. Norovirus leads to diarrhoeavomitingnausea, and abdominal pain. Being a diarrhoeal disease, it can lead to dehydration, so drinking plenty of fluids is recommended.
  2. The infection can be transmitted through foods contaminated with the virus, touching surfaces that are contaminated with the virus and then touching the mouth, and being in direct contact with someone with the infection like taking care of them and sharing foods and utensils with them.
  3. Good hand hygiene is the best way to prevent infection. Wash your hands with soap and water for 20 seconds. Hands sanitisers are thought to not work too well against norovirus.
  4. As the infection can be transmitted by foods, it is suggested that a sick person not prepare food for others.
  5. All food items should be carefully washed and cooked at high temperatures. The norovirus can survive temperatures as high as 60 degrees Celsius.


Lawyers in India can’t advertise their work

GS Paper - 2 (Polity)

The Supreme Court Advocates-on-Record Association (SCAORA) condemned business magazine Forbes India’s decision to publish a ‘Legal Powerlist’ of the top 25 Advocates-on-Record. The SCAORA unanimously passed a resolution denouncing the list as “misleading” and “unauthorized information” after its executive committee received a complaint. SCAORA said the list was a “clear case of misrepresentation”, and undermined the interests of Supreme Court AORs.

What is the law on lawyers advertising their work?

  1. In India, lawyers and legal practitioners are not allowed to advertise their work.
  2. Section 49(1)(c) of the Advocates Act, 1961 empowers the Bar Council of India (BCI) to make rules with respect to “the standard of professional conduct and etiquette to be observed by advocates”.
  3. Rule 36 in Chapter II (“Standards of Professional Conduct and Etiquette”) of Part VI (“Rules Governing Advocates”) of the BCI Rules published in 1975 prohibits lawyers from advertising their work.
  4. The Rule reads: “An advocate shall not solicit work or advertise, either directly or indirectly, whether by circularsadvertisementstoutspersonal communications, interviews not warranted by personal relations, furnishing or inspiring newspaper comments or producing his photographs to be published in connection with cases in which he has been engaged or concerned.”
  5. Rule 36 also requires that an advocate’s signboard or nameplate “should be of a reasonable size”.
  6. An advocate who violates this rule can face punishment for professional or other misconduct under Section 35 of the Advocates Act.

What is the basis for having such a rule?

  1. In a 1975 rulingJustice Krishna Iyer of the Supreme Court in ‘Bar Council of Maharashtra vs. M V Dabholkar’ provided the rationale for this: “Law is no trade, briefs no merchandise, and so the leaven of commercial competition or procurement should not vulgarise the legal profession.”
  2. In 1995, in ‘Indian Council Of Legal Aid & Advice vs Bar Council Of India & Anr’, the SC said that “the functions of the Bar Council include the laying down of standards of professional conduct and etiquette which advocates must follow to maintain the dignity and purity of the profession.”
  3. Law, the SC said, was a “noble profession”, and those engaged in it have certain obligations in society as the practice of law has a “public utility flavour”.


Bank Locker Agreements extended

GS Paper - 3 (Economy)

The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) extended the deadline for banks to complete the process of renewal of agreements for existing safe deposit lockers/safe custody article facilities in a phased manner till 31 December 2023, from an earlier deadline of 1 January 2023. The RBI has also asked the Indian Banks Association (IBA) to review the model locker agreement and send it to banks by 28 February 2023.

When can customers renew their existing agreements?

  1. RBI has extended the deadline for banks to renew locker agreements with existing locker customers in a phased manner to 31 December 2023.
  2. The central bank has asked banks to inform all their existing locker customers about the renewal requirement by 30 April 2023.
  3. Banks will have to ensure that at least 50 per cent of their existing locker customers have renewed agreements by 30 June and 75 per cent by 30 September 2023.

Why did the RBI extend the timeline?

  1. In August 2021, the RBI, in a circular, directed banks to renew these agreements by 1 January 2023.
  2. However, in a recent review, the RBI found that a large number of customers were unable to renew locker agreements and were having difficulties in executing the same.
  3. In many cases, banks did not inform customers about the need to renew locker agreements before 1 January 2023.
  4. The deadline has also been extended as the RBI was of the opinion that the model agreement drafted by the IBA needs a revision to fully comply with the revised instructions issued in August 2021.

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