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Potato Farmers cry foul as PepsiCo sues them
Paper : General Studies 2, General Studies 3

Why in news?
Pepsico has sued four farmers in Gujarat for infringing its rights by growing the potato variety used in Lays chips

What do the farmers contend?

  • The case could set a precedent for other crops.
  • Farmers want the Protection of Plant Varieties and Farmers Rights Authority (PPVFRA) to make a submission in court on their behalf and fund legal costs through the National Gene Fund.

What is the Protection of Plant Varieties and Farmers Rights Authority?

  • It is a statutory body established by the Protection of Plant Varieties and Farmers’ Rights Act, 2001. It has the following three functions:
    In order to provide for the establishment of an effective system for protection of plant varieties, the rights of farmers and plant breeders and
  • to encourage the development of new varieties of plants
  • Moreover to accelerate agricultural development, it is necessary to protect plants breeders’ rights to stimulate investment for research and development for the development of new plant varieties.
  • India having ratified the Agreement on Trade Related Aspects of the Intellectual Property Rights has to make provision for giving effect to Agreement and thus this body was created.

What is the National Gene Fund?
As per the Protection of Plant Variety and Farmers Rights Act, 2001 Section 45 “National Gene Fund” has been constituted to receive contributions from:

  • benefit sharing received from the breeder of a variety or an essentially derived variety registered under the Act, or the propagating material of such variety or essentially derived variety, as the case may be;
  • annual fee payable to the Authority by way of royalty;
  • compensation deposited by breeders and
  • contributions from any National and International organizations and other sources

The Gene Fund to be applied for meeting:

  • any amount to be paid by way of benefit sharing
  • the compensation payable under sub-section (3) of section 41;
  • the expenditure for supporting the conservation and sustainable use of genetic resources and for strengthening the capability of the Panchayat in carrying out such conservation and sustainable use;
  • the expenditure of the schemes relating to benefit sharing framed under section 46.

Geologists urge shifting of people from 12 villages in Uttarakhand
Paper : General Studies 1

Why in news?

  • Geologists have identified 12 landslide prone villages in Pithoragarh district of Uttarakhand that need to be relocated before monsoons.
    These villages have witnessed several landslides in the past several years.
  • The survey is now being extended to 12 more villages in the region

 

Army to build tunnels to store ammunition
Paper : General Studies 3

Why in news?

  • Indian Army is planning to construct underground tunnels for storage of ammunition.
  • These will be built along the border with China and Pakistan with the help of NHPC, a Public Sector Undertaking.

What are the benefits of underground storage?

  • Improved safety
  • Easier camouflage from enemy satellites
  • Protection from enemy strikes
  • Better safety of sensitive ammunition in controlled conditions.

 

10 Pak based terrorists had role in Cross-LoC Trade
Paper : General Studies 3

Why in news?

  • 10 Pakistan based terrorists have been found involved in funnelling illegal weapons, narcotics and fake currency into the valley after the government suspended cross- LoC trade from April 19.
    To read more on the ban, read the current affairs for April 19 here.

RBI Divests its entire stake in NABARD and NHB
Paper : General Studies 3

Why in news?

  • RBI has divested its entire stake in National Housing Bank and NABARD.
  • The entire stake is now held by the Government of India.
  • This was done on the basis of the recommendations of Narsimhan Committee II and the DIscussion Paper prepared by RBI on Harmonizing the role and operations of Development Financial Institutions and Banks.

What is the National Housing Bank?

It is a regulator for housing finance companies set up under the NHB Act, 1987
Its functions are

  • To promote and develop specialised housing finance institutions for mobilising resources and extending credit for housing
  • To provide refinance facilities to housing finance institutions and scheduled banks
  • To provide guarantee and underwriting facilities to housing finance institutions
  • To formulate schemes for mobilisation of resources and extension of credit for housing, especially catering to the needs of economically weaker sections of society
  • To provide guidelines to housing finance institutions to ensure their healthy growth
  • To coordinate the working of all agencies connected with housing

It also releases the RESIDEX, the first official housing price index of India that tracks the movement of housing prices in different cities on a quarterly basis.

What is National Bank for Agriculture and Rural Development (NABARD)?

  • It is an apex institution which has power to deal with all matters concerning policy, planning as well as operations in giving credit for agriculture and other economic activities in the rural areas.
  • It is a refinancing agency for those institutions that provide investment and production credit for promoting the several developmental programs for rural development.
  • It is improving the absorptive capacity of the credit delivery system in India, including monitoring, formulation of rehabilitation schemes, restructuring of credit institutions, and training of personnel.
  • It coordinates the rural credit financing activities of all sorts of institutions engaged in developmental work at the field level while maintaining liaison with Government of India, and State Governments, and also RBI and other national level institutions that are concerned with policy formulation.
  • It prepares rural credit plans, annually, for all districts in the country.
  • It also promotes research in rural banking, and the field of agriculture and rural development.

 

LIBOR Transition Opens up avenues for IT majors
Paper : General Studies 3

Why in news?

  • Regulators globally have asked firms to move away from LIBOR to other alternate risk-free rates due to a scam at LIBOR that has affected $370 trillion in assets and investments.
  • For technology companies it will involve creating new systems, processes and platforms to support the entire migration from LIBOR

What is LIBOR?

  • LIBOR, which stands for London Interbank Offered Rate, serves as a globally accepted key benchmark interest rate that indicates borrowing costs between banks.
  • It is calculated on a daily basis.
  • It is based on five currencies including the US dollar, the euro, the British pound, the Japanese yen, and the Swiss franc, and serves seven different maturities— overnight/spot next, one week, and one, two, three, six, and 12 months.
  • The combination of five currencies and seven maturities leads to a total of 35 different LIBOR rates calculated and reported each business day.

 

Centre likely to extend deadline for submission of INC-22 forms by firms
Paper : General Studies 3

Why in news?

  • Centre is likely to extend the deadline and relax the rules for the disclosure norms it had set for companies in an attempt to weed out shell companies.
  • INC 22 requires companies incorporated on or before December 31, 2017 to provide details regarding the location of their offices, directors and proof of business.
  • Startups have raised concerns about INC 22 form as many of them work out of coworking spaces and the demands are extremely onerous and unviable for them.

What is a shell company?

  • A shell corporation is a corporation without active business operations or significant assets.
  • These types of corporations are not all necessarily illegal, but they are sometimes used illegitimately, such as to disguise business ownership from law enforcement or the public.
  • Legitimate reasons for a shell corporation include such things as a startup using the business entity as a vehicle to raise, funds, conduct a hostile takeover or to go public.