Communal tension erupts again in Uttar Pradesh
- Communal clashes once again rocked several districts in Uttar Pradesh, including Muzaffarnagar, Ambedkar Nagar and Baharaich, spreading fear in the region. Trouble spread after a fight between two people of different communities over a trivial issue.
- Police in the area are on high alert trying to contain the violence. Police sources said there appeared to be a deliberate attempt to disturb communal amity in the state ahead of Lok Sabha elections. Political parties have been making insinuating statements rather than trying to defuse the situation.
- Last year clashes had broken between Jat and Muslim communities over an eveteasing incident. A Mahapanchayat was held by the Jat community to bring together the community. The situation turned violent when a fake video of two men being beaten by a mob went viral on social media. During the violence thousands of people have been displaced from their homes and made to stay in temporary camps. The conditions in these camps have been bad, many deaths of children have been reported owing to the cold winter of North India.
India-EU trade pact may get more delayed
- The already delayed Bilateral Trade and Investment Agreement (BTIA) between New Delhi and European Union may take some more time to be signed.
- Though significant progress had been made in the negotiations, general elections in India this summer and election to the European Parliament to be held around the same time are considered to be main reasons for the delay.
- Negotiations have been held for the past seven years. EU had been demanding tax cuts in wines and spirits and dairy products and a strong intellectual property regime. Disagreements over these crucial issues had delayed the deal and some still remain to be resolved. However, India wants to be recognised by the EU to be a data secure nation – a key demand, which is important for the information technology companies of India to get market access.
Syria says yes to swap prisoners and ceasefire
- Russia’s efforts have made Syria to agree to a prisoner swap and a local ceasefire with rebel forces. It is seen as an effort to end bloodshed and build trust on both sides. Also a plan for security measures in Aleppo city was handed over to Russia by Syria.
- Russia has praised Syria for the positive steps taken by it in this regard. Russia which supports Assad regime does not want a change in the ruling government as opposed to the wish of the W
- The UN and Russia have called on all forces in Syria to be a part of the peace talks in Geneva and make it a success.
US to end surveillance of foreign leaders of friendly nations
- In an effort to lessen global outrage over PRISM, the US snooping programme, President Barack Obama has put an end to the surveillance of "foreign leaders of friendly nations". However he ruled out scrapping the controversial programme altogether.
- The government has come up with a series of measures to balance between civil liberties of Americans and people across the globe. It also aims at meeting the US security and intelligence needs.
- Edward Snowden, the whistleblower whose revelations on US spying program had resulted in outrage in some of the key American allies, including France, Germany, Brazil and India. The Brazilian President had even cancelled her state visit to the US in protest.
- The US President called on his government officials to work with foreign counterparts to deepen coordination and cooperation in ways that will rebuild trust. He added that, US global leadership demands that it balance its security requirements against the need to maintain trust and cooperation among people and leaders around the world.
- Obama said "the bottom line is that people around the world – regardless of their nationality – should know that the US is not spying on ordinary people who don't threaten our national security, and that we take their privacy concerns into account. This applies to foreign leaders as well".
Gold jewelry exports has fallen significantly in December
- Exports of gold jewelry from the country in December dropped by about 30% year on year.
- India, taking measures to reduce its current account deficit, has put restrictions on imports of gold, its second-biggest import item after oil. This step has affected the jewelry sector. The measures included a rule that said 20 per cent of all the gold imported must be turned around and exported as jewelry.
IRDA thinking of compulsory insurance broking for banks
- The Insurance Regulatory and Development Authority, the insurance market regulator is thinking of making broking model for banks compulsory soon, if significant traction is not achieved in insurance penetration.
- The banks are now following the agent model, IRDA intends to make it a broker model. IRDA is in touch with Ministry of Finance and the RBI in this regard.
- Banks sell insurance products to their customers. Hence, they should act as brokers representing multiple insurance companies giving the best option to the customer rather than trying to sell a particular company's product, views IRDA.
- As a insurance broker, a bank would be liable to consumers, with respect to an insurance policy, but not so as a corporate agent. The liability could be high as a bank will sell the products of multiple insurers.
- Earlier, the government had in a circular asked public sector banks to take up insurance broking by January-end. This was in view of the meager insurance penetration levels in the country, especially in rural areas.