News: After 68 years, Air India is all set to return to the Tata fold. Tata Sons subsidiary Talace Pvt. Ltd. emerged as the winning bidder for the debt-laden national carrier after quoting an enterprise value of ₹18,000 crore. The government will take a hit of ₹28,844 crore.
The Tatas will own a 100% stake in Air India, as also 100% in its international low-cost arm Air India Express and 50% in the ground handling joint venture, Air India SATS.
Apart from 141 aircraft and access to a network of 173 destinations, including 55 international ones, Tatas will also have the ownership of iconic brands such as Air India, Indian Airlines and the Maharajah.
About Air India:
Air India is the flag carrier airline of India, headquartered at New Delhi.
It is owned by Air India Limited of Talace Private Limited, a SPV of Tata Sons, and operates a fleet of Airbus and Boeing aircraft serving 102 domestic and international destinations.
Air India is the largest international carrier out of India with an 18.6% market share.
The airline was founded by J. R. D. Tata as Tata Airlines in 1932; Tata himself flew its first single-engine de Havilland Puss Moth, carrying air mail from Karachi’s Drigh Road Aerodrome to Bombay’s Juhu aerodrome and later continuing to Madras (currently Chennai).
After World War II, it became a public limited company and was renamed as Air India.
In 1953, the Government of India passed the Air Corporations Act and purchased a majority stake in the carrier from Tata Sons though its founder J. R. D. Tata would continue as Chairman till 1977.
2. PARLIAMENTARY COMMITTEES
News: Reacting to The Hindu’s report on the delay in the formation of Parliamentary Standing Committees (PSC), the Parliamentary Affairs Ministry, in a clarification, has attacked the Opposition for its low attendance in the meetings, specifically pointing at the Trinamool Congress.
About Parliamentary Committees:
The Parliamentary committees are established to study and deal with various matters that cannot be directly handled by the legislature due to their volume. They also monitor the functioning of the executive branch.
The Parliamentary committees are of two kinds – standing or permanent committees and ad hoc committees. The former are elected or appointed periodically and they work on a continuous basis.
The latter are created on an ad hoc basis as the need arises and they are dissolved after they complete the task assigned to them.
A standing committee is a committee consisting of Members of Parliament.
It is a permanent and regular committee which is constituted from time to time according to the provisions of an Act of Parliament or Rules of Procedure and Conduct of Business.
The work done by the Indian Parliament is not only voluminous but also of a complex nature, hence a good deal of its work is carried out in these Parliamentary committees.
Standing committees are of the following kinds:
Financial standing committees (FSC)
Department related standing committees (DRSC)
Other standing committees (OSC)
There are three important standing committees dealing with financial affairs. These committees involve further sub-committees:
Public Accounts Committee – It examines various expenditure reports and accounts under the purview of the Parliament. Till 1966-67, a senior member of the ruling party used to be appointed by the Speaker as Chairman of the Committee. In 1967, however, for the first time, a member from the Opposition in Lok Sabha, was appointed as the chairperson of the committee by the Speaker of the Lok Sabha. This practice continues till date.
Estimates Committee – The committee on Estimates, constituted for the first time in 1950, is a committee consisting of 30 members, elected every year by the Lok Sabha from amongst its Members.
Public Undertakings Committee – It analyses the accounts, and workings of the state owned PSU firms. It also keeps a check on the disinvestment policies of the various PSUs.
3. NOBEL PEACE PRIZE
News: Journalists Maria Ressa of the Philippines and Dmitry Muratov of Russia won the 2021 Nobel Peace Prize for their fight for freedom of expression in countries where reporters have faced persistent attacks, harassment and even murder.
Free, independent and fact-based journalism serves to protect against abuse of power, lies and war propaganda.
Without freedom of expression and freedom of the press, it will be difficult to successfully promote fraternity between nations, disarmament and a better world order to succeed in our time.
4. ROHINGYA REFUGEES
News: Bangladesh wants to send more than 80,000 Rohingya refugees to a remote island in the Bay of Bengal after sealing an agreement for the United Nations to provide help.
Some 19,000 of the Muslim refugees have already relocated to Bhashan Char island.
On top of the inhospitable weather, the island is 60 kilometres from the mainland and some Rohingya groups say people were forced to go there.
5. FREE TRADE AGREEMENT
News: Commerce and Industry Minister Piyush Goyal has called for a renegotiation of the India-ASEAN free trade agreement (FTA), to prevent its misuse by ‘third parties’ and remove trade restrictions as well as non-tariff barriers that he said had hurt Indian exports disproportionately since the pact was operationalised in 2010.
About Free Trade Agreement:
A free trade agreement (FTA) or treaty is an agreement according to international law to form a free-trade area between the cooperating states.
There are two types of trade agreements – bilateral and multilateral.
FTAs, a form of trade pacts, determine the tariffs and duties that countries impose on imports and exports with the goal of reducing or eliminating trade barriers, thus encouraging international trade.
The General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT 1994) originally defined free-trade agreements to include only trade in goods.
An agreement with a similar purpose, i.e., to enhance liberalization of trade in services, is named under Article V of the General Agreement on Trade in Service (GATS) as an “economic integration agreement”.