Current Affairs (15th April 2021)
- The National Company Law Appellate Tribunal (NCLAT) ruled that though the spectrum held by telecom companies can be a part of insolvency process, it can only be sold or transferred from one telco to another only if the government’s dues with respect to the said asset are clear.
What are NCLAT’s findings on various aspects on spectrum trading and ownership?
- As per order of the Supreme Court, the NCLAT had to decide mainly on three aspects which included whether spectrum could be subjected to proceedings under the code, how would be the payment be made by the telco if there was spectrum trading and how would the liability of seller and buyer of the spectrum be decided.
- On the first aspect of whether spectrum could be subject to insolvency, the NCLAT said that although spectrum was an intangible asset of the telecom company and could be subjected to insolvency or even liquidation proceedings, the same could be done only if the buyer or the seller of the spectrum had cleared all the dues of the Department of Telecommunications (DoT).
- Thisis likely to create problems for the insolvency process of the three telcos that are undergoing insolvency, namely Reliance Communication, Videocon, and Aircel as the DoT is now likely to ask the bidders for these companies to first clear its dues in entirety before proceeding with the resolution plan.
- Since the NCLAT has also held that the telecommunication companies only have the right to use the spectrum and that they do not own it, this also effectively blocks lenders to the companies from creating any charge or claim on the said spectrum.
- This means that despite the DoT being an operational creditor in scheme of things, it will get priority in payments from any prospective bidders since the statutory dues owed to it will have to be cleared either by the corporate debtor or the bidders.
What did the NCLAT say on aspect of spectrum trading and liability of buyers and sellers?
- An important aspect on which the NCLAT ruled is that since spectrum is a scarce natural resource, it must be used optimally by all licencees.
- The appellate tribunal, has, therefore held that spectrum should not be available for use for any of the telcos or licensees if the dues are not clear.
- Further, the NCLAT has also said that telcos which try to trigger insolvency against themselves under Section 10 of the Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code with a “malicious intent” of avoiding payment of pending dues, would not be allowed to do so.
- Such an insolvency process, if triggered, would lead to a moratorium on licence fee and deferred spectrum payments as per the rules of IBC, thereby allowing the licensee to escape the said dues.
- This in turn would mean that the DoT, being an operational creditor, would gain very less value for the asset as operational creditors are placed below financial creditors under the IBC, the three member bench said in its order.
- The defaulting telcos, therefore, cannot be “permitted to wriggle out of their liabilities by resorting to triggering of corporate insolvency resolution process (CIRP)”.
Digitally rich ecosystem
- Atal Innovation Mission and NITI Aayog signed an agreement with Dassault Systemes Foundation to jointly work towards providing a digitally rich ecosystem of Innovation among aspiring young minds across the country.
- The Atal Tinkering Labs has played a pivotal role in fostering creativity and imagination amongst school children.
- Dassault Systemes Foundation is dedicated to transform the future of education and research in India with 3D technologies.
- The foundation will contribute to the Atal Tinkering Labs program in three broad areas – project based, self-paced learning content, hackathons and challenges and inter-country academia collaborations.
- Dassault Systemes Fondation has designed and developed an initiative as part of its CSR objectives, initial set of ‘Ready to use’ well documented self-learning training cum instructional playbook, with appropriate videos for visual understanding which they would be sharing with the ATL students that they can access digitally.
- This playbook comes with instructional videos for teachers so that it can be implemented with minimal support from experts. This content shall be available for AIM to offer to all schools with ATLs and other schools as well as out of school children in India for use.
- Under this SoI, Dassault Systemes Fondation shall design and organise innovative challenges / hackathons for ATLs, promoting problem solving skills, scientific and technology based exploratory learning skills and innovation culture amongst students and teachers.
- Through this collaboration, AIM and Dassault Systemes Fondation shall jointly encourage inter country collaborations amongst schools and school students for collaborative science / technology learning, skilling and cultural interactions amongst students.
Online Grievance Management Portal
- Union Minister for Communication & IT and Law & Justice launched the “Online Grievance Management Portal of National Commission for Scheduled Castes (NCSC)”.
- NCSC Grievance Management portal would make it easier for Scheduled Castes population of our country to register their complaint from any part of the country.
- The portal shall enable them to file their application and other atrocity and services related grievances online and to get them addressed in a time bound manner. This portal will fulfil the dreams of Dr. B.R. Ambedkar.
- NCSC aims to streamline the grievance redressal specially of the Scheduled Caste population through this portal.
- The portal designed in collaboration with the Bhaskaracharya Institute for Space Applications and Geoinformatics (BISAG-N), a Centre of Excellence under the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology, Government of India will facilitate an end-to-end e-filing of complaints and grievances and their tracking.
- Finally, it is intended to make the hearing process work on similar lines as e-courts. This portal is linked to the Commission’s website and one can file one’s complaint upon registering on it.
- The facility to upload documents and audio/video files is also available. This would supplement the physical submission of complaints and grievances.
- The National Commission for Scheduled Castes (NCSC) was set up under the Article 338 of the Constitution of India with the objective to investigate and monitor all issues pertaining to the safeguards provided for the Scheduled Castes under any law for the time being in force or under any order of the Government of India.
- The Commission also enquires into specific complaints with respect to the deprivation of rights and safeguards provided for the Scheduled Castes.
- The NCSC renews its commitment to serve the cause of the SC community as mandated in the Constitution and policies of the government.
The Hydrogen Economy – New Delhi Dialogue 2021
- The Energy Forum (TEF) and the Federation of Indian Petroleum Industry (FIPI), under the aegis of Ministry of Petroleum and Natural Gas, Government of India, are organising a Hydrogen Roundtable titled “Hydrogen Economy- the Indian Dialogue-2021” to discuss emerging hydrogen ecosystems and exploring opportunities for collaboration, cooperation and coalition.
- As the world chases its international climate commitments and takes steps to counter climate change, Hydrogen is gaining increasing importance as a source to bridge energy gaps and also as a standalone source to conventional fuels.
- The Hydrogen Roundtable, the first of its kind, will comprise a High-level Ministerial Session, followed by five Panel Discussions by eminent policy makers, experts and industry leaders from different geographical regions of the world, with focus on policy roadmaps and mapping demand and supply of Hydrogen.
- The objective of the Roundtable is to understand the progress of Hydrogen ecosystem across continents and contribute to creating synchrony among the thinktanks, Governments and the industry to join forces for developing innovative and sustainable technologies at attractive costs.
Hydrogen as an element
- The most common element in nature is not found freely.
- Hydrogen exists only combined with other elements.
- It has to be extracted from naturally occurring compounds like water (which is a combination of two hydrogen atoms and one oxygen atom).
- Although hydrogen is a clean molecule, the process of extracting it is energy-intensive.
- The sources and processes, by which hydrogen is derived, are categorised by colour tabs.
Its types as fuel
- Hydrogen produced from fossil fuels is called grey hydrogen; this constitutes the bulk of the hydrogen produced today.
- Hydrogen generated from fossil fuels with carbon capture and storage options is called blue hydrogen; hydrogen generated entirely from renewable power sources is called green hydrogen.
- In the last process, electricity generated from renewable energy is used to split water into hydrogen and oxygen.
Hydrogen for mobility
- While proposed end-use sectors include steel and chemicals, the major industry that hydrogen has the potential of transforming is transportation.
- This sector contributes a third of all greenhouse gas emissions, and where hydrogen is being seen as a direct replacement of fossil fuels, with specific advantages over traditional EVs.
- Hydrogen fuel cell cars have a near-zero carbon footprint.
- Hydrogen is about two to three times as efficient as burning petrol because an electric chemical reaction is much more efficient than combustion.
- In October 2020, Delhi became the first Indian city to operate buses running on hydrogen spiked compressed natural gas (H-CNG) in a six-month pilot project.
- The buses will run on a new technology patented by Indian Oil Corp for producing H-CNG — 18 per cent hydrogen in CNG — directly from natural gas, without resorting to conventional blending.