Voluntary Retention Route

Why in news?

The RBI’s decision to infuse rupee liquidity through long term foreign exchange swap is likely to boost investments by foreign portfolio investors under the voluntary retention route (VRR).

About VRR

  • It is a scheme to encourage Foreign Portfolio Investors (FPIs) to undertake long-term investments in Indian debt markets.
  • The scheme has a minimum retention period of three years where investors need to maintain a minimum of 75% of their investments in India.
  • It was proposed on October 5, 2018.
  • FPIs registered with Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI) are eligible to voluntarily invest through the
 
  • route in government and corporate bonds.
  • Investments through the VRR are capped at `40,000 crore for government bonds and at `35,000 crore for corporate bonds.
  • Allocation of investment amount to FPIs under this route shall be made on tap or through auctions.
  • At completion of the minimum retention period of three years, the FPI can opt to continue investing for another three years or opt to liquidate the portfolio and exit.
  • Investments through the route will be free of the regulatory norms applicable to FPI investments in debt markets, provided investors maintain a minimum share of their investments for a fixed period.
Real Estate Investment Trusts

Why in news?

The over-subscription of India’s first Real Estate Investment Trust (REIT) issue points to a positive investor appetite for backing assets in the otherwise fund-starved real estate sector.

About REITs

  • REITs are similar to mutual funds.
  • While mutual funds provide for an opportunity to invest in equity stocks, REITs allow one to invest in income-generating real estate assets.
  • REITsraise funds from a large number of investors and directly invest that sum in income-generating real estate properties.
  • The trustsare listed in stock exchanges so that investors can buy units in the trust.
  • REITs are structured as trusts.
  • Thus, the assets of an REIT are held by an independenttrustee on behalf of unit holders.
  • The investment objective of REITs is to provide unit holderswith dividends, usually generated from rental income and capital gains from the profitable sale of real estate assets.
  • Typically, the trust distributes 90 percentof its income among its investors by issuing dividends. Typically, money is raised from unit holders through an Initial Public Offer (IPO) and used by the company to purchase a pool of real estate properties.
  • These properties are leased outto tenants and the income generated via rent flows back to unit holders (investors) in return as income distributions (dividends).
  • REITs originated in the S. to give investors an opportunity to investin income-generating real estate assets.

Why Invest in REITS?

  • For investors who are averseto investing in physical purchase of property due to the risks involved, REIT is an alternative.
  • Investors purchase units of REITs which are tradedon the stock exchange, as against physical purchase of property.
  • Therefore, investors can buy and sell unitsof REIT on the stock exchange as and when required, making investment easier to liquidate compared to physical property transaction.
  • The minimumrequired to be put into an REIT is `2 lakh.
  • It could provide an opportunity for investors who, otherwise, do not getthe opportunity to invest in
 
  • commercial real estatebecause of high capital values.
  • Since 90 percentof the profit generated needs to be distributed as dividend in REIT, it could provide a stable income for unit holders.

History and culture

Navroz

Why in news?

The Prime Minister has greeted nation on the occasion of Navroz.

About Navroz

  • Nowruz or Navroz is the Persian and Iranian New Year.
  • It is a day that marks the first day of the spring and renewal of nature.
  • It's a day of global observance and is celebrated on March 21 every year.
  • Nowruz is predominantly celebrated in Western and Central Asia, the Balkans and the Middle East.
  • In Iranian calendar, the first month is called Farvardin and Nowruz marks the first day of Farvardin.

What does the word Nowruz means?

  • Nowruz is a Persian word that consists of the words now and ruz.
  • Now means 'new' and Ruz means 'day', so Nowruz signifies "new day".
  • It coincides with the Spring Equinox.

What is the significance of Nowruz?

  • Apart from marking the first day of spring, Nowruz promotes peace and solidarity in families.
  • It's a day that promotes friendship among peoples and different communities.

What is Haft Seen or Haft Sin in Nowruz celebrations?

  • A table is decorated in the households with seven items that begin with the Persian letter sin or "S".
  • The decoration is called Haft Seen and consists of the fruits and sweets.

Science and Technology

SmartSat Software

Why in news?

US aerospace company Lockheed Martin presented its new "SmartSat" technology.

About the software

  • The software hopes to install smartphone-like software with more computing power and capable of receiving updates within minutes instead of days or weeks.
  • Once a traditional satellite is launched into space, its physical hardware and computer software stay mostly immutable for the rest of its existence as it orbits the Earth, even as the technology it serves on the ground continues to change.
  • SmartSat will make the satellites of the future to operate more like smartphones.
  • Instead of computer programs with a single processor, like satellites have today, with "SmartSat," willl be bringing multi-core processing to space.
  • This let satellites process more data in orbit so they can beam down just the most critical and relevant
 
  • information, saving bandwidth costs and reducing the burden on ground station analysts.

World Affairs

World Water Day

Why in news?

Today is World Water Day.

About the day

  • World Water Day is March 22nd, 2019.
  • It is about tackling the water crisis by addressing the reasons why so many people are being left behind.
  • World Water Day is coordinated by UN-Water, the UN’s inter-agency collaboration mechanism for all freshwater related issues in collaboration with governments and partners.
  • The theme for World Water Day 2019 is ‘Leaving no one behind,’ which is the central promise of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development: as sustainable development progresses, everyone must benefit.
  • Sustainable Development Goal 6 (SDG 6) aims to ensure availability and sustainable management of water for all by 2030.
  • By definition, this means leaving no one behind.
  • The focus on universal access to clean water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) is in line with the targets of Sustainable Development Goal 6.
  • The UN World Water Development Report (WWDR) is released each year around World Water Day.
  • In 2010, the United Nations (UN) established that access to water is a human right.

Map Aided Programme

Golan Heights

Why in news?

US President backs Israeli sovereignty claim over Golan Heights.

About Golan Heights

  • Golan Heights is a hilly area overlooking the upper Jordan River valley on the west.
  • The Golan shares a border with Lebanon, Jordan and Israel.
  • The area was part of extreme southwestern Syria until 1967.
  • Israel captured the Golan Heights from Syria in a 1967 war and annexed the territory.
  • In December 1981 Israel unilaterally annexed the part of the Golan it held.
  • The area’s name is from the biblical city of refuge Golan in Bashan.

Why it matters?

  • It’s a piece of high ground in one of the most conflict-prone places on Earth.
  • The Golan offers fertile land, Israelis grow grapes there for wine and an important source of water.

Previous Year Questions Revision Series (Pqrs)-(2012)

  1. The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) acts as a banker’s bank. This would imply which of the following?
  2. Other banks retain their deposits with the RBI
  3. The RBI lends funds to the commercial banks in times of need
  4. The RBI advises the commercial banks on monetary matters

Select the correct answer using the codes given below:

(a) 2 and 3 only                 (b) 1 and 2 only                       (c) 1 and 3 only           (d) 1, 2 and 3