Current Affairs – June, 2019

LESA: ESA tests device to rescue injured astronauts

European Space Agency (ESA) recently tested a device called Evacuation System Assembly (or LESA), which is designed to assist in astronaut rescue missions on the surface of Moon. As per ESA, it is world’s 1st device aimed to help future incapacitated astronauts.

About LESA

Among other preparations for NASA’s 2024 Moon mission (Artemis Mission), scientists are testing the Lunar Evacuation System Assembly, or LESA device.

It is developed by European Space Agency (ESA), an intergovernmental organisation of 22 member states dedicated to space exploration.

Feature: LESA is a pyramid-like structure. It is designed in a way to be deployed just by a single astronaut in lunar gravity to rescue an incapacitated crew mate.

Need: On mission Astronauts wear Extravehicular Activities (EVA) suits that are bulky, heavy due to which they do not allow for a full range of movement. Thus while wearing an EVA suit, there is no way that an astronaut could carry their fallen crewmate over their shoulder.

Testing: NASA astronauts are testing LESA under sea. This is because, with its rocky, sandy terrain and warm salty water, the bottom of ocean floor bears much more similarity with lunar surface.

Significance:

In order to rescue a fallen colleague, LESA can be operated just by a single astronaut thus ensuring a rapid and safe rescue.

LESA can be transported like a golf caddy and placed close to the fallen astronaut, hence enabling an astronaut to lift their crewmate onto a mobile stretcher in less than 10 minutes, before carrying them to safety of a nearby pressurised lander.

Wilful Defaulters in Nationalised Banks up by 60% in 5 years: Govt

As per a written reply given by Union Finance Minister Smt. Nirmala Sitharaman in Lok Sabha, the number of wilful defaulters in nationalised banks has increased by more than 60% to 8,582 in five years to March 2019.

Key Highlights

The Finance Minister provided the written reply in Lok Sabha to a question asked that whether the cases of willful defaulters of banks have increased during the past five years.

Wilful Defaulter is an entity or a person that has not paid the loan taken back to the bank despite having the ability to repay it. Wilful defaulters are acted against comprehensively.

Data Provided by Government:

By end of fiscal year 2014-15, the figure of wilful defaulters in nationalised banks stood at 5,349, and since then the number of such borrowers has been consistently rising- with being 6,575 (2015-16), 7,079 (2016-17), 7,535 (2017-18) and now increased to 8,582 in 2018-2019 fiscal.

During the last 5 financial years about ₹7,654 crore has been recovered from wilful defaulters’ accounts.

Steps Taken By Government

As per data reported by 17 nationalised banks in India, till 31 March 2019, suits for recovery have been filed in 8,121 cases out of 8,582.

SARFAESI Act: In cases involving secured assets, action under provisions of SARFAESI Act (Securitisation and Reconstruction of Financial Assets and Enforcement of Securities Interest Act, 2002) has been initiated in 6,251 cases.

RBI Instructions: As per the instructions provided by Reserve Bank of India (RBI), wilful defaulters are not sanctioned any additional facilities by banks/financial institutions, their unit is debarred from floating new ventures for 5 year and even criminal proceedings are initiated wherever necessary. In accordance with this FIRs have been registered in 2,915 cases.

SEBI Regulations: Besides, vide Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI) regulations, wilful defaulters and companies who has with wilful defaulters as either promoters or directors have been debarred from accessing capital markets to raise funds.

IBC 2016: The Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code (IBC), 2016 has debarred wilful defaulters from participating in insolvency resolution process.

FEO Act 2018: The government has enacted Fugitive Economic Offenders Act, 2018 for effective action against wilful defaulters who flee Indian jurisdiction. It provides for attachment and confiscation of property of fugitive offenders and to disentitle them from defending any civil claim.

PSBs: Government has also advised all Public Sector Banks (PSB) to decide on publishing photographs of all concerned wilful defaulters and to obtain certified copy of passport of promoters/directors and other authorised signatories of companies availing loans of over ₹50 crore. The heads of PSBs have also been empowered to request for issuance of look out circulars (LoC) against wilful defaulters.