1. Which PSU (Public Sector Undertaking) has been conferred with the MOU Excellence Award to facilitate the PSU’s performance during 2008-09?

Answer: Cochin Shipyard Ltd.

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MCQ-> The current debate on intellectual property rights (IPRs) raises a number of important issues concerning the strategy and policies for building a more dynamic national agricultural research system, the relative roles of public and private sectors, and the role of agribusiness multinational corporations (MNCs). This debate has been stimulated by the international agreement on Trade Related Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPs), negotiated as part of the Uruguay Round. TRIPs, for the first time, seeks to bring innovations in agricultural technology under a new worldwide IPR regime. The agribusiness MNCs (along with pharmaceutical companies) played a leading part in lobbying for such a regime during the Uruguay Round negotiations. The argument was that incentives are necessary to stimulate innovations, and that this calls for a system of patents which gives innovators the sole right to use (or sell/lease the right to use) their innovations for a specified period and protects them against unauthorised copying or use. With strong support of their national governments, they were influential in shaping the agreement on TRIPs, which eventually emerged from the Uruguay Round. The current debate on TRIPs in India - as indeed elsewhere - echoes wider concerns about ‘privatisation’ of research and allowing a free field for MNCs in the sphere of biotechnology and agriculture. The agribusiness corporations, and those with unbounded faith in the power of science to overcome all likely problems, point to the vast potential that new technology holds for solving the problems of hunger, malnutrition and poverty in the world. The exploitation of this potential should be encouraged and this is best done by the private sector for which patents are essential. Some, who do not necessarily accept this optimism, argue that fears of MNC domination are exaggerated and that farmers will accept their products only if they decisively outperform the available alternatives. Those who argue against agreeing to introduce an IPR regime in agriculture and encouraging private sector research are apprehensive that this will work to the disadvantage of farmers by making them more and more dependent on monopolistic MNCs. A different, though related apprehension is that extensive use of hybrids and genetically engineered new varieties might increase the vulnerability of agriculture to outbreaks of pests and diseases. The larger, longer-term consequences of reduced biodiversity that may follow from the use of specially bred varieties are also another cause for concern. Moreover, corporations, driven by the profit motive, will necessarily tend to underplay, if not ignore, potential adverse consequences, especially those which are unknown and which may manifest themselves only over a relatively long period. On the other hand, high-pressure advertising and aggressive sales campaigns by private companies can seduce farmers into accepting varieties without being aware of potential adverse effects and the possibility of disastrous consequences for their livelihood if these varieties happen to fail. There is no provision under the laws, as they now exist, for compensating users against such eventualities. Excessive preoccupation with seeds and seed material has obscured other important issues involved in reviewing the research policy. We need to remind ourselves that improved varieties by themselves are not sufficient for sustained growth of yields. in our own experience, some of the early high yielding varieties (HYVs) of rice and wheat were found susceptible to widespread pest attacks; and some had problems of grain quality. Further research was necessary to solve these problems. This largely successful research was almost entirely done in public research institutions. Of course, it could in principle have been done by private companies, but whether they choose to do so depends crucially on the extent of the loss in market for their original introductions on account of the above factors and whether the companies are financially strong enough to absorb the ‘losses’, invest in research to correct the deficiencies and recover the lost market. Public research, which is not driven by profit, is better placed to take corrective action. Research for improving common pool resource management, maintaining ecological health and ensuring sustainability is both critical and also demanding in terms of technological challenge and resource requirements. As such research is crucial to the impact of new varieties, chemicals and equipment in the farmer’s field, private companies should be interested in such research. But their primary interest is in the sale of seed materials, chemicals, equipment and other inputs produced by them. Knowledge and techniques for resource management are not ‘marketable’ in the same way as those inputs. Their application to land, water and forests has a long gestation and their efficacy depends on resolving difficult problems such as designing institutions for proper and equitable management of common pool resources. Public or quasi-public research institutions informed by broader, long-term concerns can only do such work. The public sector must therefore continue to play a major role in the national research system. It is both wrong and misleading to pose the problem in terms of public sector versus private sector or of privatisation of research. We need to address problems likely to arise on account of the public-private sector complementarity, and ensure that the public research system performs efficiently. Complementarity between various elements of research raises several issues in implementing an IPR regime. Private companies do not produce new varieties and inputs entirely as a result of their own research. Almost all technological improvement is based on knowledge and experience accumulated from the past, and the results of basic and applied research in public and quasi-public institutions (universities, research organisations). Moreover, as is increasingly recognised, accumulated stock of knowledge does not reside only in the scientific community and its academic publications, but is also widely diffused in traditions and folk knowledge of local communities all over. The deciphering of the structure and functioning of DNA forms the basis of much of modern biotechnology. But this fundamental breakthrough is a ‘public good’ freely accessible in the public domain and usable free of any charge. Various techniques developed using that knowledge can however be, and are, patented for private profit. Similarly, private corporations draw extensively, and without any charge, on germplasm available in varieties of plants species (neem and turmeric are by now famous examples). Publicly funded gene banks as well as new varieties bred by public sector research stations can also be used freely by private enterprises for developing their own varieties and seek patent protection for them. Should private breeders be allowed free use of basic scientific discoveries? Should the repositories of traditional knowledge and germplasm be collected which are maintained and improved by publicly funded organisations? Or should users be made to pay for such use? If they are to pay, what should be the basis of compensation? Should the compensation be for individuals or (or communities/institutions to which they belong? Should individual institutions be given the right of patenting their innovations? These are some of the important issues that deserve more attention than they now get and need serious detailed study to evolve reasonably satisfactory, fair and workable solutions. Finally, the tendency to equate the public sector with the government is wrong. The public space is much wider than government departments and includes co- operatives, universities, public trusts and a variety of non-governmental organisations (NGOs). Giving greater autonomy to research organisations from government control and giving non- government public institutions the space and resources to play a larger, more effective role in research, is therefore an issue of direct relevance in restructuring the public research system.Which one of the following statements describes an important issue, or important issues, not being raised in the context of the current debate on IPRs?
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MCQ-> India is rushing headlong toward economic success and modernisation, counting on high- tech industries such as information technology and biotechnology to propel the nation toprosperity. India’s recent announcement that it would no longer produce unlicensed inexpensive generic pharmaceuticals bowed to the realities of the World TradeOrganisation while at the same time challenging the domestic drug industry to compete with the multinational firms. Unfortunately, its weak higher education sector constitutes the Achilles’ Heel of this strategy. Its systematic disinvestment in higher education inrecent years has yielded neither world-class research nor very many highly trained scholars, scientists, or managers to sustain high-tech development. India’s main competitors especially China but also Singapore, Taiwan, and South Korea — are investing in large and differentiated higher education systems. They are providingaccess to large number of students at the bottom of the academic system while at the same time building some research-based universities that are able to compete with theworld’s best institutions. The recent London Times Higher Education Supplement ranking of the world’s top 200 universities included three in China, three in Hong Kong,three in South Korea, one in Taiwan, and one in India (an Indian Institute of Technology at number 41.— the specific campus was not specified). These countries are positioningthemselves for leadership in the knowledge-based economies of the coming era. There was a time when countries could achieve economic success with cheap labour andlow-tech manufacturing. Low wages still help, but contemporary large-scale development requires a sophisticated and at least partly knowledge-based economy.India has chosen that path, but will find a major stumbling block in its university system. India has significant advantages in the 21st century knowledge race. It has a large high ereducation sector — the third largest in the world in student numbers, after China andthe United States. It uses English as a primary language of higher education and research. It has a long academic tradition. Academic freedom is respected. There are asmall number of high quality institutions, departments, and centres that can form the basis of quality sector in higher education. The fact that the States, rather than the Central Government, exercise major responsibility for higher education creates a rather cumbersome structure, but the system allows for a variety of policies and approaches. Yet the weaknesses far outweigh the strengths. India educates approximately 10 per cent of its young people in higher education compared with more than half in the major industrialised countries and 15 per cent in China. Almost all of the world’s academic systems resemble a pyramid, with a small high quality tier at the top and a massive sector at the bottom. India has a tiny top tier. None of its universities occupies a solid position at the top. A few of the best universities have some excellent departments and centres, and there is a small number of outstanding undergraduate colleges. The University Grants Commission’s recent major support of five universities to build on their recognised strength is a step toward recognising a differentiated academic system and fostering excellence. At present, the world-class institutions are mainly limited to the Indian Institutes of Technology (IITs), the Indian Institutes of Management (IIMs) and perhaps a few others such as the All India Institute of Medical Sciences and the Tata Institute of Fundamental Research. These institutions, combined, enroll well under 1 percent of the student population. India’s colleges and universities, with just a few exceptions, have become large, under-funded, ungovernable institutions. At many of them, politics has intruded into campus life, influencing academic appointments and decisions across levels. Under-investment in libraries, information technology, laboratories, and classrooms makes it very difficult to provide top-quality instruction or engage in cutting-edge research.The rise in the number of part-time teachers and the freeze on new full-time appointments in many places have affected morale in the academic profession. The lackof accountability means that teaching and research performance is seldom measured. The system provides few incentives to perform. Bureaucratic inertia hampers change.Student unrest and occasional faculty agitation disrupt operations. Nevertheless, with a semblance of normality, faculty administrators are. able to provide teaching, coordinate examinations, and award degrees. Even the small top tier of higher education faces serious problems. Many IIT graduates,well trained in technology, have chosen not to contribute their skills to the burgeoning technology sector in India. Perhaps half leave the country immediately upon graduation to pursue advanced study abroad — and most do not return. A stunning 86 per cent of students in science and technology fields from India who obtain degrees in the United States do not return home immediately following their study. Another significant group, of about 30 per cent, decides to earn MBAs in India because local salaries are higher.—and are lost to science and technology.A corps of dedicated and able teachers work at the IlTs and IIMs, but the lure of jobs abroad and in the private sector make it increasingly difficult to lure the best and brightest to the academic profession.Few in India are thinking creatively about higher education. There is no field of higher education research. Those in government as well as academic leaders seem content to do the “same old thing.” Academic institutions and systems have become large and complex. They need good data, careful analysis, and creative ideas. In China, more than two-dozen higher education research centers, and several government agencies are involved in higher education policy.India has survived with an increasingly mediocre higher education system for decades.Now as India strives to compete in a globalized economy in areas that require highly trained professionals, the quality of higher education becomes increasingly important.India cannot build internationally recognized research-oriented universities overnight,but the country has the key elements in place to begin and sustain the process. India will need to create a dozen or more universities that can compete internationally to fully participate in the new world economy. Without these universities, India is destined to remain a scientific backwater.Which of the following ‘statement(s) is/are correct in the context of the given passage ? I. India has the third largest higher education sector in the world in student numbers. II. India is moving rapidly toward economic success and modernisation through high tech industries such as information technology and bitechonology to make the nation to prosperity. III. India’s systematic disinvestment in higher education in recent years has yielded world class research and many world class trained scholars, scientists to sustain high-tech development....
MCQ-> Read carefully the four passages that follow and answer the questions given at the end of each passage:PASSAGE I The most important task is revitalizing the institution of independent directors. The independent directors of a company should be faithful fiduciaries protecting, the long-term interests of shareholders while ensuring fairness to employees, investor, customer, regulators, the government of the land and society. Unfortunately, very often, directors are chosen based of friendship and, sadly, pliability. Today, unfortunately, in the majority of cases, independence is only true on paper.The need of the hour is to strengthen the independence of the board. We have to put in place stringent standards for the independence of directors. The board should adopt global standards for director-independence, and should disclose how each independent director meets these standards. It is desirable to have a comprehensive report showing the names of the company employees of fellow board members who are related to each director on the board. This report should accompany the annual report of all listed companies. Another important step is to regularly assess the board members for performance. The assessment should focus on issues like competence, preparation, participation and contribution. Ideally, this evaluation should be performed by a third party. Underperforming directors should be allowed to leave at the end of their term in a gentle manner so that they do not lose face. Rather than being the rubber stamp of a company’s management policies, the board should become a true active partner of the management. For this, independent directors should be trained in their in their in roles and responsibilities. Independent directors should be trained on the business model and risk model of the company, on the governance practices, and the responsibilities of various committees of the board of the company. The board members should interact frequently with executives to understand operational issues. As part of the board meeting agenda, the independent directors should have a meeting among themselves without the management being present. The independent board members should periodically review the performance of the company’s CEO, the internal directors and the senior management. This has to be based on clearly defined objective criteria, and these criteria should be known to the CEO and other executive directors well before the start of the evolution period. Moreover, there should be a clearly laid down procedure for communicating the board’s review to the CEO and his/her team of executive directors. Managerial remuneration should be based on such reviews. Additionally, senior management compensation should be determined by the board in a manner that is fair to all stakeholders. We have to look at three important criteria in deciding managerial remuneration-fairness accountability and transparency. Fairness of compensation is determined by how employees and investors react to the compensation of the CEO. Accountability is enhanced by splitting the total compensation into a small fixed component and a large variable component. In other words, the CEO, other executive directors and the senior management should rise or fall with the fortunes of the company. The variable component should be linked to achieving the long-term objectives of the firm. Senior management compensation should be reviewed by the compensation committee of the board consisting of only the independent directors. This should be approved by the shareholders. It is important that no member of the internal management has a say in the compensation of the CEO, the internal board members or the senior management. The SEBI regulations and the CII code of conduct have been very helpful in enhancing the level of accountability of independent directors. The independent directors should decide voluntarily how they want to contribute to the company. Their performance should decide voluntarily how they want to contribute to the company. Their performance should be appraised through a peer evaluation process. Ideally, the compensation committee should decide on the compensation of each independent director based on such a performance appraisal. Auditing is another major area that needs reforms for effective corporate governance. An audit is the Independent examination of financial transactions of any entity to provide assurance to shareholder and other stakeholders that the financial statements are free of material misstatement. Auditors are qualified professionals appointed by the shareholders to report on the reliability of financial statements prepared by the management. Financial markets look to the auditor’s report for an independent opinion on the financial and risk situation of a company. We have to separate such auditing form other services. For a truly independent opinion, the auditing firm should not provide services that are perceived to be materially in conflict with the role of the auditor. These include investigations, consulting advice, sub contraction of operational activities normally undertaken by the management, due diligence on potential acquisitions or investments, advice on deal structuring, designing/implementing IT systems, bookkeeping, valuations and executive recruitment. Any departure from this practice should be approved by the audit committee in advance. Further, information on any such exceptions must be disclosed in the company’s quarterly and annual reports. To ensure the integrity of the audit team, it is desirable to rotate auditor partners. The lead audit partner and the audit partner responsible for reviewing a company’s audit must be rotated at least once every three to five years. This eliminates the possibility of the lead auditor and the company management getting into the kind of close, cozy relationship that results in lower objectivity in audit opinions. Further, a registered auditor should not audit a chief accounting office was associated with the auditing firm. It is best that members of the audit teams are prohibited from taking up employment in the audited corporations for at least a year after they have stopped being members of the audit team.A competent audit committee is essential to effectively oversee the financial accounting and reporting process. Hence, each member of the audit committee must be ‘financially literate’, further, at least one member of the audit committee, preferably the chairman, should be a financial expert-a person who has an understanding of financial statements and accounting rules, and has experience in auditing. The audit committee should establish procedures for the treatment of complaints received through anonymous submission by employees and whistleblowers. These complaints may be regarding questionable accounting or auditing issues, any harassment to an employee or any unethical practice in the company. The whistleblowers must be protected. Any related-party transaction should require prior approval by the audit committee, the full board and the shareholders if it is material. Related parties are those that are able to control or exercise significant influence. These include; parent- subsidiary relationships; entities under common control; individuals who, through ownership, have significant influence over the enterprise and close members of their families; and dey management personnel.Accounting standards provide a framework for preparation and presentation of financial statements and assist auditors in forming an opinion on the financial statements. However, today, accounting standards are issued by bodies comprising primarily of accountants. Therefore, accounting standards do not always keep pace with changes in the business environment. Hence, the accounting standards-setting body should include members drawn from the industry, the profession and regulatory bodies. This body should be independently funded. Currently, an independent oversight of the accounting profession does not exist. Hence, an independent body should be constituted to oversee the functioning of auditors for Independence, the quality of audit and professional competence. This body should comprise a "majority of non- practicing accountants to ensure independent oversight. To avoid any bias, the chairman of this body should not have practiced as an accountant during the preceding five years. Auditors of all public companies must register with this body. It should enforce compliance with the laws by auditors and should mandate that auditors must maintain audit working papers for at least seven years.To ensure the materiality of information, the CEO and CFO of the company should certify annual and quarterly reports. They should certify that the information in the reports fairly presents the financial condition and results of operations of the company, and that all material facts have been disclosed. Further, CEOs and CFOs should certify that they have established internal controls to ensure that all information relating to the operations of the company is freely available to the auditors and the audit committee. They should also certify that they have evaluated the effectiveness of these controls within ninety days prior to the report. False certifications by the CEO and CFO should be subject to significant criminal penalties (fines and imprisonment, if willful and knowing). If a company is required to restate its reports due to material non-compliance with the laws, the CEO and CFO must face severe punishment including loss of job and forfeiting bonuses or equity-based compensation received during the twelve months following the filing.The problem with the independent directors has been that: I. Their selection has been based upon their compatibility with the company management II. There has been lack of proper training and development to improve their skill set III. Their independent views have often come in conflict with the views of company management. This has hindered the company’s decision-making process IV. Stringent standards for independent directors have been lacking...
MCQ-> Read the following passage carefully and answer the questions given at the end.Passage 4Public sector banks (PSBs) are pulling back on credit disbursement to lower rated companies, as they keep a closer watch on using their own scarce capital and the banking regulator heightens its scrutiny on loans being sanctioned. Bankers say the Reserve Bank of India has started strictly monitoring how banks are utilizing their capital. Any big-ticket loan to lower rated companies is being questioned. Almost all large public sector banks that reported their first quarter results so far have showed a contraction in credit disbursal on a year-to-date basis, as most banks have shifted to a strategy of lending largely to government-owned "Navratna" companies and highly rated private sector companies. On a sequential basis too, banks have grown their loan book at an anaemic rate.To be sure, in the first quarter, loan demand is not quite robust. However, in the first quarter last year, banks had healthier loan growth on a sequential basis than this year. The country's largest lender State Bank of India grew its loan book at only 1.21% quarter-on-quarter. Meanwhile, Bank of Baroda and Punjab National Bank shrank their loan book by 1.97% and 0.66% respectively in the first quarter on a sequential basis.Last year, State Bank of India had seen sequential loan growth of 3.37%, while Bank of Baroda had seen a smaller contraction of 0.22%. Punjab National Bank had seen a growth of 0.46% in loan book between the January-March and April-June quarters last year. On a year-to-date basis, SBI's credit growth fell more than 2%, Bank of Baroda's credit growth contracted 4.71% and Bank of India's credit growth shrank about 3%. SBI chief Arundhati Bhattacharya said the bank's year-to-date credit growth fell as the bank focused on ‘A’ rated customers. About 90% of the loans in the quarter were given to high-rated companies. "Part of this was a conscious decision and part of it is because we actually did not get good fresh proposals in the quarter," Bhattacharya said.According to bankers, while part of the credit contraction is due to the economic slowdown, capital constraints and reluctance to take on excessive risk has also played a role. "Most of the PSU banks are facing pressure on capital adequacy. It is challenging to maintain 9% core capital adequacy. The pressure on monitoring capital adequacy and maintaining capital buffer is so strict that you cannot grow aggressively," said Rupa Rege Nitsure, chief economist at Bank of Baroda.Nitsure said capital conservation pressures will substantially cut down "irrational expansion of loans" in some smaller banks, which used to grow at a rate much higher than the industry average. The companies coming to banks, in turn, will have to make themselves more creditworthy for banks to lend. "The conservation of capital is going to inculcate a lot of discipline in both banks and borrowers," she said.For every loan that a bank disburses, some amount of money is required to be set aside as provision. Lower the credit rating of the company, riskier the loan is perceived to be. Thus, the bank is required to set aside more capital for a lower rated company than what it otherwise would do for a higher rated client. New international accounting norms, known as Basel III norms, require banks to maintain higher capital and higher liquidity. They also require a bank to set aside "buffer" capital to meet contingencies. As per the norms, a bank's total capital adequacy ratio should be 12% at any time, in which tier-I, or the core capital, should be at 9%. Capital adequacy is calculated by dividing total capital by risk-weighted assets. If the loans have been given to lower rated companies, risk weight goes up and capital adequacy falls.According to bankers, all loan decisions are now being assessed on the basis of the capital that needs to be set aside as provision against the loan and as a result, loans to lower rated companies are being avoided. According to a senior banker with a public sector bank, the capital adequacy situation is so precarious in some banks that if the risk weight increases a few basis points, the proposal gets cancelled. The banker did not wish to be named. One basis point is one hundredth of a percentage point. Bankers add that the Reserve Bank of India has also started strictly monitoring how banks are utilising their capital. Any big-ticket loan to lower rated companies is being questioned.In this scenario, banks are looking for safe bets, even if it means that profitability is being compromised. "About 25% of our loans this quarter was given to Navratna companies, who pay at base rate. This resulted in contraction of our net interest margin (NIM)," said Bank of India chairperson V.R. Iyer, while discussing the bank's first quarter results with the media. Bank of India's NIM, or the difference between yields on advances and cost of deposits, a key gauge of profitability, fell in the first quarter to 2.45% from 3.07% a year ago, as the bank focused on lending to highly rated customers.Analysts, however, say the strategy being followed by banks is short-sighted. "A high rated client will take loans at base rate and will not give any fee income to a bank. A bank will never be profitable that way. Besides, there are only so many PSU companies to chase. All banks cannot be chasing them all at a time. Fact is, the banks are badly hit by NPA and are afraid to lend now to big projects. They need capital, true, but they have become risk-averse," said a senior analyst with a local brokerage who did not wish to be named.Various estimates suggest that Indian banks would require more than Rs. 2 trillion of additional capital to have this kind of capital adequacy ratio by 2019. The central government, which owns the majority share of these banks, has been cutting down on its commitment to recapitalize the banks. In 2013-14, the government infused Rs. 14,000 crore in its banks. However, in 2014-15, the government will infuse just Rs. 11,200 crore.Which of the following statements is correct according to the passage?
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MCQ->Indian government may hold top executives responsible if state - run power companies fail to meet performance targets and punish them with fines and transfers. The strict performance parameters are aimed at ensuring that at least the reduced target for 62,000 MW of generation capacity addition is achieved before the end of the 11th Plan, said a power ministry official. Performance of chairman and managing directors of the power Public Sector Units (PSUs) in project implementation will be assessed as per the terms and conditions stipulated in the company’s memorandum of understanding (MoU) with the power ministry, he said, requesting anonymity. Performance parameters of executives had came under strict scrutiny due to a lack of progress in capacity addition program. While the target for the 11th five year plan has already been scaled down by the government from 78,500 MW, in the first three years of the plan yielded only 22, 302 MW of fresh capacity.If you were the chairman of one of these power PSU’s, which of the following statements (all of which are assumed to be true) could best be used in order to strengthen your case against the government holding top executives responsible?i. The labour unions, owing allegiance to ruling party at the Center, are not allowing work to progress with their demands for wage hikes that are untenable. ii. The actions of the mid - level management are not in line with the objectives laid down by the top management. iii. The delays have been due to difficulties in obtaining funds at reasonable interest rates on account of the recessionary conditions. iv. We are not to blame. The government is not doing enough to ensure availability of sufficient fuel to power the existing plants, let alone the new plants. v. The government had ignored the infrastructure availability like roads etc., and environmental clearances required for such projects and therefore set an unrealistic target to begin with, and the revised target is also unrealistic as well....
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