IAS Gyan

Daily News Analysis


18th March, 2020


RBI to regulate payment aggregators

RBI comment:

-       It will regulate the activities of payment aggregators (PAs) given the important functions of these intermediaries in the online payments’ space.

RBI guidelines for regulations:

-       Has reduced the capital requirements for payment aggregators to Rs 15 crore at the time of application for the licence from Rs 100 crore it had proposed earlier.

-       Existing non-bank entities offering payment aggregation (PA) services shall apply for authorisation on or before June 30, 2021.

-       Pure-play payment gateway companies would be separated as an entity and would be identified as technology service providers for banks and non-banks.

-       PAs have also been asked to adhere to strict security guidelines, adhere to all KYC (Know Your Customer) and AML (Anti Money Laundering) rules.

-       The guidelines have also mandated that PAs need to check their merchant customers are not involved in selling of prohibited or fake items.

About Payment aggregators:

-       A payment aggregator is a service provider that allows merchants to process mobile or e-commerce payments.

-        They let businesses accept credit and debit card payments without setting up a merchant account through a bank.

-       Entities like Billdesk, CCAvenue, Firstdata, and Techprocess were the original players in this space.

-       Players like Razorpay, Cashfree, Paytm Payment Gateway and others started offering payment services to ecommerce companies.

Reference: https://www.thehindu.com/todays-paper/tp-business/rbi-to-regulate-payment-aggregators/article31095144.ece


Union Health Ministry recommends anti-HIV drugs

Ministry comment:

-       Released revised guidelines on the ‘Clinical Management of COVID-19.

-       Recommended Lopinavir-Ritonavir for high-risk groups patients aged above 60, suffering from diabetes mellitus, renal failure, chronic lung disease and are immuno-compromised.

-       Recommended supportive treatment in patients suffering from coronavirus infection.

-       For those with mild illness, hospitalisation may not be required unless there is concern for rapid deterioration.

-       All patients discharged for home should be instructed to return to hospital if they develop any worsening of illness.

-       Application of timely, effective, and safe supportive therapies is the cornerstone of therapy for patients that develop severe manifestations of COVID-19.

Reference: https://www.thehindu.com/sci-tech/health/coronavirus-union-health-ministry-recommends-anti-hiv-drugs/article31094466.ece

51 private labs will soon be allowed to conduct tests

Director-General of the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) comment:

-       The “test, test, test” prescription of the World Health Organisation (WHO) is not for India.

-       51 private laboratories [accredited by the National Accreditation Board for Testing and Calibration Laboratories (NABL)] will soon be allowed to test for COVID-19 to enhance capacity for diagnosis and detection in addition to the 72 functional laboratories.

-       Also released a preliminary report of its sample testing for community transmission and noted that 500 of 1020 samples picked up to get trends and indications of third stage transmission have all tested negative.

-       Currently there is no evidence of community transmission and that the random samples, picked up (between March 1-15) from ICU patients who have been admitted with respiratory distress, have shown no indication of community transmission.

-       India has witnessed only imported cases of COVID-19 and limited local transmission from imported cases to their immediate contacts.

-       Community transmission of the disease has not been documented till now.

-       If community transmission is documented, our testing strategy will undergo changes to evolve into stage appropriate testing strategy.

-       ICMR has also scaled up its testing operations and has released revised testing guidelines which includes testing norms for health care workers looking after patients with respiratory distress.

Revised Norms:

-       All asymptomatic patients, who have taken international flights in the past 14 days, should get tested as per current protocol if they develop symptoms.

-       Appealed to all private laboratories to offer COVID-19 diagnosis free of cost.

-       India has 72 functional ICMR laboratories in government sector for testing and 49 — more under organisations like Council of Scientific & Industrial Research (CSIR), Department of Biotechnology (DBT), and Defence Research, Development Organisation (DRDO) — will be active by the month end.

Reference: https://www.thehindu.com/sci-tech/health/coronavirus-51-private-labs-will-soon-be-allowed-to-conduct-tests/article31093721.ece

ICMR asks private labs to hold free tests

-       The Union Health Ministry has made it mandatory for private institutions to notify coronavirus (COVID-19) patients

-       The Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) has appealed to private labs which have approached them to offer the test for free.

-       ICMR will share the SOPs for laboratory testing and provide positive controls for establishing the test as soon as the concerned private laboratory has procured the primers, probes and reagents as per SOPs.

Guidelines to labs:

-       The test should be only offered when prescribed by a qualified physician as per the ICMR guidance for testing.

-       Appropriate bio-safety and bio-security precautions should be ensured while collecting samples from a suspect patient.

-       Alternatively, a disease-specific separate collection site may be created.

-       Also, all the private testing laboratories are to ensure immediate/ real-time reporting to State officials of the Integrated Disease Surveillance Programme and ICMR headquarters for timely initiation of contact tracing and research activities.

-       If autopsy is to be performed for special reasons, a well-trained and limited staff should be used.

-       All staff identified to handle bodies in the isolation area, mortuary, ambulance and those workers in the crematorium / burial ground should be trained in the infection prevention control practices.

About ICMR:

-       The Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR), New Delhi, the apex body in India for the formulation, coordination and promotion of biomedical research, is one of the oldest medical research bodies in the world.

-       The ICMR is funded by the Government of India through the Department of Health Research, Ministry of Health and Family Welfare.

-       The governing body of the council is presided over by the Union Health Minister.

-       It is assisted in scientific and technical matters by a scientific advisory board comprising eminent experts in different biomedical disciplines.

Reference: https://www.thehindu.com/sci-tech/health/icmr-asks-private-labs-to-hold-free-tests/article31093045.ece


No meetings of SC, ST committees held in 25 States in 3 years

Government reply:

-       The State-level committees meant to monitor the implementation of the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, 1989 of 25 States and Union Territories had not met even once in three years — 2016, 2017 and 2018.

-       The 1995 rules formed under the Act mandate the setting up of State and district-level vigilance and monitoring committees.

-       The State-level committees, headed by the respective Chief Ministers, are supposed to meet twice a year.

-       The district-level committees mandated by the rules had held no meetings in three years in many states.

-       Government had formed a committee chaired by the Social Justice Minister to review the implementation of the Act across the country.

SC-ST atrocity Act:

The SC And ST (Prevention Of Atrocities) Act, 1989 was formed to prevent offences against the members of the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes group.

-       This Act seeks to stop people from committing such oppression and providing victims with special rights and privileges.

-       Establishment of A fast-track court for complaints made by anyone from the SC and ST community

-       Public servant (non SC/ST) neglecting his duties related to SCs/STs will be punished with imprisonment for a term of 6 months to 1 year.

-       Ministry of Social Justice is the nodal ministry to enforce the Scheduled Castes and the Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act.

Reference: https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/no-meetings-of-sc-st-committees-held-in-25-states-in-3-years/article31092984.ece

LS passes Bill to raise limit for abortions till 24 weeks for special categories

Medical Termination of Pregnancy (Amendment) Bill, 2020:

-       It extends the upper limit for permitting abortions from 20 weeks to 24 under special circumstances.

-       The “special categories of women” include rape survivors, victims of incest, the differently abled and minors.

-       The Bill amends the Medical Termination of Pregnancy Act, 1971 which provides for the termination of certain pregnancies by registered medical practitioners.

-       The Bill states that the upper limit of termination of pregnancy will not apply in cases where such termination is necessary due to the diagnosis of substantial foetal abnormalities.  These abnormalities will be diagnosed by a Medical Board.

-       Under the Bill, every state government is required to constitute a Medical Board.

-       No registered medical practitioner will be allowed to reveal the name and other particulars of a woman whose pregnancy has been terminated, except to a person authorised by any law.

About Medical Termination of Pregnancy act:

-       It divides the whole pregnancy period into three phases.

-       Phase 1 is up to 12 weeks where abortion can be sought with the advice of a single medical practitioner. The reason of abortions lies to threat to life for mother as well for child.

-       Phase 2 is from 12 to 20 week where abortion can be sought with the advice of two medical practitioners. The reason of abortions lies to threat to life for mother as well for child.

-       Beyond 20 weeks, termination may be carried out where it is necessary to save the life of the pregnant woman.

-       This act also includes grave incidences like pregnancy arising out of rape or pregnancy arising out of the failure of contraceptives

Reference: https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/ls-passes-bill-to-raise-limit-for-abortions-till-24-weeks-for-special-categories/article31093261.ece

We need more policewomen


-       At least since 2009, when the Home Ministry set 33% as the target for women’s representation in the police, increasing women’s recruitment in the police force has been the goal of the Central and State governments.

Policewomen in Police force:

-       In 2019, women comprised less than 10% of police personnel.

-       Only seven States (Tamil Nadu, Bihar, Maharashtra, Himachal Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Gujarat and Sikkim) had more than 10% policewomen.

-       No government has developed an action plan with clear timelines to meet the quota within a specified time period.

-       Very few States apply reservation for women at all the entry points (constable, sub-inspector, and deputy superintendent of police levels) or to all posts at each level.

-       States with relatively high proportions of policewomen appear to hit a plateau.

-       It is imperative for providing better sense of security to women. As policewomen at public place sends positive signal to women while hinders the growth of gender specific crimes.

Challenges for women in Police force:

-       lack of adequate facilities and infrastructure

-       Frequent inter-district transfers and disallowing postings in home districts for specified periods of time

-       Lack of child support systems at police stations

-       The policing sub-culture, with its association with “masculinity” and coercive force, limits the participation of women.

Impact of low women representation in police force:

-       Resulted in huge disparity in the representation of women across ranks. There are far fewer women at the gazetted ranks at the State level (assistant sub-inspector to deputy superintendent of police) than those at the constabulary level.

-       There are not enough women personnel to perform exclusive functions when gender-based crimes are reported.

-       Women are typecast — for example, they are asked to deal with crimes against women, while they are kept outside the mainstream of varied experiences.

Way Forward:

-       Increasing the number of recruits ;

-       Institutional changes embedded in principles of diversity, inclusion and equality of opportunities.

-       Strengthening of child care support systems at local level.

Reference: https://www.thehindu.com/opinion/op-ed/we-need-more-policewomen/article31093035.ece


SC allows permanent commission for women in Navy

Court observation:

-       Upheld the right of serving Short Service Commission (SSC) women officers of the Navy to be granted permanent commission (PC) on a par with their male counterparts.

-       In the context of the Armed Forces, specious reasons have been advanced by decision makers and administrators.

-       They range from physiology, motherhood and physical attributes to the male dominated hierarchies.

-       The court quashed the stipulation in the policy letter of September 26, 2008, making permanent commission for women prospective and restricting its application to specified cadres/branches of the Navy.

-       SSC women officers found suitable for the grant of PC shall be entitled to all consequential benefits, including arrears of pay, promotions and retirement benefits as and when due.

Reference: https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/sc-allows-permanent-commission-for-women-in-navy/article31089114.ece

FOC-Standard LCA Tejas takes to skies on maiden flight

The first Light Combat Aircraft Tejas in Final Operational Clearance-standard (SP-21) took to the skies for its maiden flight.

The Light Combat Aircraft (LCA) programme, began in the 1980s to replace India's ageing MiG-21 fighters. In 2003, the LCA was officially named "Tejas".


-       It is an Indian single-engine, delta wing, multirole light fighter designed by the Aeronautical Development Agency (ADA) and Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) for the Indian Air Force and Indian Navy.

-       It is an indigenous light-weight, multi role supersonic aircraft developed in both fighter and trainer versions. Advanced materials like composites are used in the manufacture of the Tejas to reduce weight and increase the component life.

-       It is designed to carry a veritable plethora of air-to-air, air-to- surface, precision guided and standoff weaponry.

Reference: https://www.livemint.com/news/india/foc-standard-lca-tejas-takes-to-skies-on-maiden-flight-11584459008967.html

Coming to terms with biometrics in policing

Role of Police:

-       Police charter ought not to be restricted to a mere maintenance of peace in public places.

-        It should focus equally on crime prevention and detection.

Performance of Police:

-       In the area of crime detection that the police in most nations have lost public confidence.

-       Success rates in solving crime is between 30% and 40%.

-       Crime using knives continue to worry London’s Metropolitan Police, while the frequency of gun violence is high in U.S. cities.

Paradox of Crime Detection:

-       Citizens demand newer crime control measures which will keep them safe

-       But, they resent productive and smarter police innovations in the field because of perceived danger to individual rights and privacy.

-       Their stand is that the end cannot and should not justify the means used by state agencies.

Use of Face-recognition technology:

-       It seeks to make inroads into the underworld’s ability to be elusive and their machinations in order to escape detection by the police radar.

Opposition to technology:

-       The software discriminates against minorities and ethnic groups, especially blacks and other non-whites.

-       There is a disproportionate number of black and non-white faces captured by this software if one considers their large numbers in a community.

-       Technology, despite the tall claim of infallibility by those producing it, has many a time been found guilty of errors. Therefore, harassment of innocent citizens is not uncommon.

-       It leads to the practice of capturing faces — “policing without consent” — harms individuals, either physically or in terms of reputation.

Support to the technology:

-       Police deletes a face after it finds no match thus negating the concern of privacy.

-       Citizens have no qualms in handing over their data to private companies, especially while unlocking phones using one’s fingerprint. But, ethical concern arise when state use it to provide safety to citizens.

-       It leads to faster solving of the criminal cases.

-       Our faces are already online in a number of places. Increased use of CCTV cameras in a number of public places is in a sense a threat to anonymity.


-       Any modern technology is fraught with hidden dangers.

-       Error rates could perhaps be brought down by using a diverse set of training data.

-        There is no claim of infallibility either by the software maker or by the person selling it or who advocates its deployment.

-       Just as DNA testing establishes either the guilt or the innocence of a person arraigned for crime, facial recognition performs an equally vital role in criminal justice administration.

Reference: https://www.thehindu.com/opinion/lead/coming-to-terms-with-biometrics-in-policing/article31093433.ece