Current Affairs December 28, 2023: Aardvarks, Organisation of the Petroleum Exporting Countries, European Union’s New Migration Pact, Medical Device Sector, RBI Report on Banking trends

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Table of contents

{GS2 – IR – Groupings} Organisation of the Petroleum Exporting Countries

  • Context (TH): Angola withdrew from the Organisation of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC).
  • OPEC is a permanent, intergovernmental organization established at the Baghdad Conference in 1960.
  • Founding members: Iran, Iraq, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, and Venezuela.
  • Member countries: Algeria, Congo, Gabon, Equatorial Guinea, Iraq, Iran, Kuwait, Libya, Nigeria, Saudi Arabia, UAE, and Venezuela. Gabon rejoined OPEC in 2016.
  • Secretariat: Vienna, Austria.
  • Objective: To secure fair and stable prices for petroleum producers; an efficient, economic, and regular supply of petroleum to consuming nations; and a fair return on capital to those investing in the industry.
  • It operates on the principle of unanimity, and one member, one vote.
  • Significance: 80% of the world’s proven crude oil reserves are located in OPEC Member Countries.
    • India sources about 70% of crude oil, 60% of its Liquefied Petroleum Gas (LPG), and 30% of its liquefied natural gas (LNG), and 45% of petroleum products demand from OPEC.
  • OPEC Publication: World Oil Outlook

OPEC+

  • Also known as the Vienna Group, it was created in 2016.
  • It is a coalition of OPEC and 10 non-OPEC countries that export crude oil.
    • Non-OPEC countries: Azerbaijan, Bahrain, Brunei, Kazakhstan, Malaysia, Mexico, Oman, Russia, South Sudan and Sudan.
  • These countries signed a Declaration of Cooperation undertaking a production adjustment to achieve lasting stability in the oil market in the interest of oil producers and consumers.

{GS2 – IR – Issues} European Union’s New Migration Pact

  • Context (TH | IE): The European Union (EU) has agreed on reforms designed to share the cost of hosting and limiting the numbers of migrants and refugees.
  • The pact still needs to be formally approved by the European Council, representing the 27 member nations, and the European Parliament.
  • Recently, the UK Supreme Court ruled the UK Government’s Rwanda Plan for Asylum unlawful.
  • The French Parliament also recently passed a new tough law on immigration.

Refugee vs. Asylum seeker vs. Migrant

Refugee

Asylum

Migrant

A refugee is a person who has fled their own country because they are at risk of persecution there. An asylum-seeker is a person who has left their country and is seeking protection from persecution.

However, they haven’t yet been legally recognised as refugees and await the decision on their asylum claim.

There is no internationally accepted legal definition of a migrant.

Migrants are people staying outside their country of origin who are not asylum-seekers or refugees.

What’s in the EU New Pact on Migration and Asylum?

Screening Regulation

  • It envisions a pre-entry procedure to swiftly examine an asylum seeker’s profile and collect basic information such as nationality, age, fingerprints and facial image.

Expansion of Eurodac

  • Eurodac will be expanded to contain additional biometric data such as facial images.
  • It is a large-scale database that stores the biometric evidence collected during the screening process.

Asylum Procedures Regulation

  • It sets two possible steps for migrants:
    1. The traditional asylum procedure, which usually takes several months to complete and
    2. A fast-tracked border procedure meant to last 12 weeks.

Asylum and Migration Management Regulation

  • It establishes a system of “mandatory solidarity” that will offer countries three options to manage migration flows:
    1. Relocate a certain number of asylum seekers,
    2. Contribute for each claimant they refuse to relocate,
    3. Finance operational support.

Crisis Regulation

  • Exceptional rules that will apply when the bloc’s asylum system is threatened by a sudden and massive arrival of refugees, as was the case during the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • In these circumstances, national authorities can apply tougher measures, including longer detention periods.

What is the concern in the EU?

  • More than 1.8 million migrants, mostly from West Asia and Africa, have come to Europe since 2014.
  • The temporary migrant resettlement system was brought in 2015 to distribute migrants across the EU. However, it failed when many countries refused to meet their quotas.
  • Treatment of migrants and related policies are major challenges for EU countries.
  • Migration has now become a contentious electoral issue across Europe.
  • The right-wing populists are capitalising on an anti-migrant sentiment.

Reasons for the refugee crisis

  • The main causes behind the European Refugee crisis are listed below
    • Wars – Syrian War, Afghanistan war, Iraq war, Libyan war
    • Human Rights Violations
    • Economic hardships.
    • Dictatorship regimes and Islamic fundamentalism

A map of europe with red and orange arrows and numbers Description automatically generated

Asylum Policy of France

  • France has had a generous system for asylum-seekers.
  • It provides asylum seekers up to 300 euros a month while they wait for their papers to be processed.
  • They can apply for housing, get cheap meals, free health insurance and social security benefits while their application is being reviewed.

Fundamental Changes in the New French Law

  • Longer wait for non-EU migrants to get social welfare benefits.
  • Non-EU foreigners working in areas with a labour shortage, such as hospitality, construction and farming, can apply for a residency and work permit.
  • Review of unlimited access to government-funded medical care for illegal immigrants.
  • Asylum seekers whose behaviour constitutes a threat to public order can be placed in preventive detention, notably if there is a risk that the asylum seeker will flee.
  • Children of foreigners born in France will no longer get French citizenship automatically. They will have to request citizenship once they turn 16.
  • The French nationality of dual-nationals can be revoked if they are convicted of the voluntary homicide of a police officer or government representative.
  • Unless students have financial needs or excellent academic results, foreign students requesting a student residency permit must make a refundable deposit to cover potential “sending back” costs.

UK’s Rwanda Plan

  • The plan, officially known as the UK and Rwanda Migration and Economic Development Partnership, is an immigration policy proposed in 2022 by the British government.
  • Rwanda’s plan aims to reduce illegal migration and net migration numbers in the UK.
  • It involves relocating identified illegal immigrants or asylum seekers to Rwanda for processing, asylum, and resettlement.
  • The U.K. will bear the accommodation and transit costs. The government had paid the Rwandan government £140m for the scheme.
  • Successful asylum claimants would remain in Rwanda without the option to return to the UK.
  • Rwanda will be the sole authority to recognise or not recognise the refugee status of an individual.
  • If an individual is not recognised, they will be moved to their country of origin.
  • Rwanda was not the first country to be approached; Tanzania previously declined the Deal.
  • Policy would deter people arriving in the UK through “illegal/dangerous methods” — such as on small boats across the English Channel.

Why did the Judiciary Rule the Deal Unlawful?

  • The UK’s SC found evidence that asylum seekers face a real risk of ill-treatment from refoulement.
  • Rwanda’s human rights track record and non­compliance with assurances were taken as instances for considering the real risk of refoulement.
  • Refoulement is the practice of sending refugees or asylum seekers back to their country or to another country where they are likely to suffer lousy treatment.
  • Protection from refoulement is a fundamental right of asylum seekers and refugees.
  • ‘Non-refoulement’ is a principle of international law that forbids a country receiving asylum seekers from returning them to a country where they would be in danger of persecution based on race, religion, nationality, membership of a particular social group or political opinion.

Italy’s Response to Refugee and Asylum-Seeker Crisis

  • More than 600,000 migrants from Africa have arrived in Italy in recent years.
  • Italy wants to deport 500,000 of them and fix the migrant resettlement system.
  • It also wants to build migrant reception centres in Africa.
  • The German government has suspended a voluntary agreement with Italy to take in migrants, accusing Italy of failing to live up to its obligations under the EU’s Dublin rules on asylum.
  • Dublin Regulation: Refugees must apply for asylum in the EU country where they first landed or the one that has issued them an entry visa.

{GS2 – MoDNER – Initiatives} Year End Review of MoDNER

  • Context (PIB): Achievements of Ministry of Development of NorthEastern Region for the year 2023.

Ministry of Development of North Eastern Region (MoDNER)

  • It is responsible for the matters relating to the planning, execution and monitoring of development schemes and projects in the North-Eastern Region.
  • This is the only Ministry with territorial jurisdiction.

North Eastern Region (NER)

  • It consists of eight states — Assam, AP, Manipur, Meghalaya, Mizoram, Nagaland, Tripura, and Sikkim.

North Eastern Region

  • It accounts for 7.9% of the total geographical area of the country.
  • It shares its boundary with four countries viz, China, Myanmar, Bhutan and Bangladesh.
  • The western side of the North-East is connected to the eastern part of the Indian subcontinent by a narrow land corridor, sometimes referred to as the Siliguri Corridor or “Chicken’s Neck“.

North Eastern Council (NEC)

  • It is the nodal agency of MoDNER overseeing the economic and social development of the NER.
  • It is a statutory advisory body constituted under the NEC Act 1971.
  • The headquarters of the council is situated in Shillong.

Members

  1. The Governors and the Chief Ministers of the eight-member States.
  2. Chairman and three Members nominated by the President of India.

Functions

  • The council discusses any matter in which some or all of the States represented in the Council have a common interest and advises the Central and State governments concerned, particularly concerning:
    1. Any matter of common interest in economic and social planning.
    2. Any matter concerning inter-State Transport and Communications.
    3. Any matter relating to Power or Flood-control projects of common interest.

MoDNER Schemes and Initiatives

North East Special Infrastructure Development Scheme

  • NESIDS is a Central Sector Scheme (100% central funding to the State Governments) under the Ministry of Development of the northeast region that was approved by the GoI in 2017.
  • It’s for projects of Physical Infrastructure relating to water supply, power, connectivity, enhancing tourism, and social infrastructure (Education and Health).
  • The scheme was restructured in 2022-23 to include two components:
    1. NESIDS-Road
    2. NESIDS-Other Than Road Infrastructure (OTRI)
  • The objective of NESIDS is to supplement the efforts of the different Central Ministries and departments for uncovered development/welfare activities in the NER.
NESIDS – Road
  • It subsumes the project sanctioned under its predecessor following schemes:
    1. North-East Road Sector Development Schemes (NERSDS)
    2. Road/ Bridges projects of NESIDS.
  • It aims to provide specific gap funding in the construction of roads:
    1. To provide access to remote locations,
    2. To provide access to markets,
    3. From a security point of view.
  • Till date, 10 projects have been sanctioned and 3 projects have been selected for sanction.
NESIDS – Other Than Road Infrastructure
  • It subsumes the projects sanctioned under its predecessor following schemes:
    1. Non-Lapsable Central Pool of Resources (NLCPR)
    2. North-East Special Infrastructure Development Schemes (NESIDS)
    3. Hill Area Development Programme (HADP)
  • Total projects sanctioned are 1548, out of which 1098 projects are completed, and 450 projects are ongoing. 

Prime Minister’s Development Initiative for North East Region (PM-DevINE)

  • The scheme was announced as a 100% Central Sector Scheme in Budget 2022-23.
  • The scheme has an outlay of Rs. 6,600 crore for the four years from 2022-23 to 2025-26.
  • It is implemented by the Ministry of Development of North Eastern Region (DoNER) through the North Eastern Council (NEC).
Objectives
  • Fund infrastructure convergently in the spirit of PM GatiShakti.
  • Support social development projects based on the felt needs of the North Eastern Region (NER).
  • Enable livelihood activities for youth and women.
  • Fill the development gaps in various sectors.
Achievements
  • Till 26.12.2023, 9 projects have been sanctioned and 14 projects have been recommended for sanction.
  • In addition, 12 projects have been recommended in principle (selected).

Special Development Packages

Bodoland Territorial Council
  • It is an autonomous district council in the state of Assam.
  • It was established under the provisions of the Sixth Schedule following the Bodo Accord in 2003.
  • It consists of four districts of Assam: Kokrajhar, Baksa, Udalguri and Chirang.
  • Through this council, the Bodo people have a self-governing body that seeks to preserve their political, cultural and language rights.
Areas covered
  • BTC has legislative, administrative, executive and financial powers over 40 subjects in the Bodoland Territorial Area Districts (BTAD).
Structure
  • BTC is governed by a council that comprises 46 members, of which 40 are elected representatives and the remaining 6 are nominated by the Governor from unrepresented communities of BTAD.
Key functions
  • It is entrusted with responsibilities related to town & country planning, land & revenue, forests & environment, and education among other subjects.
Achievements
  • Under the old package, 65 projects have been sanctioned, 54 projects are completed, and 11 projects are ongoing. 
Karbi Anglong Autonomous Territorial Council (KAATC)
  • It is a local governing body in Assam, created under the provisions of the Sixth Schedule of the IC
  • It covers the Karbi Anglong district and the West Karbi Anglong district of Assam.
  • It seeks to protect the social-cultural rights and autonomy of the Karbi people (also known as Mikir).
  • The Karbi Anglong Autonomous Council emerged from the North-East Frontier (Administration of Justice) Regulation, 1945.
  • Over time, it was renamed as the Karbi Anglong district and governed by the Karbi Anglong Autonomous Council (KAAC).
  • KAAC is composed of 30 members, 26 of whom are elected, and 4 nominated by the governor from unrepresented classes.
Achievements
  • Under the old KAATC package, 26 projects have been sanctioned, 4 projects are completed, and 22 projects are ongoing. Also, 6 other projects have been in-principle approved under this package.
  • Under the new KAATC package, 3 projects have been in-principle approved.

Agartala-Akhaura Rail Link Project

  • The Project is funded by GoI under an Aid Grant to Bangladesh on the Bangladesh side and the Ministry of DoNER on the Indian side.
  • Objective: Extension of Maitree Express (running between Kolkata to Dhaka) up to Agartala, reducing the travel time from 38 hours to 16 hours.

Initiatives for Startup Ecosystem

  • NorthEast Venture Fund: MDoNER and North-Eastern Development Finance Corporation Ltd (NEDFi) collaborated to establish the 1st dedicated venture fund for the North-East Region.
  • Manipur Startup Venture Fund an initiative for startups in Manipur in collaboration with the Government of Manipur.
  • NRL Ideation Angel Fund was established in association with Numaligarh Refinery Ltd, a subsidiary of Oil India Ltd.

Signing of MoUs

  • Between MoDNER and UNDP: UNDP would provide MDoNER with technical support on:
    1. Fast-tracking progress on the SDGs;
    2. Monitoring, evaluation, and capacity building;
    3. Support Aspirational districts and blocks;
  • Between NorthEastern Handicrafts and Handloom Development Corporation Ltd. (NEHHDC), MDoNER and Department of Heritage & Tourism, Government of Haryana for bilateral, cross-cultural exchange & promotion of handicrafts, handlooms, textiles, crafts, culture, and cuisine of the state of Haryana and North-East India.

Advancing North East Portal

  • It is a digital platform and web-based initiative developed by NEC through the North-Eastern Development Finance Corporation (NEDFi) which provides knowledge and guidance for the youth of NER. 

Design Labs for Livelihood Generation

  • Objective: Train local youth in the identified areas to acquire the required Digital Skills to get gainful employment in the knowledge economy/digital economy.

Achievements of North Eastern Regional Agricultural Marketing Corporation Ltd. (NERAMAC)

  • Procurement of Agri-horti Produce: Procurement of products like Pineapple, Avocado, Black Rice, Cashew nut, Large Cardamom, Cinnamon, and Black Pepper, etc. under its umbrella brand ‘NE Fresh’.
  • Branding and marketing of the locally processed products.
  • Launched Brand ‘NERAMAC Premium’ for marketing of G.I. tagged products.
  • Formation and Promotion of FPOs in NER: 205 FPOs have been formed across NER.

Achievements of North Eastern Handicrafts & Handlooms Development Corporation Limited (NEHHDC) 

  • Established Ashtlaxmi Haat & Experience Centre at Guwahati: It will provide market access to artisans of all Northeast states and provide accommodation to artisans from out station.
  • ERI silk spinning plant at Integrated Textile Park, Mushalpur, Baksa (Assam) envisioned to provide employment in the NER.
  • Providing market development by way of digitalization, authentication, and traceability covering 10,000 weavers across 7 states (except Sikkim) in NER.
  • Livelihood Business Incubators (LBI): The Corporation has received sanction for the establishment of Jewellery and Handicraft Incubation Centre under the ASPIRE Scheme of the Ministry of MSME.

 

{GS2 – MoHFW – Initiatives} Medical Device Sector

  • Context (PIB | TOI): The GOI launched the MedTech Mitra platform to empower India’s MedTech innovators and Advance Healthcare Solutions.

Medical Device Sector in India

  • It consists of large multinationals and small and medium enterprises (SMEs).
  • It is a multi-product sector with the following broad classifications:
    1. Electronics Equipment
    2. Implants
    3. Consumables and Disposables
    4. In Vitro Diagnostics (IVD) reagents
    5. Surgical Instruments
  • It was recognised as a Sunrise Sector of India under Make in India Campaign of 2014.
  • The current market size of the medical devices industry in India is estimated at ~90,000 Cr, and its share in the global medical device market is estimated to be 1.65%.
    • The US dominates the global market with a 40% market share, followed by Europe and Japan at 25% and 15%, respectively.
  • India is Asia’s 4th largest medical devices market after Japan, China, and South Korea.
  • A sunrise industry is one that is new or relatively new, is growing fast and is expected to become important in the future. Examples: hydrogen fuel production, petrochemical industry, food processing industry, space tourism, etc.
  • The medical device sector remained largely unregulated till 2017, when Medical Device Rules 2017 were framed by the Central Drugs Standard Control Organisation (CDSCO – MoHFW).

Issues with the Medical Device Sector in India?

Inconsistent Regulations

  • Complex regulatory environment.
  • Manufacturers must navigate inconsistent regulations that use varying standards and wordings, making it difficult to understand and comply with the requirements.

Research and Development Struggles

  • Adopting cutting-edge technologies such as artificial intelligence, cloud computing, and robotics is still limited in the Indian medical device sector.
  • These technologies help companies overcome R&D, production, and distribution issues.

Import Dependency

  • India relies heavily on imports for medical devices, which leads to high import bills and adds to the cost of healthcare.

Limited Access to Capital

  • Access to funding is a critical challenge for medical device startups in India, as investors are often reluctant to invest in a sector with a long gestation period and regulatory uncertainties.

MedTech Mitra

  • It will help young talents give the final shape to their research and help them get regulatory approval.
  • Nodal Ministry: Ministry of Health & Family Welfare (MoHFW).

Need for MedTech Mitra

  • Import Dependence: India’s MedTech sector is highly import dependent, measuring up to 80%.
  • Sunrise Sector: Due to the developments in sectors like Robotics, AI, Big Data, Virtual Reality, and NanoTech, the medical device sector is changing rapidly.
  • Universal Healthcare: The Indian medical devices sector has an enormous potential to become self-reliant and contribute towards universal health care.
  • COVID: The medical device sector’s contribution has become even more prominent as India supported the domestic and global battle against the COVID-19 pandemic. India produced medical devices and diagnostic kits like ventilators, RT-PCR kits, and PPE kits on a large scale.
  • Orderly Growth: It is expected to facilitate orderly growth of the medical device sector to meet the public health objectives of access, affordability, quality and innovation.
  • Vikshit Bharat: Encouraging domestic investments and production of medical devices complements the GOI’s Atmanirbhar Bharat andMake in India programs.

Steps Taken by the GOI to ensure the growth of the sector

  • Production Linked Incentives (PLI): The GOI has launched PLI Schemes for medical devices with financial incentives worth $456 million to boost domestic production.
  • Development of Medical Devices Parks: New Medical Devices Parks are upcoming in HP, UP, MP and TN to create a robust ecosystem for medical device manufacturing.
  • Policy Support: The National Medical Devices Policy enables strong collaborations to boost the medical devices ecosystem.
  • MedTech research policy and MedTech research incentive scheme: R&D Policy fosters interdisciplinary collaborations to develop translational skills and start-up ecosystem.
  • The Quality Council of India (QCI) and the Association of Indian Manufacturers of Medical Devices (AiMeD) launched the Indian Certification of Medical Devices (ICMED) 13485 Plus scheme to undertake verification of the quality, safety and efficacy of medical devices.

National Medical Devices Policy, 2023

Vision

  • To provide an accelerated growth path with a patient-centric approach.
  • To emerge as the global leader in the manufacturing and innovation of medical devices by achieving a 10-12% share in the expanding global market.
  • Policy is expected to help the Medical Devices Sector grow from $11 Bn to $50 Bn by 2030.

Mission

  • Policy lays down a roadmap for accelerated growth of the medical devices sector to achieve the following missions, viz,
    1. Access & Universality,
    2. Affordability,
    3. Quality, Patient Centred & Quality Care,
    4. Preventive & Promotive Health, Security,
    5. Research and Innovation and Skilled workforce.

Strategies to Promote the Medical Device Sector

  • Strategies will cover six broad areas of policy interventions:
1) Regulatory Streamlining
  • To enhance the ease of doing research and business, a Single Window Clearance System for the Licensing of Medical Devices will be implemented.
  • Improving the Role of Indian Standards and designing a coherent pricing regulation will be followed.
2) Enabling Infrastructure
  • The establishment and strengthening of large medical device parks and clusters equipped with world-class common infrastructure facilities near economic zones.
  • State Governments and Industrial collaboration for better convergence and backward integration with the medical device Industry.
3) Facilitating R&D and Innovation
  • The policy envisages promoting R&D in India and complements the proposed National Policy on R&D and Innovation in the MedTech Sector.
  • It aims to establish Centres of Excellence in academic and research institutions, innovation hubs, ‘plug and play’ infrastructures, and support for start-ups.
4) Attracting Investments in the Sector
  • The policy encourages private investments, a series of funding from Venture Capitalists, and Public-Private Partnerships (PPP).
5) Human Resources Development
  • Leveraging the available resources in the Ministry of Skill Development and Entrepreneurship for skilling, reskilling and upskilling of professionals in the medical device sector,
  • Supports dedicated multidisciplinary courses for medical devices in existing institutions.
  • Partnership development with foreign academic/industry to develop medical technologies.
6) Brand Positioning and Awareness Creation
  • Creating a dedicated Export Promotion Council for the sector to deal with market access issues.
  • Initiate studies and projects to learn from the best global manufacturing and skilling practices.

 

{GS3 – Envi – Discoveries} Pantoea Tagorei

  • For the first time, any living organism is named after Rabindranath Tagore.
  • It aids plant growth by solubilising Potassium and Phosphorus and replenishing Nitrogen.
  • It is being tried for agricultural applications, restoration of degraded lands and organic farming.

{GS3 – Envi – Species} Aardvarks (Orycteropus afer)

  • Context (DTE): Warming climate is negatively impacting the chances of long-term survival of aardvarks.
  • Aardvarks are medium-sized burrowing nocturnal mammals native to Africa.
  • They’re the only surviving member of the Tubulidentata order.
  • They belong to the same group of mammals as African elephants.
  • Despite their appearance, they are not related to bears, pigs or anteaters.
  • They are considered to be living fossils due to their ancient, highly conserved genetic make-up.
  • Appearance: Elongated Head with long protruding narrow snout and nostrils. Short neck connected to hairless body.
  • Habitat: Savannas, Shrublands, grasslands and woodlands.
  • IUCN Status: Least Concern
  • Threats: Hunting for bush meat, Habitat loss.

How will climate change affect elusive aardvarks? • Earth.com

  • Context (TH): RBI released a report titled ‘Trend and Progress of Banking in India.

Observations made

  • The Gross Non-Performing Assets (GNPA) ratio of Indian scheduled commercial banks (SCBs) consistently improved in the second quarter of FY24, sliding to a fresh decadal low.
  • About a 45% reduction in GNPAs came from recoveries.
  • The bank’s consolidated balance sheet grew 12.2% in FY23, the highest in 9 years.
  • The asset side grew due to bank credit, with the fastest pace of expansion in more than a decade.
  • Higher lending rates and lower provisioning requirements helped improve banks’ profitability.
  • The capital-to-risk-weighted assets ratio (CRAR) of SCBs was 16.8% at the end of September 2023, with all bank groups meeting the regulatory minimum requirement.
  • GNPA tells the absolute value of non-performing assets, excluding provisions by banks.

Capital to Risk-Weighted Assets Ratio (CRAR)

  • CRAR is the ratio of its capital to its risk-weighted assets.
  • CAR= Tier 1 capital +Tier 2 capital risk-weighted assets
  • Tier-1 capital (Core capital) consists of equity capital, ordinary share capital, intangible assets and audited revenue reserves.
  • Tier-2 capital comprises unaudited retained earnings, unaudited reserves and general loss reserves.

Suggestion of RBI report

  • Banks must guard against credit losses with higher capital buffers and provision coverage ratio (PCR).
  • It emphasises qualitative metrics such as enhanced disclosures, a robust code of conduct, and transparent governance structures to contribute to financial stability.

{GS3 – MoF – Initiatives} Initiatives by the Department of Economic Affairs

  • Context (PIB): A year-end recap of Department of Economic Affairs (Ministry of Finance) initiatives was released.

Sovereign Green Bonds

  • It was announced in the Union Budget 2022-23 as part of the government’s market borrowings.
  • Green projects of various ministries would be financed through the proceeds of these bonds.

Mahila Samman Savings Certificate (MSSC)

  • The Government of India launched it to commemorate the Azadi ka Amrit Mahotsav.
  • Eligibility : Any female ; Deposit : Minimum ₹1000/- and Maximum ₹2 Lakhs
  • This scheme is available for two years up to March 2025.
  • The partial withdrawal and premature closure facility on compassionate grounds are also available under this Scheme.
  • The Department of Posts, all Public Sector Banks and four Private Sector Banks will operate MSSC.

National Investment and Infrastructure Fund (NIIF) in 2023

  • NIIF launched its first bilateral fund, the India-Japan Fund (IJF), with the Japan Bank for International Cooperation (JBIC).
  • Govt. of India and JBIC will contribute 49% and 51% respectively.
  • IJF will work towards environmental sustainability and low carbon emission strategies.

New Financial Inclusion Action Plan 2024-26

  • Global Partnership for Financial Inclusion (GPFI) will implement it, with India as one of the Co-Chairs.
  • Financial inclusion of individuals and MSMEs in G20 through Digital Public Infrastructure and innovative solutions will be targeted.

Global Sovereign Debt Roundtable (GSDR)

  • It is a joint initiative of the IMF, World Bank, and the Indian G20 Presidency.
  • It will facilitate effective debt restructuring.

G20 Sustainable Finance Technical Assistance Action Plan (TAAP)

  • TAAP is a multi-year document that generates an enabling environment for local needs.
  • It will focus on Emerging Markets and Developing Economies (EMDEs) and Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs).

Harmonised Master List (HML) of Infrastructure

  • Transport and Logistics, Social and commercial Infrastructure, Energy, Water and sanitation and Communication are five categories under it.
  • Borrowings from External Commercial Borrowings (ECB), insurance companies and pension funds can now be accessed by these sectors.
  • The Bibek Debroy committee was appointed to define Amrit Kaal’s infrastructure finance framework.

Foreign Universities in GIFT City

  • Deakin University and Wollongong University from Australia will be the first universities to open campus at GIFT City.
  • GIFT (Gujarat International Finance Tec-City) City in Gandhinagar, Gujarat, includes a multi-service Special Economic Zone (SEZ), housing India’s first International Financial Services Centre (IFSC) and an exclusive Domestic Tariff Area (DTA).

{GS3 – MoF – Initiatives} Initiatives by the Department of Financial Services

  • Context (PIB): A year-end recap of Department of Financial Services (Ministry of Finance) initiatives was released.

Enhanced Access and Service Excellence (EASE) Reforms

  • The EASE Reforms are governed by the EASE Steering Committee of the Indian Bank’s Association.
  • Gyan Sangam – 2016 and PSB Manthan- 2017 inspired the EASE reform.
  • EASE Awards are given to banks for annual performance in the EASE Agenda.
  • PSB Manthan 2.0 (2022) resulted in the launch of the EASENext program.
  • EASE 6.0 (FY24) targets digital enablement, analytical operations, and Tech-enabled capability building.

Indian Banks’ Association (IBA)

  • IBA was formed in 1946.
  • Members: Public Sector Banks, Private Sector Banks, Foreign Banks having offices in India, Co-operative Banks, Regional Rural Banks and All India Financial Institutions.
  • E-RUPI: Person- and purpose-specific voucher management system to enable direct benefit transfer.
  • 123 Pay: UPI for feature phone users, available in 20 languages.
  • Credit Line on UPI: Enables pre-sanctioned credit lines from banks via UPI.
  • Hello! UPI: An AI-voice-enabled payment feature built by Bhashini (under MeitY) and NPCI allows users to make conversation-based UPI transactions in Hindi and English using feature phones and smartphones.
  • UPI LITE X: Addresses challenges of remote areas by enabling offline UPI payments.
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