Essential key terms from the last week’s news headlines or between the lines categorised as per the relevance in the UPSC-CSE syllabus. Solve the MCQs below.
Why in news?
—The government on Wednesday (September 28) announced an extension of the Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Anna Yojana (PM-GKAY) for another three months until December 2022. The decision was taken in the meeting of the Union Cabinet chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
—The PM-GKAY is a scheme under which the government provides free foodgrains — 5 kg per person per month — to eligible beneficiaries of the National Food Security Act (NFSA), 2013. This is over and above their monthly entitlement under the NFSA.
—The scheme was started as one of the components of the government’s Rs 1.7 lakh crore Covid relief package announced by Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman on March 26, 2020 — two days after the country went into national lockdown following the outbreak.
—It is estimated that the government has spent around Rs 3.4 lakh crore on the implementation of all six phases of the PM-GKAY.
What are NFSA beneficiaries entitled to?
—There are two categories of beneficiary households under the NFSA — the Antyodaya Anna Yojana (AAY) households, and the Priority Households (PHs). Each AAY household is entitled to 35 kg of foodgrains every month irrespective of the number of members in the household. PHs are entitled to receive foodgrains according to the number of family members. Each member of a PH is entitled to receive 5 kg of foodgrains every month under the NFSA. So, the bigger a PH family, the greater is the quantity of foodgrains it gets.
At what rate are foodgrains provided under the NFSA?
—NFSA beneficiaries are entitled to receive foodgrains at highly subsidised rates. Under the food law, rice is provided at Rs 3 per kg, wheat at Rs 2 per kg, and coarse grains at Re 1 per kg.
How many persons are covered under the NFSA?
—The NFSA, enacted by the UPA government in 2013, aims at ensuring “access to adequate quantity of quality food at affordable prices” to 50 per cent of the urban and 75 per cent of the rural population of the country. The overall national coverage of the NFSA is about 67.5 per cent.
—Section 9 of the NFSA states that the number of persons to be covered in rural and urban areas of a state shall be calculated on the basis of population estimates as per the Census of which the relevant figures have been published.
—The latest published Census figures are from 2011, and based on that about 81.35 crore people can be covered by the NFSA. However, Food Ministry data show that of the accepted figure of 81.35 crore, 98.05 per cent, or 79.77 crore persons, had been identified until July 2022. Thus, even with the ceiling fixed at 81.35 crore, states can still identify and add about 1.58 crore people under the NFSA.
How is the PM-GKAY different from the NFSA?
—The NFSA is a right-based scheme under a law of Parliament, while the PM-GKAY is a scheme announced by the executive as a top-up to the entitlements of beneficiaries covered under the NFSA.
—So, only those people who were already getting subsidised foodgrains can get free foodgrains under the PM-GKAY. The PM-GKAY provides additional benefits to NFSA beneficiaries, but does not cover additional beneficiaries beyond the accepted limit of 81.35 crore persons under the NFSA.
Point to ponder: Free grain scheme needs to be backed by imports. Do you agree?
Consider the following statements and answer the questions below:
1. Only those people who were already getting subsidised foodgrains can get free foodgrains under the PM-GKAY.
2. The PM-GKAY provides additional benefits to NFSA beneficiaries and covers additional beneficiaries beyond the accepted limit under the NFSA.
The correct statement is/are:
a) Only 1
b) Only 2
c) Both 1 and 2
d) Neither 1 nor 2
Why in news?
—The Indian government is pushing smartphone makers to enable support for its NavIC navigation system in new devices sold in the country from next year, a move that has spooked the industry due to additional costs and tight time frame.
—NavIC, or Navigation with Indian Constellation, is an independent stand-alone navigation satellite system developed by the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO). NavIC was originally approved in 2006 at a cost of $174 million. It was expected to be completed by late 2011, but only became operational in 2018.
—NavIC consists of eight satellites and covers the whole of India’s landmass and up to 1,500 km (930 miles) from its boundaries.
—Currently, NavIC’s use is limited. It is being used in public vehicle tracking in India, for providing emergency warning alerts to fishermen venturing into the deep sea where there is no terrestrial network connectivity, and for tracking and providing information related to natural disasters.
—Enabling it in smartphones is the next step India is pushing for.
How does NavIC compare?
—The main difference is the serviceable area covered by these systems. GPS caters to users across the globe and its satellites circle the earth twice a day, while NavIC is currently for use in India and adjacent areas.
—Like GPS, there are three more navigation systems that have global coverage – Galileo from the European Union, Russia-owned GLONASS and China’s Beidou. QZSS, operated by Japan, is another regional navigation system covering Asia-Oceania region, with a focus on Japan.
—India’s 2021 satellite navigation draft policy stated the government will work towards “expanding the coverage from regional to global” to ensure availability of NavIC signal in any part of the world.
—NavIC is “as good as GPS of the United States in terms of position accuracy,” the Indian government said in August.
Why is India promoting NavIC?
—India says NavIC is conceived with the aim of removing dependence on foreign satellite systems for navigation service requirements, particularly for “strategic sectors.”
—Relying on systems like GPS and GLONASS may not always be reliable, India says, as those are operated by the defence agencies of respective nations and it is possible that civilian services can be degraded or denied.
—“NavIC is an indigenous positioning system that is under Indian control. There is no risk of the service being withdrawn or denied in a given situation,” the government said in 2021.
—India also wants to encourage its ministries to use NavIC applications to promote local industry engaged in developing indigenous NavIC-based solutions.
Consider the following statements:
1.NavIC is an indigenous positioning system that is under Indian control.
2.NavIC, or Navigation with Indian Constellation, is an independent stand-alone navigation satellite system developed by the DRDO.
Which of the statements are incorrect?
a) Only 1
b) Only 2
c) Both 1 and 2
d) Neither 1 nor 2
Why in news?
—The Popular Front of India (PFI), declared an “unlawful association” under the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA) by the Centre, will now have the option to present its case before a tribunal that must confirm the government notification for the ban to continue.
—The UAPA provides for a tribunal under a High Court judge to be constituted by the government for its bans to have long-term legal sanctity.
—Orders to declare an organisation as “unlawful” are issued by the Centre under Section 3 of the UAPA. The provision says that “no such notification shall have effect until the tribunal has, by an order made under Section 4, confirmed the declaration made therein and the order is published in the Official Gazette”.
—Thus, a government order would not come into effect until the tribunal has confirmed it. However, in exceptional circumstances, the notification can come into effect immediately once the reasons for it are recording in writing. The tribunal can endorse or reject it.
—According to Section 4 of the UAPA, after the Centre declares an organisation “unlawful”, its notification must reach the tribunal within 30 days to adjudicate “whether or not there is sufficient cause” for the move.
—After this, the tribunal calls upon the association, by notice in writing, to show cause within 30 days why it should not be declared unlawful. Once this is done, the tribunal holds an inquiry and decides the matter within six months.
Constitution of the tribunal
—The tribunal consists of only one person, who has to be a High Court judge. If a vacancy (other than a temporary absence) occurs in the Tribunal, the Centre appoints another judge and the proceedings continue from the stage at which the vacancy is filled.
—The Centre is to provide to the tribunal such staff as necessary for the discharge of its functions. All expenses incurred for a tribunal are borne out of the Consolidated Fund of India.
—The tribunal has power to regulate its own procedure, including the place at which it holds its sittings. Thus, it can hold hearings in different states for allegations pertaining to those states.
—To make inquiries, the tribunal has the same powers as vested in a civil court under the Code of Civil Procedure, 1908. These can be exercised in summoning a witness and examining him on oath; production of any document or other material object producible as evidence; the reception of evidence on affidavits; the requisitioning of any public record from any court or office; and the issuing of any commission for the examination of witnesses.
—Government notifications, with a few exceptions as in the case of SIMI, have largely been confirmed by the tribunals. In case of SIMI, a tribunal had briefly lifted the ban on it in 2008. Almost all extensions of bans too, be it against Zakir Naik, Sikhs for Justice, or the JKLF, have been confirmed.
—Proceedings of the tribunal have been criticised for being somewhat opaque. The UAPA permits public non-disclosure of information on bans given the sensitivity involved. It has been said that often, the government gives evidence in sealed cover, leaving no opportunity for an organisation to defend itself.
Point to ponder: How UAPA tribunal works ?
With respect to UAPA tribunal, which of the following statement is not true:
a) The tribunal consists of only one person, who has to be a High Court judge.
b) To make inquiries, the tribunal has the same powers as vested in a civil court.
c) All expenses incurred for a tribunal are borne out of the Consolidated Fund of India.
d) Not all proceeding before the Tribunal are deemed to be judicial proceedings.
Why in news?
—Reserve Bank of India’s card-on-file (CoF) tokenisation norms have kicked in, which aim at improved safety and security of card transactions.
—Now, for any purchases done online or through mobile apps, merchants, payment aggregators and payment gateways will not be able to save crucial customer credit and debit card details such as three-digit CVV and expiry date.
—After multiple extensions, the RBI decided not to give any further relaxation in implementing these norms.
What is tokenisation?
—Tokenisation refers to the replacement of actual card details with a unique alternate code called the ‘token’, which shall be unique for a combination of card, token requester, (i.e. the entity which accepts requests from the customer for tokenisation of a card and passes it on to the card network to issue a corresponding token) and the device.
How did India decide to carry out tokenisation?
—In September 2021, the RBI prohibited merchants from storing customer card details on their servers with effect from January 1, 2022, and mandated the adoption of card-on-file (CoF) tokenisation as an alternative.
—Following a series of representations from several industry players and digital payment platforms who anticipated disruption in online transactions from January 1, 2022, the RBI extended the implementation date of card-on-file (CoF) tokenisation norms by another six months to June 30, 2022.
—The June 2022 deadline was further extended as the RBI felt that although considerable progress had been made in terms of token creation and transaction processing based on these tokens had also commenced, the concept was yet to gain traction across all categories of merchants. Subsequently, the deadline was extended till September 30, 2022.
—Deputy Governor Sankar said that ever since the regulation on tokenisation was issued, the central bank was constantly talking to all stakeholders to ensure that the transition to the tokenisation framework was smooth.
“There are a few participants who may not be ready, but that would probably be because of their unwillingness to comply. And we don’t believe that we should hold back efforts to ensure customer protection because of such laggards,” he said, adding that these players may take some more time but they will eventually join the framework.
But how will tokenisation work?
—A debit or credit card holder can get the card tokenised by initiating a request on the app provided by the token requester. The token requester will forward the request to the card network which, with the consent of the card issuer, will issue a token corresponding to the combination of the card, the token requester, and the device.
“In case of an online transaction, instead of card details, a unique token will be stored on the server. The merchant or transaction platform sends out a message to Visa or Mastercard or a payment gateway, who asks for a token against that card number and will then pass it on to the bank for allowing the transaction,” NTT DATA Payment Services India CEO Dewang Neralla said.
—The customer will not be charged for availing the tokenisation service.
—Earlier, the facility for card tokenisation was available only for mobile phones and tablets of interested card holders. Subsequently, with an uptick in tokenisation volume, the RBI decided to extend the scope of tokenisation to include consumer devices – laptops, desktops, wearables (wrist watches, bands, etc.) and Internet of Things (IoT) devices.
Who can offer tokenisation services?
—Tokenisation can be performed only by the authorised card network and recovery of original Primary Account Number (PAN) should be feasible for the authorised card network only. Adequate safeguards have to be put in place to ensure that PAN cannot be found out from the token and vice versa, by anyone except the card network. RBI has emphasised that the integrity of the token generation process has to be ensured at all times.
What do customers gain from tokenisation?
—A tokenised card transaction is considered safer as the actual card details are not shared with the merchant during transaction processing. Actual card data, token and other relevant details are stored in a secure mode by the authorised card networks.
—The token requestor cannot store Primary Account Number (PAN), or any other card details. Card networks are also mandated to get the token requester certified for safety and security that conform to international best practices/globally accepted standards.
“With card tokenisation, a card and merchant specific token is generated. Going forward that token can be used for all online transactions with that merchant. This will ensure enhanced security. In case of any data breach or hacking attempt at the merchant’s end, the customer’s card details will be protected,” said Sanjeev Moghe, president & head – cards & payments, Axis Bank.
—Worldline India’s senior vice president – products and solutions Jagdish Kumar believes that tokenisation lends greater credibility to seamless and secure payments experience.
What is the size of the industry?
—During 2021-22, payment transactions carried out through credit cards increased by 27 per cent to 223.99 crore in volume terms and 54.3 per cent to 9.72 lakh in value terms, as per the RBI’s annual report for 2021-22.
—Though the RBI provides total credit and debit card transaction data in terms of value and volumes, it does not provide separate numbers for online and offline transactions.
“What is relevant will be the number of cards issued. When you look at the debit and credit card transactions data (provided by RBI), they have not given a bifurcation between online and offline. Tokensation is required wherever you are storing your card details for recurring payments,” NTT DATA Payment Services India’s Neralla said.
—However, the number of debit and credit cards in the system can give some idea of the tokenisation industry, experts feel.
—Till end July 2022, while the number of credit cards issued stood at around 8 crore, debit cards in the system were 92.81 crore, recent RBI data showed.
Point to ponder: What is ‘critical information infrastructure’, who protects it?
Recently seen in news, the term ‘tokenization’ is related to:
a) artificial intelligence
c) data security
d) 5G technology
Why in news?
—Gen Anil Chauhan on Friday became India’s new Chief of Defence Staff. “I will try to fulfill the expectations from the three defence forces,” said Chauhan as he assumed charge, over nine months after the death of former CDS, General Bipin Rawat.
It is said that the CDS is a ‘dual-hatted role’. What does that mean?
—The dual-hatted role refers to the two hats the CDS wears: one of the permanent Chairman of the Chiefs of Staff Committee which has the three service chiefs as members, and the other of the head of the newly created Department of Military Affairs (DMA) in the ministry. The former is a military role while the latter is a role in the government; it is as the head of DMA that his major responsibilities within the ministry will be discharged.
How many other departments does the Defence Ministry have, and who so far was looking after what will now be the charter of DMA?
—The ministry already had four departments: Department of Defence; Department of Defence Production; Department of Defence Research and Development; and Department of Ex-servicemen Welfare. Each of them is headed by a Secretary, with the Department of Defence being the nerve centre of the ministry, looking after all issues pertaining to the armed forces, defence policy and procurement.
—The charter of duties of the DMA was so far looked after by the Department of Defence, which is headed by the Defence Secretary who is also the secretary in-charge of the Defence Ministry. Work exclusively pertaining to military matters will fall within the purview of the DMA while the Department of Defence will deal with larger issues pertaining to defence of the country. To give an illustrative example, this means that while tri-service military training institutions will fall under the DMA, organisations like IDSA and NDC whose remit is broader than military matters will fall under the Department of Defence.
Are the armed forces — the Army, the Navy and the Air Force — not departments of the ministry?
—No, the service headquarters, and thereby the armed forces, are attached offices in the ministry. They used to come under the Department of Defence so far, but will now fall under the ambit of DMA, and will have an appropriate mix of civilian and military officers at every level.
—Attached offices are generally responsible for providing executive direction required in implementation of policies laid down by the department to which they are attached, in this case now the DMA. They also serve as a repository of technical information and advise the department on technical aspects of questions they deal with. In essence, they are executive agencies carrying our directions of the Defence Ministry whose task is to draft them, obtain approval from the government and communicate them for implementation to the defence services.
But won’t the CDS command the three service chiefs, and be the single-point military adviser to the government?
—No, neither. He will act as the Principal Military Adviser to the Defence Minister only on tri-services matters. In fact, the three service chiefs will continue to advise the Defence Minister, as done so far, on matters exclusively concerning their respective services. The government has also made it explicitly clear that the CDS will not exercise any military command, including over the three service chiefs. But the service chiefs will be members of the Chiefs of Staff Committee, which will be headed by the CDS. And the DMA, headed by the CDS, will also have the armed forces under its ambit — if promotions, postings and disciplinary matters of three services fall under the DMA, it will give the CDS extensive influence over the three service chiefs.
Have the service chiefs lost any of their major powers or tasks to the CDS?
—Not really. None of the powers of the service chiefs, including of advising the government, has been curtailed and transferred to the CDS. The only thing is the role of Chairman of the Chiefs of Staff Committee, which used to be headed by the senior-most chief by rotation. That has been shelved with the CDS being the permanent Chairman of the Chiefs of Staff Committee, where he will be supported by the Headquarters Integrated Defence Staff.
—However, the CDS has been given a time-bound task, to be done within three years, to bring about jointness in operations, logistics, transport, training, support services, communications, and repairs and maintenance of the three services, which will eventually lead to shedding of responsibilities by the service headquarters. As the head of the DMA, the CDS has to also facilitate restructuring of military commands for optimal utilisation of resources by bringing about jointness in operations, including through establishment of joint/ theatre commands. This is again a far-reaching move, which will potentially impinge on the remit of the service chiefs.
The CDS has the status of a Cabinet Secretary, but functionally will head a department headed by a Secretary. Also, he will be under a ministry where the Defence Secretary is in charge of the ministry. Isn’t this a bit complicated?
—Yes, it is. But that is the nature of government functioning and his dual-hatted role will decide the different kind of powers, access and relationships that will be forged by the CDS. Norms of functioning and political guidance, more than hard-coded bureaucratic rules, will determine the functional efficiency and effectiveness of the CDS and it will be upon General Rawat to establish this as the first incumbent of the new office.
Finally, will the CDS be responsible for the defence of the country?
—No, as per the gazette notification issued by the government , the Department of Defence — headed by the Defence Secretary — will be responsible for the “defence of India and every part thereof, including defence policy and preparation for defence and all such acts as may be conducive in times of war to its prosecution and after its termination to effective demobilisation”.
Point to ponder: What are the challenges for the new CDS?
Which of the following statements is/are incorrect with respect to CDS?
a) He heads the Department of Military Affairs (DMA) in the Ministry of Defence.
b) CDS will be responsible for the defence of the country.
c) As the head of DMA, CDS is vested with the authority in prioritising inter-service procurement decisions as Permanent Chairman-Chiefs of Staff Committee.
d) The CDS is also vested with the authority to provide directives to the three chiefs.
Answer to the MCQs: 1 (a), 2 (b), 3 (d), 4 (c), 5 (b)