Electronic PPO in DigiLocker
Department of Pension and Pensioner’s Welfare (DoPPW) has decided to integrate the electronic Pension Payment Order (e-PPO) generated through PFMS application of CGA (Controller General of Accounts), with DigiLocker, in order to enhance ease of living of central government civil pensioners.
- This system will enable any Pensioner to obtain an instant print-out of the latest copy of their PPO, from their Digi Locker account.
- This initiative will create a permanent record of their respective PPO in their Digi Locker and at the same time eliminate delays in reaching the PPO to new Pensioners, as well as the necessity of handing over a physical copy.
- This was a target set to be accomplished for Civil Ministries by 2021-22, which the Department completed ahead of time in view of the Covid-19 pandemic.
- This facility has been created with ‘Bhavishya’ software, which is a single window platform for Pensioners, right from the start of their Pension processing, till the end of the process. “Bhavishya” shall now provide an option to retiring employee, to link their Digi-locker account with their “Bhavishya” account and obtain their e-PPO in a seamless manner.
What is DigiLocker?
- DigiLocker is a platform for issuance and verification of documents & certificates in a digital way, thus eliminating the use of physical documents.
- Indian citizens who sign up for a DigiLocker account get a dedicated cloud storage space that is linked to their Aadhaar (UIDAI) number.
- Organisations that are registered with Digital Locker can push electronic copies of documents and certificates (e.g. driving license, Voter ID, School certificates) directly into citizens lockers.
- Citizens can also upload scanned copies of their legacy documents in their accounts. These legacy documents can be electronically signed using the eSign facility.
Benefits of ‘DigiLocker’ –
The platform has the following benefits:
- Citizens can access their digital documents anytime, anywhere and share it online. This is convenient and time saving.
- It reduces the administrative overhead of Government departments by minimising the use of paper.
- Digital Locker makes it easier to validate the authenticity of documents as they are issued directly by the registered issuers.
- Self-uploaded documents can be digitally signed using the eSign facility (which is similar to the process of self-attestation).
Pradhan Mantri Rashtriya Bal Puraskar
Ministry of Women and Child Development has invited nominations for the Pradhan Mantri Rashtriya Bal Puraskar – 2021 from children, individuals and institutions.
About ‘Pradhan Mantri Rashtriya Bal Puraskar’ –
- The Pradhan Mantri Rashtriya Bal Puraskarwas instituted to felicitate meritorious children, individuals and institutions of the country. These awards are given under two categories – Bal Shakti Puraskar and Bal Kalyan Puraskar.
- While the Bal Shakti Puraskar aims to give recognition to children who have achieved extraordinarily in various fields including innovation, scholastic, sports, art & culture, social service and bravery, the Bal Kalyan Puraskar is given as recognition to Individuals and Institutions, who have made an outstanding contribution towards service for children in the field of child development, child protection and child welfare.
- The Awards are given by the Hon’ble President of India in Darbar Hall, Rashtrapati Bhavan in the week preceding Republic Day every year. Hon’ble Prime Minister of India also felicitates the Awardees. The Awardees of Bal Shakti Puraskar also take part in Republic Day Parade on the 26th of January on Rajpath, New Delhi.
Export Preparedness Index – 2020
NITI Aayog in partnership with the Institute of Competitiveness have released the Export Preparedness Index (EPI) 2020.
What is EPI 2020?
- It is the first report to examine export preparedness and performance of Indian states, EPI intends to identify challenges and opportunities; enhance the effectiveness of government policies; and encourage a facilitative regulatory framework.
- The structure of the EPI includes 4 pillars – Policy; Business Ecosystem; Export Ecosystem; Export Performance – and 11 sub-pillars – Export Promotion Policy; Institutional Framework; Business Environment; Infrastructure; Transport Connectivity; Access to Finance; Export Infrastructure; Trade Support; R&D Infrastructure; Export Diversification; and Growth Orientation.
Observations in the report –
- What this edition of the EPI has shown is that most Indian states performed well on average across the sub-pillars of Exports Diversification, Transport Connectivity, and Infrastructure. The average score of Indian states in these three sub-pillars was above 50%. However, Indian states should also focus on other key components in order to improve export competitiveness.
- Overall, most of the Coastal States are the best performers. Gujarat, Maharashtra and Tamil Nadu occupy the top three ranks, respectively. Six of eight coastal states feature in the top ten rankings, indicating the presence of strong enabling and facilitating factors to promote exports. In the landlocked states, Rajasthan has performed the best, followed by Telangana and Haryana. Among the Himalayan states, Uttarakhand is the highest, followed by Tripura and Himachal Pradesh. Across the Union Territories, Delhi has performed the best, followed by Goa and Chandigarh.
- The report also highlights that export orientation and preparedness are not just restricted to prosperous states. Even emerging states can undertake dynamic export policy measures, have functioning promotional councils, and synchronise with national logistical plans to grow their exports. Chhattisgarh and Jharkhand are two landlocked states that had initiated several measures to promote exports.
- Many northeastern states under the Growth Orientation sub-pillar were able to export more by focusing on their indigenous product baskets. This shows that a focused development of such baskets (like spices) can drive exports on one hand and also improve farmer incomes on the other in these states.
Challenges to export promotion in India –
Based on the findings of the report, export promotion in India faces three fundamental challenges: intra-and inter-regional disparities in export infrastructure; poor trade support and growth orientation among states; and poor R&D infrastructure to promote complex and unique exports.
Way forward –
- There is a need to emphasise on key strategies to address these challenges: a joint development of export infrastructure; strengthening industry-academia linkages; and creating state-level engagements for economic diplomacy. These strategies could be supported by revamped designs and standards for local products and by harnessing the innovating tendencies to provide new use cases for such products, with adequate support from the Centre.
- To achieve the target of making India a developed economy by focusing on ‘Atmanirbhar Bharat’, there is a need to increase exports from all the states and union territories. The EPI provides invaluable insights on how states can attain this goal.
Contingency Fund of RBI
The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) has retained a whopping amount of Rs 73,615 crore within the RBI by transferring it to the Contingency Fund (CF) of the central bank, thus leading to a sharp fall in the transfer of surplus to the government in the current year.
The central bank’s main risk provision accounts – Contingency Fund, Currency and Gold Revaluation Account (CGRA), Investment Revaluation Account Foreign Securities (IRA-FS) and Investment Revaluation Account-Rupee Securities (IRA-RS) — together now amount to Rs 13.88 lakh crore.
What is the ‘Contingency Fund’?
This is a specific provision meant for meeting unexpected and unforeseen contingencies, including depreciation in the value of securities, risks arising out of monetary/exchange rate policy operations, systemic risks and any risk arising on account of the special responsibilities enjoined upon the Reserve Bank. This amount is retained within the RBI.
What did the government get as surplus this year?
- The Central Board of the RBI recently approved the transfer of Rs 57,128 crore as surplus – or dividend — to the Central government for the accounting year 2019-20, sharply lower by 67.5 per cent from Rs 1.76 lakh crore that it paid to the government last year.
- While the RBI’s transfer this year is as per the economic capital framework (ECF) adopted by the RBI board last year, last year’s transfer included Rs 123,414 crore of dividends due from the previous financial year 2018-19 and Rs 52,637 crore taken out from CF as per the revised ECF.
- As per Section 47 of the RBI Act, profits or surplus of the RBI are to be transferred to the government, after making various contingency provisions, public policy mandate of the RBI, including financial stability considerations.
What is the CGRA Account?
- The Currency and Gold Revaluation Account (CGRA) is maintained by the Reserve Bank to take care of currency risk, interest rate risk and movement in gold prices.
- Unrealised gains or losses on valuation of foreign currency assets (FCA) and gold are not taken to the income account but instead accounted for in the CGRA.
- Net balance in CGRA, therefore, varies with the size of the asset base, its valuation and movement in the exchange rate and price of gold.
- CGRA provides a buffer against exchange rate/ gold price fluctuations. It can come under pressure if there is an appreciation of the rupee vis-à-vis major currencies or a fall in the price of gold.
What are IRA-FS and IRA-RS accounts?
- The unrealised gains or losses on revaluation in foreign dated securities are recorded in the Investment Revaluation Account Foreign Securities (IRA-FS).
- Similarly, the unrealised gains or losses on revaluation is accounted for in Investment Revaluation Account-Rupee Securities (IRA-RS).
- The balance in IRA-RS increased from Rs 49,476 crore as on June 30, 2019 to Rs 93,415 crore as on June 30, 2020 due to increase in portfolio of rupee securities and decline in yields on government of India securities held by the Reserve Bank during the year.
Decommissioned aircraft carrier Viraat, which has been lying at the Naval dockyard in Mumbai will be scrapped at Alang in Gujarat soon.
About INS Viraat –
- INS Viraat, a Centaur class aircraft carrier weighing 27,800 tonnes, served in the British Navy as HMS Hermes for 25 years from November 1959 to April 1984.
- It was commissioned into the Indian Navy in May 1987 after refurbishment and had operated Harrier fighter jets.
- It was decommissioned from in March 2017, and the the Navy had been incurring expenditure since then on its upkeep, such as the provision of electricity and water, and repairs. It was also taking up space in the crowded Naval dockyard.
- This is the second aircraft carrier to be broken in India in the past six years. In 2014, INS Vikrant, which played a role in the historic 1971 war with Pakistan was broken down in Mumbai.
AstroSat, India’s first multi-wavelength satellite that has five unique-X ray and ultraviolet telescopes working in tandem, has detected extreme UV light from a galaxy called AUDFs01, 9.3 billion light-years away from Earth.
What did the research say?
- The team of scientists observed the galaxy, which is located in the Extreme Deep field, through AstroSat. These observations lasted for more than 28 hours in October 2016. But it took nearly two years since then to carefully analyse the data to ascertain that the emission is indeed from the galaxy.
- This is a very important clue to how the dark ages of the Universe ended and there was light in the Universe. Since UV radiation is absorbed by Earth’s atmosphere, it has to be observed from space.
- Earlier, NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope (HST), which is significantly larger than the Ultra Violet Imaging Telescope (UVIT) on AstroSat, did not detect any UV emission (with energy greater than 13.6 eV) from this galaxy because it is too faint.
About AstroSat –
- AstroSat is the first dedicated Indian astronomy mission aimed at studying celestial sources in X-ray, optical and UV spectral bands simultaneously. The payloads cover the energy bands of Ultraviolet (Near and Far), limited optical and X-ray regime (0.3 keV to 100keV).
- One of the unique features of AstroSat mission is that it enables the simultaneous multi-wavelength observations of various astronomical objects with a single satellite.
- AstroSat with a lift-off mass of 1515 kg was launched on September 28, 2015 into a 650 km orbit inclined at an angle of 6 deg to the equator by PSLV-C30 from Satish Dhawan Space Centre, Sriharikota. The minimum useful life of the AstroSat mission is expected to be 5 years.
- The scientific objectives of AstroSat mission are – To understand high energy processes in binary star systems containing neutron stars and black holes; Estimate magnetic fields of neutron stars; Study star birth regions and high energy processes in star systems lying beyond our galaxy; Detect new briefly bright X-ray sources in the sky, and; Perform a limited deep field survey of the Universe in the Ultraviolet region.