Current Affairs Current Affairs - 02 August 2018 - Vikalp Education

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Current Affairs - 02 August 2018

General Affairs 

Social Media Platforms Can't Abuse Data To Influence Polls: Law Minister
  • Law and IT Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad today said social media platforms should themselves weed out circulation of fake news and that the government will not tolerate abuse of data by companies for influencing elections in India.

    He said the government has ordered a CBI investigation into alleged misuse of data of Indian Facebook users by British political consultancy firm Cambridge Analytica.

    "Any foreign entity, Facebook or Cambridge Analytica, cannot abuse the data of Indians to influence elections of India. India's elections are very transparent, sanctified," Mr Prasad in the Lok Sabha during Question Hour.

    "The government has told social media platforms that fake news or abusive news cannot be circulated and re-circulated to "create crimes" in India, Mr Prasad said, adding, "that will not be acceptable".

    "Therefore the origin of those news should also be technologically answered. I have conveyed to them in very clear observation that it does not need rocket science to identify lakhs of messages being circulated on a particular day, in a particular area of a particular state.You must have technological solutions," Mr Prasad said.

    The minister's comments come within days of rumours on social media platform Whatsapp triggering lynching incidents in the country.

    Mr Prasad said while Facebook has apologised to the Government of India and said data was pilfered by other agencies, Cambridge Analytica gave just one reply and did not follow up the other reply.

    "Therefore, because of these diversions and since the reply was not adequately convincing, I have referred the matter to the CBI," Mr Prasad said.

    The Minister said Facebook in its response has said that about 5.62 lakh Indians may have been potentially affected in the Cambridge Analytica case.

    "However, Cambridge Analytica responded that they do not have any Facebook data on Indian citizens. To a second notice, Facebook informed that Cambridge Analytica had violated Facebook's policy. Cambridge Analytica has not responded to the second notice," he said.

    He said the government has asked social media platforms to appoint a grievance officer in India before whom complaints can be made and comply with the requirements of Indian law.

    "We respect privacy. But privacy cannot be used to shield terrorists and corrupt," he added. 

Opposition Sees Illegal Immigrants As Vote Bank: Amit Shah On Assam List
  • BJP chief Amit Shah asked opposition parties on Tuesday to make their stand clear on the issue of illegal Bangladeshi immigrants while asserting that the National Register of Citizens or NRC will be implemented in Assam "to the last full stop" as his party stands for national security and Indians' rights.

    Dismissing criticism by parties like the Congress and the Trinamool Congress, Mr Shah said at a press conference that the process for NRC, whose mandate is to identify illegal immigrants, was started in 2005, when the UPA was in power, but the government lacked the courage "to throw out illegal Bangladeshi immigrants".

    "It (NRC) will be implemented to the last full stop and comma," he said.

    Taking on West Bengal Chief Minister and Trinamool Congress supremo Mamata Banerjee, who has accused the BJP of pursuing a 'divide and rule' policy, Mr Shah alleged that she saw a "vote bank" in illegal immigrants for win in elections while his party was looking at the security of the country and rights of its citizens.

    He rejected criticism for the NRC on the ground of human rights, saying, people who are talking about it should also be concerned about human rights of the people of Assam.

    "Do people of Assam have no human rights? NRC has been made to protect the human rights of Indian citizens," he said.

    No Indian citizen should be concerned and natives of any other state living in Assam would not be meted out any injustice, Mr Shah said, adding that NRC will be implemented firmly and fairly.

    The BJP has seized on the issue, with Mr Shah pitching the BJP as that party standing for the rights of Indians, as opposed to its rivals who are concerned with illegal Bangladeshi immigrants.

    "The BJP is committed to the national security and safety of its citizens. This is our top priority. All other parties should clear their stand," he said, asking them to answer in 'yes or no' on whether they support NRC.

    He said the NRC is the soul of the Assam accord which the then Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi had signed and it clearly stipulates that every single illegal immigrant would be identified and their name struck off the voters list.

    However, several Congress governments which ruled at the centre and the state lacked the courage to implement it.

    The Supreme Court later stepped in and the Modi government started the process, he said, adding that the Supreme Court is monitoring the entire exercise.

    "I want to ask the Congress why you are questioning the NRC for vote bank. The Congress started the NRC process in 2005. But you lacked the courage to throw out illegal Bangladeshi immigrants because vote bank was important for you, not national security and rights of citizens," he said.

    The Congress should not put vote bank politics above national interest, he said.

    It is a matter of "grave sorrow" that no party apart from the BJP and the BJD found it fit to say that illegal immigrants have no place in this country.

    The BJP is not doing politics over it and its stand has been consistent on the issue whether in power or in opposition, he said.

    The Congress has a habit of changing its stand, he alleged, and took a dig at its president Rahul Gandhi, asking him to remember his grandmother and former prime minister Indira Gandhi's statements that illegal immigrants have no place in India.

    Asked about human rights concerns raised by some parties and rights bodies, he said he is concerned about the rights of India citizens whose resources were being grabbed by illegal immigrants.

    He also condemned Mamata Banerjee for her warning that there could be "civil war and bloodbath", saying the country was divided once in the name of civil war.

    "She should clarify what kind of civil war she is talking about," he said.

    Asked about a demand of West Bengal BJP leaders for an NRC in the state, Mr Shah said the NRC is presently confined to Assam and the party will take a stand on such issues at an appropriate time.

    Mr Shah also clarified that he chose to express his views on the NRC through the media after opposition members did not let him speak in the Rajya Sabha, which was adjourned for the day following protests by rival members over his attack on the Congress.

    The claim by some parties that it will become an inter-state dispute is an attempt to create confusion, Mr Shah said, condemning such statements.

Maratha Protesters Plan "Jail Bharo" In Mumbai Today Over Quota Demands
  • The Maratha Kranti Morcha, a local outfit in Maharashtra who have been demanding reservations in government jobs and education for the community, plan another phase of their agitation today.

    According to a press note issued by the Maratha outfit, the community is organising a "Jail Bharo Andolan", or "fill the prisons protest" for their major demands. The protest will take place at Azad Maidan in Mumbai.

    The major demands of the protesters include, decision on the Maratha quota at the earliest, all cases against Maratha protesters be taken back, action against the officers responsible for firing and lathi charge during the July 25 protest, resignation or sacking of ministers and MLAs who gave irresponsible statements against Maratha community.

    Besides reservation, the outfit has also been demanding for a complete loan waiver, "justice" in the Kopardi rape case, and a solution to unemployment for their community.

    After police action was taken to control their violent protests, their most recent demand is for compensation to those injured during the protest as well as to the families of those who died.

    Maratha Kranti Morcha leader Amol Jadhavarao claimed that the government has shown tokenism about their demands and has announced acceptance of some of their demands after an all-party meeting with chief minister Devendra Fadnavis. But there is still no official written order issued in this regard, he said.

    The Mumbai police claimed to have ample security arrangements to tackle the "Jail Bharo Andolan" in the city, to maintain law and order.

    The police has also been asked to remain alert in other parts of Maharashtra for any sudden protest or violence in this regard.

    On July 27, chief minister Devendra Fadnavis had invited party leaders of both the houses for a meeting in the Vidhan Sabha (legislative assembly) to discuss the ongoing Maratha stir. He had earlier chaired a meeting with BJP ministers and party legislators from the Maratha community to discuss the issue.

    A day before the meeting, a Maratha Kranti Morcha riot accused, who was injured in a clash with the police in Navi Mumbai, died of his injuries. So far, five people have reportedly taken their lives demanding reservations for Marathas, while one, who also attempted suicide, is being treated at a local hospital.

No Relation To Us, Says Bangladesh On Illegal Immigration Amid Assam Row
  • With the final draft of Assam's National Registry of Citizens (NRC) sparking a nationwide debate over the exclusion of over four million people, Bangladesh on Tuesday said that linking illegal migrants with the country was incorrect.

    During a telephonic interview with ANI from Dhaka, the Information and Broadcasting Minister of Bangladesh Hasanul Haq Inu said, "Everyone knows it is a century-old ethnic conflict in the state of Assam. In the last 48 years, no Indian government has raised the issue of illegal immigration with Bangladesh; the situation needs to be dealt by the (Prime Minister Narendra) Modi government in New Delhi, which is capable of handling it judiciously. It has no relation to Bangladesh."

    When asked if Bangladesh will be willing to take back the illegal citizens staying in India, Mr Inu said, "As of now, India has not shared NRC findings with us and has not raised the issue. Until they do so, we will not speak."

    "You can't link every Bengali speaking person to Bangladesh," Mr Inu added.

    A full-blown political row has erupted ever since the final draft of Assam's NRC was published on Monday.

    The draft list incorporated the names of nearly 2.89 crore individuals out of the 3.29 crore applicants, leaving out more than 40 lakh applicants from the final draft.

    Earlier on Tuesday, amid the political slugfest, Trinamool Congress (TMC) supremo and West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee slammed the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)-led centre, saying that the NRC was a politically motivated move by the BJP to get votes, adding that it could lead to a civil war.

    Meanwhile, BJP president Amit Shah stated that the NRC was a matter of national security and asked the TMC and the Congress to clear their position on the illegal Bangladeshi migrants living in India.

    He also charged the Congress party-led United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government of not showing the courage to identify and deport illegal immigrants from Assam as per an accord which was signed by erstwhile Prime Minister, late Rajiv Gandhi in 1985.

Mars "Invading Us": The Red Planet's Closest Approach To Earth In 15 Years
  • Earth's neighboring planet, Mars, is closer than it has been in the past 15 years, offering unusually bright views of the Red Planet's auburn hues.
    "The Red Planet and Earth haven't been this close since 2003, and won't be again until 2035," NASA said.

    Astronomers around the world trained their telescopes on the sky on July 31, when the Red Planet was 35.8 million miles (57.6 million kilometers) away.

    One popular public viewing spot was the Griffith Observatory in Los Angeles, where Mars was visible with the naked eye as a bright orange spot in the sky, according to a live broadcast held to mark the celestial event.

    "Mars is invading us tonight," said observatory director Ed Krupp.

    The nearest point to Earth in Mars' elliptical orbit came at around 1100 GMT on Tuesday, NASA said.

    Astronomers are interested in Mars' travel path because it helps decide the best times for spacecraft to launch. 

    When the Sun, Earth and Mars are lined up, with Earth sitting in between, a phenomenon called "opposition" is in effect, giving the brightest view of Mars.

    But also, "around the time of opposition, a planet is at its closest distance to Earth for a given year," the US space agency explained.

    Since the Earth and Mars align in opposition about every two years, "this is why most NASA missions to the Red Planet are at least two years apart -- to take advantage of the closer distance."

    This year's close approach is not a record-breaker.

    The minimum distance from the Earth to Mars is about 33.9 million miles (54.6 million kilometers), and is rarely achieved. 

    The last closest approach was in 2003, when Mars was 34.6 million miles (55.7 million kilometers) from Earth "and the closest it had been in nearly 60,000 years," said NASA.

    Another close encounter like 2003's will not happen until the year 2287.

    For those who missed the closest approach, not to worry. Mars will still be visible in the night sky for the next few months.

Business Affairs

RBI increases repo rate by 25 basis points to 6.5%, maintains 'neutral' stance
  • The RBI's Monetary Policy Committee, during its by-monthly meeting on Wednesday, increased the repo rate by 25 basis points to 6.5 per cent from the previous rate of 6.25 per cent. This is the second hike in the interest rate after four years of continuous halt by the central bank. This time too, the MPC again maintained the neutral stance to achieve the medium-term target for inflation of 4 per cent in a band of +/- 2 per cent.

    The MPC has noted that uncertainty around domestic inflation needs to be carefully monitored in the coming months. "Rising trade protectionism poses a grave risk to near-term and long-term global growth prospects by adversely impacting investment, disrupting global supply chains and hampering productivity. Geopolitical tensions and elevated oil prices continue to be the other sources of risk to global growth," stated the MPC.

    What caused the rate hike? "The main reason for increasing of the repo rate has been done to maintain the 4 per cent inflation target, a target from which we have been away for several months," said the RBI Governor. On the RBI's concern over the core inflation that is around 6 per cent, the RBI Governor said that the central bank's "mandate is to target the headline". "We look up at components but we focus on improving the overall headline. It's not just core inflation but many other components as well," said the RBI.

    The RBI has maintained that the global economic activity has maintained steam, and global growth has become uneven and risks to the outlook have increased with rising trade tensions. "Crude oil prices continue to be volatile and vulnerable to both upside and downside risks. There is some volatility in global financial markets. If the recent softening of global commodity prices persists, it could mitigate some of the upward pressure on input costs," said RBI Governor Urjit Patel.

    Meanwhile, the reverse repo rate has been adjusted to 6.25 per cent, and the marginal standing facility rate and the bank rate to 6.75 per cent. Economists and industry experts were expecting the RBI to hike repo rate by 25 basis points to keep a check on inflation numbers. It was also expected that despite the rate hike, the RBI could keep its policy stance 'neutral'.

    On the global trade war, the RBI Governor said: "We already have a few months of turbulence behind us and we think it would continue, and could lead to the currency war. We need to ensure macroeconomic stability and continue to maintain growth profile of 7.4 per cent. Many things are in our favour."

    On the growth outlook, the MPC said the progress of the monsoon so far and a sharper than the usual increase in MSPs of kharif crops is expected to boost rural demand by raising farmers' income. The central has also projected the GDP growth for first quarter of the next financial year at 2019-20 at 7.5 per cent. "The GDP growth projection for 2018-19 is retained, as in the June statement, at 7.4 per cent, ranging 7.5-7.6 per cent in H1 and 7.3-7.4 per cent in H2, with risks evenly balanced; GDP growth for Q1:2019-20 is projected at 7.5 per cent," the MPC stated.

    The government recently came out with a hike in the MSP for paddy by a record Rs 200 per quintal. "The increase in MSPs for kharif crops, which is much larger than the average increase seen in the past few years, will have a direct impact on food inflation and second round effects on headline inflation," said the Monetary Policy Committee.

    Of the total six members of the MPC, five members -- Chetan Ghate, Pami Dua, Michael Debabrata Patra, Viral V Acharya and Urjit R Patel -- voted in favour of the decision, while Ravindra H Dholakia voted against the decision to increase the repo rate. The repo rate is the rate at which banks borrow short term funds from the RBI.

    Meanwhile, the Sensex fell nearly 120 points to 37,440 after RBI policy decision but recovered later to trade around 50 points lower at 37,556 level.

Home, car loan EMIs to get costlier as RBI hikes repo rate by 25 basis points
  • The Reserve Bank of India's Monetary Policy Committee (MPC), in its third bi-monthly statement, hiked the key repo rate by 25 basis points (bps) to 6.50 per cent. RBI's second-consecutive increase in repo rate comes as a bad news for those who have taken loans from banks. This is likely to lead to an increase in the interest bank customers pay on loans, be it home loan, car loan or personal loan.

    Here's how your EMI outflow is likely to be affected. Assume you have taken a Rs 20 lakh home loan, which currently carries an interest rate of 8.4 per cent. That means that your EMI at present is Rs 1.68 lakh. But if your bank hikes its interest rate by 25 bps to pass on the burden of the repo rate hike, at 8.65 per cent interest rate your EMI will go up by Rs 5,000 to Rs 1.73 lakh. And the bigger the loan amount, the harder the impact. A home loan of Rs 2 crore will see the EMI burden shoot up by Rs 50,000 with just a 25 bps hike.

    The current rate hike comes on the back of rising crude oil prices, hike in the MSP for paddy by a record Rs 200 per quintal, rupee depriciation against the US dollar, impact of HRA revision of inflation and recent farm loan waivers.

    Repo rate, short for Repurchase Rate, is basically the rate at which the RBI lends money to commercial banks against the pledge of government securities, whenever the banks are in need of funds to meet their day-to-day obligations. Generally, these loans are for short duration up to 2 weeks.

    When the RBI increases the repo rate, banks usually pass on the burden to the customers.

    This is the second hike in eight weeks. Before that, the repo rate was last raised in January 2014, before the Modi-led BJP government came to power.

    The decision of RBI's monetary policy committee, which was not a unanimous one, is consistent with the neutral stance of monetary policy in consonance with the objective of achieving the medium-term target for consumer price index (CPI) inflation of 4 per cent within a band of +/- 2 per cent, the central bank said.

RBI asks Paytm Payments Bank to stop enrolling new customers on its platform
  • Days after Paytm Payments Bank CEO Renu Satti stepped down from her role to lead company's new retail initiative, a Livemint report today said that the Vijay Shekhar Sharma-led mobile-first bank has stopped onboarding new users on its platform following observations made by the RBI.

    Paytm stopped enrolling new customers on June 20 following an audit by RBI, which made certain observations about the process the company follows in acquiring new customers and its adherence to know-your-customer (KYC) norms, the report said quoting sources.

    "RBI has directed Paytm Payments Bank to stop onboarding of new customers with immediate effect," it added.

    However, a Paytm executive told the daily that Paytm Payments Bank is modifying its account opening process to introduce current accounts due to which new account creation process has been paused.

    Paytm Payments Bank allows customers to open zero balance accounts without any transaction charges. It is part of a new set of differentiated banks which were given licence by the RBI with the aim of extending deposit and payments services to millions of unbanked and under-banked Indians.

    As per the RBI guidelines, payments banks cannot lend they can only take deposits or accept payments. It also offers an interest rate of 4 per cent on savings account.

    The report further says that Paytm was also asked to remove Renu Satti as chief executive of the payments bank following RBI's objections about her ability to lead a banking services firm, said the third of the four people quoted earlier. RBI requires a person to be a banker in order to become the chief executive of a payments bank.

    A Paytm spokesperson, however, has refuted the charge, saying, "This is incorrect... Renu Satti's appointment was made on 19th May 2017 vide an official approval from RBI."

    The company is yet to find a replacement for Satti, who had taken over the CEO role last year.

    Last month, digital payments major had claimed that it has achieved annual run rate of 5 billion transactions and registered $50 billion gross transaction value (GTV) in a year. GTV refers to the total transaction value through the platform in a given time period. In a blog, Paytm said that it has processed over 400 million BHIM UPI transactions in last six months. "We have also achieved 500 per cent growth in money transfer transactions last quarter," it said.

    Paytm had said that it has witnessed a tremendous increase in adoption of digital payments in tier II and tier III cities that constitute 50 per cent of its total user base.

Your take home salary may increase as govt plans reducing PF contributions
  • The government is planning to bring down the social security contribution from 12 per cent, which is mandatory,  to 10 per cent - a move that will increase the take home salary, but at the cost of future savings.

    At present, the social security contribution is fixed at 24 per cent ( 12 per cent employee contribution and 12 per cent employer contribution) of an employee's basic salary.  

    While employee's contribution directly goes to provident account, employer's contribution is divided among provident fund account, pension account, and deposit linked insurance scheme.   

    According to a report in the Economic Times, a Labour Ministry committee working on the contributory ceiling by the government towards universal social security for all workers is likely to recommend two per cent cut in contribution.

    The committee is expected to finalise its recommendation by the end of August, the report said citing a person aware of the matter.

    According to the report, the government expects to increase those covered under the social security scheme to 50 crore from the current base of about 10 crore people.

    "We are enhancing the scale of coverage by five-fold. Hence, we think that going forward the contribution by and for each worker eligible for a social security cover will come down, benefitting both employee and the employer," the business daily quoted the official as saying.

    Currently, 10 per cent limit is applicable to organisations with less than 20 workers. This could be made uniform for every establishment, the report said.

    Earlier in June, it was reported that the EPFO has proposed a cap on the PF amount that can be withdrawn before retirement. The retirement fund body has reportedly proposed that it's over five crore members be allowed to withdraw only 60 per cent of their total savings or an amount equivalent to three months' salary - whichever amount is lower - if they are unemployed for one month.

    The proposal adds that should a subscriber be unemployed for more than three months, s/he will be eligible to withdraw 80 per cent of his/her PF savings or an amount equivalent to two months' salary, again the lower of the two.

    The report claimed that the decision was taken to create a social security cover for formal sector workers.

    Ironically, last year in April, the EPFO had tweaked rules to enable its subscribers to withdraw a higher amount - up to 90 per cent - from their PF savings to make down payment and pay EMIs to buy homes.

Big victory for Reliance Industries in ONGC gas dispute as tribunal rejects govt's claim
  • Reliance Industries (RIL) won a significant victory against the government in a 20-month-long gas migration dispute yesterday. The case pertained to the Indian government's claim of a $1.55 billion penalty against RIL and its partners, UK-based BP Plc and Canada's Niko Resources, for allegedly syphoning gas from state-owned Oil and Natural Gas Corp's (ONGC) block in the Krishna-Godavari (KG) basin in the Bay of Bengal.

    An international arbitration tribunal, headed by Singapore-based arbitrator Lawrence Boo, rejected the government's claim by a majority of two votes to one. "All the contentions of the Consortium [RIL, BP & Niko] have been upheld by the majority with a finding that the Consortium was entitled to produce all gas from its contract area and all claims made by the Government of India have been rejected. The Consortium is not liable to pay any amount to the Government of India," RIL said in a regulatory filing yesterday, adding, "The Tribunal also awarded costs of $8.3 million (Rs 56.44 crore) to be paid by the Government of India to the Consortium".

    On November 4, 2016, the oil ministry had slapped a demand of $1.47 billion on the RIL-BP-Niko consortium for "unfairly" producing natural gas belonging to ONGC. The government had claimed that the consortium had produced about 338.332 million British thermal units of gas that had seeped or migrated from adjoining ONGC's blocks into their KG-D6 block over seven years ending March 31, 2016. The Mukesh Ambani-led behemoth is the operator of the KG-D6 block with 60 per cent interest while BP holds 30 per cent and the remaining 10 per cent is with Niko.

    After deducting $71.71 million royalty paid on the gas produced and charging interest at the rate of LIBOR (London Inter-bank Offered Rate) plus 2 per cent - amounting to $149.86 million - a total demand of $1.55 billion was made on the consortium.
    The government's compensation claim for "the unjust benefit received and unfairly retained" flowed from the findings of the Justice (retd) AP Shah Committee. The one-man committee had been set up to look into the issue after ONGC first sued RIL for drawing gas that seeped from its block back in May 2015. The committee's report, submitted in August 2016, concluded that there has been "unjust enrichment" to the contractor of the block KG-DWN-98/3 (KG-D6) - i.e. RIL and its partners - due to the production of the migrated gas from ONGC's blocks KG-DWN-98/2 (KG-D5) and Godavari PML.

    RIL, in turn, disputed the government's demand as being based on a "misreading and misinterpretation of key elements of the PSC [Production Sharing Contract ", and claimed that such a demand was without precedent in the oil and gas industry. A week later, the consortium issued an arbitration notice.

    Without wasting any time, the three-member arbitration panel was constituted last February. Boo, the head of the Singapore-based Arbitration Chambers, was appointed as president of the tribunal by its two other members -former Supreme Court Judge GS Singhvi, who was the government's arbitrator, and RIL-appointed arbitrator former English High Court Justice Bernard Eder.

    While this is a major victory for RIL - and its stock has celebrated by touching a fresh lifetime high of Rs 1202.95 apiece on the BSE in intraday trade - the company may not be able to enjoy it for long. A top government functionary told Mint that the government intends to challenge the arbitration tribunal's decision. "We will challenge it. Whatever is the process after arbitration we will follow it," said the source. In a similar vein, a senior ONGC executive told the daily that "In all probability, the arbitration's decision will be challenged".

    RIL's troubles don't end there. The government is reportedly also pressing the company to cough up $174.9 million of additional profit petroleum after certain costs were disallowed after the output from the KG-D6 block was lower than the target.

    Profit petroleum refers to profits from gas production after recovering costs that is available for sharing between the contractors and the government. Significantly, disallowing cost recovery will result in the government's profit share rising. The cost recovery issue is reportedly being arbitrated separately.

General Awareness

    Common service centres to implement Ayushman Bharat
    • What to study?

      For Prelims: What are CSCs, Key features of Ayushman Bharat.
      For Mains: Significance of CSCs and how they help in empowerment of citizens, significance of Ayushman Bharat.

      Context: Common Service Center (CSC) and National Health Accounts (NHA) have signed a memorandum of understand to implement the Ayushman Bharat scheme through three-lakh CSCs across the country.

      As per the MoU:

      A beneficiary can now visit the nearby CSC to get the benefit of this scheme and CSC will help the beneficiary to identify his name in the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare database and his entitlement for the scheme.
      The CSCs will help the beneficiary to scan/ upload his KYC documents for verification of his/ her identity and claim his/ her entitlement.
      The beneficiary will also have facility to print his/ her Ayushman Scheme card through the centre which will be his/ her base source claim. CSCs will also provide requisite information about the scheme and promote the same.

      Ayushman Bharat:

      Ayushman Bharat is the National Health Protection Scheme, which will cover over 10 crore poor vulnerable families (around 50 crore beneficiaries) providing coverage of up to ₹5 lakh (per family per year) for secondary and tertiary care hospitalisation.

      It will subsume the on-going centrally sponsored schemes –Rashtriya Swasthya Bima Yojana (RSBY) and the Senior Citizen Health Insurance Scheme (SCHIS).

      Highlights of the scheme:

      Coverage: The scheme has the benefit cover of Rs. 5 lakh per family per year. To ensure that nobody is left out (especially women, children and elderly) there will be no cap on family size and age in the scheme. The benefit cover will also include pre and post-hospitalisation expenses.

      Target: The target beneficiaries of the proposed scheme will be more than 10 crore families belonging to poor and vulnerable population based on SECC database. Benefits of the scheme are portable across the country and a beneficiary covered under the scheme will be allowed to take cashless benefits from any public/private empanelled hospitals across the country.

      Role of state governments: State Governments will be allowed to expand AB-NHPM both horizontally and vertically. States will be free to choose the modalities for implementation. They can implement through insurance company or directly through Trust/ Society or a mixed model.

      Council: For giving policy directions and fostering coordination between Centre and States, it is proposed to set up Ayushman Bharat National Health Protection Mission Council (AB-NHPMC) at apex level Chaired by Union Health and Family Welfare Minister.

      Who is eligible?

      It will be an entitlement based scheme with entitlement decided on the basis of deprivation criteria in the SECC database.

      The different categories in rural area include families having only one room with kucha walls and kucharoof; families having no adult member between age 16 to 59; female headed households with no adult male member between age 16 to 59; disabled member and no able bodied adult member in the family; SC/ST households; and landless households deriving major part of their income from manual casual labour.
      Also, automatically included families in rural areas having any one of the following: households without shelter, destitute, living on alms, manual scavenger families, primitive tribal groups, legally released bonded labour. For urban areas, 11 defined occupational categories are entitled under the scheme.

      What are CSCs?

      Common Services Centers (CSCs) are a strategic cornerstone of the Digital India programme. They are the access points for delivery of various electronic services to villages in India, thereby contributing to a digitally and financially inclusive society.

      CSCs enable the three vision areas of the Digital India programme:

      Digital infrastructure as a core utility to every citizen.
      Governance and services on demand.
      Digital empowerment of citizens.

      Significance of CSCs:

      CSCs are more than service delivery points in rural India. They are positioned as change agents, promoting rural entrepreneurship and building rural capacities and livelihoods. They are enablers of community participation and collective action for engendering social change through a bottom-up approach with key focus on the rural citizen.

      Key facts:

      The CSC project, which forms a strategic component of the National eGovernance Plan was approved by the Government in May 2006, as part of its commitment in the National Common Minimum Programme to introduce e-governance on a massive scale.
      It is also one of the approved projects under the Integrated Mission Mode Projects of the National eGovernance Plan.

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