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Current Affairs - 20 August 2018

General Affairs 

As Floods Ravage Kerala, Unsung Heroes Bring Smiles To Those Stranded
  • Braving inclement weather and risky conditions, a young Air Force officer dramatically winched up a toddler to safety from the roof-top of a marooned house in rain-battered Kerala.

    Thousands of people are battling all odds to survive as the death toll has touched 197 in the past 10 days in the second spell of monsoon fury since August 8.

    Wing Commander Prashanth slid down a rope to the terrace of the two-storey house which seemed from above like a toy floating on the yellowish murky waters.

    TV visuals showed the officer airlifting the two-year-old boy with care, pressing him to his body and bringing him to safety.

    The proud officer later handed over the baby to his anxious mother waiting inside the chopper.

    The woman, who was almost in tears, was all gratitude and smiles as she received her bundle of joy in her hands.

    Prashanth is one among many unsung heroes who have brought smiles to the faces of anxious and panic-stricken people of Kerala, reeling under the worst floods of a century.

    Another TV grab showed some girls, trapped in their hostel room for days without food and water, making a lucky escape after an IAF helicopter came to their rescue.

    They cried and hugged each other after all the stranded were safely pulled up into the helicopter on Saturday.

    Commander Vijay Varma, who saved a pregnant woman in labour by winching her up in a helicopter from a stranded building, was later happy to hear that she had successfully delivered a baby boy.

    "This was a very challenging task. We got an SOS and we traced them out...There is tremendous satisfaction, both professionally and personally," the officer said later.

    The social media was all praise for the exceptional courage shown by the Indian Navy's Captain P Rajkumar who airlifted over 25 persons battling challenging conditions.

    The visual of a man kneeling down in muddy waters to help women step on to him to get into rescue boats went viral today.

    The man in a blue shirt was seen kneeling, with his face hardly a few inches above the flood waters, and women stepping onto his back to climb up to a rescue boat.

    The act of IAS officers M G Rajamanikyam and N S Umesh who unloaded rice sacks at the Wayanad Collectorate for distribution at relief camps was also celebrated by netizens.

    As soon as news of the devastating floods and the plight of the stranded came out, 600 odd fishermen immediately turned up with their country and mechanised boats to help rescue those marooned in various parts of the state.

    Thousands of people, including women, children and college students are tediously working at various centres across the state free of cost to gather essential materials, including food, medicines, cloths to send to relief camps.

    Union Tourism minister K J Alphons, who visited some relief camps in Thiruvananthapuram today, said they are the 'unsung heroes'.

    Many people are still stranded in their homes with no food and sheaths of water around them at various places in Alapuzha, Thrissur and Ernakulam districts.

    The maximum death toll has been reported from Idukki district, where 43 people have lost their lives so far, as per official estimates.

    Kerala has to rebuild itself after the worst floods in over a century. Hundreds have died and lakhs are homeless. Here is how you can help.

Railways' Operating Ratio Worsens, It Spends Rs. 111 To Earn Rs. 100
  • How much did Indian Railways spend to earn every Rs. 100 in April-July this year?
    In this period, the national transporter set a record-high operating ratio of 111.51 per cent - which means it spent Rs. 111.51 to generate every Rs. 100, reflective of lower growth in traffic against the set target and heavy outgo on account of increased pension liability and working expenses.

    Operating ratio is a gauge of operational efficiency that measures expenses as a proportion of revenue. It indicates the organisation's operating expenses divided by its operating revenues, which helps to check its performance.

    A higher ratio in railways indicates less ability to generate surplus funds that could be used for capital investments such as laying new lines and deploying more coaches.

    Facing stiff competition from other modes of transport in carrying people and freight, the Railways earned Rs. 17,273.37 crore from passengers against a target of Rs. 17,736.09 crore in the first four months of the current fiscal, according to data put together by the Railways' finance wing.

    Railways' goods earnings were also below the budget projection during April-July 2018 at Rs. 36,480.41 crore as against the target of Rs. 39,253.41 crore.

    The total earnings of the Railways for the current fiscal ending July is Rs. 56,717.84 crore against the target of Rs. 61,902.51 crore.

    Working expenses have exceeded the budget projection for the April-July period -- the Railways incurred Rs. 52,517.71 crore as ordinary working expenses against the target of Rs. 50,487.36 crore.

    "Besides the working expenses, there are other expenditures which are causing operating ratio to exceed the target," a senior Railway official told IANS.

    The pension liability, expenditure of Railway Board and railway institutions apart from the ordinary working expense which has far exceeding the total incomes during April-July 2018 resulting in operating ratio touching 111.51.

    After the implementation of the 7th Pay Commission, the total pension outgo has been estimated at Rs. 47,000 crore, which means railways has paid about Rs. 12,000 crore during the period under review.

    However, the official said this was a lean period for traffic and typically operating ratio improves in the last quarter of a financial year.

    The operating ratio has been hovering above 90 per cent for the last five or six years.

    For the whole of financial year 2018-19, operating ratio is estimated at 92.8 per cent as against 96 per cent in 2017-18. There are high hopes on freight earnings with estimated increase of 51 million tonnes in 2018-19.

    "The last three months of the fiscal are crucial when freight picks up pace and we are hopeful that we will achieve the target," the official said.

    The Railways has earmarked its highest ever capital expenditure of Rs. 1.48 lakh crore for the current fiscal and has also focused on capacity augmentation, electrification, station redevelopment and overall infrastructure upgradation. 

After Haridwar Immersion, Lucknow Procession Planned For Vajpayee's Ashes
  • The ashes of former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee were immersed in the river Ganga in Haridwar today in a power packed ceremony, attended by Chief Ministers of two states - Uttar Pradesh and Uttarakhand - home minister Rajnath Singh and BJP chief Amit Shah. The party, which was in the middle of prepping for next year's elections, plans to hold a huge ceremony, complete with a cavalcade, when the former Prime Minister's ashes arrive in Lucknow and are immersed in river Gomti on Tuesday.
    The BJP patriarch -- who represented Lucknow in parliament for years -- had died at Delhi's AIIMS on Thursday after a long illness. His funeral was attended by leaders from across the country and foreign dignitaries.

    The BJP had said Mr Vajpayee's ashes will be immersed in rivers across the country - as befits a leader whose life was dedicated to the nation. Also in memory of the iconic leader's broad views that brought him huge respect across political lines, the BJP said it wished to hold "all-party" condolence meetings, especially in Lucknow.

    This morning, the first of the urns reached Haridwar - the second holiest pilgrim towns of India after Varanasi, the constituency of Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

    The BJP had taken out full-page ads in newspapers to announce the event, which took place in the afternoon. The ashes were immersed at Har ki Paudi - a ghat dedicated to the Lord Shiva and a landmark in the temple town - by the former Prime Minister's foster daughter Namita Bhattacharya and granddaughter Niharika.

    The huge attendance at Mr Vajpayee's funeral was a reflection of the respect he gained from all quarters for his politics, statesmanship and oratory. PM Modi, who visited the ailing BJP patriarch in hospital five times, has said Mr Vajpayee had been a father-figure to him.

    Other BJP ruled states - Jharkhand and Rajasthan - have already declared that they are also getting a share of the ashes, which will be immersed in the rivers of the state with ceremony.

6.3 Magnitude Earthquake Rocks Indonesia's Lombok, No Tsunami Warning
  • A fresh tremor of 6.3 magnitude struck the Indonesian holiday island of Lombok, the US Geological Survey said today, after an earthquake killed more than 430 people there earlier this month.

    USGS estimated the depth of the latest tremor at 7.9 km (4.9 miles) and said the epicentre was on the north-eastern shoulder of the island at the foot of Mount Rinjani. There was no tsunami warning, and authorities were still awaiting word on casualties.

    Lombok, which lies just east of Bali, the southeast Asian country's most famous tourist destination, has been rocked by a series of quakes and aftershocks since July 29, including a 6.9-magnitude tremor on August 5.

    The latest tremor sent shudders through residents. "It was very strong. All the lights went out," Asmaatul Husna told Reuters at a shopping mall where she works in Lombok's main town, Mataram.

    Disaster mitigation agency spokesman Sutopo Purwo Nugroho said there were no reports so far of casualties or damage. "We are still monitoring," he told TVOne television.

    He said that activity on the island was normal and Mount Rinjani, where hundreds of trekkers were stranded after the July 29 quake, was closed and there were no tourists there.

    Lombok suffered damage running to more than 5 trillion rupiah ($342 million) from the August 5 earthquake, authorities said last week, putting the death toll at more than 430.

    More than 350,000 people fled their homes after that quake to shelter in government-provided tents or makeshift structures in open fields. Authorities said aid was slow getting to some of the hardest-hit areas as they are remote.

Asian Games 2018: Bajrang Punia Gives India First Gold, Sushil Kumar Makes Shock Exit
  • Bajrang Punia snatched the spotlight from fading superstar Sushil Kumar to open India's gold account at the 18th Asian Games after the shooters delivered just a bronze in a low-key start to their campaign on Sunday. An in-form Bajrang won his maiden Asian Games gold in the 65kg category but a rusty Sushil lost his last chance to add an Asiad yellow metal to his rich collection after losing the qualification bout 3-5 to Bahrain's Adam Batirov in the 74 kg category.

    Bajrang gave India the first gold of the Games in Jakarta but the country's first medal came 600 kilometers away in Palembang, where the mixed rifle team of Apurvi Chandela and Ravi Kumar faltered towards the end to settle for bronze. Like wrestling, shooting was also a mixed bag as the bronze came after teen sensation Manu Bhaker and Abhishek Verma failed to qualify for the pistol mixed team finals against expectations.

    The hockey turf in Jakarta also produced a brilliant result for India with the women's team, which won a bronze in 2014, hammering hosts Indonesia 8-0 for a rousing start. Drag-flicker Gurjit Kaur was the star of the show with a hat-trick.

    But the day well and truly belonged to Bajrang, who came into the Games after winning three tournaments -- the Commonwealth Games, the Tbilisi Grand Prix, and the Yasar Dogu International. He was simply sensational and produced a performance which had been expected of him in the build-up to the Games. Such was his domination that the 24-year-old from Haryana won all his bouts, until the final, by technical superiority.

    He outclassed Uzbekistan's Sirojiddin Khasanov (13-3), Tajikistan's Fayziev Abdulqosim (12-2) and Mongolia's N Batmagnai Batchuluu (10-0) to storm into the gold medal bout.

    In the final, he was tested by Japan's Takatani Daichi but the Haryana grappler held his nerve to prevail 10-8 in an exciting battle. With this stellar feat, Bajrang emulated his mentor Yogeshwar Dutt, who had won gold in the last edition. Kartar Singh (1978, 1986), Satpal Singh (1982), Rajinder Singh (1978), Changdi Ram (1970) and Maruti Mane (1962) are the other wrestlers who form India's golden club at Asiad.

    "There are very few gold for Indian wrestlers in Asiad. So it is a big achievement for me. Only Yogeshwar and Rajinder Singh have won two gold medals in a year (CWG and Asiad), I am only the third to do it, so naturally, I am feeling proud of myself," the 24-year-old said.

    Another name that was set to be on this list was of Sushil but the double Olympic medallist could not produce the big-event show he is famous for. However, he was graceful in defeat.

    "I did not expect this. The 57kg World Champion was sitting beside me, he said 'I lost'. I told him don't worry, I have also lost. It is part of sport and I will come back again. We can't be overwhelmed by defeats or victories, it won't lead you anywhere," said Sushil.

    A gold was also expected from the Jakabaring Shooting Range in Palembang, where the Indians were in contention in two events, but the contingent had to be content with a mixed team rifle bronze.

    The Indian pairing of Chandela and Kumar aggregated 429.9 after 42 shots in the 48-shot final and were in second spot for major part of the 48-shot finals before China overtook them to take the silver.

    It was a maiden Asian Games medal for Chandela, who will be aiming for a better colour medal in the 10m air rifle tomorrow. World Cup bronze medallist Kumar, who is mentored by the great Abhinav Bindra, had won a men's 10m rifle team bronze at last the edition at Incheon.

    There were no more medals on the opening day but they were certainly some promising results.

    Indian swimmers Sajan Prakash and Srihari Nataraj finished creditable fifth and seventh respectively in the men's 200m butterfly and 100m backstroke events.

    In rowing, medal hopes were raised after Om Prakash and Sawarn Singh topped Heat 2 in men's doubles sculls while Dattu Baban Bhokanal was second in Heat 1 of singles sculls. It was a lean day in tennis with most Indians getting first-round byes. There was one match in the mixed doubles and last-minute formed pairing of Karman Kaur Thandi and Divij Sharan did well to clear the opening hurdle.

    The Indian badminton team, led by Kidambi Srikanth, made a resounding start to its campaign, thrashing minnows Maldives 3-0 in the opening match of the team competition.

    World No 8. Srikanth brushed aside Maldives' Hussein Zayan Shaheed Zaki 21-4 21-5 to give India a 1-0 lead. World No. 11 H S Prannoy then outclassed Mohamed Sarim 21-8 21-6. B Sai Praneeth, who had clinched the 2017 Singapore Open, then ended the challenge of Mohamed Ajfan Rasheed with a 21-7 21-8 demolition as India wrapped up the contest 3-0.

    In Kabaddi, which has been India's 'gold mine' at Asian Games, both teams made a winning start. The men's team outclassed Sri Lanka after opening its campaign with a win over Bangladesh, while the women's team pulled off a dominating win over Japan in its opener.

Business Affairs

Kerala floods: Pinarayi Vijayan seeks Rs 2,000 crore relief package from PM as state suffers Rs 19,512 crore loss
  • About 357 people have lost their lives in what could be called the worst-ever flood in a century in Kerala. So far, the National Disaster Response Force has evacuated over 10,000 people from the worst-affected areas of southern state. In an unprecedented relief effort under the instructions of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, 67 helicopters, 24 aircraft, 548 motorboats and thousands of rescue personnel from Indian Navy, Army, Air Force, National Disaster Response Force, Coast Guard, other Central Armed Police Forces have been pressed into service to rescue and evacuate people from submerged areas to relief camps and for distribution of relief materials.

    A total of 169 NDRF teams have been deputed to rescue stranded people across the state. This is NDRF's biggest-ever relief and rescue operation in the country till date. Till yesterday, the NDRF teams were operational in Thrissur, Pathanamthitta, Alappuzha, Ernakulum, Idukki, Mallapuram, Wayanad and Kozhikode.

    Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Friday visited flood-ravaged Kerala and announced an immediate financial assistance of Rs 500 crore. He also announced an ex-gratia of Rs 2 lakh per person to the next of kin of the deceased and Rs 50,000 to those seriously injured from the Prime Minister's National Relief Fund.

    However, Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan has sought an immediate assistance of Rs 2,000 crore. In a tweet, he said: "As per the initial estimate, the state has suffered a loss of Rs 19,512 crore. The actual loss can be ascertained after the water recedes in the affected areas. The state has sought an immediate assistance of Rs 2,000 crore."

    The Prime Minister directed the National Highways Authority of India to repair the main national highways damaged due to the floods on a priority basis . The central public sector undertaking like the NTPC and the PGCIL have been asked to render all possible assistance to the state government in restoring power lines. Villagers, whose 'kutcha' houses have been destroyed in the floods, would be provided the Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana-Gramin homes on a priority basis.

    Under the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Gurantee scheme 5.5 crore person days have been sanctioned in the labour budget 2018-19. Any further request for incurring the person days would be considered as per the requirement projected by the state. Under the Mission for the Integrated Development of Horticulture, farmers would be provided assistance for replantation of damaged horticulture crops.

    Insurance companies have been asked to hold special camps for assessment and timely release of compensation to the affected families and beneficiaries under social security schemes. Directions have also been issued for early clearance of claims under the Fasal Bima Yojana to agriculturists.

    The Centre on Saturday said the Cochin Naval Base would be thrown open for commercial flight operations from the morning of August 20-a move that will bring a huge relief to people awaiting resumption of air service from Kochi. The main Kochi international airport was closed from August 14 to August 26. As a result, both domestic and international flights to Kochi are being diverted to other destinations such as Trivendrum and Calicut.

    Informing about the move, Civil Aviation Minister Suresh Prabhu in a tweet said: "In view of disruption of flights from Cochin airport due to floods, a joint team sent by @MoCA_GoI has approved starting of scheduled commercial flights using ATRs by Alliance Air, a subsidiary of Air India, between Bangalore and Cochin Naval Air base." In another tweet, he said, "flight operations between Bangalore and Cochin Naval airbase will be starting from 20th August morning."

India's CAD to widen to 2.5 per cent of GDP in FY19: Moody's
  • India's current account deficit (CAD) will widen to 2.5 per cent of the GDP in the current fiscal due to higher oil prices that has been accentuated by rupee depreciation, Moody's and other experts have said. Rupee last week dropped to a record low of 70.32 to a US dollar as political turmoil in Turkey and concerns about China's economic health continued to support safe-haven assets and weighed on emerging market currencies.

    Joy Rankothge, Vice President - Senior Analyst, Moody's Investors Service said that while the weaker rupee will benefit exports at the margins, it is unlikely to reverse the trade deficit, which hit a five-year high of USD 18.02 billion in July.

    "India's current account deficit is likely to widen to 2.5 per cent in FY 2018-19, up from 1.5 per cent in fiscal 2017 due to higher oil prices and strong non-oil import demand as domestic demand accelerates," he said. "Net oil imports accounted for 2.6 per cent of GDP in FY 2017-18 and will increase further in fiscal 2019."

    Rajiv Biswas, APAC Chief Economist, IHS Markit, said the significant depreciation of the rupee against the US dollar since the beginning of 2018 reflects a number of factors.

    "A key driver has been gradual US Fed monetary policy tightening, which has resulted in USD appreciation against many other currencies globally. However, the rupee weakness also reflects India's widening current account deficit as higher world oil prices have pushed up oil import costs.

    "A further negative for the INR is that a number of economic crises in large emerging markets including Argentina, Venezuela and Turkey, have made global investors more cautious about emerging markets currencies and equities," he said.

    Sunil Sinha, Principal Economist, India Ratings and Research, said the rupee depreciation will have both positive and negative impact on the economy.

    "On the negative side it will increase the oil import bill leading to higher current account deficit. Also, costly oil import would seep into the economy via higher inflation, make infra and other projects, which have a large import content, expensive and will even make critical imported defence items more expensive," Sinha said.

    On the positive side, he said that it will improve export competitiveness of Indian goods and services. Also, it will improve the top line/bottom line of the companies especially export oriented IT/IT services companies. "Net-net it may inflict some pain in the short run, but would lead to gain in the medium to long term," he said.

    Rankothge said Moody's expects the ongoing cyclical recovery in growth to continue with GDP growth averaging around 7.4 per cent this year and next driven by the underlying growth momentum in the economy, pre-election spending and a pickup in rural demand to largely offset the impacts of a weaker rupee and rising oil prices.

    "From a sovereign risk perspective, low foreign currency debt and long average debt maturity minimize exposures to rising rates and currency weakness," he said.

    Sinha said trade position may worsen in the short term because of the oil/other items import bill rising immediately, while the benefit of export competitiveness benefiting the economy largely in the medium to long term.

    "CAD to come under pressure this fiscal. India Ratings expects CAD to touch 2.6 per cent of GDP in FY19," he said.

    Biswas said that rupee depreciation is not occurring in isolation, as many other emerging markets currencies have also shown significant depreciation against the USD this year, including the Chinese yuan, Indonesian rupiah and Malaysian ringgit.

    "The Turkish lira has crashed by 40 per cent against the USD since the beginning of 2018, as that nation is engulfed by a financial crisis. Therefore, India's relative competitiveness against many emerging markets competitors has not improved that much despite the rupee depreciation against the USD," he said.

    Biswas said a further widening of the CAD is expected in 2018-19 to around 2.4 per cent of GDP, due to a further increase in the oil import bill and the impact of rupee depreciation on import costs.

Ayushman Bharat scheme: Delhi govt yet to take a call on signing MoU with Centre
  • The implementation of the government's ambitious Ayushman Bharat-National Health Protection Scheme in the national capital hangs in balance as the Delhi government is yet to take a call on signing an MoU with the Centre over it.

    The Delhi government has not yet given its approval for being part of the health insurance scheme which aims to provide a coverage of Rs 5 lakh per family annually and benefit more than 10 crore poor families across India.

    According to Director General Health Services Kirti Bhushan, draft memorandum of understanding sent by the Health Ministry is being examined.

    "The central government is taking into account the Socio-Economic Caste Census (SECC) data of 2011 to ascertain the beneficiaries under the scheme. Going by that, in Delhi, only 30 lakh people can be covered under this data. This population is much less than the 1 crore and 80 lakh population," he said, adding that the Delhi government is also working towards implementing its own health insurance scheme.

    Bhushan also said that the Health Ministry should include the National Food Security card holders for providing benefits under the programme as doing that would take the number beneficiaries to over 1 crore.

    "However, no final decision has been taken over the matter and we have not refused to be a part of it. The draft MoU sent by the Health Ministry is still being examined," he said.

    Prime Minister Narendra Modi, in his Independence Day speech, said his government will launch the ambitious the Ayushman Bharat healthcare scheme on September 25.

    Modi had said the programme's technology will be tested in the next one month to make it foolproof.

    The scheme will target poor, deprived rural families and identified occupational category of urban workers' families, 8.03 crore in rural and 2.33 crore in urban areas, as per the latest SECC data, and will cover around 50 crore people.

    While Punjab, Kerala, Maharashtra, Karnataka and Delhi are yet to come on board, Odisha has refused to be a part of the scheme, an official said.

    As many as 22 states have preferred to run the scheme on "trust model".

    The Centre has allocated about Rs 10,000 crore for the project, which is claimed to be the world's largest government-funded healthcare insurance programme. It is yet to release its share of funds to the states.

    The Union Health Ministry has launched a formal process to empanel public and private hospitals to achieve universal health coverage under the programme.

    The Centre was simultaneously carrying out beneficiary identification. Under the process, 80 per cent of beneficiaries, based on the Socio Economic Caste Census (SECC) data in the rural and the urban areas, have been identified.

    The Health Ministry has included 1,354 packages in the scheme under which treatment for coronary bypass, knee replacements and stenting, among others, would be provided at 15-20 per cent cheaper rates than the Central Government Health Scheme (CGHS).

Walmart completes deal to acquire 77 per cent stake in Flipkart
  • US-based retail giant Walmart Inc on Saturday said it has completed its USD 16 billion deal with Flipkart and now holds 77 per cent stake in the Indian e-commerce major. The Bentonville giant's investment includes USD 2 billion of new equity funding to help accelerate the growth of the Flipkart business.

    The mega deal, announced in May this year, is the largest so far in the Indian retail space. This is also Walmart's biggest acquisition and will help it compete more aggressively with its US-based rival Amazon.

    "With the completion of the investment, Walmart now holds approximately 77 per cent of Flipkart. The remainder of the business is held by other shareholders, including Flipkart co-founder Binny Bansal, Tencent, Tiger Global and Microsoft Corp," a statement said.

    Flipkart's existing management team will continue to lead the business. Walmart and Flipkart will retain their individual brands and separate operating structures in the country.

    Sachin Bansal, who co-founded Flipkart with Binny Bansal in 2007, has exited the company after the deal. Also, SoftBank, which had invested USD 2.5 billion in Flipkart last year, has also exited the e-commerce firm, raking in about USD 4 billion from the deal.

    Last week, fair trade regulator Competition Commission of India (CCI) gave its approval to the transaction despite opposition from various trader bodies, including Confederation of All India Traders (CAIT). Mergers and acquisitions beyond a certain threshold require the approval of the CCI.

    The statement issued on Saturday said members from Walmart will join Flipkart's Board, along with representation from existing investors Tencent Holdings and Tiger Global Management LLC as well as independent board members.

    Also, Flipkart's financials will now be reported as part of Walmart's International business segment.

    Walmart, which currently operates 21 cash-and-carry stores in India, is keen on working with Flipkart to grow in India, which is one of the fastest-growing and most attractive retail markets in world.

No ATM to be replenished with cash after 9 pm from next year
  • No ATM will be replenished with cash after 9 pm in cities and 6 pm in rural areas from next year even as two armed guards will accompany crisp notes in transit as per a new directive issued by the Home Ministry.

    The deadline for putting money in the ATMs located in Naxal-hit areas is 4 pm while private cash handling agencies must collect money from the banks in the first half of the day and transport notes only in armoured vehicles.

    In a notification, the Home Ministry said the new Standard Operating Procedures (SoPs) would come into effect from February 8, 2019 in view of the spurt in incidents of attacks on cash vans, cash vaults, ATM frauds and other internal frauds leading to increased sense of insecurity.

    There are over 8,000 privately owned cash vans plying across the country, operated by non-bank private agencies, and they handle over Rs 15,000 crore daily on behalf of banks.

    "No cash loading of the ATMs or cash transportation activities shall be done after 9 pm in urban areas, after 6 pm in rural areas and before 9 am or after 4 pm in the districts notified by the central government as Left Wing Extremism affected areas," the notification said.

    The agencies shall provide private security for the cash transportation with the requisite number of trained staff, every cash van shall have one driver, two armed security guards, two ATM officers or custodians.

    One armed guard must sit in the front along with the driver and another in the rear portion of the van while in transit.

    During loading or unloading, nature's call, tea or lunch break, at least one armed security guard shall remain present with the cash van all the time.

    The ex-serviceman, otherwise eligible, may preferably be appointed for providing security for cash transportation.

    Every cash transportation shall be carried out only in secured cash vans fitted with GPS tracking device and it must be ensured that no cash van carries cash of more than Rs 5 crore per trip.

    No private security agency shall appoint anyone for the cash transportation unless the person has undergone thorough antecedent check like police, Aadhaar and residence verifications, previous employer check, credit history check and fidelity insurance.

    Each of the cash boxes shall be secured to the floor with separate chains and locks that can be opened only by using separate keys kept with different custodians.

    The cash van shall be provided with a small CCTV system with at least five days recording facility and three cameras installed in front, rear and inside of the cabin.

    A security alarm with GSM based auto-dialer shall be provided with a motorised siren. The cash van shall be equipped with hooter, fire extinguishers and emergency lights to ensure quick reaction in case of an attack.

    The private security agency will ensure that all cash handling, including counting, sorting, and bundling activities shall be carried out in secured premises in accordance with specific guidelines.

    The premises shall be designed to include two physically independent areas, one for general office purpose and other for secured cash processing and handling activities and it shall accommodate space for cash deposit, collection, sorting, counting and delivery and dispatch of cash on secured cash vans.

General Awareness

    Prompt Corrective Action (PCA) framework
    • What to study?

      For Prelims: Features of PCA.
      For Mains: Significance and the need for PCA framework, the NPA menace.

      Context: PSU banks are expected to come out of the Prompt Corrective Action (PCA) framework by the end of this year. Currently, 11 out of a total of 21 state-owned banks are under the RBI’s Prompt Corrective Action (PCA) framework.


      Various measures taken by the government including implementation of Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code (IBC) has yielded good results in terms of reining bad loans and increasing recovery.

      What is PCA?

      PCA norms allow the regulator to place certain restrictions such as halting branch expansion and stopping dividend payment. It can even cap a bank’s lending limit to one entity or sector. Other corrective action that can be imposed on banks include special audit, restructuring operations and activation of recovery plan. Banks’ promoters can be asked to bring in new management, too. The RBI can also supersede the bank’s board, under PCA.

      When is PCA invoked?

      The PCA is invoked when certain risk thresholds are breached. There are three risk thresholds which are based on certain levels of asset quality, profitability, capital and the like. The third such threshold, which is maximum tolerance limit, sets net NPA at over 12% and negative return on assets for four consecutive years.

      What are the types of sanctions?

      There are two type of restrictions, mandatory and discretionary. Restrictions on dividend, branch expansion, directors compensation, are mandatory while discretionary restrictions could include curbs on lending and deposit. In the cases of two banks where PCA was invoked after the revised guidelines were issued — IDBI Bank and UCO Bank — only mandatory restrictions were imposed. Both the banks breached risk threshold 2.

      What will a bank do if PCA is triggered?

      Banks are not allowed to re new or access costly deposits or take steps to increase their fee-based income. Banks will also have to launch a special drive to reduce the stock of NPAs and contain generation of fresh NPAs. They will also not be allowed to enter into new lines of business. RBI will also impose restrictions on the bank on borrowings from interbank market.

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