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Current Affairs for UPSC IAS Exam – 18th August 2020


  1. Chinese entities in ‘hawala’ racket: ED
  2. India, Nepal: Bilateral projects
  3. Low death certification denoting cause of death
  4. Haryana’s ASHA workers disconnected
  5. Govt. plans cyber security system for financial sector


Focus: GS-II Governance

Why in news?

The Enforcement Directorate (ED) has initiated a money-laundering probe into a “hawala” racket allegedly involving some Chinese companies and shell entities that was unearthed by the Income-Tax Department earlier.


  • The Enforcement Directorate (ED) zeroed in on a Chinese national who had been living under a pseudonym holding a fake passport, and the department alleged that he used about 10 bank accounts, which were opened using fraudulent means.
  • The agency said the operation was conducted on an information that some Chinese individuals and their Indian associates were involved in money laundering and “hawala” transactions through a several shell entities.

Illegal Betting

  • The ED has registered a money-laundering case against a Chinese national and his three Indian accomplices, in connection with an illegal online gambling business involving transactions worth over Rs. 1,100 crore.
  • The online gambling was being run by various entities, which functioned allegedly under the China-based “Beijing T Power Company.”
  • It is alleged that those running the websites manipulated results, thereby cheating those placing bets.
  • The funds were diverted to various accounts to evade detection.

What is Hawala?

  • Hawala is an informal method of transferring money without any physical money actually moving.
  • Hawala is used today as an alternative remittance channel that exists outside of traditional banking systems.
  • Hawala sometimes referred to as underground banking has been used since ancient times, and today are widely found among expats sending remittances home.
  • Hawala provides anonymity in its transactions, as official records are not kept and the source of money that is transferred cannot be traced.
  • India has made hawala illegal due to its informal nature and absence of regulation or oversight.

-Source: The Hindu


Focus: GS-II International Relations

Why in news?

Indian and Nepalese diplomats met in Kathmandu and reviewed the status of a number of ongoing bilateral projects.

Details and Highlights

  • This is the first diplomat-level meeting between the two sides in 2020 that saw the Kalapani territorial dispute.
  • The talks marked the Eighth Meeting of Nepal-India Oversight Mechanism.
  • The meeting did not take up the territorial dispute but the officials reviewed the status of construction of bridges over the Mahakali river, which is near the disputed region.
  • The two sides discussed cross-border railways, Arun-III hydropower project, petroleum products, pipelines, Pancheshwar multipurpose project, post-earthquake reconstruction, irrigation, power and transmission lines, construction of Nepal Police Academy and Ramayana projects among other items.
  • Nepal has urged India to convene a Foreign Secretary-level dialogue to discuss the territorial disputes of Susta and Kalapani but New Delhi has not yet agreed on a possible date.
  • India has committed to rebuild 50,000 houses damaged by the devastating earthquake of April 2015.
  • Nepal also appreciated the Covid-19-related assistance from India, including the supply of medicines and medical equipment.

-Source: Hindustan Times, The Hindu


Focus: GS-II Governance

Why in news?

Analysis of data shows that less than one out of five deaths in India is medically certified to denote cause of death.


  • Deaths with medical certification of the cause were the lowest with a mere 2.5% of estimated deaths in Jharkhand, followed by just over 3% in Uttar Pradesh and then 4.7% in Bihar.
  • This assumes greater significance at a time when a debate is raging on whether Covid-19 deaths are being accurately counted.
  • The problem in states such as Bihar, UP and Jharkhand is two-fold – a low level of deaths registrations and a low proportion of even registered deaths being certified for cause.
  • Of those registered, only one in seven was certified for cause of death, according to the report on Medical Certification of Cause of Death (MCCD).
  • Over 50 years after passing legislation to make registration of births and deaths compulsory, while the registration of deaths has reached 86% of the estimated deaths, certification remains low.
  • The Civil Registration System (CRS) report shows that just over one-third of deaths happened in hospitals, hence only 1/3rd were covered under MCCD scheme.

-Source: Times of India


Focus: GS-II Social Justice

Why in news?

  • At the frontline of the country’s battle against COVID-19, Accredited Social Health Activists, or ASHAs, in Haryana have gone on strike after they were issued new Jio 4G SIM cards and their old SIMs disabled to ensure they migrate to android phones for better monitoring of service delivery.
  • But the workers, paid poorly with salaries often delayed, say they cannot afford smartphones to use the new SIM cards.
  • The ASHA workers say they were promised smartphones in 2018, but the procurement has been delayed.

Crucial tool

  • Mobile phones help ASHA workers remain in contact with beneficiaries in their area, receive calls seeking assistance such as during child birth, and send updates and GPS locations of new COVID-19 cases.
  • They have been delivering additional services, which include spreading awareness about preventive measures against coronavirus infection as well as detecting and referring suspected COVID-19 cases, despite the lack of any protective personal equipment or security from attacks while out on surveys.
  • This is in addition to their routine work which for an ASHA worker includes screening pregnant women, lactating mothers as well as children for communicable and non-communicable diseases, vaccination, care during pregnancy and child birth, among others.

Vital role

  • Since ASHA’s live in the community and belong to that community, they have a much deeper knowledge of and connection with the families.
  • Without such a connect, it will not be possible to ensure the last mile delivery of health services.
  • ASHA workers are also the ones helping with the TB and malaria control programmes.

What is ASHA?

  • Under the National Health Mission, Accredited Social Health Activists ASHA are envisaged to be community health volunteers. Under the National Health Mission, ASHA are entitled to task/activity-based incentives.
  • Under the National Health Mission, ASHAs act as a critical link between Healthcare delivery system and community.

The details task assigned to ASHA workers under National Health Mission

  1. To create awareness and provide information to the community on determinants of health such as nutrition, basic sanitation and hygienic practices, healthy living and working conditions, information on existing health services and the need for timely use of health services.
  2. To counsel women and families on birth preparedness, importance of safe delivery, breastfeeding and complementary feeding, immunization, contraception and prevention of common infections including Reproductive Tract Infection/Sexually Transmitted Infection (RTIs/STIs) and care of the young child.
  3. To mobilize the community and facilitate people’s access to health and health related services available at the village/sub-centre/primary health centres, such as Immunization, Ante Natal Check-up (ANC), Post Natal Check-up (PNC), ICDS, sanitation and other services being provided by the government.
  4. To work with the Village Health, Sanitation and Nutrition Committee to develop a comprehensive village health plan, and promote convergent action by the committee on social determinants of health. In support with VHSNC, ASHAs will assist and mobilize the community for action against gender based violence.
  5. To arrange escort/accompany pregnant women & children requiring treatment/ admission to the nearest pre- identified health facility i.e. Primary Health Centre/Community Health Centre/First Referral Unit (PHC/CHC/FRU).
  6. To provide community level curative care for minor ailments such as diarrhoea, fevers, care for the normal and sick newborn, childhood illnesses and first aid. She will be a provider of Directly Observed Treatment Short-course (DOTS) under Revised National Tuberculosis Control Programme.
  7. She will also act as a depot holder for essential health products appropriate to local community needs. A Drug Kit will be provided to each ASHA. Contents of the kit will be based on the recommendations of the expert/technical advisory group set up by the Government of India. These will be updated from time to time, States can add to the list as appropriate.
  8. To act as a care provider can be enhanced based on state needs. States can explore the possibility of graded training to the ASHA to provide palliative care, screening for non-communicable diseases, childhood disability, mental health, geriatric care and others.
  9. To provide information on about the births and deaths in her village and any unusual health problems/disease outbreaks in the community to the Sub-Centres/Primary Health Centre. She will promote construction of household toilets under Total Sanitation Campaign.

Financial Aid provided

To improve the financial   security of ASHAs, the Government of India has already taken several steps in addition to routine and recurring incentives, which inter-alia includes:

  • Benefits of Life insurance, accident insurance and pension to eligible ASHAs and ASHA facilitators are extended by enrolling them under:
  • Pradhan Mantri Jeevan Jyoti BeemaYojana (premium of Rs. 330 contributed by GOI).
  • Pradhan Mantri Suraksha Beema Yojana (premium of Rs. 12 contributed by GOI).
  • Pradhan Mantri Shram Yogi Maan Dhan (PM-SYM) (50% contribution of premium by GOI and 50% by beneficiaries).
  • The government has also approved a cash award of Rs. 20,000/- and a citation to ASHAs who leave the programme after working as ASHAs for minimum of 10 years, as acknowledgement of their contribution.

-Source: The Hindu


Focus: GS-III Internal Security Challenges

Why in news?

The government is in the process of setting up a system to secure the country’s financial sector from cyber-attacks after agencies pointed to its vulnerability due to the increase in number of digital transactions over the past few months on account of Covid-19, and threats from hostile countries such as China and Pakistan.

Present scenario

  • At present, the Indian Computer Emergency Response Team (CERT-In) deals with all types of cyber security threats but officials in the administration have been discussing the need for a specialised agency, which could be called Cert-Fin, the officials said, asking not to be identified.
  • Several rounds of discussions have been held at the Financial Stability and Development Council (FSDC) on the matter of securing the financial sector from cyber-attacks.
  • CERT-In functions under the ministry of electronics and information technology (MeitY).

Financial Stability and Development Council (FSDC)

  • FSDC is an apex body for coordination between the various regulators of the financial sector, and is chaired by the finance minister.
  • Its members include top bureaucrats and heads of financial sector regulators such as the Reserve Bank of India (RBI), the Securities and Exchange Board of India (Sebi), the Pension Fund Regulatory and Development Authority of India (PFRDA), the Insurance Regulatory and Development Authority (IRDA) and the Forward Markets Commission (FMC).

Critical issues

  • Banking and ATM networks have been the target of cyber criminals for several years, with attackers often disrupting operations and attempting to steal sensitive data.
  • In one of the biggest attacks of this kind, the data of 3.2 million debit cards used in India was stolen after a malware was injected in a back-end banking system in 2016.
  • RBI’s latest Financial Stability Report also flagged the issue of cyber threats to the financial sector.
  • A report said that hackers from various countries attempted over 40,000 cyber-attacks on India’s Information Technology infrastructure and banking sector over five days in the last week of June.
  • Cyber-attacks against banks and financial institutions globally have increased 238% amid the Covid-19 crisis (lockdown period) and Ransomware attacks increased by nine times during the same period.

-Source: Hindustan Times

December 2023