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Current Affairs for UPSC IAS Exam – 18 March 2020

Contents:

  1. Abortions till 24 weeks for special categories
  2. UIDAI can issue notice on complaint
  3. SC upholds right of women naval officers
  4. FPI sales at a record high as virus spooks markets
  5. COVID-19 will impact GDP growth by 90 bps: SBI report
  6. RBI to regulate payment aggregators

ABORTIONS TILL 24 WEEKS FOR SPECIAL CATEGORIES

Focus: GS-II Social Justice, Governance, Prelims

Why in news?

  • The Lok Sabha on 17th March 2020, passed a Bill to extend the upper limit for permitting abortions from 20 weeks to 24 under special circumstances.
  • The “special categories of women” include rape survivors, victims of incest, the differently abled and minors, Health Minister said moving the Bill.
  • The Medical Termination of Pregnancy (Amendment) Bill, 2020, which seeks to amend the MTP Act, 1971, was passed by a voice vote.

Background on Abortion in India

  • Abortion in India is legal in certain circumstances. It can be performed on various grounds until 24 weeks of pregnancy. In exceptional cases, a court may allow a termination after 24 weeks.
  • When a woman gets a pregnancy terminated voluntarily from a service provider, it is called induced abortion. Spontaneous abortion is when the process of abortion starts on its own without any intervention. In common language, this is also known as miscarriage.
  • Before 1971, abortion was criminalized under Section 312 of the Indian Penal Code, 1860, describing it as intentionally ‘causing miscarriage’.
  • It was in the 1960s, when abortion was legal in 15 countries, that deliberations on a legal framework for induced abortion in India was initiated.
  • The alarmingly increased number of abortions taking place put the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare (MoHFW) on alert.
  • To address this, the Government of India instated a Committee in 1964 led by Shantilal Shah to come up with suggestions to draft the abortion law for India.
  • The recommendations of this Committee were accepted in 1970 and introduced in the Parliament as the Medical Termination of Pregnancy Bill.

The Medical Termination of Pregnancy Act, 1971

The Medical Termination of Pregnancy (MTP) Act, 1971 provides the legal framework for making CAC services available in India.

Termination of pregnancy is permitted for a broad range of conditions up to 20 weeks of gestation as detailed below:

  • When continuation of pregnancy is a risk to the life of a pregnant woman or could cause grave injury to her physical or mental health;
  • When there is substantial risk that the child, if born, would be seriously handicapped due to physical or mental abnormalities;
  • When pregnancy is caused due to rape (presumed to cause grave injury to the mental health of the woman);
  • When pregnancy is caused due to failure of contraceptives used by a married woman or her husband (presumed to constitute grave injury to mental health of the woman).

The MTP Act specifies –

  1. who can terminate a pregnancy;
  2. till when a pregnancy can be terminated; and
  3. where can a pregnancy be terminated.
Abortion laws around the world 
Argentinian President Alberto Fernandez is planning to introduce a Bill which proposes to legalise abortion in the country. 
If approved, it will be a significant breakthrough for abortion laws in Latin America, which, together with the Caribbean, is 
home to at least five of the 26 countries globally where abortion is not permitted under any circumstance. The map depicts 
the legal Status Of abortion across the globe, based on five broad categories 
Category 1 | Prohibited altogether 
The laws of some countries do not permit 
abortion under any circumstance, including 
when the woman's life or health is at risk. 
9 crore (5%) women Of reproductive age 
live in 26 countries that prohibit abortion 
Category 2 | To save a woman's life 
The Laws of some countries permit 
abortion when the woman's life is 
at risk. 35.9 crore (22%) women 
Of reproductive age live in 39 
countries that allow abortion to 
save the woman's life 
-i 
CHINA 
CATEGORY 5 
NDIA 
CATEGORY 4 
Category 3 1 To preserve health 
The laws of many countries permit 
abortion on the basis of health or 
therapeutic grounds. 23.7 crore 
(14%) Of women Of reproductive 
age live in in 56 countries in this 
category 
Category 4 | Broad social 
or economic grounds 
Apart from health, 
some countries consider 
a woman's social or 
economic circumstances 
too to permit abortion 
under a broad range 
altogether 
NICARAGUA 
CATEGORY 1 
ARGENTINA 
CATEGORY 3 
CATEGORY 4 
CATEGORY 5 
JAPAN 
CATEGORY 4 
of circumstances. 38.6 
crore (23%) women of 
reproductive age live 
in 14 countries that fall 
under this category 
Category 5 | On r«luest 
(gestational limits 
vary) 59 crore (36%) 
women Of reproductive 
age live in 67 countries 
that allow abortion 
on request. The most 
common gestational 
limit for countries in this 
category is 12 weeks 
BRAZIL 
CATEGORY 2 
CATEGORY 5 
SOUTH AFRICA 
CATEGORY 5 
AUSTRALIA 
CATEGORY 5 
A Bill seeking 
to increase 
the gestation 
limit (for rape 
survivors, victims 
of incest and 
minors) was 
introduced in Lok 
Sabha on Monday 
If the latest Bill gets 
approved, Argentina may 
move to a higher category 
SOURCE: CENTER FOR REPRODUCTIVE RIGHTS

Medical Termination of Pregnancy (Amendment) Bill, 2020

It is an Amendment to the Medical Termination of Pregnancy (MTP) Act, 1971.

Proposals of the Bill:

  • The requirement of the opinion of one registered medical practitioner (instead of two or more) for termination of pregnancy up to 20 weeks of gestation (foetal development period from the time of conception until birth).
  • Introduce the requirement of the opinion of two registered medical practitioners for termination of pregnancy of 20-24 weeks of gestation.
  • Increase the gestation limit for ‘special categories’ of women which includes survivors of rape, victims of incest and other vulnerable women like differently-abled women and minors.
  • The “name and other particulars of a woman whose pregnancy has been terminated shall not be revealed”, except to a person authorised in any law that is currently in force.

Voice Vote

  • voice vote is used in Lok Sabha, Rajya Sabha and state assemblies to vote for certain resolutions.
  • It is used when there is a wide agreement on issues and in some cases where the house is not in order.
  • The presiding officer or chair of the assembly will put the question to the assembly, asking first for all those in favor of the motion to indicate so orally (“aye” or “yes”), and then ask second all those opposed to the motion to indicate so verbally (“nay” or “no”).
  • The chair will then make an estimate of the count on each side and state what they believe the result to be.

UIDAI CAN ISSUE NOTICE ON COMPLAINT

Focus: GS-II Governance, Prelims

Why in news?

The government informed the Lok Sabha on 17th March 2020, that the Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI) may issue a show-cause notice on receiving a complaint from “any person” or law enforcement agencies to ascertain if Aadhaar was procured through fraudulent means.

What happens in case of an Allegation?

  • UIDAI will issue a show-cause notice under Regulation 29 of the Aadhaar (Enrollment and Update) Regulations, 2016.
  • In case the allegation is found to be correct after due inquiry, then the Aadhaar Number is omitted (cancelled) or Deactivated (Suspended).

The Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI)

  • UIDAI is an agency under the central government of India mandated to collect demographic and biometric information of the country’s residents, store the data in a central database, and issue to each resident of the country a 12-digit unique identity number called Aadhaar.
  • UIDAI was established as per the Aadhaar (Targeted Delivery of Financial and Other Subsidies, Benefits and Services) Act, 2016.
  • The act is also called the Aadhaar Act 2016 in short.
  • UIDAI is therefore a Statutory Body.
  • It comes under the Electronics & IT ministry.

Aadhaar Act, 2016

  • The Aadhaar (Targeted Delivery of Financial and other Subsidies, benefits and services) Act, 2016 is a money bill of the Parliament of India.
  • It aims to provide legal backing to the Aadhaar unique identification number project.
  • It was passed on 11 March 2016 by the Lok Sabha.

Supreme Court on Aadhaar Card

  • SC has orally observed that Aadhaar cannot be made mandatory for availing welfare schemes.
  • The Center has declared that Aadhaar card will be mandatory for opening new bank accounts and for transactions above Rs. 50,000. All existing account holders will also have to submit their Aadhaar details by December 31, 2017, failing which accounts will be deemed invalid.
  • A five judge bench on December 15, 2017 agreed to the Central government’s decision to extend the deadline of linking of “everything”, including mobile phones and bank accounts, to Aadhaar card till March 31, 2018. But SC also ordered that an Aadhaar card holder opening a new bank account will have to furnish his Aadhaar card to the bank.

SC UPHOLDS RIGHT OF WOMEN NAVAL OFFICERS

Focus: GS-II Social Justice

Why in news?

The Supreme Court on 17th March 2020, upheld the right of serving Short Service Commission (SSC) women officers of the Navy to be granted permanent commission (PC) on a par with their male counterparts.

Observations in the Judgement

  • All the “excuses” given against the Permanent Commission for women- including motherhood and physiological limitations, reeked of a stereotypical mind-set.
  • The battle for gender equality is about confronting the battles of the mind.
  • In the context of the Armed Forces, specious reasons have been advanced by decision makers and administrators.
  • They range from physiology, motherhood and physical attributes to the male dominated hierarchies.
  • Women officers have worked shoulder to shoulder with their men counterparts in every walk of service.
  • The policy letter of February 25, 1999 issued by the Ministry of Defence to the Chief of the Naval Staff, emphatically stipulating that women officers of all branches/cadres could be directed to serve on board ships, both during training and subsequent employment in accordance with the exigencies of service.

Highlights of the Judgement

  • The court quashed the stipulation in the policy letter of September 26, 2008, making permanent commission for women prospective and restricting its application to specified cadres/branches of the Navy.
  • It directed that SSC women officers found suitable for the grant of PC shall be entitled to all consequential benefits, including arrears of pay, promotions and retirement benefits as and when due.

Background

  • Recruits under the Women Special Entry Scheme (WSES) had a shorter pre-commission training period than their male counterparts who were commissioned under the Short Service Commission (SSC) scheme.
  • In 2006, the WSES scheme was replaced with the SSC scheme, which was extended to women officers. They were commissioned for a period of 10 years, extendable up to 14 years.
  • Serving WSES officers were given the option to move to the new SSC scheme, or to continue under the erstwhile WSES. They were to be however, restricted to roles in streams specified earlier — which excluded combat arms such as infantry and armoured corps.
  • While male SSC officers could opt for permanent commission at the end of 10 years of service, this option was not available to women officers.
  • They were, thus, kept out of any command appointment, and could not qualify for government pension, which starts only after 20 years of service as an officer.

Short Service Commission (SSC)

  • SSC or Short Service commission in Indian Forces is the tenure of officers.
  • In Indian Army, the SSC Short Service commission officer’s tenure is 10+4 years. After the completion of this tenure the male officers can either opt for a Permanent commission or can opt out of the Indian Army.
  • The training academy for SSC Short Service commission officers is OTA Chennai, or Officers Training Academy Chennai.
  • There are various options through which you can join OTA. You can join OTA through a written exam conducted by UPSC twice a year and then passing the 5 day SSB interview and clearing the medicals.

Sashastra Seema Bal (SSB)

  • Sashastra Seema Bal (SSB) is one of India’s Central Armed Police Forces.
  • It is currently under the administrative control of the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA), Government of India.
  • Prior to 2001, the force was known as the Special Service Bureau (SSB).
  • The Special Service Bureau (also abbreviated SSB) was set up in early 20 December 1963, following the Sino-Indian War.

FPI SALES AT A RECORD HIGH AS VIRUS SPOOKS MARKETS

Focus: GS-III Indian Economy, Economic Development

Why in news?

  • Foreign portfolio investors (FPIs), who have been the prime drivers of every bull run that the Indian capital market has seen till date, have been record sellers during the March 2020 month.
  • Till 17th of March, FPIs equity sold and debt cumulatively is the highest ever witnessed in any single month, as per data from National Securities Depository Limited (NSDL).

Details

  • Increasing concerns over the COVID-19 pandemic has made investors move away from riskier asset classes.
  • Market participants, however, believe that with the valuations taking a massive hit on account of the ongoing fall, institutional investors, especially overseas entities, will slow the pace of selling to buy heavily beaten down quality stocks.

Foreign portfolio investors (FPIs)

  • Foreign portfolio investment (FPI) consists of securities and other financial assets held by investors in another country.
  • In economics, foreign portfolio investment is the entry of funds into a country where foreigners deposit money in a country’s bank or make purchases in the country’s stock and bond markets, sometimes for speculation.
  • It does not provide the investor with direct ownership of a company’s assets and is relatively liquid depending on the volatility of the market.
  • Along with foreign direct investment (FDI), FPI is one of the common ways to invest in an overseas economy. FDI and FPI are both important sources of funding for most economies.

Bear Market

  • A bear market refers to the market where share prices are continuously declining.
  • Its downward trend makes investors believe that the trend will continue, which, in turn, perpetuates the downward spiral.
  • It is considered riskier to invest in a bear market, as many equities lose value. Thus, most investors withdraw their money from the markets.
  • During a bear market, the economy slows down and unemployment rises as companies begin laying off workers.

Bull Market

  • A bull market refers to a market that experiences a sustained increase in market share prices.
  • It ensures investors that the uptrend will continue over the long term.
  • It signifies that the country’s economy is strong and employment levels are high.

National Securities Depository Limited (NSDL)

  • National Securities Depository Limited (NSDL) is an Indian central securities depository based in Mumbai.
  • It was established in August 1996 as the first electronic securities depository in India with national coverage.
  • It was established based on a suggestion by a national institution responsible for the economic development of India .

COVID-19 WILL IMPACT GDP GROWTH BY 90 BPS: SBI REPORT

Focus: GS-III Indian Economy

Why in news?

The spread of COVID-19, the deadly pandemic, which has impacted several sectors especially transport, tourism and hotel industries, could impact the economic growth of the country by 90 basis points.

Highlights

  • On the demand side, inoperability analysis for three sectors, namely transport, tourism and hotels, shows significant impact on demand and hence output.
  • On an aggregate basis, we estimate that the impact of a 5% inoperability shock could be 90 basis points on GDP from trade, hotel and transport, storage and communication segments, that could be spread over FY20 and FY21, with a larger impact in FY21.
  • Since China is an important source of critical inputs for many sectors, the supply shock can lead to higher price of inputs, which, in turn, could affect the price of all the commodities up the supply chain.
  • A simultaneous demand and supply shock to the economy will also have implications for the banking sector.
  • The demand side shock is expected to lead to an output loss of 1.2% in banking and insurance combined.

What Is Demand Shock?

  • A demand shock is a sudden surprise event that temporarily increases or decreases demand for particular goods or services.
  • A positive demand shock is a sudden increase in demand, while a negative demand shock is a decrease in demand.
  • Both a positive demand shock and a negative demand shock will have an effect on the prices of goods and services.

What Is a Supply Shock?

  • A supply shock is an unexpected event that suddenly changes the supply of a product or commodity, resulting in an unforeseen change in price.
  • Supply shocks can be negative, resulting in a decreased supply, or positive, yielding an increased supply; however, they’re often negative.
  • Assuming aggregate demand is unchanged, a negative (or adverse) supply shock causes a product’s price to spike upward, while a positive supply shock decreases the price.

RBI TO REGULATE PAYMENT AGGREGATORS

Focus: GS-III Indian Economy, Economic Development

Why in news?

  • The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) on 17th March 2020, said it will regulate in entirety the activities of payment aggregators (PAs) and provide baseline technology-related recommendations to payment gateways (PGs) in view of the important functions of these intermediaries in the online payments space as also their role vis-à-vis handling funds.

Details

  • Existing non-bank entities offering payment aggregation (PA) services shall apply for authorisation on or before June 30, 2021.
  • The central bank has also lowered the minimum capital requirements for payment aggregators to Rs 15 crore at the time of application for the licence from Rs 100 crore it had proposed earlier.
  • As per RBI guidelines, compulsorily convertible preference shares can be either non-cumulative or cumulative, and they should be compulsorily convertible into equity shares and the shareholder agreements should specifically prohibit any withdrawal of this preference capital at any time.

Payment Aggregators (PA)

  • Payment aggregation, also known as merchant aggregation, is a business model in which a third-party payment provider is also known as the ‘payment aggregator’ signs up merchants directly under its own merchant identification number (MID) to process transactions through a single master account. For example, Google Pay, Amazon Pay, PayTM etc. One merchant account is used to represent a number of merchants opposed to the traditional model which disburses a merchant account to each merchant. Merchants processing transactions under an aggregator are known as sub-merchants.
  • In simple terms, a payment aggregator empowers merchants by providing them the means to accept credit card payments and online money transfers without an individual merchant account with a bank or financial services provider.
  • PAs are entities that facilitate e-commerce sites and merchants to accept various payment instruments from the customers for completion of their payment obligations without the need for merchants to create a separate payment integration system of their own

How does Online Transaction Work?

In an online transaction, there are typically 3 parties involved.

  1. Customer
  2. Merchant
  3. Payment aggregator
  • Let’s say, a customer wants to recharge his cellphone online. In this case, the customer will either go to the official website of the service provider or he would choose to recharge from a third party application.
  • The dashboard essentially consists of a list of various mobile phone service providers from where the customer can select his provider, choose the amount and proceed with the payment.
  • The customer can choose any of the online modes of payment such as a credit card, debit card, net banking, wallet etc. The payment aggregator provides the customer with a dashboard consisting of an array of banks and payment options to choose from. The customer then selects the relevant option and proceeds with the payment.
  • All this happens in a fraction of a second. In reality, the customer pays the aggregator and the aggregator pays the merchant. Digging further into the technical aspects of this process, the payment aggregator platform requires a payment gateway to receive online payments. The gateway encrypts the data to keep it private and sends it to the payment processor. Further, the payment processor sends a request to the customer’s issuing bank to check to see that they have enough credit to pay for your order. The bank responds with a yes or a no depending on the account balance. Finally, you get a message on the app saying the transaction was successful or not!

Why Would You Need A Payment Aggregator?

  • As a merchant, if you want to expand your business by accepting all modes of online and credit card payments with minimal fuss and in a short span of time, then a payment aggregator is the best choice.
  • A payment aggregator platform eliminates the need of setting up individual online payment process by allowing merchants to accept credit card and bank transfers without having to set up a merchant account with a bank or a card association.
  • The payment aggregator platform can also hold consumer card details to allow for faster purchases or hold money in an account to allow for future purchases.
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