Pradhan Mantri Matru Vandana Yojana (PMMVY)
After initial hiccups in implementing the maternity benefit programme Pradhan Mantri Matru Vandana Yojana (PMMVY), the government has finally made some headway and provided cash incentives to nearly 23.6 lakh beneficiaries out of an estimated 51.6 lakh a year.
Pradhan Mantri Matritva Vandana Yojana (PMMVY), previously Indira Gandhi Matritva Sahyog Yojana (IGMSY), is a maternity benefit program run by the government of India.
PMMVY is implemented by the Ministry of Women & Child Development in collaboration with State Governments.
It is Centrally Sponsored Scheme under which the cost sharing ratio between the Centre and the States & UTs with Legislature is 60:40, for North-Eastern States & three Himalayan States, it is 90:10 and 100% Central assistance for Union Territories without Legislature.
It is a conditional cash transfer scheme for pregnant and lactating women of 19 years of age or above for first two live births.
It provides a partial wage compensation to women for wage-loss during childbirth and childcare and to provide conditions for safe delivery and good nutrition and feeding practices.
In 2013, the scheme was brought under the National Food Security Act, 2013 to implement the provision of cash maternity benefit of ₹6,000 stated in the Act.
Source: The Hindu
Working capital loan norms to be tightened
The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) has proposed a minimum 40% loan component for working capital funding of ₹150 crore and above to bring in greater credit discipline and improve monetary transmission. This will come into effect from October 1 and will be increased to 60% from April 1, 2019.
Currently, working capital is mostly in the form of cash credit for which interest rate is reset once a year. Also, cash credit does not have a tight repayment schedule.
The proposed new norm will address the following issues:
If there is a loan component then there will be a repayment schedule which will put pressure on borrowers to manage their liquidity.
Since the loan component will have a fixed tenure, the reset clause can be invoked at the end of each tenure period.
Significance of the move:
By making it mandatory to have a loan component associated with all working-capital facilities, it will be easier to control the possible volatility which arises on account of cash credit limits.
Need for reforms:
The working capital requirements of borrowing entities are met by banks through a cash credit limit, which is a revolving facility. The cash credit facility places undue burden on the banks in managing their liquidity requirements, with corresponding repercussions for RBI’s liquidity operations. Currently, banks do not charge any commitment fee and do not maintain any capital on the unknown portion of the cash credit and, thus, it is classified as an unconditionally cancellable facility, which does not have any risk weight under the marking rules.
While cash credit has its benefits, it also poses several regulatory challenges such as perpetual roll-overs, transmission of liquidity management from the borrowers to banks/RBI, hampering of smooth transmission of monetary policy, etc.
Source: The Hindu
Credit enhancement fund
The government is likely to launch a Rs 500-crore credit enhancement fund next month to facilitate infrastructure investments by insurance and pension funds.
About the proposed fund:
The fund was first announced in the financial budget for fiscal year 2016-17.
It will help in upgrading credit ratings of bonds issued by infrastructure companies and facilitate investment from investors like pension and insurance funds.
The initial corpus of the fund, to be sponsored by IIFCL (India Infrastructure Finance Company), will be Rs 500 crore, and it will operate as a non-banking finance company.
IIFCL will hold a 22.5% stake in the NBFC, while the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) has offered to pick up a 10% stake. State-run SBI, Bank of Baroda and LIC will also have stakes in the firm.
Need for a dedicated fund:
At present, only $110 billion is being invested in infrastructure, against a requirement of $200 billion, leading many analysts to classify India as an infrastructure deficit country.
At present, the banking system does a bulk of infrastructure project financing and exposes itself to asset liability management (ALM) mismatches and hence, alternatives like raising of money through corporate bonds is necessary.
Also, bank lending to the infra segment has slowed down in the past few years and the annual growth rates plummeted to 3% between FY14 and FY17, against 43% from FY2000 to FY13. The NPAs from the segment have also ballooned to 9% in FY17, from 3% in FY13.
Source: The Hindu
The government is planning to make all CSCs across the country Business Correspondents of Banks. 2.90 lakh CSCs will be able to work as Business Correspondents (BCs).
Who are Business Correspondents?
Business Correspondents are retail agents engaged by banks for providing banking services at locations other than a bank branch/ATM. Banks are required to take full responsibility for the acts of omission and commission of the BCs that they engage and have, therefore, to ensure thorough due diligence and additional safeguards for minimizing the agency risk. Basically, BCs enable a bank to expand its outreach and offer limited range of banking services at low cost, as setting up a brick and mortar branch may not be viable in all cases. BCs, thus, are an integral part of a business strategy for achieving greater financial inclusion.
What they can do?
BCs are permitted to perform a variety of activities which include identification of borrowers, collection and preliminary processing of loan applications including verification of primary information/data, creating awareness about savings and other products, education and advice on managing money and debt counseling, processing and submission of applications to banks, promoting, nurturing and monitoring of Self Help Groups/ Joint Liability Groups, post-sanction monitoring, follow-up of recovery.
They can also attend to collection of small value deposit, disbursal of small value credit, recovery of principal / collection of interest, sale of micro insurance/ mutual fund products/ pension products/ other third party products and receipt and delivery of small value remittances/ other payment instruments.
Who can be engaged as BCs?- The banks may engage the following individuals/entities as BC:
Individuals like retired bank employees, retired teachers, retired government employees and ex-servicemen, individual owners of kirana / medical /Fair Price shops, individual Public Call Office (PCO) operators, agents of Small Savings schemes of Government of India/Insurance Companies, individuals who own Petrol Pumps, authorized functionaries of well run Self Help Groups (SHGs) which are linked to banks, any other individual including those operating Common Service Centres (CSCs).
NGOs/ MFIs set up under Societies/ Trust Acts and Section 25 Companies.
Cooperative Societies registered under Mutually Aided Cooperative Societies Acts/ Cooperative Societies Acts of States/Multi State Cooperative Societies Act.
Companies registered under the Indian Companies Act, 1956 with large and widespread retail outlets, excluding Non Banking Financial Companies (NBFCs).
Corporates with large and widespread retail network bring in larger resources, higher organizational strength and financial backing needed for a large network of BCs besides providing financial security to the bank.
Corporates as BC would be more suitable to render banking services in accordance with the bank’s internal policies and standards than individuals and other small entities.
Over years, these companies have developed efficient systems of monitoring and control over the retail outlets/franchises, including cash management, which could be used to advantage. These outlets are already dealing with the local population and are familiar with them.
The shopkeepers and other retail agents of the large corporates may be more comfortable dealing with the company that they are already used to and familiar with, rather than with the bank.
Failure of large companies as BCs would mean a reputation risk to the company and endanger its substantive business. As such, the companies could be relied upon to ensure that their agents do not jeopardize their reputation.
A corporate is likely to continue as BC for a longer period than individuals, thus ensuring continuity of services.
Researchers in Germany with the Karlsruhe Tritium Neutrino experiment have started collecting data to determine the mass of the universe’s lightest particle- neutrino. Those are sometimes called “ghost particles” because they’re so difficult to detect.
Determining the mass of neutrinos is one of the most important open questions in particle physics and will help scientists better understand the history of the universe.
About KATRIN experiment:
The KATRIN experiment is currently set up and commissioned on the Campus North of the Karlsruhe Institute for Technology.
The experiment is a collaboration between national and international partners with currently more than 150 scientists, engineers, technicians and students.
KATRIN measures the neutrino mass in a model-independent way via ultrahigh precision measurements of the kinematics of electrons from beta-decay.
Neutrinos are the most abundant massive elementary particles in nature. Due to their minimalistic properties they are key particles for understanding physics on the smallest scale (elementary particle physics) up to the largest scale – the universe (cosmology).
Neutrinos are the only elementary particles of matter, which do not carry electrical or strong charge and thus are blind to the electromagnetic and the strong interaction and cannot be bound.
In the context of particle physics they participate only in the weak interaction. This made neutrinos the most prominent candidate to explore with them the properties of the weak interaction.
Source: The Hindu
Interstellar Mapping and Acceleration Probe
Science mission of NASA planned for launch in 2024 that will sample, analyze, and map particles streaming to Earth from the edges of interstellar space.
About IMAP mission:
The Interstellar Mapping and Acceleration Probe (IMAP) mission will help researchers better understand the boundary of the heliosphere, a sort of magnetic bubble surrounding and protecting our solar system. This is the fifth mission in NASA’s Solar Terrestrial Probes (STP) Program portfolio.
Another objective of the mission is to learn more about the generation of cosmic rays in the heliosphere. Cosmic rays created locally and from the galaxy and beyond affect human explorers in space and can harm technological systems, and likely play a role in the presence of life itself in the universe.
The spacecraft will be positioned about one million miles (1.5 million kilometers) away from Earth towards the Sun at what is called the first Lagrange point or L1. This will allow the probe to maximize use of its instruments to monitor the interactions between solar wind and the interstellar medium in the outer solar system.
Why study Heliosphere?
This region is where the constant flow of particles from our Sun, called the solar wind, collides with material from the rest of the galaxy. This collision limits the amount of harmful cosmic radiation entering the heliosphere.
It is a recently launched App by Indian Railways which aims to expedite & streamline passenger grievance redressal.
It is a part of RPGRAMS (Railway Passenger Grievance Redressal and Management System), which has been developed by Northern Railway (Delhi Division).
Salient features of Rail Madad application are:
Rail MADAD (Mobile Application for Desired Assistance During travel) registers a complaint with minimum inputs from passenger (option of photo also available), issues unique ID instantly and relays the complaint online to relevant field officials for immediate action. The action taken on complaint is also relayed to passenger through SMS, thus fast tracking the entire process of redressal of complaints through digitisation.
Rail MADAD also displays various helpline numbers (e.g., Security, Child helpline etc) and provides direct calling facility for immediate assistance in one easy step.
Flood alert has been sounded to people living along River Bhavani banks in Mettupalayam taluk, Tamil Nadu.
About Bhavani river:
Bhavani River, is a tributary of the River Cauvery originating from the South West Corner of the Nilgiri hills of the Western Ghats in Tamil Nadu. It drains Tamil Nadu, Kerala and Karnataka.
It is the second longest river in Tamil Nadu. It enters kerala through Palakkad district. It passes through the Silent Valley National Park in Kerala.
Twelve major rivulets including West and East Varagar rivers join Bhavani draining the southern Nilgiri slopes.