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29th August Current Affairs

The Avoidable War

(GS-II: International relations: Bilateral, regional and global grouping involving India and India’s neighbourhood etc)

In News:

There are parallels between China’s actions at the Line of Actual Control (LAC) and the tensions between China and the US over Taiwan, says former Australian Prime Minister and China watcher Kevin Rudd.

Book: “The Avoidable War: The Dangers of a Catastrophic Conflict between the U.S. and Xi Jinping’s China”.

Xi Jinping’s ambitions for China:

National rejuvenation: This cannot be achieved in the absence of Taiwan and that programme has a timetable of

Military reforms: China’s military reform and modernization program from 2035 to 2037.

10 concentric circles of interest of Xi Jinping:

First four or five are largely domestic: They are about the politics and economics and the security apparatus remaining in power.

Concentric circle eight: It is the use of the Belt and Road initiative to extend China’s overall economic and therefore political sphere of influence across the vast Eurasian continent.

India figures in this.

 Is there a way for India to counter China’s influence in the neighbourhood?

Balance between different groupings: India should strengthen the quad Alliance quad arrangement with Australia, Japan and the United States and keep the present balance as a member of the SCO and BRICS with Russia and China.

International rules-based system: Adding a voice to the existing international rules-based system is in many respects, as important as the fundamental to the reality of Chinese strategic power.

UPI payment charges

(GS-III: Indian Economy and issues relating to planning)

In News:

Recently RBI came out with a discussion paper seeking stakeholder views on charges in payment systems.


Zero charge framework: Most other modes of digital retail payments attract a charge on transactions. But the government has mandated a “zero-charge framework” for UPI transactions (from 2020), meaning charges on UPI for users as well as merchants (on MDR) being nil.

Government’s view:

Terming UPI services as a “digital public good”, Finance Ministry clarified that there is “no consideration” in the government to levy any charges for Unified Payments Interface (UPI)

RBI’s view:

It views that subsidy on these payments may have to be withdrawn as digital payment increases, thus increasing the subsidy burden.

RBI had asked stakeholders if the merchant discount rate (MDR), a fee paid by merchants to acquiring banks, should be brought back for UPI transactions.

MDR, or merchant discount rate, on UPI transactions, has been a long-standing demand of the payments industry.

Recently, the RBI allowed UPI on credit cards as well starting with NPCI’s RuPay cards.

Benefits of charges on UPI and MDR:

It will boost the payment system as more private investors will be pitching in.

Save government finances on subsidies: The government allocated Rs 200 crore for reimbursement of charges towards RuPay debit card and UPI transactions.

In 2021-22, it had budgeted Rs 1,500 crore towards this.


It will discourage booming UPI transactions by citizens

It will dampen the digital ecosystem based on UPI/MDR

 What is UPI?

Unified Payments Interface (UPI) is an instant real-time payment system, allowing users to transfer money on a real-time basis, across multiple bank accounts without revealing details of one’s bank account to the other party.

UPI is currently the biggest among the National Payments Corporation of India (NPCI) operated systems including National Automated Clearing House (NACH), Immediate Payment Service (IMPS), Aadhaar enabled Payment System (AePS), Bharat Bill Payment System (BBPS), RuPay etc.

UP seeks 13 lakh more houses under PMAY

In News:

The Center has turned down the Uttar Pradesh (UP) government’s request for approval of houses for 13 lakh additional “eligible beneficiaries” under the Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana-Gramin (PMAY-G).

Pradhan Mantri Awaas Yojana –Gramin (PMAY-G):

Objective: To provide pucca houses to all who are houseless and living in dilapidated houses in rural areas by 2022.

Target: Construction of 95 crore houses with all basic amenities by the year 2022.

Cost sharing: The cost of unit assistance in this scheme is shared between Central and State Governments in the ratio of 60:40 in plain areas and 90: 10 for North Eastern and the Himalayan States.

Selection of beneficiaries: Based on housing deprivation parameters of Socio-Economic and Caste Census (SECC), 2011, subject to 13-point exclusion criteria, followed by Gram Sabha verification.

The beneficiary is entitled to 90 days of unskilled labour from MGNREGA.

The beneficiary would be facilitated to avail loan of up to Rs.70,000/- for the construction of the house which is optional.

Design-led Incentive (DLI) Scheme

In News:

Ministry of Communication had previously invited applications under DLI as a part of the Production linked Incentive Scheme (PLI).

Difference between DLI (launched 2022) and PLI:

DLI will offer a 1% additional incentive over the PLI scheme. Telcom equipment makers who use at least 50% Made in India components will be eligible for it.

PLI Scheme (launched in 2020):

It offers a production-linked incentive to boost domestic manufacturing and attract large investments in a specified sector.

e.g., in the electronics sector, the scheme shall extend an incentive of 4% to 6% on incremental sales (over the base year) of goods manufactured in India for a period of five years.

So far, the government has announced PLI schemes for 14 sectors including auto, electronics, telecom, pharma, solar, metals and mining, textiles, white goods, drones, and advanced chemistry cell batteries.

The concerns around the Aadhaar-Voter ID linkage

(GS-II: Government policies and interventions for the development of various sectors and issues arising out of it etc)

In News:

There have been reports of instances where block-level officers have asked individuals to link their Aadhaar with their Voter IDs, failing which their Voter IDs could be cancelled.

Need for Linking Aadhaar with Voter ID:

Exercise by EC: Updated and accurate record of the voter base by the Election Commission.

Weed out duplication of voters: Such as migrant workers(who may have registered more than once on the electoral rolls in different constituencies) or persons registered multiple times within the same constituency.

Is the linking of Aadhaar with one’s Voter ID mandatory?

Election Laws (Amendment) Act, 2021:

Amended RPA,1950 and Section 23(4) was inserted.

It states that the electoral registration officer may “for the purpose of establishing the identity or authentication of any person already enrolled, to furnish their Aadhaar numbers”.

Registration of Electors Rules, 1960(Rule 26B): Every person whose name is listed in the roll may intimate his Aadhar number to the registration officer.

Form 6B: It provides the voter to either submit their Aadhaar number or any other listed document.

Advantages related to Aadhar:

Universal: At the end of 2021, 7% of the adult Indian population had an Aadhaar card exceeding any other officially valid document such as a driver’s license, ration cards, PAN cards etc that are mostly applied for specific purposes.

More reliable: Aadhaar-based authentication and verification are considered more reliable, quicker and cost-efficient when compared to other IDs.

Issues with linking:

Puttaswamy judgment(2017): The Court held that depriving a person of their right to privacy for non-linkage fell foul of the test of proportionality

Lal Babu Hussein (1995): The Supreme Court held that the Right to vote cannot be disallowed by insisting only on four proofs of identity — voters can rely on any other proof of identity and obtain the right to vote.

What are the operational difficulties with Aadhar:

Proof of residence only: The preference for Aadhaar to determine voters is puzzling as Aadhaar is only a proof of residence and not a proof of citizenship.

Errors in biometrics: The estimate of error rates in biometric-based authentication differ widely.

As per the UIDAI in 2018, Aadhaar-based biometric authentication had a 12% error rate.

Violation of the right to privacy and surveillance measures by the state: Linking of the two databases of electoral rolls and Aadhaar could lead to the linkage of Aadhaar’s “demographic” information with voter ID information.

Way forward:

Form 6B: It is important that the government clarifies through a correction in Form 6B that the linking is not mandatory

Data protection legislation: The enactment of data protection legislation that allays concerns of unauthorized processing of personal data held by the government.