South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC)
Foreign Ministers’ meeting of SAARC Nations was held recently.
During the meet, India called on all SAARC members to “collectively resolve to defeat the scourge of terrorism, including the forces that nurture, support and encourage an environment of terror and conflict, which impede the objective of SAARC to realise its full potential for collective collaboration and prosperity across South Asia”.
What is SAARC? When was it established?
South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) was established with the signing of the SAARC Charter in Dhaka on 8 December 1985.
Afghanistan became the newest member of SAARC at the 13th annual summit in 2005.
The Headquarters and Secretariat of the Association are at Kathmandu, Nepal.
Importance of SAARC:
SAARC comprises 3% of the world’s area, 21% of the world’s population and 3.8% (US$2.9 trillion) of the global economy.
It is the world’s most densely populated region and one of the most fertile areas.
SAARC countries have common tradition, dress, food and culture and political aspects thereby synergizing their actions.
All the SAARC countries have common problems and issues like poverty, illiteracy, malnutrition, natural disasters, internal conflicts, industrial and technological backwardness, low GDP and poor socio-economic condition.
Why SAARC is relevant for India now?
India has to re-think about SAARC, which has been in the doldrums since 2014. This is especially necessary to counter China’s growing aggression and economic dominance in the region.
India started investing in other regional instruments, such as BIMSTEC, as an alternative to SAARC.
However, BIMSTEC cannot replace SAARC for reasons such as lack of a common identity and history among all BIMSTEC members.
Moreover, BIMSTEC’s focus is on the Bay of Bengal region, thus making it an inappropriate forum to engage all South Asian nations.
Conference on Interaction and Confidence-Building Measures in Asia (CICA)
Special Ministerial conference of CICA was held recently. India also participated in the event.
What is CICA?
It is an inter-governmental forum for enhancing cooperation towards promoting peace, security and stability in Asia.
The key idea of the Conference is based on the priority of the indivisibility of security, joint initiative and mutually beneficial interaction of small and large states.
Secretariat: Nur-Sultan, Kazakhstan.
Meeting and summits:
The CICA Summit is convened every four years in order to conduct consultations, review the progress of, and set priorities for CICA activities.
Meeting of the Ministers of Foreign Affairs is required to be held every two years.
The idea of convening the CICA was first proposed by Kazakhstan in October 1992, at the 47th Session of the United Nations General Assembly.
However, the first meeting of the CICA Ministers of Foreign Affairs was held on 14 September 1999 with participation of 15 Member States.
The first CICA summit was held on 4 June 2002 with participation of 16 Member States and Almaty Act, the charter of the CICA, was adopted.
27 member states; 8 observer states; 5 observer organizations.
For becoming a member of CICA, a state must have at least a part of its territory in Asia.
All decisions within CICA framework are taken by consensus.
RBI releases document on UCBs’ cybersecurity
The ‘Technology Vision for Cyber Security for Urban Co-operative Banks (UCBs) 2020-2023’ was recently released by RBI.
It has been formalised based on inputs from various stakeholders.
It seeks to enhance cybersecurity of urban co-operative banks (UCBs).
RBI plans to achieve its objective through a five-pillared strategic approach GUARD, viz.
The document seeks to:
Involve more board oversight over cybersecurity.
Enable UCBs to better manage and secure IT assets.
Implement an offsite supervisory mechanism framework for UCBs on cybersecurity-related controls.
Develop a forum for UCBs so that they can share best practices and discuss practical issues and challenges.
Implement a framework for providing awareness/training for all UCBs.
GPay can share UPI data under law, says Google
Google India Digital Services Limited has told the Delhi High Court that its GPay app, being a TPAPs (Third Party Application Providers), is allowed under the law to share customer’s UPI (Unified Payments Interface) transaction data with third parties.
But, what’s the issue?
A petition was filed against Google India’s payments app, Google Pay, at the Delhi High Court as it flouted the rules of Unified Payments Interface (UPI) interoperability.
According to the petition, Google Pay does not allow new users to use their existing Virtual Payment Address (VPAs) or UPI ID on its platform, which the consumer might have created through other UPI platforms or apps.
And this is against the National Payments Corporation of India (NPCI) Guidelines.
As per NPCI guidelines on interoperability, UPI payment platforms need to give a choice to users to transact using their existing IDs.
Also, the petitioner had claimed that GPay was acting as a payments system provider in violation of the Payments and Settlements Act as it has no valid authorisation from the central bank of the country to carry out such functions.
What does interoperability mean?
Interoperability enables payment systems to be used in conjunction with other payment systems. It allows prepaid payment instruments (PPIs) issuers, system providers and system participants from different systems to undertake, clear and settle transactions across systems without participating in multiple systems.
What has the RBI said?
Reserve Bank of India (RBI) has told the Delhi High Court that Google Pay is a third party app provider (TPAP) and does not operate any payment systems.
Therefore, its operations are not in violation of the Payment and Settlement System Act of 2007.
The Payment and Settlement Systems (PSS) Act, 2007:
It provides for the regulation and supervision of payment systems in India and designates the Reserve Bank of India (Reserve Bank) as the authority for that purpose and all related matters.
The Reserve Bank is authorized under the Act to constitute a Committee of its Central Board known as the Board for Regulation and Supervision of Payment and Settlement Systems (BPSS), to exercise its powers and perform its functions and discharge its duties under this statute.