Answered Mains Marathon – UPSC Mains Current Affairs Questions – January 10



1.How can Aadhaar help in financial inclusion? What constraints does Aadhaar-based system face in achieving a cashless economy? (GS 1)

आधार वित्तीय समावेशन में कैसे मदद कर सक्ता हैं? कैशलेस अर्थव्यवस्था के लिए आधार आधारित प्रणाली किन बाधाओं का सामना कर रही है?


Suggested Answer:

Aadhaar is a 12-digit unique identification number issued by the Indian government to every individual resident of India. The primary purpose of Aadhaar card is to uniquely identify an individual, which in turn will be useful for things like targeting of subsidies, preventing voter fraud etc. Aadhaar can also be used for financial inclusion (delivery of financial services at affordable costs to disadvantaged section of society) in following ways-

  • Opening of bank accounts-
    Aadhaar can replace the multiple documents required to open a bank, thereby making opening a bank account easier.
  • Receiving government schemes’ benefits-
    Bank Account linked with Aadhar for various credit schemes such as Crop loan, Kisan Kard, Pension schemes, Insurance credit can bring further financial inclusion.
  • Aadhaar Enabled Payment System-
    The objective of Aadhar Enabled Payment System (AEPS) is to empower a bank customer to use Aadhar to access his/her Aadhar – enabled bank account and perform basic banking transactions that are intra-bank or interbank in nature through a business correspondent. Aadhar Enabled Payment System provides basic financial services (cash deposit, balance enquiry, cash withdrawal and remittance) at low cost access devices (called MicroATMs) maintained at Business correspondents in an inter-operable way.
  • Aadhaar Payments Bridge-
    It is a repository of Aadhaar number of residents and their primary bank account number used for receiving all social security and entitlement payments from various government agencies. It requires using Aadhaar number as the primary key for all entitlement payments. This would weed out all fakes and ghosts from the system and ensure that the benefits reach the intended beneficiaries. This benefit has an even greater ramification as more and more social security programs are moving from in-kind to in-cash subsidies.
  • Identification and weeding out fake beneficiaries-
    Aadhar can be used as identity verification for point of sales (Pos) particularly govt. programmes such as PDS, MNREGA reducing leakage and corruption. It can also help in weeding out fake beneficiaries thereby helping in better targeting.

Using Aadhaar for financial inclusion has many benefits. However, it’s usage is constrained by the following factors-

  • Lack of infrastructure-
    Using Aadhaar requires a supporting infrastructure that is lacking, especially in rural areas. For example, many villages still do not receive electricity for the majority part of a day (24% of the Indian population lives without electricity). Along with electricity, other infrastructure like telecom services (like internet) and Point of sale (PoS) machines are also lacking.
  • Reliability of digital infrastructure-
    Recent studies show beneficiaries being turned down due to technology failure, and hence being denied the food rations they are entitled to. This is a serious concern not just for the food security programme but also for digital infrastructure
  • Digital and financial illiteracy-
    India’s 1/4th population, particularly tribal people, is still unbanked and hence having Aadhaar enabled cashless payment system shall be no use for them. Further, lack of education as well as lack of use regional languages in new technology makes it difficult for them to utilize these new technologies.
  • Security concerns-
    There are also concerns over the security of data collected. Any lapse in security can have serious consequences due to the nature of the information involved.

Solving the above-mentioned bottlenecks through various programmes such as BharatNet, UPI payment system, promoting digital India through schemes like VISAKA and a robust cyber infrastructure can make Aadhaar an important key to financial inclusion and cashless economy.


2.The challenge before India lies in tapping its disapora’s financial and intellectual capital. Critically examine. (GS 2)

भारत के पास चुनौती है की वह कैसे वित्तीय और बौद्धिक पूंजी का इस्तेमाल करे। गंभीर रूप की जांच करें।


Suggested Answer:

The 27 million strong Indian diaspora is spread across 201 countries and 6 continents. This migration occurred in two waves. The first wave occurred in 19th century when Indians settled in countries like Surinam, Fiji, Barbados etc due to expansion of British empire. The second wave happened post independence into Gulf countries as well as US , UK, Canada etc. Such a large diaspora plays a crucial role in shaping India’s relationship with these countries. It can prove to be beneficial or detrimental to equal extent. For example the positive role played by Indian diaspora during the negotiations of Indo-US Nuclear deal is well documented. On the other hand, Indo-Australia relations took a serious hit when there was a surge in “racial attacks” on Indians in Australia. For a country with global aspirations, this 27 million strong community provides a great opportunity for Indian to capitalize on their intellectual as well financial capital. But, there are certain challenges on the way:-

  • Severance of ties
    It is usually seen that once people settle abroad with their families, they tend to sever all the ties with their home country by selling their property. They no longer return, even for visits.
  • Lack of incentive to return
    In order to capitalize on their intellectual capital that they gain while studying and working abroad, there must be commensurate opportunities in India to provide them gainful and meaningful employment. Unfortunately, such options are very limited in India.
  • Limited options of Financial Investment

While India receives the highest remittances in the entire world, still there are restrictions in terms of sectoral limits on investments by NRIs and PIOs.  Their capacity to buy land in India is also restricted.

  • Lack of dedicated institutional mechanism to engage with Diaspora
    With recent merger of Ministry of Overseas Indian Affairs with Ministry of External Affairs, it has become difficult for the diaspora to air their grievances.
  • Lack of Proactive and Pro-diaspora approach in situation of crisis-
    As non-interference in internal affairs of the countries has always been the policy of the government, sometimes, even in genuine cases, we miss the opportunity to stand up for the diaspora. For example, in case of mistreatment of Indians in Gulf Countries, it is often said that Indian response in not strong enough.
  • Poor diplomatic footprint
    Due to lack of sufficient staff, Indian embassies, consulates and missions are not present in all the countries. This often results in delayed response.

Government has identified these loopholes and has taken a string of measures to rectify the situation-

  • Merger of PIO and OCI
    In order to reduce the duplication and provide better opportunities, the PIO and OCI schemes were merged.
  • Voting rights
    Election Commission is exploring the option of providing voting rights to NRIs. This shall give them a better leverage
  • Indian Community Welfare Fund
    This fund has been created in order to provide legal and financial assistance to diaspora in need.
  • Pravasi Bhartiya Divas

This two day conclave, presently in its 15th year has been a major success in creating a sense of belonging among the diaspora by celebrating and acknowledging their contribution.

  • FCNR Account

By providing this option, now the diaspora can invest in India in foreign currency itself. This eases the process of bringing in the financial capital in India.

Indian Diaspora has brought a lot of fame and name to this country. It is about time that we take steps to ensure that Indians all over the world feel safe and protected. By instilling this sense of confidence in them, we will be able to create bridges between countries which will go a long way in cementing India’s position as a global player.


3.What are green bonds? What is the contribution of green bonds in addressing climate change in India? (GS 3)

ग्रीन बांड्स क्या होती हैं? भारत में जलवायु परिवर्तन के समाधान में ग्रीन बांड का क्या योगदान है?


Suggested Answer:

A bond is a debt instrument with which an entity raises money from investors. The bond issuer gets capital while the investors receive fixed income in the form of interest. When the bond matures, the money is repaid. A green bond is similar to a bond with the difference being that the issuer of a green bond publicly states that capital is being raised to fund ‘green’ projects, which typically include those relating to renewable energy, emission reductions etc.

Green bonds can play a big role to play in addressing the climate change in India in the following ways-

  • Green bonds have contributed to sustainable growth in India. According to The Climate Bond Initiative about 62% of green bonds in India are used to finance renewable energy projects followed by Low carbon transport systems and low carbon building, water and waste management projects.
  • India has embarked on an ambitious target of building 175 GW of renewable energy capacity by 2022, from just over 30 GW now. This requires around $200 billion in funding. Budgetary allocation is insufficient to provide this funding. Also, in India debt is available at high interest rates and unattractive terms. So green bonds have become important in funding this increase in capacity.
  • Green bonds typically carry a lower interest rate than the loans offered by the commercial banks. Hence, when compared to other forms of debt, green bonds offer better returns for an independent power producers.
  • Green bonds are also an attractive way to raise capital for government projects like Swacch Bharat Abhiyan and Smart cities. They could also be used to build renewable infrastructure to attain India’s INDC under Paris Climate deal.

 

Challenges-

  • Globally, there have been serious debates about whether the projects targeted by green bond issuers are green enough.
  • Some projects have courted controversies as they were deemed to be harming the environment.
  • From an Indian perspective, a challenge of making investors subscribe could be the tenor and rating of green bonds as green bonds in India have a shorter tenor period.

Way ahead-

  • SEBI should come up with specific guidelines and framework policy for green bonds and blue bonds (bonds used to finance water infrastructure).
  • Aggregation and securitization of small projects that spread over vast areas should be done to make them attractive investment options.
  • Collective participation of policymakers regulator and investors is required to fully tap the potential of green bonds in India and thus achieving the goals of green and clean future.

Today, the focus is on reducing our carbon footprint to save our environment. And green bonds provide a good way to provide funds at cheap and attractive rates. And although they face some challenges, they still are a win-win situation for all.


 

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