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9 PM Daily NEWS Brief

9 PM Daily Brief – 25th October 2016


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NATIONAL

 [1].Bodo blockade hits train passengers:

The Hindu

Context

Blockade mounted by the All-Bodo Students Union (ABSU) to demand a Bodo State to be carved out of Assam.

The blockade mounted by the All-Bodo Students Union (ABSU) to demand a Bodo State to be carved out of Assam due to which thousands of train passengers were stranded in Assam, north Bengal and Bihar for hours.

  • The blockade was also held at Udalgiri, which links Arunanchal Pradesh to the rest of the country, and at Basugoan.
  • Nowadays, violence in bodoland is become a common feature in region.

Background

The movement for a separate State remains one of the most serious and violent in the Northeast.

The Bodos are an ethnic and linguistic community centered on the Udalguri and Kokrajhar of Assam. They are largest of the 18 ethnic sub-groups within the Bodo-Kachari group.
The demand for a Bodoland has been raised since 1967.

In 1960s, Bodos started demanding autonomy, varying from separate statehood to outright sovereign status.

  • In 1980s and 1990s, militant Bodo movementpeaked during this period large scale killings and human displacement.In 2003 – Bodo militants lay down the arms and want to join mainstream and they signed agreement with Government, known as “Bodo Accord”.
  • A Bodoland Territorial Council (BTC)created under 6TH Schedule of the Constitution has been given legislative powers over 40 subjects
  • In 2003, the signing of the Bodo Territorial Council (BTC) Accord between Militant Bodo Liberation Tigers (BLT) on one side and Centre-state government on the other side.under this accord, Bodo Liberation Tigers surrendered their weapons, and Hagrama  ( leader of BLT) was made the Chief Executive Member (CEM) of the Bodo Territorial council (BTC).
  • Bodoland or Bodoland Territorial Areas District (BTAD) created in 2003. It consists of 4 districts of Assam
  • Kokrajhar
  • Chirang
  • Baksa
  • Udalguri. (Total 35% area of Assam.)

Source: frontline

 Bodo accord and the problems

  • The Bodo Accord, seeks to protect the land rights of the indigenous Bodos while allowing settler Muslims (both legal and illegal) to freely acquire land at the same time.
  • The Bangladeshi migrants easily sneak in the area, illegally procure relevant documents like ration cards to establish Indian nationality.
  • Taking advantage of the provisions in the BTC Act, such migrants are freely procuring land in the BTAD, which only adds to the woes of indigenous Bodos.
  • Both sides are demanding the review / revocation of BTC act because on one hand, Bodos feel their rights are not protected.
  • On the other hand, Non-bodos feel that Bodos are getting way too many benefits.

 

[2].Era of e-postal ballots dawns, courtesy EC’s new initiative:

The Hindu

Context

A change in ‘The Conduct of Election Rules, 1961’ now empowers a returning officer in any constituency to send postal ballots to an eligible voter “by electronic means as specified by the Election Commission.”

Background

The government had approached the Election Commission to help reduce the difficulties faced by service voters while exercising their right to vote.

  • The issue had also come up before the Supreme Court where it was pleaded that an effective mechanism be created for armed forces personnel and their families to exercise their right to vote easily and effectively.
  • The government has amended rule 23 of the Conduct of Elections Rules, 1961 enabling service voters, including armed forces personnel, to cast their vote in elections through e-postal ballot.
  • Through this move, the government has accepted a long-pending demand which will save valuable time.

New rules

Under the new rules, service voters, including personnel from armed forces, can now download the blank post ballot sent to them electronically, mark their preference and post the filled-up ballot back to their respective returning officers. This would cut short the delay experienced in the present system of two-way transmission of ballot paper by the postal services

  • On a pilot basis, e-postal ballot system has been introduced for service voters consisting of armed police forces of the central government, other forces subject to the provisions of the Army Act, armed forces of a state serving outside that state, and those employed under the government of India in a post outside India.
  • The armed forces personnel serving in remote and border areas would be greatly benefited since the present system of two-way transmission of ballot paper by the postal services has not been able to meet the expectations of the service voters.

[3].SC wants RBI to name big loan defaulters: 

The Hindu

Context

The Supreme Court on Monday turned the heat on the Reserve Bank of India (RBI), asking why it is against making public names of 57 tax-dodgers who owe banks Rs. 85,000 crore in bad loans.

RBI’s stand

Reserve Bank of India (RBI) is against making public names of 57 tax-dodgers who owe banks Rs. 85,000 crore in bad loans.

  • CJI questioned RBI, Who are these people who have borrowed money and are not paying back? Why this fact that the person has borrowed money and not paying back be not known to public?

What court said?

The court said the RBI should disclose the names of these defaulters and these should come out into the public domain through Right to Information (RTI) applications.

  • RBI filed a confidential report containing names and details of those who have reneged on loans worth over Rs. 500 crore stating that names of defaulters cannot be made public under the statutory law.

SC’s concern

The Supreme Court had expressed concern over the growing amount of bad loans, noting that “people are taking thousands of crores and running away by declaring their companies insolvent, but poor farmers who take small amounts of Rs. 20,000 or Rs. 15,000 suffer.

  • The Bench asked the RBI to come prepared with a decision on whether it intends to disclose the names or not by October 28.

[4].ISRO starts landing tests for Chandrayaan-2 mission:

The Hindu

Context

Indian Space Research Organisation started a series of ground and aerial tests linked to the critical Moon landing of Chandrayaan-2.

 Tests

The tests are being conducted at ISRO’s science city located in Karnataka.

  • ISRO Satellite Centre or ISAC, the lead centre for the second Moon mission, has artificially created close to ten craters to simulate the lunar terrain and test the Lander’s sensors.
  • A small ISRO aircraft has been carrying equipment with sensors over these craters to plan the tasks ahead.

In the coming months, ISAC would conduct many tests: on avionics and electronics; testing the Lander’s legs, followed by a combined full test

Chandrayaan-2
  • Chandrayaan-2 is an advanced version of the previous Chandrayaan-1 mission.
  • It consists of an orbiter, lander and rover configuration.
  • The Orbiter spacecraft when launched from Sriharikota will travel to the Moon and release the Lander, which will in turn deploy a tiny Rover to roam the lunar surface — all three sending data and pictures to Earth.
  • It is planned to be launched as a composite stack into the earth parking orbit (EPO) of 170 X 18,500 km by GSLV-Mk II.
  • It is tentatively set for late 2017 or early 2018 and includes soft-landing on Moon and moving a rover on its surface.

Editorial/OPINION

 [1].The data breach, banks and their cyber culture:

The Hindu

Context

The data breach at 19 Indian banks that has led to more than 32 lakh debit cards being blocked or recalled is a wake-up call for the banking industry.

Backdrop

Recently, India’s largest bank, State Bank of India,had blocked close to 6 lakh debit cards following a malware-related security breach in a non-SBI ATM network. Several other banks, such as Axis Bank, HDFC Bank and ICICI Bank, too have admitted being hit by similar cyberattacks — forcing Indian banks to either replace or request users to change the security codes of as many as 3.2 million debit cards over the last two months.

  • The actual number of complaints received so far, 641, and the sum of money that appears to have been fraudulently withdrawn, Rs.1.3 crore.
  • It has taken almost six months for the system to officially acknowledge the incidents and initiate steps to address them

Cyber security: RBI’s top concern

The Reserve Bank of India and its top officials had been urging bankers for quite some time to accord urgent priority to cyber security.

  • According to reports, it is believed that data criminals may have infiltrated using malware at ATMs operated by a third-party payment services vendor.

Today’s criminals are using more and more sophisticated tools to access computer systems at banks.

NPCIL coordinating investigations

The National Payments Corporation of India has been coordinating investigations into the incident, where a forensic audit is expected to reveal preliminary findings soon.

Policy measures

For the government and the banking regulator, much is at stake as the two have sought to move in concert to harness the digital revolution to advance socio-economic policy objectives. These include increasing financial inclusion, better targeting of subsidies through the direct benefit payments model, improving economic efficiency by lowering transaction costs, and moving toward a cashless economy so as to reduce the circulation of black money and curb tax evasion.

Future safeguards

It is important to note that in today’s world, banks can ill-afford to be complacent and approach incidents such as this latest debit card data breach with band-aid solutions.

  • Top managements at lenders should reappraise their cyber culture, heed warnings and alerts promptly, and address shortcomings
  • Systems should be protected against the activities of malicious hackers by using frequently updated anti-virus software, anti-spyware programs, and other anti-malware solutions.
  • Access to system information and operations should be restricted and controlled.
  • Cardholder information must be protected wherever it is stored.
  • Networks must be constantly monitored and regularly tested to ensure that all security measures and processes are in place, are functioning properly, and are kept up-do-date

 ECONOMY

[1].Centre may bring indebted, ailing units under PSU bank management:

The Hindu

Context

Finance Minister ArunJaitley kicked off discussions on a proposal wherein ailing units in the steel, power and shipping sectors could be brought under the management of select PSUs.

Proposal

Ailing units in the steel, power and shipping sectors could be brought under the management of select PSUs and Public sector banks are to convert a part of the debt held by them in these companies into equity, following which the management teams of select PSUs will manage some of the units.

  • This was not to be considered a government takeover or nationalisation of the companies.

Finance minister’s views

Finance minister said “There has been a lot done already with regard to the NPA situations in these sectors, and the issue for the meeting was with regard to what further can be done regarding certain defaulters”.The steel sector, one of the highest contributors to bank NPAs, had outstanding loans of about Rs.3 lakh crore as of August 2016.

  • To help the power sector, the Centre has implemented the UjwalDiscom Assurance Yojana (UDAY)

UDAY scheme 2015 for power DISCOMS

UDAY scheme was launched by Narendra Modi led Union Cabinet . The UjjwalDISCOM AssuranceYojna (UDAY), approved by the union cabinet on November 5, 2015 will not only improve the capability of distribution companies.

  • Beside this, it will also account to capital savings around Rs.12,000 Crore for Public Sector Banks (PSBs) as estimated by the Credit Rating Information Services of India Limited(CRISIL).
  • Why UDAY: The Overall losses of the power distribution companies were estimated to be around Rs.62,000 Crore as of March 2015(estimated by CRISIL). This is mainly due to operational inefficiencies, discounted tariffs and subsidies, power thefts and leftover interest rates on the past debts. The companies were facing a total debt of about Rs.4.3 Lakh Crore and most of them are on the verge of bankruptcy. So the scheme launched for financial restructuring for these companies.
  • How is it implemented: According to this scheme the Union government allowed state governments to take 75% of the debt (as of September 30) of the distribution companies owned by them and pay back the lenders by selling government bonds and for the remaining 25% the concerned companies will be issuing the bonds.
  1. The State governments will be provided incentives which will allow them to borrow more from the Bond Market. The bonds issued by the state government are offered at a coupon of 8-9% and the rest will be reprised at the minimum lending rate of banks plus 0.1percent.

[2].Only a few debit cards were misused, says RBI:

The Hindu

Context

The Reserve Bank of India has clarified that the number of debit cards misused in the recent revelation of fraud was ‘few’.

Backdrop

Recently, India’s largest bank, State Bank of India,had blocked close to 6 lakh debit cards following a malware-related security breach in a non-SBI ATM network.

  • Several other banks, such as Axis Bank, HDFC Bank and ICICI Bank, too have admitted being hit by similar cyber attacks — forcing Indian banks to either replace or request users to change the security codes of as many as 3.2 million debit cards over the last two months.
  • Current position: The issue is currently being investigated by an approved forensic auditor, under PCI-DSS (Payment Card Industry-Data Security Standard) framework.

PCI-DSS (Payment Card Industry-Data Security Standard

The Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (PCI DSS) is a widely acceptedset of policies and procedures intended to optimize the security of credit, debit and cash card transactions and protect cardholders against misuse of their personal information. The PCI DSS was created jointly in 2004 by four major credit-card companies: Visa, MasterCard, Discover and American Express.

 The PCI DSS specifies and elaborates on six major objectives.

  • Network security: A secure network must be maintained in which transactions can be conducted. This requirement involves the use of firewalls that are robust enough to be effective without causing undue inconvenience to cardholders or vendors. Specialized firewalls are available for wireless LANs, which are highly vulnerable to eavesdropping and attacks by malicious hackers. In addition, authentication data such as personal identification numbers (PINs) and passwords must not involve defaults supplied by the vendors. Customers should be able to conveniently and frequently change such data.
  • Protection of personal data: Cardholder information must be protected wherever it is stored. Repositories with vital data such as dates of birth, mothers’ maiden names, Social Security numbers, phone numbers and mailing addresses should be secure against hacking. When cardholder data is transmitted through public networks, that data must be encrypted in an effective way. Digital encryptionis important in all forms of credit-card transactions, but particularly in e-commerce conducted on the Internet.
  • Preventing Hacking: Systems should be protected against the activities of malicious hackers by using frequently updated anti-virus software, anti-spyware programs, and other anti-malware solutions. All applications should be free of bugs and vulnerabilities that might open the door to exploits in which cardholder data could be stolen or altered. Patches offered by software and operating system (OS) vendors should be regularly installed to ensure the highest possible level of vulnerability management.
  • Restricted & Secured Access: Access to system information and operations should be restricted and controlled. Cardholders should not have to provide information to businesses unless those businesses must know that information to protect themselves and effectively carry out a transaction. Every person who uses a computer in the system must be assigned a unique and confidential identification name or number. Cardholder data should be protected physically as well as electronically. Examples include the use of document shredders, avoidance of unnecessary paper document duplication, and locks and chains on dumpsters to discourage criminals who would otherwise rummage through the trash.
  • Constant vigil: Networks must be constantly monitored and regularly tested to ensure that all security measures and processes are in place, are functioning properly, and are kept up-do-date. For example, anti-virus and anti-spyware programs should be provided with the latest definitions and signatures. These programs should scan all exchanged data, all applications, all random-access memory (RAM) and all storage media frequently if not continuously.
  • Information security policy: A formal information security policy must be defined, maintained, and followed at all times and by all participating entities. Enforcement measures such as audits and penalties for non-compliance may be necessary.

 

[3]. The Kigali Breakthrough

Indian Express

Context

Indian intervention ensured a balance between climate concerns and economic need

Note: Kigali issue has already been covered in detail. Please refer to the brief dated 19th October 2016

 

 

 

 

 

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