- Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu arrived in New Delhi
yesterday afternoon on a six-day visit to India.
- Received by Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
- Mr Modi termed his visit to India as historic.
- Mr Modi accompanied Mr Netanyahu to Teen Murti Memorial where both
leaders paid homage to Indian soldiers who sacrificed their life to
liberate Israeli city of Haifa in 1918.
- The ceremony also marked the formal renaming of Teen Murti Chowk as the Teen Murti Haifa Chowk.
- The three bronze statues positioned in a column at the roundabout represent Hyderabad, Jodhpur and Mysore Lancers which were part of the 15 Imperial Service Cavalary Brigade.
- On 23rd September 1918, during the last month of the Sinai and
- Palestine Campaign of the First World War; the brigade successfully
captured the city of Haifa from joint forces of Ottomans, Germany and
the Austro-Hungarian empire.
- The capture of Haifa and Acre cleared a route for the Allies to send
supplies to the city through the sea.
- 44 Indian soldiers died in the assault.
- Major Dalpat Singh aka ‘Hero of Haifa’, who led the Indian contingent,
was awarded a military cross for his bravery.
The issue with Farm loan
- The actual loan disbursements to the farm sector has been overtaking
the liberally hiked annual targets year after year.
- Yet agrarian distress and farmers’ dependence on moneylenders are
showing no signs of easing.
What is the concern?
- The total credit flow has surged over 10-fold since the early 2000s.
- Institutional credit to the farm sector is set to exceed the target of D10 trillion for the current year.
- However, nearly 40% of rural credit demand is still met by the informal sector, including commission agents and moneylenders.
- Clearly, the purpose for which institutional credit to the farm sector was
stepped up steadily has not been served adequately.
- Interest subvention by the government has resulted in cheaper bank credit.
- However, it is not reaching the small and marginal farmers due to poor
targeting and large-scale diversion to other destinations.
How is the credit distribution scenario?
- Credit scale – The proportion of loans of less than Rs 200,000 which normally go to genuine
farmers has been over 90% in the 1990s.
- This proportion has now shrunk sharply to less than half.
- Contradictorily, the share of larger loans of up to Rs 10 million and more has surged.
- Time – Besides, roughly about half of the total farm credit is disbursed between January and March.
- But this is when farmers’ loan requirements are the least with rabi sowing already over and kharif planting being months away.
- Farmers – Nearly a fourth of direct agricultural lending is accounted for by banks located in semi-urban, urban and metro towns.
- Frequent farm loan waivers have marred the loan repayment culture in rural areas.
- Evidently, banks find it much safer and convenient to lend to agri-related
enterprises rather than to the more risk-prone farmer.
- Highly subsidised agricultural loans are thus largely reaching only the nonfarmers or the same set of farmers with good repayment record.
- Cooperative credit sector – Non-performing assets of the primary cooperatives and the agricultural and rural development banks have risen to 37% by the end of 2015-16.
- Political interference in the day-to-day functioning of these bodies is adding to their woes.
- Also, many of the CEOs in these have non-banking background which is
contributing to the overall failures of cooperative banks.
What lies ahead?
- The finance ministry has sought a fresh assessment on the health of the
cooperative credit institutions.
- The report, ahead of the forthcoming Union Budget, from the National
Bank for Agricultural and Rural Development (NABARD) should help the
Centre reorient its strategy.
- The issues confronting the cooperative and the commercial banking
sectors need to be addressed.
- This is essential to ensure better targeting of agricultural lending to
make meaningful the quantitative increase in farm credit.
VIDs – Introducing a Two Layer Security for Aadhar
- What is the issue?
The Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI) has been
facing a lot of criticism over privacy violations.
- Hence, to reinforce privacy protection, UIDAI has proposed
the Virtual Ids, which would be a two-layer security system.
- Why Virtual IDs?
- Allegations of access to personal information by random entities, without the consent of individual Aadhaar holders were rampant.
- The widespread fear of misuse of demographic data is also heightened by the fact that India still does not have a data-protection law.
- To address this, UDIAI unveiled the concept of Virtual Ids, which is one of the most significant changes since its inception eight years ago.
- This is a concept of two-layer security system that prevents the possibility of the numbers being stored in many databases.
- Notably, “Virtual Id Numbers” are envisioned to be substituted in all places
that require one to give out their unique ID (Aadhaar number).
- How does Virtual Ids (VID) work?
The VID will be a 16-digit random number, which an Aadhaar-holder can
generate and use in place of his UID (Aadhar Number).
- This will ensure that the Aadhaar number is no longer shared, thus obviating any chance of it being leaked.
- What makes the VID user-friendly is that it is linked to the Aadhaar number
and there can only be one VID at any point in time for a particular number.
- Moreover, only the Aadhaar-holder will be able to generate the VID and it will be a temporary number, unlike Aadhaar, which stays the same forever.
- Hence, it is pointless to hold on to someone’s VID as it is merely a temporary number like banking “One Time Passwords” (OTPs).
- What are the other supporting Changes brought in?
UIDAI has also changed the Aadhar based e-KYC norms, which is the norm
for service providers for identifying their customer and maintaining
- Just like how UID was replaced by VID on the Aadhar holder’s side, UID
has been replaced by a UID token on the service provider’s side.
- UID token is a 72-character alphanumeric string that is meant only for
system use and acts as a unique-identification serial for a particular
- This prevents the service provider from knowing their consumer’s Aadhar
Number either directly from them or through the verification data base.
- Most Authentication User Agencies (AUAs) are expected to only use the
UID token, instead of the Aadhaar number.
- Such AUAs will be called local AUAs, while the few that continue to use
the Aadhaar number will be called global AUAs.
- This structure will ensure that even if a local AUAs database is hacked,
the Aadhaar number of customers will not be threatened.
What is the way forward?
- Both the VID and new e-KYC norms significantly address privacy concerns
by protect the Aadhaar number from being exposed in day-to-day
- But privacy experts and activists say that there is a lot more to be done
to ensure foolproof security for critical personal information.
- Notably, Aadhaar seeding with all existing databases should be revoked.
- Also, the new VID system should ensure that it doesn’t become too
difficult for the poor and illiterate masses will to engage with.
Evolving Nepal’s New Polity
- Why in news?
- A month after the Left Alliance won Nepal’s parliamentary elections,
government hasn’t been formed yet.
What is the situation?
- Upper House of the National Assembly was to be indirectly elected by the
provincial assemblies, but there was a disagreement on the type of election.
- A long-pending ordinance in late December 2017, that allowed indirect
elections based on the single transferable vote, settled this issue.
- But the overall government formation is still being delayed due to other
- These are mainly issues concerning the appointing of provincial
governors and choosing capitals, which currently is proving challenging.
- Notably, leading political parties aren’t inclined to take political stands
regarding capitals as it has been leading to several protests.
- Hence, the current outgoing caretaker governments of NC should work
for easing these issues with the guidance of the victorious Left-alliance.
- What is the way forward?
- The decisive electoral mandate in the polls has put the responsibility of
operationalising the provincial model on the Left Alliance.
- Once the process of nominations to the National Assembly is complete
the election of the Prime Minister will follow.
- While UML leader K.P. Oli is a surety for the choice of Prime Ministership,
it needs to be done soon for Nepal’s cause.
- Significantly, Nepal has been having a stagnant economy since the
decade long civil war and it is largely dependent on remittances from
- To change the status quo, a stable polity needs to take shape.
- Both countries have signed agreements on illegal Indian migrants’ return
and sharing criminal records and intelligence.
- The development comes close on heels of India seeking Britain’s help in
early extradition of liquor tycoon Vijay Mallya from Britain to face the
law at home in connection with cases of fraud and money laundering
amounting to around 9,000 crore rupees.
- The memorandums of understanding (MOUs) were signed by Britain’s
Minister of Immigration Caroline Nokes and Union Minister of State for
Home Affairs Kiren Rijiju on Thursday.
- According to a British government press release, the new deals reflect
increased co-operation between the two countries, which already enjoy a
- The statement said, MoU on criminal records exchange will lead to British and Indian law enforcement bodies sharing criminal records information and assist the police in protecting the public from known criminals.
- It will also allow the courts in both countries to access more information to
support tougher sentencing decisions.
- The agreement on returns paves the way for a quicker and more efficient
process for documenting and returning Indian nationals who have no right to be in Britain.