UPSC Prelims News of 7 March 2023
Integrated Pensioners’ Portal
Context: The Department of Pension & Pensioners’ Welfare has decided that all the pension portals will be integrated into a single “Integrated Pensioners’ Portal”.
About Integrated Pensioners’ Portal
- The new Pensioners’ Portal will integrate all 18 Pension disbursing banks portal, along with other portals like ANUBHAV, CPENGRAMS, CGHS etc, into one.
- The portal will act as a one-stop solution for all the pensioners’ needs and has been developed in collaboration with State Bank of India (SBI).
- After the complete integration, the retirees can choose a bank and branch for opening an online pension account, monitor their monthly pension slips, Form 16, status of life certificate as well as change the bank disbursing pension through Bhavishya.
- The move will mitigate the problems faced by pensioners like change of bank, submission of life certificate, submission of death certificate, pension slip and retrieval of pension slip, income tax deduction data.
Context: Delhi’s Rouse Avenue Court has sent the former Delhi Deputy Chief Minister to judicial custody in connection with a corruption case.
About Judicial Custody:
- Although undefined in Indian law, “custody” refers to the state of being kept by the police while awaiting trial.
- Section 57 of the Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC) says that any person arrested without a warrant cannot be detained for more than 24 hours unless there is a special order of a Magistrate under section 167 to that effect.
- However, Section 167 says that if an investigation cannot be completed within 24 hours, the detainee can still be kept in custody when there are “well-founded grounds” for believing the accusations against him.
- This process requires a police officer, not below the rank of sub-inspector, to transfer a copy of the diary entry in a detainee’s case to the Judicial Magistrate, who will decide whether he can authorize the accused’s detention for a period of 15 days or forward it to another magistrate who has jurisdiction to try the case.
- Generally, judicial custody can extend up to 90 days in cases punishable by death, life imprisonment, or imprisonment for 10 years or more.
- Section 167 of the Code talks about custody during the stage of the investigation. Custody can either be judicial custody or police custody.
|Judicial Custody||Police Custody|
|The person detained by a judicial magistrate is lodged in central or state prison.
In judicial custody, officials need the permission of the court for questioning a person.
In judicial custody, the person is under the responsibility of the magistrate, while the Prison Manual comes into the picture for the routine conduct of the person.
In some cases, courts may directly remand a person to judicial custody, if the court concludes that there is no need for police custody or extension of police custody.
The judicial custody can extend up to 60 or 90 days depending upon the maximum punishment prescribed for the offense.
According to Section 436A of CrPC, a person in judicial custody, who has served half the maximum punishment given for an offense, can apply for default bail, if their trial is pending.
|The person is detained in a police station or lock-up when he is believed to have committed a crime.
Unlike judicial custody, police custody requires the accused to be furnished before the magistrate in 24 hours.
In police custody, the investigating authority can interrogate a person.
In police custody, the person has the right to legal counsel, and the right to be informed of the grounds which the police must ensure.
Controller General of Accounts (CGA)
Context: The government has been appointed the Controller General of Accounts (CGA).
Controller General of Accounts (CGA)
- Controller General of Accounts (CGA), in the Department of Expenditure, Ministry of Finance, is the Principal Accounting Adviser to Government of India.
- Mandate: Controller General of Accounts derives his/her mandate from Article 150 of the Constitution. This statutory mandate as incorporated in the Allocation of Business Rules 1961 brings out the duties and responsibilities.
- It is to be noted that the CGA is not a constitutional body.
- Objective: Its goal is to provide reliable information that brings transparency in the use and reporting of public funds through an integrated government-wide financial information system.
- Reports: The Annual Appropriation Accounts (Civil) and Union Finance Accounts are submitted to Parliament on the advice of Comptroller and Auditor General of India.
- Formulate policies relating to general principles, form and procedure of accounting for the Central and State Governments.
- Administer the process of payments, receipts and accounting in Central Civil Ministries/ Departments.
- Prepare, consolidate and submit the monthly and annual accounts of the Central Government.
- Coordinate and assist in the introduction of Management Accounting Systems in Ministries/ Departments.
- Monitor financial performance and effectiveness of various programs, schemes and activities of the civil ministries.
- Administer banking arrangements for disbursements of Government expenditures and collection of government receipts and interacts with the Central Bank for reconciliation of cash balances of the Union Government.
Context: The Supreme Court of India has put on hold the order quashing the write-off of a renowned bank’s AT1 Bonds.
What are Additional Tier-1 (AT1) Bonds?
- AT1 bonds are a type of perpetual debt instrument with no maturity date.
- The issuer possesses the call option that permits them to redeem these bonds after a certain period.
- AT1 bonds are subordinate to all other debt and only senior to common equity.
- Regulator: AT-1 bonds are regulated by the Reserve Bank of India (RBI).
- Usage: These bonds are typically used by banks to bolster their core or tier-1 capital.
- AT1 bonds are considered high risk because, in case of an institutional failure, the banks are allowed to stop paying interest.
- If needed, the banks can also write off these bonds.
- When the issuer crosses the point of non-viability, AT1 bonds are the first part of the debt that will be written off.
What is a Bond?
- A bond is a debt instrument in which an investor loans money to an entity (typically corporate or government) which borrows the funds for a defined period of time at a variable or fixed interest rate.
- Bonds are used by companies, municipalities, states and sovereign governments to raise money to finance a variety of projects and activities.
Hindu Rate of Growth
Context: Former RBI governor has said that India was “dangerously close” to the ‘Hindu rate of growth’.
About Hindu Rate of Growth
- Origin of term: The term was coined by economist Raj Krishna in 1978 to denote the around 4 per cent growth in GDP from the 1950s to the 1980s.
- It is usually fuelled by subdued private-sector investment, rising rates of interest and a slowing global economy.
- A slow growth rate is called the Hindu rate of growth only if it is persistent and is followed by low per-capita GDP, with population growth factored in.
- What does it indicate?
- Since economic growth rate remained steady despite change in governments, wars and other crises showed that it was “an inherently cultural phenomenon”.
- The term is often regarded as a derogatory phrase concerning India not being able to meet its economic potential.
- It also indicates that the country is satisfied with the slow growth rate.
- Criticism of the term
- Earlier economists used the term “Hindu” to link the belief in Karma and Bhagya with the slow growth.
- Later, this connection was dropped, and the slow growth rate was attributed to the then governments’ protectionist and interventionist policies.
Context: Recently, Lebanon has adopted ‘dollarization’ as its currency began to crumble.
- Dollarization is when a country begins to recognize the U.S. dollar as a medium of exchange or legal tender alongside or in place of its domestic currency.
- It is an example of currency substitution.
- Dollarization usually happens when a country’s own currency loses its usefulness as a medium of exchange, due to hyperinflation or instability.
- Dollarization can have both benefits and costs. It typically results in enhanced monetary and economic stability but necessarily involves a loss of economic autonomy in monetary policy.
Context: RBI has recently asked the banks and NBFCs to promote digital payments.
- An NBFC is a company registered under the Companies Act, 1956 engaged in the business of loans and advances, acquisition of shares/stocks/bonds/debentures/securities issued by Government or local authority or other marketable securities of a like nature, leasing, hire-purchase, insurance business, and chit business.
- It does not include any institution whose principal business is that of agriculture activity, industrial activity, purchase or sale of any goods (other than securities) or providing any services and sale/purchase/construction of an immovable property.
- RBI, under the RBI Act 1934 has the power to register, lay down policy, issue directions, inspect, regulate, supervise, and exercise surveillance over NBFCs that meet the 50-50 criteria of principal business.
Features of NBFCs
- NBFC cannot accept demand deposits.
- NBFCs do not form part of the payment and settlement system and cannot issue cheques drawn on itself.
- The deposit insurance facility of Deposit Insurance and Credit Guarantee Corporation is not available to depositors of NBFCs.
Context: Scientists at Johns Hopkins University (JHU) have recently outlined a plan for a potentially revolutionary new area of research called “organoid intelligence”, which aims to create “biocomputers”.
- In this, brain cultures grown in the lab are coupled to real-world sensors and input/output devices.
- Scientists expect the technology to harness the processing power of the brain and understand the biological basis of human cognition, learning, and various neurological disorders.
- Scientists are building 3D cultures of brain tissue in the lab, also called brain organoids.
- So, Organoids are lab-grown tissues that resemble organs.
- These “mini-brains” (with a size of up to 4 mm) are built using human stem cells and capture many structural and functional features of a developing human brain.
What is the new ‘bio-computer’?
- The JHU researchers’ have announced plans to couple the organoids with machine learning by growing the organoids inside flexible structures affixed with multiple electrodes (similar to the ones used to take EEG readings from the brain).
- These structures will be able to record the firing patterns of the neurons and also deliver electrical stimuli, to mimic sensory stimuli.
- The response pattern of the neurons and their effect on human behavior or biology will then be analyzed by machine-learning techniques.
Opportunity for Biocomputers
- Brain organoids can also be developed using stem cells from individuals with neurodegenerative diseases or cognitive disorders.
- Organoids can reveal the biological basis of human cognition, learning, and memory.
- Organoids also help decode the pathology of and drug development for devastating neuro-developmental and degenerative diseases such as Parkinson’s disease and microcephaly.