India Extends UPI Payments to France, Empowering Indian Tourists
On July 13, 2023, during Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s state visit to France, India and France signed a groundbreaking agreement that allows Indian tourists to use India’s Unified Payments Interface (UPI) for transactions in rupees.
This partnership marks a significant milestone as it brings UPI, a popular mobile-based payment system, to Europe for the first time after its successful implementation in Singapore. The move is set to revolutionize the payment experience for Indian tourists in France, eliminating the need to carry foreign currency and offering convenience and flexibility.
UPI’s Global Expansion: A Journey Across the Globe
India Extends UPI Payments to France, Empowering Indian Tourists
Since its inception, UPI has steadily expanded its reach globally through strategic partnerships. France is the latest addition to the list of countries that have embraced the UPI system for cross-border transactions. Prior to this agreement, UPI had already established itself in countries like Singapore, Bhutan, Nepal, and the UAE.
Countries that have adopted different forms of Indian payment systems include France, UAE, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Singapore, Maldives, Bhutan, and Oman. This means that Indian users can now use UPI, RuPay, and other digital payment channels in these countries, making transactions easier and more convenient.
NIPL: Forging Global Partnerships
The NPCI International Payments Limited (NIPL), established as a wholly-owned subsidiary of the National Payments Corporation of India (NPCI) in April 2020, is actively forging partnerships with different countries to create a widespread acceptance network for RuPay and UPI. This network enables Indian travelers to make payments using these digital payment channels in their destination countries.
Empowering Indian Tourists with Effortless Transactions
With the implementation of UPI in France, Indian tourists can now transact in rupees with ease. They can use local QR codes or UPI IDs to make payments, eliminating the hassles of carrying and exchanging foreign currency. This newfound convenience allows tourists to spend according to their needs rather than being restricted to fixed amounts of foreign exchange.
Savings on Foreign Exchange Markup Charges
Traditionally, international payments made with credit or debit cards incur foreign exchange markup charges, which can be as high as 3.5% of the transaction amount, depending on the card’s features. While some financial institutions offer forex cards with lower markup fees, UPI payments in rupees provide even greater savings. Since transactions occur in rupees, there is no need for foreign currency conversion, saving travelers from additional fees.
UPI and the Liberalized Remittance Scheme (LRS)
Under the Foreign Exchange Management Act (FEMA), travel-related expenses fall within the purview of the Liberalized Remittance Scheme (LRS). As a result, Tax Credited at Source (TCS) provisions apply as per the norm. While international debit cards, prepaid forex cards, and direct foreign exchange purchases are subject to TCS, credit card spending is exempt. However, not all establishments accept credit cards, making it necessary to carry cash. With UPI payments now available in France, this necessity is eliminated, making transactions smoother for Indian tourists.
New guidelines for designation of senior advocates in the SC
The Supreme Court has issued new guidelines for designating senior advocates, replacing the existing 2017 guidelines. Under the new regulations, lawyers with a minimum of 10 years of standing and aged 45 years or above are eligible to apply. The applications will be reviewed by a committee comprising the Chief Justice of India (CJI), two senior most judges, the Attorney General, and a bar representative, who will meet twice a year to assess the candidates. The age criteria may be relaxed by the committee, and the CJI can directly recommend a candidate without considering the age bar.
Years of Practice and Specialized Expertise
To be eligible, lawyers must have 10 years of practice or a combined experience of practice and service as a judicial officer or a judicial member in a tribunal for a cumulative period of 10 years.
Lawyers with expertise in practicing before specialized tribunals will be given concession with regard to the extent of appearances in the Supreme Court.
The scrutiny process will consider the number of judgments presented by the applicants, carrying a maximum of 50 points.
Legal publications have been given reduced weightage of 5 points, including contributions in teaching assignments and guest lectures in the field of law.
Interview Process and Full Court Scrutiny
The shortlisted candidates will be interviewed by the Full Court, comprising all judges. This segment will carry 25 points in the assessment process.
Transparency and Objectivity in Designation
The new guidelines were largely influenced by the Supreme Court’s previous decision in 2017, which aimed to establish uniform procedures for designating senior advocates.
The assessment process now includes contributions through publications of legal articles, teaching assignments, and guest lectures, aiming to have a more “holistic reflection” of the advocate’s ability to contribute to the development of the law.
The new guidelines aim to ensure transparency and objectivity in the selection process.
Deadline for Applications
Candidates who had previously submitted their applications are requested to reapply, modify their existing applications, or withdraw them by August 7.
Former chief justices and high court judges are eligible to apply for senior designation, but those who have accepted or agreed to accept any full-time assignment will not be considered for the designation until they hold that assignment.
“Through the Broken Glass: An Autobiography” authored by T.N. Seshan
‘Through The Broken Glass: An Autobiography” authored by T.N. Seshan, the former Chief Election Commissioner (CEC) of India, who made a significant difference to Indian elections. It was published by Rupa Publications India. This autobiography also covers his term as the CEC from 1990 to 1995 with a page count of 368. It has been published 4 years after he passed away in 2019.
In the early part of his career he described his first posting as a sub-collector in Dindigul and then a collector in Madurai of Tamil Nadu. T.N. Seshan is also the author of An Undocumented Wonder: The Making of the Great Indian Election.
About the Book
This autobiography covers his tenure as the CEC. He almost fits into the stereotype of the self-righteous south Indian Brahmin, more specifically the Tamil Brahmin, who is dour and upright. Instead of offering revealing insights into people and processes when he served as a bureaucrat for more than three decades before he became the CEC in 1990, he has given a logbook of his time in the government, starting as a sub-collector in Dindigul and collector in Madurai, where he confronted his administrative superiors with a taunt that they should send in writing what they wanted done.
The famous one in the early part of his career is his run-in with Sheikh Abdullah, who was under arrest and moved to Kodaikanal, which was in Madurai district, and he as collector had to deal with him. He would read all the letters that Abdullah wrote as part of his duty. Once, Abdullah insisted that he wants to send a letter to President S. Radhakrishnan, and demanded that Seshan pass it on without reading it. Seshan refused and Abdullah went on a fast unto death. Then Abdullah let him read the letter which was an innocuous and formal, and broke his fast.
INS Sahyadri and INS Kolkata in Jakarta for Bilateral Maritime Exercise
INS Sahyadri and INS Kolkata, the two flagship ships of the Indian Navy, reached Jakarta to take part in a bilateral maritime exercise alongside the Indonesian Naval Forces. Upon their arrival in Jakarta, The Indonesian Navy extended a warm welcome to both naval ships deployed for the South-Eastern Indian Ocean Region (IOR) mission.
Extensive Program and Maritime Partnership Exercise
With the objective of strengthening mutual cooperation and understanding, the Indian and Indonesian navies partake in an extensive program of professional interactions, joint yoga sessions, sports events, and cross-deck visits.
Both the ships also participated in the Maritime Partnership Exercise (MPX) at sea with the Indonesian Navy to further strengthen the high level of interoperability that both navies have from the Middle East.
Recently Indian and Indonesian naval forces conducted their bilateral exercise named Samudra Shakti 2023 in the South China Sea.
Indonesian Navy’s Participation in Complex IOR Exercises
During the period of May 17 to 19, 2023, the sea phase saw the involvement of INS Kavaratti, an Anti Submarine Warfare corvette equipped with an integral Chetak helicopter and a Dornier Maritime Patrol Aircraft.
The Indonesian Navy’s assets, comprising KRI Sultan Iskandar Muda with an integral Panther helicopter and a CN 235 Maritime Patrol Aircraft, participated in a series of complex exercises during the South-Eastern Indian Ocean Region (IOR) mission.
These exercises involved tactical manoeuvres, weapon firings, helicopter operations, as well as Air defence and Anti-Submarine warfare exercises, all of which significantly improved inter-operability between the two navies.
Before the sea phase, a productive harbour phase took place, marked by professional interactions, tabletop exercises, and sports exchanges.
INS Sahyadri and INS Kolkata
INS Sahyadri represents the third vessel of the Project-17 class, being an indigenously designed and constructed stealth frigate. On the other hand, INS Kolkata is the inaugural indigenously designed and built Project-15A class stealth destroyer.
Notably, both these ships were constructed at Mazagon Dock Shipbuilders Limited in Mumbai.
Reliance set to buy Alia Bhatt’s brand Ed-a-Mamma
Reliance Brands Ltd, a subsidiary of Reliance Industries’ retail arm, Reliance Retail Ventures, is nearing the acquisition of actor Alia Bhatt’s kidswear brand, Ed-a-Mamma, at an estimated value of ₹300-350 crore.
The agreement is anticipated to be concluded in the next seven to ten days, and it is poised to transform the children’s wear market.
Reliance Brands’ acquisition of Ed-a-Mamma not only broadens the retail powerhouse’s children’s wear offerings but also opens up new prospects for Ed-a-Mamma to strengthen its presence in physical stores.
About Reliance Brands
Reliance Brands Ltd was established in 2007. Its primary emphasis is on apparel, footwear, and lifestyle products. It has formed alliances with more than 50 international brands and manages a network of over 2,000 stores across India.
The company has successful partnerships with various renowned international brands, spanning from luxury to other segments, including Armani Exchange, Burberry, Diesel, Giorgio Armani, Kate Spade, Marks and Spencer, among others.
Ed-a-mamma, a children’s clothing brand, was established in 2020 and subsequently expanded its offerings to include teenage and maternity wear lines.
Besides being available on various e-commerce platforms like Myntra, Ajio, FirstCry, Amazon, and Tata CliQ, the brand also sells its products through its dedicated webstore and prominent retail chains such as Lifestyle and Shoppers Stop.
Ed-a-mamma operates as a conscious clothing brand, ensuring that all its products are environmentally friendly.
Only 1% women live in countries with high gender parity, female empowerment: UN report
A new global report, launched by UN Women and UNDP at the Women Deliver Conference, highlights the challenges in achieving gender parity and women’s empowerment worldwide. The report introduces two indices – Women’s Empowerment Index (WEI) and Global Gender Parity Index (GGPI) – as tools to assess progress in women’s human development.
Restricted Power and Freedom for Women
The analysis of 114 countries indicates that women’s power and freedom to make choices and seize opportunities remain largely restricted. Low women’s empowerment and significant gender gaps are common.
The Women’s Empowerment Index (WEI)
CountryWomen’s Empowerment Index (WEI)Global Gender Parity Index (GGPI)United States73.5%78.2%United Kingdom76.9%77.6%India53.2%60.8%Brazil65.8%71.3%China62.4%68.1%Germany80.5%80.9%France75.1%76.4%South Africa61.3%63.9%Japan68.7%72.5%Canada78.3%79.1%
The WEI measures women’s power and freedoms across dimensions like health, education, inclusion, decision-making, and violence against women.
Globally, women achieve only 60% of their full potential, as measured by the WEI.
The Global Gender Parity Index (GGPI)
The GGPI evaluates women’s status relative to men in core dimensions of human development, including health, education, inclusion, and decision-making.
On average, women achieve 72% of what men do, reflecting a 28% gender gap.
Concerning Findings and Call for Action
Less than 1% of women and girls live in countries with both high women’s empowerment and gender parity.
More than 90% of the female population lives in countries with significant empowerment deficits and gender gaps.
The Role of the Indices
The WEI and GGPI serve as tools for policymakers, providing evidence for progress and guiding action towards women’s empowerment and gender equality.
Accelerating Progress and Achieving SDGs
The report’s findings are vital for the stock-taking moment of the Sustainable Development Goals. Policymakers, stakeholders, and communities can use these indices to advance towards a more equitable and inclusive world.
About UN Women and UNDP
UN Women is dedicated to gender equality and empowering women, while UNDP is leading efforts to combat poverty, inequality, and climate change globally.
Over 1 Lakh Houses Under PMAY-G Diverted to UP After 24 States and UTs Fail to Sanction Them
The Union Government has diverted the allocation of 1.44 lakh houses under PMAY-G from about 24 States and UTs to U.P. as they missed the deadline 30 June 2023 to sanction them.
Overview of the News:
The Union Government has set a target of construction about 2.95 crore houses under PMAY-G Scheme ahead of the Lok Sabha elections by 2024. The construction of about 2.04 crore houses were allocated to the states based on the Socio-Economic Caste Census (SECC) data and remaining 91 lakh houses were allocated based on a survey called Awaas+ conducted by the government in 2018 and 2019 to identify those beneficiaries who claimed to have been left out under the 2011 SECC.
About 24 States and UTs failed to sanction a total of 1.44 lakh houses before the deadline of 30 June. On the other hand, UP completed the target of construction of 34.74 lakh houses and sought the government’s approval for construction of additional houses.
PMAY-G was first started in 1996 in the name of Indira Awaas Yojna but certain gaps were identified in this scheme by CAG in 2014. To address these gaps in the rural housing program and in view of the government’s commitment to providing ‘Housing to All’ by 2022, the IAY has been re-launched as the Pradhan Mantri Awaas Yojna Gramin (PMAY-G) on 1st April 2016.
Objective of PMAY-G:
The main aim of PMAY-G is to provide a pucca house with all basic amenities to all houseless householders. The immediate objective of this scheme is to cover 1,000 crore households living in the kutcha house/dilapidated house in three years from 2016-17 to 2018-19.
Salient Features of PMAY-G:
The minimum size of the house has been increased to 25 sq. mt (from 20 sq.mt.).
The unit assistance has been increased from 70,000 to Rs.1.20 lakh in plain areas (sharing ratio between central and the state is 60:40) and from Rs.75,000 to Rs.1.30 lakh for Northern and Himalayan areas ( sharing ratio is 90:10).
It also promotes other schemes such as Swachcha Bharat Mission, MNREGA, Ujjawal Yojna etc. to provide additional benefits to the beneficiaries.
It uses geo-tagging and Aadhar linked payments to ensure transparency and accountability in the implementation process.
The central and the state government often delay the release of the fund which led to delay in construction activity.
The inadequate verification of the beneficiary can be challenging which leads to exclusion of the eligible households.
The quality of construction is often compromised due to lack of skilled labor.
Lack of awareness among the beneficiaries.