RBI Releases Draft Circular on Credit Card Network Portability
The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) has unveiled a draft regulation that grants debit, credit, and prepaid cardholders the authority to select their desired card network, marking a potentially revolutionary development on a global scale. This regulation challenges the prevailing practice where card network options are predetermined through agreements between issuers and networks.
As per the draft circular issued by the RBI, card issuers will be prohibited from entering into any arrangement or agreement with card networks that restricts them from accessing the services of other card networks. The RBI stated that the current arrangements between card networks and card issuers, be it banks or non-banking institutions, do not promote customer choice and availability. This proposed regulation aims to enhance flexibility and competition in the credit card market, empowering users with the freedom to choose the card network that best suits their preferences and requirements.
What is card network portability?
Card network portability enables consumers to transfer their card accounts from one network to another, similar to how we can switch mobile service providers while retaining the same phone number. With card network portability, cardholders have the flexibility to migrate to a different payment network while keeping their existing card accounts, balances, and credit history intact.
RBI card network portability proposal: Banks may face operational challenges
While this draft holds significant advantages for customers, granting them decision-making authority and portability, banks may face operational challenges and increased costs. “They will need to review existing agreements, establish new partnerships, adjust their customer onboarding processes, plan additional training, and relook at customer profiling. The impact on the manufacturing process of all banking cards is something to be evaluated in the coming few months,” said Anadurjay Talukdar.
Banks have less than 90 days to implement these changes
Rajalakshmi Raghu, Head of Strategic Relationships at Manipal Technologies Limited, pointed out that banks are faced with a tight timeline of less than 90 days to implement the extensive organizational changes, considering the proposed implementation date of October 1st, 2023.
RBI circular on card network choice: Customers are the real beneficiaries
Customers emerge as the primary beneficiaries under the new regulations, as card issuers will now be obligated to offer more than one card network and provide the option for customers to choose their preferred network during card issuance or even afterwards. Additionally, apart from the potential for innovative offerings by different network providers, there are broader advantages for customers that will become apparent in the future.
In India, authorized card networks, such as MasterCard and Visa, partner with banks and non-banking financial institutions (NBFCs) for card issuance. Other authorized card networks in India include American Express Banking Corp, Diners Club International, and National Payments Corporation of India – Rupay.
Gujarat government doubles insurance cover
The state government of Gujarat has taken a significant step towards improving healthcare access for its citizens by doubling the insurance cover under the Pradhan Mantri Jan Arogya Yojana (PMJAY). Starting from the 11th of July, beneficiaries of PMJAY in Gujarat will now receive an insurance cover of Rs 10 lakhs, a twofold rise from the previous coverage of Rs 5 lakhs. This decision by the state government aims to benefit approximately 1.78 crore Ayushman Bharat card holders in Gujarat, enhancing their access to quality medical treatment.
Free Medical Treatment Across Government and Private Hospitals
Under PMJAY, the beneficiaries in Gujarat will now have access to free medical treatment in over two thousand government hospitals and 795 private hospitals across the state. This extensive network of healthcare facilities will play a crucial role in providing timely and quality healthcare services to the insured population. The inclusion of private hospitals in the scheme broadens the choices available to beneficiaries, ensuring they can receive treatment from a wider range of healthcare providers.
Impressive Claims Record in Gujarat
Gujarat has made remarkable progress in the implementation of PMJAY, as reflected by its claims record. To date, the state has received over 39 lakh claims, ranking fifth in the country in terms of the number of claims. Moreover, Gujarat has secured the second position in terms of the amount of claims cleared under PMJAY. This achievement demonstrates the effectiveness of the state government’s efforts in streamlining the insurance claims process, allowing beneficiaries to access their entitled benefits swiftly.
Enhancing Healthcare Accessibility and Affordability
By doubling the insurance cover under PMJAY, the Gujarat government is taking a proactive approach to improve healthcare accessibility and affordability for its residents. The increased coverage will provide financial protection to vulnerable sections of society, enabling them to seek necessary medical treatments without the fear of incurring substantial out-of-pocket expenses. This initiative aligns with the overarching objective of PMJAY to ensure universal health coverage and promote equitable healthcare services across the nation.
About Ayushman Bharat Pradhan Mantri Jan Arogya Yojana (AB-PMJAY)
AB-PMJAY is a health protection scheme that offers the world’s largest coverage for health expenses. It provides financial support to more than 60 crore beneficiaries in rural and urban areas. The scheme aims to safeguard individuals and families from incurring overwhelming healthcare costs. Under this scheme, comprehensive healthcare services are provided to all citizens of the country based on their specific needs which includes maternal and child health services, as well as services related to non-communicable diseases
CMV and ToMV virus hit tomato crop in Maharashtra and Karnataka
Tomato farmers in Maharashtra and Karnataka have attributed the decline in their yields earlier this year to two distinct viruses. Those in Maharashtra reported that their tomato crops were adversely affected by the cucumber mosaic virus (CMV), whereas growers in Karnataka and other South Indian states attributed their losses to the tomato mosaic virus (ToMV). In the past three years, farmers cultivating tomatoes have observed a rise in the prevalence of these two viruses, resulting in varying degrees of crop damage, ranging from partial to total loss.
What are CMV and ToMV?
The two plant pathogens, despite having similar names and causing similar crop damage, actually belong to different viral families and have distinct modes of transmission. The tomato mosaic virus (ToMV) is a member of the Virgaviridae family and shares a close relationship with the tobacco mosaic virus (TMV). It affects various plants, including tomatoes, tobacco, peppers, and certain ornamental plants.
ToMV spreads through various means, including infected seeds, saplings, agricultural tools, and human contact.
Certain insect vectors, such as thrips and whiteflies, can also transmit the virus.
Infected plants display green mottling and yellowing of leaves, often appearing as blisters or fern-like patterns.
Leaf curling in either an upward or downward direction and distortion may occur.
Younger plants may experience stunted growth, and fruit setting can be affected.
Prevention and Control
Emphasize the implementation of biosafety standards in nurseries and ensure compulsory seed treatment.
Farmers should thoroughly inspect saplings before planting and discard any infected materials.
About cucumber mosaic virus (CMV)
On the other hand, the cucumber mosaic virus (CMV) has a much broader range of host plants. It can infect cucumber, melon, eggplant, tomato, carrot, lettuce, celery, cucurbits (such as squash, pumpkin, zucchini, and some gourds), as well as certain ornamental plants. The name “CMV” originated from its identification in cucumber back in 1934. It is worth noting that CMV has a wider host pool compared to ToMV.
CMV primarily spreads through aphids, which are sap-sucking insects capable of acquiring and transmitting the virus within minutes.
Transmission can also occur through infected seeds, mechanical inoculation, and grafting.
Infected plants exhibit leaf distortion, primarily at the top and bottom, while the middle portion remains relatively unaffected.
In cucumber plants, CMV causes a mosaic-like pattern of yellow and green spots on the leaves.
Fruit formation can be adversely affected, resulting in stunting and reduced production.
Prevention and Control:
The key focus should be on preventing aphids, the primary vector, by employing quick-acting insecticides or mineral oils.
Care should be taken to avoid aphid migration and the spread of the virus to other fields.
Similarities between ToMV and CMV
Genome and Replication
Both ToMV and CMV have a single-stranded RNA genome that is enclosed within a rod-shaped protein coat.
Both viruses enter plant cells through wounds or natural openings and replicate within the cytoplasm.
They can move systemically throughout the plant via the phloem, spreading to different parts of the plant.
Impact on Crop
Both ToMV and CMV have the potential to cause significant crop losses, often approaching 100% if not adequately addressed in a timely manner.
The severity of the crop loss depends on the susceptibility of the specific crop and the extent of infection.
Why Brain-Eating Amoeba again in news?
A 15-year-old boy from Alappuzha district in Kerala, India, has passed away after contracting a rare infection caused by Naegleria fowleri, commonly known as the “brain-eating amoeba.” The young boy experienced a week-long period of high fever and rapid deterioration of his health. It is believed that he contracted the amoeba while bathing in a nearby stream, which is likely the source of the infection. Naegleria fowleri thrives in various natural environments, particularly warm water habitats, but cannot survive in saline conditions and is therefore not found in seawater. The amoeba sustains itself by feeding on bacteria present in the sediment of lakes and rivers.
Brain-eating amoeba infection reported in South Korea
For the first time ever, a rare and potentially fatal brain-eating amoeba has been discovered in South Korea. Primary amebic meningoencephalitis (PAM) is a rare and serious infection caused by the amoeba naegleria fowleri, which is commonly found in warm freshwater and soil.
Brain-eating amoeba infection reported in South Korea: Key Points
The 50-year-old affected person has passed away, the Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency (KDCA) reports. The man had returned to Korea following a four-month sojourn in Thailand.
Although it is not feasible for the sickness to spread from person to person, the KDCA has encouraged people to stay away from freshwater lakes and use caution when participating in water sports.
In order to prevent water from entering the nose when engaging in aquatic activities, the government has also encouraged people to use nose clips or hold their nostrils shut.
When contaminated water enters the nose and travels to the brain, it can result in the rare but frequently fatal infection known as PAM.
Within five days of infection, symptoms usually start to show up and can include headache, fever, nausea, and vomiting in addition to stiff neck, seizures, and altered mental status.
The infection can cause a coma and even death in extreme circumstances.
Brain-eating amoeba infection: Primary amebic meningoencephalitis
The rarity of the amoeba and the lack of specialised diagnostic testing make PAM currently incurable and make the infection challenging to identify. Medications are frequently used in conjunction with supportive care to treat problems and manage inflammation. The KDCA stated that it is attempting to stop new diseases from occurring and has advised the public to use caution when partaking in water-related activities. The organization has also advised individuals to stay out of warm, stagnant water bodies and to stay out of the water if they have cuts or abrasions on their skin.
Brain-eating amoeba infection: First Case in South Korea
Infection with Naegleria fowleri has never been previously documented in South Korea. There have been 143 recorded instances in the United States from 1962 to 2018, with the majority happening in the southern states, despite the fact that it is an uncommon disease and it is difficult to determine the precise number of occurrences. The World Health Organization (WHO) predicts that the disease affects between 1,000 and 2,000 people worldwide each year.
World famous Shravani Mela inaugurated in Deoghar
State Agriculture Minister Badal Patralekh kick-started the Shravani Mela with traditional rituals and prayers and ensured a smooth and memorable experience for the devotees. With the extended duration and the unique alignment of eight Mondays during the Shravani fair after nearly two decades, the significance of this year’s event is heightened.
Significance of Shravani Mela
Shravani Mela is one of the largest religious congregations in the eastern region of India. This month-long fair holds immense religious significance for devotees of Lord Shiva. It is an annual pilgrimage that attracts millions of Kanwariyas, who undertake a sacred journey to fetch holy water from the Ganges River and offer it to Lord Shiva at the Baba Baidyanath Temple. The mela takes place during the holy month of Shravan, and this year its timespan is extended from July 3rd to September 7th.
The Pilgrimage of Kanwariyas
The journey to Deoghar begins with the Kanwariyas, devotees who embark on a 105-kilometer pilgrimage on foot after taking a holy dip in the Ganga at Bihar’s Sultanganj. Carrying water from the river, they traverse through challenging terrains to reach the Baba Baidyanath Dham temple. Upon arrival, the pilgrims pour the sacred water on the ‘shivalingam’ as they chant ‘Bol Bam,’ signifying their devotion and dedication.
The Baba Baidyanathdham Temple
The Baba Baidyanathdham Temple, located in Deoghar, holds immense significance for devotees. It is recognized as one of the 12 Jyotirlingas, which are the most revered and sacred Shiva temples in the country. The temple attracts pilgrims from far and wide, who seek blessings and spiritual solace.
Coordination Between Jharkhand and Bihar
Shravani Mela is a collaborative effort between the states of Jharkhand and Bihar. Both governments work in tandem to ensure the success of this grand event. The Deoghar administration, in particular, has taken comprehensive measures ranging from crowd management to lodging facilities for the devotees. This joint effort aims to provide a seamless experience for the pilgrims throughout their spiritual journey.
Facilities and Amenities
Pradhan Mantri Mudra Yojana (PMMY) Loans Witness 23% Disbursal Increase in Q1 FY24
The disbursal of loans under the Pradhan Mantri Mudra Yojana (PMMY) in India has seen a significant increase, reaching ₹81,597 crore in the first quarter of FY24. This marks a notable 23% growth compared to ₹62,650 crore disbursed in the same quarter last year. The surge in disbursals can be attributed to the rising demand for loans in the Tarun category and other factors. It is the highest-ever increase in disbursals during the first quarter since the launch of the scheme.
Record Disbursal: The disbursal of PMMY loans in the first quarter of FY24 amounted to ₹81,597 crore, representing a 23% increase from the previous year’s first quarter.
Tarun Category Demand: The significant rise in disbursals can be attributed to the increased demand for Tarun category loans, driven by borrowers upgrading from the initial Sishu category of loans.
Previous Financial Year: In the last financial year (FY23), small business loan disbursements under PMMY reached an all-time high of ₹4.50 lakh crore, reflecting a remarkable growth rate of 34.7% compared to the previous year’s ₹3.11 lakh crore.
Average Loan Size: There has been an increase in the average size of Mudra loans, reaching ₹73,489 in FY23.
High Credit Utilization: The ratio of disbursed to sanctioned amounts reached an all-time high of 99% in FY23, indicating borrowers’ increased willingness to utilize credit.
Potential Rise in NPAs: The rapid growth in Mudra loans could lead to a sudden increase in non-performing assets (NPAs), raising concerns among officials and financial experts.
Economic Activity Boost: The increased economic activity in rural and semi-urban areas, along with positive demand projections, has encouraged existing customers to upgrade their loans and attracted first-time borrowers.
Key Points about Pradhan Mantri Mudra Yojana (PMMY):
Scheme Overview: Pradhan Mantri Mudra Yojana (PMMY) is a flagship scheme launched by the Government of India in 2015 to provide financial support to small and micro-enterprises.
Loan Categories: PMMY offers loans under three categories: a. Shishu: Loans up to ₹50,000. b. Kishor: Loans above ₹50,000 and up to ₹5 lakh. c. Tarun: Loans above ₹5 lakh and up to ₹10 lakh.
Disbursal Growth: The disbursal of PMMY loans increased by 23% to ₹81,597 crore in the first quarter of FY24, compared to ₹62,650 crore in the same quarter of the previous year.
Highest-ever Increase: The Q1 FY24 disbursal growth is the highest-ever recorded in the first quarter since the launch of the PMMY scheme.
Tarun Category Demand: The increased disbursals were driven by the rising demand for Tarun category loans, as borrowers upgraded from the Sishu category of loans.
Record-breaking Year: In the previous financial year (FY23), PMMY disbursed small business loans worth ₹4.50 lakh crore, marking a growth rate of 34.7% compared to the previous year.
Average Loan Size: The average size of Mudra loans increased to ₹73,489 in FY23.
High Credit Utilization: The ratio of disbursed to sanctioned amounts reached an all-time high of 99% in FY23, indicating borrowers’ readiness to utilize the sanctioned funds.
Economic Activity Boost: Increased economic activity in rural and semi-urban areas, along with positive demand projections, has led to both existing customers upgrading their loans and attracting first-time borrowers.
Concerns of Rising NPAs: The rapid growth in Mudra loans raises concerns about a potential increase in non-performing assets (NPAs) if not carefully managed.
PM unveils 29 projects in Varanasi
Prime Minister Narendra Modi recently unveiled a series of development projects worth Rs 12,100 crores in is parliamentary constituency, Varanasi. These initiatives, spanning various sectors, reflect the government’s focus on transforming the city and fostering growth in key areas such as infrastructure, education, and more. PM Modi emphasized the need for schemes that address ground realities and expressed satisfaction in engaging with the beneficiaries to gather feedback and ensure the effectiveness of the initiatives.
Pandit Deen Dayal Upadhyaya Junction-Son Nagar railway line
One of the significant projects inaugurated by PM Modi was the Pandit Deen Dayal Upadhyaya Junction-Son Nagar railway line, a crucial part of the Dedicated Freight Corridor. Built at a cost of over Rs 6,760 crore, this new railway line will enable faster and more efficient movement of goods, thereby bolstering economic growth in the region. The development of transportation infrastructure is crucial for facilitating trade and commerce, and this project is expected to have a positive impact on the local economy.
Vande Bharat Express trains
Earlier PM Modi inaugurated two new Vande Bharat Express trains in Gorakhpur showcasing the government’s efforts to enhance rail connectivity and improve passenger experience. Vande Bharat Express trains are known for their speed, comfort, and advanced features, and their introduction in Gorakhpur will provide the residents with a reliable and efficient mode of transportation. The inauguration was made in a closing ceremony of the centenary celebrations of Gita Press in Gorakhpur. Gita Press, known for its significant contribution to the dissemination of Hindu religious literature, holds immense historical and cultural significance.
The unveiling of these projects and the government’s commitment to development demonstrate the BJP’s dedication to the progress of Varanasi and the surrounding districts. The initiatives in sectors such as infrastructure and education are crucial for driving economic growth, creating job opportunities, and improving the overall quality of life for the people in these regions.