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Insights Daily Current Events, 18 December 2014

Insights Daily Current Events, 18 December 2014

SC: why is eastern border still porous?

The Supreme Court recently questioned the government’s resolve to secure the eastern border of the country. It has Expressed concern at the large influx of illegal migrants from Bangladesh.

  • The court also noted that the porous border, with not even a proper fencing, risks the lives of citizens of the border States, including Assam.
  • The judgment came on a batch of petitions filed by NGOs, contending that large influx of people from Bangladesh led to periodic clashes.
  • The petitions challenged the validity of Section 6(3) & (4) of the Citizenship Act, accommodating migrants from East Pakistan between January, 1966 and March 24, 1971 as deemed citizens of the country. The petitions wanted such periodic violence to be treated as instances of external aggression.

The Court has ordered that:

  • The Union will take all effective steps to complete the fencing in such parts of the Indo-Bangla border [including Assam] where presently the fencing is yet to be completed.
  • The vigil along the riverine boundary will be effectively maintained by continuous patrolling. Such part of the international border which has been perceived to be inhospitable on account of the difficult terrain will be patrolled and monitored at vulnerable points that could provide means of illegal entry.
  • It directed the building of motorable roads alongside the international border and installation of floodlights to prevent incidents ranging from incursion to cross-border trafficking.

Sources: The Hindu.

Reserve Bank slaps penalty on ICICI Bank, BoB

The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) has imposed a monetary penalty on ICICI Bank (Rs.50 lakh) and Bank of Baroda (Rs.25 lakh) for violation of its instructions on Know Your Customer (KYC) and anti-money laundering (AML) norms.

  • The RBI said that some fraudsters had managed to open fictitious accounts in the name of a statutory organisation in these five banks and operated the accounts mainly for encashing cheques/demand drafts/postal orders, of which they were not the rightful owners, for periods ranging from one month to two years, without being detected by the banks.
  • The central bank said its scrutiny of the banks revealed violation of certain regulatory guidelines, including non-adherence to certain aspects of know your customer (KYC) norms such as customer identification and acceptance procedure and non-adherence to instructions on monitoring of transactions in customer accounts.

KYC Norms:

KYC is an acronym for “Know your Customer”, a term used for customer identification process.

  • It involves making reasonable efforts to determine true identity and beneficial ownership of accounts, source of funds, the nature of customer’s business, reasonableness of operations in the account in relation to the customer’s business, etc which in turn helps the banks to manage their risks prudently.
  • The objective of the KYC guidelines is to prevent banks being used, intentionally or unintentionally by criminal elements for money laundering.
  • KYC has got a legal backing. Reserve Bank of India has issued guidelines to banks under the Banking Regulation Act, 1949 and Prevention of Money-Laundering Rules, 2005. Any contravention thereof or non-compliance shall attract penalties under Banking Regulation Act.

KYC has two components – Identity and Address. While identity remains the same, the address may change and hence the banks are required to periodically update their records.

Revised Norms:

  • According to the new norms Customers need to submit only one documentary proof of address — either current or permanent — while opening a bank account or while undergoing periodic updation.
  • In case the address mentioned as per ‘proof of address’ undergoes a change, fresh proof of address may be submitted to the branch within six months.
  • No separate proof for current address required. Now, customers have to furnish only one address proof (current or permanent) for opening a bank account.
  • A small account can be opened by self-attesting a photograph and giving thumb impression on the application in the presence of a bank employee. This is probably the best piece of news for students who live away from home and migrant workers.

Sources: The Hindu, Business today.

Microsoft pitches for ‘White-Fi’ to provide last mile connectivity

Microsoft is looking at starting a pilot project of its ‘White-Fi’ technology that uses the unused spectrum in frequencies used for broadcasting of television signals, and is likely to offer solution to tackle the problem of last mile broadband connectivity in the country.

  • Other countries where Microsoft has helped implement the technology are Kenya, Singapore, the U.S. and London.
  • The 200-600 MHz frequency is used for TV channels to carry data. In India, 93 per cent of this spectrum is not utilised. ‘White-Fi’ will use this vacant spectrum to provide connectivity.
  • In technology parlance, these unused spectrum spaces are called White Space, and many technology companies are looking at using this to provide free last mile internet access to users.
  • Under the ‘Digital India’ initiative, the government plans to use the national optic fibre network project to deliver e-services to all corner of the country. While this network will be deployed at the gram panchayat level, reaching the end consumer may still require wireless technology, particularly in far flung areas.

Benefits of White-Fi:

There are many benefits from using TV white space. Some of them are:

  • Propagation characteristics: In view of the fact that the white-fi system operating the TV white spaces would use frequencies below 1 GHz, this would allow for greater distances to be achieved. Current Wi-Fi systems use frequencies in the ISM bands – the lowest band is 2.4 GHz and here signals are easily absorbed.
  • Additional bandwidth: One of the advantages of using TV white space is that additional otherwise unused frequencies can be accessed. However, it will be necessary to aggregate several TV channels to provide the bandwidths that Wi-Fi uses on 2.4 and 5.6 GHz, to achieve the required data throughput rates. It is possible that vacant channels in any given area will vary widely in frequency and this presents some challenges in managing the data sharing across the different channels, although this has been successfully achieved in technologies such as LTE.

Looking at these benefits, it is believed that the White-Fi system offers sufficient advantages to enable development to be undertaken.

The Telangana Government, which is trying to make Hyderabad a Wi-Fi enabled city, is in the process of acquiring ‘White-Fi’ technology.

Sources: The Hindu, radioelectronics.com.

Officials try to break nuclear logjam ahead of Obama visit

Officials of the “India-U.S. contact group” on civil nuclear cooperation met in Delhi this week to try and break the logjam between both countries ahead of U.S. President Obama’s visit to Delhi on January 24.

  • Objections by some U.S. companies over India’s Nuclear Liability Act have held up nuclear business being transacted between the two countries, despite the government allocating land in Gujarat and Andhra Pradesh.
  • Their objections are to their financial liability stipulated in Sections 17(b) and 46 of the Civil Liability for Nuclear Damage Act (2010) that they say runs against the International Convention on Supplementary Compensation for Nuclear Damage.
  • While Section 17 (b) says the operator (NPCIL) has the right to recourse against suppliers in case of a nuclear accident, clause 46 says suppliers can be sued under other Indian laws as well.

More details on Nuclear Liability Act:

Aim: The Act aims to provide a civil liability for nuclear damage and prompt compensation to the victims of a nuclear incident through a nofault liability to the operator, appointment of Claims Commissioner, establishment of Nuclear Damage Claims Commission and for matters connected therewith or incidental thereto.

  • After this Act was passed, India became a member of the international convention on liability in the civil nuclear arena.
  • The Act effectively caps the maximum amount of liability in case of each nuclear accident at 5 billion to be paid by the operator of the nuclear plant, and if the cost of the damages exceeds this amount, special drawing rights up to 300 million will be paid by the Central Government.
  • The Act made amendments in the Atomic Energy Act 1962 allowing private investment in the Indian nuclear power program.

Motive of the Act is to legally and financially bind the operator and the government to provide relief to the affected population in the case of a nuclear accident.

Sources: The Hindu, Wiki.