Q.1) Digital financial inclusion penetration is low in India. Examine the reason behind this. Also, analyse how financial technology firms can play a role in taking financial services to rural areas.
The 500-million mobile connections in rural areas offers an opportunity to achieve digital and financial inclusion. But the numbers on financial inclusion have been low. RBI Working Group on FinTech and Digital Banking stated that 40% of the population is currently not connected to banks and 87% of payments are still made in cash.
- A World Bank report suggests that many JDY account holders might not have had an opportunity to use their bank accounts yet.
- The dependence of the populace on cash continues to remain strong as ever.
- A mere 13% internet penetration is across lower-income groups.
- Other top reasons for non-transactors comprise lack of trust, no touch and feel, convenience of offline, offline more reliable, no grievance redressal, cheaper offline and inability to find products.
- Digital illiteracy remains a problem along with the traditional problems of connectivity and access.
How fintech firms can play a role:
- They can target the mobile phone users.
- Simplifying solutions that cater to local population groups.
- Less charges in maintaining accounts and handling transactions differentiate them from traditional banking.
- As they can address the digital gender divide due to easy availability and accessibility of mobile phones.
Q.2) “One leg of the US-India cooperation in terms of security relationship is growing very well but the other leg of economic and trade cooperation is highly infected”. In light of the recent 2+2 dialogue, comment on the above statement.
Better security relations:
- India-U.S. Defence Framework Agreement was renewed for 10 years in 2015.
- India undertakes the largest number of military exercises with the U.S.
- During Cold War, more than three-fourths of India’s defence equipment was of Soviet origin. In recent years, U.S. and Israel emerged as major suppliers.
- LEMOA, the logistics support agreement text was concluded in 2016. It facilitates logistics supplies during port visits and joint exercises and does not contain any obligations for joint activity or any basing arrangements
Poor trade and economic cooperation:
- Trade stands at more than $120 billion a year with a target of touching $500 billion in five years.
- U.S. FDI in India is just at $20 billion.
- U.S. recently filed a dispute against India on export incentives alleging these support measures harm its workers by creating an uneven playing field. U.S. demands on lowering tariffs and subsidies.
- India dragged the U.S. to WTO’s dispute settlement mechanism over the imposition of import duties on steel and aluminium. USA levied a 25% tariff on steel and a 10% tariff on aluminium imported from all countries except Canada and Mexico.
- U.S. imposed sanctions on Iran after its unilateral withdrawal from the nuclear deal. Iranian crude imports have grown significantly in recent years and India is also developing the Chabahar port which provides connectivity to Afghanistan and Central Asia.
Q.3) What are the issues that plague the telecom sector of the country? Write some targets of the recent digital communication policy.
Answer: Issues plaguing telecom sector:
- One of the major consumer issues is increased network congestion and the consequent Quality of Service (QoS).
- Service providers have not scaled up their telecom network infrastructure in proportion to the increased network usage.
- The larger number of subscribers and service providers has led to the mushrooming of telecom towers, especially in metros and big cities. These towers contain mobile base station equipment, which produces 900 and 1800 MHz pulsated waves. This has increased the electromagnetic contamination- referred to commonly as “Electrosmog” in urban centres.
- Cellular service providers in India keep coming out with new schemes and plans to attract and retain customers. However, on most occasions, the details of these plans are not disclosed upfront to the customers and often discrepancies emerge between actual plan details and the customer’s understanding of them.
- Challenges of mergers forced by some monopoly entries and predatory pricing.
Targets of digital communication policy:
With a view to cater to the modern needs of the digital communications sector of India, Cabinet approved the National Digital Communications Policy-2018 (NDCP-2018). Below are the targets:
- Provide universal broadband connectivity at 50 Mbps to every citizen.
- Provide 1 Gbps connectivity to all Gram Panchayats by 2020 and 10 Gbps by 2022.
- Ensure connectivity to all uncovered areas.
- Attract investments of USD 100 billion in the Digital Communications Sector.
- Train one million manpower for building New Age Skill.
- Expand IoT ecosystem to 5 billion connected devices.
- Establish a comprehensive data protection regime for digital communications that safeguards the privacy, autonomy and choice of individuals.
- Facilitate India’s effective participation in the global digital economy.
- Enforce accountability through appropriate institutional mechanisms to assure citizens of safe and secure digital communications infrastructure and services.
Q.4) The recent Supreme Court verdicts sets right the ‘historical wrongs’ done on women and marginalised sections. Comment
Answer: Sabarimala verdict:
Supreme Court recently opened doors for women of all ages to enter the Sabarimala shrine.
- Restrictions on women’s entry are discriminatory based on the gender, which are barred under Art. 15 of the Indian constitution.
- The restrictions on women’s entry are inconsistent with the modern philosophy of gender equality recognized under CEDAW (Convention Elimination of All forms of Discrimination Against Women, 1979).
- The Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR), of which India is a signatory, requires that it gives to its citizens freedom of religion, and the right against discrimination on the basis of gender.
- The demand for temple entry to all classes has long been a part of the larger struggle for social reform in India.
Verdict on Sec.377:
Supreme Court, in Navtej Singh Johar vs Union of India judgement, decriminalised same-sex relations between consenting adults in private.
- Section 377 of IPC – “Unnatural offences – Whoever voluntarily has carnal intercourse against the order of nature with any man, woman or animal, shall be punished with imprisonment for life, or with imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to ten years, and shall also be liable to fine.”
- According to the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB), as many as 2,195 gay sex cases were registered under Section 377 in 2016, 1,347 in 2015 and 1,148 cases in 2014.
- Social stigma attached to one belonging to LGBTQ community. They continue to face mental health issues.
- Members of the LGBTQ+ community face a great deal of discrimination when it comes to housing, employment, etc