1. The digital payment superhighway

The National Payments Corporation of India:

  • The National Payments Corporation of India (NPCI) is an umbrella organisation for operating retail payments and settlement systems in India.
  • It is an initiative of Reserve Bank of India (RBI) and Indian Banks’ Association (IBA) under the provisions of the Payment and Settlement Systems Act, 2007, for creating a robust Payment & Settlement Infrastructure in India.
  • The NPCI has been incorporated as a “Not for Profit” Company, with an intention to provide infrastructure to the entire banking system in India for physical as well as electronic payment and settlement systems.
  • The Company is focused on bringing innovations in the retail payment systems through the use of technology for achieving greater efficiency in operations and widening the reach of payment systems.
  • Important products/services/technologies by NPCI include the following: o UPI: Unified Payments Interface (UPI) is a system that powers multiple bank accounts into a single mobile application (of any participating bank), merging several banking features, seamless fund routing & merchant payments into one hood. It also caters to the “Peer to Peer” collect request which can be scheduled and paid as per requirement and convenience.
  • RuPay is an indigenously developed Payment System. It aims to establish a domestic, open-loop, multilateral system which will allow all Indian banks and financial institutions in India to participate in electronic payments. It supports the issuance of debit, credit and prepaid cards by banks in India thereby supporting the growth of retail electronic payments in India.
  • Immediate Payment Service (IMPS): IMPS provides robust & real-time fund transfer which offers an instant, 24X7, interbank electronic fund transfer service that could be accessed on multiple channels like Mobile, Internet, ATM, SMS, Branch and USSD(*99#). IMPS allows for transferring of funds instantly within banks across India which is not only safe but also economical.
  • BHIM: Bharat Interface for Money (BHIM) is an app that allows payment transactions using Unified Payments Interface (UPI). It allows instant bank-to-bank payments and pay and collect money using just a mobile number or Virtual Payment Address (UPI ID).
  • Aadhaar enabled Payment System (AePS): AePS is a bank-led model which allows online interoperable financial inclusion transaction at PoS (MicroATM) through the business correspondent of any bank using the Aadhaar authentication. It has become instrumental to increase the accessibility of basic banking services in underserved areas.
  • National Automated Clearing House (NACH) is an offline web-based system for bulk push and pull transactions.



  1. Azad Hind Government

The issue in news

Commemoration of ’77th Year of Formation of Azad Hind Government’.

Main points

  • On 21 October 1943, the Provisional Government of Free India was established as a government-in-exile in Singapore by Indians in exile headed by Subhash Chandra Bose. It was also called Azad Hind or Free India.
  • The Azad Hind government had its own court, civil code and currency. Its provisional capital was Port Blair, while its capital-in-exile was Rangoon and Singapore.
  • Subhash Chandra Bose was the Prime Minister. S. A. Ayer was the Minister of Broadcasting and Publicity and Lt. Col. A. C. Chatterji was the Minister of Finance.
  • Azad Hind was disestablished on 18 August 1945.


Provisional Government of Free India

  • Azad Hind was established as part of a political movement originating outside India by Indians against British imperialism. Subhash Chandra Bose was the most prominent leader of this movement and he was also the Head of State of the provisional government.
  • It was established with financial, political and military support from Imperial Japan. This political movement was spearheaded by Bose, who was called Netaji by the Azad Hind members, and it meant to take sides with the Axis powers (including Nazi Germany, Italy and Japan) in order to wrest India of British rule (who were part of the Allied Forces during World War II).
  • The Indian National Army (INA) was the army of the Azad Hind government.
  • Azad Hind staked claim to the entire subcontinent as its own, but in actuality, it governed Indian military and civilian personnel in the Southeast Asian British colonial territory. After the Andaman and Nicobar Islands, and parts of Nagaland and Manipur were captured by Japan in 1943 as part of the on-going war, nominal authority of these regions was given to Azad Hind. These islands were renamed ‘Shaheed’ and ‘Swaraj’.
  • While some historians say that the Azad Hind was an independent government, most say that it was dependent on the Japanese.
  • The provisional Indian government was recognised only by the Axis powers and their allies.
  • Azad Hind had diplomatic ties with Nazi Germany, the Italian Socialist Republic, the Empire of Japan, Thailand, Burma, Croatia, Manchukuo and the Second Philippine Republic.
  • In the Greater East Asia Conference held in November 1943, Azad Hind was an observer and was represented by Bose.
  • The Azad Hind government had its own court, civil code and currency. Its provisional capital was Port Blair, while its capital-in-exile was Rangoon and Singapore.
  • Subhash Chandra Bose was the Prime Minister. S. A. Ayer was the Minister of Broadcasting and Publicity and Lt. Col. A. C. Chatterji was the Minister of Finance.
  • There were a number of secretaries and advisors also.
  • The British were successful in defeating the INA and ousting the Japanese from the Andaman and Nicobar Islands and the northeast. After this and Subhash Chandra Bose’s death in 1945 in a plane crash, the Azad Hind ceased to exist.
  • Azad Hind was disestablished on 18 August 1945


  1. ASW Corvette ‘Kavaratti’

The issue in news

Indigenously built ASW Corvette ‘Kavaratti’ to be commissioned at Visakhapatnam.

About INS Kavaratti:

  • INS Kavaratti is an indigenously built stealth corvette under Project 28 (Kamorta Class).
  • The Kamorta class corvettes are the first stealth corvettes to be built in India. o The other three corvettes, INS Kamorta, INS Kadmatt and INS Kiltan were commissioned in 2014, 2016 and 2017 respectively.
  • The corvettes are named after the islands in the Lakshadweep archipelago.
  • The Kamorta class corvettes are intended to succeed the Kora-class corvette by precedence and Abhay-class corvette by role.
  • INS Kavaratti is indigenously designed by the Indian Navy’s in-house organisation, Directorate of Naval Design (DND), and built by Garden Reach Shipbuilders & Engineers (GRSE), Kolkata.
  • The ship has up to 90% indigenous content and the use of carbon composites for the superstructure is a commendable feat achieved in Indian shipbuilding.
  • The ship’s weapons and sensors suite is predominantly indigenous and showcases the nation’s growing capability in this niche area.
  • Kavaratti has a state-of-the-art weapons and sensor suite capable of detecting and prosecuting submarines. In addition to its anti-submarine warfare (ASW) capability, the ship also has a credible self defence capability and good endurance for long-range deployments.
  • The ship will be commissioned into the Navy as a combat-ready platform as the ship has completed sea trials of all the systems fitted onboard.
  • Kavaratti takes her name from the erstwhile INS Kavaratti which was an Arnala class missile corvette.
  • The older Kavaratti had rendered service to the nation in the 1971 Bangladesh liberation war.


  1. Regulatory framework for REITs and InvITs in IFSC

The issue in news

The regulatory framework for REITs and InvITs in IFSC has been prescribed by the International Financial Services Centres Authority (IFSCA). Know more about IFSCA in PIB dated Oct 19, 2020.

Main points

  • IFSCA has permitted global participants i.e. REITs (real estate investment trust) and InvITs (infrastructure investment trust) incorporated in FATF compliant jurisdictions to list on the stock exchanges in GIFT IFSC.
  • Additionally, InvITs have been permitted to raise funds through private placements also.
  • The REITs and InvITs registered in IFSC have been permitted to invest in real estate assets and infrastructure projects respectively in IFSC, India and other foreign jurisdictions, which is in line with the framework provided in the global financial centres.
  • Additionally, the REITs and InvITs that are already listed in any of the permissible jurisdictions other than IFSC (currently USA, Japan, South Korea, United Kingdom excluding British Overseas Territories, France, Germany, Canada and India) or India have been permitted to list and trade on the recognised stock exchanges in IFSC, subject to compliance with their respective laws of the home jurisdiction.
  • The listing of REITs and InvITs in IFSC shall be in accordance with the requirements of the stock exchanges in IFSC.


  1. Pradhan Mantri Krishi Sinchayee Yojana

The issue in news

Union Minister launched a mobile application for geotagging of the components of projects under Pradhan Mantri Krishi Sinchayee Yojana.


Objectives of PMKSY

The real goal of the PMKSY is to accomplish the merging of investments in the irrigation sector at the field level. Other objectives include:

  1. Increasing accessibility of irrigation facilities and expansion of cultivable range under guaranteed irrigation areas (Har Khet ko Pani)
  2. Enhancing On-Farm water use efficiency to lessen wastage of water
  3. Integrating the source, distribution and the efficiency of water through appropriate technologies
  4. Enhancing and promoting the implementation of precision- irrigation and other water-saving technologies (More crop per drop)
  5. Enhancing refilling of aquifers and present supportable water protection rehearses by investigating the attainability of reusing treated city-based water for peri-urban farming
  6. Ensuring integrated development of rainfed areas by different methods like:
    • Regeneration of Groundwater
    • Watershed approach for conserving water and soil
    • Arresting runoff
    • Providing livelihood and other NRM Activities (natural resource management)
  1. Promoting extension activities for farmers and field workers like:
    • Water Harvesting
    • Water Management
    • Crop alignment
  2. Drawing in more noteworthy private investment in precision irrigation system framework. This will result in increased production and productivity which will further enhance farm income



  1. National Super Computing Mission

The issue in news

National Super Computing Mission (NSM) is boosting high power computing in the country.

About the National Super Computing Mission:

  • The National Super Computing Mission (NSM) is rapidly boosting high power computing in the country through its various phases to meet the increasing computational demands of academia, researchers, MSMEs, and start-ups in areas like oil exploration, flood prediction as also genomics, and drug discovery.
  • The infrastructure installation of the mission is already in phase 2 and phase 3 will be initiated in January 2021.
  • Work on Phase-III will start in 2021 and will include three systems of 3 PF each and one system of 20 PF as a national facility.
  • The network of supercomputers through the country will soon reach to around 16 Petaflops (PF). Phase 3 will take the computing speed to around 45 Petaflops.

Nodal agencies:

  • The mission is jointly steered by the Ministry of Electronics and IT (MeitY) and Department of Science and Technology (DST) and implemented by the Centre for Development of Advanced Computing (C-DAC), Pune and the Indian Institute of Science (IISc), Bengaluru.
  • The three phases will provide access to High-Performance Computing (HPC) Facilities to around 75 institutions and thousands of active researchers, academicians working through Nation Knowledge Network (NKN) – the backbone for supercomputing systems.

Indigenous capability

  • Powered by the NSM, India’s network of research institutions, in collaboration with the industry, is scaling up the technology and manufacturing capability to make more and more parts in India.
  • While in Phase-I, 30 percent value addition is done in India, which has been scaled up to 40 percent in Phase-II.
  • Efforts are being made to design and develop parts like server board, interconnect, processor, system software libraries, storage, and HPC-AI converged accelerator domestically.
  • India has developed an indigenous server (Rudra), which can meet the HPC requirements of all governments and PSUs.
  • This is the first time that a server system was made in India, along with the full software stack developed by C-DAC.
  • Param Shivay, the first supercomputer assembled indigenously, was installed in IIT (BHU), followed by Param Shakti and Param Brahma at IIT-Kharagpur and IISER, Pune, respectively.



The issue in news

COVIRAP, diagnostic machine for COVID-19 detection.


  • The Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) has successfully validated ‘COVIRAP,’ the diagnostic machine evolved by IIT Kharagpur researchers, for its efficacy in COVID-19 detection.
  • Various commercial units have already approached the Institute for technology licensing to enable a rapid reach of this innovation to the common people.
  • After rigorous testing with the patient samples by an authorized ICMR laboratory, adhering to their strict guidelines, ICMR has now provided a green signal to certification for this COVID-19 Diagnostic Test.
  • This test has been designed to be fairly easy to conduct and it is quite affordable as well which may produce results in a custom-developed mobile phone application within an hour.
  • The machine can be developed at a cost of less than 10,000/- with a minimal infrastructural requirement.
  • The testing process in this new machine is completed within an hour.
  • The cost per test comes to be about Rs.500 which can be further reduced with government intervention.
  • This new testing method implements a highly reliable and accurate molecular diagnostic procedure that can be conducted in an ultra-low-cost portable device unit developed by the research team of IIT Kharagpur.
  • The test results are rendered via a custom-made mobile application for dissemination without requiring manual interpretation.


  1. MoU between India and Nigeria

The issue in news

Cabinet approves Memorandum of Understanding between India and Nigeria.

Main points

  • The MoU was signed between ISRO and the National Space Research and Development Agency (NASRDA) of Nigeria in 2020.

This MoU shall enable potential interest areas of cooperation such as:

  • Remote sensing of the earth
  • Satellite communication and satellite-based navigation
  • Space science end planetary exploration
  • Use of spacecraft, launch vehicles, space systems and ground systems
  • Practical applications of space technology including geospatial tools and techniques
  • Other areas of cooperation to be determined by the signatories



The issue in news

NASA’s OSIRIS-REx — Origins, Spectral Interpretation, Resource Identification, Security, Regolith Explorer — spacecraft briefly touched asteroid Bennu, from where it is meant to collect samples of dust and pebbles and deliver them back to Earth in 2023.

Main points

  • The asteroid was named after an Egyptian deity by a nine-year-old boy from North Carolina in 2013 who won NASA’s “Name that Asteroid” competition.
  • The asteroid was discovered by a team from the NASA-funded Lincoln Near-Earth Asteroid Research team in 1999.
  • Bennu is an asteroid located at a distance of about 200 million miles away from the Earth.
  • OSIRIS-REx mission is NASA’s first mission meant to return a sample from the ancient asteroid. The mission was launched in 2016, it reached its target in 2018 and since then, the spacecraft has been trying to match the velocity of the asteroid.
  • Scientists study asteroids to look for information about the formation and history of planets and the sun since asteroids were formed at the same time as other objects in the solar system. Another reason for tracking them is to look for asteroids that might be potentially hazardous.

Important Info :

What is an asteroid?

  • Asteroids are rocky objects that orbit the Sun, much smaller than planets. They are also called minor planets. According to NASA, 994,383 is the count of known asteroids, the remnants from the formation of the solar system over 4.6 billion years ago.
  • Asteroids are divided into three classes.
  • First, those found in the main asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter,which is estimated to contain somewhere between 1.1-1.9 million asteroids.
  • The second group is that of trojans,which are asteroids that share an orbit with a larger planet. NASA reports the presence of Jupiter, Neptune and Mars trojans. In 2011, they reported an Earth trojan as well.
  • The third is Near-Earth Asteroids (NEA), which have orbits that pass close by the Earth. Those that cross the Earth’s orbit are called Earth-crossers. More than 10,000 such asteroids are known, out of which over 1,400 are classified as potentially hazardous asteroids (PHAs).

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