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Saturday, December 7, 2013

Unique Identification Authority of India issues 51 crore Aadhaar numbers

The Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI) has completed issuance of 51 crore Aadhaar numbers. With generation of about 11 lakh Aadhaar numbers every day, the flagship programme appears all set to complete its mandate of covering 60 crore population in the next few months.

2. Established as an ‘Attached Office’ of the Planning Commission through a Government Notification in January 2009, UIDAI issued the first Aadhaar Number on 29 September 2010 after completing necessary preliminaries including establishing various standards relating to collection of data and biometric information such as finger prints and iris images. UIDAI issued 8 crore Aadhaar number in the period up to November 2011, another 15 crore in the next one year until November 2012, and has issued a further 28 crore Aadhaar number in the past 12 months. Eleven States and Unions Territories now have Aadhaar saturation levels of 75% or above, with several of them such as Andhra Pradesh, Himachal Pradesh, Tripura, Delhi and Chandigarh at levels above 90%.

3. Enrolment for Aadhaar is entirely voluntary and the Aadhaar number is already used as a Proof of Identify or Proof of Address or both by several programmes and schemes run by Central and State Governments. A number of regulatory authorities such as Reserve Bank of India (RBI), Insurance Regulatory and Development Authority (IRDA), Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI) and Pension Fund Regulatory and Development Authority (PFRDA) have declared Aadhaar number as a valid ‘know your customer’ (KYC) and ‘electronically know your customer’ (eKYC) for purposes under their respective domains. This has led to Aadhaar being leveraged not only as a tool for financial inclusion and empowerment, but also as a major convenience for Aadhaar number holders in their dealings with banks, insurance companies, and other providers of financial services. Recently, RBI has also accepted Aadhaar number as a second factor of authentication along with “EMV Chip and pin’ for all future deployment of point-of-sale (POS) devices and ATMs.

4. More than 4 crore Aadhaar number holders have so far linked their bank accounts with Aadhaar, to take advantage of the above convenience, in particular the Aadhaar Enabled Payment Services (AEPS). These Aadhaar linked bank account holders can send and receive money using Aadhaar number as a permanent financial address, without having to disclose their bank details to the other parties. Like a number of Aadhaar based services, access to AEPS is also based on on-line authentication. A total of over 1.49 crore authentications by 37.9 lakh unique number holders have already been carried out at levels exceeding 92 percent of accuracy. In a new service introduced recently, six banks, including State Bank of India (SBI), currently provide for Aadhaar-to-Aadhaar mobile based payments.

5. With its capability of usage in re-engineering of government processes, Aadhaar numbers have been leveraged in implementation of several programmes/ schemes of Central and State Governments, including the Direct Benefit Transfer (DBT) introduced on a phase-wise basis for 28 Central Sector schemes in 121 districts of the country, and Direct Benefit Transfer for Liquefied Petroleum Gas (DBTL) in 95 districts. Districts with high level of Aadhaar saturation have been chosen for implementation initially, and over 1500 crore rupees have already been transferred over the Aadhaar Payment Bridge (APB) in more than 2.8 crore transactions under DBT and DBTL. Usage of Aadhaar numbers has helped in preventing duplicates and fakes, leading to substantial savings even in the initial phase of implementation.

6. As many as 156 banks, including a number of co-operative and rural banks, are currently participating on the APB platform. Several State Governments have leveraged Aadhaar in the roll-out of their programmes/ schemes – among the earliest users was the Government of Andhra Pradesh for Public Distribution System. Such usage of Aadhaar numbers makes it possible to achieve higher levels of transparency, better levels of beneficiary satisfaction, more accurate targeting, and prevention of leakages and wastages.

7. The largest biometric data-base of its kind in the world, Aadhaar has many firsts to its credit. The online authentication and eKYC services are not only reliable, low cost, instantaneous and environment-friendly, but are also un-paralleled in the world, in their scope and magnitude. 

Insurance Policies for Hiv/Aids Affected People

The Insurance Regulatory and Development Authority (IRDA) have issued a draft circular dated 11th October, 2013 to all the Life Insurers to provide life cover for people living with HIV/AIDS (PLHA) and health cover. According to the draft circular, all life insurers are required to put-in place a Board approved underwriting policy with respect to life insurance products for PLHA. The Circular provides that life insurance cover for PLHA should not be denied if the eligibility criteria as per the Board approved underwriting policy are satisfied. The Circular also provides for health insurance products offered by Life Insurers for those who are HIV negative at inception of the policy and acquire HIV / AIDS after commencement of insurance policy. With respect to such persons who are HIV negative at date of commencement of the contract and subsequently found to be HIV positive during the term of the policy, the Circular states that the insurers should not reject/deny any claim on such grounds and in all such cases, the underwriting guidelines and claims settlement guidelines applicable at the time of commencement should be applicable.

The Insurance Regulatory and Development Authority (IRDA) have circulated the circular to all the Life Insurers including Life Insurance Council inviting comments. Some of the main observations received from insurers include the apprehension that long term health products may not be viable for this category of persons for reasons like limited data available on health care utilization and co-morbidities/co- infections associated with HIV/AIDS. It is suggested by some insurers that there should be specific provisions in the guidelines for mandatory disclosure of the diagnosis of HIV/AIDS by the proposed insured so that appropriate actions may be taken by the insurer which may include suggesting the applicable product & loading on premium or denial of claim where material information is not disclosed appropriately in the proposal form etc..

Insurance Companies provide insurance cover for serious/incurable diseases under benefit based policies generally called as ‘Critical Illness Policies’.

This was stated by Shri Namo Narain Meena, Minister of State in the Ministry of Finance in a written reply to a question in the Lok Sabha here today. 

Process to Constitute the 7th Central Pay Commission Along with Finalization of Its Terms of Reference, The Composition and Time frame Initiated

             The Government has initiated the process to constitute the 7th Central Pay Commission along with finalization of its Terms of Reference, the composition and the possible timeframe for submission of its Report. The date of effect thereof will be known once the Report is available. 

This was stated by Shri Namo Narain Meena, Minister of State in the Ministry of Finance in a written reply to a question in the Lok Sabha here today. 


Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Inflation Indexed National Saving Securities- Cumulative (IINSS-C)

The Government of India, in consultation with Reserve Bank of India, has decided to launch Inflation Indexed National Savings Securities-Cumulative (IINSS-C) for retail investors in the second half of December 2013.

These securities are being launched in the backdrop of announcement made in the Union Budget 2013-14 to introduce instruments that will protect savings from inflation, especially the savings of the poor and middle classes.

The distribution/ sale of IINSS-C would be through banks. The eligible investors would include individuals, Hindu Undivided Family (HUF), Charitable Institutions registered under section 25 of the Indian Companies Act and Universities incorporated by Central, State or Provincial Act or declared to be a university under section 3 of the University Grants Commission Act, 1956 (3 of 1956).

Interest rate on these securities would be linked to final combined Consumer Price Index [CPI (Base: 2010=100)]. Interest rate would comprise two parts, i.e. fixed rate (1.5% per annum) and inflation rate based on CPI and the same will be compounded in the principal on half-yearly basis and paid at the time of maturity. Early redemptions will be allowed after one year from date of issue for senior citizens (i.e. above 65 years of age) and 3 years for all others, subject to penalty charges at the rate of 50% of the last coupon payable for early redemption. Early redemptions, however, can be made only on coupon dates.

Other details of the scheme would be announced by the Reserve Bank of India. The issuance of non-cumulative Inflation Indexed National Saving Securities for retail investors will be examined in due course. 

Department of Posts launches ‘Express Parcel’ and ‘Business Parcel’ Services

The Department of Posts, Ministry of Communications & IT, here today launched an ‘Express Parcel’ service. The service was launched by Smt. P. Gopinath, Secretary, Department of Posts, at a function organized at New Delhi G.P.O.

Speaking on the occasion Smt. Gopinath said that ‘Express Parcel’ is a premium parcel service for retail as well as bulk customers. It offered time bound, safe and secure home delivery of parcels. To have minimal transit time these parcels will be given airlift wherever needed. Bulk customers would also have an economical option of surface transported ‘Business Parcel’.

These two new parcel services aim to promote the e-commerce market in India by offering reliable and cost efficient delivery solutions. Whereas ‘Express Parcel’ is an air mail service providing guaranteed time bound delivery of parcels, ‘Business Parcel’ will provide fast, secure and cost efficient transmission of parcels through surface. These services will have ‘Cash on Delivery’ facility which has become a pre-requisite today for e-commerce parcels.

Though ‘Business Parcels’ will have a nationwide coverage, the ‘Express Parcel’ service will initially be available between 20 identified cities: Agra, Banglore, Bhubaneshwar, Chennai, Delhi (NCR), Patna, Guwahati, Hyderabad, Indoor, Jaipur, Jammu, Kolkata, Lucknow, Ludhiana, Mumbai, Pune, Parwanoo, Shillong, Surat and Thiruvanthapuram. This service will be expanded nationwide in phased manner. Bothe these services are being offered at a very attractive tariff, said Smt. Gopinath.