‘’Paper 3-GS-II, Topic: India & its neighborhood relations – India, Pakistan admitted to SCO as full members

The neighbors have been observers since 2005

    What is important to know:

  • India became a full member of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO), ending an administrative process that began two years ago.
  • India’s membership at the SCO was announced by the President of Kazakhstan, Nursultan Nazarbayev, who also welcomed Pakistan as a member into the organisation.
  • India and Pakistan are now members of the SCO. It is a very important moment for us,” President Nazarbayev said, concluding the two-year accession process.
  • New Delhi has acceded to a set of 38 documents, covering a range of activities of India in the organisation.
  • India and Pakistan were admitted as observers in 2005 and began the administrative process of joining the organisation, which began in 2001 in Shanghai, in 2015.
  • Ceremony, however, comes in the backdrop of India-Pakistan tension over cross-border terrorism and India’s objection to China’s Belt and Road Initiative, which passes through territories that India claims.
  • Fight against terror Highlighting India’s concerns, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said the nation’s arrival into the organisation would boost the fight against terrorism.

   Disquiet over BRI:

  • India recently stayed away from the summit on Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), the landmark $ 50 billion project of President Xi Jinping of China, as the China Pakistan Economic Corridor of the BRI passes through Pakistan-occupied Kashmir (PoK).
  • Earlier, President Xi and Mr. Modi met on the sidelines of the summit in Astana following which Foreign Secretary S. Jaishankar described the bilateral ties between the two countries as a “factor of stability” in the age of global instability.
  • As the world becomes more multipolar it is important for India and China to work together more closely. Where we have differences, it is important that they should not become disputes and if handled well these could even be opportunities,” said Mr. Jaishankar, briefing the media following the bilateral talks between the two leaders.

    Source: Live Mint

‘’Paper 3-GS-II, Topic: Important aspects of Governance & other measures – Data protection law mooted

Proposal aimed at protecting personal info has been sent to PMO for approval

    What you need to know:

  • The government is mulling a new data protection law to protect personal data of citizens, while also creating an enabling framework to allow public data to be mined effectively. The move assumes significance amid the debate over security of individuals’ private data, including Aadhaar-linked biometrics, and the rising number of cyber-crimes in the country.
  • The Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MEIT) is working on a new data protection law. A proposal to this effect has been sent to the Prime Ministers’ Office for approval,” a senior ministry official told The Hindu.
  • Once the PMO approves it, the ministry will set up a “cross-functional committee” on the issue. “We want to include all stakeholders. It will be a high-level committee, and all current and future requirements of the sector will be discussed.

   Beneficial data:

  • The official explained that a lot of benefits can be derived from the data that is publicly available, by using technology and big data analytics. “The information can be used for the benefit of both individuals and companies,” the official said. “The underlying infrastructure of the digital economy is data.
  • India is woefully unprepared to protect its citizens from the avalanche of companies that offer services in exchange for their data, with no comprehensive framework to protect users,” Software Freedom Law Centre (SFLC.in), a non-profit, said in an emailed reply.

   No regulatory body:

  • Currently, India does not have a separate law for data protection, and there is no body that specifically regulates data privacy. “There is nominally a data protection law in India in the form of the Reasonable Security Guidelines under Section 43A of the Information Technology Act.
  • However, it is a toothless law and is never used. Even when data leaks such as the ones from the official Narendra Modi app or McDonald’s McDelivery app have happened, section 43A and its rules have not proven of use,” said Pranesh Prakash, policy director at CIS.
  • Some redress for misuse of personal data by commercial entities is also available under the Consumer Protection Act enacted in 2015, according to information on the website of Privacy International, an NGO. As per the Act, the disclosure of personal information given in confidence is an unfair trade practice.

    Source: The Hindu

‘’Paper 3-GS-II, Topic: Development of sectors related to Health – Unclaimed PF to fund medical costs

Once the scheme is in place, EPF pensioners could avail services at more than 150 ESIC hospitals


  • Savings remaining unclaimed in dormant Employees’ Provident Fund (EPF) accounts for seven years will be used to fund a new scheme for providing medical benefits to pensioners under the EPF scheme, according to Labour Ministry sources.
  • The move comes after a committee of secretaries, headed by Cabinet Secretary P.K. Sinha, recently directed the Labour Ministry to frame a scheme, for the benefit of senior citizens who are PF subscribers, from inoperative account funds.
  • With respect to the unclaimed money available in Provident Fund Organisations (Coal Miners PF, etc), the respective ministries may consider formulating and implementing schemes for the benefit of senior citizens belonging to the groups subscribing to the PF,” said the minutes of the meeting chaired by Mr.Sinha on February 10 with secretaries of a dozen central government ministries.

    Talks on scheme:

  • The EPFO has already started discussions with the Employees’ State Insurance Corporation (ESIC) to frame a medical benefits scheme for pensioners under Employees’ Pension Scheme (EPS) of the EPFO. Senior EPFO officials said the scheme will be contributory in nature with EPF pensioners contributing a portion of their income towards the medical scheme and rest flowing from inoperative accounts of the EPFO.
  • Once the scheme is put in place, EPF pensioners will be able to avail medical facilities from a network of more than 1,400 dispensaries and 150 hospitals under ESIC across the country. Under the ESI Act, workers drawing salary of up to ₹15,000 per month are entitled to medical benefits for treatment during sickness, maternity, disability and death due to injury during work. The Act applies to factories with 10 or more workers and also to shops, hotels, restaurants, cinemas and road transport undertakings.

   Welfare fund:

  • The government had framed a law last year wherein unclaimed money under EPF, Public Provident Fund and small saving schemes such as post office savings accounts for a period of seven years will be diverted to set up a senior citizens’ welfare fund.
  • The trade unions had strongly protested the move to divert EPF money for setting up a fund for the elderly. Following this, Labour Minister Bandaru Dattatreya wrote to Finance Ministry to not divert unclaimed EPF money for other purposes.

   Source: Economic Times