What's New :

22th February 2023

India, Singapore launch UPI-PayNow linkage


India and Singapore have announced to link their payment apps, namely UPI and PayNow which will allow instantaneous and low-cost money transfers between the two countries.

  • The linkage is set to ease financial transactions for the Indian diaspora.

About the move:

  • Background: UPI payments through QR codes are already taking place in Singapore, though at a limited number of outlets. 
  • The announcement was done via a virtual address by both India and Singapore’s Prime minister.
  • Aim: This move will aid the Indian diaspora in Singapore, especially students and migrant workers, by allowing instantaneous and low-cost money transfers between the two countries.

Singapore has now become the first country with which cross-border Person to Person (P2P) payment facilities have been launched.


  • This will help the Indian diaspora in Singapore and bring the benefits of digitalisation.
  • It will also help FINTECH through instantaneous and low-cost transfer of money from Singapore to India and vice-versa.

FINTECH or financial technology refers to the technological innovation in the design and delivery of financial services and products.

Unified Payments Interface (UPI):

  • Unified Payments Interface (UPI) is a system that powers multiple banks 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” collection request which can be scheduled and paid as per requirement and convenience.
  • Currently, UPI payments are made using the digital equivalent of existing currency notes. That means every rupee transferred via UPI is backed by physical currency.

The digital rupee will be legal tender in and of itself and need not necessarily be backed up by physical currency.

Authorities concerned:

  • The digital rupee/ currency will be operated by RBI and not by bank intermediaries in the case of UPI where each bank has a different UPI handler.
  • The digital rupee will be settled by RBI instantly, whereas UPI payments are settled by transacting banks with RBI.

Children’s right to protect their genetic information from DNA tests: SC


Supreme Court bench hearing a case against the dispute between parents (for divorce/child custody) mentioned that a child should not be lost in its search for paternity and also added that a child’s genetic information is part of his fundamental right to privacy.


About the Judgement:

  • The Supreme Court has held that children cannot be mechanically subjected to DNA tests in each and every case between warring parents as a shortcut to establishing proof of infidelity.
  • It also added that family courts adjudicating between warring parents should order DNA tests only as a last resort.

Court’s argument supporting Child’s privacy:

  • Children have the right not to have their legitimacy questioned frivolously before a court of law. This is an essential attribute of the right to privacy.
  • Children are not to be regarded as material objects and be subjected to forensic/DNA testing, particularly when they are not parties to the divorce proceeding. 
  • The court highlighted the psychological trauma that a child would be forced to suffer if his or her legitimacy was put under a cloud through DNA tests.
  • Mechanical orders allowing DNA tests also harm the reputation and dignity of the mother.

Laws related to DNA tests:

  • Section 112 of Indian Evidence Act: The fact that any person was born during the continuance of a valid marriage between his mother and any man, or within two hundred and eighty days after its dissolution, the mother remaining unmarried, shall be conclusive proof that he is the legitimate son of that man unless it can be shown that the parties to the marriage had no access to each other at any time when he could have been begotten.

Power to ask for evidence:

  • The Supreme Court in Sharda vs. Dharmpal has held that a matrimonial court has the power to order a person to undergo a medical test. Such an order would not be in violation of the right to personal liberty under Article 21 of the Constitution.

Speaker is deciding authority to rule under anti-defection law


The Supreme Court mentioning in a case viewing the power of the Speaker under the Tenth Schedule of the Constitution held that the presiding officer is the authority to decide on defecting cases.


About the case:

  • According to the 1992 ruling of the SC Constitution bench in KihotoHollohanvsZachillhu, wherein a Constitution Bench upheld the validity of the 10th schedule is not reversed and the Speaker would continue to be the deciding authority.
  • The Court mentioned that Speaker is the authority to decide on cases related to Anti-defection Law and his decision is final.

After KihotoHollohan versus Zachilhu case (1993), the Supreme Court declared that the decision of the presiding officer is not final and can be questioned in any court.

  • It is subject to judicial review on the grounds of malafide, perversity, etc.

What is an ‘Anti-Defection Law’?

  • The 'anti-defection law' was passed through an Act of Parliament in 1985.
  • Passed as the 52nd Amendment Act, it added the law as the 10th Schedule of the Constitution of India. Articles 102 (2) and 191 (2) deal with anti-defection.
  • The anti-defection law sought to prevent such political defections which may be due to the reward of office or other similar considerations.
  • It lays down the process by which legislators may be disqualified on grounds of defection by the Presiding Officer of a legislature based on a petition by any other member of the House.
  • A legislator is deemed to have defected if:
    • He either voluntarily gives up the membership of his party
    • He disobeys the directives of the party leadership on a vote
  • This implies that a legislator defying (abstaining or voting against) the party whip on any issue can lose his membership in the House.  
  • The law applies to both Parliament and state assemblies.


  • There are a few exceptions in the law. However, this exception is applicable only if not less than two-thirds of the members of the party in the House have emerged to the merger.
  • A person shall not be disqualified if his original political party merges with another, and:
    • He and other members of the old political party become members of the new political party, or
    • He and the other members do not accept the merger and opt to function as a separate group.

Power of Speaker under 10th schedule:

  • The Speaker is the head of the Lok Sabha Secretariat which functions under her ultimate control and direction.
  • Under the provisions of the Tenth Schedule to the Constitution of India, (para-6) the Presiding Officer of the concerned House is the sole and final authority to determine the alleged question of disqualification on the ground of defection.
  • On the other hand, to determine the question as to whether the Speaker/Chairman of a House has indeed defected, the Tenth Schedule provides for a procedure according to which a member of the concerned House is elected on an ad-hoc basis to determine the alleged question of disqualification on the ground of defection.

Important Judgements:

Vostro accounts and functioning


Recently, the government informed that 20 Russian banks, including Rosbank, Tinkoff Bank, Centro Credit Bank and Credit Bank of Moscow have opened Special Rupee Vostro Accounts (SRVA) with partner banks in India.

So, let us analyse its functioning.


What is the SRVA arrangement?

  • A vostro account is an account that domestic banks hold for foreign banks in the former’s domestic currency.
  • Domestic banks use it to provide international banking services to their clients who have global banking needs.
  • It is an integral offshoot of correspondent banking that entails a bank (or an intermediary) to facilitate wire transfers, conduct business transactions, accept deposits and gather documents on behalf of the other bank.
  • It helps domestic banks gain wider access to foreign financial markets and serve international clients without having to be physically present abroad.
  • The SRVA is an additional arrangement to the existing system that uses freely convertible currencies and works as a complimentary system.

Freely convertible currencies refer to currencies permitted by rules and regulations of the concerned country to be converted to major reserve currencies (like the U.S. dollar or pound sterling) and for which a fairly active market exists for dealings against major currencies.

How does it function?

  • The framework entails three important components, namely, invoicing, exchange rate and settlement.
    • Invoicing entails that all exports and imports must be denominated and invoiced in INR.
    • The exchange rate between the currencies of the trading partner countries would be market-determined.
    • The final settlement also takes place in Indian National Rupee (INR).
  • The authorised domestic dealer banks (those authorised to deal in foreign currencies) are required to open SRVA accounts for correspondent banks of the partner trading country.
  • Domestic importers are required to make payment (in INR) into the SRVA account of the correspondent bank against the invoices for the supply of goods or services from the overseas seller/supplier.
  • Similarly, domestic exporters are to be paid the export proceeds (in INR) from the balances in the designated account of the correspondent bank of the partner country.

All reporting of cross-border transactions is to be done in accordance with the extant guidelines under the Foreign Exchange Management Act (FEMA), 1999.

What is the eligibility criterion of banks?

  • Authorised banks can open multiple SRV accounts for different banks from the same country.
  • Further, balances in the account can be repatriated in freely convertible currency and/or currency of the beneficiary partner country depending on the underlying transaction, that is, for which the account was credited.
  • Domestic banks must also put forth for perusal, financial parameters pertaining to the corresponding bank.


  • To Facilitate Trade: Indian exporters could get advance payments in INR from overseas clients and in the long-term promote INR as an international currency once the rupee settlement mechanism gains traction.

UN’s High Seas Treaty


The UN wants to protect the high seas as they make up more than 60% of the world’s oceans and draw less attention than coastal waters.

  • Around 51 countries want to join the treaty as asked by United Nations at New York.

Fishing, shipping, tourism and ocean protection are currently controlled by around 20 organizations. However, their regulations only apply to a distance of 200 nautical miles (370 kilometres) from the coast.

  • Although the high seas make up more than half of the surface of the Earth and 61% of all oceans, only 1% of international waters are under protection.
  • Need for conservation:
    • Illegal fishing, overfishing and other forms of damage to the ecosystem, such as deep-sea mining, oil and gas drilling, can hardly be monitored, tracked or prosecuted in a consistent way.

About New Treaty:

  • The UN general assembly decided to convene an Intergovernmental Conference (IGC) in December 2017 to elaborate on the text of the legal instrument for protecting biodiversity in areas beyond national jurisdiction (BBNJ) under UNCLOS.
  • The IGC held four formal sessions in September 2018, March 2019, August 2019 and March 2022.
  • The ambition of the treaty is to reverse the current downward trend in biodiversity and protect marine life, while also guaranteeing safe access to international waters.
  • The treaty will help conserve biodiversity in areas beyond national jurisdiction (BBNJ) that lie outside countries’ 322-kilometre exclusive economic zones.

What would a High Seas Treaty do?

  • The "high seas" refers to international waters — sea space that doesn't fall within any nation's sovereign or extended maritime zone.
  • About two-thirds of the world's water is considered high seas and, as of today, only about 1% of that area is covered by international agreements on fishing and other resource extraction.
  • The high seas treaty, if agreed upon, would create a new global body to enforce rules laid out to protect about 30% of the world's oceans by 2030.
  • It would extend international law beyond countries' territorial waters and exclusive economic zones (EEZs), which extend 200 miles from any nation's coastline, to cover a major portion of the currently unprotected waters from threats such as overfishing and unchecked seafloor mining.
  • This treaty will provide a first-ever legal framework for the protection of biodiversity in international waters, including the creation of ocean sanctuaries, environmental rules, and the application of Environmental Impact Assessments preceding any human activities on the waters that make up nearly half of the planet.

UN Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS):

  • UNCLOS was adopted in 1982 and laid the foundation of ocean governance, with the first single set of rules for oceans and seas.
  • There are two more instruments under the Convention:
    • The 1994 agreement on the implementation of Part XI of UNCLOS
    • The 1995 UN Fish Stocks Agreement
    • The treaty on BBNJ will be the third legal instrument under the convention.

ISRO’s Astronomy mission ‘AstroSat’


The Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) has made an Announcement of Opportunity (AO) to allow scientists and researchers to analyse data from the first dedicated Indian astronomy mission, AstroSat.


About the development:

  • The space agency has made the AO soliciting proposals for 13th AO cycle observations from AstroSat.
  • Eligible participants: The mission data was kept open to Indian scientists, and researchers residing and working at institutes, universities and colleges in India for 55% of the time and to non-Indian scientists, researchers, Non-Resident Indians (NRIs), working at space agencies, institutes, universities and colleges around the globe for 20% time.
  • The AO is open to scientists and researchers who are involved in research in the area of astronomy and who are equipped to submit proposals as Principal Investigators (PIs) for specific target observations with necessary scientific and technical justification.
  • This AO soliciting proposal is for Indian as well as international proposers as PIs to utilise AstroSat observatory time.
  • The percentage of observing time for executing AO proposals from October 2023 to September 2024 is 87 %. The last date for submission is March 31.

AstroSat Mission:

  • AstroSat is the first dedicated Indian astronomy mission aimed at studying celestial sources in X-ray and UV spectral bands simultaneously, providing a space astronomy observatory operated by ISRO.
  • AstroSat was launched in 2015 and completed seven years in orbit at the end of September 2022.
  • Features:
    • AstroSat with a lift-off mass of 1515 kg launched into a 650 km orbit.
    • The minimum useful life of the AstroSat mission is expected to be 5 years.
  • Study conducted:
    • To understand high energy processes in binary star systems containing neutron stars and black holes.
    • Estimate magnetic fields of neutron stars.
    • Study star birth regions and high energy processes in star systems lying beyond our galaxy.
    • Detect new briefly bright X-ray sources in the sky.
    • Perform a limited deep-field survey of the Universe in the Ultraviolet region.

Russia suspends major nuclear treaty with US


Russia announced to suspension of its participation in the New START treaty — the last remaining nuclear arms control pact with the United States.

  • The New START treaty, signed in 2010 by U.S. President Barack Obama and Russian President Dmitry Medvedev.
  • Just days before the treaty was due to expire in February 2021, Russia and the United States agreed to extend it for another five years.
  • In the decision to suspend the treaty, Russia accused the S. and its NATO allies of openly declaring the goal of Russia’s defeat in Ukraine.
  • New START’s official name is The Treaty between the United States of America and the Russian Federation on Measures for the Further Reduction and Limitation of Strategic Offensive Arms.

What is in the treaty?

  • The New START (Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty), was signed in 2010 by former US President Barack Obama and his Russian counterpart at the time, Dmitry Medvedev.
  • The treaty was to replace the 1991 START treaty.
  • The treaty limits each party to 700 deployed intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs) or deployed submarine-launched ballistic missiles (SLBMs), 1,550 nuclear warheads on deployed ICBMs and SLBMs, and 800 deployed and non-deployed ICBM launchers. 
  • It also envisions a rigorous inspection regime to verify compliance. 

Short News Articles

Science and Technology (GS-III)

Brain-inspired image sensor







Researchers at the Indian Institute of Science (IISc) in a new study have shown how a brain-inspired image sensor can go beyond the diffraction limit of light to detect miniscule objects.

About the study:

  • Miniscule objects include cellular components or nanoparticles invisible to current microscopes.
  • This novel technique, which combines optical microscopy with a neuromorphic camera and machine learning algorithms, presents a major step forward in pinpointing objects smaller than 50 nanometres in size.
  • The neuromorphic camera used in the study mimics the way the human retina converts light into electrical impulses, and has several advantages over conventional cameras.
  • The neuromorphic cameras have a very high dynamic range (>120 dB), which means that you can go from a very low-light environment to very high-light conditions.

Polity and Governance (GS-II)

AI for live transcript of court hearings

In a first, the Supreme Court launched the use of Artificial Intelligence and technology powered by Natural Language Processing on a trial basis to provide live transcriptions of court hearings.


  • A screen displaying the live transcription of court proceedings, which faces the lawyers, has been placed in courtroom number.
  • The SC also intends to publish transcripts of oral arguments on its website.
  • This service is being provided by TERES, which has been providing similar services during arbitration proceedings.
  • More recently, it had also provided transcription services during the Delhi Arbitration Weekend held from 17 to 19 February.

Economy (GS-III)

Enemy properties





The Government of India has earned over Rs.3, 400 crore from disposal of enemy properties from 2018 to 2022, according to a report.

What are enemy properties?

  • Enemy properties are classified as those properties which are left behind by people who took citizenship of Pakistan and China after leaving India during the partition and post the 1962 and 1965 wars.
  • The Custodian of Enemy Property for India (CEPI) has realised a total of Rs 3,407.98 crore from disposal of enemy properties which include 7,52,83,287 shares (for Rs.2,708.9 crore) of 152 companies in 2018-19, 2019-20, 2020-21 and 2021-22, and Rs.699.08 crore as revenue receipts.
  • Meanwhile, an Enemy Property Information System has been developed for effective preservation, management and speedy disposal of enemy properties.
  • It is available to all stakeholders dealing with the subject matter.
  • To ascertain the present status of immovable enemy properties, a latest survey and valuation report have been asked from all states and Union territories concerned.

Note:The highest number of enemy properties were found in Uttar Pradesh (6,255) followed by West Bengal (4,088), Delhi (659), Goa (295), Maharashtra (208), Telangana (158), Gujarat (151), Tripura (105), Bihar (94), Madhya Pradesh (94), Chhattisgarh (78) and Haryana (71 properties).

Polity and Governance (GS-II)

First synchronised vulture survey




The Kerala Forest and Wildlife department, along with its counterparts in Tamil Nadu and Karnataka, is preparing to organise the first synchronised vulture survey in select regions of the Western Ghats on February 24, 25 and 26.


  • Every year the Forest departments in the three States organise separate surveys at different times to count the remaining vulture population in South India.
  • The survey would simultaneously be organised in the three forest divisions, including the Wayanad Wildlife Sanctuary and the South and North forest divisions.
  • Each of the locations will be monitored by a five-member team, comprising a vulture expert; a forest beat officer, one or two volunteers and a forest watcher.

Declining Vulture population:

  • Vultures faced a catastrophic population decline during the 2000s when the species was exposed to the anti-inflammatory drug diclofenac used as a painkiller for cattle.
  • South Asia had about four crore White-rumped vultures until the end of the 1990s.
  • But the population has come down to fewer than 10,000.



A Privacy Deficit


  • The Union Budget 2022-23 has promised for a bigger share of funds to digitisation and promoting technology but there still exists some policy mismatches hindering individual rights.

Budgetary commitments:

  • Major allocations: Digital India programme has been allotted Rs.4, 795.24 crore with the Ministry of Electronics and IT has nearly doubled its funding, and there is a 1,000 per cent increase in the funding for the Artificial Intelligence and Digital IntelligenceUnit.
  • Privacy-invasive changes: The Income Tax searches and seizure provisions were sought for privacy related changes and for increase in use of technology and digitisation.
  • Focus on e-governance: To expand the scope of DigiLocker, a government-run cloud-based platform for storing, sharing, and verifying documents and certificates was introduced with “Aadhaar as foundational identity”.
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