Related Topics: Government Schemes & Initiatives, Transparency in Governance
- Under pressure from the Centre, the Punjab Food and Civil Supplies Department has directed all government procurement agencies to link the bank accounts of farmers with the Public Finance Management System (PFMS) portal before the procurement of paddy begins.
- This has angered the arhatiyas (commission agents), a large number of whom want the government to roll back its decision.
What is the PFMS portal?
- It is an online platform developed and implemented by the office of the Controller General of Accounts (CGA) under the Union Ministry of Finance.
- It is end-to- end solution for processing payments, tracking, monitoring, accounting, reconciliation and reporting.
- The PFMS portal is used to make direct payments to beneficiaries of government schemes.
- It provides various stakeholders with a real time, reliable and meaningful Management Information System and an effective Decision Support System (DSS), as part of the Digital India initiative of GoI.
- It provides platform for efficient management of funds through tracking of funds and real time reporting of expenditure and receipts through Treasury and Bank Interface.
- The line ministries/ departments utilize this platform to monitor the utilization of funds provided to the implementing agencies and states governments.
- It is also used for Direct Benefit Transfer (DBT) payments under MGNREGA and other notified schemes of the Government of India.
- With the use of PFMS, there will not be much paper work and it would go a long way in monitoring and tracking of any unnecessary parking of funds by the implementing agencies
- It will minimize the cases of delay and pending payments to a large extent.
- Implementation of Schemes through PFMS has brought transparency in system and helped in easy transfer and tracking of funds.
- PFMS has enabled the Government in taking forward the ground breaking initiative of Direct Benefit Transfers (DBT) with collateral benefits of plugging leakages and eliminating ghost beneficiaries.
Why arhatiyas are protesting against it?
- The Food and Civil Supplies Department has announced that if accounts are not linked with the PFMS portal, the arhatiyas’ commission, which is 2.5%, and the administrative charges, would not be released.
- While government agencies have asked the arhatiyas to provide the account details of farmers, the arhatiyas have claimed that the farmers are not willing to share the details.
- They also fear that the linking of farmers’ accounts to the PFMS database is only one step short of the government deciding to make payments directly to farmers, cutting the agents out all together.
Practice Question for Mains
“Implementation of Schemes through Public Finance Management System (PFMS) has brought transparency in system and helped in easy transfer and tracking of funds. Discuss”[Source: Indian Express, Times of India]
Related Topics: Defence & Security, Geopolitics and International Relations
- The Information Fusion Centre – Indian Ocean Region (IFC-IOR), which was launched in December 2018, has started functioning as an information sharing hub of maritime data and “cuing incident responses” to maritime security situations through a collaborative approach.
- The centre is actively interacting with the maritime community and has already built linkages with 18 countries and 15 multinational/maritime security centres.
What is IFC-IOR?
- The IFC-IOR was inaugurated in December 2018 within the premises of the Navy’s Information Management and Analysis Centre (IMAC) in Gurugram.
- The IMAC is the single point centre linking all the coastal radar chains to generate a seamless real-time picture of the nearly 7,500-km coastline.
- It is jointly administered by the Indian Navy and Indian Coast Guard.
- It is established with the vision of strengthening maritime security in the region and beyond, by building a common coherent maritime situation picture and acting as a maritime information hub for the region.
- Establishment of IFC- IOR would ensure that the entire region is benefitted by mutual collaboration and exchange of information and help in understanding the concerns and threats which are prevalent in the region.
- It aims to engage with partner nations and multi-national maritime constructs to develop comprehensive maritime domain awareness and share information on vessels of interest.
- Several Indian Ocean littoral states including Maldives, Mauritius, Sri Lanka and Seychelles have joined the coastal radar chain network.
- Bangladesh is set to join the network and talks are on with Thailand as well.
- All countries which have signed white shipping information exchange agreements with India are IFC partners.
- The centre will host liaison officers from partner countries.
- Presently, the exchange of information is being undertaken by virtual means, using telephone calls, faxes, emails and video conferencing over Internet.
The major centres with which regular exchange of maritime security information is being undertaken include,
- Virtual Regional Maritime Traffic Centre (VRMTC),
- Maritime Security Centre – Horn of Africa (MSCHOA),
- Regional Cooperation Agreement on Combating Piracy and Armed Robbery (ReCAAP),
- Information Fusion Centre-Singapore (IFC-SG), and
- International Maritime Bureau – Piracy Reporting Centre (IMB PRC)
Need for IFC-IOR
- The Indian Ocean region is extremely important for the surrounding countries, not just for the commercial and economic reasons, but also for national security purposes.
- Because of its very nature of being porous and expansive, the maritime domain is hard to monitor and regulate.
- Indian Ocean is susceptible to threats such as maritime terrorism, piracy, human and contraband trafficking, illegal and unregulated fishing, arms running and poaching.
- Response to these challenges requires enhanced situational awareness of the maritime activities in the region so as to enable security agencies function effectively.
- The scale, scope and the multi-national nature of maritime activities, make it difficult for countries to address these challenges individually.
- Hence, collaborative efforts between maritime nations in the IOR, is essential.
- Towards this, the IFC-IOR aims to engage with partner nations and multi-national maritime constructs to develop comprehensive maritime domain awareness and share information on vessels of interest.
- The setting up of IFC-IOR underscores India’s vision towards Security and Growth of All in the Region (SAGAR).
Significance of Indian Ocean
- The Indian Ocean Region (IOR), in view of its strategic location as also being home to a vast majority of world’s population, can be considered as the economic highway that drives global commerce.
- The Indian Ocean Region is vital to world trade and economic prosperity of many nations as more than 75% of the world’s maritime trade and 50% of global oil consumption passes through the IOR.
- The geo-political significance of the Indian Ocean stems from the fact that it is a centre piece in the wider Indian Ocean Region (IOR).
- The combination of economic growth and slowdown, military expansion, increasing demand for natural resources, demographics combined with the geo-political situation, increased presence of nuclear capable actors and variances in regional structures of governance, highlights the geo-political significance of this area.
Related Topics: Arctic Expeditions, Climate Change
The 32-year-old polar researcher from Kerala, Vishnu Nandan will be the only Indian aboard the Multidisciplinary drifting Observatory for the Study of Arctic Climate (MOSAiC) expedition
About MOSAiC Expedition
- Multidisciplinary drifting Observatory for the Study of Arctic Climate (MOSAiC) is the largest ever Arctic expedition in history and is spearheaded by the Alfred Wegener Institute in Germany.
- The aim of the expedition will be to parameterize the atmospheric, geophysical, oceanographic and all other possible variables in the Arctic, and use it to more accurately forecast the changes in our weather systems.
- The mission has received funding from U.S. institutions such as the National Science Foundation, the Department of Energy, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, and NASA.
- The icebreaker will be the base for scientists from 17 nations studying the impact of climate change on the Arctic and how it could affect the rest of the world.
- It will be the first to conduct a study of this scale at the North Pole for an entire year.
- Previous studies have been of shorter periods as the thicker sea ice sheets prevent access in winter.
- This research vessel has thus locked itself into a large sea ice sheet, before the winter, and will drift along with it.
- The Expedition will help the researchers better understand the impact of climate change and aid in improved weather projections.
FACTS OF THE DAY
NATIONAL e-ASSESSMENT CENTRE (NeAC)
Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman has inaugurated the Income Tax Department’s National E-assessment Centre (NeAC), which will reduce face-to-face interaction between taxpayers and tax officials. The setting up of NeAC is a step for better taxpayer service, reduction of taxpayer grievances in line with the Prime Minister’s vision of ‘Digital India’ and promotion of ease of doing business. The new initiative shall impart greater efficiency, transparency and accountability in the assessment process. There would be no physical interface between the tax payers and the tax officers. Under the new system, taxpayers will receive notices on their registered e-mails as well as on registered accounts on the web portal www.incometaxindiaefiling.gov.in. They will also receive real-time alerts by way of SMS on their registered mobile number, specifying the issues for which their cases have been selected for scrutiny.
The Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) has recently tweeted that an instrument on Chandrayaan-2, CLASS, designed to detect signatures of elements in the Moon’s soil, had detected charged particles during the mission. This happened in September 2019, during the orbiter’s passage through the “Geotail”. The Geotail is a region in space that allows the best observations. The region exists as a result of the interactions between the Sun and Earth. The Sun emits the solar wind, which is a continuous stream of charged particles. These particles are embedded in the extended magnetic field of the Sun. Since the Earth has a magnetic field, it obstructs the solar wind plasma. This interaction results in the formation of a magnetic envelope around Earth. On the Earth side facing the Sun, the envelope is compressed into a region that is approximately three to four times the Earth radius. On the opposite side, the envelope is stretched into a long tail, which extends beyond the orbit of the Moon. This tail is called the Geotail. Once every 29 days, the Moon traverses the geotail for about six days. When Chandrayaan-2, which is orbiting the Moon, crosses the geotail, its instruments can study the properties of the geotail.