PIB Notes

Enhanced Access And Service Excellence (EASE) 3.0

On 26th February, 2020, Union Finance Ministry launched the Ease (Enhanced Access and Service Excellence) 3.0, the new reform agenda for tech-enabled banking.

EASE 3.0 agenda aims at providing smart, tech-enabled public sector banking for aspiring India.

  • It seeks to enhance ease of banking in all customer experiences, using technology, fintech, alternate data and analytics.
  • It will include facilities like Palm Banking for end-to-end digital delivery of financial service, Banking on Go via EASE banking outlets, digitalised branch experience, tech-enabled agriculture lending among others.
  • It emphasizes on the use of digital, analytics & AI, FinTech partnerships across customer service, convenient banking, end-to-end digitalised processes for loan sourcing and processing, analytics-driven risk management.

US Now India’s Top Trading Partner

  • According to the 2018-19 data from the Commerce Ministry, the United States has become India’s top trading partner surpassing China.
  • China was India's top trading partner since 2013-14 till 2017-18.
  • The bilateral trade between the US and India amounted to USD 87.95 billion as compared to USD 87.07 billion with China.
  • America is one of the few countries with which India has a trade surplus. While dealing with the US, India had a surplus of 16.85 billion in the year 2018-19 alone.
  • Currently, the top five trading partners of India are - US, China, UAE, Saudi Arabia and Hong Kong.

India Now World’s 5th Largest Economy

  • India has emerged as the fifth-largest world economy in 2019  with a gross domestic product (GDP) of $2.94 trillion, overtaking the UK and France, as per a report by US-based think tank World Population Review.
  • The size of the UK economy is $2.83 trillion and that of France is $2.71 trillion.
  • In terms of purchasing power parity (PPP) terms, India's GDP (PPP) is USD 10.51 trillion, exceeding that of Japan and Germany. Due to India's high population, India's GDP per capita is USD 2,170 (for comparison, the US is USD 62,794).

SPICe+ Web Form

  • As part of the Government of India’s Ease of Doing Business (EODB) initiatives, the Ministry of Corporate Affairs notified a new Web Form christened ‘SPICe+’ (pronounced ‘SPICe Plus’) replacing the existing SPICe form.
  • SPICe+ would be an integrated Web Form and would have two parts viz.: Part A-for Name reservation for new companies and Part B offering a bouquet of services.
  • It would offer 10 services by 3 Central Government Ministries & Departments (Ministry of Corporate Affairs, Ministry of Labour & Department of Revenue in the Ministry of Finance) and One State Government (Maharashtra).
  • It aims to save as many procedures, time and cost for starting a Business in India and would be applicable for all new company incorporations.
  • The new web form would facilitate onscreen filing and real-time data validation for the seamless incorporation of companies.


  • India and Iceland signed a Memorandum of Understanding in the field of fisheries. 
  • The salient features of the MoU are:
  • Creation of facilities for exchange of scientists and technical experts and their proper placement, especially in areas of estimating Total Allowable Catches in off shore and deep sea areas;
  • Provision of training to fisheries professionals from key fisheries institutions in the various management aspects on areas of modern fisheries management and fish processing.
  • Exchange of scientific literature research findings and other information.
  • Exchange of experts / expertise to study the prospects of fishing.  Processing and marketing of products from high seas fisheries for entrepreneurship development.

India-Brazil: Important Pacts

  • Brazilian President JM Bolsonaro was the chief guest for Republic Day, 2020. During his visit India and Brazil signed 13 agreements.
  • Investment Cooperation and Facilitation Treaty is the first agreement signed by India on resolving bilateral disputes post India adopting the new draft template for investment treaty in 2015. As per the new draft, a new investor state dispute settlement mechanism that required foreign investors to exhaust local remedies before going for international arbitration was proposed.
  • Mutual Legal Assistance Treaty which is an agreement between two or more countries for the purpose of gathering and exchanging information in an effort to enforce public or criminal laws was also signed.
  • A decision to resolve ‘Brazil’s objection to support given by India to its sugar-cane growers (earlier taken to WTO)’ bilaterally.
  • Other important agreements include – MoU on Bio-energy Co-operation, Early Childhood, Traditional Systems of Medicine and Homeopathy etc.   

UN Chief Issues 7 Point ‘Call On Action’ On Human Rights

  • UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres on 23rd Feb., 2020 issued a ‘call of action’ to countries, businesses and all people to help renew and revive human rights across the globe, laying out a seven-point plan amid concerns about climate change, conflict and repression.
  • The appeal was made in the latest session of Human Rights Council in Geneva. His seven-point plan involves linking human rights to issues like sustainable development, crisis prevention, gender equality, the development of the digital age, and freedom of expression and civil society, among other things. 

Raisina Dialogue, 2020

  • It is a geo-political event in a form of multilateral conference committed to addressing the most challenging issues facing the global community. It is organized by ORF (Observer Research Foundation) and Ministry of External Affairs.
  • The theme of 5th Raisina Dialogue, 2020 – ‘‘21@20: Navigating the Alpha Century’’.
  • The three-day conclave from 14thJanuary- 16th January, brought together 700 international participants in New Delhi, out of which 40 per cent of the speakers were women, emphasizing India’s commitment to gender equality.
  • Raisina hill is a metonym used for the seat of Government of India. It includes important government offices along with the Presidential Palace or Rashtrapati Bhavan.

Synechococcus Sp. PCC 7002 To Boost Biofuel Production

  • In a Department of Biotechnology, sponsored research, scientists at the International Centre for Genetic Engineering and Biotechnology (ICGEB) have developed a method to improve the growth rate and sugar content of a marine cyanobacterium called Synechococcus sp. PCC 7002.
  • They successfully engineered Synechococcus sp. PCC 7002 which showed a higher growth rate and sugar (glycogen) content. When grown on air, the growth was doubled and the glycogen content of the cells increased by about 50%.
  • Biotechnological processes such as biofuel production are dependent on the availability of low-cost and sustainable supply of sugars and a nitrogen source. Plants, through the process of photosynthesis, convert carbon dioxide in the atmosphere into biological components such as sugars, proteins and lipids.
  • The cyanobacteria (blue-green algae) can also perform photosynthesis and produce sugar by fixing the carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. Apart from higher yield of sugars, cyanobacterial biomass also provides a nitrogen source in the form of proteins.
  • Synechococcus sp. PCC 7002 is a model marine cyanobacterium. There are other Synechococcus species and related organisms where this work can be extended.
  •  The present finding will help improve the economic feasibility of marine cyanobacteria-based sugar, and consequently, biofuel production.

Chatbot ASKDISHA: Now In Hindi

  • Indian Railways Catering & Tourism Corporation Limited (IRCTC) has enabled Artificial Intelligence based chatbot ASKDISHA to converse with customers in Hindi language, apart from English, on their e-ticketing site.  The customers can now ask queries to ASKDISHA in Hindi language by voice as well as text.
  • In order to resolve queries of railway passengers over the internet pertaining to various services offered, Indian Railways had introduced the services of ASKDISHA in October, 2018.
  • IRCTC plans to launch ASKDISHA in more languages along with many other additional features in the near future.
  • The chatbot is a special computer programme designed to simulate conversation with users, over the internet. Since its initial launch, more than 150 million passengers have been benefited by ASKDISHA with 10 billion interactions for seeking help on reservation of tickets, cancellation, enquiry of refund status, fare, PNR search, train running status, enquiry about retiring rooms and tourism products.

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