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The third meeting of the Joint Working Group (JWG) on shipping between India and Denmark was held virtually on 16 December. The JWG held focused discussions to identify areas of cooperation between the two countries.

According to a press release, India suggested cooperation with Denmark on the following:

Online Maritime Knowledge Cluster

India has invited the Technical University of Denmark (DPU), which is developing new technology and propeller designs, and Maersk Maritime Technology to become a global partner in India’s Maritime Knowledge Cluster. It also planned to invite the Copenhagen Business School to become a partner for research areas relating to maritime law, finance, and governance.

Digital certificates for seafarers and ship registry

Both India and Denmark are developing their own systems for digital certificates for the seafarers and are working on an online ship registration system. Denmark confirmed that its online ship registration module would be based on blockchain technology. The developer will provide a presentation on the system so that the blockchain ship registration module might be employed in India as well.

Maritime security

As the piracy situation in the Gulf of Guinea has not changed in the last year, continuing to be a hotbed of piracy, the Indian delegation suggested the European Union’s present data collection and sharing system should be updated. This will enable countries in the Gulf of Guinea to augment their capacity and effectively collaborate to curb the menace of piracy. It was proposed that the two countries employ a joint strategy to tackle the issue.

Green technologies

India has identified several green technology-based projects in the Port Sector for public-private partnerships. An Indian official proposed that along with investment from Danish Companies in these projects, Denmark could consider offering technical cooperation to float solar power stations and shore-based power supplies at Indian Ports.

Cochin Shipyard Limited has developed substantial expertise in building hybrid electric boats for urban transportation and autonomous vessels. The two sides could cooperate in design testing for new battery-operated vessels, 3D printing, and other related technologies.

Regarding the COVID-19 situation, both parties assured that crew change may be facilitated by respective countries and in case of any problems, the Director-Generals of the two countries will be contacted. Both parties also agreed to work on matters of mutual interest in the International Maritime Organisation (IMO) by holding a series of web-meetings for experts from both sides in negotiations that concern greenhouse gas emissions. The Danish delegation recommended that along with the next JWG meeting, an India-Danish web conference can be held in April 2021.

Earlier, the sides announced a collaboration between the Innovation Centre Denmark in India and the Danish Academy of Technical Sciences. Under it, several Danish experts will engage in Echo Network, an initiative of the Indian government to boost the country’s green transition.

Highlighting the ATV, the Danish Academy of Technical Sciences visit India in 2019, an official statement said that the trip of the delegation of Danish technology leaders was unequivocal. It claimed that if India does not succeed in its green transition, the world will not be able to reach a globally sustainable future. The conclusion was equally obvious- ATV, as a technical and solution-oriented think tank, should contribute to creating more and stronger ties between India and Denmark, especially in connection with the green transition.

The Department of Posts and the public sector bank India Post Payments Bank (IPPB) recently launched DakPay, a new digital payment application.

The move is part of the government’s ongoing efforts to provide and promote digital financial inclusion across the country. The Union Minister for Communications, Electronics, and Information Technology, Ravi Shankar Prasad, noted that it is a unique concept where one can order and avail postal financial services at doorsteps. He expects it to make banking services and postal products more accessible.

According to news reports, DakPay offers a host of digital financial and assisted banking services available through the postal network. It aims to cater to the financial needs of various sections of society, particularly those living in rural areas. The services include free-of-cost money receipts and transfers at doorsteps and scanned QR codes to make payments for a range of utility and banking services.

DakPay will bring simplified payment solutions to all by providing access to banking and payment products and services either through an application or in an assisted mode with the help of postmen and women.

Through it, India Post will deliver the following facilities:

  • checking bank balances
  • enabling transactions through multiple bank accounts
  • a payment facility through the IPPB mobile banking application for postal products that are paid for by the DakPay virtual debit card
  • cash withdrawals and deposits using the Aadhaar-enabled payment system

The government is also contemplating a provision for credit facilities. The IPPB was launched on 1 September 2018. It has enabled over 136,000 post offices, of which more than 113,000 are located in rural India, to provide a complete suite of banking services. About 180,000 postmen and women, and Gramin Dak Sevaks, have been equipped with smartphones and biometric devices to provide doorstep banking services, the report noted.

By November-end, DakPay had 39 million customers. All IPPB service channels are available in 13 languages. The Department of Posts also signed a memorandum of agreement (MoA) with CSC e-Governance Services India Limited to set up common service centres in more than 10,000 post offices. The centres will deliver over 100 services.

The Reserve Bank of India recently said it plans to secure online payment processes, a step toward preventing and reducing fraud. It announced its new measures to secure digital payment channels via the proposed Digital Payment Security Controls Directions, 2020.

As OpenGov Asia reported, the project is for regulated entities to set up a robust governance structure for systems and to implement common minimum standards of security controls for channels like the Internet, mobile banking, and card payments, among others.

While the guidelines will be technology and platform agnostic, it will create an enhanced and enabling environment for customers to use digital payment products more safely and securely. The RBI Governor, Shaktikanta Das, explained that the directions will contain requirements for strong governance, implementation, and monitoring of certain minimum standards on common security controls.

Furthermore, to strengthen and improve the efficacy of the internal grievance redress mechanism of the banks and to provide better customer service, RBI has decided to put in place a comprehensive framework comprising inter-alia of enhanced disclosures on customer complaints by banks. Also, a monetary disincentive in the form of recovery of the cost of redress of complaints from banks when maintainable complaints are comparatively high.

The government’s telemedicine service, eSanjeevani, recently recorded over one million teleconsultations on its platforms. Telemedicine entails the delivery of health services using the Internet. It extends beyond the distribution of health services, improving delivery quality and saving time and costs.

According to a press statement, the roll-out of eSanjeevani in India is the first of its kind, marking the digital transformation of health service delivery solutions at a national level. Additionally, during the COVID-19 pandemic, the platform boosted the country’s digital health ecosystem.

Doctor-to-doctor

eSanjeevani, an initiative of the Health Ministry, serves two streams in 28 states and union territories. eSanjeevaniAB-HWC enables doctor-to-doctor teleconsultations and is used in around 6,000 Health and Wellness Centres across India. Over 20,000 paramedics, doctors, and specialists have been trained to use the eSanjeevaniAB-HWC.

Doctor-to-patient

The second stream, eSanjeevaniOPD, provides remote health services to patients in their homes. It enables contactless, risk-free, and safe consultations between a doctor and a patient. Around 8,000 doctors have been trained to use the eSanjeevaniOPD, and on average, around 1,500 doctors practice telemedicine daily through about 225 online OPDs. Out of these, 190 are speciality OPDs and around 30 are general OPDs. Presently, eSanjeevani serves around 14,000 patients daily.

The technology is available in over 550 districts in India. Over 10% of the users of eSanjeevani are aged 60 and above. Close to around one-fourth of the total patients have used eSanjeevani more than once, indicating that the public now prefers telemedicine solutions over physically visiting hospitals.

Considering the potential social impact of this new digital method of health service delivery, many states have created several applications around it. For instance, in Kerala, eSanjeevaniOPD is used to provide health services to the inmates of the Palakkad District Jail. In Himachal Pradesh, it is being rolled-out in old-age homes.

The quick adoption of eSanjeevaniOPD services across the country has enabled the launch of a wide range of speciality and super-speciality OPDs, including alternative medical systems such as AYUSH and naturopathy. Kerala is already setting up OPDs to offer the services in District Early Intervention Centres. These current 14 online OPDs each has a team made up of a psychologist, special educator, speech therapist, and physiotherapist. They collectively address common issues regarding child development and health.

State governments are also establishing robust digital health ecosystems that include IT-savvy human and infrastructural resources to boost the adoption of eSanjeevani. Apart from training clinicians, the health informatics group of the Centre for Development of Advanced Computing (CDAC) in Mohali is supplying end-to-end technical services including the development, implementation, and operations of the platform.

The top ten states with the highest consultations are Tamil Nadu (319,507), Uttar Pradesh (268889), Madhya Pradesh (70,838), Gujarat (63,601), Kerala (62,797), Himachal Pradesh (49,224), Andhra Pradesh (39,853), Karnataka (32,693), Uttarakhand (31,910), and Maharashtra (12,635).

Similarly, the government recently launched a free digital platform and a mobile application to monitor COVID-19 vaccine deliveries in real-time. It will record data and enable people to self-register for vaccination.

As OpenGov Asia reported, there are five modules on the Co-WIN app: administrator, registration, vaccination, beneficiary acknowledgement, and report. The administrator module is for officials who will conduct the vaccination sessions.

The registration module is for people to get registered for vaccination. It will upload bulk data on co-morbidity provided by local authorities or surveyors. In the vaccination module, the user’s details will be verified, and in the beneficiary acknowledgement module, a certificate will be sent to them about their vaccination. In the first two stages, the government will vaccinate priority groups, which include frontline and emergency workers.

At present, as many as 2,927 court complexes across India have been linked up through a high-speed wide area network (WAN), as part of the government e-Courts Project. It aims to connect a total of 2,992 sites and leverage ICT for improved justice delivery.

An objective of the e-Courts project is to provide designated services to litigants, lawyers, and the judiciary through the universal computerisation of district and subordinate courts in the country.

According to a press release, the Department of Justice (DoJ) along with government-run organisation, BSNL, is working to connect the sites that are located all over the country using different modes of connectivity, such as optical fibre cables (OFC), radio frequency (RF), and very small aperture terminals (VSAT), among others.

DOJ and the Supreme Court e-Committee developed the e-Courts Project, which is one of the largest digital networks in the world. In May 2018, BSNL was mandated to provide Managed MPLS VPN services to all these sites. The organisation has a pan-India presence with the latest state-of-the-art technology, high-end telecom infrastructure, and transmission equipment. BSNL is also set up in all corners of India, including the North East region, Jammu, Kashmir, Uttarakhand, and the Andaman and Nicobar Islands.

Many courts under the e-Courts project are located in far-flung areas that cannot be connected with terrestrial cables and are called Technically Not Feasible (TNF) sites, the department aims to bridge this digital divide.

With persistent deliberations, meetings, and coordination with different stakeholders including BSNL and the courts, the department has been able to reduce the total TNF sites from 58 in 2019 to 14 in 2020. This has saved public money as the cost of providing connectivity through alternative means like VSATs are much higher. The department has also decided to use the newly-inaugurated submarine (undersea) cable to provide connectivity to five TNF sites in the Andaman and Nicobar Islands.

The press release explained that during the COVID-19 pandemic, the importance of connectivity has become greater as suddenly courts are under pressure to conduct a large number of online cases. The DoJ has therefore constituted a high-powered committee with representatives from BSNL, the National Informatics Centre (NIC), and the e-Committee to review the bandwidth requirement.

The concerned authorities have taken a major leap towards digital transformation, it is successfully leveraging digital technologies to transform the Judiciary and provide access to justice to ordinary citizens, the release added.

As part of the National e-Governance Plan, the e-Courts Project is an integrated mission mode project that has been under implementation since 2007 to digitalise operations in the country’s judicial system. It is based on the National Policy and Action Plan for the Implementation of Information and Communication Technology in the Indian Judiciary.

The government approved the computerisation of 14,249 district and subordinate courts under the first phase of the e-Courts Project, which ran from 2007-2015. Working towards further ICT enhancement in the courts, the second phase of the project was approved by the Cabinet in July 2015, under which 16,845 courts have been computerised.

As OpenGov Asia reported earlier, in November, DoJ and the Supreme Court e-Committee launched the virtual traffic courts and e-Challan initiative to digitalise court proceedings. The system consists of an online court managed by a virtual Judge, which is not a person but an algorithm, whose jurisdiction can be extended to the entire state and will work round-the-clock.

As a result, citizens will not have to wait in lines in courts to pay fines or interact face-to-face with the traffic police. It is expected to increase productivity, promote greater accountability, and reduce corruption in the Traffic Police Department.

The number and complexity of critical events impacting businesses and governments are on the rise.

Today’s crises are triggered by events both inside and outside of an organisation’s control: the global pandemic, severe weather changes, IT outages and even cybersecurity threats. They disrupt operations, threaten people, compromise assets, and impact reputation.

In this high-risk environment, organisations need to leverage the right technologies, people and processes to make informed decisions, with consistent monitoring by multi-disciplinary team members. As a result, decision-makers have been on the look-out for solutions to overcome systemic problems and maintain business operations in the long term.

While the world is focused on the health and economic threats posed by COVID-19, cyber criminals around the world undoubtedly are capitalising on this crisis. Cybercriminals know that we are vulnerable. A spike in ransomware operations globally is adding to an already complex crisis management cycle for many organisations. It won’t stop there. Challenges have increased as cyber-threats and more IT incidents emerge due to inefficiency in responses and processes, causing downtime and rise of cost. Providing an adequate cyber risk management strategy, therefore, is imperative.

To address these issues, experts in the field of critical event management processes gave extremely helpful presentations during the OpenGovLive! Virtual Insight not just on projected effects of cyber threats, but on procedures that must be put in place in case of an actual cyberattack.

The session held on 10 December 2020 was attended by delegates from the Indian and APAC region, all eager to engage in an active discussion on the topic of Strengthening Cybersecurity and Emergency Preparedness: Enhancing Readiness, Response and Recovery

Planning ahead and adopting a resilient strategy

Mohit Sagar: We must think, not as a nation, but as a world

Mohit Sagar, Group Managing Director and Editor-in-Chief at OpenGov Asia, set the tone and stage for the discussion. He acknowledged that incident management was not a new concept but remains one of the top priorities of companies even today. The reason, Mohit said, is that incidents involving data compromise and those related to cyber threats continue to grow in complexity and number.

The outright reaction of most enterprises after a critical event is that they feel lost, even though they may have prepared for such an event. The question to be asked, Mohit stressed, is not why a critical event happened. The more appropriate question to raise is up to what extent a company has prepared itself for that incident.

Another relevant point raised by Mohit was a critical event’s impact on staff. Most employees are uncertain if they should admit they lack the readiness to comply with protocols in the event a critical situation arises. No employee should bear the brunt of a company’s lack of preparation for emergency incidents. Readiness is always key.

The solution, Mohit opined, is a resilient strategy to counteract the effects of cyber and other critical emergencies. This element is crucial and has been epitomised during the COVID-19 pandemic when many businesses were left at a loss on how to recuperate.

With regard to planning ahead, the issue is at what speed and cost? This is where operational resiliency comes into play. Similarly, another key issue is culture. The problem involving culture is reflected more clearly in the case of conglomerates which find it hard to keep everything working large-scale.

In the end, there should be seamless communication, a well-orchestrated platform for critical events management and seamless delivery of services. This, Mohit said, can be achieved, by teaming up with the right partners who can help keep the business working in top shape.

What makes incident management complex

Sonia Arista: No critical event management process is singular but a mix of various factors

One of the key challenges in coming up with an incident management strategy is that many consider it a difficult process to manage and oftentimes, confusing.

Sonia Arista, Vice President and Chief Senior Information Security Officer, Everbridge, dispelled this worry. She discussed that critical event management is not a singular process. Many factors are at play in setting forth a CEM strategy. There are also different stages in standard critical event management.

At the initial stage, companies must assess the type of disruption that might occur, as well as the extent of damages. From there, decisions must be made on who needs to know about the CEM plan and who designated response teams are. The last phase is communication. Companies should not keep any incident hidden from employees. Communicating to shareholders and customers is likewise advisable.

Aside from these, a post-mortem analysis identifying areas of improvement should also be conducted.

Sonia went on to enumerate some of the critical events that might occur at any particular point in time. These include theft, IT failure and cyber attacks. In many cases, a company is not just hit by one emergency but a plethora of critical events. This is where a critical event management process comes in.

Sonia wrapped up her presentation by reiterating the useful components of an effective CEM plan. She stated that companies should always be knowledgeable about a possible emergency. It must notify all concerned persons and improve on its existing incident management process.

Building cybersecurity readiness

Charlotte Wood: Critical events are always going to happen; mitigate effects by being prepared

When it comes to cyber threats, having an incident management protocol means more than just ensuring that everything and everyone is well-prepared.

This was the clear message of Charlotte Wood, Director, Policy and Awareness Cyber Security NSW of the New South Wales Government, to participants during the OpenGovLive! virtual session.

According to Charlotte, three things should be considered in the fight against cyber attack: confidentiality, integrity and availability.

Confidentiality means only authorised users and processors shall have access to data and integrity relates to the way data should be handled. Likewise, authorised users must always have access to available data.

Speaking about risks, Charlotte identified the financial risks associated with cyber attacks. To plan, Charlotte says, the trick is to look at risk likelihood and risk impact.

She added that people are the biggest vulnerabilities of companies. To address this, there must be a process on people control. As to possible threats, Charlotte outlined a few. These include human error, insider action and sabotage. In anticipation of these threats, putting a set of controls is important.

Preparation to reduce the impact should occupy the biggest slice of the pie when setting up a critical events management process. Focusing on technical teams for real-world events and in-depth exercise for tech teams in case of a data breach and similar incidents would mitigate the impact of cyber threats.

Charlotte ended the discussion by leaving some food for thought for the attendees: softening the blow of critical events should be a continuous process. It is about educating people as well as encouraging early detection.

Lastly, Charlotte emphasised the importance of having people in charge know what is happening and its impact to make the right decisions.

Going beyond technological aspects

Jim Fitzsimmons: CEM is a collaborative effort, not purely a tech one

Many businesses and organisations believe that the tech aspect of a critical events management process is a top priority. However, this aspect is just the initial stage of addressing risks and their impact. What needs to be focused on is how to have a structured approach when a critical situation arises.

Jim Fitzsimmons, Director – Cyber Security Consulting at Control Risks, gave thought-provoking points during the OpenGov Asia session. He emphasised that addressing lapses in the technological aspect of operations is often the starting point which can branch out into bigger problems like regulatory impacts and in some cases, health and human safety impact. These are things that go beyond what emergency response teams can do. Businesses must acknowledge that issues arise not just due to technology.

For Jim, information gaps regarding incident management are rarely addressed by companies. Oftentimes, many companies find out about an incident after it has happened. This leaves them taking up considerable time trying to figure out what happened and why an incident happened.

The solution, Jim said, is to be more structured on the type of questions to ask. These may include what to do during the onslaught of critical events and how to address them. This way, a critical events management strategy will not be a blind process.

To sum up his discussion, Jim added that it is equally important to approach problems through collaborative effort and see incident management as a process that cannot be purely delegated to the tech team. The trick then, he noted, is to have a balanced, well-structured approach with a view of potential risks and impacts while working collaboratively as a team.

After the interesting points discussed by the speakers, participants of the virtual session were engaged in polling questions regarding incident management and cyber attacks.

When asked about key concerns in cybersecurity that the participants’ organisations consider, almost half (40%) answered that employee education in IT security is a challenge.

A senior delegate from the public sector in India shared that the primary issue that they had to address was reluctance from employees to report cyber attacks. He felt that most organisations tend to have a standard response to all cyber threats. The problem with this is that the type of response must be based on the type of cyber attack.

As to how organisations measure the effectiveness of cybersecurity, an overwhelming number (85%) of respondents chose the ability to respond effectively to an impending cyber threat.

To elaborate, a participant from Hongkong stressed that it is not enough to only have protocols on managing cyber attacks. She believed that it would be risky if there are no methods which could be utilised to measure the extent of cyber threats. This is in addition to the reality that measurement of damage is difficult to manage.

In rating their level of preparedness for an impending cyber attack, a majority of attendees (85%) said that they are well-prepared but are not sure if they can withstand the resulting infiltration brought by cyber-attacks,

The session came to a close with Sonia leaving a reminder that risks are all around and may arise unexpectedly. Cyberthreats come in many forms including internal threats. The solution, she said, is for companies to keep an eye on the likelihood of risks and also doing a thorough assessment of critical events. 

To be able to come up with a sound critical events management strategy which promotes preparedness, resilience and recoverySonia encouraged participants during the session to reach out and work hand-in-hand with highly-skilled incident management groupsBy partnering with experts like Sonia and her teamcompanies and government agencies can be assured of a reliable mechanism that will be an additional safeguard in case of any unforeseen incident in the workplace surfaces. 

The Union Health Ministry has developed a free digital platform and a mobile application to monitor COVID-19 vaccine deliveries in real-time. It will record data and enable people to self-register for vaccination.

The Health Secretary, Rajesh Bhushan, explained that there are five modules on the Co-WIN app: administrator, registration, vaccination, beneficiary acknowledgement, and report. The administrator module is for officials who will conduct the vaccination sessions.

The registration module is for people to get registered for vaccination. It will upload bulk data on co-morbidity provided by local authorities or surveyors. In the vaccination module, the user’s details will be verified, and in the beneficiary acknowledgement module, a certificate will be sent to them about their vaccination. In the first two stages, the government will vaccinate priority groups, which include frontline and emergency workers.

Co-WIN is an upgraded version of the Electronic Vaccine Intelligence Network (eVIN), which is an indigenously developed technology that digitises vaccine stocks and monitors the temperature of the cold chain through a smartphone application. It was first launched across 12 states in 2015 to support better vaccine logistics management at cold chain points. eVIN supports the central government’s Universal Immunisation Programme by providing real-time information on vaccine stocks and flows, and storage temperatures across all cold chain points in the country.

According to a press release, the existing cold chain system consists of 85,634 pieces of equipment for vaccine storage at about 28,947 cold chain points. It is capable of storing COVID-19 vaccines required for the first 30 million people, specifically, healthcare and frontline workers.

Currently, in India, there are about 30 COVID-19 vaccines in different stages of development. The country is among the top ten in the world in terms of the number of patents filed. Two of them are in the most advanced stage of development – COVAXIN developed through ICMR-Bharat Biotech collaboration and COVISHIELD from the Serum Institute of India. They are in the Phase-III clinical trial stage. The Indian Council of Medical Research is involved in their trial executions.

The country is also hosting clinical trials for all the major vaccine contenders. Serum Institute of India, the world’s largest vaccine manufacturer, is conducting trials for the vaccine developed by Oxford University. Over 100 start-ups, supported by the government, have provided innovative products and solutions to overcome challenges posed by COVID-19.

In June, the Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) national healthcare supply chain portal was launched to provide information on the availability of critical healthcare supplies. These include primary medical supplies, diagnostic instruments and kits, auxiliary supplies, prosthetics and orthotics, dental equipment, PPE, and respiratory assistance devices, among others.

As OpenGov Asia reported earlier, the portal, AarogyaPath, will serve manufacturers, suppliers, and customers. During the present national healthcare emergency, where there is a severe disruption in the supply chain, the ability to produce and deliver critical items may be compromised.

The integrated public platform provides a single-point availability of key healthcare goods and will be helpful to customers with several routinely experienced issues. Some of these include the dependence on limited suppliers, time-consuming processes to identify high-quality products, limited access to suppliers who can supply standardised products at reasonable prices within required timelines, and a lack of awareness about the latest product launches.

The 26th India-Portugal Technology Summit 2020 reflects the effective partnership between the governments and the industry for developing a robust technology ecosystem for the country. The next iteration of this collaboration will be to encourage new solutions based on cutting-edge technologies such as machine learning and artificial intelligence, the Minister of Science and Technology, Dr Harsh Vardhan said.

According to a press release, The event was organised by the Department of Science and Technology (DST) and the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII).

Professor Ashutosh Sharma, Secretary, DST outlined that over the years, the summit has facilitated the co-creation of knowledge, two-way technology transfers, and collaborative research and development projects. It has enhanced market access between India and the partner country’s industry and research institutes. He said that the science and technology ecosystem has blossomed in India by gradually increasing the focus of its policy regime, an impetus that has been ably supported by the years of economic reforms and landmark initiatives.

Over the past 26 years, DST has been co-organising the Technology Summit in partnership with CII. The summit has immensely benefitted the Indian industry and academic and research institutions by forging collaborations with global partners, including policy-making that has triggered private sector investments in research, development, and technology significantly. Spain, South Korea, the United Kingdom, and Italy have also participated in summits in the past.

The objectives of this summit are to forge partnerships; boost innovation, investment, and trade; and facilitate technology transfers, joint projects, and market access.

The summit aims to achieve:

  • The launch of an ambitious bilateral knowledge and innovation agenda
  • New public-private partnerships between India and Portugal
  • Opportunities to fast-track market entry for new stakeholders
  • Market expansion opportunities for existing Indian and Portugal stakeholders
  • Deepening Indo-Portugal ties in multiple verticals of the knowledge economy
  • Scaling-up solutions for societal challenges
  • Foster Investments and market understanding and penetrations
  • Collaborative research and human resource exchange
  • A large number of technology tie-ups between Indian Industry and Research Institutions
  • The signing of Memorandums of Understanding (MoUs)- charting the roadmap for strengthening future collaborations.

The focus sectors this year are agritech; watertech; health tech; cleantech, energy, climate change; information communication technologies/emerging technologies; innovation and start-ups; space-ocean interactions.

During the event, Dr Harsh Vardhan also announced that in India, there are about 30 COVID-19 vaccines in different stages of development. The country is among the top ten in the world with respect to the number of patents filed.

Two of them are in the most advanced stage of development – COVAXIN developed through ICMR-Bharat Biotech collaboration and COVISHIELD from the Serum Institute of India. They are in the Phase-III clinical trial stage. The Indian Council of Medical Research is involved in their trial executions.

The country is also hosting clinical trials for all the major vaccine contenders. Serum Institute of India, the world’s largest vaccine manufacturer, is conducting trials for the vaccine developed by Oxford University. The Minister noted that more than 100 start-ups, supported by the government, have provided innovative products and solutions to overcome challenges posed by COVID-19.

The Reserve Bank of India has said it plans to secure online payment processes, a step toward preventing and reducing fraud. It announced its new measures to secure digital payment channels via the proposed Digital Payment Security Controls Directions, 2020.

The project is for regulated entities to set up a robust governance structure for systems and to implement common minimum standards of security controls for channels like the Internet, mobile banking, and card payments, among others.

A statement released by the organisation noted that while the guidelines will be technology and platform agnostic, it will create an enhanced and enabling environment for customers to use digital payment products more safely and securely.

The RBI Governor, Shaktikanta Das, explained that the directions will contain requirements for strong governance, implementation, and monitoring of certain minimum standards on common security controls.

Furthermore, to strengthen and improve the efficacy of the internal grievance redress mechanism of the banks and to provide better customer service, RBI has decided to put in place a comprehensive framework comprising inter-alia of enhanced disclosures on customer complaints by banks. Also, a monetary disincentive in the form of recovery of the cost of redress of complaints from banks when maintainable complaints are comparatively high.

It will also undertake intensive reviews of grievance redress mechanisms and supervisory action against banks that fail to improve their redress mechanism in a time-bound manner.

According to a media report, RBI has also announced a hike in the upper limit of contactless card payments from IN₹ 2,000 (about US$27) to IN₹ 5,000 (about US$67) from January 2021 and will make RTGS transactions available round-the-clock.

India’s digital payments have grown exponentially after the strict nationwide lockdown in the first quarter of the current fiscal year 2020-21. During the fiscal’s second quarter, UPI payments recorded an 82% increase in volume and a 99% jump in value, compared with the same quarter last year, according to the Worldline India Digital Payments report. In September 2020, UPI had more than 1.8 billion transactions in volume.

In the second quarter, 19 banks joined the UPI ecosystem, bringing the total number of banks providing UPI services to 174 while the National Payments Corporation of India (NPCI) BHIM App was available for customers of 146 banks.

The initiatives by the RBI are welcomed by industry players as it is expected to leverage technology, spur innovation, enhance system efficiency, and strengthen the acceptance infrastructure, Deepak Chandnani, Managing Director, Worldline South Asia & Middle East said. While contactless, faceless, and cashless transactions are becoming the preferred choice among consumers and merchants, it is important to note that this trend started pre-COVID and is now accelerating.

Meanwhile, in the quarter ending-September 2020, there were approximately 5.1 million POS terminals deployed by merchant acquiring banks, which is 13% higher than the same quarter of the previous year. Among these, private sector banks represent about 69% of the POS terminal market while public sector banks account for 26%. Payments banks accounted for 4% of the market share and foreign banks represent the rest 1%.

Entrepreneur of the Year 2017 - OpenGov Asia

He overcame all obstacles to reach his destination: Entrepreneur of the Year (2017). Listen to our leader’s inspiring story.