Prime Minister Narendra Modi launched UPI-based mobile payment application called BHIM (Bharat Interface for Money) at the Digi Dhan Mela held in Talkatora stadium, New Delhi, today afternoon. The app is rebranded version of UPI (Unified Payment Interface) and USSD (Unstructured Supplementary Service Data) for simpler digital payments without cash.

BHIM is Aadhaar-based payments app developed by the National Payment Corporation of India (NPCI). The app allows easily transferring money or making a payment from your bank account using only phone number. It can work even on basic phones as it supports USSD payments.

It has mobile wallet facility in which money can be loaded. Using it anyone can directly connect their phone to bank account like a debit card. The app also allows user to scan a QR code. The merchant can also generate his QR code through the app. Payment can be done through scanning QR code.

Merchants can also use the BHIM app to receive money from a smartphone or Aadhaar Pay if customer has linked a bank account and Aadhaar ID. Payments through this app are happening directly from and to bank accounts, so merchants don’t have to worry about transferring wallet earnings to the bank account.

All major UPI connected Indian banks accepts money through BHIM app. Even banks not connected to UPI can receive money through BHIM through IFSC assigned to banks. The app has been downloaded about 20 million times, on the same day itself, as reported by the Android-owned Google Play Store. It would be available on other platforms in the next few months.




Demonetisation has the support of over 93% of the 5,00,000 people who took the survey on the Narendra Modi App , according to a statement put out by Prime Minister Modi’s website. The release said only 2% viewed the demonetisation negatively.

An infographic on Modi’s website said the survey on the Narendra Modi app received more than 400 responses every minute. The respondents were from 2000 different locations, with 93% of them in India. Also, 24% of those surveyed had responded in Hindi.

The 5 lakh who reportedly took the survey did so in just over 15 hours. The numbers released were up to 3:30 pm on Wednesday, and the poll had begun at 10 am on Tuesday. More than 90% of the respondents feel the government’s move to tackle black money is above four-star rating. Around 73% of them gave it a five-star rating of brilliant.

On the overall fight against corruption, more than 92% of respondents either rate the government as very good or good. 57% of them rate the fight as very good. Again, more than 93% people support the move to demonetize the old 500 and 1000 rupee notes . Of the over 5 lakh responses so far, only 2% have rated the move as very poor or one star.
The Prime Minister thanked the people for voting in the survey and had added that further actions would be taken to unearth huge amounts of black money, which was hurting the fastest growing economy in the world in this fiscal year.




A recently released Global Wage Report 2016-17 released by the International Labour Organisation (ILO) has found that India suffers from huge gender pay gap. It shows that India has among the worst levels of gender wage disparity (men earning more than women in similar jobs) with the gap exceeding 30%.

In the report, Singapore has among the lowest gender wage disparity at 3%. Among major economies, South Korea only fared worse than India, with a gap of 37%. In India, women formed 60% of the lowest paid wage labour, but only 15% of the highest wage-earners. It means that women are not only poorly represented in the top bracket of wage-earners but also gender pay gap at the bottom is also very wide in India.

In other words, not only were women paid less, there were fewer women in highly paid occupations. The share of women among wage earners was among the lowest in South Asia. Compared to a global average of 40%, and an Asia-Pacific average of 38%, in South Asia (whose dominant economy is India), only 20% of wage earners were women.

Women’s educational choices produced occupational segregation. Care work mostly undertaken by women is undervalued because it may be seen as a natural female attribute rather than a skill to be acquired. Thus, there is higher representation of women in sectors where their work is undervalued results in a gender pay gap.

Strong labour market institutions and policies such as collective bargaining and minimum wages will help to lower the pay gap. It is found that the gender pay gap is smallest (around 8%) in the group of countries where the collective bargaining rate is at least 80%, and widest in countries with weak collective bargaining and very low or no minimum wages.

The report also highlighted income inequality. In India, the top 1% earns 33 times what the bottom 10% did. The top 10% also earned 43% of all wages. Since 2006, average wages rose by 60% in India, while they more than doubled in China.

The ILO is a United Nations agency dealing with labour issues, particularly international labour standards, social protection, and work opportunities for all. It was established in 1919 as an agency of the League of Nations and is headquartered in Geneva, Switzerland.



The Union Power Ministry is going to launch new mobile application GARV-II to provide real time data of all six lakh villages of the country. The purpose of the mobile application is to ensure transparency in implementation of rural electrification programme.

GARV-II mobile app has incorporated village-wise; habitation-wise base line data on household electrification for all states. It also has mapped village-wise works sanctioned under Deen Dayal Upadhyaya Gram Jyoti Yojana (DDUGJY) to monitor progress of works in each village.

It also incorporates the status of release of funds to the states for electrification projects sanctioned under DDUGJY. GARV-II allows peoples participation for rural electrification work. It opens rural electrification work to public scrutiny and input about rural electrification programme It also has a citizen engagement window ‘SAMVAD’ to enhance participation.

It automatically forwards feedback and suggestions of people to the concerned authorities through SMS & Email. It aims to ensure electricity access to all households as government has already electrified over 11,000 villages out of 18,452 un-electrified villages by 2018-19.

The earlier version of GARV mobile application was only providing data about rural electrification regarding 18,452 un-electrified villages. The GARV-II will provide real time data of all six lakh villages of the country in real time.



The Union Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MeitY) has launched a TV channel named ‘DigiShala’ to promote cashless transactions. The channel was launched as part of the ‘Digidhan’ campaign which aims to spread awareness about digital transactions, in the aftermath of the demonetisation exercise, last month, which has led to cash crunch and millions of Indians, waiting in ATMs and banks to get or exchange the currency.

DigiShala is dedicated 24*7 and 365 days free-to-air TV channel to inform citizens about digital payment ecosystem, benefits and processes. It is a satellite channel managed by Doordarshan (DD). It will be broadcasted nationally on DD Free Dish DTH service.

Through it, citizens will be informed and educated about various digital payment options through step by step demos of digital payments using e-wallets, UPI, USSD, Aadhaar-enabled payment systems and cards. It will impart information and education, especially in rural and semi-urban areas related to Digital Payment ecosystem, its tools, processes and benefits.

The services on the channel initially will be available in Hindi and English and later in local languages as well. It is not mandatory for the service provider and direct-to-home (DTH) airing it and customers may opt for it.



Russia has invited India to join in developing next-generation nuclear reactors and to participate in its fast-reactor research project, an official of Rosatom, the country’s state atomic energy corporation, has said. The multipurpose fast research reactor project, known by the Russian acronym MBIR, is coming up as the International Research Centre in Dimitrovgrad located in the Ulyanovsk region of Russia.

“The purpose of the programme is the creation of a new technological platform for nuclear energy, which will be based on the closed fuel cycle with fast neutron reactors,” Rosatom project manager Alexander Zagornov, visiting India for the opening of the company’s South Asia regional centre here, said.

The closed fuel cycle, which involves recycling the nuclear waste as new fuel, in the case of the MBIR project, essentially signifies research on a sodium-cooled Generation 4 fast reactor to design an advanced fast neutron reactor for use in nuclear power plants. A fast neutron reactor, also known simply as a fast reactor, is a type in which the nuclear fission chain reaction is sustained by fast neutrons. Such a reactor needs no neutron moderator like normal water, which serves such a purpose in thermal reactors.

“With fast-neutron reactors, it is possible to solve the major ecological problem of reprocessing and deactivation of the accumulated radioactive waste, at the same time providing society with much needed energy,” Zagornov said.

“Transition to the closed fuel cycle, which is based on the fast neutron reactors, will lead to the solution of the five key problems – safety, competitiveness, shortage of fuel, reprocessing and re-fabricating the used nuclear fuel and radioactive waste, as well as in enforcing non-proliferation of fission materials and weapons technologies,” he added.

Zagornov explained that the main purpose of the MBIR research reactor is to conduct a large number of reactor studies of “Generation 4 nuclear systems, including the fast neutron reactor with closed fuel cycle, as well as small and medium power thermal neutron reactors”.

“MBIR’s design includes three independent loops that can be used to test different coolants like gas, lead, molten salt, among others, and therefore it will be possible to conduct material testing research in those different environments.”

“The trend of the fast research reactors development shows that by 2025, MBIR can be one-of-a-kind facility in the world,” he said. In this connection, Zagornov said that the unique research facility with the high neutron flux cannot be realized on the small scale or as a modular facility.

“Therefore, high cost is inevitable. This fact brings us to the idea promoted by IAEA (International Atomic Energy Agency) of regional ‘collective use centers’, in which one reactor can be used by multiple international users,” he added.

“And we invite Indian partners to participate in such collective centre of excellence like the International Research Center,” he added. The Indian atomic energy programme is currently developing breeder reactors that will be fuelled by the country’s vast thorium deposits.

The Advanced Heavy Water Reactor (AHWR) is the latest Indian design for a next-generation nuclear reactor. In its final stages of development, the AHWR is being tested at the Bhabha Atomic Research Centre (BARC) in Mumbai as part of the third stage of India’s nuclear energy programme, which envisages the use of thorium fuel cycles for generating commercial power.

India’s thorium deposits, estimated at 360,000 tonnes, far outweigh its natural uranium deposits at 70,000 tonnes. The country’s thorium reserves make up 25% of the global reserves. Zagornov said the neutron flux directly influences the time needed to conduct irradiation experiments.

“The ability to conduct a 10-year research in three years is extremely important to the scientists around the globe and is one of the key advantages of the high flux reactors,” he further explained.

Russia has offered India a new range of reactor units – the VVER-Toi (typical optimised, enhanced information) design – for the third and fourth units of the Kudankulam project in Tamil Nadu being built by Rosatom.



Mauritius President Ameenah Gurib Fakim today inaugurated a genetic garden of naturally occurring salt-tolerant plants called halophytes at the coastal town of Vedaranyam in Tamil Nadu.

She inaugurated the garden set up by the M.S Swaminathan Research Foundation (MSSRF) through video-conference from here. The Mauritian President is currently on a four-day visit to the country, having arrived yesterday.

According to MSSRF, plants such as these are important in the context of increasing salinisation of land, one of the adverse effects of climate change.

Halophytes tolerate salinity and could grow in saline affected regions. Their seeds contain high oil (30%) and protein (35%) like soyabeans and other oilseed crops and the salt content is less than three percent.

Eminent agriculture scientist and MSSRF founder, Prof M.S Swaminathan said – “This is probably the first such garden in the world and could be called a global garden, which is very important in the aspect of anticipatory research. With regions likely to be affected differentially in one way or other, it is going to be a mega-calamity, unless we take pro-active action.”

MSSRF Executive Director V Selvam said the potential of halophyte as food for people, fodder for livestock, bio fuel and for ornamental purposes was being explored and ‘could reap rich rewards in research for climate change.’