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WHO Report on Sodium Intake Reduction

GS 2 Health

In News

  • The World Health Organization (WHO) has developed the report to track the implementation of sodium reduction policies and other measures and to identify areas for action.

Major Highlights of the Report

  • The global goal of reducing sodium intake by 30 percent in the next two years is not on track to be met (by 2025).
  • Reducing sodium intake is one of the most cost-effective ways to improve health and reduce the burden of noncommunicable diseases, as it can prevent a significant number of cardiovascular events and deaths at very low total programme costs.
  • The global burden of unhealthy diets represents a significant global public health and development challenge. Urgent action is necessary to modify the production and consumption of foods and beverages, including industrially produced (prepackaged) foods.
  • Only five percent of WHO Member States are protected by mandatory and comprehensive sodium reduction policies, and seventy-three percent of WHO Member States do not implement these policies in their entirety.
About Sodium 

•         Sodium is a chemical element with the symbol Na and atomic number 11.

•         Sodium is the sixth most abundant element in the Earth’s crust and is present in a variety of minerals, including feldspars, sodalite, and halite (NaCl).

•         The body requires a small amount of sodium to function properly, but excessive sodium consumption increases the risk of cardiovascular disease, stroke, and premature death.

·         The primary source of sodium is table salt (sodium chloride), but other condiments, such as sodium glutamate, also contain sodium.



Issues with High Intake of Sodium

  • An estimated 1.89 million deaths per year are attributable to excessive sodium consumption, a well-established cause of elevated blood pressure and increased risk of cardiovascular disease.
  • The estimated global average salt intake is 10.8 grammes per day, which is more than double the WHO recommendation of less than 5 grammes per day (one teaspoon).
  • Emerging evidence indicates a link between a high sodium intake and an increased risk of other diseases, such as gastric cancer, obesity, osteoporosis, and kidney disease.


Noncommunicable Diseases (NCDs)

  • • Noncommunicable diseases, also known as chronic diseases, have a propensity for long duration and are caused by a combination of genetic, physiological, environmental, and behavioural factors.
  • Cardiovascular diseases (such as heart attacks and strokes), cancers, chronic respiratory diseases (such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and asthma), and diabetes are the most common noncommunicable diseases.
  • The leading noncommunicable diseases share four behavioural risk factors: an unhealthy diet, a lack of physical activity, tobacco and alcohol use. Ageing, rapid unplanned urbanisation, and globalisation also contribute to the rise of noncommunicable diseases.
  • NCDs, such as cardiovascular disease, stroke, cancer, diabetes, and chronic lung disease, account for 74% of all deaths worldwide.

NCDs in India

  • Noncommunicable diseases account for sixty percent of all deaths in India.
  • Cardiovascular diseases (coronary heart disease, stroke, and hypertension) are responsible for 45 percent of all NCD-related deaths, followed by chronic respiratory disease (22 percent), cancer (12 percent), and diabetes (3 percent).
  • Tobacco use has been identified as the largest risk factor for noncommunicable diseases.
  • Trends regarding the prevalence of obesity and overweight indicate a rapid increase.
  • Nearly one out of ten Indians aged 18 and older have elevated blood glucose levels.
  • According to WHO standards, more than two-thirds of adolescents aged 11 to 17 are physically inactive in India. The rate of physical inactivity among adults is approximately 13 percent.

Steps Taken by Government of India to Prevent NCDs

  • National Programme for Prevention and Control of Cancer, Diabetes, Cardiovascular Diseases and Stroke (NPCDCS): As part of the National Health Mission, the Government of India provides technical and financial support to the States/UTs under this programme (NHM).

o It focuses on strengthening infrastructure, human resource development, health promotion, and raising awareness for cancer prevention, early diagnosis, management, and referral to an appropriate level of healthcare facility for the treatment of NCDs.

  • Screening under NHM: A population-based initiative for the prevention, control, and screening of common NCDs, such as diabetes, hypertension, and common cancers, has been implemented in the country under the National Health Mission (NHM).

o The initiative targets individuals older than 30 for screening for the three most common cancers, namely oral, breast, and cervical.

o Screening for these common cancers is an integral part of Ayushman Bharat – Health and Wellness Centres’ service delivery.

  • Ayushman Bharat Health Wellness Centre scheme: Comprehensive Primary Health Care is strengthened by promoting wellness activities and targeted communication at the community level, thereby strengthening the cancer prevention aspect of the scheme.
  • Awareness Programmes: Other initiatives for increasing public awareness of cancer and promoting a healthy lifestyle include the observance of World Cancer Day and National Cancer Awareness Day.

o In addition, NPCDCS provides financial support under NHM for cancer awareness generation (IEC) activities to be carried out by States/UTs in accordance with their Programme Implementation Plans (PIPs).

  • Fit India Movement: It is implemented by the Ministry of Youth Affairs and Sports, and the Ministry of AYUSH conducts various Yoga-related activities.

Recommendations by WHO

  • The World Health Organization (WHO) recommends reducing the sodium content of food products, implementing front-of-package labelling to help consumers choose food products with lower sodium content, conducting mass media campaigns to change consumer behaviour regarding sodium, and implementing public food procurement and service policies to reduce the sodium content of food served or sold.
  • Modeling indicates that the estimated potential impact of policy implementation on sodium intake will be a 23% reduction by 2030, and a 3% reduction on cardiovascular mortality.

Despite the fact that the projected global sodium reduction is below the 30% target by 2030, the target is still attainable through the rapid implementation of government-led, comprehensive, and mandatory sodium reduction policies and other measures.


Restoration of ties between Iran and Saudi Arabia

GS 2 India & Foreign Relations

In News

  • Recently, China-Brokered Talks have resulted in the normalisation of diplomatic relations between Iran and Saudi Arabia.


  • Iran and Saudi Arabia have agreed to restore ties and reopen diplomatic missions following a seven-year rift that has fueled tensions in the Persian Gulf and exacerbated conflicts from Yemen to Syria. The agreement was recently reached during talks in Beijing between the two rival Middle Eastern powers’ top security officials.
  • While the rivalry between predominantly Shia Iran and Sunni Saudi Arabia has dominated Middle Eastern politics in recent years, spreading to Syria, Iraq, Lebanon, and Yemen. The 2016 execution of Shia cleric Nimr al-Nimr in Tehran was the most recent incident that led to protests and the severing of diplomatic ties between Iran and Saudi Arabia.

Major highlights of the agreement:

  • Iran and Saudi Arabia have agreed to respect each other’s state sovereignty and refrain from interfering in each other’s internal affairs.
  • Both nations have also agreed to activate a security cooperation agreement signed in 2001.
  • To prepare for the exchange of ambassadors, the foreign ministers of both nations will meet.

Potential Consequences

  • The deal could have implications for a US-led effort to economically isolate Iran through sanctions.
  • If there is a genuine warming of Saudi relations with Tehran, one consequence is likely to be Saudi investment inside Iran.
  • Another potential consequence of the diplomatic re-engagement is that Saudi Arabia may scale back its London-based satellite channel Iran International.

Implications of Agreement

  • The agreement may have far-reaching ramifications for the Iran nuclear deal and the Yemen civil war, where the two parties are engaged in a proxy war.
  • The agreement demonstrates Saudi Arabia’s new resolve to pursue an independent foreign policy.
  • Some Israelis have described the agreement as “serious and dangerous” and a “fatal blow to the effort to form a regional alliance” against the Islamic Republic.

The Abraham accords, which normalised relations between Israel and some Arab states, were rejected by Saudi Arabia.

Timeline for Severed Ties

Iran and Saudi Arabia have had a contentious relationship over the years, marked by proxy wars and diplomatic tensions.

  • 2011: The Arab Spring prompts Saudi Arabia to accuse Iran of inciting protests in Bahrain. Iran refutes the charges.
  • 2011: Iran supports President Bashar al-Assad and Saudi Arabia supports rebel groups as the Syrian civil war begins. Later, both nations join an anti-ISIS coalition led by the United States.
  • 2015: The Yemen civil war begins, with Saudi Arabia backing the internationally recognized government and Iran supporting the Houthi rebels.
  • 2015: A stampede during the annual Hajj pilgrimage in Mecca leads Iran to accuse Saudi Arabia of mismanagement. When Saudi Arabia executes prominent Shia leader Nimr al-Nimr and Iran protests, tensions escalate.
  • 2016: Saudi Arabia cuts ties with Iran after protesters in Tehran storm the Saudi embassy in response to Nimr’s execution.
  • 2016: Iran suspends participation in the Hajj, and Saudi Arabia launches a Persian-language television station covering the pilgrimage.
  • 2017: Saudi Arabia, along with the UAE, Bahrain, and Egypt, impose a blockade on Qatar, accusing it of being too close to Iran and supporting terrorism. The blockade is lifted in 2021.
  • 2017: Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri abruptly resigns from Riyadh, citing Hezbollah’s influence on Iran in his country.
  • 2018: President Donald Trump withdraws the US from the Iran nuclear deal, a move praised by Saudi Arabia and Israel.
  • 2019: Saudi Arabia blames Iran for a series of attacks on targets in the kingdom, including one that temporarily halved the country’s crude production.
  • 2020: Iranian military commander Qassem Soleimani is killed in a US drone strike in Baghdad, and Saudi media celebrates the attack.
  • 2021: Iran and Saudi Arabia hold their first direct talks since severing official ties in April, and these discussions will continue through 2022.
  • 2023: In February, Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi visits China, and in March, Saudi Arabia and Iran announce their decision to restore ties.
  • Way ahead
  • • Iran and Saudi Arabia have a lengthy and complicated history of antagonistic relations, characterised by proxy wars, diplomatic standoffs, and geopolitical tensions. Recent developments, however, such as the resumption of direct talks and the agreement to restore ties, offer a glimmer of hope for improved relations between these two regional powers.
  • As both nations face similar challenges, such as the COVID-19 pandemic, economic pressures, and security threats, the restoration of diplomatic ties could pave the way for increased cooperation and stability in the Middle East.
  • Recent diplomatic efforts provide a hopeful sign for the future of Iran-Saudi Arabia relations, despite the persistence of numerous obstacles.

Source: TH

MSME Competitive (LEAN) Scheme

GS 2 Government Policies & Interventions GS 3 Indian Economy & Related Issues

In News

  • The MSME Competitive (LEAN) scheme was launched by the Union Minister for Micro, Small, and Medium-Sized Enterprises.


  • The Scheme is a business initiative to reduce “waste” in manufacturing.
  • It provides for building awareness of lean manufacturing practises in MSME clusters and cost sharing of consultant’s fees with MSME units that choose such interventions.
  • Under the programme, the Centre will contribute 90% of the implementation costs for handholding and consulting fees, up from 80% previously.
  • Adoption of Lean Manufacturing Techniques is aimed at
  • reducing waste,
  • increasing productivity,
  • introducing innovative practises for improving overall competitiveness,
  • inculcating good management systems, and fostering a culture of continuous improvement.
  • The Pilot Phase of the Lean Manufacturing Competitiveness Scheme (LMCS) for 100 Mini Clusters was approved in 2009.
  • Under the scheme, MSMEs will implement LEAN manufacturing tools such as 5S, Kaizen, KANBAN, Visual workplace, Poka Yoka, etc. under the supervision of trained and competent LEAN Consultants in order to attain LEAN levels such as Basic, Intermediate, and Advanced.
  • Nodal Agency: National Productivity Council (NPC)
  • Eligibility: The Scheme is open to Micro, Small or Medium as per the definition of the MSME Act. (The Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises Development Act, 2006.)
  • The units are required to form a Mini Cluster of 10 or so units.


  • Under the Scheme, MSMEs are assisted in reducing their manufacturing costs, through proper personnel management, better space utilization, scientific inventory management, improved processed flows, reduced engineering time and so on.
  • LMCS (Lean Manufacturing Competitiveness Scheme) also brings improvement in the quality of products and lowers costs, which are essential for competing in national and international markets.


  • The larger enterprises in India have been adopting LMCS to remain competitive, but MSMEs have generally stayed away from such programs as they are not fully aware of the benefits.
  • Besides these issues, experienced and effective Lean Manufacturing Counsellors or Consultants are not easily available and are expensive to engage and hence most MSMEs are unable to afford LMCS.

Source: PIB

Fifth India – USA Commercial Dialogue

GS 2 India & Foreign Relations

In News

  • The US Secretary of Commerce recently travelled to India to participate in the bilateral India-US Commercial Dialogue 2023.


  • The India-US Commercial Dialogue aims to strengthen the US-India Comprehensive Global Strategic Partnership by enhancing commercial collaboration.
  • The bilateral trade in goods and services has nearly doubled since 2014, surpassing $191 billion, due to such collaborations.


  • India has expressed interest in collaborating with the United States to create a secure pharmaceutical manufacturing base and diversify supply chains for critical and strategic minerals (including rare earth).
  • A Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) was signed regarding the establishment of a semiconductor supply chain and innovation partnership within the context of the India-US Commercial Dialogue.
  • A new Working Group on Talent, Innovation, and Inclusive Growth has been established as part of the Commercial Dialogue to advance cooperation on Start-ups, SMEs, Skill Development, and Entrepreneurship, including digital and emerging technologies.
  • Relaunched the Travel and Tourism Working Group to address new challenges and opportunities in order to strengthen the travel and tourism industry.
  • Initiated Standards and Conformance Cooperation Program (Phase III), which will be carried out in partnership by ANSI (American National Standard Institute) from the US side and BIS (Bureau of Indian Standards) from the Indian side to advance standards cooperation.
  • Announced the U.S.-India Energy Industry Network (EIN) as a broad platform to facilitate U.S. industry participation in the Clean EDGE Asia initiative in order to discuss opportunities in the Indian energy sector.


Clean EDGE Asia initiative

  • Clean EDGE Asia is a US government Initiative to support and accelerate Asia’s clean energy transition.
  • It works in collaboration with US’s partners to
    • develop markets that attract private investment,
    • support the deployment of cutting-edge U.S. technologies and services,
    • develop transparent energy infrastructure procurement practices,
    • identify and remove barriers to clean energy investment,
    • mobilise financing options for projects.



Semiconductor Sub-Committee

GS 2 India & Foreign Relations

In News

  • India and the United States recently agreed to establish a semiconductor sub-committee as part of the relaunched India-U.S. Commercial Dialogue.


  • The Semiconductor Sub-Committee is part of India-US efforts to increase private-sector cooperation in the area of semiconductors in order to lessen their reliance on China and Taiwan. It is led by the United States Department of Commerce and the Indian Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MeitY) and Ministry of Commerce and Industry.
  • The formation of the Semiconductor Sub-Committee follows the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding by India and the United States to create a resilient semiconductor supply chain.
  • The objective of the MOU is to leverage the complementary strengths of both countries and facilitate commercial opportunities and the development of semiconductor innovation ecosystems through discussions on various aspects of the semiconductor value chain.


  • Semiconductors are the building blocks of almost every modern electronic device from smartphones to connected devices in the Internet of Things (IoT).
  • The chip-making industry is a highly-concentrated one, with the big players being Taiwan, the U.S. and China.
  • The global chip shortage coupled with the U.S.-China tensions over Taiwan, and the supply chain blockages owing to the Russia-Ukraine conflict have made major economies realise the importance of the chip-making sector.

Indian initiatives

  • In 2021, the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MeitY) launched the Design Linked Incentive (DLI) Scheme to foster at least 20 domestic semiconductor design companies.
  • India also launched the Scheme for Promotion of Manufacturing of Electronic Components and Semiconductors (SPECS) for manufacturing electronic components and semiconductors.
  • Under the PLI scheme, India has allocated Rs 76,000 crore (approximately $10 billion) for the development of a semiconductor and display manufacturing electronics ecosystem.


Subhash Chandra Bose Aapda Prabandhan Puraskar

GS 2 Miscellaneous

In News

  • During the 3rd Session of the National Platform for Disaster Risk Reduction, the Prime Minister honoured recipients of the Subhash Chandra Bose Aapda Prabandhan Puraskar (NPDRR).

Awardees for the Year 2023

  • Odisha State Disaster Management Authority (OSDMA)
  • Lunglei Fire Station, Mizoram

About the Award

  • This award recognises the outstanding contributions made by individuals and institutions in India in the field of Disaster Management, including Prevention, Mitigation, Preparedness, Rescue, Response, Relief, Rehabilitation, Research/Innovations, and Early Warning.


  • Only Indian nationals and institutions may apply for the award.
  • Voluntary organisations, corporations, academic/research institutions, response/uniformed forces, and any other institution may apply for the award as an institution.
  • The candidate for the award must have worked in the field of Disaster Management in India.
  • The application must include a description of the work performed in disaster management and must highlight accomplishments.

Who can nominate? 

  • Any individual or institution may propose a candidate for the award. The application for the same may be submitted annually between 1 July and 31 August.

Ceremony Details:

  • The award will be announced each year on January 23, the birthday of Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose.
  • It carries a cash prize of?51 lakhs and a certificate for institutions, and a cash prize of?5 lakhs and a certificate for individuals.


Landslide Atlas of India

GS 3 Disaster Management

In News

  • ISRO has just released the Landslide Atlas of India, which identifies the country’s landslide hotspots.



  • The National Remote Sensing Centre of ISRO compiled a database of India’s landslide-prone regions based on occurrences between 1998 and 2022.
  • In addition to aerial images, high-resolution satellite images captured by ResourceSat-1, ResourceSat-2, etc. were utilised to study the landslides.
  • The pan-India database categorises landslides as seasonal (monsoon seasons of 2014 and 2017), event-based, and route-based (2000 – 2017).

What are Landslides?

  • The definition of a landslide is the movement of a mass of rock, debris, or earth down a slope.
  • They are a type of mass wasting, which refers to any downward movement of soil and rock under gravity’s direct influence. They are typically found in clay-rich soil.
  • In India, the entire Himalayan region, the hills and mountains in the sub-Himalayan terrains of north-eastern India, the Western Ghats, the Nilgiris in Tamil Nadu, and the Konkan regions are prone to landslides.

India’s Vulnerability:

  • India is among the top five landslide-prone nations in the world, where at least one death per 100 square kilometres per year is attributed to a landslide.
  • Excluding snow-covered areas, the Atlas indicates that approximately 12.6% (0.42 million sq km) of the country’s land area is prone to landslides.
  • Approximately 66.5 percent of reported landslides occur in the North-Western Himalayas, 18.8 percent in the North-Eastern Himalayas, and 14.7% in the Western Ghats.
  • Rainfall variability is the leading cause of landslides in the country, with the Himalayas and the Western Ghats being particularly susceptible.

Region-wise Distribution:

  • Assam, Arunachal Pradesh, Sikkim, Meghalaya, Mizoram, Manipur, Tripura, and Nagaland contain nearly half of the country’s landslide-prone area (0.18 square kilometres).
  • Uttarakhand, Himachal Pradesh, and Jammu and Kashmir account for 0.14 million square kilometres of the total area prone to landslides.
  • In addition to Maharashtra, Goa, Karnataka, Kerala, and Tamil Nadu, the Araku region in Andhra Pradesh along the Eastern Ghats has also reported landslide incidents.

State-wise Distribution:

  • From 1998 to 2022, Uttarakhand, Kerala, Jammu and Kashmir, Mizoram, Tripura, Nagaland, and Arunachal Pradesh reported the most landslides.
  • Mizoram topped the list, recording 12,385 landslide events over the past quarter-century, including 8,926 in 2017 alone.
  • During the 2017 monsoon season, 2,071 of the 2,132 landslides reported in Nagaland during this time period occurred.
  • During the 2017 rainy season, 4,559 out of 5,494 landslide occurrences occurred in Manipur, demonstrating a similar pattern.
  • In 2018, Tamil Nadu experienced 603 landslides out of a total of 690.
  • Since 1998, the Himalayan state of Uttarakhand has experienced the second-highest number of landslides (11,219), with all occurrences occurring after the year 2000.
  • Despite fewer events in the Western Ghats, it was discovered that landslides pose a significant risk of fatalities to residents, particularly in Kerala.

Government Initiatives to deal with landslides

  • National Landslide Risk Management Strategy (2019):
    • It covers all aspects of landslide disaster risk reduction and management, such as hazard mapping, monitoring, and early warning systems.
    • It includes awareness campaigns, capacity building, training, regulations, and policies, as well as landslide stabilisation and mitigation.
  • National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) Guidelines on Landslide Hazard Management (2009):
    • It outlines the steps that should be taken to reduce the risk of landslides.
    • It also identifies regions that are prone to landslides
    • Encourages the use of effective landslide rehabilitation and mitigation techniques.
  • National Institute of Disaster Management (NIDM):
    • It was set up to provide capacity building and support to various national and state-level authorities in the area of disaster management and disaster risk reduction

Source: IE

National Platform for Disaster Risk Reduction (NPDRR)

GS 3 Disaster Management

In News

  • The Third Session of the National Platform for Disaster Risk Reduction (NPDRR) was inaugurated in New Delhi by the Prime Minister.

Highlights of the Session

  • The session’s primary focus is “Building Local Resilience in a Changing Climate.”
  • The Prime Minister also honoured recipients of the Subhash Chandra Bose Aapda Prabandhan Purskar.
  • The prime minister gave the example of the Bhunga houses of Kutch, which largely survived the earthquake.


Bhunga Houses of Kutch

  •  Following the devastating earthquake of 1819, the people of Kutch devised an innovative circular design for bhungas to reduce the loss of life and property.
  •  These are traditional dwellings, a distinctive type of round mud hut with a thatched roof.
  •  The redesigned bhungas, which are approximately 200 years old, withstood the 2001 earthquake despite its proximity to the epicentre.
  • These homes are commonly referred to as “Architecture without an Architect” due to the locals’ accumulated architectural expertise.

o    The design of the house is such that it keeps the interior cool in the summer and warm in the winter, and it is incredibly sturdy and resistant to natural disasters such as desert storms and earthquakes.



  • It is a multi-stakeholder platform established in 2013 by the Government of India to facilitate dialogue, sharing of experiences, perspectives, ideas, action-oriented research, and exploration of opportunities in the field of disaster risk reduction (DRR).
  • It aims to unite the entire disaster risk community in India, including the government, parliamentarians, mayors, media, international organisations, non-governmental organisations, local community representatives, scientific and academic institutions, and corporations, etc.
  • The results of the National Platform will provide a strategic direction and road map for the development of future National Action Plans on DRR.


  • Periodically review the progress made in the field of disaster management.
  • To assess the extent and manner in which the Disaster Management Policy has been implemented by the Central and State Governments and other relevant agencies, and to provide advice on the subject.
  • Provide advice on the coordination between the Central and State/UT Administrations, local self-governments, and civil society organisations for Disaster Risk Reduction.
  • To provide advice suo moto or in response to a reference from the Central Government, a State Government, or an Administration of a Union territory on any question pertaining to disaster management.
  • To review the National Policy for Disaster Management.

Disaster Risk Reduction (DRR)

  • It aims to prevent new disaster risk, reduce existing risk, and manage residual risk, all of which contribute to enhancing resilience and, consequently, to achieving sustainable development.
  • Strategies and policies for DRR define goals and objectives across multiple timescales and with specific targets, indicators, and time frames.

Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction 2015-2030

  • The Sendai Framework, endorsed by the United Nations and adopted in March 2015 in Sendai, Japan, outlines a global policy of disaster risk reduction whose expected outcome over the next 15 years is:
  • The significant reduction of disaster risk and losses to lives, livelihoods, health, and economic, physical, social, cultural, and environmental assets of individuals, businesses, communities, and nations.
  • It was the first major agreement of the post-2015 development agenda and it provides Member States with concrete actions to protect development gains from disaster risk.
  • The Sendai Framework complements the other agreements comprising the 2030 Agenda, including the Paris Agreement on Climate Change, the Addis Ababa Action Agenda on Financing for Development, the New Urban Agenda, and the Sustainable Development Goals.
  • It recognises that the State is primarily responsible for reducing disaster risk, but that this responsibility should be shared with local government, the private sector, and other stakeholders.


Amendments to PMLA rules and impact

GS 3 Indian Economy & Related Issues

In News

  • The Ministry of Finance has amended money laundering regulations to require reporting entities such as financial institutions, banks, and intermediaries to disclose more information regarding non-governmental organisations.

o It has also defined “politically exposed persons” (PEPs) in accordance with the recommendations of the Financial Action Task Force under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA) (FATF).

o The expanded definitions of provisions to monitor illicit financial flows included cryptocurrencies.


  • In recent years, the government has struggled to formulate an appropriate regulatory response to the pandemic-era increase in advertisements soliciting investment in virtual assets and reports of actual investment.
  • A July 2021 online report estimated India to have the highest number of ‘crypto owners,’ which was more than three times the number of crypto asset owners in the United States, which ranked second.

Amendments in the PMLA Rules

  • The new PMLA compliance rule defines “Politically Exposed Persons” as individuals “entrusted with prominent public functions by a foreign country, including the heads of States or Governments, senior politicians, senior government or judicial or military officers, senior executives of state-owned corporations, and key political party officials.”

o The move will bring uniformity with a 2008 RBI circular for KYC norms/anti-money laundering standards for banks and financial institutions, which defined PEPs in accordance with FATF standards.

o The ED is the primary investigative agency for PMLA allegations.

  • In accordance with the Companies Act and Income-tax Act, the amended rules have lowered the threshold for identifying beneficial owners by reporting entities where the client is acting on behalf of the beneficial owner.

o The term “beneficial owner” refers to those who are entitled to more than 25% of the company’s shares, capital, or profit, which has been reduced to 10%.

  • Reporting entities are now required to register client information on the DARPAN portal of NITI Aayog if the client is a non-profit organisation.

o If not already registered, maintain registration records for five years after the business relationship between a client and a reporting entity has ended or the account has been closed, whichever comes first.

  • The documentation requirements for due diligence, which were previously limited to obtaining the basic KYCs of clients such as registration certificates, PAN copies, and documents of officers holding an attorney to transact on behalf of the client, have been expanded.
  • Trade in virtual digital assets (VDA) is now governed by the PMLA. In India, cryptocurrencies are currently unregulated, although the government has taxed their rupee withdrawals.

o Cryptocurrency exchanges and virtual asset intermediaries are now required by new regulations to maintain customer identification documents and report suspicious transactions to financial intelligence units.

o The new rules will clarify the legal position for both the investigating agency and the perpetrators of fraud using these forms of digital currency.

o It will prevent crypto and NFTs from being used for money laundering and other illegal activities.

Significance of the FATF-related changes

  • The amendments are significant in advance of India’s anticipated FATF assessment later this year.
  • The overarching objective is to achieve legal uniformity and eliminate ambiguities prior to the FATF evaluation.
  • In its recommendations, the FATF states that financial institutions should be required to have adequate risk-management systems to determine whether a customer or beneficial owner is a domestic PEP or a person who has or has held a prominent function for an international organisation.


  • The definition of PEP, however, leaves a lot to interpretation and in the absence of clear markers as to what rank, up to how much time after demitting office etc, would an individual be considered a PEP, it would give the authorities too much discretion. Such discretion, if not checked, could easily be misused and it would be best to define the ambiguities left in this amendment.


  • The decision to require that all trade in virtual digital assets be subject to the PMLA places the burden of ascertaining the provenance of all activity involving these assets, including safekeeping, on the individuals and businesses involved in or facilitating these transactions.

Source: TH