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The agreement brings the country a step closer to increasing circulation of the rupee in the

Gulf countries; the two nations also agree to interlink their payment and messaging systems

India on Saturday moved a step closer to increasing circulation of the rupee in the Gulf region with the signing of two memoranda of understanding (MoU) between the Reserve Bank of India and the Central Bank of the United Arab Emirates.

The signing of these agreements was witnessed by UAE President Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan and Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who was on a day-long visit to the Gulf country on his way back from France.

The first agreement between the RBI and the UAE Central Bank will establish a framework to “promote the use of local currencies (rupee and dirham) for cross-border transactions”, the External Affairs Ministry said in a statement.

The other MoU between the two central banks is aimed at interlinking their “payment and messaging systems”, the Ministry said.

“The leaders expressed their interest in strengthening cooperation in the payment systems area by enabling integration between cross-border transactions between the UAE and India more efficiently. Such cooperation will also include the mutual acceptance of domestic card schemes by interlinking national card switches. Integration between these systems will enhance access to payment services for the benefit of the citizens and residents of the two countries,” a Joint Statement issued after the visit read.

The two agreements between the central banks came against the backdrop of Indian entities commencing payment in yuan to Russian energy majors; it is likely to enhance the trend of doing business in local currencies that gained greater acceptance since the start of the Ukraine crisis in February 2022.

Mr. Modi met Dr. Sultan Al Jaber, President-designate of CoP28 and Group CEO of Abu Dhabi National Oil Company. “Dr. Jaber briefed Prime Minister on UAE’s approach to this important meeting. Prime Minister conveyed India’s full support to UAE for its COP-28 Presidency,” the Ministry said.

This was the fifth visit by Mr. Modi to the UAE.

Since its inception five years ago, penalties amounting to ₹20.17 crore have been levied on individuals (beneficiaries) and hospitals (service providers) as part of the Ayushman Bharat Pradhan Mantri Jan Arogya Yojana (AB-PMJAY) anti-fraud drive. Data with the Health Ministry viewed by The Hindu reveals that of this, ₹9.5 crore has been recovered.

In addition, 5.3 lakh Ayushman cards have been disabled, 210 hospitals de-empanelled, and 188 hospitals suspended (as a warning), based on information of fraud obtained through machine-learning-based anti-fraud programs. Up to 0.18% of the authorised hospital admissions under the scheme have been confirmed as fraud.

“Besides routine checks, use of artificial intelligence (AI) has now made for a comprehensive analytics solution to detect fraud proactively by developing algorithms that can be used on large volumes of data to identify suspect transactions and entities, and risk-scoring of hospitals and claims,” a Ministry spokesperson said.

“Previously, the National Health Authority (NHA), the implementing agency of AB-PMJAY, issued a comprehensive set of anti-fraud guidelines. Anti-fraud advisories were also issued to States/UTs. The National Anti-Fraud Unit (NAFU) was created at NHA for overall monitoring and implementation of the anti-fraud framework supported by State Anti-Fraud Units (SAFUs) at State level,” a senior Health Ministry official said.

Biometric verification

Additionally, the feature of Aadhaar-based biometric verification of beneficiary at the time of admission and discharge is active at all private hospitals.

Besides this, the Ministry claims that it has addressed 99% of all registered grievances (3.93 lakh) until July 4 this year.

As per government data, AB-PMJAY has been implemented in 33 States and UTs with 24 crore health cards issued till date. The government is now pushing for Ayushman card saturation (40% created in the last financial year), deployment of health kiosks, timely settlement of claims, empanelment and activation of hospitals, and increasing scheme uptake.

The Ministry is working on the implementation of the Ayushman Bharat Digital Mission, which is aimed at creating a national digital system to ensure that health-related personal information remains safe.

India and France have revised the joint statement initially released after bilateral talks between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and French President Emmanuel Macron, with the new version released on Friday omitting key details on defence deals.

These omissions included references to a road map on the joint development of a combat aircraft engine, and the construction of three additional Scorpene submarines.

They also announced a road map for joint actions in the Indo-Pacific region, where both nations are resident powers with vital stakes, and said they are finalising an Indo-French development fund to jointly finance sustainable development projects by other nations in the region.

The joint statement — ‘Horizon 2047: 25th Anniversary of the India-France Strategic Partnership, Towards A Century of India-France Relations’ — lays out a road map for the bilateral relationship till 2047.

Key omissions

In its initial version, it had announced that India and France would continue the “ground-breaking” defence cooperation in “advanced aeronautical technologies” by supporting the “joint development of a combat aircraft engine”, stating that a road map on this project would be prepared by the Defence Research Development Organisation and French engine manufacturer Safran “before the end of the year”. The line on the road map has been dropped in the revised statement.

The joint statement also welcomed the Memorandum of Understanding between Mazagon Dock Limited and Naval Group for the construction of three additional submarines under the P75 programme. However, the revised statement omitted the reference to additional Scorpene submarines, and instead said, “India and France hail the success of the first Scorpene submarine construction programme (P75 – Kalvari), a model of Make in India and the sharing of naval expertise between companies in the two countries. India and France are ready to explore more ambitious projects to develop the Indian submarine fleet and its performance.”

Indo-Pacific road map

Committing to work together in the interest of international peace and stability and reaffirming their commitment to a rules-based order in the Indo-Pacific and beyond, India and France said that they had decided to give “utmost attention and extend their cooperation to the Pacific”, with the close involvement of the French territories of New Caledonia and French Polynesia.

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