This blog is meant for use by members of the Association for news and views. Send comments / suggestions / views to e-mail Id: aiaipasp.ors@gmail.com

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

All you need to know about IFSC and MICR

IFSC stands for Indian Financial System Code. This is an 11 digit alpha-numeric code used to uniquely identify all bank branches within the National Electronic Funds Transfer) network by the RBI. 

MICR code is a code printed using MICR (Magnetic Ink Character Recognition technology) on cheques to enable identification the cheques. 


All you need to know about IFSC and MICR

What is IFSC? 
IFSC stands for Indian Financial System Code. It is a 11-digit alpha-numeric code that uniquely identifies a bank branch participating in any RBI regulated funds transfer system. The IFSC code helps to transfer money using RTGS, NEFT or IMPS method. 

The first 4 digits of the IFSC represent the bank and last 6 characters represent the branch. The 5th character is zero. 

What is MICR? 

MICR is an acronym for Magnetic Ink Character Recognition which is a technology used in the banking industry in printing the MICR codes. 

A MICR code is a 9-digit code that uniquely identifies a bank and a branch participating in an Electronic Clearing System (ECS). The first 3 digit of the code represents the city code, the middle ones represent the bank code and last 3 represents the branch code. One can locate the MICR code at the bottom of a cheque leaf, next to the cheque number. It is also normally printed on the first page of a bank savings account passbook. 

What is the use of MICR Code? 
 MICR Code is used in the processing of cheques by machines. This code enables faster processing of cheques. One is required to mention the MICR code while filing up various financial transaction forms such as s investment forms or SIP form or forms for transfer of funds etc. 

What is cheque number? 
A cheque number is a 6-digit number uniquely assigned to each cheque leaf. It is written on the left-hand side at the bottom of the cheque. It is advisable to check i.e. count and check the number on each cheque leaf in a new cheque book when you receive it from the bank. This is to ensure that no cheque is missing from the cheque book. 

Ideally, you should record the transaction you have used each cheque leaf for in the transaction record slip attached at the start or end of a cheque book. In this record, you should mention the cheque number, date of cheque, amount and payee. 

Where is the MICR number on a cheque? 
A MICR number on the cheque is written at the bottom of the cheque, on the right-hand side of the cheque number. 

Source:-The Economic Times

Death of a Postman... and the Postal System

Though he had several years to go yet, Subhankar Sinha Roy, in his late 40s, had had enough. He wanted to retire. An employee of India Post until a month back, he quit earlier this month. A diligent worker all his life, he simply could not manage his life-work balance in an overly demanding and increasingly technology-oriented environment during the last few years. 

Let's face it, post offices — and, indeed, the entire postal system — are not what they used to be, say, twenty years back. For a certain generation, mention the word "post office", and it will conjure up memories of rooms abuzz with activity: the rat-a-tat of the telegram; bored-looking clerks dispensing postcards, inland letters and stamps; the smell of post-office glue; the rhythmic drumbeat of rubber stamps; and the dusty red post boxes in one corner, around which conversations would be struck and friendships re-forged. Most members of Generation Now have arguably never seen the inside of a post office, much less ever sent a "snail mail".

It is this change that "Generation Ex" could never cope with. Quite a few employees of the postal department have applied for VRS years before they were set to retire. "Those who joined around two decades back find it difficult to sail through rapid technological changes. With heavily depleted manpower and diversification into newer business ventures, work pressure kept mounting on staff, to the point that it was difficult to handle," Sinha Roy says.

Known for his sincerity and diligence at the workplace, Sinha Roy knows that the department has had to change with the times and adopt new technologies and business models. "There are many who couldn't foresee the changes. When it changed, they succumbed to the pressure," he feels.

Earlier this week, 56-year-old Abhijit Roy, who was appointed postmaster of a Belgharia post office barely 10 days back, ended his life at his Sodepur home as he failed to cope up with the new software for core banking system. When they joined, it was primarily a manual job, with minimal technological intervention. Decades down the line, India Post, struggling to earn more revenue, made a quantum leap into banking services. A part of the old set of employees found themselves misfits in the new order.

Till the late 90s, life in post offices was slow and steady. Men and women sitting behind the counter would silently hand over postage stamps or note down the address of a registered mail. Large ledger books were maintained to keep records of transactions — from parcels to postage stamps. Registered post and insured post provided the bulk of revenue flow. In busy post offices, such as the ones in Burrabazar or Kalakar Street, porters came with basketfuls of parcels. Vouchers were issued to those who kept money in various deposit schemes.

As an employee gained in seniority, s/he had to handle more complex jobs, such as disbursal of policy maturity claims and succession issues. Such jobs required a thorough knowledge of laws and departmental rules. The younger cadre would sit at the registry or parcel counters. Large ledger books were replaced by computers during 2003-'04, with a very little resistance from employees. "Then came the Sanchay Post — software to keep track of deposits into accounts with the department. It was almost a digital replica of ledger books," said an employee at Belgachhia Post Office.

There was a long lull after email and mobile phones made much of the postal service redundant. Finally, the department decided to roll out banking services. The strength and bustle that once built India Post eventually felt threatened by the new wave. The slow-paced culture was fast being overtaken by a distinctively different one. It was the first time that those in their 50s felt a strong sense of unease, a sense of being unable to keep up with the times.


"Staff crunch was acute, and there was no way an employee could say no to the changes," says Janardan Majumdar, deputy general secretary of the All India Postal Employees' Union (Group C). "Everybody felt it was the need of the hour. But they were afraid to change," he adds. The problem was more acutely felt after the department shifted to a leaner "single-hand" post office models. "The new system requires thorough knowledge of complex core banking software. It gobbles up time, leaving very little space for regular post office jobs. Pending jobs keep piling up as a result," says a member of All India Postal Employees Union.


Even as the switchover to core banking — that seemed like it was happening almost overnight — sounded impossible for many, they kept faltering at work, even as clients on the other side of the counter started to get angrier by the minute.


"A fear psychosis has set in," Majumdar explains. "And, it is the fear of the unknown." While a large section of employees started to stay on till late at night trying to master the new system, some of them were also giving up. What once served as the country's lifeline for communication was relegated to the backyard, with each little advance in telecom and information technology. A way of life was gone, perhaps for ever.

Source:-The Times of India

Wannacry hits Russian postal service, exposes wider security shortcomings

By Jack Stubbs

MOSCOW (Reuters) - Russia's postal service was hit by Wannacry ransomware last week and some of its computers are still down, three employees in Moscowsaid, the latest sign of weaknesses that have made the country a major victim of the global extortion campaign.
Wannacry compromised the post office's automated queue management system, infecting touch-screen terminals which run on the outdated Windows XP operating system, one of the workers said. Terminals were still blank in some parts of Moscow this week but it was not clear exactly how many branches had been affected.
A spokesman for Russian Post, a state-owned monopoly, said no computers were infected, but some terminals were temporarily switched off as a precaution. "The virus attack did not touch Russian Post, all systems are working and stable," he said.
Other institutions in Russia have said they were infected by the virus, highlighting Moscow's readiness to show it too is a frequent victim of cyber crime in the face of allegations from the United States and Europe of state-sponsored hacking.
The Interior Ministry, mobile operator MegaFon and state rail monopoly Russian Railways all reported infections, with employees locked out of their computers and the creators of the virus demanding ransoms of $300 to $600.
The Russian central bank said on Friday the virus had also compromised some Russian banks in isolated cases.
That the infected post office terminals ran on Windows XP - which Microsoft stopped supporting in 2014 - points to the widespread use of outdated software in Russia, which experts say left the country disproportionately vulnerable to the attack.
Of 300,000 computers infected worldwide, 20 percent were in Russia, according to an initial estimate by cybersecurity researchers last week.
Globally, few ransoms have been paid after many victims found they could restore their systems from backups.
The post office outages also illustrate what investigators say is a common misconception about Wannacry: infected computers are more likely to be part of antiquated systems not deemed important enough to update with the latest security patches, rather than machines integral to the company's core business.
"Many companies in Russia use outdated unpatched systems and older anti-malware solutions," said Nikolay Grebennikov, vice president for R&D at data protection company Acronis. "In big companies upgrades are hard to perform and avoided because of budget and scale."
SCRUTINY
Russia's relationship to cyber crime is under intense scrutiny after U.S. intelligence officials alleged that Russian hackers had tried to help Republican Donald Trumpwin the U.S. presidency by hacking Democratic Party servers. Moscow has denied the allegations.
Investigators are yet to track down Wannacry's criminal authors, saying they likely used a hacking tool built by the U.S. National Security Agency (NSA) and leaked online in April.
It has not previously been reported that the Russian postal service, which employs more than 350,000 people, had been hit by the virus.
"The head guys rang on Thursday and said we had to turn off the terminals immediately. They said this extortion virus had infected them," a worker at a branch in northwest Moscow said, declining to be identified discussing internal company matters.
"They rang again yesterday and said we could turn them back on. We did that, but you can see they still don't work."
Employees at a second post office confirmed the electronic queuing system was broken but said they did not know why.
Two sources at Russian Railways said the company had suffered a "huge" cyber attack and a small number of computers were infected without damaging any important files.
The extent of the damage had been limited, one of the sources said, because a lot of computers were turned off at the end of the working week. "We were lucky it was a Friday night," he said.
Megafon, which is Russia's second biggest mobile operator, declined to comment on how the virus had got into its system.
It said the virus had caused a temporary outage of its customer support services. "Our sales points suffered worst of all because Windows, which had the exploited vulnerability, is more widely used in retail," a company statement said.
COMPUTER PIRACY
The frequent use of pirated software in Russia also helped spread the Wannacry infection, investigators said, as unlicensed products do not receive security updates.
Reuters has found no evidence any of Russian companies infected with the Wannacry virus were using unlicensed software.
But computer piracy is a long-standing issue for technology companies in Russia, one which has as become increasingly acute as the country's economic slump and falling earnings make licensed products prohibitively expensive.
Data compiled by the BSA Software Alliance trade group shows 64 percent of software products in Russia were pirated in 2015 - a black market industry worth $1.3 billion - compared to a global average of 39 percent.
"Piracy is still wide spread in Russia, especially if we are talking about home users," Grebennikov said. "This is because of poverty. If an operating system costs say 500 roubles, people would buy it."
Microsoft's Windows 10 operating system currently costs around 8,000 roubles ($140.92) in Russia, around a fifth of the average monthly wage of 39,000 roubles. Online, the same product can be illegally downloaded for free.
($1 = 56.7687 roubles)
(Additional reporting by Gleb Stolyarov and Maria Kiselyova; Editing by Philippa Fletcher)

(This story has not been edited by timesofindia.com and is auto–generated from a syndicated feed we subscribe to.)
Source:-The Times of India

Sunday, May 21, 2017

On this World Biodiversity Day, know more about our ecosystem

As sanctioned by the UN, May 22 is observed as the World Biodiversity Day. The theme for this year is Biodiversity and Sustainable Tourism. Check out some facts about the planet’s ecosystem: 

The UN has declared 2011-20 the United Nations Decade on Biodiversity, which serves to support and promote the goal of significantly reducing biodiversity loss 

70 per cent of the world’s species is found in just 12 countries: Australia, Brazil, China, Columbia, Costa Rica, Congo, Ecuador, India, Indonesia, Madagascar, Mexio and Peru 

More than 70,000 plant species are used in traditional and modern medicinal purposes. The Himalayan belt has an estimated 25,000 plant species, comprising 10 per cent of the world’s flora 

The ocean constitutes 90 per cent of the habitable space on the planet. By the year 2100, without significant changes, more than half of the world’s marine species may stand in the brink of extinction 

There are close to 500 dead zones — hypoxic areas in water bodies, caused by excessive nutrient pollution — covering more than 2,45,000 sq km globally, equivalent to the surface of UK 


98 per cent of Madagascar’s land mammals, 92 per cent reptiles, 68 per cent flora and 41 per cent of its breeding bird species exist nowhere else on Earth 

According to the WWF Living Planet Report 2014, between 1970 and 2010, the planet has lost 52 per cent of its biodiversity. Estimates of the number of species on Earth vary from 3 million to over 100 million 

Source:-The Economic Times

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Govt committed to right to privacy, WhatsApp should not 'leak' info, says SC

NEW DELHI: The Supreme Court today asked the government to ensure that 160 million Indian subscribers are not "entrapped" in any manner by service providers like WhatsApp, which is providing free services to its users. 

The government also told the apex court that it was in the process of evolving a regulatory regime on data protection which would be binding in nature. 

"State has a duty to protect the citizenry rights. Since service providers like WhatsApp and Facebook say we are giving it free, the state has to ensure that 160 million citizens who are using the service, are not entrapped in it," a five-judge Constitution Bench headed by Justice Dipak Misra said. 

The remarks by the top court came at the fag end of the day-long hearing after WhatsApp, while opposing the maintainability of the plea challenging its 2016 privacy policy, explained the nitty-gritty involved in it. 

The bench, which is hearing a challenge to the privacy policy of WhatsApp, also questioned whether the instant messaging platform can impose any condition on its users here which violated any part of the Constitution. 

While questioning the instant messaging platform why the world has "reacted" to its current privacy policy, the bench said nobody wants to share his or her data in "entirety". 

"The issue is that you (WhatsApp) have framed a policy inviting customers for the purpose of availing the service. In that sphere, can you impose any condition which violates any part of the Constitution," the bench asked WhatsApp, which was acquired by Facebook in 2014. 

"Why has the entire world, and a country like Germany, reacted to it? If it is such a laudable project, why are they reacting," the bench, also comprising Justices A K Sikri, Amitava Roy, A M Khanwilkar and M M Shantanagoudar, asked and observed, "we undertand the concept of charity". 

Senior advocate K K Venugopal, representing Facebook, told the bench that they were not sharing any sensitive or personal data and since India was shifting to digitisation, the service provided by WhatsApp was beneficial as it was end-to-end encrypted. 

"There are privacy laws in those countries. It is a matter which should be left to the government here," he said. 

Meanwhile, the Centre told the apex court, which would now hear the matter on July 21, that they were in the process of making a regulatory regime to deal with the issue. 

"At the outset, the central government is committed to freedom of choice and right to privacy of citizens. This is non-negotiable and we are committed to this," Additional Solicitor General (ASG) Tushar Mehta said, adding, "We are already in the process of doing it (regulatory regime)." 

"We are in the process of making either a statutory rule or executive guidelines, which would be binding in nature, on data protection," he told the bench. 

During the day-long hearing, Venugopal said there was no legal framework at present to deal with the issue but most of the prayers sought by the petitioners were covered under the 2011 rules of the Information Technology Act. 

"These rules have the framework, an issue which has been raised. My submission is that the petition is not maintainable," he said, adding that it was a matter of policy. 

He also said they were complying with the provisions of the rules which were in place in India. 

Senior advocate K V Vishwanathan, appearing for Internet Freedom Foundation (IFF), an intervenor in the case, said that though these rules would apply to WhatsApp and Facebook, but the entire issue, including the aspect of metadata, pending before the apex court, was not covered under it. 

"We find that the rules prescribe that there has to be a consent if you are sharing sensitive personal data. Suppose the consent is not taken effectively, what is the role of the constitutional court," the bench said and asked Venugopal,"

Source:-The Economic Times