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Prelims CGS -7: 400 Revision Points [Part 1 of 4]

Prelims CGS-7, 8, 9 and 10 under Target 2017 Programme are four documents covering 400 exam oriented topics / questions with important facts from current affairs 2016 to 15 May 2017 focusing on relevant facts on which questions may be asked in examination. This is first part of the series. The third document will be released on around 5 May and Last one around 20th May.

1.     What are Z Stocks or Z Category Stocks?

This term was in news because the government was considering imposing long term capital gains tax on Group-Z Z-category stocks.  The broader topic for you is to understand various categories in which BSE keeps various stocks in the exchange. These categories include A, B, S, T, TS & Z. Apart from these six categories, there are two additional groups called Fixed Income Securities (F) and Government Securities (G). Based on various criteria, they groups are as follows:

A Category

This is the highest rated category of most traded stocks. These stocks belong to best companies; they are traded in high volumes and are considered excellent in all respects. All the 30 stocks in BSE’s SESEX belong to A category. The A category stocks are settled under so called normal rolling settlement system of the exchanges.

T category

T category shares fall under the so called trade-to-trade settlement system of exchange. The settlement is done on third day (T+2)

S Category

S category belongs to small and medium company shares which were under BSE’s Indonext segment. This comprises stocks listed in regional stock exchanges and typically have a turnover of above Rs. 5 crore and tangible assets of above Rs. 3 crore. They have smaller size and low liquidity in the market, which implies that trade volume is very low.

TS category

The S category stocks which are settled under trade-to-trade are placed in TS category.

Z Category

The stocks of Z category belong to those categories which have not complied with stock exchange’s listing requirements and have failed to address the investor complaints.  These are most risky shares of exchange.

B Category

Any share that does not fall into any of the above categories comes under B group. They resemble to A but have lower trade volume and size. Generally, the stocks of mid- and small market capitalization come under this category.

2.     Which are the six General Insurance Companies cabinet decided to get listed to bourses recently?

In January 2017, the government has decided to list five state-owned general insurers and said it will bring down its stake in these insurance companies to 75%. These companies are New India Assurance Company, United India Insurance, Oriental Insurance Company, National Insurance Company and General Insurance Corporation of India (GIC). The listing will allow companies to raise capital for expansion and not be dependent on government.

3.     What is Raisina Dialogue?

Raisina Dialogue is an annual conference held in New Delhi. The latest edition was held in Delhi in January 217. It is envisioned to be India’s flagship conference of geopolitics and geo-economics.

  • The conference is held jointly by Ministry of External Affairs and the Observer Research Foundation (ORF), an independent think tank based in India.
  • The name of conference comes fromRaisina Hill which is the elevation in New Delhi where presidential palace of India, Rashtrapati Bhavan is located.
  • The first edition of the conference was held in March 2016 with the theme “Asia: Regional and Global Connectivity”. It is organized on the lines of the Shangri-La Dialogue held in Singapore.

It is structured as a multi-stakeholder, cross-sectorial conclave, involving policy and decision makers, including cabinet ministers from various Governments, high-level Government officials and policy practitioners, leading personalities from business and industry etc.

4.     What is ShaGun Portal?

ShaGun portal has been launched to monitor the progress of Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan; schools and also the quality of education imparted by them.

5.     What are the recent modifications in M-SIPS scheme?

M-SIPs scheme was originally launched in 2012 to incentivise large scale manufacturing in the ESDM (Electronics System Design and Manufacturing) sector. The scheme as amended recently. Its scope has been enhanced to achieve goal of net zero imports in electronics by 2020. As per amendments:

  • The scheme will now keep receiving applications until cumulative incentive commitment is reached to Rs. 10000 Crore.
  • For new approvals, the incentive under the scheme will be available from the date of approval of a project and not from the date of receipt of application.
  • The incentives will be available for investments made within 5 years from the date of approval of the project. Unit receiving incentive will provide undertaking to remain in commercial production for at least 3 years.

6.     What is states’ current obligation to borrow from National Small Savings Fund?

NSSF was launched in 1999 to credit money of all small savings schemes of the Union Government under one head. This fund is a part of Public Account of India. The money from this account is invested in various securities of states and central governments. The states were not only allowed to borrow from it but had been given an obligation to borrow from NSSF. However, after recommendations of Finance Commission, this obligation was brought down from 100% to 80% of net collections from the state. Since the NSSF loan came at a higher rate that market rates, the FC recommended to do away from this obligation. As per the latest decision by government, the current position is as follows:

  • All states and UTs except Arunachal Pradesh, Kerala, Delhi (UT) and Madhya Pradesh are not requirement to borrow from National Small Savings Fund (NSSF) investments.
  • Arunachal Pradesh will be given loans to the tune of 100% of NSSF collections within its territory, while Kerala, Madhya Pradesh and Delhi (UT) will be provided with 50% of collections.

7.      How is PMJDY different from the earlier Financial Inclusion Plan (Swabhimaan)?

PMJDY focuses on coverage of households as against the earlier plan which focused on coverage of villages. It focuses on coverage of rural as well as urban areas. Earlier plan targeted only villages above 2000 population while under PMJDY whole country is to be covered by extending banking facilities in each Sub-Service area consisting of 1000– 1500 households such that facility is available to all within a reasonable distance, say about 5 Km.

8.      Whether Joint account can be opened in Pradhan Mantri Jan Dhan Yojana?

Yes, joint account can be opened.

9.     What is the minimum age to open a Jan Dhan Account?

10 Years, kindly note it.

10.  What are salient features of BSBDA Account?

Basic Savings Bank Deposit Account (BSBDA) has been defined by RBI vide its circular dated 10.08.2012. Its salient features are:

  • There is no requirement of minimum balance.
  • The services available include deposit and withdrawal of cash at bank branch as well as ATMs; receipt/credit of money through electronic payment channels or by means of collection/deposit of cheques.
  • Maximum of 4 withdrawals a month including ATM withdrawal. No such limit for deposits.
  • Facility of ATM card or ATM-cum-Debit card.

These facilities are to be provided without any extra cost.   Any individual above the age of 10 years can open BSBDA Account.

11. What is the status of Insurance facilities under PMJDY?

Kindly note that this scheme provides a  life cover of Rs. 30,000/- payable on death of the beneficiary due to any cause, subject to fulfillment of the following eligibility conditions:

  • Person opening Bank account for the first time, with RuPay Card in addition, during the period from 15-08-14 to 31-01-15.
  • The person should normally be head of the family or an earning member of the family and should be in the age group of 18 to 59. In case the head of family is 60 years or more of age, the second earning person of the family in the above mentioned age group will be covered, subject to eligibility.
  • Person must have a RuPay Card and Bio – Metric Card linked to bank account or in process of being linked to bank account if not already there.
  • The account can be any bank account including a small account. v. For the coverage to be effective the above RuPay Card should be valid and in force.
  • Only one person in the family will be covered in the Bima Scheme and in case of the person having multiple cards / accounts the benefit will be allowed only under one card i.e. one person per family will get a single cover of Rs.30,000/-, subject to the eligibility conditions.
  • The life cover of Rs 30,000/- under the scheme will be initially for a period of 5 years, i.e. till the close of financial year 2019-20.

Thereafter, the scheme will be reviewed and terms and condition of its continuation, including the issue of future payment of premium by the insured thereafter, would be suitably determined.

12. What is the government plan to provide Rs. 2 Lakh cover under PMJDY?

This news was published on 20 January 2017 in some newspapers that the government is planning to provide an umbrella insurance scheme under PMJDY. There is no official information about the same as of now.

13. Which organizations are collaborating to create III and what are its key pillars?

The organizations joining hand for III are World Economic Forum (WEF), NITI Aayog, World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) and Cornell University. The key pillars are capacity of human capital and research, strength of institutions, supporting infrastructure and the level of business sophistication, among others. This index will rank states as per innovation performance.

14. What is so called Open Regionalism policy of IORA?

Open regionalism signifies that the countries are not bound by any commitments, their actions are voluntary and decisions are taken on the basis of consensus. IORA is based on the principles of Open Regionalism for strengthening economic cooperation particularly on trade facilitation and investment, promotion as well as social development of the region.

15. What are included in the recently proposed Mandatory Infra Sharing by TRAI?

TRAI made sharing of in-building infrastructure in residential and in commercial complexes like malls, hotels and airports to enhance the indoor coverage quality. Regulator recommended at least 3 telcos to have confirmed presence in large public place, residential or commercial complex. The in-building infra sharing should be fair and transparent. In addition, any attempt to pursue exclusive contracts denying others of similar access will be treated a violation of licensing conditions.

 

16. Which department helps the government currently on how to utilise the proceeds from disinvestments?

The Central Government in its efforts to streamline the disinvestment process it has transferred the advisory role of Department of Investment and Public Asset Management on matters of transfer of proceeds of disinvestment to Department of Economic Affairs. Latter will manage the financial policy in regard to the utilisation of proceeds of disinvestment which are ultimately transferred to the National Investment Fund.

17. What is the Hi-SEAS project?

Hi-SEAS stands for Hawaii Space Exploration Analog and Simulation. It is the fifth of its kind to make guidelines for journey to Mars  about 56 million kms from Earth.  6 scientists have entered a dome in a remote volcano in Hawaii to simulate living conditions for astronauts travelling to Mars. This will facilitate NASA to understand human behaviour during long space missions. Communications with the mission will be time-delayed to simulate the 20 minute travel time of radio waves between Earth and Mars.

18. Which banks are not allowed to accept deposits under PMGKY?

Government has notified that Co-operative Banks are not authorised to accept deposits under the Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Deposit Scheme (PMGKDS).  The deposits under this scheme can be accepted any banks to which the Banking Regulation Act, 1949 (10 of 1949) applies. The scheme allows assessees to disclose previously unaccounted and undeclared income under its ambit.  The PMGKDS permits voluntary declarations of previously undisclosed income with an effective tax rate of 50% and requires assessees to deposit a further 25% of such wealth into a four-year interest-free deposit. The scheme was launched on 17 December 2016 and will remain open for declarations upto 31 March 2017.

19. What are the key focus areas of daft National Steel Policy 2017?

The key focus areas of Draft National Steel Policy are: making industry globally competitive; technologically advanced steel industry; removal of impediments such as input costs, import dependency, availability of raw material etc.; more focus on gas based plants; Greenfield plants across India’s coastline and cluster based approach.

20. Recently, Christine Lagarde, MD of IMF warned against so called “Black Swan” policy? What does that mean?

Christine Lagarde, MD of IMF has given stark warning against the negative competition policies especially the long-term effects of US fiscal and trade policies.  She named it as a typical black swan which stands for any event which is surprising and has the potential of a major negative effect. She cautioned against the race to be at bottom on tax, financial regulation and trade.

21. What are key features of the E-toilet?

Pulluvila, a small village in Thiruvananthapuram,  Kerala has started his first e-toilet  that has the technology to convert waste into fertilizer, generate power and makes potable water. This has been started by a local firm known as Eram Scientific Solutions with help of grant from Bill and Milinda Gates Foundation.

The e-toilet is a convergence of electronics, mechanical, web-mobile technologies to have a control over the entry, usage, cleaning and exit with remote monitoring of the toilet. It makes use of NEWgen which is a box machine which is capable of recycling water, harvesting energy, creating fertilizers and ultimately converts the waste into profit.

The liquid waste is recycled and sent back in for flushing while the solid waste is converted to nitrogen, phosphorous and potassium to be used as fertilizers. Gas from the waste is converted to methane and made use in burning.

22. What is stradle with reference to stock markets?

A straddle is strategy using Nifty or liquid stock options which are used during uncertain times i.e. usually a major event or there is ambiguity about individual scrip direction.  It is composed of purchasing a Nifty call and put option of the same strike price. Usually these strikes are brought closer to the level of the underlying index.

These are sold by rich retail investors, brokers running prop books and FPIs. Straddle sellers usually gain when market is volatile on the lower side. The buyers however gain when the market moves in either direction but breaches the combined cost of the straddle.

23. What are the key services for which aadhar has been made mandatory in recent times?

Aadhaar the 12-digit unique,biometric identification number issued by the Unique Identification Authority of India  has been made mandatory by the government for the following key services as of now:

  1. Driving Licence
  2. PAN Card
  3. Banking
  4. SIM CARD
  5. University Degree
  6. Railway Ticket Booking
  7. EPF Pension
  8. Filing of Income Tax returns

24. What is Investor-State Dispute Settlement (ISDS) mechanism? What is India’s stand on it?

Investor-State Dispute Settlement mechanism is a system which allows individual companies to sue countries for their discriminatory practices. The practice came to light through the Philip Morris v. Uruguay Case under WTO.

  • It is an instrument of public international law whose provisions are defined by a number of bilateral investment treaties.
  • ISDS is also associated with International Arbitration under the rules of International Centre for Settlement of Investment Disputes of the World Bank.
India’s stance

India along with some other nations rejected an informal proposal made by Canada and EU to make a multilateral pact on investments at the World Trade Organisation with ISDS mechanism built into it. India rejected it due to following reasons:

  • It wanted it to be a part of a bilateral agreement and not a multilateral agreement.
  • India stands for solving all the issues in its own courts before taking them to international courts.

EU stated that it will only hold free trade talks with India only after conclusion of a new bilateral investment treaty (BIT) with India.

25. Which states make the cow belt in India?

Cow belt in India comprises Haryana, Uttar Pradesh, Bihar and Madhya Pradesh. It is mainly because these states make the religious landscape of the Hindus (not because cows are reared here most).

26. What are the key features and facilities under Varishtha Pension Bima Yojana 2017?

The Varishtha Pension Bima Yojana 2017, is a scheme announced by Prime Minister Narendra Modi. This has been done to safeguard the interests of senior citizens above the age of 60 years. PM guaranteed an interest rate of 8 percent for 10 years.

  • The scheme will be launched by the LIC of India and any shortfall between LIC generated return and the guarantee percent it will be borne by the government.
  • The subscriber will have an option to opt for pension on a monthly, quarterly or yearly basis.
  • Senior citizens will be allowed to make an investment upto Rs. 7.5 lakhs.
  • The scheme offers guaranteed pension in the scheme.
  • No medical check-ups are required for the scheme and also offers an early availability of surrender value if the policy hoder is diagnosed with any critical illness.
  • The annuitant is expected to pay a sum equal to 2% of amount withdrawn as exit load. If the entire amount is withdrawn they will receive a sum equal to 98% of the purchase price of the premium.
  • Income Tax benefit on the premium as per Section 80 CCC of the Income Tax Act.
  • It can also be combined with other pension schemes like PF, endowment policies, mutual funds etc.

27. What are Place of Effective Management Rules?

Place of Effective Management (POEM) rules are given by the Tax department to put an end to evasion by the foreign companies. The concept of POEM was given by Finance Act 2015 to determine the residential status of foreign companies. It stated that if a company’s place of effective management is in India it will be treated as an Indian resident and its global income will be liable to taxation in India. Companies with turnover of Rs. 50 Crores or less in a financial year are exempt from the provisions of POEM. Also, the companies with active businesses outside India are exempt from the provisions.

28. What are key features of IIM Bill 2017?

  • Allow IIMs to grant degrees to their students.
  • Grant complete autonomy to IIMs, combined with adequate accountability. Coordination Forum of IIMs as an advisory body will be established.
  • Board of an IIM will drive the management of the institution. It will select Chairperson and Director of IIM.
  • Board will have greater participation of experts and alumni. It will also include women and members from Scheduled Castes/Tribes.
  • Periodic review of the performance of IIM will be conducted by independent agencies and their results will be placed in public domain.
  • The Annual Report of the IIMs will be placed in the Parliament and CAG (Comptroller and auditor general of India) will audit their accounts.

29. What is improved in the improved Guided Pinaka Rockets?

Improved Pinaka or Pinaka Mark-II was successfully tested in January.  The earlier Pinaka version was an unguided one, now it has been transformed into guided version with a navigation, guidance and control kit developed by the DRDO’s Research Centre, Imarat (RCI), Hyderabad. It was developed jointly by the Armament Research and Development Establishment (ARDE), Pune, RCI, and the Defence Research and Development Laboratory (DRDL), Hyderabad.

The conversion into improved guided Pinaka rockets has helped in enhancing the range and accuracy of Pinaka. The earlier range was 40 km, but now it is more than 70 km. The success of the guided Pinaka also has reinforced the technological strength of India in converting the unguided systems into weapons of high precision.

30. What are the Key priority areas in National Action Plan for Children, 2016

The National Action Plan for Children (NPAC), 2016 was released by government in January 2016. It was prepared as per the mandate of the National Policy for Children (2013). The Action Plan has four key priority areas. They are survival, health and nutrition; education and development; participation and protection. It defines objectives, sub-objectives, strategies, action points and indicators for measuring progress under the four key priority areas. It also identifies key stakeholders for the implementation of different strategies. It puts focus on new and emerging concerns for children such as children affected by natural and man-made disasters, climate change and online child abuse etc. Its strategies and action points largely draw upon the existing programmes and schemes of various Ministries and Departments. It takes into account the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and provides a roadmap towards achieving them though co-ordination and convergence with different stakeholders.

31. What is the objective of RubSIS launched recently?

RubSIS is an online system for recommending appropriate mix of fertilizers to plantations of rubber growers depending upon their soil nature. It was launched in Kottayam, which is also largest rubber growing district of India. It has been launched by Rubber Research Institute of India (RRII).

32. What is Kirameki-2 satellite?

It is the first military communications of Japan launched by that country in the wake of China’s increasingly assertive maritime activity and North Korea’s missile threat. It is one of the three satellites Japan wishes to launch and replace the older ones.

33. Which body releases Corruption Perception Index?

CPI is released by Transparency International (TI). India was ranked 76 among 176 countries in 2016 list, which was topped by New Zealand and Denmark. Somalia is most corrupt country as per this index.

34. What is RIDL Technology?

RIDL stands for Release of Insects carrying Dominant Lethal genes (RIDL). This technique uses the GM male Aedes aegypti mosquitoes that carry a dominant lethal gene. This gene is passed on to offspring after male GM mosquitoes mate with wild female mosquitoes. The lethal gene in the offspring kills the larvae before they reach adulthood. Since male mosquitoes do not bite humans, the release of these GM mosquitoes will not increase the risk of dengue, chikungunya and Zika. Such mosquitoes were first released in Brazil were they have successfully reduced the local populations of mosquitoes by more than 90%, whereas insecticides only affect 30%.

35. What is mandate of FATF?

FATF is an inter‐governmental policy making body established in 1989 with ministerial mandate to establish international standards for combating money laundering and terrorist financing.

Its objectives are to set standards and promote effective implementation of legal, regulatory and operational measures for combating money laundering, terrorist financing and other related threats to integrity of international financial system.

Initially it was only dealing with developing policies to combat money laundering. But in 2001 its purpose was expanded to act against terrorism financing.

Currently, it comprises two regional organisations and 35 member jurisdictions, including India, UK, US, China and the European Commission.

36. What are FATF Non-Cooperative Countries and Territories (NCCTs)?

Since 2000, FATF creates a list of the countries which according to it are non-cooperative in the global fight against money laundering and terror financing. FATF classifies these countries as Non-Cooperative Countries or Territories (NCCTs). This list comprised as many as 15 countries in 2000; right now has only two countries viz. Iran and North Korea in it. In January, the RBI had barred Indian entities from making direct investments in any entities located in NCCTs.

37. What are different stages in Surya Namaskaram?

Surya Namaskara is made of total 12 different asanas or poses beginning from Pranamasana and ending also with Pranamasana. The sequence is as follows: Pranamasana; Hasta Uttanasana; Hastapaadasana; Aekpaadprasarnaasana; Adho Mukha Svanasana / parvatasana; Ashtanga Namaskara; Bhujangasana; Adho Mukha Svanasana; Ashwa Sanchalanasana; Uttanasana; Hasta Uttanasana and Pranamasana.

Kindly note that Surya Namaskaram is not a very old practice and is thought to have started in 20th century only.

38. What is LiDAR technology, what are its uses?

LiDAR stands for Light Detection and Ranging. It is a remote sensing method which is used to examine the surface of the Earth. It is a remote sensing method which uses light as a pulsed laser for the measurement of ranges i.e. variable distances to the Earth.  It is these light pulses which are combined with other data recorded via airborne system which generates precise, 3-dimensional information about the Earth’s surface and its surface characteristics.

A LiDAR instrument consists of a laser, a scanner and a specialised GPS receiver.

It is of two types: topographic and bathymetric. While topographic LIDAR employs near infra-red laser to map the land, the bathymetric makes use of water penetrating green light.

39. What are some correct statements about CRISPR Technology?

CRISPR stands for Clustered Regularly Interspaced Short Palindromic Repeats. These are segments of prokaryotic DNA containing short, repetitive base sequences. These play a key role in a bacterial defence system, and form the basis of a genome editing technology known as CRISPR-Cas9 that allows permanent modification of genes within organisms. Some notable statements for a UPSC MCQ are as follows:

  • It enables the scientists to edit parts of a genome by removing, adding or altering sections of the DNA sequence.
  • It is currently the simplest, most versatile and precise method of genetic manipulation and is therefore causing a buzz in the science world.
  • Thw two molecules that are used in the process include an enzyme called Cas9 and a piece of RNA called guide RNA (gRNA). The guide RNA is designed to find and bind to a specific sequence in the DNA. The guide RNA has RNA bases that are complementary? to those of the target DNA sequence in the genome. This means that, at least in theory, the guide RNA will only bind to the target sequence and no other regions of the genome.

40. Who are Doctor Dadi’, ‘Ambulance Dada’, ‘Sethu Bandhu’ and ‘Nightingale of Halakki’?

Doctor Dadi

Dr. Bhakti Yadavis the first woman doctor from Indore. She has been treating her patients for free since 1948. She started her own nursing home called Vatsalya in Pardeshipura area.

Ambulance Dada

Karimul Haque also known as Ambulance Dada was gifted a specially designed Bajaj V15 motorcycle ambulance and he began ferrying sick people to hospitals on this bike to help them get timely aid. He has saved 3000 lives so far  and he hopes to make more people better as he lost his mother due to lack of timely medical help.

The concept of Motorcycle Ambulance was started in rural India in 2015 with the authorization from UNICEF in collaboration with Saathi Samaj Sevi Sanstha and the Health Department of Chattisgarh state. These have attained great success in rural areas.

The motorcycle is fitted with a side-carriage which is customised for carrying patients.

Sethu Bandhu

Girish Bharadwaj is also known as Sethu Bandhu. He is 67-years old and is known for transforming his employed status started to build bridges all over remote villages in India. He has built over 100 low-cost bridges in states of Kerala, Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh and Odisha.

Nightingale of Halakki

Sukri Bomma Gowda is a folk singer from Ankola received Padma Award on the Republic Day 2017 due to her motivating songs which create awareness about the traditions. She is also known as Sukri Ajji  and is the light of the Uttara Karnataka’s Halakki Vokka liga tribe.

41. What are the current India US DTTI projects?

India-US Defence Technology and Trade Initiative (DTTI) remains central to the ties between both the countries. DTTI is a mechanism for defence cooperation and focuses on advanced technologies. But the DTTI mechanism which was conceived by Obama administration has shown little progress since its conception. The DTTI mechanism was launched in 2012. The mechanism was the brain child of the then US deputy secretary of defence, Ash Carter.

Projects

Both the countries are working on 6 projects under the DTTI mechanism. The first 4 projects were announced during President Obama’s visit to India as Republic Day’s chief guest. Two more proposals under the mechanism are under consideration. Out of the original projects 50% of the projects have reached the project agreement stage. DRDO and US labs are designated as the lead agencies for these projects. Two agencies coordinate and discuss the progress of these projects on a monthly basis.

The 6 projects under the DTTI mechanism:

Projects at agreement stage
  • Next General Individual Protection Ensemble
  • Mobile Electric Hybrid Power Source
No progress
  • Roll-on-Roll-off kit
  • Micro Unmanned Aerial Vehicle
At discussion stage
  • Digital Helmet Mounted Display
  • Joint Biological Tactical Detection System
Two projects under consideration:
Under Consideration
  • Advanced Tactical Ground Combat Vehicle (ATGCV): It is an American proposal and includes Israel. This trilateral cooperation on the futuristic military platform is under active consideration of the Defence Ministry. The Ministry is expected to convey its decision in the next DTTI meeting. The ATGCV project will go beyond our indigenous Futuristic Infantry Combat Vehicle (FICV), which is under development. If the project is successful then, it could be used by the armies of all the three countries.
  • Future Vertical Lift Helicopter (FLHV): Announcement for this project is expected to be made at the next DTTI meeting.
Fighters

Apart from the above, the US’s proposal to work on a deal for an American combat fighter aircraft (F-16 or F-18) has been rejected by the Defence Ministry by stating that it wants a single engine foreign fighter, either the American F-16 or the Swedish Gripen under Make in India to supplement the 36 Rafale fighters.

Current Status

The US government has passed the National Defence Authorization Act of 2017 (NDAA 2017), in which Section 1292 on ‘Enhancing Defence and Security Cooperation with India’ has institutionalised the DTTI mechanism with India. However, with the Donald Trump’s victory, India is sceptic over the priority the Trump administration would accord to the DTTI mechanism which is seen as Ash Carter’s personal project.

42. Where are the current strategic oil reserve facilities in India?

The strategic fuel or oil reserve facilities are used for emergency reasons. The Indian Strategic Petroleum Reserve has a total fuel store of total 5 MMT (million metric tonnes) which is enough to fuel 10 days of consumption.  Currently the strategic crude oil storages are at 3 underground locations in Mangalore, Vishakhapatnam and Padur. They have ready access to refineries and are situated both on east and west coasts. The strategic storages are in addition to the existing stores of crude oil.   The government has announced 2 more such caverns to come up at Chandikhole in Jajpur (Odisha) and at Bikaner in Rajasthan.

This will take the country’s strategic reserve capacity to 15 million metric tonnes, enough to maintain oil supplies for 90 days in case there is a disruption.

43. What causes Leprosy and what is SLAC campaign?

This was launched on 2017 Anti-Leprosy Day (observed on the last Sunday of January). Leprosy is a chronic infectious disease caused by Mycobacterium leprae and it usually affects the skin and peripheral nerves. The mode of transmission of leprosy is still not known.

According to WHO, the diseased had affected 2,12,000 people globally in 2015. India alone reported 1,27,326 new cases, accounting for 60% of new  cases globally.

India is among the 22 countries considered as having a “high burden for leprosy” along with high transmission. The other high-burden countries were Brazil and Indonesia. 

Sparsh Leprosy Awareness Campaign

The thrust of SLAC campaign is to promote community participation in diagnosis and treatment of leprosy in its early stages and to spread awareness about the disease to help in early diagnosis and treatment.

It seeks to promote decentralised community-based demand-driven approach from present centralised top-down delivery-driven approach to fight the disease.

It also seeks to empower local communities to take over the responsibility of sensitising people to not stigmatise and discriminate against those affected.

44. What are the main faculties provided by Payment Banks?

Payments banks are a new model of banks conceptualised by the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) to meet government’s financial inclusion target.

It will be set up as a differentiated bank and will confine its activities to acceptance of demand deposits, remittance services, Internet banking and other specified services but cannot undertake lending services.

Payments banks can accept deposits up to Rs. 1 lakh per account from individuals and small businesses. They can issue ATM/debit cards but not credit cards. They can also issue other prepaid payment instruments.

They can distribute non-risk sharing simple financial products like mutual funds and insurance products. Non-resident Indians (NRIs) are not be allowed to open accounts in payment banks. This new model of banking allows mobile firms, supermarket chains and others to cater to banking requirements of individuals and small businesses.

45. What are main facts about Kambala?

Kambala is an annual traditional Buffalo Race (he-buffalo) held in coastal districts of Karnataka to entertain rural people of the area. Slushy/marshy paddy field track is used for Kambala. The sports season generally starts in November and lasts till March. The contest generally takes place between two pairs of buffaloes, each pair race in two seprate wet rice fields tracks, controlled by a whip-lashing farmer. In the traditional form of Kambala, buffalo racing is non-competitive and he-buffalo pairs run one by one in paddy fields. Besides, there is also ritualistic approach also as some agriculturists race their he-buffaloes for thanks giving to god for protecting their animals from diseases. But in recent times, Kambala has become an organised rural sport. Kambala was banned in November 2016, however, recently the state government brought amendment to Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act (PCA), 1960 to make way for the rural game.

46. What are aims and objectives of Beej Bachao Andolan?

It was a people’s movement for conservation of indigenous seeds and promotion of traditional agricultural practices.The movement is known as Beej Bachao Andolan and it was started in Jardhargaon- a small village in the Tehri-Garhwal district of Uttaranchal.

  • People discontinued the cultivation of chemical-dependent seeds.
  • Organisers visited various villages in the region to gather more knowledge about the importance of traditional varieties.
  • Food marches were also organized for protection of traditional varieties.
  • Many varieties were sampled and useful combination of seeds were returned to farmers.
  • Many traditional farming methods like baranaja were also promoted.

 

47. What is leading giraffes to extinction?

Giraffe numbers are going down at an alarming rate, particularly in African Savannah. Population of wild giraffes has dropped by 40% in the last 15 years as per a new survey of Giraffe Conservation Foundation (GCF). It is also known as ‘silent extinction’ as there is not much public awareness. The population has basically fallen due to habitat destruction by humans, and has also been hunted for its skin.

48. What are the proposed changes in the Chota Nagpur Tenancy Act 1908 (Amendment) Ordinance and the Santhal Pargana Tenancy Act 1949 (Amendment) Ordinance? Which and tribal areas are affected by them most?

Amendments to the Chota Nagpur Tenancy Act 1908 and the Santhal Pargana Tenancy Act 1949 have given approval to the use of tribal lands for non-agricultural purposes. Earlier, the government could only acquire land for public welfare activities. This mostly affects the tribals of Jharkhand.

49. How does Alcohometer work?

An Alcohometer is a device which measures alcohol content in the blood by analysing breath. It was developed by Robert Frank Borkenstein. As the user exhales breath into the analyzer, any ethanol level in the breath is oxidized to acetic acid at the anode. Atmospheric oxygen is reduced at the cathode. The overall reaction is thus conversion of ethanol into acetic acid and water. It is the electric current which is produced by this reaction which is measured by the microprocessor and gets displayed as an approximation of the alcohol content of the blood.

50. What was recent doubts on Alochometer by courts?

In a case where a man was sentenced to six-day imprisonment on charges of drunken driving, the court raised the matter of authenticity of the same and also the ability of the police to operate it properly. The police personnel don’t have adequate amount of training to operate the device and hence there is always a chance of doubt in making and interpreting the reading.  Furthermore, no electronic device is 100% accurate. There is always a margin of error to the tune of 10%-20%.

51. What are Vampire stars?

India’s first dedicated space observatory, ASTROSAT has captured the rare phenomenon of a small six-billion-year-old vampire star preying on a bigger celestial body. The vampire star phenomenon is observed when smaller star sucks material (mass and energy) out of the bigger companion star, causing its eventual death. It is also called a blue straggler as small star becomes bigger, hotter and bluer, giving it the appearance of being young, while the ageing companion burns out and collapses to a stellar remnant.

Facts on Astrosat

Astrosat is India’s first dedicated multi-wavelength space observatory launched in September 2015. It is one of the major scientific missions of ISRO after the highly acclaimed Chandrayaan-I and Mangalyaan.

It is placed at low earth equatorial orbit at altitude of 650 km. It has ability to observe celestial bodies like cosmic X-Ray sources and distant stars in different wavelengths simultaneously.

It can observe the universe through ultraviolet, optical, low and high energy X-ray components of the electromagnetic spectrum. It has mission life of 5 years.

Its successful launch made India member of select elite group of nations comprising US, Japan, Russia and Europe having its own space observatory.

52. Where is Hatiya Island? What are Bangladesh’s plans to push Rohingyas to Hatiya?

Hatiya is small island in the northern Bay of Bengal at the mouth of the Meghna river. It comes under the jurisdiction of the Noakhali district. It is often hit by cyclones and destructive ocean waves.

Bangladesh is moving ahead with its highly controversial plan to shift Rohingya refugees to the Hatiya island ignoring all warnings that it is inhabitable and highly prone to flooding. A governmental committee will help identify and shift the unregistered Myanmar nationals to Thengar Char close to Hatiya island.

The decision has sought great outrage from the Rohingya leaders as more than 232,000 Rohingyas have already been living in the Bangladesh. It has been the steaming violence in the neighbouring Rakhine state of Myanmar which forced them to cross the border to Bangladesh.

Bangladesh considers the move as imperative as the refugees cannot be a part of the locals and hence should be identified and kept in proper camps in a demarcated boundary.

The island gets completely inundated during monsoons is only habitable during winters when it becomes a safe haven for pirates.

53. What is proposed Digi Gaon  initiative?

It is a project to provide telemedicines, education and other skills via digital technology. This will increase empowerment and bring about the needed penetration of digital technology at the grassroot level. It was announced by the Finance Minister during his budget speech.

54. What are the possible reasons of deaths and illness related to Litchi consumption in kids in Bihar?

Scientists have proven than consumption of litchi fruit and skipping of evening meal can lead to extremely low blood glucose levels and acute encephalopathy which can affect brain functioning. This can further lead to seizures,coma and also death in some cases.

  • Unripened litchi contains Hypoglycin A, naturally-occurring amino acid that causes severe vomiting (Jamaican vomiting sickness).
  • MCPG is a poisonous compound found in litchi seeds that cause a sudden drop in blood sugar, vomiting, altered mental status with lethargy, unconsciousness, coma and death.
  • These toxins may block enzymes involved in normal glucose metabolism and result in an inability to synthesis glucose leading to acutely low level of blood sugar.
  • The build-up of other metabolic by-products can also have an adverse effect (encephalopathy) on the child.

Remedies: Dextrose therapy (giving children sugar to normalize their rapidly plummeting blood glucose levels), minimising litchi consumption, eating evening meal throughout the outbreak period, implementing rapid glucose correction for suspected illness.

55. What is Global Harmonisation Task Force (GHTF)? What are the new changes introduced by the government for medical devices?

Global Harmonisation Task Force is a voluntary group of representatives which belonged to national medical device regulatory authorities and members of medical device industry. The primary goal of these was standardisation of medical device regulation around the world. GHTF was taken over by International Medical Device Regulators Forum.

The Union Health Ministry has spelt new rules for medical devices to overcome regulatory hurdles and increase their availability.  These are in conformity with the GHTF framework.

  • Medical devices will be classified in 4 categories namely: Class A, Class B, Class C and Class D.
  • It seeks to remove regulatory hurdles and ensure better availability.
  • A culture of self-compliance by the manufacturers of medical devices  is also encouraged. Licence for manufacturing of Class A devices will be granted without any previous audit of the site of manufacturing.
  • Renewal of licenses will not be required unless cancelled or suspended.
  • The entire process will proceed online i.e. from submission of application to grant of licences.
  • Manufacturers will have to meet the risk proportionate regulatory requirements.

Third Party Conformity Assessment and Certification through Notified Bodies is also planned to make the process more professional.

56. What are Mahila Shakti Kendras?

Mahila Shakti Kendras were announced by the Union Finance Minister Mr. Arun Jaitley during his budget speech. They are slated to be set up at the  village level with an allocation of Rs. 500 Crores in 14 lakhs ICDS Anganwadi Centres. They will be highly instrumental in empowering rural women and bringing opportunities like skill development, digital literacy, health and nutrition and also employment to their doorstep.

57. What is current status of Right to Privacy? Is it an implicit or explicit fundamental right?

Right to privacy was earlier recognized as “implicit” in the right to life and liberty – guaranteed by Article 21 of the constitution. However, implicit rights have been subject to judicial scrutiny time and again.

As per current judicial pronouncements, the right to privacy is a fundamental right enforceable against state as held by the Supreme Court in R.Rajagopal v. State of Tamil Nadu.

Further, the right to privacy could also be extended against private persons through the law of torts (torts are law dealing with ‘civil wrongs’).

58. What are the Primary Duties of MUDRA Bank?

The MUDRA Bank is responsible for the following:

  • Laying down policy guidelines for micro/small enterprise financing business
  • Registration of MFI entities
  • Regulation of MFI entities
  • Accreditation /rating of MFI entities
  • Laying down responsible financing practices to ward off indebtedness and ensure proper client protection principles and methods of recovery
  • Development of standardized set of covenants governing last mile lending to micro/small enterprises
  • Promoting right technology solutions for the last mile
  • Formulating and running  a Credit Guarantee scheme for providing guarantees to the loans which are being extended to micro enterprises
  • Creating  a good architecture of Last Mile Credit Delivery to micro businesses under the scheme of Pradhan Mantri Mudra Yojana

59. What are Shishu, Kishore and Tarun Plans of Mudra Bank?

MUDRA has classified the borrowers into three segments: the starters, the mid-stage finance seekers and the next level growth seekers. To address the three segments, it has launched three loan instruments:

  • Under ‘Shishu’ Scheme, loans up to Rs 50,000 will be sanctioned. This is the first stage when the Under ‘Shishu’ Scheme, loans up to Rs 50,000 will be sanctioned. This is the first stage when the business is just starting up.
  • Under ‘Kishor’ Scheme,loans above Rs 50,000 and up to Rs 5 Lakh will be provided.
  • Under ‘Tarun’ category,loan of above Rs 5 Lakh and up to Rs 10 Lakh will be sanctioned.

60. What are main features of Neutrinos?

Neutrinos are one of the elementary particles, which make up the universe. They are similar to electrons except that they do not carry electric charge. As they are electrically neutral, they are not affected by the electromagnetic forces like electrons or protons. Neutrinos are only leptons with no electric nature. Other leptons, which carry electric charge are electrons, muons and taus. Presently three types of neutrinos are known. They are electron neutrino (close to electron), muon neutrino (close to muon) and tau neutrino (close to tau).

Neutrinos are though not affected by the strong forces such as electromagnetic force, yet they are affected by the “weak” sub-atomic force and gravity. Therefore they are able to pass through great distances in matter at almost speed of light and without being affected by the matter. They are abundantly found in nature and can be created in several ways, including nuclear reactions and general atmospheric phenomena. The majority of the neutrinos present in the vicinity of the Earth are from nuclear reactions in the sun. Other neutrinos are created in nuclear power stations, nuclear bombs. Neutrinos also arise from  cosmic phenomena such as death of stars.

61. What is Neutrino Oscillation and how it is important?

The existence of neutrinos was first proposed in 1930. The first experimental detection of neutrinos was achieved in 1956. During the later experiments on solar neutrinos it was found that there is a mismatch between yielded results and theoretical calculations. The solar neutrinos detected were about a third to half of what was expected. In subsequent experiments also the same results were found and scientists found that neutrinos were disappearing mysteriously.

This led to the question of whether the mechanism by which the Sun shine is different from that predicted in theory or is there any other process that preventing all the neutrinos from being detected? The experiments of TakaakiKajita and Arthur B. McDonald demonstrated that the neutrinos from the sun were not disappearing on their way to Earth. Rather, in their journey from Sun’s core to the detector underground, some of the solar neutrinos (which are all electron-neutrinos) were transforming themselves to other forms of neutrinos, and thus escaping detection. This property of morphing of electron neutrinos to muon-neutrinos and tau-neutrinos is called “neutrino oscillation”. The neutrino oscillation was the reason why in the theoretical calculations, up to two-third of the neutrinos were missing.  It was found that all three neutrinos are able to morph into each other.

However, this raised another question. The neutrino oscillation requires that the neutrinos must have some finite mass. This was against the hitherto assumption that neutrinos are massless. The neutrino oscillation gave reversed the existing theory and proved that they indeed have mass.

62. What are implications of Neutrinos having Mass?

Currently, physicists know that the neutrinos exist in three types (flavours)  and that they oscillate, which means that the morph into three types as they move in space and time. The observed oscillations imply that neutrinos have mass. In academic terms, this is far reaching discovery because so far scientists were shy to include neutrinos in the standard model of particle physics as some building blocks having mass (so far they were put in as massless). However, lots of questions still need to be resolved that might change our understanding of basic physics. For example – What is the origin of neutrino mass? How are the neutrinos masses ordered (referred to as mass hierarchy)? What are the masses? Do neutrinos and antineutrinos oscillate differently? Are there additional neutrino types or interactions? Are neutrinos their own antiparticles? The present experiments and observatories around the world are trying to answer various other questions related to neutrinos and their properties and usefulness in development of science.

It’s possible that India’s Neutrino Observatory is helpful in resolving some of these question.

63. What causes River Blindness

River Blindness is caused by Onchocerca volvulus, a nematode which is carrief by black fly. The disease is common in sub-Saharan Africa and is second most common cause of blindness due to infection after trachoma. It can lead to irreversible blindness.

64. Where is Mattancherry Palace?

Mattancherry palace (also known as Dutch palace) is located at Mattancherry (near Kochi) in Kerala. It was built by Portuguese in 1555 and was renovated later by Dutch in 1663. This palace has fascinating collection of mural paintings in tempera style. Most of these Murals depict stories of Ramayana, Mahabharata and the puranic legends.

65. What are Pure Angels Versus Super Angels with respect to Angel Investors?

An angel investor or angel (also known as a business angel or informal investor) is an affluent individual who provides capital for a business start-up, usually in exchange for convertible debt or ownership equity. A small but increasing number of angel investors organize themselves into angel groups or angel networks to share research and pool their investment capital, as well as to provide advice to their portfolio companies. There are two types of Angel investors viz. Pure Angels and Supre Angels

Pure Angels

Pure Angels are full time investors. These are typically the individuals with some entrepreneurial and investing experience, many of who led to the formation of angel networks.

Super Angels

Super Angels are entrepreneur-turned-investors, known for their signalling effect and being a major source of deal flow for VC funds making early stage bets. Super Angels are pet favorites for a crop of start-up founders.

66. Which amendment of the Constitution allowed same person to be appointed as Governor of more than one state?

Article 153 of the constitution deals with the appointments of Governors of states. The 7th Constitutional Amendment Act, 1956 facilitated the appointment of the same person as a governor for two or more states.

67. What are notable facts for me on G-20 for Prelims?

G-20 does not have a permanent secretariat or management or administrative services unlike other international organizations. India will chair the G-20 forum in 2018. Current chair is Turkey.

Important Trivia on G-20 members

Kindly note that in South Asia, only India is G-20 member. Neither Pakistan nor Bangladesh nor Sri Lanka nor Nepal / Bhutan are in G-20. Further, ONLY one ASEAN member (Indonesia) is member of G-20. In entire African continent, only South Africa is member of G-20. Further, all BRICS members are members of G-20.

68. What are Vienna and Almatty Programmes of Action?

In October 2015, Nepal took the issue of blockade to UN and said that such blockade is affecting the  Vienna Programme of Action from year 2014 to 2024 of developing countries (LLDCs). We note here that the Vienna Programme of Action and Almatty Programme of action (2003) are two important UN programmes on Land Locked Developing Countries. They try to persuade the surrounding countries to provide passage to their landlocked neighbours. There are 48 Landlocked countries right now.

69. Where is Extreme Altitude Research Centre?

The DRDO’s DIHAR (Defence Institute of High Altitude Research ) had established Extreme Altitude Research Centre, world’s highest laboratory in Ladakh near the Pengong Lake. It would not only serve as natural cold storage for preserving endangered and rare medical plants for future generations but also engage in research work in frontal areas of food and agriculture and bio-medical sciences for well-being of the soldiers deployed in high altitude cold desert.

70. Which are the seven diseases covered in Mission Indradhanush or UIP?

In our country, under the UIP, vaccines are provided against 7 life threatening diseases i.e. Tuberculosis, Poliomyelitis, Hepatitis B, Diphtheria, Pertussis, Tetanus and Measles. In few selected states and districts, vaccines are also provided against Haemophilus influenzae type B and Japanese Encephalitis.

71. What are important facts about Ganges River Dolphins?

Indian Government has notified the Ganges River Dolphin (Platanista gangetica gangetica) as India’s National Aquatic Animal. It is also known as Susu because of the sound it produces when breathing. The Total population of Ganges River Dolphin is estimated to be around 2000 and they inhabit the Ganges-Brahmaputra-Meghna and Karnaphuli-Sangu river systems of Nepal, India and Bangladesh. These dolphins are found in Assam, Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, Bihar, Jharkhand and West Bengal (7 states ) and ideal habitats are in the Ganga, Chambal, Ghaghra, Gandak, Sone, Kosi, the Brahmaputra and Kulsi rivers. Ganges River Dolphin is placed under “Endangered Category” in the IUCN Red List. It lives in one of the world’s most densely populated areas, and is threatened by removal of river water and siltation arising from deforestation, pollution and entanglement in fisheries nets.  They have been poached over for their oil. The habitat degradation due to declining flow, heavy siltation and construction of barrages causing physical barrier for this migratory species is also one of the reasons behind decline of their numbers. In October 2015, the West Bengal government decided to establish India’s first Dolphin Community Reserve in the state at Hooghly River between Malda and Sundarbans.

72. Which are true freshwater river dolphins?

There are only four true freshwater river dolphins found around the world viz. Ganges River Dolphin, Indus River Dolphin, Amazon River Dolphin and Yagtze River Dolphins. Further, the Irrawady river dolphins can survive in both fresh and marine waters.

Indus River Dolphin (Platanista minor minor) is found in Indus river in Pakistan and also in Beas and Sutlej rivers in India. Both Ganges River Dolphin and Indus river Dolphin are now taxonomically considered one species since 1998.
The Amazon River Dolphins are is found in plenty number in Amazon river. The Yangtze river dolphins have not been seen in last one decade and it is believed that they have gone extinct.  The Irrawady river dolphins, which can survive both in fresh water and marine water are found in Myanmar, Indonesia and the Mekong river delta in south-east Asia. Some of the Irrawady River Dolphins are also found in Bangladesh and India’s Chilka Lake in Odisha.

73. What are salient features of the Masala Bonds?

Masala bonds are rupee denominated overseas bonds. Here are key notable points about Masala Bonds.

  • Such bonds are Rupee denominated. When an Indian company issues Rupee denominated Bond, it is obviously shielded against the risk of currency exchange rate aberrations. The foreign exchange risk is on foreign investors rather.
  • The key advantages of Masala Bonds are as follows: Firstly,they help to internationalize the Indian Rupee and deepen Indian Financial system. Secondly,  they diversify the funding resources of Indian companies. Thirdly, they may help to bring down the cost of borrowing and cost of capital. Fourthly, allowing Masala Bonds is considered to be a small step towards full convertibility of Rupee. Fifthly, such bonds would support towards stability of rupee.
  • First Masala Bond was issued by International Finance Corporation (IFC) in 2013. So far, no Indian company has released such Bonds.
  • The analogous bonds of China are called “Dim sum” while those of Japan are called “Samurai” bonds.
  • The Indian companies are allowed to raise a maximum of $750 million per year through masala bonds with a minimum maturity of five years.

74. What are important facts about Olive Ridley Turtles?

In November 2015, the Odisha Government has imposed seven-month ban till May, 2016 on fishing along the Puri coast in order to protect the endangered Olive Ridley turtles.

Olive Ridley Turtles (Lepidochelys olivacea) are found in warm and tropical waters, primarily in the Pacific and Indian Oceans. They are listed as “Vulnerable” in the IUCN Red List. In India, they have been included in Schedule-I of the Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972.

Astaranga coast and Gahirmatha Marine Sanctuary, both in Odisha, are home to Olive Ridley Turtles. The coastal waters of Gahirmatha have been designated as a Marine Sanctuary, and thus, its only Marine sanctuary of Odisha. This sanctuary boasts of possessing the world’s largest known rookery of Olive Ridley sea turtles.

The Odisha state government is taking steps for patrolling and other measures for their protection. These turtles are best known for their behavior of synchronized nesting in mass numbers, termed arribadas. The winter seasons is the mating and breeding season of these turtles.  Due to thus, the Odisha Government imposes a ban on fishing activities inside the Gahirmatha Marine Sanctuary as well as 20 kms off the shore from November to May under the state laws such as Orissa Marine Fishing Regulation Act, 1982 and Orissa Marine Fishing Rules, 1983.

But since this is a vast area, there is a heavy fishing pressure from local vessels as well as vessels from the neighbouring states like West Bengal and Andhra Pradesh and vessels from the neighbouring countries like Sri Lanka, Bangladesh and Thailand etc. The state government tries to deal with them to extent possible with available manpower and resources. Despite a ban continual illegal fishing using mechanized trawlers on Astaranga coast and Gahirmatha beaches, is posing serious threat to the endangered Olive Ridley turtles.

75. What are key Environment Impacts of Straw Burning?

In November 2015, the National Green Tribunal (NGT) had banned straw burning in Delhi, Punjab, Haryana, Rajasthan and Uttar Pradesh. The practice of rice straw burning is a major source of air pollutants such as carbon dioxide (CO2), carbon monoxide (CO), unburned carbon, nitrogen oxide (N2O), sulphur dioxide (SO2), Methane (burning of rice straw), and Particulate matter.
This practice is followed mainly in these northern states, particularly under the Wheat-Rice cropping system. They burn it, so that it increases soil carbon , increases soil mineralskills pests, and makes land more fertile. However, this comes at the cost of air pollution. It has been one of the reasons of haze in Delhi and surrounding areas.

76. What were aims and objectives of Bahishkrit Hitakarini Sabha established by BR Ambedkar?

In 1924, Bahishkrit Hitakarini Sabha was formed by Dr. Ambedkar for removing difficulties of the untouchables and placing their grievances before government. This was his first organization to achieve his political and social ideals. The aims and objects of the Sabha were:

  • To promote the spread of education among the Depressed Class by opening Hostels or by employing such other means as may seem necessary or desirable.
  • To promote the spread of culture among the Depressed study circles.
  • To advance and improve the economic condition of the Depressed Classes by starting Industrial and Agricultural schools.
  • To represent the grievances of the Depressed Classes.

77. What are important facts on Mahad Satyagrah, 1927?

The struggle of Dr. Bhimrao Ambedkar began from 1927 with Mahad Satyagraha. In 1926, the Municipal Board of Mahad in Maharashtra had passed orders to allow all communities including dalits to drink and collect water from a famous tank in the city. This tank was hitherto inaccessible for untouchables. These orders were opposed by upper caste Hindus and this led Dr. Ambedkar to call a conference of Dailts, which was participated by thousands of untouchables to support the municipal decision. In his address to the people there, Dr. Ambedkar asserted that the Hindu society should be organised on the basis of equality and absence of casteism. Here, he also burnt a copy of Manusmriti on December 25, 1927.

78. What were Temple Entry Movements, 1930?

In Maharashtra, as in other parts of the country, the untouchables were not allowed to enter the Hindu temples. Ambedkar organised a Satyagrah for entering into Kala Ram Mandir temple at Nasik in May 1930. It was the perception of Ambedkar that such Satyagrah may facilitate the entry of untouchables to other temples. Ambedkar led 15,000 male volunteers and 500 female volunteers in this Satyagrah. A mile long procession was taken towards Kala Ram Mandir in the batches of four. After a month’s struggle a compromise was reached to allow entry of untouchables.

What were Depressed Classes Movements?

The Depressed Classes conferences were organised even before Ambedkar’s effort to oppose untouchability in Indian society. For the first time, the Depressed Classes Mission Society of India was formed by Justice Sir N.G. Chandravarkar on October 18, 1906. The first conference of Depressed Classes was convened on November 11, 1917 by Justice Chandravarkar. The conference pleaded the demands of untouchables before the government. The first All India Depressed Classes conference was held in Bombay on March 23, 1918 under the Chairmanship of Maharaja Shivajirao of Baroda. It was attended by many prominent leaders. Bal Gangadhar Tilak said in this conference that he would not recognise God if he were to tolerate untouchability.

However, Ambedkar was sceptical about the movement started by high caste Hindus. In this backdrop, Ambedkar himself organised the All India Depressed Classes Association on August 8, 1930, and expressed great concern at the probability of the caste ridden Hindu Oligarchy being granted unrestricted power. For the first time, he demanded safeguards for the downtrodden untouchables in the Constitution and pleaded for direct representation in the councils in proportion to the strength of depressed community.

79. What was contrast in thinking of Ambedkar with Gandhi on question of untouchability?

At around the same time, Mahatma Gandhi had broadened his movement for removal of untouchability under the banner of Anti-untouchability League in 1932. Gandhi advised that the activities of Anti-untouchability League should be mainly directed towards the economic, social and educational improvement of the depressed classes rather than to the temple entry and inter-dining. Henceforth, the word untouchable was replaced by Harijan and Anti-untouchability League was renamed has Harijan Sevak Sangh. This Harijan Sevak Sangh worked as a branch of Congress. Dr. Ambedkar was on the board of this Sangh but soon he disconnected himself from it because  he felt that this Sangh is not a platform for programme for removal of untouchability. This is how, Gandhi and Ambedkar developed different perspectives in context with the amelioration of problems of depressed classes. According to Dr. Ambedkar, Harijan Sevak Sangh was a political organisation aimed to draw untouchables into Congress fold. Consequently, he formed a Samata Sainik Dal (Social Equality Army) to dislodge all those values which conserved and fostered anti-human elements in the name of tradition and cultural heritage. We note here that after assassination of Gandhi in 1948, this Samata Sainik Dal was one of the organizations which were banned in those times. Dr. Ambedkar remarked that disbanding Samata Sainik Dal was an act of cowardice.

80. What were Political Ideals of Ambedkar Regarding Empowerment of Untouchables?

Jawaharlal Nehru had termed Dr. Ambedkar as a symbol of revolt against the exploitative elements of Indian society. The struggle against the caste system and untouchability is based on some political ideals of Dr. Ambedkar. Firstly, Dr. Ambedkar had firm faith that caste system in India cannot be reformed and thus the only remedy is the total destruction of the caste system. In one of his speeches {Annihilation of caste}, he remarks that the root of untouchability is caste system, the root of caste system is religion attached to Varnashrma, the root of Varnashrma is Brahmanical religion, and the root of Brahmanical religion is authoritarianism. To him, virtue and charity have become caste ridden and morality has become caste bound. He characterised c[limit] 74940 CGS-6: November 16 to November 30, 2015 December 29, 2015

81. What are key facts on Dengue?

Aedes aegypti mosquito is the primary vector of Dengue. It lives in urban habitats and breeds mostly on man-made containers. Infected humans are the main carriers and multipliers of the virus, serving as a source for uninfected mosquitoes. Dengue should be suspected when high fever is accompanied by two of these symptoms: severe headache, muscle and joint pains, nausea, vomiting, swollen glands or rash. Severe dengue is hazardous due to plasma leaking, fluid accumulation, respiratory distress, severe bleeding, or organ impairment. No specific treatment for dengue fever. Maintenance of the patient’s body fluid volume is critical to severe dengue care.

Kindly note the following points for Prelims:

  • It’s a day bitingmosquito
  • It transfers the virus generally human to human, without any animal reservoir
  • It can be recognized by white markings on legs
  • Only the femalecan spread Dengue

82. What are the Negrito and Mongoloid tribes of Andaman and Nicobar Tribes?

There are 6 aboriginal tribes in Andaman & Nicobar islands.  On the basis of features, they can be divided into Negrito and Mongoloid. Great Andamanese, Onge, Jarawa and Sentinelese are negrito while Nicobarese and Shompen are mongoloid. Shompens and Nicobarese seem to be descendents of primitive Malayans. These tribes still keep a separate entity and don;t cover their bodies. The tribal groups in the two respective regions have very little in common in the ethnic, linguistic or cultural sense. Their life styles are also very different.

Tribes Race Islands
Onges Negroid Little Nicobar
Sentinelese Negroid Sentinel Islands
Jarawa Negroid Middle and South Andaman
Andamanese Negroid Strait Island
Shompen Mongoloid Great Nicobar
Nicobarse Mongoloid Great Nicobar

83. In which states, Red Sanders is found in India?

Red Sanders (Pterocarpus santalinus), which has been classified as endangered in 1997 in IUCN red-list is endemic to forests of Seshachalam, Veliganda, Lankamala and Palakonda hill range distributed in districts of Kadapa, Chittur and Nellore of Andhra Pradesh. It is also found in some isolated parts of Tamil Nadu. To curb the menace of its smuggling, the Red Sanders Anti-Smuggling Task Force (RSASTF) was created in February 2015. This task force has been able to curb the smuggling to a great extent in these areas as per a study and survey published recently.

84. Where is India’s first mega silk cluster?

India’s first mega silk cluster is located at Belavadi, on the outskirts of Mysuru in Karnataka state. The silk cluster is a first of its kind initiative, aimed at creating state-of-the-art infrastructure facilities for silk weaving and processing in the region.

85. What is the Indian Long Term Ecological Observatories (I-LTEO) programme?

To study the effects of climate change, India has launched long term ecological observatories (LTEO) programme. Under the programme, eight long-term ecological observatories are opened to study the health of eight different biomes. They will cover the Western Himalayas to Western Ghats, Eastern Himalayas to Andaman & Nicobar Islands, central India to the Sunderbans, and from Jammu & Kashmir to Rajasthan and Gujarat.

The initiative will help India to build capacity in study of impact of climate change on various eco-systems including human systems of agriculture and pastoralism. The development of scientific database in this key area will reduce the country’s dependence on studies done abroad.

86. What is the world bank’s Transformative Carbon Asset Facility (TCAF)?

The World Bank has launched a $500 million Transformative Carbon Asset Facility (TCAF) to help developing countries pay for emission reductions and combat climate change. The Transformative Carbon Asset Facility (TCAF) will establish the world’s first programmatic carbon market. The scheme will reward countries for reducing emissions by paying a fee for each tonne of carbon dioxide (CO2) reduced. The facility will help countries implement their Intended Nationally Determined Contributions (INDCs).

87. What is difference between Deflation and Disinflation?

Deflation implies negative inflation. Disinflation means decrease in rate of inflation. A reduced money supply or credit availability in an economy is the reason for deflation. Reduced investment spending by government or individuals may also lead to this situation. Deflation leads to low demands for goods and services, which in turn leads to low production in the factories and hence, low requirement of manpower to factories. Thus, it leads to a problem of increased unemployment in an economy.

88. What is MCLR?

To ensure better transmission of its rate cut to borrowers, the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) has introduced the Marginal Cost of Funds based Lending Rate (MCLR) to calculate the banks’ lending rate to borrowers. All rupee loans sanctioned and credit limits renewed w.e.f. April 1, 2016 will be priced with reference to the MCLR method. Currently, many banks follow average cost of funds or ‘blended cost of funds (liabilities) method’ for calculating the base rate. The MCLR methodology will help the borrowers to reap the benefit of lower lending rates. It will also improve transparency in the methodology followed by banks for determining interest rates on advances.

89. What is Project Meghraj?

Project ‘Meghraj’ is an initiative of government of India with an aim of GI Cloud Initiative to accelerate delivery of e-services in the country, while optimising information and communications technology (ICT) spending of the government. According to the govt, the National Cloud will ensure optimum utilisation of the infrastructure and speed up the development and deployment of e-governance applications in the country.

90. What is Lasoong festival?

The Lasoong festival is the most popular festival of Sikkim. It is usually celebrated at the end of the tenth Tibetan lunar month (usually December). It is the most important festival among the Bhutias in India and is marked by the traditional Chaan dancing and merry-making. Losoong is celebrated across the monasteries in Bhutan, Nepal and India. In Sikkim, during the festival of Losoong, often dance forms depict narrativized tales from the life of Padmasambhava (or Guru Ugyen).

91. What is Project Mausam?

Project Mausam is a transnational program launched by India’s “Culture Ministry” aimed to restore its ancient maritime routes and cultural links with republics in the region. This project emphasizes on the natural wind phenomenon, particularly monsoon winds used by Indian sailors in ancient times for maritime trade, that has formed relations amongst nations and groups linked by the Indian Ocean. Project Mausam purposes to determine the versatile Indian Ocean “world” — expanding from East Africa, the Arabian Peninsula, the Indian subcontinent and Sri Lanka to the Southeast Asian archipelago.

92. What is blue economy?

Blue economy refers to marine-based sustainable economic development which leads to improved human wellbeing and social equity, while significantly reducing environmental risks and ecological scarcities.

Blue Economy versus Green Economy

Green Economy is the traditional approach to sustainable development which revolves around the idea of controlling environmental pollution in the process of development. Thus, green economy is a land-locked vision that looks from the land to ocean space. An alternative vision was given by Elisabeth Mann Borgese (founder of the International Ocean Institute) – who viewed the situation from the seaward side, where a sustainable ocean economy integrates with and is inclusive of the Green Economy. She famously stated “if before you saw the sea and the sea floor as a continuation of the land, you now see the land as a continuation of the sea. The idea of Blue economy justifies this alternative vision.

93. What is Tax Policy Research Unit (TPRU)

The TPRU was established in February 2016 and it will be headed by Revenue Secretary. It will carry out studies on various topics of fiscal and tax policies. It will assist the TPC in taking appropriate policy decisions and shall prepare tax proposal and analysis of legislative intent. It will also take decisions on expected increase or decrease in tax collection and economic impact. It will comprise of officers from CBEC, CBDT as well as economists, researchers, statisticians and legal experts.

94. What is Tax Policy Council (TPC)

The TPC was also established in February 2016 and it will help the government in identifying key policy decisions for taxation. It shall aim to have a consistent and coherent approach to the issue of tax policy. It will look at all the research findings coming from TPRU and suggest broad policy measures for taxation. The council will be headed by Union Finance Minister. It shall have 9 members – Minister of State for Finance, Commerce Minister, NITI Aayog Vice-Chairman, Chief Economic Advisor and Finance Secretary. It would also have secretaries from the department of Revenue, DEA, DIPP and Ministry of Commerce.

95. What are different kinds of Doping Substances?

There are several classed of illegal / banned drugs used in doping and most of them are either stimulants or hormones.

Anabolic steroids / Androgenic Substances

These are the most commonly used doping substances and refer to the drugs that resemble testosterone, a hormone which is produced in the testes of males and, to a much lesser extent, in the ovaries of females.

Because testosterone and related drugs affect muscle growth, raising their levels in the blood could help athletes to increase muscle size and strength. Athletes who use anabolic steroids also claim they reduce body fat and recovery time after injury. 

Anabolic steroids can cause high blood pressure, acne, abnormalities in liver function, alterations in the menstrual cycle, decline in sperm production and impotence in men, kidney failure and heart disease. They can also make people more aggressive. Examples of anabolic steroids include testosterone, stanozolol, boldenone, nandrolone and clostebol.

Use of Human Growth Hormone in Doping

Human growth hormone (hGH) – also called somatotrophin or somatotrophic hormone – is a hormone that is naturally produced by the body. It is synthesised and secreted by cells in the anterior pituitary gland located at the base of the brain. The major role of hGH in body growth is to stimulate the liver and other tissues to secrete insulin-like growth factor IGF-1. IGF-1 stimulates production of cartilage cells, resulting in bone growth and also plays a key role in muscle and organ growth. All of these can boost sporting performance. Commonly reported side effects for hGH abuse are diabetes in prone individuals, worsening of heart diseases, muscle, joint and bone pain, hypertension and cardiac deficiency, abnormal growth of organs and accelerated osteoarthritis.

Synthetic Oxygen Carriers

Synthetic oxygen carriers, such as haemoglobin-based oxygen carriers (HBOCs) or perflurocarbons (PFCs), are purified proteins or chemicals that have the ability to carry oxygen. They are useful for emergency therapeutic purposes when human blood is not available, the risk of blood infection is high or when there is not enough time to properly cross-match donated blood with a recipient. The misuse of synthetic oxygen carriers for doping purposes carries the risk of cardiovascular disease in addition to serious side effects such as strokes, heart attacks and embolisms.

Blood Doping

Blood doping is the practice of boosting the number of red blood cells in the bloodstream in order to enhance athletic performance. Because such blood cells carry oxygen from the lungs to the muscles, a higher concentration in the blood can improve an athlete’s aerobic capacity (VO2 max) and endurance. There are two forms of blood doping. Autologous blood doping is the transfusion of one’s own blood, which has been stored, refrigerated or frozen, until needed. Homologous blood doping is the transfusion of blood that has been taken from another person with the same blood type. Although the use of blood transfusions for blood doping dates back several decades, experts say its recent resurgence is probably due to the introduction of efficient EPO detection methods. A test for homologous blood transfusions was implemented at the 2004 Olympic Games in Athens. World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) is funding research into developing a test for Autologous transfusions, and it is also leading the development of so-called “biological passports” which keep a record of an athlete’s blood and biological variables over time.

Blood doping also includes use of erythropoietin (EPO), a hormone naturally produced by the kidneys. It increases red blood cells.

Insulin

Insulin enhances glucose uptake into the muscle and aids the formation and storage of muscle glycogen. Athletes might use it for events that require high levels of endurance. There is also evidence that it is abused by dopers in conjunction with growth hormones or anabolic steroids to boost muscle growth. Misuse of insulin can lead to very low blood sugar levels – a condition known as hypoglycaemia which can lead to the loss of cognitive function, seizures, unconsciousness, and in extreme cases can lead to brain damage of death.

Gene Doping

As per WADA, the non-therapeutic use of cells, genes, genetic elements, or of the modulation of gene expression, having the capacity to improve athletic performance is called gene doping. One example is altering the Myostatin protein. Myostatin is a protein responsible for inhibiting muscle differentiation and growth. Removing the myostatin gene or otherwise limiting its expression leads to an increase in hypertrophy and power in muscles. Advancements in gene therapy for medical reasons mean potential cheats might seek to undergo procedures to modify their genes to enhance their physical capabilities. While it is not yet known whether it has ever been done in practice, gene doping could in theory be used to increase muscle growth, blood production, endurance, oxygen dispersal and pain perception. Gene doping is defined by WADA as the transfer for nucleic acids or nucleic acid sequences, and the use of normal or genetically modified cells. There are currently no testing methods capable of detecting gene doping.

Other substances and masks
  • Most common masking agents are diuretics which prevent the detection illegal drugs because they quickly remove fluid from the body. They are also used to lose weight, which they could use to their advantage in sports where they need to qualify in a particular weight category. Examples of commonly used diuretics include furosemide, bendroflumethiazide and metolazone.
  • The sportsmen use narcotic analgesics and cannabinoids to mask the pain caused by injury or fatigue. However, they can make injuries worse.
  • Glucocorticoids mask serious injury because they are anti-inflammatories and affect the metabolism of carbohydrates, fat and proteins, and regulate glycogen and blood pressure levels.
  • Beta blockers, meanwhile, which may be prescribed for heart attack prevention and high blood pressure, are banned in sports such as archery and shooting because they keep the heart-rate low and reduce trembling in the hands.

96. Who decides MGNREGA wages?

The MGNREGA wages are fixed by central government {Rural Development Ministry} as per provisions of NREGA act. The NREGA wages are NOT linked to Minimum wages act. The annual revision in MGNREGA wages is done as per changes in CPI-AL. We note here that there are three wage indices in the country viz. CPI-AL, CPI-RL {Rural Labourers} and CPI-R {Rural}. While CPI-AL and CPI-RL are computed by Labour Bureau {Ministry of Labour}, the CPI-R is computed by CSO under MOPSI. {Discussed in the module in backgrounders}

97. What is Equalisation Treaty / Google Tax?

Equalization Treaty or the so called Google Tax is a 6% levy, which individual or company is needed to deduct while making payment of more than Rs. 1 Lakh in a financial year for getting B2B services from foreign companies. This will be primarily on online advertisements such as Google / Facebook ads. This tax would be withheld by the buyer of such services and deposited by him to the government. Currently, online ads are included; the government would later bring other services such as digital downloads in its ambit.

98. In which year, simultaneous Elections of Lok Sabha and State Assemblies happened in India?

In India, the simultaneous elections of Lok Sabha and State assemblies were conducted for 1957, 1962 and 1967. After that the cycle broke due to premature dissolution of some state assemblies and then later the Lok Sabha.

99. What is Biofortification?

Biofortification is the process of cross breeding the food crops in such a way that it results in increase in their inherent nutritional quality. This term has nothing to do with GM crops. Bio-fortification is a seed-driven technology.

100.                  What are the key features of Hazardous Waste Management Rules, 2016?

The new elements in recently issued Waste Management Rules, 2016 are (1) allowing municipalities to levy user fee from waste generators (2) allowing municipalities to levy spot fine for littering and non-segregation of waste (3) responsibilities of the waste generators to segregate the waste in three streams viz. wet, dry and domestic wastes (4) putting onus on state governments to include the waste pickers, rag pickers and Kabadiwalas into formal waste management system (5) institutional partnership in Swachh Bharat Programme.

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