Question and Answer :: SRIRAM'S IAS

 Q. 541. What is nuclear fusion?
Ans.
What is nuclear fusion?
What is 'fusion' exactly?
  • Fusion occurs when two light atoms bond together, or fuse, to make a heavier one.
  • The total mass of the new atom is less than that of the two that formed it; the "missing" mass is given off as energy, as described by Albert Einstein's famous E=mc2 equation.
  • There are several "recipes" for cooking up fusion, which rely on different atomic combinations.
  • The most promising combination for power on Earth today is the fusion of a deuterium atom with a tritium one. The process, which requires temperatures of approximately 72 million degrees Fahrenheit (39 million degrees Celsius), produces 17.6 million electron volts of energy.
  • Deuterium is a promising ingredient because it is an isotope of hydrogen. In turn, hydrogen is a key part of water. A gallon of seawater (3.8 litres) could produce as much energy as 300 gallons (1,136 litres) of petrol.
Nuclear fusion is what happens in the Sun and other stars and involves joining two atomic nuclei to make one larger one. Both reactions release large amounts of energy, but with nuclear fusion there is very high energy yield and very low nuclear waste production.
Fusion reactor in the UK
  • The world's newest nuclear fusion reactor was switched on in the UK last week and has already managed to achieve 'first plasma' - a scorching blob of electrically-charged gas.
  • Scientists hope the tokamak reactor will be able to make hotter and hotter plasma - eventually reaching 100 million degrees Celsius (180 million degrees Fahrenheit) by 2018. That's the 'fusion' threshold - seven times hotter than the centre of the Sun - at which hydrogen atoms can begin to fuse into helium, unleashing limitless, clean energy in the process.
  • It is the latest in a number of significant developments towards finally realising practical nuclear fusion.
Putting theory into practice
  • While fusion power offers the prospect of an almost inexhaustible source of energy for future generations, it has also presented many so-far-insurmountable scientific and engineering challenges.
  • In the Sun, massive gravitational forces create the right conditions for fusion in the star’s core, but on Earth they are much harder to achieve.
  • Fusion fuels, different isotopes of hydrogen must be heated to extreme temperatures of the order of 50 million degrees Celsius, and must be kept stable under intense pressure, and dense enough and confined for long enough to allow the nuclei to fuse. And this is where progress has now been made.
The era of practical fusion power, and an inexhaustible supply of energy, may finally be coming near.
 
 Q. 540. What are the challenges of agriculture marketing as administered by states? How National Agriculture Market (NAM) aims to overcome these challenges? What are the objectives of NAM?
Ans.
What are the challenges of agriculture marketing as administered by states? How National Agriculture Market (NAM) aims to overcome these challenges? What are the objectives of NAM?
Challenges of agriculture marketing as administered by states
Agriculture marketing is administered by the States as per their agri-marketing regulations, under which, the State is divided into several market areas, each of which is administered by a separate Agricultural Produce Marketing Committee (APMC) which imposes its own marketing regulation (including fees). This fragmentation of markets, even within the State, hinders free flow of agri commodities from one market area to another and multiple handling of agri-produce and multiple levels of mandi charges ends up escalating the prices for the consumers without commensurate benefit to the farmer. NAM addresses these challenges by creating a unified market.

National Agriculture Market (NAM
  • National Agriculture Market (NAM) is a pan-India electronic trading portal which networks the existing APMC mandis to create a unified national market for agricultural commodities.
  • The NAM Portal provides a single window service for all APMC related information and services. This includes commodity arrivals & prices, buy & sell trade offers, provision to respond to trade offers, among other services. While material flow (agriculture produce) continue to happen through mandis, an online market reduces transaction costs and information asymmetry.
Addressing the challenges
NAM addresses the challenges of state government by creating a unified market through online trading platform, both, at State and National level and promotes uniformity, streamlining of procedures across the integrated markets, removes information asymmetry between buyers and sellers and promotes real time price discovery, based on actual demand and supply, promotes transparency in auction process, and access to a nationwide market for the farmer, with prices commensurate with quality of his produce and online payment and availability of better quality produce and at more reasonable prices to the consumer.

Objectives of NAM
  • A national e-market platform for transparent sale transactions and price discovery initially in regulated markets. Willing States to accordingly enact suitable provisions in their APMC Act for promotion of e-trading by their State Agricultural Marketing Board/APMC.
  • Liberal licensing of traders / buyers and commission agents by State authorities without any pre-condition of physical presence or possession of shop /premises in the market yard.
  • One license for a trader valid across all markets in the State.
  • Harmonisation of quality standards of agricultural produce and provision for assaying (quality testing) infrastructure in every market to enable informed bidding by buyers.
  • Single point levy of market fees, i.e. on the first wholesale purchase from the farmer.
  • Provision of Soil Testing Laboratories in/ or near the selected mandi to facilitate visiting farmers to access this facility in the mandi itself.
 
 Q. 539. Combustible Ice
Ans. Combustible Ice
  • Commercial development of the globe's huge reserves of a frozen fossil fuel known as "combustible ice" has moved closer to reality after Japan and China successfully extracted the material from the seafloor off their coastlines.
  • But experts say that large-scale production remains many years away—and if not done properly could flood the atmosphere with climate-changing greenhouse gases.
  • Combustible ice is a frozen mixture of water and concentrated natural gas. Technically known as methane hydrate, it can be lit on fire in its frozen state and is believed to comprise one of the world's most abundant fossil fuels.
  • the event can a breakthrough moment heralding a potential global energy revolution.
  • For Japan, methane hydrate offers the chance to reduce its heavy reliance of imported fuels if it can tap into reserves off its coastline. In China, it could serve as a cleaner substitute for coal-burning power plants and steel factories that have polluted much of the country with lung-damaging smog.
  • The South China Sea has become a focal point of regional political tensions as China has claimed huge swaths of disputed territory as its own. Previous sea oil exploration efforts by China met resistance, especially from Vietnam, but its methane hydrate operation was described as being outside the most hotly contested areas.
  • Methane hydrate has been found beneath seafloors and buried inside Arctic permafrost and beneath Antarctic ice. The United States and India also have research programs pursuing technologies to capture the fuel.
  • Estimates of worldwide reserves range from 280 trillion cubic meters (10,000 trillion cubic feet) up to 2,800 trillion cubic meters (100,000 trillion cubic feet), according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration. By comparison, total worldwide production of natural gas was 3.5 billion cubic meters (124 billion cubic feet) in 2015, the most recent year available.
  • That means methane hydrate reserves could meet global gas demands for 80 to 800 years at current consumption rates.
  • Yet efforts to successfully extract the fuel at a profit have eluded private and state-owned energy companies for decades. That's in part because of the high cost of extraction techniques, which can use large amounts of water or carbon dioxide to flood methane hydrate reserves so the fuel can be released and brought to the surface.
  • There are also environmental concerns.
  • a) If methane hydrate leaks during the extraction process, it can increase greenhouse gas emissions.
  • b) The fuel also could displace renewables such as solar and wind power.
  • c) However, if it can be used without leaking, it has the potential to replace dirtier coal in the power sector.
  • Commercial-scale production could be transformative for northeast Asia, particularly for Japan, which imports nearly all its hydrocarbon needs.
  • The consensus within the industry is that commercial development won't happen until at least 2030. Smaller scale output could happen as early as 2020.
 
 Q. 538. Higher Education Financing Agency (HEFA)
Ans.
Higher Education Financing Agency (HEFA)
About
  • Higher Education Financing Agency (HEFA) is aimed to give major push for creation of high quality infrastructure in premier educational institutions. The HEFA would be jointly promoted by the identified Promoter and the Ministry of Human Resource Development (MHRD) with an authorized capital of Rs. 2,000 crores. The Government equity would be Rs. 1,000 crores.
  • The HEFA would be formed as a SPV within a PSU Bank/ Government-owned-NBFC (Promoter). It would leverage the equity to raise up to Rs. 20,000 crores for funding projects for infrastructure and development of world class Labs in IITs/IIMs/NITs and such other institutions.
  • The HEFA would also mobilize CSR funds from PSUs/Corporates, which would in turn be released for promoting research and innovation in these institutions on grant basis.
Working of HEFA
All the Centrally Funded Higher Educational Institutions would be eligible for joining as members of the HEFA. For joining as members, the Institution should agree to escrow a specific amount from their internal accruals to HEFA for a period of 10 years. This secured future flows would be securitised by the HEFA for mobilising the funds from the market. Each member institution would be eligible for a credit limit as decided by HEFA based on the amount agreed to be escrowed from the internal accruals
 
 Q. 537. What is Value Capture Financing (VCF)? Explain the components and working mechanism of Value Capture Financing (VCF)?
Ans.
What is Value Capture Financing (VCF)? Explain the components and working mechanism of Value Capture Financing (VCF)?
About
Value capture is a type of public financing that recovers some or all of the value that public infrastructure generates for private landowners. It seeks to enable States and city governments raise resources by tapping a share of increase in value of land and other properties like buildings resulting from public investments and policy initiatives, in the identified area of influence.
How does it work?
Value capture financing (VCF) works on the conviction that public policy and infrastructure projects typically lead to improvement in the quality of housing, jobs access and transportation, yield other social benefits, and lead to the emergence of important commercial, cultural, institutional, or residential developments in the influence area. This, in turn, leads to an appreciation in land value in the neighborhood.
The VCF process comprises 4 key steps:
  1. Value creation: Public regulations, policies and investments lead to creation of value
  2. Value realization by private owners: For instance, the investment made by a developer fetches a bigger monetary value when he sells housing units along a metro corridor planned by the government than he would have without the project
  3. Value capture: It involves the government and private owners agree to a sharing mechanism for the value captured
  4. Value recycle: The resources collected are ploughed back in other parts of the city to create fresh value
  • The different instruments of VCF are: Land Value Tax, Fee for changing land use, Betterment levy, Development charges, Transfer of Development Rights, Premium on relaxation of Floor Space Index and Floor Area Ratio, Vacant Land Tax, Tax Increment Financing, Zoning relaxation for land acquisition and Land Pooling System.
  • Traditional resource mobilization through direct sale of land, the most fundamental asset owned and managed by States and Urban Local Bodies is an inefficient form of resource mobilization. This innovative mechanism could also be used by for investing heavily in building national highways, railway projects, power generation and port infrastructure development.
  • Ministry of Urban Development is working to develop a comprehensive VCF framework so that it can be used efficiently and optimally across the country as a method of financing infrastructure and enhancing the finances of urban local bodies.
 
 Q. 536. What is natural capital? Why integrating natural capital in our policy framework is necessary for a sustainable future?
Ans.
What is natural capital? Why integrating natural capital in our policy framework is necessary for a sustainable future?
Natural capital is from of capital from which humans derive a wide range of services also called ecosystem services, that make human life possible. Some important ecosystem services include the food we eat, the water we drink and the plant materials we use for fuel, building materials and medicines. There are also many less visible ecosystem services such as the climate regulation and natural flood defences provided by forests, the billions of tonnes of carbon stored by peat lands, or the pollination of crops by insects. In order to have an unhindered supply of these services natural capital conservation and sustenance needs to be ensured.

India’s natural capital
India’s natural resources has 11% of the world’s floral and faunal species. India is one of the 17 most ecologically diverse countries. It is blessed with major biomes. These biomes directly contribute billions of dollars to the Indian economy annually. The financial value of India’s forests, which encompass economic services such as timber and fuel wood, and ecological services such as carbon sequestration is approximately $1.7 trillion.

Declining natural capital
Because of increasing economic activity, natural capital assets are declining. It is directly affecting the quality of life and potentially giving rise to future inefficiencies in the economy. A concept of ‘Earth Overshoot Day’ is popular among the scientists. This is a figurative calendar date when humanity’s total annual resource consumption for the year overshoots the earth’s capacity to regenerate it. This has been advancing every year at an alarming rate.

Significance
As there is limits to natural capital stocks, there is a need to rethink the cascading effects that this might have on the economy, the environment and society. There are nine earth system boundaries, which mark the safe zones. Beyond these zones there is a risk of ‘irreversible and abrupt environmental change’. Four of these boundaries have already been crossed, these are: climate change, loss of biosphere integrity, land system change and altered biogeochemical cycles(phosphorus and nitrogen cycles). The human activity has already altered the balance of a few delicate equilibriums. The effect of these delicate equilibrium processes are reflected by changing weather patterns, accelerated extinction events for both flora and fauna, and global warming. Therefore, there is a need for a comprehensive evaluation system that takes these undesirable side-effects of economic activities into account.
Natural capital has the potential to optimise resources and thus maximise the net benefits of economic growth and development. However, ignoring or undervaluing natural capital, can lead to projects with far higher negative externalities compared to the benefits. Therefore, natural capital and its role as a primary support system for the economy should be understood in totality.

Natural capital and ingenuity
Sustained and unhindered use of natural capital requires innovation and adoption of newer, more efficient technologies. This was demonstrated by one Californian fashion company. It expositioned this by developing a unique waterless ozone technology to address water shortage challenges during a four-year-long drought. The company was able to reduce its water use and water bills by 50%, saving at least $1,300 per month.

Conclusion
Unlike the economic value of goods and services, the intangible nature of natural assets is mostly invisible and hence remains unaccounted for. Sustainable use of natural capital requires a strong policy push and the adoption of valuation frameworks such as the Natural Capital Coalition’s Natural Capital Protocol. Integrating natural capital assessment and valuation into our economic system is critical to usher in a truly sustainable future for India.
 
 Q. 535. Largest volcanic region on earth
Ans.
Largest volcanic region on earth
  • Scientists have discovered the largest volcanic region on Earth. It consists of almost 100 volcanoes. They are two kilometres below the surface of the vast Antarctic ice sheet.
  • The newly discovered volcanoes range in height from 100 to 3,850 metres. All of them are covered in thick layers of ice.
  • The active peaks are concentrated in a region known as the west Antarctic rift system. The system stretches 3,500 km from Antarctica's Ross ice shelf to the Antarctic peninsula.
  • The discovery is important because the activity of these volcanoes could have crucial implications for the rest of the planet. If one erupts, it could further destabilise some of the region’s ice sheets, which have already been affected by global warming. Meltwater outflows into the Antarctic ocean could trigger sea level rises.
 
 Q. 534. Muntra
Ans.
Muntra
  • Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) has developed India's first unmanned tank. It has three variants, meant for: surveillance, mine detection and reconnaissance. The reconnaissance version can be used in areas with nuclear and bio threats.
  • Muntra-S has been developed for unmanned surveillance missions.
  • Muntra-M is built for detecting mines.
  • Muntra-N will be deployed in areas where nuclear radiation or bio weapon risk is high.
  • The tank is called Muntra (Mission UNmanned TRAcked). The tanks will facilitate Indian Armed forces in conducting unmanned surveillance missions. The Muntra tanks have surveillance radar, an integrated camera along with laser range finder, which can be used to spy on ground target about 15 kilometres away.
 
 Q. 533. India gained the full membership Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO)
Ans.
Recently India gained the full membership Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO). In this context, analyse the significant advantages that may accrue to India and challenges that India may have to overcome because of the inclusion in SCO.
The Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) is a Eurasian political, economic, and security organisation. The organization was created in 2001 in Shanghai, China. It was created by the leaders of China, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Russia, Tajikistan, and Uzbekistan. These countries, except for Uzbekistan, had been members of the Shanghai Five group, founded on 26 April 1996 in Shanghai. India and Pakistan joined SCO as full members on 9 June 2017 in Astana, Kazakhstan.
India and SCO
India’s disconnect with Central Asia came with partition and the loss of direct geographical links. Although Central Asia is highly endowed with natural resources, the ongoing conflict in Afghanistan and Pakistan’s denial of transit prevent India from directly accessing these resources and deepening economic ties with the countries of the region. This is an important factor that led India to seek membership in SCO.
Advantages of India’s membership
  • India is an energy deficient country with increasing demands for energy, it is an assured market for the resource rich Central Asian countries and Russia. SCO membership could help advance talks on the construction of stalled pipelines like TAPI which is of considerable importance to India’s natural gas needs.
  • Another development related to India’s energy requirements is the proposed Russian idea of an ‘Energy Club’ for deepening interactions between producers (Russia, Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan and Iran) and consumers (China, Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan, India, Pakistan and Mongolia). This arrangement will help in shaping a common energy system in both the regional and global contexts. Within this framework India and Russia are exploring a possible hydrocarbon pipeline route through North-West of China.
  • Central Asian countries is a market for India’s IT, telecommunications, banking, finance and pharmaceutical industries. Thus, membership in SCO will help deepen economic ties between India and the Central Asian countries and eventually even result in a Free Trade Agreement with the Eurasian Economic Union.
  • Foreign policy goals: Membership in SCO is likely to help India fulfil its aspiration of playing an active role in its extended neighbourhood as well as checking the ever growing influence of China in Eurasia.  SCO also provides a platform for India to simultaneously engage with its traditional friend Russia as well as its rivals, China and Pakistan. Moreover, SCO membership would also enable India to hinder any attempt of Pakistan to use the SCO forum for mobilising support for its anti-India activities. Further, it will help India engage the Central Asian Republics (CARs) on a regular basis every year, something which has proved rather difficult in a bilateral format.
  • India’s presence in SCO would also ensure that China does not dictate terms in Eurasia. This is also the concern of Russia which is in a state of a ‘soft competition’ with China in Central Asia. Moreover, India would be able to offset China’s Belt and Road Initiative by mobilising support for the International North South Transport Corridor (INSTC).
  • Afghanistan angle: Eurasian powers are bound to play a major role in Afghanistan’s security affairs. Russia, China and Pakistan have already started engaging the Taliban which is of concern to India. It is important that India does not get left out of the evolving situation in that country and SCO membership could help in this regard.
  • India would also benefit from the Regional Anti-Terrorist Structure (RATS) based in Tashkent, which would help gain vital intelligence inputs on the movement of terror outfits, drug-trafficking, cyber security and Public information of the region.
  • Also, the annual joint military exercise among members would help India gain valuable new military operational insights.
Challenges
  • China and Russia are co-founders of SCO and its dominant powers, therefore, India’s ability to assert itself would be limited and it may have to content itself to playing the second fiddle. Moreover, India may also have to either dilute its growing partnership with the West or engage in a delicate balancing act.
  • Except India, all the other members of SCO have endorsed China’s Belt and Road Initiative. India’s primary concern is related to the China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) which passes through Pakistan Occupied Kashmir (POK), a region over which India claims sovereignty but which has been under Pakistan’s occupation since 1947. In this regard, if in future the economic policies of SCO come to be associated with the BRI network of roads and transportation, then India would face a dilemma and even a policy setback.
  • India and Pakistan: India-Pakistan rivalry can be a significant threat to the proper functioning of SCO too. Though, SCO charter prohibits the raising of bilateral issues, a conflict situation involving Kashmir might compel Russia and China to interfere to prevent any detrimental impact on the SCO.
 
 Q. 532. Removing harmful drugs from wastewater
Ans.
Removing harmful drugs from wastewater
Hospital wastewater includes drugs which are a major environmental problem. Wastewater may include cytostatic drugs such as cyclophosphamide and ifosfamide used for cancer treatment. The presence of such drugs in hospital waste not only pollutes environment but can also harm human health as these drugs often don’t break up easily. The cytostatic drugs are known to cause severe and irreversible damages to human body. The concentration of these drugs is high in the wastewaters of hospitals specializing in cancer treatment. A group of researchers from Belgium and India have developed a novel method of treating wastewater to get rid of such harmful substances from hospital waste.
Components:
  • The method involves slurry photocatalytic membrane reactor which involves a filtration process similar to the one used to purify drinking water.
  • This device works with a light source like an LED.
  • Catalyst viz. titanium dioxide is used to breakdown drugs. Titanium is easily available, efficient, stable and not toxic. The membrane used as a barrier to stop the drugs is made up of a polymer or ceramic.
Process:
  • As waste water with cytostatic drugs enters photoreactor, the light source activates or ‘fires up’ the catalyst (titanium dioxide) breaking it up into two parts—titanium and ‘free’ oxygen.
  • The ‘free’ oxygen then combines with the cytostatic drugs in waste water and breaks them into smaller parts thus making them ‘safer’.
  • If any drug particles are left unchanged, the membrane prevents them from passing through.
  • Thereafter, the mixture goes into another part of the reactor where the catalyst is removed and re-circulated to the photoreactor.
  • The amount of carbon contained in the pollutants before and after the filtration process decreases with time, this indicates that the degradation process is effective.
 
 Q. 531. What is natural capital? Why integrating natural capital in our policy framework is necessary for a sustainable future?
Ans.
What is natural capital? Why integrating natural capital in our policy framework is necessary for a sustainable future?
Natural capital is from of capital from which humans derive a wide range of services also called ecosystem services, that make human life possible. Some important ecosystem services include the food we eat, the water we drink and the plant materials we use for fuel, building materials and medicines. There are also many less visible ecosystem services such as the climate regulation and natural flood defences provided by forests, the billions of tonnes of carbon stored by peat lands, or the pollination of crops by insects. In order to have an unhindered supply of these services natural capital conservation and sustenance needs to be ensured.
India’s natural capital
India’s natural resources has 11% of the world’s floral and faunal species. India is one of the 17 most ecologically diverse countries. It is blessed with major biomes. These biomes directly contribute billions of dollars to the Indian economy annually. The financial value of India’s forests, which encompass economic services such as timber and fuel wood, and ecological services such as carbon sequestration is approximately $1.7 trillion.
Declining natural capital
Because of increasing economic activity, natural capital assets are declining. It is directly affecting the quality of life and potentially giving rise to future inefficiencies in the economy. A concept of ‘Earth Overshoot Day’ is popular among the scientists. This is a figurative calendar date when humanity’s total annual resource consumption for the year overshoots the earth’s capacity to regenerate it. This has been advancing every year at an alarming rate.
Significance
As there is limits to natural capital stocks, there is a need to rethink the cascading effects that this might have on the economy, the environment and society. There are nine earth system boundaries, which mark the safe zones. Beyond these zones there is a risk of ‘irreversible and abrupt environmental change’. Four of these boundaries have already been crossed, these are: climate change, loss of biosphere integrity, land system change and altered biogeochemical cycles(phosphorus and nitrogen cycles). The human activity has already altered the balance of a few delicate equilibriums. The effect of these delicate equilibrium processes are reflected by changing weather patterns, accelerated extinction events for both flora and fauna, and global warming. Therefore, there is a need for a comprehensive evaluation system that takes these undesirable side-effects of economic activities into account.
Natural capital has the potential to optimise resources and thus maximise the net benefits of economic growth and development. However, ignoring or undervaluing natural capital, can lead to projects with far higher negative externalities compared to the benefits. Therefore, natural capital and its role as a primary support system for the economy should be understood in totality.
Natural capital and ingenuity
Sustained and unhindered use of natural capital requires innovation and adoption of newer, more efficient technologies. This was demonstrated by one Californian fashion company. It expositioned this by developing a unique waterless ozone technology to address water shortage challenges during a four-year-long drought. The company was able to reduce its water use and water bills by 50%, saving at least $1,300 per month.
Conclusion
Unlike the economic value of goods and services, the intangible nature of natural assets is mostly invisible and hence remains unaccounted for. Sustainable use of natural capital requires a strong policy push and the adoption of valuation frameworks such as the Natural Capital Coalition’s Natural Capital Protocol. Integrating natural capital assessment and valuation into our economic system is critical to usher in a truly sustainable future for India.
 
 Q. 530. Ransomware
Ans.
Ransomware
Ransomware is a form of malicious software that locks up the files on computer, encrypts them, and demands that payment to get the files back. Wanna Decryptor, or WannaCry, is a form of ransomware that affects Microsoft’s Windows operating system.
When a system is infected, a pop up window appears, prompting to pay to recover all the files within three days, with a countdown timer on the window. Also, if the owner of the computer fails to pay within that time, the fee will be doubled, and if the ransom is not paid within seven days, the files are lost forever. Payment is accepted only with Bitcoin.
Spread
Ransomware spreads when it encounters unpatched or outdated software. WannaCry, a ransomware, had spread by an internet worm, software that spreads copies of itself by hacking into other computers on a network, rather than the usual case of prompting unsuspecting users to open attachments. The cyber attack was carried out with the help of tools stolen from the National Security Agency (NSA) of the United States.
Some forms of malware can lock the computer entirely, or set off a series of pop-ups that are nearly impossible to close, thereby hindering work.
Prevention
The malware only affects files that exist in the computer. Following precautions may help against Ransomware attacks:
  • Regularly updating anti-virus program;
  • Regular backup of files
  • Enabling pop-up blockers;
  • Updating all software periodically;
  • Ensuring that the smart screen (in Internet Explorer) is turned on, which helps identify reported phishing and malware websites;
  • Avoiding opening of attachments that may appear suspicious
India and Ransomware
Recently, the Indian Computer Emergency Response Team (CERT-In) has issued an alert about an email-based ransomware, ‘Locky’. The ransomware, Locky, spreads through spam mails. It scrambles the contents of a computer or server and demands payment in bitcoins to unlock it. This is the third major ransomware attack this year after Wannacry and Petya, that crippled thousands of computers.

CERT-In
CERT-In is the national nodal agency under the ministry of electronics and IT (MeitY), which deals with cyber security threats such as hacking and phishing. The agency is tasked with the collection, analysis and dissemination of information on cyber incidents and even taking emergency measures for handling cyber security incidents.
 
 Q. 529. Diksha Portal
Ans.
Diksha Portal
DIKSHA Portal is an initiative of Ministry of Human Resource Development for providing a digital platform to teacher to make their lifestyle more digital. The portal has been launched under National Digital Infrastructure for Teachers. Through this, all teachers across the nation will be equipped with advanced digital technology.
The portal will consist of the whole teacher’s life cycle – from the time they were enrolled as student teachers in Teacher Education Institutes (TEIs) to after they retire as teachers.
Teacher can learn and train themselves for which assessment resources will be available. The complete work and accomplishment of teachers in Teacher’s educational institutes will be recorded from start to end point till their retirement.
Teacher can use the portal for creating the following:
  1. Teacher training content.
  2. Teacher profile.
  3. In-class resources.
  4. Assessment aids.
  5. News and announcement.
  6. Teacher community.
Benefits of this portal:
It will help teachers boost their teaching skills and create their own profile with their skills and knowledge. Diksha portal will also help in improving the quality of education with the use of latest technologies in the domain of sector. Not only the government, private institutes and NGO’s are also allowed to participate in the Diksha initiative.
 
 Q. 528. Nobel prize in Chemistry: 2017
Ans.
Nobel prize in Chemistry: 2017
The 2017 Nobel prize in Chemistry has been awarded to Jacques Dubochet (University of Lausanne, Switzerland) Joachim Frank (Columbia University, New York) and Richard Henderson (MRC Laboratory of Molecular Biology, Cambridge, U.K.) for developing cryo-electron microscopy for the high-resolution structure determination of biomolecules in solution.
Cryo-electron microscopy
“Cryo”, short for cryogenic refers to very low temperatures. Though the actual temperature is not well defined, it is below minus 150°C. In the context of electron microscopy, it refers to the fact that the object to be imaged is frozen to such low temperatures to facilitate being studied under the beam of the electron microscope.
Application
This method is so effective that in recent times, it has been used to image the elusive Zika virus. Zika virus was causing the epidemic of brain-damaged newborns in Brazil. Using Cryo-electron microscopythree dimensional (3D) images of the virus at atomic resolution were generated and researchers were able to search for potential targets for drugs.
The utility of cryo-electron microscopy allows the observation of specimens that have not been stained or fixed in any way, showing them in their native environment. This is in contrast to X-ray crystallography, which requires crystallizing the specimen, which can be difficult, and placing them in non-physiological environments, which can occasionally lead to functionally irrelevant conformational changes.
 
 Q. 527. Turtle Sanctuary
Ans.
Turtle Sanctuary
Government has approved setting up of a Turtle sanctuary in Allahabad along with a River Biodiversity Park at Sangam. The initiative is aimed to protect the rich aquatic biodiversity of river Ganga from escalating anthropogenic pressures. Sanctuary will be established under the oversight of the Namami Gange programme.  The project will cost approximately Rs 1.34 crores. The project is 100% centrally funded.
This project will spread awareness about humans’ place in the ecosystem, their roles and responsibilities. It will also improve understanding of the complexity of co-existence with the environment and help generate awareness for reducing the impact of human activities on critical natural resources.
Rivers Ganga and Yamuna at Allahabad are home to some of the most endangered fauna like turtles (Batagur kachuga, Batagur dhongoka, Nilssonia gangetica, Chitra indica, Hardella thurjii etc.), the National Aquatic Animal - Gangetic dolphin (Platanista gangetica), the Gharial (Gavialis gangeticus) and numerous migratory and resident birds.
 
 Q. 526. Mission Parivar Vikas
Ans.
Mission Parivar Vikas
Mission Parivar Vikas is a central family planning initiative launched by the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare. The key strategic focus of this initiative is on improving access to contraceptives through delivering assured services, ensuring commodity security and accelerating access to high quality family planning services.

The mission is being implemented in 146 high focus districts with the highest total fertility rates in the country. These districts are in the seven high focus, high Total Fertility Rates (TFR) states of Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, Jharkhand, Chhattisgarh and Assam, which constitute 44% of the country’s population.

The main objective of the Mission Parivar Vikas family planning initiative is to bring down the Total Fertility Rate to 2.1 by the year 2025.

The Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, through its sustained family planning efforts, aims to achieve its goal of increasing modern contraceptive usage and ensure that 74% of the demand for modern contraceptives is satisfied by 2020, with continued emphasis on delivering assured services, generating demand and bridging supply gaps. The focus is also on increasing awareness and demand through a holistic communications campaign that has simultaneously been rolled out across all states of India.
 
 Q. 525. India Development Foundation of Overseas Indians
Ans.
India Development Foundation of Overseas Indians
India Development Foundation of Overseas Indians (IDF-OI) is a not-for-profit Trust set-up by the Government of India to facilitate philanthropic contributions by Overseas Indians to social and development projects in India.Presently, IDF-OI is promoting flagship programmes of Government of India- Swachh Bharat Mission and National Mission for Clean Ganga; and projects identified by the State Govts, for funding by Overseas Indians. It is also promoting areas such as sanitation; education; drinking water; women’s empowerment etc with State Governments. IDF-OI is offering projects for funding by Overseas Indians. Overseas Indians can contribute as an individual, or a group of individuals or even through their respective Indian Associations. IDF-OI does not recover any administrative cost from contributions received from Overseas Indians.
 
 Q. 524. Pradhan Mantri Kaushal Kendra
Ans.
Pradhan Mantri Kaushal Kendra
Pradhan Mantri Kaushal Kendra (PMKK) for Skilling in Smart Cities has been setup by the government in collaboration with New Delhi Municipal Council (NDMC). It aims to bring momentum in skilling through collaborative efforts. Pradhan Mantri Kaushal Vikas Yojana (PMKVY) is being run by the Ministry of Skill Development & Entrepreneurship (MSDE) while National Skill Development Corporation (NSDC) is the implementing agency for the scheme. The new skill development centres underscore the commitment of the Ministry of Urban Affairs & Housing (MUHA) and the Ministry of Skill Development & Entrepreneurship (MSDE) to support skilling in smart cities. National Skill Development Corporation (NSDC), an executive arm of MSDE, has collaborated with New Delhi Municipal Council Smart City Limited (NDMCSCL) to extend cooperation for setting up of PMKK Centres for Smart Cities, to provide skill training for unemployed youth through its short-term training (STT) module and contribute to the capacity building of municipal employees through Recognition of Prior Learning (RPL) program. At present there are 221 job roles available with 34 skill councils for which the courses are being offered across the nation.
 
 Q. 523. Sustainable and Accelerated Adoption of efficient Textile technologies to Help small Industries (SAATHI)
Ans.
Sustainable and Accelerated Adoption of efficient Textile technologies to Help small Industries (SAATHI)
Ministries of Power  and Textiles have joined hands to launch a new initiative, SAATHI (Sustainable and Accelerated Adoption of efficient Textile technologies to Help small Industries). Under this initiative, Energy Efficiency Services Limited (EESL), a public sector entity under the administrative control of Ministry of Power, would procure energy efficient Powerlooms, motors etc. in bulk and provide them to the small and medium Powerloom units at no upfront cost.
The use of these efficient equipment would result in energy savings and cost savings to the unit owner and he would repay in installments to EESL over a 4 to 5 year period.  This is the aggregation, bulk procurement and financing model that EESL has successfully deployed in several sectors like LED bulbs, Smart Meters and Electric Vehicles.
The Powerloom sector in India is predominantly an unorganized sector and has a large number of micro and small units which produce 57 percent of the total cloth in the country.  There are 24.86 lakhs Powerloom units in this country, most of whom use obsolete technology.  With a view to upgrading the technology, the Government of India has been implementing the in-situ upgradation of  plain Powerlooms. This programme is in furtherance of that objective.
 
 Q. 522. Integrity Index: CVC
Ans.
Integrity Index: CVC
The CVC is going to develop an Integrity Index. It will be based on bench-marking of internal processes and controls within an organisation as well as management of relationships and expectations of outside stakeholders. The Central Vigilance Commission (CVC) is of the view that the next level of systemic change can be through the tool of Integrity Index. The move is in line with the broader strategy and emphasis on preventive vigilance.
The Integrity Index will bring out annual scores/rankings of Public Sector Undertakings/Public Sector Banks and Financial Institutions/Departments/Ministries of Government of India by linking the essential drivers of vigilance with long term efficiency, profitability and sustainability of public organizations and create an internal and external ecosystem that promotes working with Integrity in public organizations.
In the index, CVC has adopted a research-based approach for creating an integrity index that various organizations can use to measure themselves and which will evolve with changing needs. IIM-Ahmedabad has been engaged to develop the Integrity Index.
Initially 25 organizations have been selected for development of the Integrity Index. Subsequently, it is proposed to extend the Integrity Index concept to all other CPSUs and organizations of Government of India.
The main objectives for which the Integrity Index is to be established are:
  • Defining what constitutes Integrity of Public Organizations
  • Identifying the different factors of Integrity and their inter-linkages
  • Creating an objective and reliable tool that can measure the performance of organizations along these above factors
  • Validating the findings over a period of time to improve upon the robustness of the tool that measures Integrity
  • Creating an internal and external ecosystem that promotes working with Integrity where public organizations lead the way