Question and Answer :: SRIRAM'S IAS

 Q. 334. Project Insight
Ans.
The Income Tax department of Government of India will very soon launch Project Insight. The tax department will analyse mismatches in income declarations and spending patterns to trace tax evasions and black money. The government has recently made linking of PAN with Aadhaar mandatory. This was done to get a 360 degree view of a person’s income and assets. The project is part of the steps the government has taken to unearth and tax undeclared or illegal wealth. The steps include launch of ‘Operation Clean Money’ after demonetisation of old higher denomination currency for collection, collation and analysis of information on cash transactions, extensive use of information technology and data analytics tools for identification of high risk cases, expeditious e-verification of suspect cases and enforcement actions.

It will use big data analytics to match information from social media sites to deduce mismatches between spending pattern and income declaration. The government had signed a pact with L&T Infotech for implementation of Project Insight. The project is designed to strengthen the non-intrusive information driven approach for improving tax compliance. Project has been initiated by the income tax department for data mining, collection, collation and processing of such information for effective risk management with a view to widen and deepen the tax base. It will help the taxmen monitor high value transactions, and curb the circulation of black money.

The project will use technology to allow the government collate databases of IT returns, IT forms, TDS/TCS statements and Statement of Financial Transactions received from financial institutions. As part of project, a new Compliance Management Centralised Processing Centre (CMCPC) would also be set up for handling preliminary verification, campaign management, generation of bulk letters/notices and follow-up.
 
 Q. 333. C-17 Globemaster
Ans.
About
US will sell India one C-17 transport aircraft. The proposed sale of C-17 transport aircraft by Boeing is estimated at a cost of is USD 366.2 million. The sale includes one missile Warning System, one Countermeasures Dispensing System, one Identification Friend or Foe (IFF) Transponder and precision navigation equipment.

C-17 Globemaster
The Boeing C-17 Globemaster is a large military transport aircraft. It was developed for the United States Air Force (USAF) from the 1980s to the early 1990s by McDonnell Douglas. The C-17 commonly performs tactical and strategic airlift missions, transporting troops and cargo throughout the world. It can also perform medical evacuation and airdrop duties. The C-17 is capable of strategic delivery of up to 170,900 pounds of personnel and/or equipment to main operating bases or forward operating locations. C-17 has a fully integrated electronic cockpit and advanced cargo delivery system. It allows a crew of three: pilot, co-pilot, and loadmaster, to operate the aircraft on any type of mission.

Significance
  • The Globemaster will improve India's capability to meet current and future strategic airlift requirements.  As India lies in a region prone to natural disasters therefore it will use the additional capability for humanitarian assistance and disaster relief.
  • The aircraft is capable short field landings with a full cargo load. It can also perform tactical airlift and airdrop missions as well as transport litters and ambulatory patients during aeromedical evacuation when required.
  • Also, the C-17 will provide more rapid strategic combat airlift capabilities for India’s armed forces.
  • India currently operates C-17 aircraft bought from Boeing, therefore Indian armed force will have no problem in absorbing the aircraft. Moreover, the proposed sale will not alter the basic military balance in the region. 
 
 Q. 332. Navika Sagar Parikrama
Ans. Navika Sagar Parikrama is a project wherein a team of women officers of the Indian Navy would circumnavigate the globe. The circumnavigation of the globe has been flagged off on an Indian-built sail boat INSV Tarini. This is the first ever Indian circumnavigation of the globe by an all-women crew.

The expedition has been titled ‘Navika Sagar Parikrama’. It is aimed at promoting women empowerment in the country and ocean sailing by the Indian Navy. The expedition would inspire the youth of our nation to develop an understanding of the sea and instil a spirit of adventure and camaraderie.

The voyage of will finish around March 2018. The entire distance will be covered in five legs and it will have stop overs at four ports for replenishment of ration and repairs. The ports are: Fremantle (Australia), Lyttelton (New Zealand), Port Stanley (Falklands) and Cape Town (South Africa)
Additional aims of the Expedition are as follows:-
  • Nari Shakti: In consonance with the National policy to empower women to attain their full potential, the expedition aims to showcase ‘Nari Shakti’ on the world platform. This would also help to discard the societal attitudes and mind-set towards women in India by raising visibility of participation by women in challenging environment.
  • Environment and Climate Change: The expedition aims at harnessing the use of environment friendly non-conventional renewable energy resources which affects the life of women.
  • Make in India: The voyage also aims to show case the ‘Make in India’ initiative by sailing onboard the indigenously built INSV Tarini.
  • Meteorological/ Ocean/ Wave Data Observation: The crew would also collate and update Meteorological/ Ocean/ Wave data on a daily basis for subsequent analysis by research and development organisations.
  • Marine Pollution: The crew would monitor and report marine pollution on the high seas.
  • Interaction with Local PIOs:  Since the expedition aims to promote Ocean Sailing and the spirit of adventure, the crew would interact extensively with the local PIOs at the various port halts.  
 
 Q. 331. National Sports Development Fund
Ans. About: Ministry of Youth Affairs and Sports has created a National Sports Development Fund (NSDF) to bridge the gap of lack of sufficient facilities like qualified coaches/specialists, sports infrastructure and inadequate sponsors to sportspersons for their training/coaching and the sub-optimal performance of the athletes in the international sports events.

Objectives:
  • To promote sports in general and specific sports disciplines and individual sports persons in particular for achieving excellence at the National and International level;
  • To impart special training and coaching in relevant sports disciplines to sports persons, coaches and sports specialists;
  • To construct and maintain infrastructure for promotion of sports and games;
  • To supply sports equipment to organizations and individuals for promotion of sports and games;
  • To identify problems and take up research and development studies for providing support to excellence in sports;
  • To promote international cooperation, in particular, exchanges which may promote the development of sports; and
Resource: NSDF will mobilize resources from Government as well as non-government organizations and individuals.

For: Institutions, government and non-government organizations exclusively dealing with promotion of sports and individual sportspersons of outstanding ability are eligible for getting financial assistance from NSDF for specific projects.
 
 Q. 330. Plastic waste
Ans.
The menace
The quantum of solid waste is ever increasing due to increase in population, developmental activities, changes in life style, and socio-economic conditions. Plastics waste is a significant portion of the total municipal solid waste (MSW). The plastics waste constitutes two major category of plastics; (i) Thermoplastics and (ii) Thermoset plastics. Thermoplastics, constitutes 80% and thermoset constitutes approximately 20% of total post-consumer plastics waste generated in India. The Thermoplastics are recyclable plastics which include; Polyethylene Terephthalate (PET), Low Density Poly Ethylene (LDPE), Poly Vinyal Choloride(PVC), High Density Poly Ethylene (HDPE), Polypropylene(PP), Polystyrene (PS) etc. Recycling of plastics should be carried in such a manner to minimize the pollution during the process and as a result to enhance the efficiency of the process and conserve the energy.

The menace
The Task Force on plastic pollution, set up by the Planning Commission in 2014 had estimated that 60 cities across the country generate over 15,000 tons of plastic waste every day—almost 6 million tons per year. Cattle and other animals, which freely move around the streets, unknowingly devour some of this plastic material, which is not digested but stays put in their stomachs leading to their eventual death. It is time that India ban plastic bags and related stuff before the water bodies, land and seacoasts are choked and menace turns into a manmade disaster.

The landlocked African country Rwanda has banned plastic bags since a few years; Kenya has just announced a ban on plastic bags; Morocco has had such a ban for almost a decade.

Plastic degrading microbes
A lot of plastic waste from across the world eventually ends up in the oceans, which cover over 70% of the earth’s surface and hold 97% of the earth’s water. The amount of plastic rubbish reaching the oceans is 8 million tons per day. By 2050, there will be more plastic in the world’s oceans than fish. The huge amounts of plastic thrown in the oceans that keeps floating is hardly 1%, the rest sinks way down and/or are slowly being degraded or broken down.

Researchers have partially succeeded to identify, isolate and study the biological species that seem to degrade plastics into small molecules. These plastics can be used for safer purposes. Scientists have identified certain species which are responsible for biodegradation of plastics, these are some fungi and bacteria. Two strains of the fungus aspergillus spp, found in the waters of the Gulf of Mannar degrade the plastic HDPE which is used to make milk and fruit juice bottles, grocery bags and such. These fungi release some enzymes which degrade HDPE, essentially breaking up the polymeric molecule into smaller pieces.

Also, enzymes from the microbe named, Ideonella sakainesis are capable of breaking down the polymer PET (polyethylene terephthalate, used in making packaging trays, polyester clothing and others) into its basic monomeric molecules terephthalic acid and ethylene glycol which are used as building blocks for a variety of chemicals. The microbe is found in soil, sediment, waste water and similar material.

Recently, scientists have shown that the fungus Aspergillus tubigensis can degrade plastic material called polyurethane or PU (used in the manufacture of car tyres, gaskets, bumpers, fibres, plastic foam, synthetic leathers).

Scientists have concluded that microbes can be genetically modified to suit any intended purpose. This type of research will bring a great deal of benefit to not only terrestrial life forms but those living under water as well.
 
 Q. 329. Hortinet
Ans.
Hortinet is an integrated traceability system developed by Agricultural and Processed Food Products Export Development Authority (APEDA) for providing Internet based electronic services to the stakeholders for facilitating farm registration, testing and certification of Grape, Pomegranate and Vegetables for export from India to the European Union in compliance with standards. This mobile app initiative is expected to increase the accessibility and reach of the Traceability software system among the farmers and other stakeholders.

This new Mobile app will also assist State Horticulture/ Agriculture Department to capture real time details of farmers, farm location, products and details of inspections like date of inspection, name of inspecting directly from field.

Through this App not only the process of farmer and farm registration will become convenient but laboratory testing of product samples will also become easier. The level of agricultural exports is low considering that we have enormous population and most of what is produced is consumed domestically. Though we have only 2.2% share yet we are amongst the top 10 players in global agricultural trade. The efforts made by APEDA in promoting exports especially the use of traceability software has benefitted Indian agricultural trade and ensuring that importing countries get the product of  quality and standards that they desire.
 
 Q. 328. New model agriculture law and the Farm forestry sector
Ans.
The Ministry of Agriculture and Farmers Welfare has proposed a new model law, the Agricultural Produce Market Committee (APMC) Act, 2017.
  • It seeks to end the monopoly of APMC mandis and promote private players through wholesale markets, direct sale and purchase of agricultural produce, single market fee, and one-time registration for trade in multiple markets.
  • 12 states, namely Madhya Pradesh, Gujarat, Bihar, Odisha, Maharashtra, Kerala, Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, Himachal Pradesh, Andhra Pradesh, Punjab and Haryana, have agreed to implement the reforms.
Farm forestry sector
  • The model law is expected to bring necessary reforms in the farm forestry sector, which has been listed along with allied activities such as livestock, poultry and bee-keeping to double farmers’ income by 2022.
  • The ministry is also working towards an electronic registration system which will ensure that once registered, farmers will not have to seek permission to harvest and transport the trees they plant.
  • These reforms are expected to provide the agro-forestry sector a much-needed boost through exemption of trees grown by farmers on private land from felling, a unified trading license, relaxation of transit rules and a single point levy of market fee.
  • Restrictions on felling of farm-grown trees, transit pass regulations and lack of access to markets have been the major reasons behind farmers’ disinterest and inability in utilising their lands for producing timber.
  • Agro-forestry in India needs an open policy in which the regulations are relaxed. States will have to work with the Centre in tandem to ensure implementation of the reforms.
  • Currently, farmers face many problems in plantation harvest and transit as tree felling is not regulated by one authority. Instead, the revenue and the forest department regulate tree felling and that too varies state wise. 
  • State governments can further help by notifying certain tree species as exempt from felling and transit. That would mean that the forest check-posts will not stop such species of timber from being transported.
  • Since the forests and wildlife are in the concurrent list of the Constitution, the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change should consider an amendment in the Indian Forest Act, 1927, where for certain tree species, a central enactment of power be possible.
 
 Q. 327. What is a Hydrogen bomb? How is the reaction mechanism of Hydrogen bomb different from an atomic bomb?
Ans.
Nuclear weapons trigger an explosive reaction that shears off destructive energy locked inside the bomb’s atomic materials. A thermonuclear weapon is a second-generation nuclear weapon design which is bombarded by the energy released by the detonation of a primary fission bomb within, compressing the fuel material (tritium, deuterium or lithium deuteride) and causing a fusion reaction. That fusion stage is mashing hydrogen atoms together in the same process that fuels the sun. When these relatively light atoms join together, they unleash neutrons in a wave of destructive energy. Some advanced designs use fast neutrons produced by this second stage to ignite a third fast fission or fusion stage. The fission bomb and fusion fuel are placed near each other in a special radiation-reflecting container called a radiation case that is designed to contain x-rays for as long as possible. The result is greatly increased explosive power when compared to single-stage fission weapons. The device is colloquially referred to as a hydrogen bomb or, an H-bomb, because it employs the fusion of isotopes of hydrogen.

Hydrogen bombs, or H-bombs, are far more powerful than the relatively simple atomic weapons. Atomic bombs rely on fission, or atom-splitting, just as nuclear power plants do. The hydrogen bomb can be 1,000 times more powerful. The technology of the hydrogen bomb is more sophisticated, and once attained, it is a greater threat. It can also be made small enough to fit on a head of an ICBM.
The hydrogen bomb is the global standard for the five nations with the greatest nuclear capabilities: the US, Russia, France, the UK and China.
 
 Satellite technology and Border management
The government will very soon use satellite technology for the Border Security Force (BSF), Indo-Tibetan Border Police (ITBP) and Sashastra Seema Bal (SSB) for better border surveillance. The government will dedicate satellite bandwidth for this purpose.
Satellite technology will be used carry out the following activities:
  1. Monitor movement of Pakistani and Chinese troops in real time
  2. Track terrorist infiltration
  3. Map terrain
  4. Communicate effectively in remote areas
  5. Assess the strength of soldiers and artillery deployed by neighbours near the border in case of a stand-off.
Significance
Fortification is important because the: command, control, communication, surveillance, intelligence and reconnaissance abilities of border security forces need to become impregnable.
Satellites can play an important role in border management. India has one of the best satellite technologies in Asia. Defence forces are already using space technology. Border forces depend on intelligence shared by central agencies like IB, RAW and National Technical Research Organisation. There is also the issue of poor communication in areas like Ladakh, Sikkim, Arunachal Pradesh and Kashmir Valley. With satellite technology real-time information can be better monitored.

Satellite and Armed forces
India shares over 15,000km of borders with Pakistan, China, Bangladesh, Nepal and Myanmar. The armed forces currently use 13 ISRO satellites to watch land and maritime boundaries. The Navy has a dedicated military satellite, GSAT-7 or `Rukmini' which monitors the Indian Ocean Region.
The recently launched Cartosat-2 series advanced remote sensing satellite has added more teeth to India's military surveillance capabilities because of its high resolution image processing technology.

Comprehensive Integrated Border Management System (CIBMS)
Under CIBMS the government is already providing:
  1. CCTV cameras
  2. Thermal image and night-vision devices
  3. Battlefield surveillance radar
  4. Underground monitoring sensors
  5. Laser barriers
These are helping to track movement from the other side along the border. The integrated set-up ensures that if one device doesn't work, another alerts the control room in case of a transgression. 
 
 Q. 326. Why malnutrition is not just a health related problem in India? What steps can be taken to tackle the incidence of malnutrition in the country?
Ans.
Nutrition is an issue of survival, health and development for current and succeeding generations. Child born underweight have impaired immune function and increased risk of diseases such as diabetes and heart diseases in their later life. Malnourished children tend to have lower IQ and impaired cognitive ability, thus affecting their school performance and then productivity in their later life. Nutritional health of all age groups represents our National Economic Asset.

Improving the nutritional status of the population is imperative for National Development. Under nutrition in young children is a major public health problem in India. The NFHS-4 has not shown an encouraging improvement in the nutritional status, especially among women and children. As per NFHS-4 the level of underweight has decreased by 6.8% and is stunting by 9.6%. Level of anaemia has decreased by 11% as compared to NNHS-3 figures. The Union health budget is just over 1% of the total GDP as compared to the World Health Organization’s recommended 5%. The budget for ICDS in the last two years has been cut by almost 50% and the National Food Security Act, 2013 is yet to be implemented.

Tackling malnutrition:
  1. Ensure better coordination among various ministries
  2. Improve data collection on stunting and obesity
  3. Invest heavily in social welfare programmes
  4. Make welfare delivery mechanisms more accountable
  5. Allow panchayats a bigger say in running welfare schemes
  6. Diversify the Public Distribution System
  7. Strengthen and expand on nutrition schemes for adolescent girls
  8. Strengthen MGNREGA to ensure better food security
  9. Revive and safeguard forests as sustainable sources of food
  10. Improve access to public healthcare for poorer communities
Malnutrition is not to be viewed merely as an offshoot of poverty having adverse effects on health and development of individuals but as a national problem that results in loss of productivity and economic backwardness. Therefore it is important that we the improve nutrition at the individual level. Thus, series of convergent and well coordinated actions in different sectors are required to be undertaken in the mission mode approach to address this big network problem of malnutrition.
 
 Q. 325. Pradhan Mantri Matru Vandana Yojana
Ans.
Pradhan Mantri Matru Vandana Yojana  (PMMVY) is a Maternity Benefit Programme that is implemented in all the districts of the country in accordance with the provision of the National Food Security Act, 2013.

Objectives of the programme include providing partial compensation for the wage loss in terms of cash incentives so that the woman can take adequate rest before and after delivery of the first living child. The cash incentive provided would lead to improved health seeking behaviour amongst the Pregnant Women and Lactating Mothers (PW&LM).

Target beneficiaries of the programme include all Pregnant Women and Lactating Mothers, excluding PW&LM who are in regular employment with the Central Government or the State Governments or PSUs or those who are in receipt of similar benefits under any law for the time being in force.

A beneficiary is eligible to receive benefits under the scheme only once. In case of miscarriage/still birth, the beneficiary would be eligible to claim the remaining instalment(s) in event of any future pregnancy. A beneficiary is eligible to receive benefits under the scheme only once. That is, in case of infant mortality, she will not be eligible for claiming benefits under the scheme, if she has already received all the instalments of the maternity benefit under PMMVY earlier.

Benefits under PMMVY include cash incentive of Rs 5000 in three instalments. The eligible beneficiaries would receive the incentive given under the Janani Suraksha Yojana (JSY) for Institutional delivery and the incentive received under JSY would be accounted towards maternity benefits so that on an average a woman gets Rs 6000.
 
 Q. 324. Farmer Zone
Ans.
The Department of Biotechnology (DBT), under the Ministry of Science and Technology has convened the Smart Agriculture Conclave. The objective of this conclave is to set “FarmerZone” - a collective open-source data platform for smart agriculture which will use biological research and data to improve the lives of small and marginal farmers. It is envisaged that “FarmerZone” will help cater to all needs of the farmer, from dealing with climate change, weather predictions and soil, water, and seed requirements to providing market intelligence.

The conclave has identified the challenges faced in each agro-climatic region, it has also discussed possible solutions through scientific interventions. The FarmerZone platform will connect farmers and scientists, government officials, thought leaders in agriculture, economists and representatives from global companies who work in the big-data and e-commerce space to bring about technology-based localised agri-solutions.

The platform will work on getting relevant quality data related to agriculture into the cloud, develop sentinel sites to help link with farmers and evolve PPP based enterprises for data delivery.
“FarmerZone” that will focus on solutions in the farming ecosystem, especially for small and marginal farmers.” 
 
 Q. 323. YUVA initiative
Ans.
‘YUVA’ is an initiative by Delhi Police, it aims to connect with youth by upgrading their skill as per their competencies. It will help them to get a gainful employment under Pradhan Mantri Kaushal Vikas Yojna under the Ministry of Skill Development.

Delhi Police has tied up with National Skill Development Corporation (NSDC) and Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) for providing mass job linked skill training for the selected youth. National Skill Development Corporation shall be providing skill training to the youth under ‘Pradhan Mantri Kaushal Vikas Yojna’ (PMKVY) and CII will provide job linked training through its Sector Skill Councils who are connected to industry and thereby provide job guarantee.

The youth coming for skill training in a police station building will be a huge step in building up their confidence and faith in police organization and will go a long way in building a positive image of police in the long run.
 
 Q. 322. Shekatkar Committee
Ans.
The Ministry of Defence had constituted a Committee of Experts under the Chairmanship of Lt Gen (Retd) (Dr.) DB Shekatkar with a mandate to recommend measures for enhancing of Combat Capability & Rebalancing Defence Expenditure of the Armed Forces with an aim to increase "teeth to tail  ratio".

The Committee of experts had submitted its report to the Ministry in December, 2016. The report was considered by the Ministry of Defence and 99 recommendations were sent to the Armed Forces for making an implementation plan. It is the first ever exercise after Independence. It was done by the Ministry of Defence in consultation with the Indian Army to reform the Indian Army in a planned manner.
Major reforms concerning the following have been approved:
  • Optimisation of Signals Establishments to include Radio Monitoring Companies, Corps Air Support Signal Regiments, Air Formation Signal Regiments, Composite Signal Regiments and merger of Corps Operating and Engineering Signal Regiments.
  • Restructuring of repair echelons in the Army to include Base Workshops, Advance Base Workshops and Static/Station Workshops in the field Army.
  • Redeployment of Ordnance echelons to include Vehicle Depots, Ordnance Depots and Central Ordnance Depots apart from streamlining inventory control mechanisms.
  • Better utilization of Supply and Transport echelons and Animal Transport units.
  • Closure of Military Farms and Army postal establishments in peace locations.
  • Enhancement in standards for recruitment of clerical staff and drivers in the Army.
  • Improving the efficiency of the National Cadet Corps.
These reforms will be completed in all respects by 31 December 2019. Restructuring by the Indian Army is aimed at improving operational preparedness and civilians will be redeployed in different wings of the Armed Forces for improving efficiency.
 
 Q. 321. NITI Aayog: Ease of Doing Business Report
Ans.
NITI Aayog has relesed the Ease of Doing Business report based on an Enterprise Survey of 3,500 manufacturing firms across Indian states and union territories. The survey was conducted to assess the business regulations and enabling environment across India from firms’ perspective.

The major findings of this report are as follows:
  • Economic Performance and Reforms: higher level of economic activity and better performance on a range of doing business indicators are strongly correlated. Enterprises in high-growth states do not report major or very severe obstacles in: land/ construction re­lated approvals; environmental approvals and water and sanitation availability relative to enterprises in low-growth states.
  • Approval time: Newer and younger firms have reported a more favourable business environment in that they take less time in obtaining approvals than older firms. Newer firms include startups established after 2014.
  • Informational gaps: States need to enhance awareness of the steps being undertaken by them to the improve ease of doing business. There is very low awareness among enterprises about single window systems, instituted by states.
  • Labor regulations: are a big constraint for labor intensive firms. 19% more likely to report that finding skilled work­ers is a major or very severe obstacle.
  • Barriers to firm growth: large firms face more regulatory barriers than smaller firms.
 
 
 Q. 320. Mosses as pollution monitor
Ans.
  • Mosses are small flowerless plants that typically grow in dense green clumps or mats, often in damp or shady locations. The individual plants are usually composed of simple leaves that are generally only one cell thick, attached to a stem that may be branched or unbranched and has only a limited role in conducting water and nutrients. Bryophytes is a collective term for mosses, hornworts and liverworts.
  • According to a new research, mosses can be used to measure the impact of atmospheric change and could prove a low-cost way to monitor urban pollution.
  • Mosses which generally absorb water and nutrients from their immediate environments are often cheaper to use than other methods of environmental evaluation, and can also reflect changes to ecosystems.
  • The “bioindicator”, moss, responds to pollution or drought-stress by changing shape, density or disappearing. In this way it allows scientists to calculate atmospheric alterations. This method is very cost effective and important for getting information about atmospheric conditions.
  • Humid cities where moss thrives could benefit most from using it as a bioindicator. 
 
 Q. 319. Mentor India Campaign
Ans.
  • It is a strategic nation building initiative to engage leaders who can guide and mentor students at more than 900 Atal Tinkering Labs. These labs are established across the country as a part of the Atal Innovation Mission. The campaign will be launched by the NITI Aayog.
  • These labs are non-prescriptive by nature, and mentors are expected to be enablers rather than instructors.
  • Atal Tinkering Labs are dedicated works spaces where students from Class 6th to Class 12th learn innovation skills and develop ideas that will go on to transform India. The labs are powered to acquaint students with state-of-the-art equipment such as 3D printers, robotics & electronics development tools, Internet of things & sensors etc.
  • Atal Innovation Mission is among one of the flagship programs of the Government of India to promote innovation and entrepreneurship in the country to set up the Atal Tinkering Labs across the country. The Mission is in the process of setting up 900+ such labs across India and aims to have 2,000 such labs by end of 2017.
 
 Q. 318. National Health Policy 2017
Ans.
The main objective of the National Health Policy 2017 is to achieve the highest possible level of good health and well-being, through a preventive and promotive health care orientation in all developmental policies, and to achieve universal access to good quality health care services without anyone having to face financial hardship as a consequence.
  • Primary aim: The primary aim of the National Health Policy, 2017, is to inform, clarify, strengthen and prioritize the role of the Government in shaping health systems in all its dimensions- investment in health, organization and financing of healthcare services, prevention of diseases and promotion of good health through cross sectoral action, access to technologies, developing human resources, encouraging medical pluralism, building the knowledge base required for better health, financial protection strategies and regulation and progressive assurance for health. The policy emphasizes reorienting and strengthening the Public Health Institutions across the country, so as to provide universal access to free drugs, diagnostics and other essential healthcare.
  • Broad Principles: The broad principles of the policy is centered on Professionalism, Integrity and Ethics, Equity, Affordability, Universality, Patient Centered & Quality of Care, Accountability and pluralism.
  • Free services: In order to provide access and financial protection at secondary and tertiary care levels, the policy proposes free drugs, free diagnostics and free emergency care services in all public hospitals.
  • Private sector: The NHP, 2017 advocates a positive and proactive engagement with the private sector for critical gap filling towards achieving national goals. It envisages private sector collaboration for strategic purchasing, capacity building, skill development programmes, awareness generation, developing sustainable networks for community to strengthen mental health services, and disaster management. The policy also advocates financial and non-incentives for encouraging the private sector participation.
  • Resource allocation: The policy proposes raising public health expenditure to 2.5% of the GDP in a time bound manner. Policy envisages providing larger package of assured comprehensive primary health care through the Health and Wellness Centers'. This policy denotes important change from very selective to comprehensive primary health care package which includes geriatric health care, palliative care and rehabilitative care services. The policy advocates allocating major proportion (upto two-thirds or more) of resources to primary care followed by secondary and tertiary care. The policy aspires to provide at the district level most of the secondary care which is currently provided at a medical college hospital.
  • Affordability: It seeks to ensure improved access and affordability of quality secondary and tertiary care services through a combination of public hospitals and strategic purchasing in healthcare deficit areas from accredited non-­governmental healthcare providers, achieve significant reduction in out of pocket expenditure due to healthcare costs, reinforce trust in public healthcare system and influence operation and growth of private healthcare industry as well as medical technologies in alignment with public health goals.
  • Preventive healthcare: The policy affirms commitment to pre-emptive care (aimed at pre-empting the occurrence of diseases) to achieve optimum levels of child and adolescent health. The policy envisages school health programmes as a major focus area as also health and hygiene being made a part of the school curriculum.
  • AYUSH: In order to leverage the pluralistic health care legacy, the policy recommends mainstreaming the different health systems. Towards mainstreaming the potential of AYUSH the policy envisages better access to AYUSH remedies through co-location in public facilities. Yoga would also be introduced much more widely in school and work places as part of promotion of good health.
  • Key targets: Among key targets, the policy intends to increase life expectancy at birth from 67.5 to 70 by 2025 and reduce infant mortality rate to 28 by 2019. It also aims to reduce under five mortality to 23 by the year 2025. Besides, it intends to achieve the global 2020 HIV target.
The policy supports voluntary service in rural and under-served areas on pro-bono basis by recognized healthcare professionals under a 'giving back to society’ initiative. The policy advocates extensive deployment of digital tools for improving the efficiency and outcome of the healthcare system and proposes establishment of National Digital Health Authority (NDHA) to regulate, develop and deploy digital health across the continuum of care. The policy advocates a progressively incremental assurance based approach.
 
 Q. 317. What is Value Capture Financing (VCF)? Explain the components and working mechanism of Value Capture Financing (VCF)?
Ans.
About Value Capture Financing (VCF)
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:
i.Value creation: Public regulations, policies and investments lead to creation of value
ii.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
iii.Value capture: It involves the government and private owners agree to a sharing mechanism for the value captured
iv.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. 316. Gut microbes for drugs
Ans.
The human body is estimated to have about 35 trillion cells, and about two to three times as many microbial organisms. Most of them live in the gastrointestinal tract, which is home to around 3,000-4,000 species of bacteria, not including viruses and other life forms. Some are harmful and many are not.

Building on a growing, global scientific interest in the human microbiome — the colony of bacteria and microscopic forms that live in the gut, skin and other organs of the body — the CSIR-Institute of Microbial Technology, Chandigarh (IMTech), is working on a programme to tap its vast collection of microbial samples and develop therapeutic products or drugs.

Probiotics
  • Probiotics are live bacteria and yeasts that are good for health, especially thedigestive system.
  • Probiotics are often called "good" or "helpful" bacteria because they help keep the gut healthy.
  • Probiotics are naturally found in the body. It can also be found in some foods and supplements.
The global probiotics industry has already started using certain species of bacteria as healing or curative agents. Mother Dairy, Amul, Danone Yakult, and Nestle India are among the leading producers of probiotic functional foods and beverages in India.

How do Probiotics work?
  • When the body loses "good" bacteria from the body (like after taking antibiotics, for example), probiotics can help replace them.
  • They can help balance the "good" and "bad" bacteria to keep the body working like it should.
Types of Probiotics
  • Lactobacillus: This may be the most common probiotic. It’s the one found in yogurt and other fermented foods. Different strains can help with diarrhoea and may help with people who can’t digest lactose, the sugar in milk.
  • Bifidobacterium: It can also be found in some dairy products. It may help ease the symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) and some other conditions.
Burgeoning evidence
 On the other hand, burgeoning evidence suggests that atherosclerosis, obesity, intestinal problems, and many psychological disorders lead to distinct changes in the composition of bacteria in the gut. Restoring balance or teasing out how the by-products of these organisms lead to chemical changes that cause disease, is at the heart of this research.
 
 Q. 315. Micro Irrigation
Ans.
Investments into drip irrigation systems, while sizeable, appear to pay off quickly as farmers realise a sharp increase in yields, alongside more efficient water use. Drip irrigation is sometimes called trickle irrigation and involves dripping water onto the soil at very low rates (2-20 litres/hour) from a system of small diameter plastic pipes fitted with outlets called emitters or drippers. Water is applied close to plants so that only part of the soil in which the roots grow is wetted, unlike surface and sprinkler irrigation, which involves wetting the whole soil profile. With drip irrigation water, applications are more frequent (usually every 1-3 days) than with other methods and this provides a very favourable high moisture level in the soil in which plants can flourish.

Precision agriculture
Precision agriculture (PA) or satellite farming or site specific crop management (SSCM) is a farming management concept based on observing, measuring and responding to inter and intra-field variability in crops.

Precision agriculture aims to optimize field-level management with regard to:
  • crop science: by matching farming practices more closely to crop needs (e.g. fertilizer inputs);
  • environmental protection: by reducing environmental risks and footprint of farming (e.g. limiting leaching of nitrogen);
  • economics: by boosting competitiveness through more efficient practices (e.g. improved management of fertilizer usage and other inputs).
'Precision agriculture' seems to be the way out for the future.

Precision farming
  • “Precision agriculture” may be the only way to reduce agrarian water dependency, says the University of Agricultural Sciences-Bengaluru (UAS-B) which has demonstrated that water-intensive sugarcane can be cultivated using 40-50% lesser water through drip irrigation.
  • UAS-B will be testing these technologies, including sub-surface irrigation, on the fields of about 400 farmers for four years. Initial results show that yields have gone up by around 40%.
  • Though farmers were not keen on water conservation in the beginning, the series of drought and water shortage has seen their interest increase.
Mulching
Mulching is one of the simplest and most beneficial practices one can use in the garden. Mulch is simply a protective layer of a material that is spread on top of the soil. Mulches can either be organic -- such as grass clippings, straw, bark chips, and similar materials -- or inorganic -- such as stones, brick chips, and plastic. Both organic and inorganic mulches have numerous benefits:
  • Helps soil retain moisture in summer
  • Suppresses weed
  • Improves soil texture
  • Deters some pests
  • Protects plant roots from extreme temperatures
  • Encourages beneficial soil organisms
  • Provides a barrier for edible crops coming into contact with soil
Mulching: Costs and constraints
  • Given the constraints relating to water availability, farmers in Telangana had to opt for short duration crops such as tomato and chilli whose crop cycle lasts from about 60 to 120 days, depending on the variety transplanted.
  • The input cost is close to ₹80,000 per acre and a major portion of this is for the purchase of mulching sheets (close to ₹16,000 an acre), and labour charges.
  • Mulching sheets covering the drip system will ensure that there is no run off or evaporation besides bringing down incidence of pests. The drip put in place ensures that water is just sufficient to the particular variety sown is given.
Andhra Pradesh -  Rain guns
  • In Anantapur district of Andhra Pradesh, farm ponds are being combined with “rain guns,” which shoot harvested rainfall through a high-pressure jet into the air, and it lands on precious crops as natural rain would.
  • The State government opted for this innovation, wiser from the failed implementation of previous programmes under the Desert Development Programme. Those schemes concentrated primarily on creating check-dams to retain water. Today, the focus is on a systematic expansion of farm ponds.
  • The idea is that once the farm ponds are filled up by rains, the stored water could be used through rain guns or sprinklers to give protective wettings to the groundnut crop once or twice, during long dry spells, until the next rain spell takes over the task.
Micro irrigation movement underway
  • The vast stretches of land in drought-hit Prakasam district are barren, with one exception: the village of Chinnakothapalle, near Addanki, abutting the Hyderabad-Ongole expressway.
  • This village is an oasis in the rain shadow region as most of the 300 farmers here have adopted drip irrigation, even though their district was reeling under the impact of severe drought in all the 56 mandals.
Cost savings
  • Micro Irrigation (MI) system saved them around 40% of production costs and increased productivity by 20%, by allowing water to drip slowly to the root zone through a network of valves, pipes, and tubes.
  • As many as 188 farmers were provided with subsidised MI system to grow crops in about 400 acres. Rest of the eligible farmers will be covered before start of Kharif season.
NTR Jala Siri programme
The department proposes to bring more than 20,000 hectares into the MI system under the flagship NTR Jala Siri programme ('NTR Jala Siri' is the flagship programme of Govt. of Andhra Pradesh with NABARD and MGNREGS with a view to consolidate the gains made in the Land Development Project of the later programme and to ensure sustainable and comprehensive development of the land securing livelihoods. The project aims at providing assured source of irrigation to the 10 lakh acres of fallow and uncultivable land belonging to the 6 lakh SC/ST farmers of the state. This will act as a welfare measure in terms of enhancing the productivity of the lands thus maximizing their incomes.) in 2017-18.