Question and Answer :: SRIRAM'S IAS

 Q. 141. What does Rashtriya Mahila Kosh (RMK) do towards empowerment of women?
Rashtriya Mahila Kosh (RMK) was established by the Government of India in March, 1993 as an autonomous body under the Ministry of Women & Child Development. It was registered under the Societies Registration Act 1860. The aims and objectives of the Kosh are to undertake activities for the promotion of  credit as an instrument of socio-economic change and development through the provision of  package of financial and social development services,  to demonstrate and replicate participatory approaches in the organization of women's groups for effective utilization of credit resources leading to self-reliance, to promote and support experiments in the voluntary and formal sector using innovative methodologies,  to promote research, study, documentation and analysis, to promote the federation and net working of women's organisations for shaping & exchange of experience and information and to develop skills in response management & social mobilization, to promote and support the expansion of entrepreneurship skills among women, and promote and support grassroot level societies and organisations and other participatory structures for providing for women effective access to decision making.
 Q. 140. What is a Payment Bank?
Ans. Payments Banks are a new set of banks licensed by the Reserve Bank of India to further financial inclusion by enabling them to provide:
(i) Small savings/ current accounts below Rs. 1 lakh
(ii) Distribution of mutual funds, insurance products on a non-risk sharing basis and
(iii) Payments / remittance services to migrant labour workforce, low income households, small businesses, other unorganised sector entities and other users through high volume-low value transactions in deposits and payments / remittance services using a secured technology-driven environment including issuance of prepaid cards etc.
Salient features:
  • Payments Banks are differentiated or restricted banks.
  • The Payments Bank cannot set up subsidiaries to undertake non-banking financial services activities (hire purchase, leasing etc.) nor can it undertake lending business.
  • It may choose to become a banking correspondent (BC) of another bank for credit and other services which it cannot offer.
  • Since liquidity is the most important aspect required for such banks they will be bound by the reserve requirement rules of RBI (CRR, SLR etc.).
  • The minimum paid-up equity capital for payments banks shall be Rs. 100 crores.
  • The Payments Bank are proposed to be registered as a public limited company under the Companies Act, 2013, and licensed under Section 22 of the Banking Regulation Act, 1949.
The proposal for creating payments banks stemmed from the report of the Committee on Comprehensive Financial Services for Small Businesses and Low Income Households (Chairman: Dr. Nachiket Mor) submitted in January 2014.
Non-Banking Finance Companies (NBFCs), corporate Banking Correspondents (BCs), mobile telephone companies, super-market chains, companies, real sector cooperatives and public sector entities may apply to set up a Payments Bank. Even banks can take equity stake in a Payments Bank to the extent permitted under Section 19 (2) of the Banking Regulation Act, 1949. In pursuance to this, Department of Posts is launching India Post Payments Bank (IPPB) as a Public Limited Company with 100% Government of India (GOI) equity Payment Bank.
 Q. 139. Write a short note on India Post Payments Bank.
Ans. India Post Payments Bank (IPPB) will be set up as a public limited company under the Department of Posts with 100 per cent government equity.
A.     The total corpus of the payments bank is of Rs 800 crore, which will have Rs 400-crore equity and Rs 400-crore grant.
B.     A total of 650 branches of the postal payments bank would be established in India, which will be linked to rural post offices.
C.     India has 154,000 post offices, of which 139,000 are rural post offices. IPPB will obtain banking licence from the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) by March 2017 and by September 2017, all 650 branches of the postal payments bank would become operational.
D.    IPPB will offer demand deposits such as savings and current accounts upto a balance of Rs 1 Lac, digitally enabled payments and remittance services of all kinds between entities and individuals and also provide access to third party financial services such as insurance, mutual funds, pension, credit products, forex, and more, in partnership with insurance companies, mutual fund houses, pension providers, banks, international money transfer organisations, etc.
The four key features of IPPB are:
FINANCIAL LITERACY: Even a little saving can go a long way if channelized correctly. With trustworthy advice and services designed to include everybody, income can be invested correctly, more can be saved, and people can start moving forward, faster. IPPB aims to make India prosperous by ensuring that everyone has equal access to financial information and services, no matter who they are, what they earn and where they live.
STREAMLINING PAYMENTS: Beneficiaries can access income from government’s DBT programs like MNREGA wages, Social Security Pensions and scholarships, directly from their IPPB bank account with near zero friction. They can also pay their utility bills, fees for educational institutions and many more from the same IPPB account. It ensures that wherever they are, they can make the most of financial opportunities available to them.
FINANCIAL INCLUSION: Millions of Indians don’t have access to banking facilities. They cannot avail of government benefits, loans and insurance, and even interest on savings. IPPB will reach the un-banked and the under-banked across all cross sections of society and geographies. Services offered by IPPB will help them take the first step towards prosperity.
EASE OF ACCESSIBILITY: IPPB is powered by the very postmen who deliver our letters. With over 1.54 lac post offices across the country, India Post enjoys the trust of Indians everywhere. The postal delivery system will make IPPB, India’s most accessible banking network. IPPB will also offer services through internet and mobile banking, and prepaid instruments like mobile wallets, debit cards, ATMs, PoS and MPoS terminals etc.
What is Small Finance Bank (SFB)? Who can get the license? What are its salioent features?
The Small Finance Bank (SFB) is a private financial institution intended to further the objective of financial inclusion by primarily undertaking basic banking activities of acceptance of deposits and lending to un-served and underserved sections including small business units, small and marginal farmers, micro and small industries and unorganised sector entities, but without any restriction in the area of operations, unlike Regional Rural Banks or Local Area Banks.
Following are ligible to apply
a)     Resident individuals/professionals with 10 years of experience in banking and finance and companies and societies owned and controlled by residents,
b)     Existing Non-Banking Finance Companies (NBFCs), 
c)     Micro Finance Institutions (MFIs), and 
d)     Local Area Banks (LABs) that are owned and controlled by residents can also opt for conversion into small finance banks.
Salient Features:
The minimum capital for SFBs is prescribed at Rs. 100 crores. Foreign Investment is permitted as in the case of other private sector commercial banks.
They are subject to all prudential norms and regulations of RBI as applicable to existing commercial banks like maintenance of Cash Reserve Ratio (CRR) and Statutory Liquidity Ratio (SLR).
SFBs can undertake other non-risk sharing simple financial services activities, not requiring any commitment of own fund, such as distribution of mutual fund units, insurance products, pension products, etc. with the prior approval of the RBI.
The concept of small finance banks was also one of the recommendations in the 2009 Report - A Hundred Small Steps - of the Committee on Financial Sector Reforms headed by Dr. Raghu Ram Rajan. 
 Q. 138. Micro Units Development Refinance Agency (MUDRA) Bank
Ans. Micro Units Development Refinance Agency (MUDRA) Bank is a refinance institution for micro-finance institutions. As on date, MUDRA is conceived not only as a refinance institution and but also as a regulator for the micro finance institutions (MFIs).
The MUDRA Bank is primarily be responsible for –
1) Laying down policy guidelines for micro/small enterprise financing business
2) Registration, Regulation, Accreditation /rating of MFI entities
3) Laying down responsible financing practices to ward off indebtedness and ensure proper client protection principles and methods of recovery
4) Development of standardized set of covenants governing last mile lending to micro/small enterprises
5) Promoting right technology solutions for the last mile
6) Formulating and running a Credit Guarantee scheme for providing guarantees to the loans which are being extended to micro enterprises
7) Creating a good architecture of Last Mile Credit Delivery to micro businesses under the scheme of Pradhan Mantri Mudra Yojana.
Salient Features
  • MUDRA has a corpus of Rs. 20,000 crores made available from the shortfalls of Priority Sector Lending. In addition, there is a credit guarantee corpus of Rs. 3,000 crores for guaranteeing loans being provided to the micro enterprises.
  • MUDRA Bank will refinance Micro-Finance Institutions through a Pradhan Mantri Mudra Yojana.
  • MUDRA Bank operates through regional level financing institutions who in turn connect with last mile lenders such as Micro Finance Institutions (MFIs), Small Banks, Primary Credit Cooperative Societies, Self Help Groups (SHGs), NBFC (other than MFI) and such other lending institutions.
  • In lending, MUDRA gives priority to enterprises set up by the under-privileged sections of the society particularly those from the scheduled caste / tribe (SC/ST) groups, first generation entrepreneurs and existing small businesses. There are estimated to be some 5.77 crore small business units in India 62% of these are owned by SC/ST/OBC.
  • MUDRA Bank will be operationalised as a subsidiary of Small Industries Development Bank of India (SIDBI). 
 Q. 137. Swachh Swasth Sarvatra
Ans. Swachh Swasth Sarvatra is a joint initiative of the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare (MoHFW) and the Ministry of Drinking Water and Sanitation (MDWS) to achieve better health outcomes through improved sanitation and increased awareness and healthy lifestyles.
 Advancing from Swachh Bharat to Swasth Bharat is a natural step. Open Defecation Free (ODF) should not be limited to creation of infrastructure alone but it should also bring the positive change in the habits and mindsets of people. “Swachh Swasth Sarvatra” is a much needed programme to achieve open defecation-free India by 2019.
The three key components of Swachh Swasth Sarvatra are:
.Community Health Centres (CHCs) in ODF blocks supported to achieve Kayakalp certification.
.Gram Panchayat of Kayakalp Primary Health Centres (PHCs) prioritized to become ODF.
.Training in WASH (Water, Sanitation and Hygiene) of CHC/PHC nominees. 

In blocks, where through efforts of the MDWS and local community, open defecation has been eliminated, the MOHFW will provide the Community Health Centre (CHC), a grant of Rs. 10 lakhs to ensure that the facility achieves the quality benchmarks for sanitation, hygiene and infection control with a minimum score of 70 under the Kayakalp assessment.  Improved sanitation practices of the community are expected to complement the high level of sanitation and hygiene in the health care facility, and consequently reduce the disease burden related to water borne diseases.  
In the first phase, during 2017-18, the  CHCs located in or catering to population in the 700 blocks that have been declared ODF and Gram Panchayats/Nagar Panchayats within which the Kayakalp PHCs (one each in 670 districts) are located will be covered in the initiative. The envisaged activities will culminate in a process of certification by the end of the financial year. Such CHCs and PHCs would be designated as SwachhRatna CHC and SwachhRatna PHC. The scheme may be progressively extended to additional blocks and public health facilities.  
 Q. 136. First 2G (Second Generation) Ethanol Bio-refinery in India
Ans. What is Ethanol?
Ethanol fuel is ethyl alcohol, the same type of alcohol found in alcoholic beverages, used as fuel. It is most often used as a motor fuel, mainly as a biofuel additive for gasoline.
What is 2G Ethanol Bio-Refinery?
First generation biofuels are made from the sugars and vegetable oils found in arable crops, which can be easily extracted using conventional technology. In comparison, second generation biofuels are made from lignocellulosic biomass or woody crops, agricultural residues or waste, which makes it harder to extract the required fuel.
First 2G (Second Generation) Ethanol Bio-refinery in India to be set up at Bathinda (Punjab) with an approximate investment of Rs 600 crores.  Hindustan Petroleum Corporation Limited (HPCL), a Central Government Public Sector Undertaking, is setting up the project.
  The Government of India is encouraging production of Second Generation (2G) Ethanol from agricultural residues to provide additional sources of  remuneration to farmers, address the growing environmental concerns and support the Ethanol Blended Petrol (EBP) programme for achieving 10% Ethanol Blending in Petrol.
 The Bathinda Bio-refinery will be utilizing agriculture residues for production of 100 KL per day or 3.20 crore litres per annum of ethanol which may be sufficient to meet the 26% of the ethanol blending requirement of the State. The project shall also help in reducing CO2 emissions from the paddy straw which currently is being burnt after harvesting. One of the major outputs of this Bio-refinery shall be Bio-fertilizer approximating 30,000 tonnes per annum which shall be incorporated into the soil for improving soil fertility and overall productivity of farms in Punjab.
 Oil PSUs, in line with vision laid down by Government of India, are planning to set up twelve (12) 2G Ethanol Bio-refineries across 11 States viz. Punjab, Haryana, U.P., M.P, Bihar, Assam, Odisha, Gujarat, Maharashtra, Karnataka and A.P. The Bio-refinery at Bathinda is the first step towards achieving 10% blending of Ethanol in petrol. 
 Q. 135. Scheme for Agro-Marine Produce Processing and Development of Agro-clusters (SAMPADA)
Ans. Union Ministry of Food Processing Industries is taking steps to implement a new scheme, Scheme for Agro-Marine Produce Processing and Development of Agro-clusters (SAMPADA) for:
  • Overall development of food processing sector.
  • Providing enabling infrastructure.
  • Expanding processing and preservation capacities.
  • Controlled temperature logistics.
  • Backward and forward linkages.
SAMPADA will be with an allocation of Rs.6000 Crore for a period co-terminus with 14th finance commission.
 Q. 134. Sukanya Samriddhi Yojana
Ans. What is the scheme?
  • Sukanya Samriddhi Yojana (SSY) is a small deposit scheme for the girl child launched as a part of the 'Beti Bachao Beti Padhao' campaign.
  • It is currently (2016-17) fetching an interest rate of 9.1 per cent and provides income-tax rebate. 
  • A Sukanya Samriddhi Account can be opened any time after the birth of a girl till she turns 10, with a minimum deposit of Rs 1,000.
  • The account can be opened in any post office or authorised branches of commercial banks. 
  • The account will remain operative for 21 years from the date of its opening or till the marriage of the girl after she turns 18. To meet the requirement of her higher education expenses, partial withdrawal of 50 per cent of the balance is allowed after she turns 18. 

What are the rules for opening Sukanya Samriddhi Account? 
  • The account can be opened by the natural or legal guardian in the name of the girl from her birth till she turns 10. 
  • A depositor may open and operate only one account in the name of the girl child under these rules.
  • The birth certificate of the girl in whose name the account is opened should be submitted by the guardian at the time of the opening of the account in the post office or bank, along with other documents relating to identity and residence proof of the depositor. 
How much can be deposited in the account? 
  • The account can be opened with an initial deposit of Rs 1,000 and thereafter, any amount in multiple of Rs 100 can be deposited, subject to the condition that a minimum of Rs 1,000 will be deposited in a financial year, but the total money deposited in an account on a single occasion or on multiple occasions will not exceed Rs 1,50,000 in a financial year. 
What is the mode of deposit? 
  • The deposit in the account can be made in cash or by cheque or demand. 
  • Deposits may also be made through electronic means (e-transfers).

How is the interest rate on deposits calculated? 
The government fixes interest rates on quarterly basis based on the G-sec yields.
How does the account operate? 
The account is opened and operated by the natural or legal guardian of the girl child in her name till she turns 10. When she turns 10, the girl child can operate the account herself. However, deposit in the account may be made by the guardian or any other person or authority. 

Under what circumstances can the account be closed prematurely? 
  • In the event of death of the account holder, the account will be closed immediately on the production of a death certificate issued by the competent authority, and the balance in the account will be paid, along with the interest till the month preceding the month of the premature closure of the account, to the guardian of the account holder. 
  •  In any other case, a request for the premature closure of an SSY account can be put forward after the completion of five years of the account opening. This too will be allowed, as per the rules, on extreme compassionate grounds such as medical support in life-threatening diseases.
What are the rules for partial withdrawal? 
To meet the financial requirements of the account holder for the purpose of higher education and marriage, withdrawal of up to 50 per cent of the balance at the credit of the account at the end of preceding financial year is allowed. However, the withdrawal will be allowed only when the account holder turns 18. 
When will the account mature? 
The account matures on the completion of 21 years from the date of opening or whenever the girl child gets married, whichever is earlier, subject to the following: 
  • It is also provided that where the marriage of the account holder takes place before the completion of such period of 21 years, the operation of the account will not be permitted beyond the date of her marriage. 
  • If the account is closed before the completion of 21 years, the account holder will have to give an affidavit to the effect that she is not below 18 as on the date of closing of account.
Can the account be opened in the name of an NRI girl child? 
A girl child is eligible for an SSY account only if she is a resident Indian citizen when the account is opened, and remains so until the maturity or the closure of account. 
Non-resident Indians can no longer open an SSY account
What are the tax benefits available in the scheme? 
Currently, SSY offers the highest tax-free return with sovereign guarantee and comes with the exempt-exempt-exempt (EEE) status. The annual deposit (contributions) qualifies for Section 80C benefit and the maturity benefits are non-taxable. 
 Q. 133. Rubella, pneumonia now in vaccine cover
Ans. What is Rubella?
Rubella is an acute, contagious viral infection. While the illness is generally mild in children, it has serious consequences in pregnant women causing foetal death or congenital defects known as congenital rubella syndrome (CRS). The rubella virus is transmitted by airborne droplets when infected people sneeze or cough. Humans are the only known host.
What is pneumonia?
Pneumonia is a form of acute respiratory infection that affects the lungs. The lungs are made up of small sacs called alveoli, which fill with air when a healthy person breathes. When an individual has pneumonia, the alveoli are filled with pus and fluid, which makes breathing painful and limits oxygen intake. Pneumonia is the single largest infectious cause of death in children worldwide. 
Why these are in news?
Pushing forward in its drive against vaccine-preventable diseases, the government is set to introduce two new vaccines -against pneumonia and rubella -under its universal immunisation programme in early 2017.
The move assumes significance as it is expected to reduce deaths by almost 20-25% among children under five years of age. India's current under-five mortality rate is around 45 deaths per 1,000 live births.
While India has the highest number of pneumonia and diarrhoea deaths among children with nearly 3 lakh children dying in 2016, Rubella is considered a major reason behind the birth of children with deformities. Official estimates show pneumonia alone accounts for 8-10% of the under-five mortality.
Currently, the government's immunisation programme provides cover against around 10 vaccine preventable diseases. The fast ramping up of the programme along with its coverage has been acknowledged globally.
Diseases Protected by Vaccination under Immunization program: Diphtheria, Pertussis, Tetanus, Polio, Tuberculosis, Measles, Hepatitis B, Japanese Encephalitis (commonly known as brain fever), Meningitis and Pneumonia caused by Haemophilus Influenza type b.
 Q. 132. Darknet
What Is the Darknet?
It is sometimes confused with the deep web, a term that refers to all parts of the Internet which cannot be indexed by search engines and so can't be found through Google, Bing, Yahoo, and so forth. Experts believe that the deep web is hundreds of times larger than the surface web (i.e., the Internet you get to via browsers and search engines).
In fact, most of the deep web contains nothing sinister whatsoever. It includes large databases, libraries, and members-only websites that are not available to the general public. The dark web (or dark net) is a small part of the deep web. Its contents are not accessible through search engines, but it's something more: it is the anonymous Internet. Within the dark net, both web surfers and website publishers are entirely anonymous. Whilst large government agencies are theoretically able to track some people within this anonymous space, it is very difficult, requires a huge amount of resources, and isn't always successful.
Anonymous Communication
Darknet anonymity is usually achieved using an onion network. Normally, when accessing the pedestrian Internet, your computer directly accesses the server hosting the website you are visiting. In an onion network, this direct link is broken, and the data is instead bounced around a number of intermediaries before reaching its destination. The communication registers on the network, but the transport medium is prevented from knowing who is doing the communication.
Who Uses the Darknet?
Military, government, and law enforcement organisations are still amongst the main users of the hidden Internet. This is because ordinary internet browsing can reveal your location, and even if the content of your communications is well-encrypted, people can still easily see who is talking to whom and potentially where they are located. For soldiers and agents in the field, politicians conducting secret negotiations, and in many other circumstances, this presents an unacceptable security risk.
The darknet is also popular amongst journalists and political bloggers, especially those living in countries where censorship and political imprisonment are commonplace. Online anonymity allows these people, as well as whistleblowers and information-leakers, to communicate with sources and publish information freely without fear of retribution. The same anonymity can also be used by news readers to access information on the surface web which is normally blocked by national firewalls, such as the 'great firewall of China' which restricts which websites Chinese Internet users are able to visit.
Accessing the Darknet
The most popular way to do it is using a service called Tor (or TOR), which stands for The Onion Router. Although technically-savvy users can find a multitude of different ways to configure and use Tor, it can also be as simple as installing a new browser. The Tor browser can be used to surf the surface web anonymously, giving the user added protection against everything from hackers to government spying to corporate data collection. It also lets you visit websites published anonymously on the Tor network, which are inaccessible to people not using Tor. This is one of the largest and most popular sections of the darknet.
 Q. 131. Cyclone Global Navigation Satellite System (CYGNSS)
Ans. What is CYGNSS?
The Cyclone Global Navigation Satellite System (CYGNSS) is a space-based system developed by the University of Michigan and Southwest Research Institute with the aim of improving hurricane forecasting by better understanding the interactions between the sea and the air near the core of a storm.
 The Science of CYGNSS
The same GPS technology that helps people get where they're going in a car will soon be used in space to impact hurricane forecasting. The technology is a key capability in a NASA mission called the Cyclone Global Navigation Satellite System (CYGNSS).
The CYGNSS mission will use eight micro-satellites to measure wind speeds over Earth's oceans, increasing the ability of scientists to understand and predict hurricanes. Each satellite will take information based on the signals from four GPS satellites.
​CYGNSS is taking a novel approach to calculate wind speeds that both reduces the mission's cost and gathers more data as well.
Typically, measuring wind speed over the oceans from space uses a technique called scatterometry. A radar instrument aboard a satellite sends a signal to the ground, and measures the signal strength reflected back to it. Building both sending and receiving capabilities into a single instrument, however, is more expensive than the method being used on CYGNSS.
The CYGNSS satellites will only receive signals broadcast to them from GPS satellites already orbiting the Earth and the reflection of the same satellite’s signal reflected from the earth. The CYGNSS satellites themselves will not broadcast, that will result in significant cost savings.
Better coverage
The use of eight satellites will also increase the area on Earth that can be measured. The instruments will be deployed separately around the planet, with successive satellites passing over the same region every 12 minutes. As the CYGNSS and GPS constellations move around the earth, the interaction of the two systems will result in a  new image of wind speed over the entire tropics every few hours, compared to every few days  for a single satellite.
Another advantage – the CYGNSS orbit is designed to measure only in the tropics, where hurricanes are most often found. Traditional polar-orbiting  weather satellites measure the whole globe because they are trying to capture all types of data. The focus on tropical activity means the CYGNSS instruments will be able to gather that much more useful data on weather systems exclusively found in the tropics.
Science goal
The CYGNSS science goal is to understand the coupling between ocean surface properties, moist atmospheric thermodynamics, radiation, and convective dynamics in the inner core of a tropical cyclone. To achieve this goal, the system will measure ocean surface wind speed in all precipitating conditions, including those experienced in the eyewall. The mission will also measure ocean surface wind speed in the storm's inner core with sufficient frequency to resolve genesis and rapid intensification. As secondary goal, the project will support the operational hurricane forecast community by producing and providing ocean surface wind speed data products. 
 Q. 130. Take any two contemporary laws in India and show how the presence of their subject matter in the Concurrent List contributes to sound public policy.
India is a federal form of government and because labour is a subject in the Concurrent List of the Indian Constitution, labour matters are in the jurisdiction of both central and state governments. Both central and state governments have enacted laws on labour relations and employment issues. The advantages with placing a subject in the Concurrent List is that it has national orientation and at the same time has regional flexibility. While the federal law sets standards, states can have their own local variations. Thus, competitive federalism works well. For example, labour legislation. It may not be feasible  to liberalise the labour law for the whole country but states can do so if they have compelling advantages. Rajasthan government did it and was followed by the Madhya Pradesh government. Government of Rajasthan reformed  three labour laws: Industrial Disputes Act, 1947, the Contract Labour Act, 1970 and the Factories Act, 1947.

It attracts investment, creates jobs and prosperity. Similarly, Umnion Legislature enacted Right to Fair Compensation and Transparency in Land Acquisition, Rehabilitation and Resettlement Act, 2013. It protects land owners when they sell land for any public purpose. However, some states have resented rigidities. Tamil Nadu amended it to suit its own conditions in 2015. Thus, land acquisition being a Concurrent subject helps in making sound public policy at the national and state level.
 Q. 129. Global Land Ice Velocity Extraction project (GoLIVE)
Scientists have a new tool to systematically track the evolution of glaciers and ice sheets as the climate warms. The US$1-million system, which is funded by NASA and uses data from the Landsat 8 satellite will do that.

The Global Land Ice Velocity Extraction project (GoLIVE) is the first to provide scientists with regular, semi-automated measurements of ice movement across the entire world. Landsat covers the planet every 16 days, and by comparing landmarks and subtle features in ice from one image to another, researchers are able to trace the flow of ice over weeks, seasons and years.

Scientists have been using satellite imagery and radar to track the movement and evolution of glaciers from space for decades, but until now, doing so has required painstaking analysis. Advances in satellite technology, computer algorithms and processing power are now enabling them to expand their reach.

The goal is to understand how quickly glaciers and ice sheets will melt — and consequently how fast oceans will rise — as temperatures increase. Similar efforts to build a record of ice flow are underway for Greenland and Antarctica; these use data from multiple satellites, including visual imagery from Landsat 8 and the European Sentinel 1 satellites.

Eyes in the sky

But some scientists think that radar will ultimately prevail because, unlike visible-light satellite imagery, it can track ice through clouds and at night. This is particularly important in places such as Greenland and Antarctica, where the bulk of the world’s ice is shrouded in complete darkness for much of the winter.
 Q. 128. "Swasthya Raksha Programme"
Ans. Swasthya Rakshan Program has been launched by the AYUSH Ministry to promote health and health education in villages
 Aims and objectives:-
  1. To organize Swasthya Rakshan OPDs, Swasthya Parikshan Camps and Health/Hygiene awareness programme
  2. Awareness about cleanliness of domestic surroundings and environment.
  3. Provide medical aid/incidental support in the adopted Colonies/villages.
  4. Documentation of demographic information, food habits, hygiene conditions, seasons, lifestyle etc., incidence/prevalence of disease and their relation to the incidence of disease.
5.      Assessment of health status and propagation of Ayurvedic concepts.
 Q. 127. Unified Payments Interface (UPI)
Unified Payments Interface (UPI) is a system that powers multiple bank accounts into a single mobile application (of any participating bank), merging several banking features, seamless fund routing & merchant payments into one hood. It also caters to the “Peer to Peer” collect request which can be scheduled and paid as per requirement and convenience. UPI was launched by National Payments Corporation of India with Reserve Bank of India's (RBI) vision of migrating towards a 'less-cash' and more digital society. UPI is built on the Immediate Payment Service(IMPS) platform. Banks have started to upload their UPI enabled Apps on Google Play store from 25th August, 2016 onwards. 

How is it unique?
  1. Immediate money transfers through mobile device round the clock 24*7 and 365 days.
  2. Single mobile application for accessing different bank accounts
  3. Single Click 2 Factor Authentication – Aligned with the Regulatory guidelines, yet provides for a very strong feature of seamless single click payment.
  4. Virtual address of the customer for Pull & Push provides for incremental security with the customer not required to enter the details such as Card no, Account number; IFSC etc.
  5. Bill Sharing with friends.
  6. Best answer to Cash on Delivery hassle, running to an ATM or rendering exact amount.
  7. Merchant Payment with Single Application or In-App Payments.
  8. Scheduling PUSH and PULL Payments for various purposes.
  9. Utility Bill Payments, Over the Counter Payments, Barcode (Scan and Pay) based payments.
  10. Donations, Collections, Disbursements Scalable.
  11. Raising Complaint from Mobile App directly.
Benefits to the Ecosystem participants
Benefits for banks:
  1. Single click Two Factor authentication
  2. Universal Application for transaction
  3. Leveraging existing infrastructure
  4. Safer, Secured and Innovative
  5. Payment basis Single/ Unique Identifier
  6. Enable seamless merchant transactions
Benefits for end Customers:
  1. Round the clock availability
  2. Single application  for accessing different bank accounts
  3. Use of Virtual ID is more secure, no credential sharing
  4. Single click authentication
  5. Raise Complaint from Mobile App directly
Benefits for Merchants:
  1. Seamless fund collection from customers - single identifiers
  2. No risk of storing customer’s virtual address like in Cards
  3. Tap customers not having credit/debit cards
  4. Suitable for e-Com & m-Com transaction
  5. Resolves the COD collection problem
  6. Single click 2FA facility to the customer - seamless Pull
  7. In-App Payments (IAP)
 Q. 126. The Climate Change Performance Index 2017
Under the Paris Agreement, climate action was anchored in the context of international law. This requires countries to make their own unique contribution to the prevention of dangerous climate change. The next crucial step to follow this agreement is the rapid implementation by the signing parties of concrete measures to make their individual contributions to the global goal. For the past 12 years, the Climate Change Performance Index (CCPI) has been keeping track of countries’ efforts in combating climate change. The varying initial positions, interests and strategies of the numerous countries make it difficult to distinguish their strengths and weaknesses and the CCPI has been an important tool in contributing to a clearer understanding of national and international climate policy. India ranks 20th among 58 countries on the 2017 Climate Change Performance Index (CCPI). The index is released by Germanwatch, an independent German NGO and Climate Action Network Europe.

Highlights of 2017 CCPI 
  1. First three spots with rating “Very good” has been left blank.
  2. France is ranked 4th in the list.
  3. Saudi Arabia is the worst performer at 61st position.
  4. USA: 43; China 48
  5. Report points out , for a stable decarbonisation of the global energy sector, two components play a crucial role: A shift from fossil fuels to renewable energy and an increase in energy efficiency. In both of these areas, positive developments can already be observed.
 Q. 125. What is Brown Carbon (BrC)? Why it is in news?
Ans. Among the many contributors to climate change are aerosols in the atmosphere. These tiny particles suspended in the air come from many sources, some natural and some man-made. Some aerosols are organic (containing carbon), while others are inorganic. Most aerosols reflect sunlight, and some also absorb it. Many of these nanoparticles have severe health effects in addition to climate effects.

Black carbon  particles (a component of soot) originating from combustion processes have been known for some time to absorb sunlight and warm the atmosphere.
More recently, “brown carbon” (light-absorbing organic carbon) has attracted interest as a possible cause of climate change. This class of organic carbon, known for its light brownish color, absorbs strongly in the ultraviolet wavelengths and less significantly going into the visible. Types of brown carbon include tar materials from smoldering fires or coal combustion, breakdown products from biomass burning, a mixture of organic compounds emitted from soil, and volatile organic compounds given off by vegetation.
Brown carbon contributes +0.25 W m-2 or about 19% of the total atmospheric absorption by anthropogenic aerosols, while 72% is attributed to black carbon and 9% is due to the coating effect of sulfate and organic aerosols on black carbon. Brown carbon needs to be considered in global climate simulations.
A study of IIT Kanpur has highlighted that Brown Carbon has the potential to warm atmosphere by absorbing light. When compared to Black Carbon, Brown Carbon has 10 times more mass; Black Carbon has 50 times more absorption capacity than BrC. Both of them are absorbers, contributing in the warming of atmosphere. 
 Q. 124. What is Hyperloop? How does it work? What speeds are proposed?
Hyperloop is a proposed mode of passenger and freight transportation that propels a pod-like vehicle through a near-vacuum tube at airline speeds. The pods accelerate to cruising speed gradually using a linear electric motor and glide above their track using passive magnetic levitation or air bearings. The tubes can go above ground on columns or underground, eliminating the dangers of grade crossings. It is hoped that the system will be highly energy-efficient, quiet and autonomous. Tesla and SpaceX's Elon Musk has started the building revolution for this new train system dubbed Hyperloop. It will mean getting from LA to San Francisco in under 30 minutes.

It's based on the very high speed transit (VHST) system proposed in 1972 which combines a magnetic levitation train and a low pressure transit tube. It evolves some of the original ideas of VHST, but still uses tunnels and pods or capsules to move from place to place. One of the biggest problems with anything moving, is friction, both against surfaces and the environment the pod is moving through. Hyperloop proposes to move away from traditional wheels by using air bearings for pods instead. This will have the pod floating on air. It's similar to maglev in which the electromagnetic levitation of the train means there is no friction like a traditional train that runs on tracks. This is how current maglev trains can achieve super speeds, like the 500km/h maglev train in Japan. The Hyperloop will be built in tunnels that have had some of the air sucked out to lower the pressure. So, like high altitude flying, there's less resistance against the pod moving through the tunnel, meaning it can be much more energy efficient, something that's highly desirable in any transit system.

Hyperloop is being proposed as an alternative to short distance air travel, where the system will be much faster than existing rail networks and much cleaner that flight. Speeds of over 700mph are suggested for journeys, but there are practical implications that have to be considered on a short stop-start journey, such as the acceleration and deceleration sensation that passengers would go through. 
 Q. 123. The National Commission for Women was set up more than two decades ago with what objectives? Has it lived upto the promise?
Ans. The National Commission for Women was set up as statutory body in 1992 to:
  • review the Constitutional and Legal safeguards for women ;
  • recommend remedial legislative measures ;
  • facilitate redressal of grievances and
  • advise the Government on all policy matters affecting women.
In keeping with its mandate, the Commission initiated various steps to improve the status of women and worked for their economic empowerment during the year under report.  The Commission received a large number of complaints and acted suo-moto in several cases to provide speedy justice.  It took up the issue of child marriage, sponsored legal awareness programmes, Parivarik Mahila Lok Adalats and reviewed laws such as Dowry Prohibition Act, 1961, PNDT Act 1994, Indian Penal Code 1860 and the National Commission for Women Act, 1990 to make them more stringent and effective.  It organized workshops / consultations, constituted expert committees on economic empowerment of women, conducted workshops / seminars for gender awareness and took up publicity campaign against female foeticide, violence against women etc. in order to generate awareness in the society against these social evils.
The National Commission for Women (NCW) is a statutory body of the Government of India, concerned with advising the government on all policy matters affecting women. It was established in 1992.The objective of the NCW is to represent the rights of women in India and to provide a voice for their issues and concerns. The subjects of their campaigns have included dowry, politics, religion, equal representation for women in jobs, and the exploitation of women for labour. They have also discussed police abuses against women.
 Q. 122. Critically analyse the philosophy behind the no detention policy under the Right to Education. Is the dropping of the policy the right remedy for the deteriorating learning outcomes in the schools?
The Central Advisory Board for Education (CABE) recommended dropping no-detention policy. This controversial policy is widely being blamed for deteriorating learning levels across schools in India.

Section 16 of the RTE mandates that no child can be detained in a class until the completion of his/her elementary education. The corollary of this is continuous and comprehensive evaluation prescribed in Section 29 (h).It is aimed a progressive and holistic evaluation framework, enunciated in the National Policy on Education, 1986 and also the National Curriculum Framework, 2005. The reasons for NDP are: Examinations are often used for eliminating children who obtain poor marks. Once declared ‘fail’, children either repeat grade or leave the school altogether. Compelling a child to repeat a class is demotivating and discouraging.NDP and CCE are based on sound principles of pedagogy and assessment, recognised world-wide. They are thus a welcome change to the exam-centric culture prevalent in Indian schools. There are also very strong equity considerations behind the NDP policy, especially for children from low-income families, and girls. Failure for these children implies dropping out. Besides, research evidence indicates that detention of students by a year or more does not improve learning. Geeta Bhukkal Committee admits it.

However, after the RTE was enacted ,learning outcomes continued to dip, the NDP and CCE policies came under attack; students become lackadaisical as there is no longer a fear of failure, parents are no longer strict with their children, teachers are struggling to maintain discipline, attendance has dropped and so forth. Schools complained of poor performance in class IX because of students becoming used to automatic promotions. Geeta Bhukkal committee reported that no-detention demotivates students, and increases the burden on teachers.

However, poor learning outcomes are the product of many factors: stipulated pupil-teacher ratio (PTR) did not prevail; acute shortage of qualified teachers; Teacher training programmes must be revised in line with the requirements of CCE. These issues need to be addressed for learning outcomes and the blame should not be put at the doorstep of the NDP only.