Question and Answer :: SRIRAM'S IAS

 Q. 475. Public cloud policy
Ans.
Maharashtra has unveiled a public cloud policy, virtually mandating its departments to shift their data storage onto the cloud, which intends to make them available for free to the general public.The policy, a first by any State, will create a $2 billion opportunity for the industry.
The objective is to use public cloud in cases wherever the Right to Information Act is applicable, and then go in for enhanced security features for private and sensitive data, which will also be stored on the cloud. This will accelerate e-governance, and open an area for private sector investments, taking new technologies to all the departments as the government is the biggest data creator and consumer.
Once the policy is implemented and the data stored on the cloud, the access to the public cloud services will either be free or on a pay-per-usage model.
 
 Q. 474. Ayushman Bharat programme
Ans.
 
The Government has announced two major initiatives in health sector , as part of Ayushman Bharat programme. It is aimed at making path breaking interventions to address health holistically, in primary, secondary and tertiary care systems, covering both prevention and health promotion.
The initiatives are as follows:- 
(i) Health and Wellness Centre:- The National Health Policy, 2017 has envisioned Health and Wellness Centres as the foundation of India’s health system. Under this 1.5 lakh centres will bring health care system closer to the homes of people. These centres will provide comprehensive health care, including for non-communicable diseases and maternal and child health services.  These centres will also provide free essential drugs and diagnostic services. The Budget has allocated Rs.1200 crore for this flagship programme. Contribution of private sector through CSR and philanthropic institutions in adopting these centres is also envisaged.
(ii) National Health Protection Scheme:- The second flagship programme under Ayushman Bharat is National Health Protection Scheme, which will cover over 10 crore poor and vulnerable families (approximately 50 crore beneficiaries) providing coverage upto 5 lakh rupees per family per year for secondary and tertiary care hospitalization.  This will be the world’s largest government funded health care programme. Adequate funds will be provided for smooth implementation of this programme.
 
 Q. 473. SpaceX Falcon Heavy
Ans.
Falcon Heavy is a reusable super heavy-lift launch vehicle designed and manufactured by SpaceX. The Falcon Heavy (which was earlier described as the Falcon 9 Heavy) is a variant of the Falcon 9 vehicle and consists of a strengthened Falcon 9 rocket core with two additional Falcon 9 first stages as strap-on boosters. This increases the low Earth orbit (LEO) maximum payload to 63,800 kilograms (140,700 lb), compared to 22,800 kg (50,300 lb) for a Falcon 9 Full Thrust, 27,500 kg (60,600 lb) for the now-retired NASA Space Shuttle and 140,000 kg (310,000 lb) for the Saturn V. The Falcon Heavy is the world's 4th highest capacity rocket ever to be built, after Saturn V, Energia and N1, and the highest capacity rocket in current operation as of February 6, 2018, superseding the Delta IV Heavy payload by more than double. Falcon Heavy was designed from the outset to carry humans into space, including the Moon and Mars, although as of February 5, 2018, there are no plans to use Falcon Heavy for crewed missions; it will instead be devoted to payloads such as large satellites.
SpaceX successfully launched the Falcon Heavy on February 6, 2018. The dummy payload on its maiden flight was SpaceX founder Elon Musk's Tesla Roadster
 
 Q. 472. LI-FI
Ans.
Li-Fi
Light Fidelity or Li-Fi technology is a ground-breaking light-based communication technology, which makes use of light waves instead of radio technology to deliver data.
Li-Fi can compensate as the radio spectrum becomes overloaded
  • Using the visible light spectrum, Li-Fi technology can transmit data and unlock capacity which is 10,000 times greater than that available within the radio spectrum.
  • The visible light spectrum is plentiful, free and unlicensed, mitigating the radio frequency spectrum crunch effect.
How it works?
  • Li-Fi and Wi-Fi are quite similar as both transmit data electromagnetically. However, Wi-Fi uses radio waves while Li-Fi runs on visible light.
  • As we now know, Li-Fi is a Visible Light Communications (VLC) system. This means that it accommodates a photo-detector to receive light signals and a signal processing element to convert the data into 'stream-able' content.
  • An LED lightbulb is a semi-conductor light source meaning that the constant current of electricity supplied to an LED lightbulb can be dipped and dimmed, up and down at extremely high speeds, without being visible to the human eye.
  • For example, data is fed into an LED light bulb (with signal processing technology), it then sends data (embedded in its beam) at rapid speeds to the photo-detector (photodiode).
  • The tiny changes in the rapid dimming of LED bulbs is then converted by the 'receiver' into electrical signal.
  • The signal is then converted back into a binary data stream that we would recognise as web, video and audio applications that run on internet enables devices. 
Li-Fi vs Wi-Fi
  • While some may think that Li-Fi with its 224 gigabits per second leaves Wi-Fi in the dust, Li-Fi's exclusive use of visible light could halt a mass uptake. 
  • Li-Fi signals cannot pass through walls, so in order to enjoy full connectivity, capable LED bulbs will need to be placed throughout the home. Not to mention, Li-Fi requires the lightbulb is on at all times to provide connectivity, meaning that the lights will need to be on during the day.
  • What's more, where there is a lack of lightbulbs, there is a lack of Li-Fi internet so Li-Fi does take a hit when it comes to public Wi-Fi networks.
  • But it's not all doom and gloom! Due to its impressive speeds, Li-Fi could make a huge impact on the internet of things too, with data transferred at much higher levels with even more devices able to connect to one another.
  • What's more, due to its shorter range, Li-Fi is more secure than Wi-Fi and it's reported that embedded light beams reflected off a surface could still achieve 70 megabits per second.
The future internet
  • Li-Fi technology will in future enable faster, more reliable internet connections, even when the demand for data usage has outgrown the available supply from existing technologies such as 4G, LTE and Wi-Fi. It will not replace these technologies, but will work seamlessly alongside them.
  • Using light to deliver wireless internet will also allow connectivity in environments that do not currently readily support Wi-Fi, such as aircraft cabins, hospitals and hazardous environments.
  • Light is already used for data transmission in fibre-optic cables and for point to point links, but Li-Fi is a special and novel combination of technologies that allow it to be universally adopted for mobile ultra-high speed internet communications.
A dual use for LED lighting
  • The wide use of solid state lighting offers an opportunity for efficient dual use lighting and communication systems.
  • Innovation in LED and photon receiver technology has ensured the availability of suitable light transmitters and detectors, while advances in the modulation of communication signals for these types of components has been advanced through signal processing techniques, such as multiple-input-multiple-output (MIMO), to become as sophisticated as those used in mobile telecommunications.
 
 Q. 471. Inclusive Development Index
Ans.
The Inclusive Development Index (IDI) is an annual assessment of 103 countries’ economic performance that measures how countries perform on eleven dimensions of economic progress in addition to GDP. It has 3 pillars; growth and development; inclusion and; intergenerational equity – sustainable stewardship of natural and financial resources.
The IDI is a project of the World Economic Forum’s System Initiative on the Future of Economic Progress, which aims to inform and enable sustained and inclusive economic progress through deepened public-private cooperation through thought leadership and analysis, strategic dialogue and concrete cooperation, including by accelerating social impact through corporate action.
Norway tops the chart followed by Iceland and Luxemburg in advanced economies. Lithuania, Hungary, and Azerbaijan are the toppers among the emerging economies. India has been ranked 62 out of 74 emerging economies. Pakistan has been ranked 47, Sri Lanka is at 40, and Nepal at 22; Uganda (59) and Mali (60) are also higher on the index than India. This Inclusive Development Index has been developed as a new metric of national economic performance as an alternative to GDP.
 
 
 Q. 470. Microwaves
Ans.
Microwaves are a form of electromagnetic radiation with wavelengths ranging from one meter to one millimeter; with frequencies between 300 MHz (100 cm) and 300 GHz (0.1 cm). The prefix micro- in microwave is not meant to suggest a wavelength in the micrometer range. It indicates that microwaves are "small", compared to the radio waves used prior to microwave technology, in that they have shorter wavelengths. The boundaries between far infrared, terahertz radiation, microwaves, and ultra-high-frequency radio waves are fairly arbitrary and are used variously between different fields of study.
Microwaves travel by line-of-sight; unlike lower frequency radio waves they do not diffract around hills, follow the earth's surface as ground waves, or reflect from the ionosphere, so terrestrial microwave communication links are limited by the visual horizon to about 40 miles (64 km). At the high end of the band they are absorbed by gases in the atmosphere, limiting practical communication distances to around a kilometer.
Microwaves are extremely widely used in modern technology. They are used for point-to-point communication links, wireless networks, microwave radio relay networks, radar, satellite and spacecraft communication, medical diathermy and cancer treatment, remote sensing, radio astronomy, particle accelerators, spectroscopy, industrial heating, collision avoidance systems, garage door openers and keyless entry systems, and for cooking food in microwave ovens.
According to a recent study, Microwave use across the European Union (EU) emits as much carbon dioxide as nearly 7 million cars.
The factors under investigation were: climate change, depletion of natural resources and ecological toxicity. As per the study, the main environmental “hotspots” are materials used to manufacture microwaves, the manufacturing process and end-of-life waste management.
It found that, on average, one microwave uses 573 kilowatt hour (kWh) of electricity over its lifetime of eight years which is equivalent to the electricity consumed by a 7-watt LED light bulb, switched on continuously for almost nine years.
Efforts to reduce consumption should focus on improving consumer awareness and behaviour to use appliances more efficiently. Electricity consumption by microwaves can be reduced by adjusting the time of cooking to the type of food.
Waste is another major problem because due to their relative low cost and ease of manufacture, consumers are throwing more electrical and electronic (EE) equipment away than ever before, including microwaves.
 
 
 Q. 469. Cyber Surakshit Bharat
Ans.
Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MeitY), announced the Cyber Surakshit Bharat initiative in association with National e-Governance Division (NeGD) and industry partners.
  • It has been conceptualized with the mission to spread awareness about cybercrime and building capacity for safety measures for Chief Information Security Officers (CISOs) and frontline IT staff across all government departments. Cyber Surakshit Bharat will be operated on the three principles of Awareness, Education and Enablement.
  • It will include an awareness program on the importance of cybersecurity; a series of workshops on best practices and enablement of the officials with cybersecurity health tool kits to manage and mitigate cyber threats.
  • Cyber Surakshit Bharat is the first public-private partnership of its kind and will leverage the expertise of the IT industry in cybersecurity. The founding partners of the consortium are leading IT companies Microsoft, Intel, WIPRO, Redhat and Dimension Data. Additionally, knowledge partners include Cert-In, NIC, NASSCOM and the FIDO Alliance and premier consultancy firms Deloitte and EY.
With a billion plus mobile phone linked with a billion plus Aadhaar connections and a billion plus bank accounts Cyber Surakshit Bharat has the primary objective to keep data safe and protected.
 
 
 Q. 468. What is Sovereign Gold Bonds Scheme?
Ans.
The Government of India has launched the Sovereign Gold Bonds Scheme. Investors will get returns that are linked to gold price, the scheme offers the same benefits as physical gold. They can be used as collateral for loans and can be sold or traded on stock exchanges.
 
BENEFITS
  • The Sovereign Gold Bonds will be available both in demat and paper form.
  • The tenor of the bond is for a minimum of 8 years with option to exit in 5th, 6th and 7th years.
  • They will carry sovereign guarantee both on the capital invested and the interest.
  • Bonds can be used as collateral for loans.
  • Bonds would be allowed to be traded on exchanges to allow early exits for investors who may so desire.
  • Further, bonds would be allowed to be traded on exchanges to allow early exits for investors who may so desire.
  • Capital gain tax arising on redemption of SGB to an individual has been exempted. The indexation benefit will be provided to LTCG arising to any person on transfer of bonds. The department of revenue has said that they will consider indexation benefit if bond is transferred before maturity and complete capital gains tax exemption at the time of redemption
HOW TO IT?
Sovereign Gold Bonds will be issued on payment of rupees and denominated in grams of gold. Minimum investment in the bond shall be 1 gram. The bonds can be bought by Indian residents or entities and is capped at 500 grams.
WHERE TO BUY?
Investors can apply for the bonds through scheduled commercial banks and designated post offices. NBFCs, National Saving Certificate (NSC) agents and others, can act as agents. They would be authorised to collect the application form and submit in banks and post offices.
BSE and NSE are included as receiving offices, apart from the commercial banks, SHCIL, designated post offices
WHO IS ISSUING THE BONDS?
The Bonds are issued by the Reserve Bank of India on behalf of the Government of India. The bonds are distributed through banks and designated post offices. This should make subscribing to the bonds an easy affair. During redemption, "the price of gold may be taken from the reference rate, as decided, and the Rupee equivalent amount may be converted at the RBI Reference rate on issue and redemption".
 
 Q. 467. Rocket Lab
Ans. A U.S. space startup has become the first ever private company to successfully send satellites into orbit without the help of a government agency. The launch has paved the way for a “new era” of commercial access to space.
Rocket Lab is headquartered in Los Angeles. It deployed three satellites on only the second test launch of its Electron orbital launch vehicle, Still Testing.
As more private companies enter the space industry, the cost of rocket launches and sending satellites into orbit will be drastically reduced. Other private space firms include Elon Musk’s SpaceX, Richard Branson’s Virgin Galactic, and Blue Origin, headed by Amazon founder Jeff Bezos.
 
 
 Q. 466. Schemes for Minorities
Ans. Schemes for Minorities
 
•             Nai Manzil Scheme is an integrated Education and Livelihood Initiative for the Minority Communities. The scheme aims to benefit the minority youths who are school-dropouts or educated in the community education institutions like Madrasas, by providing them an integral input of formal education (up till Class VIII or X) and skill training along with certification. This will enable them to seek better employment in the organised sector and equipping them with better lives. The scheme covers the entire country.
•             The Ministry of Minority Affairs has started implementation of a scheme “Nai Roshni” for Leadership Development of Minority Women from 2012-13. The scheme aims to empower and instil confidence among minority women by providing knowledge, tools and techniques for interacting with Government systems, Banks and other institutions at all levels. The scheme is implemented through Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs).
•             Jiyo Parsi is a new scheme for containing population decline of Parsis in India. Its objective is to reverse the declining trend of Parsi population by adopting a scientific protocol and structured interventions to stabilize their population and increase the population of Parsis in India.
•             USTTAD (Upgrading the Skills and Training in Traditional Arts/Crafts for Development): The scheme has been launched to preserve rich heritage of traditional arts/crafts of minorities and build capacity of traditional artisans/craftsmen. The scheme will also establish linkages of traditional arts/crafts with the national and international market and ensure dignity of labour. The scheme, which will be funded by the Central Government, will prepare skilled and unskilled artisans and craftsmen to compete with big companies.
•             Preservation of Rich Heritage:  --Ministry launched a new scheme “Hamari Dharohar” in 2014-15 to preserve the rich heritage of minority communities of India. The scheme aims at curating iconic exhibitions, supporting calligraphy, preservation of old documents, research and development, etc.
•             Maulana Azad National Fellowship For Minority Students: -The objective of the Fellowship is to provide integrated five year fellowships in the form of financial assistance to minority students to pursue higher studies such as M.Phil and Ph.D. The Fellowship covers all Universities/Institutions recognized by the University Grants Commission (UGC). 30% of the scholarships are earmarked for girl students.
•             Padho Pardesh-scheme of interest subsidy on educational loans for overseas studies for the students belonging to the Minority communities. This is a Central Sector Scheme to provide Interest Subsidy to Meritorious Students belonging to economically weaker sections of notified Minority Communities so as to provide them better opportunities for higher education abroad and enhance their employability to pursue study in courses approved in the Scheme.
•             Maulana Azad National academy for Skills (MANAS) was established under the aegis of Ministry of Minority Affairs (MOMA) by National Minorities Development and Finance Corporation (NMDFC) on 11th November, 2014, in order to fulfil the vision of “Skill India” and also achieve the over-riding goal of the Government of India “SabkaSaath – SabkaVikas”. MANAS provides an institutional arrangement to meet all Skill Development/Up-gradation needs of the Minority communities in the country. A Special Purpose Vehicle (SPV), MANAS comprises of an extensive All India Level, Training Framework based on Collaboration (PPP mode) with leading and reputed Training Providers at National/ International level, in the country.
•             Nai Udaan Scheme: under which free coaching is given to the minority students through empanelled coaching institutions/ organisations for preparation of various entrance examinations including prelims examinations for recruitment to Group ‘A’, ‘B’ and ‘C’ services and other equivalent  posts  under  the  Central  and  State  Governments  including  public  sector undertakings, banks, insurance companies etc. Under the said scheme stipend of Rs. 1500 per month and Rs. 3000/- per month is provided to the local and outstation students respectively.
 
 Q. 465. What is nuclear fusion?
Ans. 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. 464. Sovereign Gold Bonds 2017-18-Series-III
Ans.
Sovereign Gold Bonds 2017-18 – Series-III
Government of India will issue Sovereign Gold Bonds 2017-18 – Series-III. The Bonds will be sold through banks, Stock Holding Corporation of India Limited (SHCIL), designated post offices and recognised stock exchanges viz., National Stock Exchange of India Limited and Bombay Stock Exchange.
  • Issuance: To be issued by Reserve Bank India on behalf of the Government of India.
  • Eligibility: The Bonds will be restricted for sale to resident Indian entities including individuals, HUFs, Trusts, Universities and Charitable Institutions.
  • Denomination: The Bonds will be denominated in multiples of gram(s) of gold with a basic unit of 1 gram.
  • Tenor: The tenor of the Bond will be for a period of 8 years with exit option from 5th year to be exercised on the interest payment dates.
  • Minimum size: Minimum permissible investment will be 1 gram of gold.
  • Maximum limit: The maximum limit of subscribed shall be 4 KG for individual, 4 Kg for HUF and 20 Kg for trusts and similar entities per fiscal (April-March) notified by the Government from time to time.  A self-declaration to this effect will be obtained.  The annual ceiling will include bonds subscribed under different tranches during initial issuance by Government and those purchase from the Secondary Market.
  • Issue price: Price of Bond will be fixed in Indian Rupees on the basis of simple average of closing price of gold of 999 purity published by the India Bullion and Jewellers Association Limited for the last 3 business days of the week preceding the subscription period. The issue price of the Gold Bonds will be ` 50 per gram less for those who subscribe online and pay through digital mode.
  • Redemption price: The redemption price will be in Indian Rupees based on simple average of closing price of gold of 999 purity of previous 3 business days published by IBJA.
  • Tax treatment: The interest on Gold Bonds shall be taxable as per the provision of Income Tax Act, 1961 (43 of 1961). The capital gains tax arising on redemption of SGB to an individual has been exempted. The indexation benefits will be provided to long term capital gains arising to any person on transfer of bond
  • Tradability: Bonds will be tradable on stock exchanges within a fortnight of the issuance on a date as notified by the RBI.
  • SLR eligibility: The Bonds will be eligible for Statutory Liquidity Ratio purposes.
 
 Q. 463. 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. 462. Geo Tagging
Ans.
Geo Tagging
  • It is the process of adding geographical identification like latitude and longitude to various media such as a photo or video. 
  • Geotagging can help users find a wide variety of location-specific information from a device.
  • It provides users the location of the content of a given picture.
  • Geomapping is a visual representation of the geographical location of geotagged assets layered on top of map or satellite imagery
Why is Geotagging important?
  • Several assets are created in the states under various schemes of the Ministry of Agriculture.  Under Rashtriya Krishi Vikas Yojana (RKVY) also, states have been utilising substantial amount of funds for creation of infrastructure/assets in agriculture and allied sectors such as soil testing labs, pesticide testing labs, bio fertiliser setting units, custom hiring centres, vaccine production units, veterinary diagnosis labs., dispensaries, milk collection centres, fish production units, godowns, cold storage, shade nets, pandals for vegetable cultivation   etc. Monitoring of such wide spread activities is of paramount importance to states and Government of India to understand flow of funds, inventorising the assets, bringing in transparency, planning of assets for future, and finally informing the farmers about the facilities available.
  • Geotagging for monitoring of assets has already started in Ministry of Rural Development for MGNREGA and Department of Land Resources for monitoring of watershed activities in the states. Postal department has also geotagged the post offices using NRSC Bhuvan Platform.
Which agency does it?
National Remote Sensing Agency (NRSA), ISRO at Hyderabad. This centre of ISRO has a software platform, Bhuvan that allows users to explore a 2D/3D representation of the surface of the Earth. It also acts as a platform for hosting government data.
Application
  • The assets created under RKVY could be monitored by Geotagging them using BHUVAN. In future, the location of the infrastructure created and distances from each other could also be utilised for arriving at distribution of assets and optimum number of that particular asset required in a district or state.  The process involves development of a mobile app for mapping the assets through photographs and Geo-tagging (providing geo co-ordinates) before hosting on to DAC –RKVY platform that would be specially created for RKVY monitoring.
  • Geo-tagging exercise is a national level initiative involving linking ISRO-Bhuvan with "NREGA-Soft" interface operated under DoRD by National Informatics Centre (NIC). This has to be established within a very limited time-line, which will enable access to all state implementing departments. Database of completed assets residing on "NREGA-Soft" will be pushed to Bhuvan, which in turn will be served to each data collector under Gram Panchayats. Collected data will be moderated for quality level through approved authorities at block level to ensure the precise information for online visualization. Bhuvan can facilitate a complete geographic information storage, retrieval, analysis and reporting for completed assets, with a high resolution backdrop of Indian Remote sensing Satellite (IRS) natural color images.
 
 Q. 461. National Rural Drinking Water Programme
Ans.
National Rural Drinking Water Programme
Recently, the Union Cabinet has accorded its approval for continuation and restructuring of National Rural Drinking Water Programme (NRDWP). The revamping is aimed to make it outcome-based, competitive and better monitored with increased focus on sustainability (functionality) of schemes to ensure good quality service delivery to the rural population.

Restructuring
  • A sum of Rs. 23,050 crore has been approved for the programme for the Fourteenth Finance Commission (FFC) period 2017-18 to 2019-20. 
  • The programme will cover all the Rural Population across the country.
  • The restructuring will make the programme flexible, result-oriented, competitive, and will enable the Ministry towards to reach the goal of increasing coverage of sustainable Piped Water Supply.
  • National Rural Drinking Water Programme (NRDWP) is to be continued co-terminus with the 14th Finance Commission cycle till March 2020.
  • There will be 2% earmarking of funds for Japanese Encephalitis (JE) /Acute Encephalitis Syndrome (AES) affected areas.
  • A new Sub-programme under NRDWP viz. National Water Quality Sub-Mission (NWQSM) which has been started by the Ministry  of Drinking Water and Sanitation will address the urgent need for providing clean drinking water in about 28000 Arsenic & Fluoride affected habitations.
NRDWP
  • The NRDWP was started in 2009, with a major emphasis on ensuring sustainability (source) of water availability in terms of potability, adequacy, convenience, affordability and equity.
  • NRDWP is a Centrally Sponsored Scheme with 50:50 fund sharing between the Centre and the States.
 
 Q. 460. ASTROSAT
Ans.
ASTROSAT
Recently AstroSat, India's multi-wavelength space telescope, had measured the X-ray polarisation of the Crab pulsar (star) in the Taurus constellation. The telescope measured the variations of polarisation as the magnetised object (pulsar) spins 30 times per second. Taurus is the second astrological sign in the present zodiac. It spans the 30-60th degree of the zodiac.

Astrosat                 
Astrosat is India's first dedicated multi-wavelength space observatory. It was launched on a PSLV-XL in 2015. Astrosat is a proposal-driven general purpose observatory, with main scientific focus on:
  • Simultaneous multi-wavelength monitoring of intensity variations in a broad range of cosmic sources
  • Monitoring the X-ray sky for new transients
  • Sky surveys in the hard X-ray and UV bands
  • Broadband spectroscopic studies of X-ray binaries, AGN, SNRs, clusters of galaxies, and stellar coronae
  • Studies of periodic and non-periodic variability of X-ray sources
Astrosat performs multi-wavelength observations covering spectral bands from radio, optical, IR, UV, and X-ray wavelengths.  The observatory will also carry out:
  • Low- to moderate-resolution spectroscopy over a wide energy band with the primary emphasis on studies of X-ray-emitting objects
  • Timing studies of periodic and aperiodic phenomena in X-ray binaries
  • Studies of pulsations in X-ray pulsars
  • Quasi-periodic oscillations, flickering, flaring, and other variations in X-ray binaries
  • Short- and long-term intensity variations in active galactic nuclei
  • Time-lag studies in low/hard X-rays and UV/optical radiation
  • Detection and study of X-ray transients.
Pulsar
A pulsar is a highly magnetized, rotating neutron star or white dwarf, that emits a beam of electromagnetic radiation. This radiation can be observed only when the beam of emission is pointing toward Earth and is responsible for the pulsed appearance of emission. Neutron stars are very dense, and have short, regular rotational periods. This produces a very precise interval between pulses that range from milliseconds to seconds for an individual pulsar. Pulsars are believed to be one of the candidates of the observed ultra-high-energy cosmic rays (see also Centrifugal mechanism of acceleration).

Neutron Star
A neutron star is the collapsed core of a large star which before collapse had a total of between 10 and 29 solar masses. Neutron stars are the smallest and densest stars known to exist. Though neutron stars typically have a radius on the order of 10 kilometres (6.2 mi), they can have masses of about twice that of the Sun. They result from the supernova explosion of a massive star, combined with gravitational collapse, that compresses the core past the white dwarf star density to that of atomic nuclei. Once formed, they no longer actively generate heat, and cool over time; however, they may still evolve further through collision or accretion. Most of the neutron stars are composed almost entirely of neutrons (subatomic particles with no net electrical charge and with slightly larger mass than protons); the electrons and protons present in normal matter combine to produce neutrons at the conditions in a neutron star.
 
 Q. 459. Ramayana and Krishna Circuits
Ans.
Ramayana and Krishna Circuits
Ramayana Circuit and Krishna Circuit are among the thirteen thematic circuits identified for development under Swadesh Darshan Scheme. 
Ministry of Tourism had initially identified fifteen destinations for development under the Ramayana Circuit theme namely Ayodhya, Nandigram, Shringverpur & Chitrakoot (Uttar Pradesh), Sitamarhi, Buxar & Darbhanga (Bihar), Chitrakoot (Madhya Pradesh), Mahendragiri (Odisha), Jagdalpur (Chattisgarh), Nashik & Nagpur (Maharashtra), Bhadrachalam (Telangana), Hampi (Karnataka) and Rameshwaram (Tamil Nadu).
Similarly, twelve destinations have been identified for development under Krishna circuit namely Dwarka (Gujarat), Nathdwara, Jaipur & Sikar (Rajasthan), Kurukshetra (Haryana), Mathura, Vrindavan, Gokul, Barsana, Nandgaon & Govardhan (Uttar Pradesh) and Puri (Odisha).
Ministry of Tourism, Government of India has launched ‘Swadesh Darshan’ scheme to fund development of theme based tourism circuits in India. These tourist circuits will be developed on the principles of high tourist value, competitiveness and sustainability in an integrated manner. Under the Swadesh Darshan scheme, thirteen thematic circuits have been identified, for development namely: North-East India Circuit, Buddhist Circuit, Himalayan Circuit, Coastal Circuit, Krishna Circuit, Desert Circuit, Tribal Circuit, Eco Circuit, Wildlife Circuit, Rural Circuit, Spiritual Circuit, Ramayana Circuit and Heritage Circuit.
 
 Q. 458. SPARSH
Ans.
Minister of Communications has launched a Pan India scholarship program for school children called Deen Dayal SPARSH Yojana to increase the reach of Philately. Under the scheme of SPARSH (Scholarship for Promotion of Aptitude & Research in Stamps as a Hobby), it is proposed to award annual scholarships to children of Standard VI to IX having good academic record and also pursuing Philately as a hobby through a competitive selection process in all postal circles. Under the scheme, it is proposed to award 920 scholarships to students pursuing Philately as a hobby.  Every Postal Circle will select a maximum of 40 scholarships representing 10 students each from Standard VI, VII, VIII & IX. The amount of Scholarship will be Rs. 6000/- per annum @ Rs. 500/- per month.
To avail this scholarship, a child must be a student of a recognized school within India and the concerned school should have a Philately Club and the candidate should be a member of the Club. In case the school Philately Club hasn’t been established a student having his own Philately Deposit Account will also be considered. Every prospective school, which participates in the competition, would be assigned a Philately mentor to be chosen from amongst the renowned Philatelists. The Philately mentor would help in formation of the School Level Philately Club, providing guidance to young and aspiring Philatelists on how to pursue the hobby and also helping the aspiring Philatelists on their Philately Projects etc.
Philately is the hobby of collection and study of Postage stamps. It also entails the collection, appreciation and research activities on stamps and other related philatelic products. The hobby of collecting Stamps includes seeking, locating, acquiring, organizing, cataloguing, displaying, storing, and maintaining the stamps or related products on thematic areas. Philately is called the king of hobbies because Stamp collection as a hobby has lot of educational benefits - it teaches a lot about the socio economic political reality of the period in which the stamp is issued or the theme on which it is issued.
 
 Q. 457. Goods and Services Tax
Ans.
Goods and Services Tax
Question 1. What is GST? How does it work?
Answer:
  • GST is one indirect tax for the whole nation, which will make India one unified common market.
  • GST is a single tax on the supply of goods and services, right from the manufacturer to the consumer. Credits of input taxes paid at each stage will be available in the subsequent stage of value addition, which makes GST essentially a tax only on value addition at each stage.
  • The final consumer will thus bear only the GST charged by the last dealer in the supply chain, with set-off benefits at all the previous stages.
 
Question 2. What are the benefits of GST?
Answer: The benefits of GST can be summarized as under:
  1. For business and industry
  • Easy compliance: A robust and comprehensive IT system would be the foundation of the GST regime in India. Therefore, all tax payer services such as registrations, returns, payments, etc. would be available to the taxpayers online, which would make compliance easy and transparent.
  • Uniformity of tax rates and structures: GST will ensure that indirect tax rates and structures are common across the country, thereby increasing certainty and ease of doing business. In other words, GST would make doing business in the country tax neutral, irrespective of the choice of place of doing business.
  • Removal of cascading: A system of seamless tax-credits throughout the value-chain, and across boundaries of States, would ensure that there is minimal cascading of taxes. This would reduce hidden costs of doing business.
  • Improved competitiveness: Reduction in transaction costs of doing business would eventually lead to an improved competitiveness for the trade and industry.
  • Gain to manufacturers and exporters: The subsuming of major Central and State taxes in GST, complete and comprehensive set-off of input goods and services and phasing out of Central Sales Tax (CST) would reduce the cost of locally manufactured goods and services. This will increase the competitiveness of Indian goods and services in the international market and give boost to Indian exports. The uniformity in tax rates and procedures across the country will also go a long way in reducing the compliance cost.
  1. For Central and State Governments
  • Simple and easy to administer: Multiple indirect taxes at the Central and State levels are being replaced by GST. Backed with a robust end-to-end IT system, GST would be simpler and easier to administer than all other indirect taxes of the Centre and State levied so far.
  • Better controls on leakage:  GST will result in better tax compliance due to a robust IT infrastructure. Due to the seamless transfer of input tax credit from one stage to another in the chain of value addition, there is an in-built mechanism in the design of GST that would incentivize tax compliance by traders.
  • Higher revenue efficiency: GST is expected to decrease the cost of collection of tax revenues of the Government, and will therefore, lead to higher revenue efficiency.
  1. For the consumer
  • Single and transparent tax proportionate to the value of goods and services:  Due to multiple indirect taxes being levied by the Centre and State, with incomplete or no input tax credits available at progressive stages of value addition, the cost of most goods and services in the country today are laden with many hidden taxes. Under GST, there would be only one tax from the manufacturer to the consumer, leading to transparency of taxes paid to the final consumer.
  • Relief in overall tax burden: Because of efficiency gains and prevention of leakages, the overall tax burden on most commodities will come down, which will benefit consumers.
 
Question 3. Which taxes at the Centre and State level are being subsumed into GST?
Answer:
At the Central level, the following taxes are being subsumed:
1. Central Excise Duty,
2. Additional Excise Duty,
3. Service Tax,
4. Additional Customs Duty commonly known as Countervailing Duty, and
5. Special Additional Duty of Customs.
At the State level, the following taxes are being subsumed:
1. Subsuming of State Value Added Tax/Sales Tax,
2. Entertainment Tax (other than the tax levied by the local bodies), Central Sales Tax (levied by the Centre and collected by the States),
3. Octroi and Entry tax,
4. Purchase Tax,
5. Luxury tax, and
6. Taxes on lottery, betting and gambling.
 
Question 4. How would GST be administered in India?
Answer: Keeping in mind the federal structure of India, there will be two components of GST — Central GST (CGST) and State GST (SGST).
  • Both Centre and States will simultaneously levy GST across the value chain.
  • Tax will be levied on every supply of goods and services.
  • Centre would levy and collect Central Goods and Services Tax (CGST), and
  • States would levy and collect the State Goods and Services Tax (SGST) on all transactions within a State.
  • The input tax credit of CGST would be available for discharging the CGST liability on the output at each stage.
  • Similarly, the credit of SGST paid on inputs would be allowed for paying the SGST on output. No cross utilization of credit would be permitted.
Question 5. How would a particular transaction of goods and services be taxed simultaneously under Central GST (CGST) and State GST (SGST)?
Answer: The Central GST and the State GST would be levied simultaneously on every transaction of supply of goods and services except on exempted goods and services, goods which are outside the purview of GST and the transactions which are below the prescribed threshold limits. Further, both would be levied on the same price or value unlike State VAT which is levied on the value of the goods inclusive of Central Excise.
 
Question 6. How will be Inter-State Transactions of Goods and Services be taxed under GST in terms of IGST method?
Answer:
  • In case of inter-State transactions, the Centre would levy and collect the Integrated Goods and Services Tax (IGST) on all inter-State supplies of goods and services under Article 269A (1) of the Constitution.
  • The IGST would roughly be equal to CGST plus SGST.
  • The IGST mechanism has been designed to ensure seamless flow of input tax credit from one State to another.
  • The inter-State seller would pay IGST on the sale of his goods to the Central Government after adjusting credit of IGST, CGST and SGST on his purchases (in that order). The exporting State will transfer to the Centre the credit of SGST used in payment of IGST. The importing dealer will claim credit of IGST while discharging his output tax liability (both CGST and SGST) in his own State. The Centre will transfer to the importing State the credit of IGST used in payment of SGST. Since GST is a destination-based tax, all SGST on the final product will ordinarily accrue to the consuming State.
 
Question 7. How will IT be used for the implementation of GST?
Answer:
  • For the implementation of GST in the country, the Central and State Governments have jointly registered Goods and Services Tax Network (GSTN) as a not-for-profit, non-Government Company to provide shared IT infrastructure and services to Central and State Governments, tax payers and other stakeholders.
  • The key objectives of GSTN are to provide a standard and uniform interface to the taxpayers, and shared infrastructure and services to Central and State/UT governments.
  • All States, accounting authorities, RBI and banks, are also preparing their IT infrastructure for the administration of GST.
  • There would no manual filing of returns. All taxes can also be paid online.
 
Question 8. How will imports be taxed under GST?
Answer: The Additional Duty of Excise or CVD and the Special Additional Duty or SAD presently being levied on imports will be subsumed under GST. As per explanation to clause (1) of article 269A of the Constitution, IGST will be levied on all imports into the territory of India. Unlike in the present regime, the States where imported goods are consumed will now gain their share from this IGST paid on imported goods.
 
Question 9. What are the major features of the Constitution (122nd Amendment) Bill, 2014?
Answer: The salient features of the Bill are as follows:
1. Conferring simultaneous power upon Parliament and the State Legislatures to make laws governing goods and services tax;
2. Subsuming of various Central indirect taxes and levies such as Central Excise Duty, Additional Excise Duties, Service Tax, Additional Customs Duty commonly known as Countervailing Duty, and Special Additional Duty of Customs;
3. Subsuming of State Value Added Tax/Sales Tax, Entertainment Tax (other than the tax levied by the local bodies), Central Sales Tax (levied by the Centre and collected by the States), Octroi and Entry tax, Purchase Tax, Luxury tax, and Taxes on lottery, betting and gambling;
4. Dispensing with the concept of 'declared goods of special importance' under the Constitution;
5. Levy of Integrated Goods and Services Tax on inter-State transactions of goods and services;
6. GST to be levied on all goods and services, except alcoholic liquor for human consumption. Petroleum and petroleum products shall be subject to the levy of GST on a later date notified on the recommendation of the Goods and Services Tax Council;
7. Compensation to the States for loss of revenue arising on account of implementation of the Goods and Services Tax for a period of five years;
8. Creation of Goods and Services Tax Council to examine issues relating to goods and services tax and make recommendations to the Union and the States on parameters like rates, taxes, cesses and surcharges to be subsumed, exemption list and threshold limits, Model GST laws, etc. The Council shall function under the Chairmanship of the Union Finance Minister and will have all the State Governments as Members.
 
 Q. 456. Boreal forest
Ans.
Boreal forest
The boreal forest is the world's largest land-based biome. The forest spreads over several continents and covers many countries. The boreal plays a significant role in the planet's biodiversity and even its climate. Some of the important facts about the Boreal forest are as follows:
  1. Origin: The boreal forest is named after Boreas, the Greek god of the North wind.
  2. Boreal and Taiga: The biome is known as boreal in Canada, but is also known as taiga. Taiga is most commonly used to refer to the biome's more barren northern locations while boreal is used for the more temperate, southern area.
  3. Spread: The boreal covers most of inland Canada and Alaska, most of Sweden, Finland and inland Norway, much of Russia, and the northern parts of Kazakhstan, Mongolia and Japan. The boreal represents 29% of the world's forest cover.
  4. Types: There are two major types of boreal forest- the closed canopy forest in the South which has the longest, warmest growing season of the biome, and the high boreal forest with farther-spaced trees and lichen groundcover.
  5. Fauna: The forest is typically low on biodiversity.  The boreal supports a range of animals. Canada's boreal forest is home to 85 species of mammals, 130 species of fish, some 32,000 species of insects, and 300 species of birds. Boreal forest is home to some of the iconic animals including Siberian Tiger, wolves, bears, Arctic fox and muskox.
  6. Flora: The trees of the boreal forest tend to have shallow roots, due to the thin soils. Wildfires are an important part of the reproductive cycle for some species. Depending on the area, large fires occur in a cycle repeating anywhere from 70 to 200 years. The soils of the boreal forest are often acidic, due to falling pine needles, and low on nutrients since the cold temperatures do not allow much foliage to rot and turn into dirt.
  7. Climate: The climate of boreal is Cold. The lowest recorded temperatures in the Northern Hemisphere were recorded in the boreal (or taiga) of northeastern Russia. However, the zone of latitude occupied by the boreal forest has seen some of the most dramatic temperature increases, especially in winter and especially during the last quarter of the 20th century. The warming trend threatens to transform the boreal forest area into grassland, parkland or temperate forest, introducing a significant shift in species of both plants and animals. There is little rainfall in the boreal biome. Precipitation comes in the form of fog and snow, with a little rain during the summer months.
  8. Carbon Sequestration: The boreal forest stores enormous quantities of carbon. It possibly stores more than the temperate and tropical forests combined. Much of Carbon is stored in peatland. Only 12% of boreal forest is protected around the globe and over 30% has already been designated for logging, energy and other development.