Question and Answer :: SRIRAM'S IAS

 Q. 394. Domestic Systemically Important Banks
Ans.
Domestic Systemically Important Banks (D-SIBs)
Reserve Bank of India (RBI) has included HDFC Bank in the list of 'too big to fail' lenders. With the inclusion of HDFC Bank in the list, there are now three 'too big to fail' financial entities, SBI AND ICICI, in the country.

Too big to fail
When a financial entity like a bank becomes systemically so important that their failure is expected to disrupt the financial/banking system and the economy as a whole then that entity is termed as too big to fail. In an event that such a bank fails the government steps in to save it.

RBI categorises such banks as Domestic Systemically Important Banks (D-SIBs). These banks have, according to RBI, assumed systemic importance due to their:
  1. Size,
  2. Cross-jurisdictional activities,
  3. Complexity,
  4. Lack of substitutability and
  5. Interconnectedness.
The failure of these banks can cause significant disruption to the essential services provided by the banking system, and in turn, can disrupt the overall economic activity. These banks are considered Systemically Important Banks (SIBs) as their continued functioning is critical for the uninterrupted availability of essential banking services to the real economy.

What does it mean for the banks?
  1. Apart from protection from the RBI in the times of distress, the D-SIBs will be subjected to higher levels of supervision so as to prevent disruption of financial services in the event of any failure.
  2. These banks will have to maintain a core capital requirement in addition to a capital conservation buffer.
  3. Moreover, expectations of government support amplifies risk-taking, reduces market discipline, creates competitive distortions and increases probability of distress in future.
 
 Q. 393. Navika Sagar Parikrama
Ans.
Navika Sagar Parikrama is a project wherein a team of women officers of the Indian Navy would circumnavigate the globe. The circumnavigation will be on an Indian-built sail boat INSV Tarini. This is the first ever Indian circumnavigation of the globe by an all-women crew.

The project is considered essential towards promoting Ocean Sailing activities in the Navy while depicting Government of India’s thrust on women power.
The expedition has been aptly titled ‘Navika Sagar Parikrama’. It is aimed at promoting women empowerment in the country and ocean sailing by the Indian Navy. The expedition would inspire the youth of our nation to develop an understanding of the sea and instil a spirit of adventure and camaraderie.
The voyage of Navika Sagar Parikrama will begin from Goa in September 2017. The journey will finish around March 2018. The entire distance will be covered in five legs and it will have stop overs at four ports for replenishment of ration and repairs. The ports are: Fremantle (Australia), Lyttelton (New Zealand), Port Stanley (Falklands) and Cape Town (South Africa)
Additional aims of the Expedition are as follows:-
  • Nari Shakti: In consonance with the National policy to empower women to attain their full potential, the expedition aims to showcase ‘Nari Shakti’ on the world platform. This would also help to discard the societal attitudes and mind-set towards women in India by raising visibility of participation by women in challenging environment.
  • Environment and Climate Change: The expedition aims at harnessing the use of environment friendly non-conventional renewable energy resources which affects the life of women.
  • Make in India: The voyage also aims to show case the ‘Make in India’ initiative by sailing onboard the indigenously built INSV Tarini.
  • Meteorological/ Ocean/ Wave Data Observation: The crew would also collate and update Meteorological/ Ocean/ Wave data on a daily basis for subsequent analysis by research and development organisations.
  • Marine Pollution: The crew would monitor and report marine pollution on the high seas.
Interaction with Local PIOs:  Since the expedition aims to promote Ocean Sailing and the spirit of adventure, the crew would interact extensively with the local PIOs at the various port halts.  
 
 Q. 392. National Anti-profiteering Authority
Ans.
The Union Cabinet has given its approval for the creation of the National Anti-profiteering Authority (NAA) under GST. The apex body is mandated to ensure that the benefits of the reduction in GST rates on goods or services are passed on to the ultimate consumers by way of a reduction in prices.

The "anti-profiteering" measures enshrined in the GST law provide an institutional mechanism to ensure that the full benefits of input tax credits and reduced GST rates on supply of goods or services flow to the consumers. This institutional framework comprises the NAA, a Standing Committee, Screening Committees in every State and the Directorate General of Safeguards in the Central Board of Excise & Customs (CBEC).

Affected consumers who feel the benefit of commensurate reduction in prices is not being passed on when they purchase any goods or services may apply for relief to the Screening Committee in the particular State. However, in case the incident of profiteering relates to an item of mass impact with 'All India' ramification, the application may be directly made to the Standing Committee.

In the event the NAA confirms there is a necessity to apply anti-profiteering measures, it has the authority to order the supplier / business concerned to reduce its prices or return the undue benefit availed by it along with interest to the recipient of the goods or services. If the undue benefit cannot be passed on to the recipient, it can be ordered to be deposited in the Consumer Welfare Fund. In extreme cases, the NAA can impose a penalty on the defaulting business entity and even order the cancellation of its registration under GST.

The constitution of the NAA shall bolster confidence of consumers as they reap the benefits of the recent reduction in GST rates, in particular, and of GST, in general.
 
 Q. 391. Moscow Declaration
Ans.
Health ministers, NGOs, and private sector representatives from 120 countries have adopted the Moscow Declaration, committing themselves to eliminating additional deaths from HIV co-infection by 2020 and achieving synergy in coordinated action against TB and non-communicable diseases. A co-infection is when a person suffers from two infections at the same time.

The Moscow declaration has emphasised the need for fixing multisectoral responsibility towards ending TB by 2035. This framework is critical to creating an enabling operational environment for multisectoral action, fast-tracking priority interventions, monitoring overall progress, and accelerating advocacy at all levels within different sectors. All these efforts are necessary to achieve committed milestones and the targets to end the TB epidemic.

India is among the signatories to the declaration. India has also committed to move to a daily drug regimen. It has also committed to tackle multi-drug resistant TB as a national public health crisis. A national inter-ministerial commission will be set up by 2018 to achieve fast-tracking universal access to health care through all state and non-state care providers by adopting WHO-recommended TB diagnostics, drugs, technologies and standards of care, and ensuring attention to high-risk groups and vulnerable populations such as migrants, refugees and prisoners.

In less than a year, the TB report card will be reviewed by the UN General Assembly in 2018 during a high-level meeting.
 
 Q. 390. BIMSTEC Disaster Management Exercise
Ans.
The First ‘BIMSTEC Disaster Management Exercise- 2017’ (BIMSTEC DMEx-2017) was conducted by the National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) in October 2017 in Delhi and the National Capital Region (NCR).

This Exercise was a platform for sharing Best Practices on all aspects of Disaster Risk Reduction (DRR), strengthening regional response and coordination for Disaster Management among the BIMSTEC member countries. The main focus of the BIMSTEC DMEx-2017 was on testing the region’s preparedness and resilience towards effective activation of inter-Governmental interaction/dialogue/agreements for immediate deployment of regional resources for disaster response. The exercise was meant to create synergy and synchronize efforts to institutionalize regional cooperation among the member countries. The exercise helped to strengthen the effective utilization of the Search & Rescue Teams for Disaster Relief & Emergency Response, including Emergency Rapid Assessment Teams and Management of mass casualties especially in situations involving breakdown of infrastructure and communication.

India has been at the forefront of DRR efforts by hosting the South Asian Annual Disaster Management Exercise (SAADMEx) and the Asian Ministerial Conference for Disaster Risk Reduction (AMCDRR). India has also offered its expertise and capabilities in DRR such as the South Asia satellite, GSAT-9, and the Tsunami Early Warning Centre to other countries. Disaster Management was one of the important Agenda items the BIMSTEC.

The BIMSTEC region is home to around 1.5 billion people, constituting around 22% of the global population with a combined GDP of US $2.7 trillion economy. Majority of the BIMSTEC countries are situated in the South Asian Region (SAR), prone to natural disasters such as floods, cyclones, earthquakes, avalanches and drought. 
 
 Q. 389. Nobel Prize for Physics
Ans.
The 2017 Nobel Prize for Physics has been conferred to three scientists namely Rainer Weiss, Barry C Barish & Kip S Thorne under the LIGO Project for their discovery of gravitational waves. The discovery has been made 100 years after Einstein's General Relativity predicted it.

The direct detection of Gravitational waves arrives from the merger two large Black holes in a distant galaxy a Billion of light years away. Gravitational waves carry information about their dramatic origins and about the nature of gravity that cannot otherwise be obtained. This is a new vista in Astronomy since Gravitational Waves are an entirely new way of observing the most violent events in space.

This is a proud moment for India also, since the discovery paper has 39 Indian authors/scientists from nine institutions. Indian scientists have made seminal contributions to this field which contributed towards the principles behind the LIGO Detector.

An opportunity for India taking leadership in this field has opened up with the LIGO-India mega-science project that was granted ‘in principle’ approval by the Union Cabinet on Feb 17 2016. LIGO-India brings forth a real possibility of Indian scientists and technologists stepping forward, with strong international cooperation, into the frontier of an emergent area of high visibility and promise presented by the recent GW detections and the high promise of a new window of gravitational-wave astronomy to probe the universe. LIGO-India is being jointly funded by the Department of Atomic Energy (DAE) and the Department of Science and Technology (DST).
 
 Q. 388. Yakshagana
Ans.
Yakshagana is a traditional theatre form that combines unique blending of music, extempore dialogues, phenomenal dancing moves, rich make-up and intrinsically designed costumes. This theatre style is mainly found in Tulunadu and some parts of Malenadu region of Karnataka and Kerala. Yakshagana is traditionally presented from dusk to dawn. Its stories are drawn from Ramayana, Mahabharata, Bhagavata and other Hindu epics.  Yakshagana evolved as a dance form during the Bhakti Movement.

Narahari Tirtha, a disciple of Madhvacharya, is said to be the first person to introduce Yakshagana in Udupi. He was also the founder of Kuchipudi. An inscription dating around 1556 CE has been evidence that Yakshagana existed from a long time. This inscription has been the first written evidence to cite about this dance form. The inscription was found at the Lakshminarayana Temple in Kurugodu, Bellary. Another evidence was found at Ajapura, present day Brahmavara. The manuscript is said to have mentioned about Yakshagana in the form of poem that was authored by Ajapura Vishnu.

Researches and Experts have placed the origin of the Yakshagana approximately in the period of 11th and 16th Century CE. Yakshagana became an established art form during the time of Parthi Subba, who was a Yakshagana poet.
 
 Q. 387. NDVI
Ans.
To determine the density of green on a patch of land, researchers must observe the distinct colors (wavelengths) of visible and near-infrared sunlight reflected by the plants.Vegetation appears very different at visible and near-infrared wavelengths. In visible light , vegetated areas are very dark, almost black, while desert regions (like the Sahara) are light. At near-infrared wavelengths, the vegetation is brighter and deserts are about the same. By comparing visible and infrared light, scientists measure the relative amount of vegetation. Nearly all satellite Vegetation Indices employ this difference formula to quantify the density of plant growth on the Earth The result of this formula is called the Normalized Difference Vegetation Index (NDVI). 
 
 Q. 386. FoSCoRIS
Ans.
Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) has launched a nationwide online platform, 'FoSCoRIS' , to bring in transparency in food safety inspection and sampling. FSSAI has asked states to adopt this system as it would help eliminate discrepancy and make food safety officers accountable.

The web-based 'FoSCoRIS' system will help verify compliance of food safety and hygiene standards by food businesses as per the government norms. The new system will bring together all key stakeholders: food businesses, food safety officers (FSOs), designated officers, state food safety commissioners on a nation-wide IT platform. The data related to inspection, sampling and test result will be shared seamlessly by all the officials.

The Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) has been established under Food Safety and Standards , 2006 which consolidates various acts & orders that have hitherto handled food related issues in various Ministries and Departments. FSSAI has been created for laying down science based standards for articles of food and to regulate their manufacture, storage, distribution, sale and import to ensure availability of safe and wholesome food for human consumption. Ministry of Health & Family Welfare, Government of India is the Administrative Ministry for the implementation of FSSAI.
 
 Q. 385. National Certification System for Tissue Culture Raised Plants
Ans.
National Certification System for Tissue Culture Raised Plants
Government of India established the “National Certification System for Tissue Culture Raised Plants (NCS-TCP)” authorizing Department of Biotechnology, Ministry of Science & Technology as the Certification Agency for ensuring production and distribution of quality tissue culture planting materials.
The purpose of National Certification System for Tissue Culture Raised Plants (NCS-TCP) is to ensure production and distribution of quality tissue culture planting materials. NCS-TCP is a unique quality management system, first of its kind in the world which ensures recognition of Tissue Culture Production Facility for the production of quality planting material and certification of end products.
With increasing demand for agricultural, forestry, plantation and horticulture crops, the demand for high quality, high yielding, disease free planting stock has been increased significantly over the last two decades. Conventional propagation method which includes sowing of seeds, propagation by cutting, layering etc suffers from the inherent limitations in the number that can be produced, non-uniformity of quality and incidence of diseases. Plant Tissue Culture has emerged as an important biotechnology and commercially viable tool to multiply elite varieties of high quality, disease free and high yielding plants rapidly in the laboratory irrespective of the season of the year. In India the tissue culture Industry is growing at a rate of 15% per annum.
Plant tissue culture is a collection of techniques used to maintain or grow plant cells, tissues or organs under sterile conditions on a nutrient culture medium of known composition. Plant tissue culture is widely used to produce clones of a plant in a method known as micro-propagation. Different techniques in plant tissue culture may offer certain advantages over traditional methods of propagation, including:
  • The production of exact copies of plants that produce particularly good flowers, fruits, or have other desirable traits.
  • To quickly produce mature plants.
  • The production of multiples of plants in the absence of seeds or necessary pollinators to produce seeds.
  • The regeneration of whole plants from plant cells that have been genetically modified.
  • The production of plants in sterile containers that allows them to be moved with greatly reduced chances of transmitting diseases, pests, and pathogens.
  • The production of plants from seeds that otherwise have very low chances of germinating and growing, i.e.: orchids and Nepenthes.
  • To clear particular plants of viral and other infections and to quickly multiply these plants as 'cleaned stock' for horticulture and agriculture.
Plant tissue culture relies on the fact that many plant cells have the ability to regenerate a whole plant (totipotency). Single cells, plant cells without cell walls (protoplasts), pieces of leaves, stems or roots can often be used to generate a new plant on culture media given the required nutrients and plant hormones.
 
 Q. 384. BHUVAN
Ans.
BHUVAN is a platform developed by the ISRO. It is a well known national geo-portal, which is being widely, used by the Government, public, NGOs and Academia. Bhuvan is developed with a clear focus of addressing Indian requirements of satellite Images and theme-oriented services to enable planning, monitoring and evaluation of stakeholder’s activities in governance and development. Bhuvan provides nation-wide seamless image base, thematic datasets for many natural resources, transport network, Digital Surface Model, hydrologic base from basin to watershed. Bhuvan services include visualisation of remote sensing data (India-centric), free satellite data download, geophysical products, host of thematic services and customised application tools for Government data collaboration and enabling G-governance. It also renders near real-time data and information support towards management of natural disasters in the country.

Significance
  • Some of the basic statistics of Bhuvan usage indicates that the portal is gaining importance in the country. In less than 6 years of its existence, it has more than 70,000 registered users; 800 GB of data is transacted per month and it witnesses 60 Million hits per month. About 4.6 lakh satellite data products, including derived products, have been downloaded by users. 
  • The customised application tools and datasets are being used by more than 30 Central Ministries and about 20 State Governments in various sectors, which include, land & water resources, agriculture, forestry, watershed, urban & infrastructure development, environment, de-centralised planning, asset geo-tagging & mapping, including monitoring of G-governance programmes.
BHUVAN Vs Google Earth
  • Bhuvan is designed, developed, deployed and managed by a small team of scientists within ISRO. It primarily focuses on societal-benefits and is not a commercial venture. On the contrary, Google Earth is a commercial enterprise with a large investment & large resource base an
  • d makes a huge business through advertisements and products.
  • Google has a definite business model (in positioning & maintaining very high resolution satellite images) that is directly dealt with satellite operators/ services providers. The business model that is being operated is not in the public domain.
  • Google Earth does provide very high to high resolution remote sensing data (World-wide) for visualisation with advanced value added services, but does not provide India specific seamless multi-thematic GIS data sets, free satellite data downloads and customised application tools for government data collaboration.
Thus, Bhuvan and Google Earth are two different platforms developed for different purposes and objectives. 
 
 Q. 383. Geographical Indications tag
Ans.
Banganapalle mangoes of Andhra Pradesh and Tulapanji rice of West Bengal are among the seven commodities that have been granted Geographical Indications this fiscal year by the Indian patent office. The other five products which have received this tag this year include Pochampally Ikat of Telangana; Gobindobhog Rice of West Bengal; Durgi Stone Carvings and Etikoppaka Toys of Andhra Pradesh; and Chakshesang Shawl of Nagaland.

A Geographical Indication (GI) is primarily an agricultural, natural or a manufactured product (handicrafts and industrial goods) originating from a definite geographical territory. Typically, such a name conveys an assurance of quality and distinctiveness. Award of GI tag gives protection to the producer of those genuine products, which commands premium pricing in the domestic and international markets. Once the GI protection is granted, no other producer can misuse the name to market similar products. It also provides comfort to customers about the authenticity of that product.

A geographical indication (GI) is a name or sign used on certain products which corresponds to a specific geographical location or origin (e.g. a town, region, or country). India, as a member of the World Trade Organization (WTO), enacted the Geographical Indications of Goods (Registration and Protection) Act, 1999 has come into force with effect from 15 September 2003. GIs have been defined under Article 22(1) of the WTO Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights(TRIPS) Agreement as: "Indications which identify a good as originating in the territory of a member, or a region or a locality in that territory, where a given quality, reputation or characteristic of the good is essentially attributable to its geographic origin."
 
 Q. 382. The Ninth Gorkha Rifles
Ans.
The Ninth Gorkha Rifles is a Gorkha regiment of the Indian Army comprising Gurkha soldiers of Nepalese origin. The regiment was initially formed by the British in 1817, and was one of the Gurkha regiments transferred to the Indian Army after independence as part of the tripartite agreement in 1947. This Gorkha regiment mainly recruits soldiers who come from the Chhetri (Kshatriya) and Thakuri clans of Nepal. Domiciled Indian Gorkhas are also taken, and they form about 20 percent of the regiment's total strength. The Ninth Gorkha Rifles is one of the seven Gorkha regiments of the Indian Army.
 
Recently, the Ninth Gorkha Rifles, commemorated it’s 200 years of selfless service and sacrifice to the Nation with Bicentenary Celebrations held from 08 to 11 November 2017 at 39 Gorkha Training Centre, Varanasi Cantonment.
 
 Q. 381. All India Institute of Ayurveda (AIIA)
Ans.
The government has setup an All India Institute of Ayurveda (AIIA). The institute has been set up along the lines of AIIMS. The AIIA aims to bring synergy between the traditional wisdom of Ayurveda and modern diagnostic tools and technology. AIIA has gained a wide national and International recognition. It has started working to facilitate quality patient care, research and bridging the gaps in the scientific information about quality, safety and efficacy of Ayurveda products and developing benchmarks of Ayurvedic education, research and healthcare.

The Ministry of AYUSH has asked all the State Governments, State AYUSH Directorates, all Ayurveda colleges/ teaching institutions, AYUSH/Health Universities, Associations of Ayurveda Practitioners, Ayurveda Drug Industries and all supporters/ well-wishers and stakeholders of Ayurveda in India and abroad to observe the Ayurveda Day on 17th October, 2017 for this year and undertake various activities like organizing Public lectures,  Seminars, Exhibition, Radio Talks etc.  as a part of Ayurveda Day celebrations.
 
 Q. 380. SMOG
Ans.
SMOG
Smog is a type of air pollutant. The word "smog" derives its origin from smoke and fog. It refers to smoky fog, its opacity, and odour. This kind of visible air pollution is composed of nitrogen oxides, sulphur oxides, ozone, smoke or particulates among others (less visible pollutants include carbon monoxide, CFCs and radioactive sources). Human-made smog is derived from coal emissions, vehicular emissions, industrial emissions, forest and agricultural fires and photochemical reactions of these emissions.

Modern smog is a type of air pollution derived from vehicular emission from internal combustion engines and industrial fumes that react in the atmosphere with sunlight to form secondary pollutants that also combine with the primary emissions to form photochemical smog. In cities such as Delhi, smog severity is often aggravated by stubble burning in neighbouring agricultural areas. It is usually highly toxic to humans and can cause severe sickness, shortened life or death.

Causes
Coal
Coal fires, used to heat individual buildings or in a power-producing plant, can emit significant clouds of smoke that contributes to smog. London, in particular, was notorious up through the mid-20th century for its coal-caused smog. Air pollution of this type is still a problem in areas that generate significant smoke from burning coal.

Transportation emissions
Traffic emissions – such as from trucks, buses, and automobiles – also contribute. Airborne by-products from vehicle exhaust systems cause air pollution and are a major ingredient in the creation of smog in some large cities. The major culprits from transportation sources are carbon monoxide (CO), nitrogen oxides (NO and NOx), volatile organic compounds, sulphur dioxide, and hydrocarbons. (Hydrocarbons are the main components of petroleum fuels such as gasoline and diesel fuel.) These molecules react with sunlight, heat, ammonia, moisture, and other compounds to form the noxious vapors, ground level ozone, and particles that comprise smog.

Natural causes
An erupting volcano can also emit high levels of sulphur dioxide along with a large quantity of particulate matter; two key components to the creation of smog. However, the smog created as a result of a volcanic eruption is often known as vog to distinguish it as a natural occurrence.

Photochemical smog
Photochemical smog is the chemical reaction of sunlight, nitrogen oxides and volatile organic compounds in the atmosphere, which leaves airborne particles and ground-level ozone. This noxious mixture of air pollutants may include the following:
  • Aldehydes
  • Nitrogen oxides, particularly nitric oxide and nitrogen dioxide
  • Peroxy acetyl nitrates
  • Tropospheric ozone
  • Volatile organic compounds
Primary and Secondary pollutants
A primary pollutant is an air pollutant emitted directly from a source. A secondary pollutant is not directly emitted as such, but forms when other pollutants (primary pollutants) react in the atmosphere. Examples of a secondary pollutant include ozone, which is formed when hydrocarbons (HC) and nitrogen oxides (NOx) combine in the presence of sunlight; nitrogen dioxide (NO2), which is formed as nitric oxide (NO) combines with oxygen in the air; and acid rain, which is formed when sulfur dioxide or nitrogen oxides react with water. All of these harsh chemicals are usually highly reactive and oxidizing. Photochemical smog is therefore considered to be a problem of modern industrialization. It is present in all modern cities, but it is more common in cities with sunny, warm, dry climates and a large number of motor vehicles. Because it travels with the wind, it can affect sparsely populated areas as well.
 
 Q. 379. Thirty Metre Telescope
Ans.
Thirty Metre Telescope
TMT is an international project being funded by scientific organisations of Canada, China, India, Japan and USA. In India the responsibility for the Thirty Meter Telescope (TMT) project is of the Department of Science & Technology (DST) and the Department of Atomic Energy (DAE). TMT has become the source of controversy over its planned location on Mauna Kea in the US state of Hawaii. Construction of the TMT on land which is sacred to Native Hawaiian culture has stirred the pot in recent times.

For choosing the site for the TMT, a site suitability analysis was done. The criteria for site suitability for the TMT were water vapour in the atmosphere, atmospheric turbulence and number of cloud-free nights in a year; infrastructure and logistics. While Mauna Kea, Hawaii is the preferred choice for the TMT project, given the large investments that have already been made and committed, the project is also looking at alternate sites both in the northern and southern hemispheres. Hanle, Ladakh is one of the sites being evaluated for hosting the telescope. Hanle being the protected area in the state of J&K, the project requires clearances from State and Central agencies such as environmental, defence, external affairs and home affairs.

Significance
TMT will enable scientists to study fainter objects far away from us in the Universe, which gives information about early stages of evolution of the Universe. Also, it will give us finer details of not-so-far-away objects like undiscovered planets and other objects in the Solar System and planets around other stars. TMT being the largest optical and infrared telescope in the northern hemisphere will enable several discoveries which will surely inspire future generations. Project will also provide state-of-the-art high end technologies to the country, which would benefit a number of industries and R&D centers in the country. 
 
 Q. 378. SHe-Box
Ans.
SHe-Box Online Complaint Management is a system for working women to lodge complaints of sexual harassment at workplace. The system has been launched by the Ministry of Women and Child Development (WCD). The SHe-Box is meant to ensure the effective implementation of the Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal) Act (the SH Act), 2013.

The SHe-Box portal offers the facility of making online complaints of sexual harassment at workplace to all women employees in the country including government and private employees. Those who have already filed a written complaint with the concerned Internal Complaint Committee (ICC) or Local Complaint Committee (LCC) constituted under the SH Act are also eligible to file their complaint through this portal.

SHe-Box portal is an effort to provide speedier remedy to women facing sexual harassment at workplace. Once a complaint is submitted to the portal, it will be directly sent to the ICC/LCC of the concerned employer. Through this portal, WCD as well as complainant can monitor the progress of inquiry conducted by the ICC/LCC. This is a proactive step taken by MWCD in the wake of the worldwide social media campaign #MeToo, where women have related their experience of facing sexual harassment and abuse.
 
 Q. 377. Madhyamik and Uchchtar Shiksha Kosh
Ans.
The Union Cabinet has approved the creation of a nonlapsable pool for secondary and higher education known as Madhyamik and Uchchtar Shiksha Kosh. All proceeds from the ‘Secondary and Higher Education Cess’ will be credited to this pool. The Cess is an additional cess of 1% levied on central taxes. It will be managed by the Ministry of Human Resource Development.

The pool will be primarily used for the following purposes:
1. Secondary education: schemes including: (i) Rashtriya Madhyamik Shlksha Abhiyan Scheme; (ii) National Means-Cum-Merit Scholarship Scheme; and (iii) National Scheme for Incentives to Girls for Secondary Education.

2. Higher education: schemes including: (i) interest subsidy and contribution for guarantee funds; (ii) Rashtriya Uchchtar Shiksha Abhiyaan; and (iii) the National Mission on Teachers and Training. 
 
 Q. 376. Contract Farming
Ans.
Contract farming can be defined as agricultural production carried out according to an agreement between a buyer and farmers, which establishes conditions for the production and marketing of a farm product or products. Typically, the farmer agrees to provide agreed quantities of a specific agricultural product. These should meet the quality standards of the purchaser and be supplied at the time determined by the purchaser. In turn, the buyer commits to purchase the product and, in some cases, to support production through, for example, the supply of farm inputs, land preparation and the provision of technical advice.

Advantages: Producer/farmer
  • Makes small scale farming competitive - small farmers can access technology, credit, marketing channels and information while lowering transaction costs
  • Assured market for their produce at their doorsteps, reducing marketing and transaction costs
  • It reduces the risk of production, price and marketing costs.
  • Contract farming can open up new markets which would otherwise be unavailable to small farmers.
  • It also ensures higher production of better quality, financial support in cash and /or kind and technical guidance to the farmers.
  • In case of agri-processing level, it ensures consistent supply of agricultural produce with quality, at right time and lesser cost.
 
Advantages: Agri-based firms
  • Optimally utilize their installed capacity, infrastructure and manpower, and respond to food safety and quality concerns of the consumers.
  • Make direct private investment in agricultural activities.
  • The price fixation is done by the negotiation between the producers and firms.
  • The farmers enter into contract production with an assured price under term and conditions.
 
Challenges
  • Contract farming arrangements are biased in favor of firms or large farmers, while exploiting the poor bargaining power of small farmers.
  • Problems faced by growers like undue quality cut on produce by firms, delayed deliveries at the factory, delayed payments, low price and pest attack on the contract crop which raised the cost of production.
  • Contracting agreements are often verbal or informal in nature, and even written contracts often do not provide the legal protection in India that may be observed in other countries. Lack of enforceability of contractual provisions can result in breach of contracts by either party.
  • Adverse gender effects - Women have less access to contract farming than men.
 
 
Policy Support
Agricultural marketing is regulated by the States’ Agricultural Produce Marketing Regulation (APMR) Acts. In order to regulate and develop practice of contract farming, Government has been actively advocating to the States/ Union Territories (UTs) to reform their agri marketing laws to provide a system of registration of contract farming sponsors, recording of their agreements and proper dispute settlement mechanism for orderly promotion of contract farming in the country.
 
So far, 21 States (Andhra Pradesh, Arunachal Pradesh, Assam, Chhattisgarh, Goa, Gujarat, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh, Jharkhand, Karnataka, Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh, Mizoram, Nagaland, Odisha, Punjab (separate Act), Rajasthan, Sikkim, Telangana, Tripura and Uttarakhand) have amended their Agricultural Produce Marketing Regulation (APMR) Acts to provide for contract farming and of them, only 13 States (Andhra Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Goa, Gujarat, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh, Jharkhand, Karnataka, Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh, Odisha, Rajasthan and Telangana) have notified the rules to implement the provision.
 
NABARD’s Initiatives in contact farming
 
NABARD has developed a special refinance package for contract farming arrangements (within and outside AEZs) aimed at promoting increased production of commercial crops and creation of marketing avenues for the farmers. The various initiatives undertaken by NABARD in this direction are:
  • Special Refinance package for financing farmers for contract farming in AEZs
  • 100% refinance to disbursements made by CBs, SCBs, RRBs and select SCARDBs (having net NPA less than 5%)
  • Term facility for repayments (3 years)
  • Fixation of higher scale of finance for crops under contract farming.
  • Extension of refinance scheme for financing farmers for contract farming in AEZs to contract farming outside AEZs besides coverage of medicinal and aromatic plants.
  • Extension of Refinance scheme for contract farming under Automatic Refinance Facility.
 
Way Forward
  • The project must not result in farmers’ overspecialization in certain crops to the detriment of building resilience and contributing to local food security;
  • It should promote sustainable farming practices and not promote reliance on chemicals or expensive seeds, or lead to excessive debts;
  • The arrangement should lead to higher incomes for farmers than they would otherwise earn, and compared to alternative models
  • It should substantially include women farmers and promote their rights;
  • Contract Farming must promote the land rights of farmers
 
 Q. 375. Bharat Mala Project
Ans.
Bharatmala Project is the second largest highways construction project in the country since National Highway Development Project (NHDP). Bharatmala aims to improve connectivity particularly on economic corridors, border areas and far flung areas. It also aims to ensure quicker movement of cargo and boost exports.

The project is expected to create nearly 100 million man days of jobs during the road construction and subsequently 22 million jobs as a result of the increased economic activity across the country. The construction funding of the project includes debt funds, budgetary allocation, private investment, toll operator transfer model etc.
Bharatmala includes:
  • Economic corridors of around 9,000 km,
  • Inter-corridor and feeder routes of around 6,000 km,
  • Roads under the National Corridors Efficiency Program of 5,000 km,
  • Border and international connectivity roads of around 2,000 km,
  • Coastal and port connectivity roads of around 2,000 km,
  • Expressways of around 800 km and 10,000 km of NHDP roads.
Bharatmala project will start in Gujarat and Rajasthan, followed by Punjab and subsequently traversing the Himalayan belt through Jammu and Kashmir, Himachal Pradesh, Uttarakhand, parts of Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, West Bengal, Sikkim, Assam, Arunachal Pradesh, Manipur (next to the Indo-Burmese border) and then to Mizoram. Northeastern states have been given special focus in the project. Also, international trade is an integrative key aspect of the project. The main agencies tasked with the construction are the National Highways Authority of India, National Highway and Industrial Development Corporation and state public works departments.