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Q. 411. North East Special Infrastructure Development Scheme
North East Special Infrastructure Development Scheme
The Union Cabinet has approved the introduction of new Central Sector Scheme of “North East Special Infrastructure Development Scheme” (NESIDS) from 2017-18 with 100% funding from the Central Government to fill up the gaps in creation of infrastructure in specified sectors till March, 2020.
Features of NESIDS:
The new scheme will broadly cover creation of infrastructure under following sectors:
Physical infrastructure relating to water supply, power, connectivity and specially the projects promoting tourism;
Infrastructure of social sectors of education and health.
Benefits of NESIDS:
The assets to be created under the new scheme of NESIDS will not only strengthen health care and education facilities in the region but will also encourage tourism thereby the employment opportunities for local youth. The scheme will act as a catalyst in overall development of the region in the years to come.
The Union Cabinet has also approved the continuation of the existing Non Lapsable Central Pool of Resources (NLCPR) scheme with funding pattern of 90:10 till March, 2020 with an outlay of Rs.5300.00 crore. It would enable completion of ongoing projects.
Q. 410. Banglar Rasogolla
West Bengal's famous Banglar Rasogolla has got Geographical Indication (GI) tag from the Indian patent office. The state has trumped Odisha which had reportedly sought the coveted status for its rasogolla. The two states had claimed for getting the GI tag.
Banglar Rasogolla is a syrupy dessert popular in all over India and abroad.
Odisha has claimed that the sweet originated from the Jagannath Temple in Puri, where it is a part of the religious rituals since the 12th century. Odisha calls it Pahala Rasgulla. On the other hand, West Bengal had asserted that confectioner Nobin Chandra Das is widely known as the one, who created Rasgulla in the 1860s.
A GI is a sign used on products that have a specific geographical origin and possess qualities or a reputation that are due to that origin. Such a name conveys an assurance of quality and distinctiveness which is essentially attributable to its origin in that defined geographical locality.
Q. 409. Mission Parivar Vikas
Mission Parivar Vikas
Mission Parivar Vikas, a central family planning initiative has been launched by the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare. The key strategic focus of this initiative is on improving access to contraceptives through delivering assured services, ensuring commodity security and accelerating access to high quality family planning services.
The mission is being implemented in 146 high focus districts with the highest total fertility rates in the country. These districts are in the seven high focus, high Total Fertility Rates (TFR) states of Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, Jharkhand, Chhattisgarh and Assam, which constitute 44% of the country’s population.
The main objective of the Mission Parivar Vikas family planning initiative is to bring down the Total Fertility Rate to 2.1 by the year 2025.
The Ministry of Health and Family Welfare has also launched two new contraceptives. MPA under the ‘Antara’ programme, an injectable contraceptive and ‘Chhaya’, a contraceptive pill is aimed to expand the contraceptive choices to meet the emerging needs of couples. The contraceptives are available for free in Medical Colleges and District Hospitals at present. The contraceptives are safe and highly effective. The ‘Antara’ the injectable contraceptive is effective for three months and the ‘Chayya’ the contraceptive pill for one week. These will help meet the changing needs of couples and help women plan and space their pregnancies.
The Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, through its sustained family planning efforts, aims to achieve its goal of increasing modern contraceptive usage and ensure that 74% of the demand for modern contraceptives is satisfied by 2020, with continued emphasis on delivering assured services, generating demand and bridging supply gaps. The Ministry’s focus remains on increasing awareness and demand through a holistic communications campaign.
Q. 408. Kumbh Mela
The Intergovernmental Committee for the Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage under UNESCO has inscribed ´KumbhMela´ on the Representative List of Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity during its 12th session being held at Jeju, South Korea.
Kumbh Mela inscribed on the UNESCO's Representative List of Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity, is a mass Hindu pilgrimage of faith in which Hindus gather to bathe in a sacred or holy river. Traditionally, four fairs are widely recognized as the Kumbh Melas: the Haridwar Kumbh Mela, the Allahabad Kumbh Mela, the Nashik-Trimbakeshwar Simhastha, and Ujjain Simhastha. These four fairs are held periodically at one of the following places by rotation: Haridwar, Allahabad (Prayaga), Nashik district (Nashik and Trimbak), and Ujjain. The main festival site is located on the banks of a river: the Ganges (Ganga) at Haridwar; the confluence (Sangam) of the Ganges and the Yamuna and the invisible Sarasvati at Allahabad; the Godavari at Nashik; and the Shipra at Ujjain.
According to medieval Hindu mythology, Lord Vishnu dropped drops of Amrita (the drink of immortality) at four places, while transporting it in a kumbha (pot). These four places are identified as the present-day sites of the Kumbh Mela.
Q. 407. Safe city surveillance
Ans. Safe city surveillance
The state government of Bihar has decided to introduce a "safe city surveillance" system across state to check sexual harassment and crime. It will be implemented in phases, beginning with Patna district. CCTV cameras will be installed under this and approval has been given to spend Rs 111 crore on the scheme. The scheme will be implemented by the state home department and sources said that the network of CCTV cameras will be connected to a control room that will be monitored 24x7 by police personnel, who will continuously liase with those on duty on the ground, all the while anticipating and alerting them about possible situations. People apprehending trouble and danger could also alert the control room, which will initiate action. The CCTV net around the public places will also help track miscreants. The scheme will be implemented in all the districts in a phased manner.
Q. 406. LaQshya
The Union government has launched ‘LaQshya’ (Labour Room Quality Improvement Initiative) a Safe Delivery Mobile Application for health workers who manage normal and complicated deliveries in the peripheral areas.
The goal of this initiative is to reduce preventable maternal and new-born mortality, morbidity and stillbirths associated with the care around delivery in Labour room and Maternity OT and ensure respectful maternity care. It also aims to improve the quality of care that is being provided to the pregnant mother in the Labour Room and Maternity Operation Theatres, thereby preventing the undesirable adverse outcomes associated with childbirth. This initiative will be implemented in Government Medical Colleges (MCs) besides District Hospitals (DHs), and high delivery load Sub- District Hospitals (SDHs) and Community Health Centres (CHCs). The initiative plans to conduct quality certification of labour rooms and also incentivize facilities achieving the targets outlined. The goal of this initiative is to reduce preventable maternal and new-born mortality, morbidity and stillbirths associated with the care around delivery in Labour room and Maternity OT and ensure respectful maternity care.
Other important initiatives in the health sector
National Health Policy 2017 has been approved which envisages the attainment of the highest possible level of health without anyone having to face financial hardship as a consequence. The Government has taken concrete steps to reduce the Out Of Pocket Expenditure (OOPE).
Mission Indradhanush, one of the largest global public health initiatives was launched in 2014. In its four phases till date, MI has successfully reached over 25 million children in over 528 districts.
Since 2014, government has launched Rotavirus vaccine, Pneumococcal Conjugate Vaccine (PCV), and the Measles-Rubella (MR) vaccine, and also the JE vaccine for adults.
Q. 405. Samba Masuri
Centre for Cellular and Molecular Biology (CCMB) in association with the Indian Institute of Rice Research (IIRR) has developed an Improved Samba Masuri (ISM). ISM is not only resistant to bacteria blight but also has a low Glycemic Index (GI) considered suitable for those with diabetes.
ISM has low GI of 50.99 which is among the lowest value for several rice varieties tested and usually in the range of 53 to 69.
ISM also has desirable attributes like better yield and fine grain type enhancing market potential and profit for farmers.
Its not a transgenic plant. It is already being grown in 1.50 lakh hectares last year in seven rice breeding states including Telangana, Andhra Pradesh, TS, TN, UP, etc. In two/three years’ time, the scientists are confident of coming out with a new variety of rice which can not only give high yields but also be resistant to three different pests affecting rice crop with field trials currently on.
Glycemic Index (GI)
GI value of a food is determined by feeding 10 or more healthy people a portion of the food containing 50 grams of digestible (available) carbohydrate and then measuring the effect on their blood glucose levels over the next two hours.
Consumption of food with low GI results in slow release of glucose into the bloodstream reducing the ill-effects of diabetes.
Q. 404. Global Entrepreneurship Summit (GES)
Ans. Global Entrepreneurship Summit (GES)
GES is the preeminent annual entrepreneurship gathering that convenes emerging entrepreneurs, investors and supporters from around the world. This year’s Summit will highlight the theme Women First, Prosperity for All, and will focus on supporting women entrepreneurs and fostering economic growth globally. GES 2017 will create an environment that empowers innovators, particularly women, to take their ideas to the next level. GES with networking, mentoring, and workshops, aims to empower entrepreneurs to pitch their ideas, build partnerships, secure funding, innovate, and find their target customers -- creating new goods and services that will transform societies.
Q. 403. Elected Women Representatives of Panchayati Raj Institutions
The Ministry of Women and Child Development has launched an intensive training program for Elected Women Representatives (EWRs) of Panchayati Raj Institutions and Master Trainers. This capacity building program is being organized by National Institute of Public Cooperation and Child Development (NIPCCD) of the WCD Ministry which will ultimately train approximately twenty thousand EWRs covering nearly 50 EWRs from each district by March, 2018.
Training two lakh women sarpanches across the country will help bring following important changes:
It will help to create model villages.
It will help prepare women as political leaders of the future.
The training program will include simple engineering skills will give them an insight into women’s issues as well as focus on education and financial matters.
The Capacity building of Elected Women Representatives (EWRs) is critical to empower women to participate effectively in the governance processes. This will help them assume the leadership roles expected of them and guide their villages towards a more prosperous future.
Q. 402. INSPIRE 2017
INSPIRE 2017 is an International Conference that brings together various stakeholders such as policy makers, innovators, financiers, influencers to showcase best practices in the sector. It provides a platform for energy efficiency community to discuss energy efficiency policies, market transformation strategies, emerging technologies, delivery and business-model driven transformations.
The first edition of the International Symposium to Promote Innovation & Research in Energy Efficiency (INSPIRE 2017) has recently begun in Jaipur.
INSPIRE is being organized by Energy Efficiency Services Limited (EESL) in partnership with The World Bank, and Alliance for an Energy Efficient Economy (AEEE).
The event is further designed to provide global and national thought-leaders and implementers to expand perspectives on energy efficiency and spur ideas and solutions that will help leverage the full potential of energy efficiency and bring its multiple co-benefits to the fore.
The highlight of INSPIRE is the high-level deliberations driven by policy makers and experts from Bureau of Energy Efficiency (BEE), The World Bank Group, The Energy Institute (TERI), International Energy Agency (IEA), Rocky Mountain Institute (RMI), USA and representatives of the Clean Energy Ministerial (CEM) - a high-level global forum to promote policies and programmes that advance clean energy technology.
Through an innovative market-led approach towards energy efficiency, India has charted its progress towards being a low-carbon economy, through implementation of large scale zero subsidy initiatives like Unnat Jyoti by Affordable LEDs for All (UJALA), Street lighting National Programme, Electric vehicles, Smart Meter programme, Solar Rooftop projects etc.
Q. 401. World's smallest data recorder
World’s smallest data recorder
Researchers have converted a natural bacterial immune system into the world’s smallest data recorder. The research has laid the groundwork for a new class of technologies that use bacterial cells for everything from disease diagnosis to environmental monitoring.
The researchers modified an ordinary laboratory strain of the human gut microbe Escherichia coli. This will enable the bacteria to not only record their interactions with the environment but also time-stamp the events.
Other applications include environmental sensing and basic studies in ecology and microbiology, where bacteria could monitor otherwise invisible changes without disrupting their surroundings, according to the study published in the journal Science.
A microscopic data recorder was created by taking advantage of CRISPR-Cas, an immune system in many species of bacteria. CRISPR-Cas copies snippets of DNA from invading viruses so that subsequent generations of bacteria can repel these pathogens more effectively.
As a result, the CRISPR locus of the bacterial genome accumulates a chronological record of the bacterial viruses that it and its ancestors have survived. When those same viruses try to infect again, the CRISPR-Cas system can recognize and eliminate them.
“CRISPR” (pronounced “crisper”) stands for Clustered Regularly Interspaced Short Palindromic Repeats, which are the hallmark of a bacterial defense system that forms the basis for CRISPR-Cas9 genome editing technology. In the field of genome engineering, the term “CRISPR” or “CRISPR-Cas9” is often used loosely to refer to the various CRISPR-Cas9 and -CPF1, (and other) systems that can be programmed to target specific stretches of genetic code and to edit DNA at precise locations, as well as for other purposes, such as for new diagnostic tools. With these systems, researchers can permanently modify genes in living cells and organisms and, in the future, may make it possible to correct mutations at precise locations in the human genome in order to treat genetic causes of disease.
Q. 400. Aditya-L1
Aditya or Aditya-L1 is a spacecraft whose mission is to study the Sun. It was conceptualised by the Advisory Committee for Space Research in January 2008. It has been designed and will be built in collaboration between Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) and various Indian research organizations and will be launched by ISRO around 2019 or 2020. This will be the first Indian space mission to study the Sun, and also the first Indian mission to be placed at Lagrangian point L1-- far away from the Earth from where continuous solar observations are possible. Only NASA and ESA have successfully placed satellites at the L1 (Lagrange point) point as of date.
A Lagrange point is a location in space where the combined gravitational forces of two large bodies, such as Earth and the sun or Earth and the moon, equal the centrifugal force felt by a much smaller third body. The interaction of the forces creates a point of equilibrium where a spacecraft may be "parked" to make observations.
Q. 399. International Geological Congress (IGC)
International Geological Congress (IGC)
The International Union of Geological Sciences (IUGS) is an international non-governmental organization devoted to international cooperation in the field of geology. The IUGS was founded in 1961 and is a Scientific Union member of the International Council for Science (ICSU), which it recognizes as the coordinating body for the international organization of science. IUGS is a joint partner with UNESCO for the International Geoscience Programme (IGCP) and they also participate in the Global Network of National Geoparks (GGN). A broad range of Scientific topics are covered by its Commission, Task Groups, Joint Programmes, Affiliated Organizations. IUGS promotes and encourages the study of geological problems, especially those of worldwide significance, and supports and facilitates international and interdisciplinary cooperation in the earth sciences.
The 36th International Geological Congress (IGC) is going to be held in Delhi, India in the year 2020. India, along with its co-host neighboring countries viz., Bangladesh, Nepal, Srilanka & Pakistan won the bid to host the 36th International Geological Congress (IGC). IGC is described as the Olympics of Geosciences. The IGCs are held quadrennially under the aegis of the IUGS through a process of global bidding.
Q. 398. Credit Ratings
Credit Ratings What is a 'Credit Rating'
It is an assessment of the creditworthiness of a borrower in general terms or with respect to a particular debt or financial obligation.
A credit rating can be assigned to any entity that seeks to borrow money – an individual, corporation, state or provincial authority, or sovereign government.
Credit assessment and evaluation for companies and governments is generally done by a credit rating agency such as Standard & Poor’s, Moody’s or Fitch.
These rating agencies are paid by the entity that is seeking a credit rating for itself or for one of its debt issues.
Why are Credit Ratings important?
Credit ratings for borrowers are based on substantial due diligence conducted by the rating agencies. While a borrower will strive to have the highest possible credit rating since it has a major impact on interest rates charged by lenders, the rating agencies must take a balanced and objective view of the borrower’s financial situation and capacity to service/repay the debt.
A credit rating not only determines whether or not a borrower will be approved for a loan, but also the interest rate at which the loan will need to be repaid. Since companies depend on loans for many start-up and other expenses, being denied a loan could spell disaster, and a high interest rate is much more difficult to pay back.
Credit ratings also play a large role in a potential buyer's determining whether or not to purchase bonds. A poor credit rating is a risky investment; it indicates a larger probability that the company will not pay off its bonds.
Credit rating changes can have a significant impact on financial markets. A prime example of this effect is the adverse market reaction to the credit rating downgrade of the U.S. federal government by Standard & Poor’s on August 5, 2011. Global equity markets plunged for weeks following the downgrade.
Factors Affecting Credit Ratings and Credit Scores
There are a few factors credit agencies take into consideration when assigning a credit rating to an organization.
First, the agency considers the entity's past history of borrowing and paying off debts. Any missed payments or defaults on loans negatively impact the rating.
The agency also looks at the entity's future economic potential.
If the economic future looks bright, the credit rating tends to be higher; if the borrower does not have a positive economic outlook, the credit rating will fall.
Q. 397. Logistics Sector
The Logistics Sector has been granted Infrastructure status. The need for integrated Logistics sector development has been felt for quite some time in view of the fact that the logistics cost in India is very high compared to developed countries. High logistics cost reduces the competitiveness of Indian goods both in domestic as well as export market. Development of logistics would give a boost to both domestic and external demand thereby encouraging manufacturing and 'job creation'. This will in turn be instrumental in improving country's GDP.
It will enable the Logistics Sector to avail infrastructure lending at easier terms with enhanced limits, access to larger amounts of funds as External Commercial Borrowings (ECB), access to longer tenor funds from insurance companies and pension funds and be eligible to borrow from India Infrastructure Financing Company Limited (IIFCL).
Q. 396. Waste to Energy
Waste to Energy
Recently, a Workshop on “Waste to Energy” – Swachchata Se Swachh Urja was organised by the Ministry of New and Renewable Energy as a part of “Swachchata Hi Sewa” campaign.
There is a huge amount of waste generated in a country and there is an urgent need to convert the waste into energy. Ministry of New and Renewable Energy is planning to install a number of plants to convert these wastes into energy. A framework will be worked on for energy thus generated by these plants and subsequently rates will fixed for them. Citizens will also be educated on effective waste management so that it would be easier for the industries to process the waste. An effective waste management will help in creating a cleaner and greener India.
The focus is on energy generation from urban, industrial and agricultural waste/residues, municipal solid wastes, vegetable and other market wastes, slaughterhouse waste and industrial wastes and effluents. These initiatives will not only support generation of energy from the waste but also help in reducing pollution. It will also address the issue of burning of paddy straw by producing bio-CNG.
Three major waste to energy projects of 52 MW, based on Municipal Solid Waste(MSW) have already been installed and running successfully in Okhla, Ghazipur and Narela-Bawana in Delhi which help in converting solid waste to electricity.
In addition, under Swachcha Bharat Mission, about 40 projects with installed capacity of 344 MW supported by the Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs are under various stages of commissioning.
In Uttarakhand, a new biofuel conversion plant piloted in Kashipur can convert all kinds of agricultural waste into bioethanol. This unique technology has many benefits over other biofuel plants that convert sugarcane or corn into biofuel. At this plant, agricultural waste is converted into ethyl alcohol or bioethanol – which can be used as biofuel, to replace imported fuel.
Agricultural waste is a by-product that is used in some places as fodder for animals. But a majority of farmers do not realize potential of agricultural waste — the waste is thrown into ditches and fire set to it. This practice only adds to air pollution and is harmful for the environment in general.
Ethanol production from natural materials isn’t a novel concept in itself. Before this, technology to convert sugarcane and corn maize into ethanol existed. This kind of ethanol is called first generation ethanol (1G ethanol). Converting agricultural waste into ethanol is a fairly new technology – and this ethanol is called second generation or 2G ethanol.
Currently, the total capacity of 1G ethanol plants installed in the country comes up to only 2.5 billion litres of fuel production. Oil-based industries, on the other hand, have a demand of 5 billion litres annually. But the answer isn’t to build more 1G ethanol plants. Ultimately, such an increase to meet the demand would impact the sugar market, livestock that depend on bagasse (the leftovers after extracting sugarcane juice) for food, and land used for sugarcane production. But 2G ethanol comes from agricultural waste – which is available in plenty and is a natural by product that does not need to be specially produced. This is the best example of recycling and reusing, and there’s no need to burn away more waste.
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