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      Question and Answer

       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.
       
       Q. 374. Doing Business Report, 2018
      Ans.
      The World Bank has released the Doing Business (DB) Report for the year 2018. India has been ranked 100 among 190 countries as assessed by the Doing Business Team of the World Bank. India has leapt 30 ranks over its rank of 130 in the Doing Business Report 2017.

      The DB Report is an assessment of 190 economies and covers 10 indicators which span the lifecycle of a business. India has improved its rank in 6 out of 10 indicators and has moved closer to international best practices. The credit for this significant improvement is credited to the idea of “Reform, Perform, Transform”, wherein a strong leadership has provided the political will to carry out comprehensive and complex reforms, supported by a bureaucracy committed to perform. The Government has undertaken an extensive exercise of stakeholder consultations, identification of user needs, government process re-engineering to match Government rules and procedures with user expectations and streamlined them to create a more conducive business environment. An extensive exercise is also undertaken to increase awareness among users about reforms to ensure extensive use of newly created systems.

      India as a top improver, with an improvement of 30 ranks compared to last year’s report, the highest jump in rank of any country in the DB Report, 2018. India is the only country in South Asia and BRICS economies to feature among most improved economies of the DB Report this year.
       
       Q. 373. Saubhagya Scheme
      Ans.
      Saubhagya Scheme
      Pradhan Mantri Sahaj Bijli Har Ghar Yojana –“Saubhagya” aims to ensure electrification of all willing households in the country in rural as well as urban areas. The beneficiaries for free electricity connections would be identified using Socio Economic and Caste Census (SECC) 2011 data. However, un-electrified households not covered under the SECC data would also be provided electricity connections under the scheme on payment of Rs. 500 which shall be recovered by DISCOMs in 10 instalments through electricity bill.
      The scheme aims to achieve the following:
      • Environmental upgradation by substitution of Kerosene for lighting purposes
      • Improvement education services
      • Better health services
      • Enhanced connectivity through radio, television, mobiles, etc.
      • Increased economic activities and jobs
      • Improved quality of life especially for women
      The Rural Electrification Corporation Limited (REC) will be the nodal agency for the operationalization of the scheme throughout the country.
       
       Q. 372. World's First Malaria Vaccine: Trial in three African nations
      Ans.
      • The first-ever vaccine against malaria will be trialled across three African nations next year.
      • It is hoped that the vaccine could help save tens of thousands of lives by preventing children from contracting the disease, which still kills an estimated 429,000 people every year.
      • Global efforts in the last 15 years cut the malaria death toll by 62 percent between 2000 and 2015.
      • Combined with existing malaria interventions, such a vaccine would have the potential to save tens of thousands of lives in Africa.
      RTS,S or Mosquirix
      • The injectable vaccine, called RTS,S or Mosquirix, was developed by British drug maker GlaxoSmithKline to protect children from the deadliest form of malaria in Africa.
      • The first countries to get the RTS,S vaccine will be Ghana, Kenya, and Malawi, and will involve over 750,000 children aged between five and 17 months old.
      • While the vaccine has achieved some success in tightly controlled laboratory experiments, researchers are unsure whether this will translate into effective control in the real world, which is why they are only running the pilot in three countries to begin with. 
      • If the vaccine is administered, and the full treatment completed, it has been found to prevent up to four in 10 cases of the disease.
      Why Ghana, Kenya, and Malawi?
      • The WHO said, Malawi, Kenya and Ghana were chosen for the pilot due to several factors, including having high rates of malaria as well as good malaria programmes, wide use of bed-nets, and well-functioning immunisation programmes.
      • Each country will decide for itself which region will be used in the pilot schemes, but it is expected that they will prioritize those that currently have the highest rates of malaria.
      It is hoped the information gathered from the pilot will inform later decisions about whether or not it is feasible to roll the vaccine out on a larger scale to more countries ravaged by the disease.
       
       Q. 371. 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.
       
       Q. 370. Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine: 2017
      Ans.
      Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine: 2017
      Three Americans have won the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine on Monday for their discoveries about the body's daily rhythms.  Jeffrey C. Hall, Michael Rosbash and Michael W. Young won the 9-million-kronor ($1.1 million) prize for isolating a gene that controls the body’s normal daily biological rhythm.

      The discovery has opened up new fields of research and raised awareness about the importance of getting proper sleep. Circadian rhythms adapt the workings of the body to different phases of the day, influencing sleep, behaviour, hormone levels, body temperature and metabolism. Circadian dysfunction has been linked to sleep disorders, as well as depression, bipolar disorder, cognitive function, memory formation and some neurological diseases.

      During their research they were able to peek inside the biological clock and elucidate its inner workings. The discovery has raised awareness of the importance of a proper sleep hygiene. During his previous research, Mr. Young had isolated the “period gene” in fruit flies. Mr. Hall and Mr. Rosbash found that a protein encoded by the gene accumulated during the night and degraded during daytime. A decade later, Mr. Young discovered another "clock gene." The paradigm-shifting discoveries established key mechanisms for the biological clock.

      Significance of the discovery
      Our wellbeing is affected when there is a temporary mismatch between our external environment and this internal biological clock, for example when we travel across several time zones and experience 'jet lag,'. There are also indications that chronic misalignment between our lifestyle and the rhythm dictated by our inner time keeper is associated with increased risk for various diseases. The misalignment may be associated with diseases, including cancer and degenerative neurological conditions.
       
       Q. 369. Project leopard
      Ans.
      Rajasthan forest department is going to launch India’s first ever Project leopard. The department has identified three wildlife sanctuaries for the pilot project to protect leopard and its habitats.  The project will start at the three sanctuaries at a cost of Rs 21 crore on an experimental basis. The pilot project will be implemented at Jaisamand Sanctuary (Udaipur), Kumbhalgarh Sanctuary-Raoli Todgarh Sanctuary (stretch of Aravalli Hills extended from Ajmer to Udaipur), and Jhalana Aamagarh Conservation Reserve (Jaipur).

      The project is aimed at conserving the endangered animal by improving its prey base and mitigating conflicts with humans and controlling poaching. According to wildlife census of 2015, in Rajasthan there are only 434 leopards. Leopard is an endangered species under schedule one of the Wildlife Protection Act, 1972. The project borrows its basic features from the Project Tiger launched by the Centre in 1973.
       
       Q. 368. Conjoined twins
      Ans.
      A pair of conjoined twins from Odisha have been successfully separated by doctors. The feat was achieved in a marathon surgery at the All India Institute of Medical Science (AIIMS).

      The surgery presented a peculiar challenge because babies were attached at the skull. This condition is called carniopagus conjoining. The twin shared brain tissue, nerves and major blood vessels. The operation lasted 16 hours and involved 40 surgeons and specialists. It is the first case of craniopagus twins being separated in the country. The chances of their survival were 10-15%, which is the same as the global average.

      Fifty-nine such craniopagus surgeries have been performed worldwide. Separation surgeries for two other sets of craniopagus twins – one from Hyderabad and another from Patna were planned in India in the past, but abandoned because the risks were too high.

      Conjoined twins are identical twins joined in utero. An extremely rare phenomenon, the occurrence is estimated to range from 1 in 49,000 births to 1 in 189,000 births, with a somewhat higher incidence in Southeast Asia and Africa. Approximately half are stillborn, and an additional one-third die within 24 hours. Most live births are female, with a ratio of 3:1.

      Two contradicting theories exist to explain the origins of conjoined twins. The more generally accepted theory is fission, in which the fertilized egg splits partially. The other theory, no longer believed to be the basis of conjoined twinning, is fusion, in which a fertilized egg completely separates, but stem cells (which search for similar cells) find like-stem cells on the other twin and fuse the twins together. Conjoined twins share a single common chorion, placenta, and amniotic sac, although these characteristics are not exclusive to conjoined twins as there are some monozygotic but non-conjoined twins who also share these structures in utero. Craniopagus twins are conjoined twins that are fused at the cranium. Additionally, conjoined twins are genetically identical and always share the same sex. 
       
       Q. 367. Polymetallic Nodules
      Ans.
      What are Polymetallic nodules?
      • Polymetallic nodules are potato shaped containing multiple metals like copper, nickel, cobalt, manganese, iron, lead, zinc, aluminium, etc. Of these, cobalt, copper and nickel are of much importance and in great demand. These three metals of strategic needs are fast depleting from the face of the earth. Hence a world-wide search is on for the potato-shaped nodules.
      Exploration contract
      • Government of India had signed a 15 year contract with International Seabed Authority (ISA) for exploration of polymetallic nodules from Central Indian Ocean Basin (CIOB) in 2002.  This right to explore polymetallic nodules from seabed has been extended by five years. These rights are over 75000 sq. km of area in international waters.
      • The area has been allocated by International Seabed Authority for developmental activities for polymetallic nodules.
      • The estimated polymetallic nodule resource potential of the area is 380 million tonnes, containing 4.7 million tonnes of nickel, 4.29 million tonnes of copper and 0.55 million tonnes of cobalt and 92.59 million tonnes of manganese.
      • India is the first country to have received the status of a pioneer investor.  It was allocated an exclusive area in Central Indian Ocean Basin by United Nations (UN) for exploration and utilization of nodules.
      • India is one among the top  eight countries/ contractors implementing a long–term programme on exploration and utilization of Polymetallic Nodules. The project is being carried out under the oversight of Ministry of Earth Sciences.
      Exploration
      • The project includes survey and exploration, environmental studies, technology development in mining and extractive metallurgy.
      • Environmental studies for mining of deep-sea polymetallic nodules have been carried out to evaluate the possible impacts of mining on deep-sea environment.
      • A remotely operable in-situ soil testing equipment has been deployed for obtaining detailed geotechnical properties of the mining area.
      International Seabed Authority (ISA)
      International Seabed Authority (ISA) is a UN body set up to regulate the exploration and exploitation of marine non-living resources of oceans in international waters. In 2016 India was re-elected as a member of Council of ISA.
       
       Q. 366. Should India have more than one-time zone? What are the advantages of using Daylight Saving Time?
      Ans.
      India is geographically the second-largest country not to have multiple time-zones- the People’s Republic of China being the other. Adopting two time zones for India is something that the Government ought to consider and look to implement. Far too many people in India operate in a time zone that is not an appropriate diurnal cycle for them.

      Physical Expanse logic
      India stretches from 97.4 East in Arunachal to 68 East in Gujarat — almost 30 degrees of longitude which is more than enough to have two time-zones. There is no doubt that there will be some initial chaos, particularly to time-tables but globally several nations, particularly the United States, maintain multiple time-zones. It may not be a bad idea for the country to explore the possibility of two time zones which could well lead to greater efficiencies among the workforce and on energy consumption.

      History of time in India
      • Indian Standard Time, which is five and a half hours ahead of the Greenwich Mean Time (+5.30 GMT), is an anachronism like many systems that were inherited from the British. In fact, India did not have any single time zone until as late as 1906.
      • A cursory history of time in India reveals that the cities of Bombay, Calcutta and Madras (the three Presidencies, as the British called them) had their own time zones, and these were determined almost precisely by their geographical longitude.
      • Calcutta Time, adjusted for the eastern-most city, was set at +5.54 GMT; 24 minutes ahead of the current IST.
      • Madras Time was just nine minutes behind the current IST and was the closest precursor in terms of actual time to IST.
      • Bombay Time, on the other hand, was +4.51 GMT.
      • So in colonial times, there was a one-hour-nine-minutes time difference between Kolkata and Mumbai. Yet, today these cities, which are 1,650km apart, share the same time.
      • Only in the tea estates of Assam, where the concept of ‘bagaan time’ (estate time) exists, is there a provision for a separate time zone inside India. Bagaan time is one hour ahead of IST. Leave the tea estates though, and everything reverts to normal.
      • In fact, while Kolkata fell in line with IST in 1948, Mumbai retained its own individual time zone till 1955 as a result of the Bombay Municipal Corporation (as it was known then) delaying the introduction of IST in 1906. This was due to popular resentment stemming from the trial of Bal Gangadhar Tilak, which was taking place at that time.
      Single time zone argument and disadvantages
      • Proponents of a single time zone argue that India is not as wide as China, which continues to have a single time zone (the country actually spreads across five time zones).
      • In addition, if India were to implement two time zones, there would be utter chaos, not the least to long-distance railway schedules but also in the way business is conducted in India.
      • The much talked-about chaos that will ensue if India adopts two time zones, is also a bit disingenuous. Several northern countries in Europe and most of the US adopt Daylight Saving Times. People there put their watches back and forward twice a year. There are some missed flights and a bit of confusion, but nothing as bad as the disaster theorists have predicted.
      • But there is another aspect, common to the Chinese and Indian desires to maintain single time zones over vast nations — the ‘unity’ theory. A single time, a single shared experience, no matter where you are in India, unifies the nation. That is definitely a strong ideal, but also slightly flawed because it does not take advantage of the light.
       
      Two-time zones argument
      • Changing time zones when we travel internationally can seriously disturb physical cycles. If the sun rises too early and sets too early, or vice versa, as per the local time, it can also disturb body cycles.
      • But being in the same time zone where the sun is high in the sky in Kolkata and barely rising in Mumbai, is strange. After all, these two cities are an hour apart by their natural time zones.
      • There are also economic benefits to having two different time zones; people will be able to work better and plan better, according to natural cycles rather than the one imposed by the state.
      • Higher energy consumption: A conservative estimate shows that starting the day an hour earlier would result in a saving of about 550 MW of power in northeast India alone.
      • Social stigma with night / darkness: Every city has an apparent safe time limit for strolling in the night. This would be earlier for eastern states by at least a couple of hours. This in turn might cause lesser customers at the night life (restaurants, pubs) venues, and hurting the economy a bit. Moreover, safety of citizens puts additional burden on our already overburdened police force.
      Daylight Saving Time (DST)
      Daylight Saving Time (DST) is the practice of setting the clocks forward 1 hour from standard time during the summer months, and back again in the fall, in order to make better use of natural daylight.
      • US inventor and politician Benjamin Franklin first proposed the concept of DST in 1784, but modern Daylight Saving Time was first suggested in 1895.
      • Less than 40% of the countries in the world use DST.
      • Some countries use it to make better use of the natural daylight in the evenings. The difference in light is most noticeable in the areas at a certain distance from Earth's equator.
      • Some studies show that DST could lead to fewer road accidents and injuries by supplying more daylight during the hours more people use the roads. Other studies claim that people's health might suffer due to DST changes.
      DST is also used to reduce the amount of energy needed for artificial lighting during the evening hours. However, many studies disagree about DST's energy savings, and while some studies show a positive outcome, others do not.
       
       Q. 365. Exercise INDRA - 2017: Indo-Russia Joint Exercise
      Ans.
      Indian armed forces is conducting first ever International Tri Service Exercise wit Russian armed forces. It will give a major boost to the Indo-Russian defence cooperation.  Exercise INDRA-2017 is being conducted in the Eastern Military District of Russia from 19 to 29 Oct 2017. Exercise INDRA in its previous nine versions has been conducted as a single service exercise alternately between the two countries. The year 2017 marks a major milestone as this Exercise has been upgraded to involve all the three Services of the Armed Forces (Army, Navy & Air Force), which further accentuates the importance of Joint Services in the present world environment.

      Exercise INDRA-2017 is being conducted in the Sea of Japan near Vladivostok. The Indian contingent will comprise of 350 personnel from Army, 80 from Air Force, two IL 76 aircraft and one Frigate and Corvette each from the Navy. The Russian Federation Armed Forces will be represented by approximately 1000 troops, Marines and Ships of Pacific Fleet and aircraft from Eastern Military District.

      The Exercise will provide an opportunity to the armed forces of both countries to train in counter terrorism operations in a multinational scenario in a joint tri service environment. The scope of the Exercise includes professional interactions, establishment of joint command and control structures between the Indian & Russian forces and elimination of terrorist threat in a multinational environment under the UN mandate.

      Exercise INDRA-2017 will strengthen mutual confidence, inter-operability and enable sharing of best practices between both the armed forces. It will be a landmark event in the history of Indo-Russian defence cooperation.
       
       Q. 364. Intensified Mission Indradhanush (IMI)
      Ans.
      INTENSIFIED MISSION INDRADHANUSH (IMI)
      Through the Intensified Mission Indradhanush (IMI), the Government aims to reach each and every child under two years of age and all those pregnant women who have been left uncovered under the routine immunisation programme. The special drive will focus on improving immunization coverage in select districts and cities to ensure full immunization to more than 90% by December 2018.
      Intensified Mission Indradhanush will have inter-ministerial and inter-departmental coordination, action-based review mechanism and intensified monitoring and accountability framework for effective implementation of targeted rapid interventions to improve the routine immunization coverage. IMI is supported by 11 other ministries and departments, such as Ministry of Women and Child Development, Panchayati Raj, Ministry of Urban Development, Ministry of Youth Affairs among others. The convergence of ground level workers of various departments like ASHA, ANMs, Anganwadi workers, Zila preraks under National Urban Livelihood Mission (NULM), self-help groups will be ensured for better coordination and effective implementation of the programme.
      Intensified Mission Indradhanush will cover low performing areas in the selected districts and urban areas. Special attention will be given to unserved/low coverage pockets in sub-centre and urban slums with migratory population. The focus is also on the urban settlements and cities identified under National Urban Health Mission (NUHM).
      This Intensified Mission is driven based on the information received from gap assessment, supervision through government, concurrent monitoring by partners, and end-line surveys. Under IMI, special strategies are devised for rigorous monitoring of the programme. States and districts have developed coverage improvement plans based on gap self-assessment. 
       
       Q. 363. What is Artificial Intelligence? Discuss briefly the state of AI in India.
      Ans.
      Artificial intelligence 
      Artificial intelligence is intelligent behaviour by machines, rather than the natural intelligence (NI) of humans and other animals. In computer science AI is defined as the study of "intelligent agents": any device that perceives its environment and takes actions that maximize its chance of success at some goal. Colloquially, the term "artificial intelligence" is applied when a machine mimics "cognitive" functions that humans associate with other human minds, such as "learning" and "problem solving".

      Artificial intelligence was founded as an academic discipline in 1956, and in the years since has experienced several waves of optimism, followed by loss of funding (known as an "AI winter"),followed by new approaches, success and renewed funding. For most of its history, AI research has been divided into subfields that often fail to communicate with each other.

      The traditional problems (or goals) of AI research include reasoning, knowledge, planning, learning, natural language processing, perception and the ability to move and manipulate objects. General intelligence is among the field's long-term goals. Approaches include statistical methods, computational intelligence, and traditional symbolic AI. Many tools are used in AI, including versions of search and mathematical optimization, neural networks and methods based on statistics, probability and economics. The AI field draws upon computer science, mathematics, psychology, linguistics, philosophy, neuroscience, artificial psychology and many others.

      In the twenty-first century, AI techniques have experienced a resurgence following concurrent advances in computer power, large amounts of data, and theoretical understanding; and AI techniques have become an essential part of the technology industry, helping to solve many challenging problems in computer science.

      India and AI
      The Union ministry of electronics and information technology has set up an internal committee to advise the government on a policy on artificial intelligence (AI). The expert committee will advise the IT ministry on the most apt technologies for India. The government’s main focus is to reduce cyber attacks with AI.

      AI is also widely seen as a major challenge in generation of employment as many companies are likely to depend more on it to cut down on human resources. The artificial intelligence market is estimated to touch $153 billion in 2020 and expected to grow at a compounded annual growth rate of 45.4% from 2016 to 2022.

      The government has recently drawn up a seven-point strategy that would form the framework for India’s strategic plan to use AI. The strategy includes: developing methods for human machine interactions; ensuring safety and security of AI systems; creating a competent workforce in line with AI and R&D needs, understanding and addressing the ethical, legal and societal implications of AI, measuring and evaluating AI technologies through standards and benchmarks, among others.
       
       Q. 362. Paryatan Parv and Ek Bharat Shrestha Bharat
      Ans.
      The Ministry of Tourism, Government of India, in collaboration with other Central Ministries and State Governments will organize a “Paryatan Parv” across the country from the 5th to 25th October 2017. The objective of the programme is to draw focus on the benefits of tourism, showcase the cultural diversity of the country and reinforce the principle of “Tourism for All”. The event envisages large scale participation by the public as well as industry stakeholders.
       
      • ParyatanParv reinforces the idea of Ek Bharat Shreshtha Bharat with the following objectives:
      1. To CELEBRATE the Unity in Diversity of our Nation and to maintain and strengthen the fabric of traditionally existing emotional bonds between the people of our Country;  
      2. To PROMOTE the spirit of national integration through a deep and structured engagement between all Indian States and Union Territories through a year-long planned engagement between States;
      3. To SHOWCASE the rich heritage and culture, customs and traditions of either State for enabling people to understand and appreciate the diversity that is India, thus fostering a sense of common identity;
      4. To ESTABLISH long-term engagements and 
      5. To CREATE an environment which promotes learning between States by sharing best practices and experiences.
       
      • The ‘Ek Bharat Shrestha Bharat’ programme, an initiative of Ministry of Culture, aims to actively enhance interaction between people of diverse cultures living in different States and UTs in India, with the objective of promoting greater mutual understanding amongst them.
      • As per the programme, each year, every State/UT would be paired with another State/UT in India for reciprocal interaction between the people.
      • It is envisaged through this exchange, that the knowledge of the language, culture, traditions and practices of different states will lead to an enhanced understanding and bonding between one another, thereby strengthening the unity and integrity of India.
      • The States and UTs are to embark on a mission to enhance their cultural, academic and economic ties by entering into a wide range of mutual engagements with the paired States/UTs covering the spheres of music, drama, cuisine, language, history, tourism and other forms of exchange between the people.
      • An indicative list of activities has been drawn up and circulated to the State Governments / UT Administrations and to the key Central Ministries. The States/ UTs may choose, evolve and develop their interaction pattern based on the suggested list as per operational suitability in the course of their interactions.
      • The paired States/ UTs are to enter into MoUs with each other to carry out common activities under Ek Bharat Shrestha Bharat.
       








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