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OLD RAJINDER NAGAR DELHI UNIVERSITY NORTH CAMPUS [Our Only Center in North Delhi]

      Question and Answer

       Q. 506. DIGITAL INDIA
      Ans.
      DIGITAL INDIA

      Samvardhit Bharat- Samparkit Bharat
      Under Digital India National Research Development Corporation (NRDC) has undertaken “Development of Technology Portal” for dissemination of information on technologies developed across the country from a single source and to bring the information of various technologies to the large number of small & medium scale entrepreneurs/industry with limited resource of information. 

      DIGITAL SAKSHARTA ABHIYAN (DISHA) OR NATIONAL DIGITAL LITERACY MISSION (NDLM)
      • Digital India Launched by PM on 1st July,2015
      • To create a participative, transparent and responsive government
      • A big step forward to transform the country into a digitally empowered knowledge economy.
      • Includes various schemes worth over Rs 1 lakh crore - Digital Locker, e-education, e-health, e-sign and national scholarship portal etc.
      • The program includes projects to ensure that government services are available to citizens electronically and people get benefit of the latest information and communication technology.
      • 2 lakhs 50 thousand gram panchayats to be connected with WiFi, Hotspot enabled broadband connection.
      • National Digital Literacy Mission (NDLM) to make at least one person in every family digitally literate with digital literacy skills by 2020.
      COMMON SERVICE CENTRES:
      • In order to take the benefits of Digital India to every corner of country, a vast network of more than 2.5 lakh Common Services Centers have been created.
      • This has developed digital entrepreneurs among poor, marginalized, Dalits and women of India.
       BHARAT NET: From High ways to I-ways and village broadband
      • Under Bharat Net program, around 7.5 lakh kms OFC would be laid to connect 2.5 lakh villages. The program implementation speed has been significantly ramped up by involving willing States to undertake its execution.
      • In order to provide last mile internet access to rural citizens, Government is in the process of rolling out community Wi-Fi services in all 2.5 lakh Gram Panchayats, that would ride on the Bhrat Net infrastructure.
       
       Q. 505. UN Road Safety trust fund
      Ans.
      UN Road Safety trust fund
      The United Nations took a major step to address the tragedy of road accidents by launching the UN Road Safety Trust Fund to spur action that could save lives and prevent the loss of opportunity associated with road accidents. Highlighting the opportunities offered by the fund, Mohammed said there is "a chance to save the lives of millions of people around the world, and to prevent injuries, suffering and the loss of opportunity associated with road accidents.
      • The United Nations Road Safety Trust Fund aims to accelerate progress in improving global road safety by bridging the gaps in the mobilization of resources for effective action at all levels.
      • The Fund will mobilize resources from governments, intergovernmental or non-governmental organizations, the private sector, philanthropic organizations and individuals.
      • UN Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE) will be the secretariat for the Trust Fund.
      • The Trust Fund will support efforts along the five pillars of the Global Plan for the Decade of Action for Road Safety, which include strengthened road safety management capacities, improved safety of road infrastructure and broader transport networks, enhanced safety of vehicles, improved behaviour of road users and improved post-crash care.
       
       Q. 504. CLEAN INDIA- GREEN INDIA
      Ans.
      CLEAN INDIA- GREEN INDIA
       
      Swachch Bharat- Harit Bharat
      With an aim to provide sanitation facilities to every family including toilets, solid and liquid waste system, village cleanliness and safe and adequate drinking water supply the corporation has promoted and commercialised technologies relating to low cost toilets, safe and community based drinking water system, water filters, chlorine tablets etc.
       
      SWACHH SWASTH SARVATRA
      Swachh Swasth  Sarvatra is a joint initiative of the Ministry of Health & Family Welfare and Ministry of Drinking Water & Sanitation launched on 29 December, 2016.  Through this scheme CHCs in ODF Block supported under NHM to achieve Kayakalp certification, Gram Panchayat of Kayakalp PHC prioritized to become ODF and Training in WASH of CHC/PHC nominees. As part of it:
      MOHFW will provide a grant of Rs. 10 lakhs to ensure that their Community Health Centre (CHC) achieves High Quality benchmarks of sanitation, hygiene and infection control with a minimum score of 70 under the Kayakalp assessment.
       
      SWACHCH BHARAT ABHIYAN (UD, RD)
      • India’s biggest ever cleanliness drive launched by the Prime Minister on Gandhi Jayanti, 2nd October 2014 at Rajghat in New Delhi.
      • PM urges everyone to devote 100 hours every year that is two hours every week towards cleanliness.
      • Campaign aimed at the Mission Clean India by 2nd October 2019 to coincide with the 150th birth anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi
      • Sanitation coverage which was 42% previously has become 60%
      • Open Defecation Free (ODF) States: Sikkim, Himachal Pradesh, Kerala
      • Urban Areas of Andhra Pradesh and Gujarat and Sikkim declared ODF.
       
       Swachch Bharat Gramin
      • Over 3.6 crore household toilets constructed since the launch of the Mission
      • 1,74,557 villages, 118 districts and 3 States declared ODF
      • Incentive for individual toilet has been increased to Rs. 12,000.
      • 100 Swachh Iconic Places (SIP) of historical and cultural significance will attain the highest levels of Swachhta as per global standards. 20 of these have been selected in Phase1 and Phase 2.
       Swachch Bharat Urban
       614 cities have been so far declared Open Defecation Free after due verification
      All cities of Andhra Pradesh and  Gujarat declared ODF
       
      SWACHCH VIDYALAYA:
      • Target was fully achieved with 4.17 lakh toilets added to 2.61 lakh government elementary and secondary schools from 15.8.2014 to 15.8.2015.
      • 13.77 crore children in 11.21 lakh government schools all over the country now have access to toilet facilities
      SWACHCH BHARAT KOSH (Finance)
      • To improve the cleanliness levels in rural and urban areas, priority to girl toilets in schools.
      • Purpose: Construction of new toilets and repair and renovation of dysfunctional toilets in villages, towns, government schools and aanganwaadis.
      SWACHH BHARAT CESS (Finance)
      • Contribution to the Swachh Bharat Abhiyan in the form of Swachh Bharat Cess
       
       RURAL DRINKING WATER SUPPLY (MoDWS)
      • Rural drinking water supply coverage - No. of fully covered habitations increased from 73.66% as on 1.4.14 to 77.01% (As on 28.2.17)
      • Clean Water to Arsenic and Fluoride affected 28000 habitations by 2020
       
      NAMAMI GANGE (MoWS& GR)
      • Ambitious Ganga Rejuvenation Program ‘NamaamiGange’ launched for cleaning of Ganga.
      • The Union Cabinet approved the budget outlay of Rs 20,000 crore for Namami Gange programme in 2015.
      • Namami Gange is an integrated conservation programme with the aim to accomplish the twin objectives of effective abatement of pollution, conservation and rejuvenation of National River Ganga.
      • NMCG which was registered as a society in 2011 was reconstituted as an Authority on 7th October 2016. It is now empowered with regulatory powers under Environment Protection Act, 1986 and higher financial powers.
      • Under Namami Gange programme, 100% funds being provided by the central government.
      UJALA (Unnat Jyoti by Affordable LEDs for All)
      • Unnat Jyoti by Affordable LEDs for All. LED bulb distribution under domestic efficient lighting program in Delhi launched on 5 January 2015
      • 27.25 crore LED Bulbs distributed
      • 35,400 Million units of electricity saved per year
      • Reduction in Carbon Dioxide Emission up to 28.67 MT/year
       
       Q. 503. Young India-Vibrant India
      Ans.
      Young India-Vibrant India
      STAND UP INDIA (Finance)
      To promote entrepreneurship among SC/ST and Women launched by PM on 5th April, 2016
      To benefit at least 2.5 lakh entrepreneurs.
      Loans of more than 15,000 entrepreneurs approved out of which more than 80% are women.
      Rs. 500 crores have been allotted in 2016-17
      18,565 women and 4,756 SC/STs have so far benefited from Stand Up India scheme.
      Capital subsidy under New scheme ATUFS (Amended Technology Upgradation Fund Scheme) in Textile Sector will create over 30 lakh jobs, especially for women

      STARTUP INDIA (DIPP)
      Action plan unveiled for encouraging startups.
      Tax relief for three consecutive years out of a block of seven year for startups.
      Start-up Fund of Rs. 10,000 Crore to be released over two Finance Commission cycles, that is, by 2025.
      Startups are allowed to issue ESOPs to promoters working as employees
      Start-up India, a flagship initiative of the Government of India, intended to build a strong eco-system for nurturing innovation and Start-ups in the country that will drive sustainable economic growth and generate large scale employment opportunities.
      In order to meet the objectives of the scheme, the corporation has taken following initiatives:
      Nurturing Creativity and Innovation by institutionalizing Meritorious Innovation Awards
      Transferred about 120 technologies to various entrepreneurs/ Start-ups, contributing significantly to Start up India
      NRDC is assisting DIPP in evaluating the innovation content in the start-up applications for recognizing start-ups and recommending the eligible start-ups for tax exemption and other benefits.
      Designated by DIPP as Government Facilitator for IP filings for Start-Ups
       
      MUDRA (Finance) Pradhan Mantri MUDRA (Micro Units Development and Refinance Agency) Yojana
      Launched by PM on 8th April, 2015 to promote entrepreneurship spirit among the youth.
      Easy, loans without guarantee under three categories – Shishu, Kishore and Tarun by the banks.
      Loans more than Rs. 1.80 lakh crore disbursed to over 4 crore borrowers in 2016-17 FY as per data available till 13.04.2017
      Budget allocation for 2017-18 doubled to Rs.2.44 lakh crores against Rs. 1.22 lakh crores in 2016-17
      More than 70% of the loans has been availed of by women entrepreneurs
       
      SKILL INDIA (MSDE)
      Skill building is the basic and foremost step that would eventually lead to the success of Make in India.With this concept, the Corporation has taken up various activities for the upgradation of the skill set, especially of the rural masses and North – eastern territories.
      The programme aims to reduce the drudgery of people in their daily lives belonging to rural and backward areas of the country, facilitate new avenues of employment generation and income generating activities through S & T intervention.
      NRDC has conducted over 100 EDP/ Skill Development programs in North Eastern States and other backward regions on coir, sericulture, dairy, pottery, sanitation and agri & food processing clusters to improve the livelihood of the rural population. More than 200 units set-up by trainees and thus creating employment for others as well.
      The Corporation also conducts IPR seminars / workshops / training programs.This activity creates awareness about the protection of inventions and also helps inventors and researchers to have the first hand insight in the patent protection procedures, infringement, valuation and commercialization of patents.
       
      Pradhan Mantri Kaushal Vikas Yojana:
      Under PMKVY (2015-16)
      13,000 training centers opened across India Training in 375 trades.
      19.85 Lakh youth trained part of PMKVY (2015-2016)
      Under PMKVY -2 (2016-20)
      More than 5,700 training centres opened across India
      More than 16 lakh candidates trained
      Model training centres known as Pradhan Mantri Kaushal Kendras (PMKK) are being opened in every district across India
      Physical target of 20.5 lakh approved for 35 states/UT costing to INR 3000 crore till 2020
      6.01 lakh training to be implemented through state/UTs by March’18
      Additional target of 20 lakh allocated for enrolment and training by training providers
      Women constitute approx. 50% of all enrolled candidates under PMKVY
       
      SANKALP
      Skill Acquisition and Knowledge Awareness for Livelihood Promotion program (SANKALP) to be launched at a cost of Rs.4000 crores. SANKALP will provide market relevant training to 3.5 crore youth
       
      Pradhan Mantri Yuva Yojana (MSDE)
      In order to encourage entrepreneurship among youth the scheme was launched on 9th November 2016.
      The scheme aims at creating a culture of Entrepreneurship amongst youth by motivating, educating and equipping them with basics skills of entrepreneurship.
      The scheme will be launched in 2200 Institutes of Higher Learning (colleges/universities/polytechnics), 300 schools, 500 ITI’s and 50 Entrepreneurship Development Centres (EDCs).
      The entrepreneurship education will be provided along with the formal education courses through Facilitated Blended Model, which is a combination of e-Learning and Class room teaching.
      The course curriculum is based on experiential learning and emphasises on Learning by Doing.
      E Cell is an important component of the scheme which build entrepreneurial capabilities in the students by virtue of exposing them to the real-life situations.
      Hand holding of the participating institutes and students will be provided through a network of 55 Regional/Nodal Hubs spread across the country
       
      National Young Leaders Program (NYLP)
      New Scheme launched in Dec.,2014, to develop leadership qualities among the youth, with 5 following components and  is implemented through Nehru Yuva Kendra Sangathan.
      i. Neighbourhood Youth Parliament
      ii. Youth for Development Program
      iii. National Young Leaders Award
      iv. National Youth Advisory council
      v. National Youth Development Fund.
      Under Neighbourhood Youth Parliament, Nehru Yuva Kendra Sangathan has involved 27.23 Lakhs youth and conducted 22,405 Block level Youth Parliament and 36,997 village level Youth Parliament upto September 2017.

      Khelo India - Boost to Sports (Sports)
      First Sports University to be opened in Manipur.
      Launched as a Central Sector Scheme during the current financial year 2016-17 onwards
      Target Olympics Podium scheme launched to identify and assist medal probable for 2020 Olympics
      Task force for preparations for next 3 Olympic Games
       
       
       Q. 502. India State of Forest Report (ISFR) 2017
      Ans.
      India State of Forest Report (ISFR) 2017
      • Forest and Tree Cover of the country has increased by 8,021 sq km (1 %) as compared to assessment of 2015. The very dense forest has increased by 1.36 % as compared to last assessment. This is very heartening as VDF absorbs maximum carbon dioxide from the atmosphere.
      • The increasing trend of forest and tree cover is largely due to the various national policies aimed at conservation and sustainable management of our forests like Green India Mission, National Agro-Forestry policy (NAP), REDD plus policy, Joint Forest Management (JFM), National Afforestation Programme and funds under Compensatory Afforestation to States.
      • Successful agro-forestry practices, better conservation of forests, improvement of scrub areas to forest areas, increase in mangrove cover, conservation and protection activities have also led to increase in the forest and tree cover.
      • Green Highways (Plantations & Maintenance) Policy to develop 1,40,000 km long tree line with plantation along with both sides of national highways will go a long way in enhancing the forest & tree cover.
      • Madhya Pradesh has the largest forest cover of 77,414 sq km in the country in terms of area, followed by Arunachal Pradesh and Chhattisgarh. In terms of percentage of forest cover with respect to the total geographical area, Lakshadweep with (90.33%) has the highest forest cover, followed by Mizoram (86.27%) and Andaman & Nicobar Island (81.73%).
      • Top 5 states where maximum forest cover has increased are Andhra Pradesh (2,141 sq kms), Karnataka (1,101 sq kms), Kerala (1,043 sq kms), Odisha (885 sq kms) and Telangana (565 sq kms).
      • Top 5 states where forest cover has decreased are Mizoram (531 sq km), Nagaland (450 sq km), Arunachal Pradesh (190 sq km), Tripura (164 sq km) and Meghalaya (116 sq km). It is important to mention here that these states are in the North Eastern region of the country where the total forest cover is very high i.e. more than 70% in each state. The main reasons for the decrease are - shifting cultivation, other biotic pressures, rotational felling, diversion of forest lands for developmental activities, submergence of forest cover, agriculture expansion and natural disasters.
      Water bodies inside forests
      • Water bodies inside forests have increased over a decade. Forests play a vital role in water conservation and improve the water regime in the area.
      • State Forest Departments besides plantation and protection also undertake steps to improve water conservation through different interventions such as building Check dams, vegetation barriers, percolation ponds, contour trenches etc. under various Central & State Government schemes
      • As per the latest assessment, water bodies inside forest cover have increased by 2,647 sq kms during the last decade.
      • Maharashtra (432 sq kms), Gujarat (428 sq kms), Madhya Pradesh (389 sq kms) are top three states showing increase in water bodies within forest areas. Overall, almost all the states have shown a positive change in water bodies.
      Mangrove cover
      Mangrove cover of the country has shown a positive change. As per ISFR 2017, mangrove forests have increased by 181 sq kms. Maharashtra (82 sq kms), Andhra Pradesh (37 sq kms) and Gujarat (33 sq kms) are the top three gainers in terms of mangrove cover. 7 out of the 12 mangrove states have shown an increase in mangrove cover and none of them show any negative change. Mangrove eco-systems are rich in biodiversity and provide a number of ecological services. They also play a major role in protecting coastal areas from erosion, tidal storms and tsunamis.
      Striving towards achieving Nationally determined contributions (NDCs) goal
      India is striving towards achieving its NDC goal of creating additional carbon sink of 2.5 to 3.0 billion tonnes of CO2 equivalent through additional forest and tree cover by 2030.   As per present assessment total carbon stock in forest is estimated to be 7,082 million tonnes. There is an increase of 38 million tonnes in the carbon stock of country as compared to the last assessment.
       
       Q. 501. Defence Policy
      Ans.
      The defence ministry has come out with a draft policy. The policy envisages achieving a turnover of Rs 1,70,000 crore in military goods and services by 2025 by promoting the domestic defence industry.
      The policy aims to make India one of the top five manufacturers of defence platforms with active participation of public and private sectors.
      The policy lists as a major aim achieving export of Rs 35,000 crore in military equipment and services by 2025 by promoting the domestic defence industry.
      The policy aims to make licensing process for defence industries liberal and the listing of items requiring licences will be reviewed.
      The policy aims to make India self-reliant in defence production as well as fulfil demand of other friendly countries. The government identified 12 military platforms and weapons systems for production in India to achieve the aim of “self-reliance”. They are fighter aircraft, medium lift and utility helicopters, warships, land combat vehicles, missile systems, gun systems, small arms, ammunition and explosives, surveillance systems, electronic warfare (EW) systems and night fighting enablers, among others.
      According to the policy the tax regime will be rationalised to make domestic manufacturing attractive by ensuring that there is no tax inversion. Taxes on import of capital goods and services, inputs and components used in defence production will be rationalised.
      The policy aims to make taxes on import of capital goods and services, inputs and components used in defence production rational.
       
       Q. 500. Protection of Human Rights (Amendments) Bill, 2018
      Ans.
      Salient Features:
      • It proposes to include “National Commission for Protection of Child Rights” as deemed Member of the Commission;
      • It proposes to add a woman Member in the composition of the Commission;
      • It proposes to enlarge the scope of eligibility and scope of selection of Chairperson, National Human Rights Commission as well as the State Human Rights Commission; and
      • It proposes to incorporate a mechanism to look after the cases of human rights violation in the Union Territories.
      • It proposes to amend the term of office of Chairperson and Members of National Human Rights Commission and State Human Rights Commission to make it in consonance with the terms of Chairperson and Members of other Commissions.
      Benefits: The Amendment will strengthen the Human Rights Institutions of India further for effective discharge of their mandates, roles and responsibilities. Moreover, the amended Act will be in perfect sync with the agreed global standards and benchmarks towards ensuring the rights relating to life, liberty, equality and dignity of the individual in the country.
      The amendment to the Protection of Human Rights Act, 1993 will make National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) and State Human Rights Commission (SHRC) more compliant with the Paris Principle concerning its autonomy, independence, pluralism and wide-ranging functions in order to effectively protect and promote human rights.
       
       Q. 499. National Anti Doping Agency (NADA)
      Ans.
      National Anti Doping Agency (NADA) was set up as registered society under the Societies Registration Act of 1890 on November 24, 2005 with a mandate for Dope free sports in India. The primary objectives are to implement anti-doping rules as per WADA code, regulate dope control programme, to promote education and research and creating awareness about doping and its ill effects.
      National Anti Doping Agency is mandated for Dope free sports in India. The primary objectives are to implement anti-doping rules as per WADA code, regulate dope control programme, to promote education and research and creating awareness about doping and its ill effects.
      The primary functions of NADA are as under: To implement the Anti Doping Code to achieve compliance by all sports organizations  in the Country. To coordinate dope testing program through all participating stakeholders.To promote anti doping research and education to inculcate the value of dope free sports. To adopt best practice standards and quality systems to enable effective implementation and  continual improvement of the program. Ex-officio Chairman of NADA is the Union Minister of Youth Affairs & Sports.
      Therapeutic Use Exemption (TUE): An athlete, like any other person, may have illnesses or conditions that require the use of particular medications as treatment. But, Substances an athlete is required to take as a treatment may fall under the Prohibited List. In such a case, a Therapeutic Use Exemption (TUE) may under strict conditions, provide an athlete with the authorization to take the needed medicine, all the while competing in sport, with no resulting doping offence. 
      The World Anti-Doping Agency is a foundation initiated by the International Olympic Committee based in Canada to promote, coordinate and monitor the fight against drugs in sports. The agency's key activities include scientific research, education, development of anti-doping capacities, and monitoring of the World Anti-Doping Code, whose provisions are enforced by the UNESCO International Convention against Doping in Sport.
      In 2016, Professor Richard McLaren (academic), an independent investigator hired on behalf of WADA published a 2 part report showing that more than 1,000 Russians athletes in over 30 sports were involved in or benefited from state-sponsored doping between 2011 and 2015.
       
       Q. 498. Explain briefly about Asia Africa Growth Corridor. Why China wants the initiative to be merged with BRICS?
      Ans.
      The Asia-Africa Growth Corridor or AAGC is an economic cooperation agreement between the governments of India and Japan. Unlike One Belt One Road Initiative (OBOR) which entails development of a land corridor, AAGC will essentially be a sea corridor linking Africa with India and other countries of South-East Asia and Oceania. AAGC will achieve linkage by rediscovering ancient sea-routes and creating new sea corridors. AAGC initiative will link ports in Jamnagar (Gujarat) with Djibouti in the Gulf of Eden. Similarly, the ports of Mombasa and Zanzibar will be connected to ports near Madurai; Kolkata will be linked to Sittwe port in Myanmar.
      The AAGC would consist of four main components:
      1. Development and cooperation projects,
      2. Quality infrastructure and institutional connectivity,
      3. Capacity and skill enhancement and
      4. People-to-people partnerships.
      These four components as well as four elements or four pillars are complementary to promote growth and all round development in both the continents.
      China has initiated a move to persuade India to go slow on the Asia Africa Growth Corridor. China sees it as an alternative Silk Road to tap the African market. Therefore, Beijing is now trying to persuade India and South Africa to merge the project with the BRICS platform. China is doing this to keep its rival, Japan, out of it. However, if AAGC is merged into BRICS, India's influence on Africa through the project will also get diluted. The Asia Africa Growth Corridor project was planned with the active support of the African Development Bank and several African countries including South Africa.
       
       Q. 497. India State of Forest Report (ISFR) 2017
      Ans.
      India State of Forest Report (ISFR) 2017
      • Forest and Tree Cover of the country has increased by 8,021 sq km (1 %) as compared to assessment of 2015. The very dense forest has increased by 1.36 % as compared to last assessment. This is very heartening as VDF absorbs maximum carbon dioxide from the atmosphere.
      • The increasing trend of forest and tree cover is largely due to the various national policies aimed at conservation and sustainable management of our forests like Green India Mission, National Agro-Forestry policy (NAP), REDD plus policy, Joint Forest Management (JFM), National Afforestation Programme and funds under Compensatory Afforestation to States.
      • Successful agro-forestry practices, better conservation of forests, improvement of scrub areas to forest areas, increase in mangrove cover, conservation and protection activities have also led to increase in the forest and tree cover.
      • Green Highways (Plantations & Maintenance) Policy to develop 1,40,000 km long tree line with plantation along with both sides of national highways will go a long way in enhancing the forest & tree cover.
      • Madhya Pradesh has the largest forest cover of 77,414 sq km in the country in terms of area, followed by Arunachal Pradesh and Chhattisgarh. In terms of percentage of forest cover with respect to the total geographical area, Lakshadweep with (90.33%) has the highest forest cover, followed by Mizoram (86.27%) and Andaman & Nicobar Island (81.73%).
      • Top 5 states where maximum forest cover has increased are Andhra Pradesh (2,141 sq kms), Karnataka (1,101 sq kms), Kerala (1,043 sq kms), Odisha (885 sq kms) and Telangana (565 sq kms).
      • Top 5 states where forest cover has decreased are Mizoram (531 sq km), Nagaland (450 sq km), Arunachal Pradesh (190 sq km), Tripura (164 sq km) and Meghalaya (116 sq km). It is important to mention here that these states are in the North Eastern region of the country where the total forest cover is very high i.e. more than 70% in each state. The main reasons for the decrease are - shifting cultivation, other biotic pressures, rotational felling, diversion of forest lands for developmental activities, submergence of forest cover, agriculture expansion and natural disasters.
      Water bodies inside forests
      • Water bodies inside forests have increased over a decade. Forests play a vital role in water conservation and improve the water regime in the area.
      • State Forest Departments besides plantation and protection also undertake steps to improve water conservation through different interventions such as building Check dams, vegetation barriers, percolation ponds, contour trenches etc. under various Central & State Government schemes
      • As per the latest assessment, water bodies inside forest cover have increased by 2,647 sq kms during the last decade.
      • Maharashtra (432 sq kms), Gujarat (428 sq kms), Madhya Pradesh (389 sq kms) are top three states showing increase in water bodies within forest areas. Overall, almost all the states have shown a positive change in water bodies.
      Mangrove cover
      Mangrove cover of the country has shown a positive change. As per ISFR 2017, mangrove forests have increased by 181 sq kms. Maharashtra (82 sq kms), Andhra Pradesh (37 sq kms) and Gujarat (33 sq kms) are the top three gainers in terms of mangrove cover. 7 out of the 12 mangrove states have shown an increase in mangrove cover and none of them show any negative change. Mangrove eco-systems are rich in biodiversity and provide a number of ecological services. They also play a major role in protecting coastal areas from erosion, tidal storms and tsunamis.

      Striving towards achieving Nationally determined contributions (NDCs) goal
      India is striving towards achieving its NDC goal of creating additional carbon sink of 2.5 to 3.0 billion tonnes of CO2 equivalent through additional forest and tree cover by 2030.   As per present assessment total carbon stock in forest is estimated to be 7,082 million tonnes. There is an increase of 38 million tonnes in the carbon stock of country as compared to the last assessment.
       
       Q. 496. Disaster Risk Reduction
      Ans.
      Prime Minister has outlined a 10-point agenda for renewing efforts for disaster risk reduction. The following points were emphasised by the Prime Minister:
      Stress to be laid on encouraging involvement of women volunteers and seeking greater cohesion in international response to deal with all kinds of calamities.
      Emphasis on working towards risk coverage for all, starting from poor households to small and medium enterprises and multi-national corporations to nation states.
      Emphasis has also been put on development sectors for imbibing the principles of disaster risk management and encouraging the involvement and leadership of women as they are the biggest sufferers of any disaster. Women are disproportionately affected by disasters. They also have unique strengths and insights. Therefore women should be trained a large number to support special needs of women affected by disasters.
      Also there is a need for investment in risk mapping globally, leveraging of technology to enhance the efficiency of the disaster risk management efforts and utilising the opportunities provided by social media and mobile technologies.
      Moreover, there is a need to build local capacity, ensuring that the opportunity to learn from a disaster is not wasted and bring about greater cohesion in international response to disasters.
       
       Q. 495. Gobindobhog rice
      Ans.
      Gobindobhog rice from Bardhaman district of Bengal has got Geographical Indication status. The south Damodar belt has been the traditional area of Gobindobhog rice cultivation. The rice has several advantages. It is cultivated late and therefore is not affected by rains as much. It is less prone to pests as well. The region of Burdwan (now divided into the districts of east and west Burdwan) is known as the rice bowl of Bengal. As a result of getting the GI tag, as the certification is also called, rice from other regions or rice of other varieties cannot be branded as ‘Gobindobhog’. This would strengthen the marketability of the rice in domestic as well as international markets.
       
       Q. 494. ASH TRACK Mobile App
      Ans.
      Ministry Power and New & Renewable Energy has launched a Web based monitoring System and a Fly Ash mobile application named ASH TRACK. These platforms will enable better management of the ash produced by thermal power plants by providing an interface between fly ash producers (Thermal Power Plants) and potential ash users such as – road contractors, cement plants etc.
      Power station can see the location of prospective ash users surrounding the power plant like – cement plants, NHAI, Pradhan Mantri Gram Sadak Yojana (PMGSY) projects, brick producers, etc. Power plants can contact the prospective users for supply of ash
      The ASH TRACK App would be managing 200 million tonnes of fly ash by tracking coal based power plants situated within 100 km and 300 km from given location and availability of fly ash, along with prospective users within the same radius. The App gives plant-wise, utility-wise and State-wise ash utilization status in the country.
      The thermal plants would regularly update fly ash generation, utilization and stock on the web portal and the app. This would allow effective monitoring and reviewing for increasing ash utilization. This would also help in protecting environment in terms of reduction in fugitive emissions, saving of precious top soil and conservation of land for sustainable development.
      Fly ash, the end product of combustion during the process of power generation in the coal based thermal power plants, is a proven resource material for many applications of construction industries and currently is being utilized in manufacturing of Portland Cement, bricks/blocks/tiles manufacturing, road embankment construction and low lying area development, etc.
       
       Q. 493. Indian giant squirrel
      Ans.
      The Indian giant squirrel, or Malabar giant squirrel, is a large tree squirrel species native to India. It is a large-bodied diurnal, arboreal, and mainly herbivorous squirrel found in South Asia.
      The Indian giant squirrel is an upper-canopy dwelling species, which rarely leaves the trees, and requires tall profusely branched trees for the construction of nests. The Giant Squirrel is mostly active in the early hours of the morning and in the evening, resting in the midday. They are typically solitary animals that only come together for breeding. The species is believed to play a substantial role in shaping the ecosystem of its habitat by engaging in seed dispersal.
      The species is endemic to deciduous, mixed deciduous, and moist evergreen forests of peninsular India, reaching as far north as the Satpura hill range of Madhya Pradesh (approx. 22° N).
      The Indian Giant Squirrel lives alone or in pairs. They build large globular nests of twigs and leaves, placing them on thinner branches where large predators can't get to them. These nests become conspicuous in deciduous forests during the dry season. An individual may build several nests in a small area of forest which are used as sleeping quarters, with one being used as a nursery.
      Captive breeding of the Malayan giant squirrel has shown positive results. In Canara, the Indian Giant Squirrel has been spotted with young ones recently.
       
       Q. 492. New gateway to South-East Asia
      Ans.
      Jogighopa is set to become India’s gateway to South-East Asia as well as the rest of the North-East. The road ministry is gearing up to develop a multimodal logistics park (MMLP) there with road, rail, waterways and air transport facilities. Jogighopa is a small town located on the banks of the Brahmaputra River in the Bongaigaon district in the state of Assam.
      The development includes railway sidings, container terminals, warehousing, non-cargo processing, a truck terminal, common facilities, support infrastructure and equipment.
      A special purpose vehicle, backed by the Asian Development Bank (ADB), will be created to execute the project.
      Under the project, all four types of transportation—road, rail, air and waterways—will be available.
      The current transit corridors from mainland India to the North-East region pass through an area known as the “Chicken’s Neck”—a narrow tract of land in India between the borders with Bangladesh, Nepal and Bhutan. Since it is close to these borders and cannot be expanded, the North-East region requires an alternative route for providing connectivity to the rest of India—a route with adequate expansion potential. The Indo-Bangladesh road route, along with the National Waterways-2 , provides such an option.
      Significance
      Setting Jogighopa as India’s gateway to South-East Asia comes at a time when India’s neighbours are gearing up for trade. For example, Bangladesh’s development of the Khulna-Dhaka-Sylhet Economic Corridor and the Banglabandha-Dhaka-Chittagong-Cox’s Bazar Economic Corridor—to promote industrial development in the region. These initiatives are expected to drive freight movement in the region and facilitate trade between India and Bangladesh, and between Bangladesh and Bhutan through India. The decision is also significant because of the sustained “Act East” policy of the government.
       
       Q. 491. Biodegradable plastics
      Ans.
      Biodegradable plastics

      Types
      Biodegradable plastics can be plant- or oil-based. The plant-based variety are known as bioplastics and are derived from raw materials such as corn and potato starch, so manufacturers claim they are sustainable as well as biodegradable. Oil-based plastics are typically derived from non-renewable sources such as crude oil, and are processed using energy-intensive and environmentally hazardous techniques. Degradable plastics break down relatively quickly under specific environmental conditions – photodegradable plastics degrade when exposed to light and biodegradable plastics can be decomposed by bacteria or other living organisms.

      Composition
      Plastic materials are made up of long chains of molecules and the molecular weight of a plastic gives an indication of the length of its chains. Plastic is a potential food source for microbes because it is organic (contains carbon atoms) and the shorter the chains, the more easily digestible the plastic is. For example, polythene is biodegradable as long as it has a molecular weight of less than 500. In some cases, additives are used to enhance the biodegradation of a plastic, and some types work by breaking up the plastic’s chains. Additives can be introduced in different amounts so that biodegradation begins after the required shelf life and at a controlled rate.

      Degradation
      When biodegradable plastics are buried in landfill, there is a limited supply of oxygen and water so they break down anaerobically, releasing methane. Oxo-biodegradable plastics seem to offer an advantage in this regard because they break down without releasing methane. However, as their name suggests, their requirement for oxygen to enable the degradation process to occur means it will not break down if buried. The degradation consists of two steps – first an oxidisation process takes place under the action of heat or light, which reduces the molecular weight of the plastic. Then microbes break down the plastic further. A plastic material, such as polythene, can be made oxo-biodegradable by the addition of salts of transition elements such as cobalt or iron, which are referred to as the pro-oxidants.

      Compostable plastics
      Two problems with the breakdown of biodegradable plastics are that the process can take a long time and the remaining solid products, while existing in very small and often invisible fragments, are sometimes toxic. This is where compostable plastics (sometimes confused with biodegradable plastics) differ, because for plastics to be termed compostable they must break down in a timely manner and leave no toxic residue. The resulting compost supports plant growth, but it can contain inorganic materials, so differs from garden compost. The time compostable plastics take to break down must be similar to that taken by other compostable materials, such as plant waste, but the process normally requires an industrial composting facility due to the need for much higher temperatures than those in a domestic composter.
       








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