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Question and Answer
Q. 525. India Development Foundation of Overseas Indians
India Development Foundation of Overseas Indians
India Development Foundation of Overseas Indians (IDF-OI) is a not-for-profit Trust set-up by the Government of India to facilitate philanthropic contributions by Overseas Indians to social and development projects in India.Presently, IDF-OI is promoting flagship programmes of Government of India- Swachh Bharat Mission and National Mission for Clean Ganga; and projects identified by the State Govts, for funding by Overseas Indians. It is also promoting areas such as sanitation; education; drinking water; women’s empowerment etc with State Governments. IDF-OI is offering projects for funding by Overseas Indians. Overseas Indians can contribute as an individual, or a group of individuals or even through their respective Indian Associations. IDF-OI does not recover any administrative cost from contributions received from Overseas Indians.
Q. 524. Pradhan Mantri Kaushal Kendra
Pradhan Mantri Kaushal Kendra
Pradhan Mantri Kaushal Kendra (PMKK) for Skilling in Smart Cities has been setup by the government in collaboration with New Delhi Municipal Council (NDMC). It aims to bring momentum in skilling through collaborative efforts. Pradhan Mantri Kaushal Vikas Yojana (PMKVY) is being run by the Ministry of Skill Development & Entrepreneurship (MSDE) while National Skill Development Corporation (NSDC) is the implementing agency for the scheme. The new skill development centres underscore the commitment of the Ministry of Urban Affairs & Housing (MUHA) and the Ministry of Skill Development & Entrepreneurship (MSDE) to support skilling in smart cities. National Skill Development Corporation (NSDC), an executive arm of MSDE, has collaborated with New Delhi Municipal Council Smart City Limited (NDMCSCL) to extend cooperation for setting up of PMKK Centres for Smart Cities, to provide skill training for unemployed youth through its short-term training (STT) module and contribute to the capacity building of municipal employees through Recognition of Prior Learning (RPL) program. At present there are 221 job roles available with 34 skill councils for which the courses are being offered across the nation.
Q. 523. Sustainable and Accelerated Adoption of efficient Textile technologies to Help small Industries (SAATHI)
Sustainable and Accelerated Adoption of efficient Textile technologies to Help small Industries (SAATHI)
Ministries of Power and Textiles have joined hands to launch a new initiative, SAATHI (Sustainable and Accelerated Adoption of efficient Textile technologies to Help small Industries). Under this initiative, Energy Efficiency Services Limited (EESL), a public sector entity under the administrative control of Ministry of Power, would procure energy efficient Powerlooms, motors etc. in bulk and provide them to the small and medium Powerloom units at no upfront cost.
The use of these efficient equipment would result in energy savings and cost savings to the unit owner and he would repay in installments to EESL over a 4 to 5 year period. This is the aggregation, bulk procurement and financing model that EESL has successfully deployed in several sectors like LED bulbs, Smart Meters and Electric Vehicles.
The Powerloom sector in India is predominantly an unorganized sector and has a large number of micro and small units which produce 57 percent of the total cloth in the country. There are 24.86 lakhs Powerloom units in this country, most of whom use obsolete technology. With a view to upgrading the technology, the Government of India has been implementing the in-situ upgradation of plain Powerlooms. This programme is in furtherance of that objective.
Q. 522. Integrity Index: CVC
Integrity Index: CVC
The CVC is going to develop an Integrity Index. It will be based on bench-marking of internal processes and controls within an organisation as well as management of relationships and expectations of outside stakeholders. The Central Vigilance Commission (CVC) is of the view that the next level of systemic change can be through the tool of Integrity Index. The move is in line with the broader strategy and emphasis on preventive vigilance.
The Integrity Index will bring out annual scores/rankings of Public Sector Undertakings/Public Sector Banks and Financial Institutions/Departments/Ministries of Government of India by linking the essential drivers of vigilance with long term efficiency, profitability and sustainability of public organizations and create an internal and external ecosystem that promotes working with Integrity in public organizations.
In the index, CVC has adopted a research-based approach for creating an integrity index that various organizations can use to measure themselves and which will evolve with changing needs. IIM-Ahmedabad has been engaged to develop the Integrity Index.
Initially 25 organizations have been selected for development of the Integrity Index. Subsequently, it is proposed to extend the Integrity Index concept to all other CPSUs and organizations of Government of India.
The main objectives for which the Integrity Index is to be established are:
Defining what constitutes Integrity of Public Organizations
Identifying the different factors of Integrity and their inter-linkages
Creating an objective and reliable tool that can measure the performance of organizations along these above factors
Validating the findings over a period of time to improve upon the robustness of the tool that measures Integrity
Creating an internal and external ecosystem that promotes working with Integrity where public organizations lead the way
Q. 521. Baily's beads
The Baily's beads effect, or Diamond ring effect, is a feature of total and annular solar eclipses. As the moon goes by the Sun during a solar eclipse, the lunar limb topography allows beads of sunlight to shine through in some places, and not in others. The effect is caused due to the rugged lunar surface. The diamond ring effect is seen when only one bead is left, a shining diamond set in a bright ring around the lunar silhouette.
Lunar topography has considerable relief because of the presence of mountains, craters, valleys and other topographical features. It is not safe to view Baily's beads or the diamond ring effect without proper eye protection because in both cases the photosphere is still visible.
In the path of totality at a solar eclipse can see first a gradual covering of the Sun by the lunar silhouette for over an hour, and then a set of Baily’s beads. As the Baily’s beads disappear behind the advancing lunar edge a thin reddish edge, called the chromosphere appears. Though the reddish hydrogen radiation is most visible to the unaided eye, the chromosphere also radiates thousands of additional spectral lines.
Q. 520. Black Holes
A black hole is a place in space where gravity pulls so much that even light can not get out. The gravity is so strong because matter has been squeezed into a tiny space. This can happen when a star is dying.
Because no light can get out, it is apparently invisible to naked eye. Space telescopes with special tools can find black holes. The special tools can see how stars that are very close to black holes act differently than other stars.
How Big Are Black Holes?
Black holes can be big or small. The smallest black holes are as small as just one atom. These black holes are very tiny but have the mass of a large mountain. Mass is the amount of matter, or "stuff," in an object. Another kind of black hole is called "stellar". Its mass can be up to 20 times more than the mass of the sun. There may be many stellar mass black holes in Earth's galaxy.
The largest black holes are called "supermassive." These black holes have masses that are more than 1 million suns together. Every large galaxy contains a supermassive black hole at its center. The supermassive black hole at the center of the Milky Way galaxy is called Sagittarius A. It has a mass equal to about 4 million suns.
How Do Black Holes Form?
Stellar black holes are made when the center of a very big star falls in upon itself, or collapses. When this happens, it causes a supernova. A supernova is an exploding star that blasts part of the star into space. The supermassive black holes were made at the same time as the galaxy they are in.
A black hole can not be seen because strong gravity pulls all of the light into the middle of the black hole. When a black hole and a star are close together, high-energy light is made. This kind of light can not be seen with human eyes. Satellites and telescopes in space are used to see the high-energy light.
Black holes do not go around in space eating stars, moons and planets. Earth will not fall into a black hole because no black hole is close enough to the solar system for Earth to do that.
Even if a black hole the same mass as the sun were to take the place of the sun, Earth still would not fall in. The black hole would have the same gravity as the sun. Earth and the other planets would orbit the black hole as they orbit the sun now.
The sun will never turn into a black hole. The sun is not a big enough star to make a black hole.
Q. 519. Ring of Fire
Ring of Fire
The Ring of Fire is a major area in the basin of the Pacific Ocean where a large number of earthquakes and volcanic eruptions occur. In a 40,000 km (25,000 mi) horseshoe shape, it is associated with a nearly continuous series of oceanic trenches, volcanic arcs, and volcanic belts and plate movements. It has 452 volcanoes (more than 75% of the world's active and dormant volcanoes). The Ring of Fire is sometimes called the circum-Pacific belt.
About 90% of the world's earthquakes and 81%of the world's largest earthquakes occur along the Ring of Fire. The next most seismically active region (5–6% of earthquakes and 17% of the world's largest earthquakes) is the Alpine belt, which extends from Java to the northern Atlantic Ocean via the Himalayas and southern Europe.
All but three of the world's 25 largest volcanic eruptions of the last 11,700 years occurred at volcanoes in the Ring of Fire.
The Ring of Fire is a direct result of plate tectonics: the movement and collisions of lithospheric plates. The eastern section of the ring is the result of the Nazca Plate and the Cocos Plate being subducted beneath the westward-moving South American Plate. The Cocos Plate is being subducted beneath the Caribbean Plate, in Central America. A portion of the Pacific Plate and the small Juan de Fuca Plate are being subducted beneath the North American Plate. Along the northern portion, the northwestward-moving Pacific plate is being subducted beneath the Aleutian Islands arc. Farther west, the Pacific plate is being subducted along the Kamchatka Peninsula arcs on south past Japan. The southern portion is more complex, with a number of smaller tectonic plates in collision with the Pacific plate from the Mariana Islands, the Philippines, Bougainville, Tonga, and New Zealand; this portion excludes Australia, since it lies in the center of its tectonic plate. Indonesia lies between the Ring of Fire along the northeastern islands adjacent to and including New Guinea and the Alpide belt along the south and west from Sumatra, Java, Bali, Flores, and Timor. The famous and very active San Andreas Fault zone of California is a transform fault which offsets a portion of the East Pacific Rise under southwestern United States and Mexico. The motion of the fault generates numerous small earthquakes, at multiple times a day, most of which are too small to be felt. The active Queen Charlotte Fault on the west coast of the Haida Gwaii, British Columbia, has generated three large earthquakes during the 20th century.
Q. 518. National Register of Citizens
National Register of Citizens
The National Register of Citizens (NRC) contains names of Indian citizens. The NRC was prepared in 1951, after the Census of 1951. It was prepared by recording particulars of all the persons enumerated during that Census and was further kept in the offices of Deputy Commissioners and Sub Divisional Officers according to instructions issued by the Government of India in 1951.
The NRC is being updated in Assam to detect Bangladeshi nationals, who may have illegally entered the State after the midnight of March 24, 1971, the cut-off date. This date was originally agreed to in the 1985 Assam Accord, signed between the then Rajiv Gandhi government and the All Assam Students’ Union (AASU).
Assam government published the first draft of an updated National Register of Citizens (NRC) of the State. NRC is a process by which a bona fide Indian citizen can be distinguished from a foreigner.
Assam is the only state to have its own register of citizens. The publication of the first draft of the NRC by December 31, 2017, was ordered by the Supreme Court.
Q. 517. Reservoir Computing System
Reservoir Computing System
Scientists have developed a new type of neural network chip that can dramatically improve the efficiency of teaching machines to think like humans. The network, called a reservoir computing system, could predict words before they are said during conversation, and help predict future outcomes based on the present. Reservoir computing systems, which improve on a typical neural network’s capacity and reduce the required training time, have been created in the past with larger optical components. It has been created using memristors, which require less space and can be integrated more easily into existing silicon-based electronics. Memristors are a special type of resistive device that can both perform logic and store data. This contrasts with typical computer systems, where processors perform logic separate from memory modules.
Q. 516. FDI policy liberalized in key sectors
FDI policy liberalized in key sectors
Cabinet has approved amendments in FDI policy. The amendments in the policy are as follows:
100% FDI under automatic route for Single Brand Retail Trading
100% FDI under automatic route in Construction Development
Foreign airlines allowed to invest up to 49% under approval route in Air India
FIIs/FPIs allowed to invest in Power Exchanges through primary market
Definition of ‘medical devices’ amended in the FDI Policy
These are intended to liberalise and simplify the FDI policy so as to provide ease of doing business in the country. In turn, it will lead to larger FDI inflows contributing to growth of investment, income and employment.
Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) is a major driver of economic growth and a source of non-debt finance for the economic development of the country. Government has put in place an investor friendly policy on FDI, under which FDI up to 100%, is permitted on the automatic route in most sectors/ activities. In the recent past, the Government has brought FDI policy reforms in a number of sectors viz. Defence, Construction Development, Insurance, Pension, Other Financial Services, Asset reconstruction Companies, Broadcasting, Civil Aviation, Pharmaceuticals, Trading etc.
Q. 515. 'Waste to Energy' as a part of 'Swachchata Hi Sewa' campaign
“Waste to Energy” as a part of “Swachchata Hi Sewa” campaign
There is a huge amount of waste generated in the country and there there is an urgent need to convert the waste into energy. According to Ministry of New and Renewable Energy, a framework will be worked on for energy generated by Waste plants and subsequently rates will also be fixed for them. Also there is a need for change in the habits of the people to ensure effective waste collection and segregation. Citizens should be educated on effective waste management so that it would be easier for the industries to process the waste. Effective waste management will help in creating a cleaner and greener India.
Ministry of New and Renewable Energy is focusing 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 initiativeswill 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. The Ministry has already supported around 180 projects mainly based on production of Bio-CNG/ Biogas for various energy applications in industries and transport sector.
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.
Q. 514. Office of Profit
Office of Profit
Context: Recently the Election Commission recommended the disqualification 20 Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) MLAs from Delhi, citing that they held offices of profit.
What is an office of profit?
It is a position in the government which cannot be held by an MLA or an MP. The post can yield salaries, perquisites and other benefits. The origin of this term can be found in the English Act of Settlement, 1701. Under this law, "no person who has an office or place of profit under the King, or receives a pension from the Crown, shall be capable of serving as a member of the House of Commons." This was instituted so that there wouldn't be any undue influence from the royal household in administrative affairs.
What do parliamentary secretaries do?
In the Westminster system, a parliamentary secretary is a Member of Parliament who assists a Minister in their duties. Prime Ministers and Chief Ministers usually appoint parliamentary secretaries from their own parties.
Why should an MLA or an MP not hold an office of profit?
According to Articles 102(1)(a) and 191(1)(a) of the Constitution, an MP or MLA is barred from holding an office of profit as it can put them in a position to gain a financial benefit. "A person shall be disqualified for being chosen as, and for being, a member of either House of Parliament, (a) if he holds any office of profit under the Government of India or the Government of any State, other than an office declared by Parliament by law not to disqualify its holder".
Under the Representation of People Act too, holding an office of profit is grounds for disqualification.
Do other states in India have MLAs holding offices of profit?
West Bengal, Karnataka, Telangana, Nagaland, Meghalaya, Arunachal Pradesh, Punjab, Mizoram and Manipur have had similar incidents. In West Bengal, Telangana and Punjab, the respective High Courts called the appointments "unconstitutional" and struck down the appointments. The case regarding appointment of parliamentary secretaries is pending in the Karnataka High Court. In Rajasthan, the State passes a Bill in October 2017 to make the posts constitutional, but the validity of this law has been challenged.
Q. 513. Smart Star-Rating for Garbage Free Cities
Smart Star-Rating for Garbage Free Cities
Ministry for Housing and Urban Affairs has launched the ‘Protocol for Star Rating of Garbage-Free Cities’ in Goa. The star-rating initiative, developed by the Swachh Bharat Mission – Urban will be rating cities on a 7-star rating system based on multiple cleanliness indicators for solid waste management, which will include Door to Door Collection, bulk generator compliance, source segregation, sweeping, scientific processing of waste, scientific land filling, plastic waste management, construction and demolition management, dump remediation & citizen grievance redressal system etc.
Cities can be rated as 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 and 7 star based on their compliance with the protocol conditions specified for each of the rating. Further city should be ODF(Open Defecation Free) before it could be given rating of 3 star or above. While cities may self-declare themselves as 1-star, 2-star or 4-star, MoHUA will carry out an additional verification through an independent third party to certify cities as 3-star, 5-star or 7-star. Cities will need to get recertified themselves every year to retain their star-status.
The most significant feature of the rating protocol is that it provides stakeholders with a single metric to rate a city’s cleanliness, rather than separately evaluating multiple factors which contribute to a city’s overall cleanliness and garbage free status. The SMART rating (Single metric, Measurable, Achievable, Rigorous verification, Targeted towards outcomes) is characterized by Trust and verify model and sustainability (progressive and to be recertified every year).
The distinctive feature of Star Rating System will be that many cities can have higher stars as compared to only one city can be “Cleanest city” under Swachh Survekshan.
Q. 512. Base erosion and profit shifting (BEPS) and Double Taxation Avoidance Agreement (DTAA)
Base erosion and profit shifting (BEPS) and Double Taxation Avoidance Agreement (DTAA)
Base erosion and profit shifting
Base erosion and profit shifting (BEPS) refers to tax planning strategies used by multinational companies that exploit gaps and mismatches in tax rules to artificially shift profits to low or no-tax locations where there is little or no economic activity. The project headed by the OECD was initiated by the G20 in 2012.
BEPS concerns strategies which aim to move profits to where they are taxed at lower rates and expenses to where they are relieved at higher rates. The result is a tendency to associate more profit with legal constructs and intangible rights and obligations, and reduce the share of profits associated with substantive operations involving the interaction of people with one another. "While these corporate tax planning strategies may be technically legal and rely on carefully planned interactions of a variety of tax rules and principles, the overall effect of this type of tax planning is to erode the corporate tax base of many countries in a manner that is not intended by domestic policy."
Double Taxation Avoidance Agreement
The DTAA, or Double Taxation Avoidance Agreement is a tax treaty signed between India and another country ( or any two/multiple countries) so that taxpayers can avoid paying double taxes on their income earned from the source country as well as the residence country. At present, India has double tax avoidance treaties with more than 80 countries around the world.
The need for DTAA arises out of the imbalance in tax collection on global income of individuals. If a person aims to do business in a foreign country, he/she may end up paying income taxes in both cases, i.e. the country where the income is earned and the country where the individual holds his/her citizenship or residence. For instance, if you are moving to a different country from India while leaving income sources such as interest from deposits in here, you will be charged interest by both India and the country of your current residence as per your consolidated global earnings. Such a scenario can have you pay twice the tax over the same income. This is where the DTAA becomes useful for taxpayers.
Benefits of DTAA:
There are lots of benefits associated with DTAA for taxpayers. The basic benefit includes not having to pay double taxes on the same income. Apart from this:
Lower Withholding Tax (Tax Deduction at Source or TDS)
Exemption from taxes
The primary idea behind DTAA agreements with various countries is to minimize the opportunity for tax evasion for tax payers in either or both of the countries between which the bilateral/multilateral DTAA agreement have been signed.
Q. 511. Social security system
Social security system
The labour ministry has proposed a comprehensive social security system to provide retirement, health, oldage, disability, unemployment and maternity benefits to 50 crore workers in the country.
The plan is to implement the scheme in three phases over 10 years, after which the government hopes to make it universal. The scheme will be implemented in four tiers with the government wholly financing the cost for people below the poverty line.
The scheme will be largely funded from the Building and Construction Worker Cess and funds allocated to other scattered schemes through the National Stabilisation Fund set up for the purpose.
Its implementation would be regulated and monitored by an overarching regulatory body called the National Social Security Council to be chaired by the prime minister with finance minister, health minister and chief ministers of all states along with workers and employers as its members. The 50 crore beneficiaries will be classified into four tiers.
The first phase of the scheme will cost Rs 18,500 crore. The first phase will see all workers getting the bare minimum, which includes health security and retirement benefits. The second phase will see unemployment benefits being added to it while in the third phase, other welfare measures can be added.
The first tier will comprise destitute and people below poverty line who cannot contribute for their security and hence the cost will be entirely borne by the government under tax-based schemes.
Workers in the unorganised sector who have some contributory power but are not self-sufficient may be covered under the subsidised schemes in the second tier.
The third tier of beneficiaries will include those who either by themselves or jointly with their employers can make adequate contribution to the schemes, so as to be self-sufficient while the fourth tier will comprise comparatively affluent people who can make their own provisions for meeting the contingencies or risks as they rise.
India's total workforce stands at around 500 million. A little over 10% of this is in the organised sector, where workers enjoy social security of some sort under EPFO and ESIC. But a major portion of the total workforce is still in the unorganised sector, where workers do not often get even the minimum wage and lack any kind of social security cover.
Workers employed in the organised sector along with the employee contribute around 25% of the basic salary towards the provident fund and another 6% for insurance, taking the total contribution to more than 30%, which manages for the medical, provident fund and pension benefits for the employee.
Q. 510. Health Index report
Health Index report
NITI Aayog has released a comprehensive Health Index report titled, “Healthy States, Progressive India”. The report ranks states and Union territories innovatively on their year-on-year incremental change in health outcomes, as well as, their overall performance with respect to each other. The report has been developed by NITI Aayog, with technical assistance from the World Bank, and in consultation with the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare (MoHFW).
The Health Index is a weighted composite Index, which for the larger States, is based on indicators in three domains: (a) Health Outcomes (70%); (b) Governance and Information (12%); and (c) Key Inputs and Processes (18%), with each domain assigned a weight based on its importance.
Among the Larger States, Kerala, Punjab, and Tamil Nadu ranked on top in terms of overall performance, while Jharkhand, Jammu & Kashmir, and Uttar Pradesh are the top three ranking States in terms of annual incremental performance.
Among Smaller States, Mizoram ranked first followed by Manipur on overall performance, while Manipur followed by Goa were the top ranked States in terms of annual incremental performance.
Among UTs, Lakshadweep showed both the best overall performance as well as the highest annual incremental performance.
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