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      Question and Answer

       Q. 458. SPARSH
      Ans.
      Minister of Communications has launched a Pan India scholarship program for school children called Deen Dayal SPARSH Yojana to increase the reach of Philately. Under the scheme of SPARSH (Scholarship for Promotion of Aptitude & Research in Stamps as a Hobby), it is proposed to award annual scholarships to children of Standard VI to IX having good academic record and also pursuing Philately as a hobby through a competitive selection process in all postal circles. Under the scheme, it is proposed to award 920 scholarships to students pursuing Philately as a hobby.  Every Postal Circle will select a maximum of 40 scholarships representing 10 students each from Standard VI, VII, VIII & IX. The amount of Scholarship will be Rs. 6000/- per annum @ Rs. 500/- per month.
      To avail this scholarship, a child must be a student of a recognized school within India and the concerned school should have a Philately Club and the candidate should be a member of the Club. In case the school Philately Club hasn’t been established a student having his own Philately Deposit Account will also be considered. Every prospective school, which participates in the competition, would be assigned a Philately mentor to be chosen from amongst the renowned Philatelists. The Philately mentor would help in formation of the School Level Philately Club, providing guidance to young and aspiring Philatelists on how to pursue the hobby and also helping the aspiring Philatelists on their Philately Projects etc.
      Philately is the hobby of collection and study of Postage stamps. It also entails the collection, appreciation and research activities on stamps and other related philatelic products. The hobby of collecting Stamps includes seeking, locating, acquiring, organizing, cataloguing, displaying, storing, and maintaining the stamps or related products on thematic areas. Philately is called the king of hobbies because Stamp collection as a hobby has lot of educational benefits - it teaches a lot about the socio economic political reality of the period in which the stamp is issued or the theme on which it is issued.
       
       Q. 457. Goods and Services Tax
      Ans.
      Goods and Services Tax
      Question 1. What is GST? How does it work?
      Answer:
      • GST is one indirect tax for the whole nation, which will make India one unified common market.
      • GST is a single tax on the supply of goods and services, right from the manufacturer to the consumer. Credits of input taxes paid at each stage will be available in the subsequent stage of value addition, which makes GST essentially a tax only on value addition at each stage.
      • The final consumer will thus bear only the GST charged by the last dealer in the supply chain, with set-off benefits at all the previous stages.
       
      Question 2. What are the benefits of GST?
      Answer: The benefits of GST can be summarized as under:
      1. For business and industry
      • Easy compliance: A robust and comprehensive IT system would be the foundation of the GST regime in India. Therefore, all tax payer services such as registrations, returns, payments, etc. would be available to the taxpayers online, which would make compliance easy and transparent.
      • Uniformity of tax rates and structures: GST will ensure that indirect tax rates and structures are common across the country, thereby increasing certainty and ease of doing business. In other words, GST would make doing business in the country tax neutral, irrespective of the choice of place of doing business.
      • Removal of cascading: A system of seamless tax-credits throughout the value-chain, and across boundaries of States, would ensure that there is minimal cascading of taxes. This would reduce hidden costs of doing business.
      • Improved competitiveness: Reduction in transaction costs of doing business would eventually lead to an improved competitiveness for the trade and industry.
      • Gain to manufacturers and exporters: The subsuming of major Central and State taxes in GST, complete and comprehensive set-off of input goods and services and phasing out of Central Sales Tax (CST) would reduce the cost of locally manufactured goods and services. This will increase the competitiveness of Indian goods and services in the international market and give boost to Indian exports. The uniformity in tax rates and procedures across the country will also go a long way in reducing the compliance cost.
      1. For Central and State Governments
      • Simple and easy to administer: Multiple indirect taxes at the Central and State levels are being replaced by GST. Backed with a robust end-to-end IT system, GST would be simpler and easier to administer than all other indirect taxes of the Centre and State levied so far.
      • Better controls on leakage:  GST will result in better tax compliance due to a robust IT infrastructure. Due to the seamless transfer of input tax credit from one stage to another in the chain of value addition, there is an in-built mechanism in the design of GST that would incentivize tax compliance by traders.
      • Higher revenue efficiency: GST is expected to decrease the cost of collection of tax revenues of the Government, and will therefore, lead to higher revenue efficiency.
      1. For the consumer
      • Single and transparent tax proportionate to the value of goods and services:  Due to multiple indirect taxes being levied by the Centre and State, with incomplete or no input tax credits available at progressive stages of value addition, the cost of most goods and services in the country today are laden with many hidden taxes. Under GST, there would be only one tax from the manufacturer to the consumer, leading to transparency of taxes paid to the final consumer.
      • Relief in overall tax burden: Because of efficiency gains and prevention of leakages, the overall tax burden on most commodities will come down, which will benefit consumers.
       
      Question 3. Which taxes at the Centre and State level are being subsumed into GST?
      Answer:
      At the Central level, the following taxes are being subsumed:
      1. Central Excise Duty,
      2. Additional Excise Duty,
      3. Service Tax,
      4. Additional Customs Duty commonly known as Countervailing Duty, and
      5. Special Additional Duty of Customs.
      At the State level, the following taxes are being subsumed:
      1. Subsuming of State Value Added Tax/Sales Tax,
      2. Entertainment Tax (other than the tax levied by the local bodies), Central Sales Tax (levied by the Centre and collected by the States),
      3. Octroi and Entry tax,
      4. Purchase Tax,
      5. Luxury tax, and
      6. Taxes on lottery, betting and gambling.
       
      Question 4. How would GST be administered in India?
      Answer: Keeping in mind the federal structure of India, there will be two components of GST — Central GST (CGST) and State GST (SGST).
      • Both Centre and States will simultaneously levy GST across the value chain.
      • Tax will be levied on every supply of goods and services.
      • Centre would levy and collect Central Goods and Services Tax (CGST), and
      • States would levy and collect the State Goods and Services Tax (SGST) on all transactions within a State.
      • The input tax credit of CGST would be available for discharging the CGST liability on the output at each stage.
      • Similarly, the credit of SGST paid on inputs would be allowed for paying the SGST on output. No cross utilization of credit would be permitted.
      Question 5. How would a particular transaction of goods and services be taxed simultaneously under Central GST (CGST) and State GST (SGST)?
      Answer: The Central GST and the State GST would be levied simultaneously on every transaction of supply of goods and services except on exempted goods and services, goods which are outside the purview of GST and the transactions which are below the prescribed threshold limits. Further, both would be levied on the same price or value unlike State VAT which is levied on the value of the goods inclusive of Central Excise.
       
      Question 6. How will be Inter-State Transactions of Goods and Services be taxed under GST in terms of IGST method?
      Answer:
      • In case of inter-State transactions, the Centre would levy and collect the Integrated Goods and Services Tax (IGST) on all inter-State supplies of goods and services under Article 269A (1) of the Constitution.
      • The IGST would roughly be equal to CGST plus SGST.
      • The IGST mechanism has been designed to ensure seamless flow of input tax credit from one State to another.
      • The inter-State seller would pay IGST on the sale of his goods to the Central Government after adjusting credit of IGST, CGST and SGST on his purchases (in that order). The exporting State will transfer to the Centre the credit of SGST used in payment of IGST. The importing dealer will claim credit of IGST while discharging his output tax liability (both CGST and SGST) in his own State. The Centre will transfer to the importing State the credit of IGST used in payment of SGST. Since GST is a destination-based tax, all SGST on the final product will ordinarily accrue to the consuming State.
       
      Question 7. How will IT be used for the implementation of GST?
      Answer:
      • For the implementation of GST in the country, the Central and State Governments have jointly registered Goods and Services Tax Network (GSTN) as a not-for-profit, non-Government Company to provide shared IT infrastructure and services to Central and State Governments, tax payers and other stakeholders.
      • The key objectives of GSTN are to provide a standard and uniform interface to the taxpayers, and shared infrastructure and services to Central and State/UT governments.
      • All States, accounting authorities, RBI and banks, are also preparing their IT infrastructure for the administration of GST.
      • There would no manual filing of returns. All taxes can also be paid online.
       
      Question 8. How will imports be taxed under GST?
      Answer: The Additional Duty of Excise or CVD and the Special Additional Duty or SAD presently being levied on imports will be subsumed under GST. As per explanation to clause (1) of article 269A of the Constitution, IGST will be levied on all imports into the territory of India. Unlike in the present regime, the States where imported goods are consumed will now gain their share from this IGST paid on imported goods.
       
      Question 9. What are the major features of the Constitution (122nd Amendment) Bill, 2014?
      Answer: The salient features of the Bill are as follows:
      1. Conferring simultaneous power upon Parliament and the State Legislatures to make laws governing goods and services tax;
      2. Subsuming of various Central indirect taxes and levies such as Central Excise Duty, Additional Excise Duties, Service Tax, Additional Customs Duty commonly known as Countervailing Duty, and Special Additional Duty of Customs;
      3. Subsuming of State Value Added Tax/Sales Tax, Entertainment Tax (other than the tax levied by the local bodies), Central Sales Tax (levied by the Centre and collected by the States), Octroi and Entry tax, Purchase Tax, Luxury tax, and Taxes on lottery, betting and gambling;
      4. Dispensing with the concept of 'declared goods of special importance' under the Constitution;
      5. Levy of Integrated Goods and Services Tax on inter-State transactions of goods and services;
      6. GST to be levied on all goods and services, except alcoholic liquor for human consumption. Petroleum and petroleum products shall be subject to the levy of GST on a later date notified on the recommendation of the Goods and Services Tax Council;
      7. Compensation to the States for loss of revenue arising on account of implementation of the Goods and Services Tax for a period of five years;
      8. Creation of Goods and Services Tax Council to examine issues relating to goods and services tax and make recommendations to the Union and the States on parameters like rates, taxes, cesses and surcharges to be subsumed, exemption list and threshold limits, Model GST laws, etc. The Council shall function under the Chairmanship of the Union Finance Minister and will have all the State Governments as Members.
       
       Q. 456. Boreal forest
      Ans.
      Boreal forest
      The boreal forest is the world's largest land-based biome. The forest spreads over several continents and covers many countries. The boreal plays a significant role in the planet's biodiversity and even its climate. Some of the important facts about the Boreal forest are as follows:
      1. Origin: The boreal forest is named after Boreas, the Greek god of the North wind.
      2. Boreal and Taiga: The biome is known as boreal in Canada, but is also known as taiga. Taiga is most commonly used to refer to the biome's more barren northern locations while boreal is used for the more temperate, southern area.
      3. Spread: The boreal covers most of inland Canada and Alaska, most of Sweden, Finland and inland Norway, much of Russia, and the northern parts of Kazakhstan, Mongolia and Japan. The boreal represents 29% of the world's forest cover.
      4. Types: There are two major types of boreal forest- the closed canopy forest in the South which has the longest, warmest growing season of the biome, and the high boreal forest with farther-spaced trees and lichen groundcover.
      5. Fauna: The forest is typically low on biodiversity.  The boreal supports a range of animals. Canada's boreal forest is home to 85 species of mammals, 130 species of fish, some 32,000 species of insects, and 300 species of birds. Boreal forest is home to some of the iconic animals including Siberian Tiger, wolves, bears, Arctic fox and muskox.
      6. Flora: The trees of the boreal forest tend to have shallow roots, due to the thin soils. Wildfires are an important part of the reproductive cycle for some species. Depending on the area, large fires occur in a cycle repeating anywhere from 70 to 200 years. The soils of the boreal forest are often acidic, due to falling pine needles, and low on nutrients since the cold temperatures do not allow much foliage to rot and turn into dirt.
      7. Climate: The climate of boreal is Cold. The lowest recorded temperatures in the Northern Hemisphere were recorded in the boreal (or taiga) of northeastern Russia. However, the zone of latitude occupied by the boreal forest has seen some of the most dramatic temperature increases, especially in winter and especially during the last quarter of the 20th century. The warming trend threatens to transform the boreal forest area into grassland, parkland or temperate forest, introducing a significant shift in species of both plants and animals. There is little rainfall in the boreal biome. Precipitation comes in the form of fog and snow, with a little rain during the summer months.
      8. Carbon Sequestration: The boreal forest stores enormous quantities of carbon. It possibly stores more than the temperate and tropical forests combined. Much of Carbon is stored in peatland. Only 12% of boreal forest is protected around the globe and over 30% has already been designated for logging, energy and other development.
       
       Q. 455. National Testing Agency (NTA)
      Ans.
      National Testing Agency (NTA)
      The Union Cabinet has approved creation of National Testing Agency (NTA) as a Society registered under the Indian Societies Registration Act, 1860, and as an autonomous and self-sustained premier testing organization to conduct entrance examinations for higher educational institutions.
      Features:
      • The NTA would initially conduct those entrance examinations which are currently being conducted by the CBSE.
      • Other examinations will be taken up gradually after NTA is fully geared up.
      • The entrance examinations will be conducted in online mode at least twice a year, thereby giving adequate opportunity to candidates to bring out their best.
      • In order to serve the requirements of the rural students, it would locate the centres at sub-district/district level and as far as possible would undertake hands-on training to the students.
      Constitution: NTA will be chaired by an eminent educationist appointed by MHRD.
      Finances: NTA will be given a one-time grant of Rs.25 crore from the Government of India to start its operation in the first year. Thereafter, it will be financially self-sustainable.
      Impact: Establishment of NTA will benefit about 40 lakh students appearing in various entrance examinations. It will relieve CBSE, AICTE and other agencies from responsibility of conducting these entrance examinations, and also bring in high reliability, standardized difficulty level for assessing the aptitude, intelligence and problem solving abilities of the students.
      Background: In view of the need to have a specialized body in India like the most advanced countries, the Finance Minister had announced setting up of a National Testing Agency (NTA) as an autonomous and self-sustained premier testing organization to conduct all entrance examinations for higher educational institutions.
       
       Q. 454. India Youth Development Index and Report 2017
      Ans.
      India Youth Development Index and Report 2017
      Ministry Youth Affairs and Sports has released the India Youth Development Index and Report 2017.  The objective of constructing the India Youth Development Index (YDI) 2017 is to track the trends in Youth Development across the States. The Index enables recognizing the high and low performing states, identifies the weak domains and informs the policy makers the priority areas of intervention for youth development in the states.
      The Rajiv Gandhi National Institute of Youth Development (RGNIYD), Sriperumbudur, Tamil Nadu, an Institute of National Importance has come out with Youth Development Index and Report 2017. This is a pioneering attempt made by the Institute in 2010 which it followed up with the India Youth Development Index in 2017.
      Constructing Youth Development Index for the year 2017 was done using the latest definition of youth as used in National Youth Policy – 2014 (India) and World Youth Development Report of Commonwealth (15 – 29 years) as well as using the Commonwealth Indicators in order to facilitate Global comparison.
      In the India Youth Development Index 2017, the first five dimensions are retained same as that of Global YDI. The indicators and weights have been modified based on the availability of data at sub-national level and the importance of the indicators in explaining Youth Development with the aim of capturing the multidimensional properties that indicate progress in youth development at the sub-national level i.e., state level. Global YDI is different from YDI constructed for India in one unique way; YDI for India adds a new domain, social inclusion, to assess the inclusiveness of societal progress as structural inequalities persist in Indian society. This construction helps to identify the gaps that require intensification of policy intervention.
      This report is of immense value to enable comparisons across geographical areas and categories, as human development index has done in comparing the development situation across regions, nations and localities. The index also measures the achievements made besides serving as an advocacy tool for youth development and facilitates to identify priority areas for development of Policy and Interventions.
       
       Q. 453. System of Rice Intensification
      Ans.
      System of Rice Intensification
      The System of Rice Intensification (SRI) is a methodology aimed at increasing the yield of rice produced in farming. It is a low water, labor-intensive, method that uses younger seedlings singly spaced and typically hand weeded with special tools. It was developed in 1983 by the French Jesuit Father Henri de Laulanié in Madagascar.
      The central principles of SRI are:
      • Rice field soils should be kept moist rather than continuously saturated, minimizing anaerobic conditions, as this improves root growth and supports the growth and diversity of aerobic soil organisms.
      • Rice plants should be planted singly and spaced optimally widely to permit more growth of roots and canopy and to keep all leaves photosynthetically active.
      • Rice seedlings should be transplanted when young, less than 15 days old with just two leaves, quickly, shallow and carefully, to avoid trauma to roots and to minimize transplant shock.
      SRI is initially labour intensive
      • Needs 50% more man-days for transplanting and weeding.
      • Mobilises labour to work for profit.
      • It offers an alternative to the resource poor, who put in their family labour.
      • Once the right skills are learnt and implemented, the labour costs will be lesser.
      SRI encourages rice plant to grow healthy with
      • Large root volume
      • More and well filled grain panicles and higher grain weight
      • Resists insects because it allows rice to absorb soil nutrients naturally
       
       Q. 452. Gujarat International Finance Tec-City
      Ans.
      Gujarat International Finance Tec-City
      Gujarat International Finance Tec-City (GIFT City) is a globally bench marked International Financial Service Centre (IFSC) developed by Government of Gujarat through a joint venture Company.  It houses India's first and only International Financial Services Centre.
      GIFT is planned as a financial Central Business District (CBD) between Ahmedabad and Gandhinagar as a greenfield development. The city's master plan reflects a sophisticated planning approach that integrates the intended program into the existing context of both the site and the region. More particularly, state-of-the-art connectivity, infrastructure and transportation access have been integrated into the design of the city.
      Termed  as India’s first ‘Smart City,’  the project encompasses top notch infrastructure facilities like, District Cooling System (DCS), Underground Utility Tunnel, Automated Waste Collection etc.; many of which are being introduced in India for the first time.
      The project is located on the bank of the Sabarmati River and is around 12 km from Ahmedabad International Airport. GIFT is easily accessible from all directions through 4-6 lane State and National Highways. GIFT City is India’s first operational smart city and only International Financial Services Centre.
       
       Q. 451. Electoral bonds
      Ans.
      Electoral bonds
      Electoral Bond is a financial instrument for making donations to political parties. These are issued by Scheduled Commercial banks upon authorisation from the Central Government to intending donors, but only against cheque and digital payments (it cannot be purchased by paying cash). These bonds shall be redeemable in the designated account of a registered political party within the prescribed time limit from issuance of bond. Electoral bond was announced in the Union Budget 2017-18.
      The electoral bonds with a life of only 15 days can be encashed only through a designated bank account of the receiver. The bonds, which would be valid for 15 days, will not carry the donor's name even though the purchaser would have to fulfil KYC norms at the bank. The electoral bonds, which are being pitched as an alternative to cash donations made to political parties, will be available at specified branches of State Bank of India (SBI) for 10 days each in months of January, April, July and October. Electoral bonds can be purchased for any value in multiples of ₹1,000, 10,000, 10 lakh, and 1 crore from any of the specified branches of the State Bank of India.
      Electoral Bond is an effort made to cleanse the system of political funding in India. The scheme of electoral bonds addresses the concerns of donors to remain anonymous to the general public or to rival political parties.
      Further, in accordance with the suggestion made by the Election Commission, the maximum amount of cash donation that a political party can receive is stipulated at Rs. 2000/- from one person, pursuant to the announcement in Union Budget 2017-18. However, Political parties will be entitled to receive donations by cheque or digital mode from their donors. Every political party would have to file its return within the time prescribed in accordance with the provision of the Income-tax Act. Existing exemption to the political parties from payment of income-tax would be available only subject to the fulfilment of these conditions.
      As per Section 29C(1) of The Representation of People Act, 1951, the political party needs to disclose the details of non-governmental corporations and persons who donate more than Rs. 20,000 to it in a financial year. Vide the Finance Bill 2017, it has been specified that no report needs to be prepared in respect of the contributions received by way of an electoral bond.
      This reform is expected to bring about greater transparency and accountability in political funding, while preventing future generation of black money.
       
       Q. 450. Dam safety
      Ans.
      Dam safety conferences are organized as an annual event under the Dam Safety Rehabilitation and Improvement Project (DRIP) project being run by the Ministry of Water Resources, River Development and Ganga Rejuvenation  (MoWR,RD & GR) in the seven states of Jharkhand, Karnataka, Kerala, Madhya Pradesh, Odisha, Tamil Nadu, and Uttarakhand. It was launched in the year 2012 with a financial outlay of Rs. 2100 Crores.
      This World Bank aided project aims at  the rehabilitation of old dams in the country that may be experiencing distress and are in need of attention for ensuring their structural safety and operational efficiency.
      The project also aims to strengthen the institutional capacity and project management in this area. As part of this exercise, DRIP has been engaged in bringing greater awareness on dam safety issues and finding novel solutions to address them by pooling the best technologies, knowledge and experience available around the world.
      A software programme - Dam Health and Rehabilitation Monitoring Application (DHARMA)-  will also be launched during the conference. DHARMA is a web tool to digitize all dam related data effectively. It will help to document authentic asset and health information pertaining to the large dams in the country, enabling appropriate actions to ensure need based rehabilitation. It is a new stride in asset management aspect by India.
      Dams have played a key role in fostering rapid and sustained agricultural and rural growth and development, which have been key priorities for the Govt. of India since independence. Over the last seventy years, India has invested substantially in the critical infrastructure required to manage and store the limited surface water resources in reservoirs to ensure food, energy, and water securities. Globally India ranks third after China and the United States of America in terms of number of large dams (5254 large dams in operation and 447 large dams under construction) with a total storage capacity of about 283 billion cubic meters. About 80% of these large dams are more than twenty-five years old, and about 213 dams exceed the age of 100 years and were built in an era whose design practices and safety considerations do not match with the current design standards and the prevailing safety norms. This necessitates special efforts at rehabilitation of old dams and ensuring their long term structural safety.
       
       Q. 449. New science schemes
      Ans.
      New science schemes
      Ministry for Science & Technology has announced four schemes to promote young scientists and researchers in the country. The scheme primarily aims at early recognition and reward to young talent in the field of science.  The schemes focus on youth to empower, recognize and motivate them.

      Teacher Associateship for Research Excellence (TARE) scheme
      Teacher Associateship for Research Excellence (TARE) scheme aims to tap the potential of trained faculty in Universities, colleges and private academic institutions. 500 teachers will be assisted under the Teacher Associateship for Research Excellence (TARE) scheme. It will connect them to leading public funded institutions like IIT, IISc or national institutions like CSIR, preferably nearer to their place of work to pursue research. They will be paid Rs. 5 lakh yearly, and a monthly out-of-pocket expense of Rs. 5,000. This will be in addition to the salary from their existing employer.

      Overseas Visiting Doctoral Fellowship
      Overseas Visiting Doctoral Fellowship of SERB has been instituted for enhancing the international mobility of Indian research students which has the potential to create a talented pool of globally trained manpower.  The scheme provides an opportunity for research students to gain exposure and access to top class research facilities in academia and labs across the world. This scheme offers opportunities for up to 100 PhD students admitted in the Indian institutions for gaining exposure and training in overseas universities / institutions of repute and areas of importance to country for period up to 12 months during their doctoral research. The selected fellows will be paid a monthly fellowship amount equivalent to US $ 2000, one-time Contingency / Preparatory allowances of Rs. 60,000/- to cover visa fee, airport transfer charges, medical insurance etc.

      SERB Distinguished Investigator Award
      SERB Distinguished Investigator Award (DIA) has been initiated to recognize and reward Principal Investigators (PIs) of SERB/DST projects who have performed remarkably well. The scheme aims not only to reward the best PIs of completed projects but also to motivate the ongoing PIs to perform exceedingly well. This positive reinforcement strategy would effectively improve the productivity of the research undertaken and the overall efficiency of the research ecosystem. DIA is a one-time career award devised to specifically cater to the younger scientists who have not received any other prestigious awards or fellowships. The award carries a fellowship of Rs. 15,000/- p.m. and an optional research grant for three years, based on peer review of the project proposal submitted.

      AWSAR (Augmenting Writing Skills for Articulating Research) of National Council of Science and Technology Communication (NCSTC)
      AWSAR (Augmenting Writing Skills for Articulating Research) of National Council of Science and Technology Communication (NCSTC), DST has been initiated to encourage, empower and endow popular science writing through newspapers, magazines, blogs, social media, etc. by young PhD Scholars and Post-Doctoral Fellows during the course of their higher studies and research pursuits. As over 20,000 youth are awarded PhD in S&T every year in India, the scheme aims to tap this tremendous potential to popularize & communicate science and also to inculcate scientific temperament in the masses. AWSAR carries monetary incentive of Rs.10,000/- each for 100 best entries from PhD scholars in a year along with a Certificate of Appreciation besides getting the story published/projected in mass media. In addition, three leading stories from the selected hundred would also be awarded cash prize of Rs.1,00,000/-, Rs.50,000/- and Rs.25,000/- respectively. Further, twenty entries would be selected from articles submitted exclusively by Post-Doctoral Fellows relating to their line of Research for monetary incentive of Rs.10,000/- each and the most outstanding story to be given a cash prize of Rs.1,00,000/-.
       
       Q. 448. Rapid Reporting System for the Scheme for Adolescent Girls
      Ans.
      Rapid Reporting System for the Scheme for Adolescent Girls
      Ministry of Women and Child Development (MWCD) has launched Rapid Reporting System (RRS) for the Scheme for Adolescent Girls - a web based on line monitoring for the Scheme for Adolescent Girls. The RRS will facilitate the monitoring of the scheme and taking corrective measures by ensuring faster flow of information, accurate targeting of the beneficiaries and reduction of leakages. This Portal has been developed in collaboration with National Informatics Centre (NIC).

      Need
      The scheme is based on the realization of the multi-dimensional needs of out of school adolescent girls (11-14 years).  
      The scheme has an aim to motivate these girls to join school system, approved continuation of the Scheme for Adolescent Girls (SAG) for out of school girls in the age group of 11-14 years.
      The scheme aims at providing them nutritional support @ Rs.9.50/beneficiary/day for 300 days in a year, motivating out of school girls to go back to formal schooling or skill training under non-nutrition component of the scheme.
      Government has also approved expansion and universalisation of the Scheme for Adolescent Girls in a phased manner i.e. in additional 303 districts in 2017-18 and the remaining districts in 2018-19 with the simultaneous phasing out of Kishori Shakti Yojana.

      Scheme for Adolescent Girls (SAG)
      Presently, MWCD is implementing the Scheme for Adolescent Girls (SAG) in selected 508 districts across the country. SAG aims at empowering out of school adolescent girls of 11 to 14 years by improving their nutritional and health status, upgrading their skills.
      In addition to the nutritional support under the scheme, the girls are equipped with information on health, hygiene and guidance on existing public services. The Scheme aims to mainstream out of school girls into formal education or non-formal education. The scheme is being implemented using the platform of Integrated Child Development Services Scheme.
      Anganwadi Centres (AWCs) are the focal point for the delivery of the services. Scheme for Adolescent Girls is a centrally sponsored scheme, implemented through Centre and State share in the ratio of 50:50, for nutrition component 60:40 for the rest of the activities for State and UTs with legislation, 90:10 for NE and three Himalayan States and 100% for UTs without legislation.
       
       Q. 447. Global Centre for Cybersecurity
      Ans.
      Global Centre for Cybersecurity
      World Economic Forum (WEF) has announced a new Global Centre for Cybersecurity, in a bid to safeguard the world from hackers and growing data breaches — especially from nation-states. — the World Economic Forum (WEF) on Wednesday announced a new Global Centre for Cybersecurity.
      The centre has its headquarter in Geneva.
      Global Centre for Cybersecurity offers first platform for governments, companies and international organizations to diminish the impact of malicious activities on web.
      The aim of the centre is to establish the first global platform for governments, businesses, experts and law enforcement agencies to collaborate on cybersecurity challenges. As a truly borderless problem, cyber-attacks are surpassing the capacities and institutions that are currently dealing with this threat in an isolated manner. Only through collaboration, information exchange and common standards can the global community successfully counter organized digital crime.

      The centre will focus on the following aims:
      • Consolidating existing cybersecurity initiatives of the World Economic Forum
      • Establishing an independent library of cyber best practices
      • Helping partners to enhance knowledge on cybersecurity
      • Working towards an appropriate and agile regulatory framework on cybersecurity
      • Serving as a laboratory and early-warning think tank for future cybersecurity scenarios
       
       Q. 446. PADMA AWARDS
      Ans.
      PADMA AWARDS
      The Padma Awards are one of the highest civilian honours of India announced annually on the eve of Republic Day. The Awards are given in three categories: Padma Vibhushan (for exceptional and distinguished service), Padma Bhushan (distinguished service of higher order) and Padma Shri (distinguished service). The award seeks to recognize achievements in all fields of activities or disciplines where an element of public service is involved.
      The Padma Awards are conferred on the recommendations made by the Padma Awards Committee, which is constituted by the Prime Minister every year. The nomination process is open to the public. Even self-nomination can be made.

      HISTORY AND RELEVANCE
      The Government of India instituted two civilian awards-Bharat Ratna & Padma Vibhushan in 1954. The latter had three classes namely Pahela Varg, Dusra Varg and Tisra Varg. These were subsequently renamed as Padma Vibhushan, Padma Bhushan and Padma Shri vide Presidential Notification issued on January 8, 1955.

      BHARAT RATNA
      Bharat Ratna is the highest civilian award of the country. It is awarded in recognition of exceptional service/performance of the highest order in any field of human endeavour. It is treated on a different footing from Padma Award. The recommendations for Bharat Ratna are made by the Prime Minister to the President of India. No formal recommendations for Bharat Ratna are necessary. The number of Bharat Ratna Awards is restricted to a maximum of three in a particular year. Government has conferred Bharat Ratna Award on 45 persons till date.

      PADMA AWARDS
      Padma Awards, which were instituted in the year 1954, is announced every year on the occasion of Republic Day except for brief interruption(s) during the years 1978 and 1979 and 1993 to 1997.
      The award is given in three categories, namely,
      1. Padma Vibhushan for exceptional and distinguished service;
      2. Padma Bhushan for distinguished service of a high order; and
      3. Padma Shri for distinguished service.
      All persons without distinction of race, occupation, position or sex are eligible for these awards. However, Government servants including those working with PSUs, except doctors and scientists, are not eligible for these Awards.
      The award seeks to recognize works of distinction and is given for distinguished and exceptional achievements/service in all fields of activities/disciplines.
      The award is normally not conferred posthumously. However, in highly deserving cases, the Government could consider giving an award posthumously.
      A higher category of Padma award can be conferred on a person only where a period of at least five years has elapsed since conferment of the earlier Padma award. However, in highly deserving cases, a relaxation can be made by the Awards Committee.
      The awards are presented by the President of India usually in the month of March/April every year where the awardees are presented a Sanad (certificate) signed by the President and a medallion.
      The recipients are also given a small replica of the medallion, which they can wear during any ceremonial/State functions etc., if the awardees so desire. The names of the awardees are published in the Gazette of India on the day of the presentation ceremony.
      The total number of awards to be given in a year (excluding posthumous awards and to NRI/foreigners/OCIs) should not be more than 120.
      The award does not amount to a title and cannot be used as a suffix or prefix to the awardees’ name

      WHO DECIDES
      All nominations received for Padma Awards are placed before the Padma Awards Committee, which is constituted by the Prime Minister every year. The Padma Awards Committee is headed by the Cabinet Secretary and includes Home Secretary, Secretary to the President and four to six eminent persons as members. The recommendations of the committee are submitted to the Prime Minister and the President of India for approval.
       
       Q. 445. Zero Budget Natural Farming
      Ans.
      Zero Budget Natural Farming
      Zero Budget Natural Farming (ZBNF), which is a set of farming methods, and also a grassroots peasant movement, has spread to various states in India. It has attained wide success in southern India, especially the southern Indian state of Karnataka where it first evolved. ZBNF inspires a spirit of volunteerism among its peasant farmer members, who are the main protagonists of the movement.
      The four pillars of ZNBF:
      1. Microbial culture: It provides nutrients, but most importantly, acts as a catalytic agent that promotes the activity of microorganisms in the soil, as well as increases earthworm activity; During the 48 hour fermentation process, the aerobic and anaerobic bacteria present in the cow dung and urine multiply as they eat up organic ingredients (like pulse flour). A handful of undisturbed soil is also added to the preparation, as inoculate of native species of microbes and organisms. It also helps to prevent fungal and bacterial plant diseases.
      2. Treatment of seeds, seedlings or any planting material: It is effective in protecting young roots from fungus as well as from soil-borne and seedborne diseases that commonly affect plants after the monsoon period.
      3. Mulching: Soil Mulch: This protects topsoil during cultivation and does not destroy it by tilling. It promotes aeration and water retention in the soil. Straw Mulch: Straw material usually refers to the dried biomass waste of previous crops, it can be composed of the dead material of any living being (plants, animals, etc).
      4. Moisture: it is a necessary condition for the roots of the plants.
      It is, basically, a natural farming technique that uses biological pesticides instead of chemical-based fertilizers. Farmers use earthworms, cow dung, urine, plants, human excreta and such biological fertilizers for crop protection. Intercropping and Contour Bunds are some of the techniques of ZBNF. It reduces farmers’ investment. It also protects the soil from degradation.
      ZBNF works not just in agronomic terms, but also brings about a variety of social and economic benefits.  ZBNF brings improvements in yield, soil conservation, seed diversity, quality of produce, household food autonomy, income, and health. 
       
       Q. 444. Khelo India Programme
      Ans.
      Khelo India Programme
      Ministry of Youth Affairs and Sports has launched Pledge for Khelo India at Khelo India School Games Carnival in Delhi. The pledge resonates with vision of Khelo India programme and is aimed at inspiring youngsters to build mass participation and excellence in sports.

      Some of the salient features of the Programme include:
      • an unprecedented Pan Indian Sports Scholarship scheme, which would cover 1,000 most talented young athletes each year across select sports disciplines.
      • Each athlete selected under the scheme shall receive an annual scholarship worth Rs. 5.00 lakh for 8 consecutive years.
      • This is the first time ever that a long-term athlete development pathway would be made available to gifted and talented youngsters to excel in competitive sports and will create a pool of highly competitive athletes who can compete to win at the world stage.
      • The Programme aims to promote 20 universities across the country as hubs of sporting excellence, which would enable talented sports persons to pursue the dual pathway of education and competitive sports.
      • The Programme also aims at creating an active population with healthy life-style.
      • The Programme would cover about 200 million children in the age group of 10-18 under a massive national physical fitness drive, which will not only measure the physical fitness of all children in the age group, but also support their fitness related activities.

      Impact:
      • The power of sport in promoting gender equity and social inclusiveness is also fully recognized and special measures are provided for to achieve these objectives.
      • The programme also aims at engaging youth living in disturbed and deprived areas, in sporting activities, to wean them away from unproductive and disruptive activities and mainstream them in the nation-building process.
      • The programme strives to raise the standards of competition, both at school and college level, to have maximum access to organized sports competitions.
      • It also includes the use of latest user-friendly technology in all aspects of sports promotion such as, use of mobile apps for dissemination of sports training; National Sports Talent Search portal for talent identification; interactive website for indigenous sports; GIS based information system for locating and using sports infrastructure, etc.
      • This programme strives to promote “Sports for All” as well as “Sports for Excellence.”
       
       Q. 443. Measles-Rubella campaign
      Ans.
      Measles-Rubella campaign
      India, along with ten other WHO South East Asia Region member countries, have resolved to eliminate measles and control rubella/congenital rubella syndrome (CRS) by 2020. In this direction, Ministry of Health & Family Welfare has initiated measles-rubella (MR) vaccination campaign in the age group of 9 months to less than 15 years in a phased manner across the nation. The campaign aims to cover approximately 41 crore children.
      The Measles-Rubella campaign is a part of global efforts to reduce illness and deaths due to measles and rubella/CRS in the country. Measles immunization directly contributes to the reduction of under-five child mortality, and in combination with rubella vaccine, it will control rubella and prevent CRS.
      The first phase of measles-rubella vaccination campaign has been successfully completed during February 2017 in five states, namely, Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, Goa, Lakshadweep and Puducherry. The campaign was carried out in schools, community centres and health facilities.
      The campaign aims to rapidly build up immunity for both measles and rubella diseases in the community so as to knock out the disease, therefore, all the children should receive MR vaccine during the campaign.
      In order to achieve maximum coverage during the campaign, multiple stakeholders have been involved, which includes, apart from Ministry of Health & Family Welfare, other Ministries, development partners, Lions clubs, professional bodies, for example, Indian Association of Paediatrics, Indian Medical Association, Civil Society Organizations etc.
      All children from 9 months to less than 15 years of age will be given a single shot of Measles-Rubella (MR) vaccination during the campaign. Following the campaign, MR vaccine will become a part of routine immunization and will replace measles vaccine, currently given at 9-12 months and 16-24 months of age of child.
       








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