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Question and Answer

SRIRAM'S IAS

 Q. 152. With reference to US-China economic relations, explain currency manipulation and trade war.
Ans.
When China's yuan falls against the U.S. dollar, Chinese products become cheaper in the U.S. market and American products become more costly in China.So the U.S. Treasury Department monitors China for signs it is manipulating the yuan lower. Treasury has guidelines for putting countries on its currency blacklist. They must, for example, have spent the equivalent of 2 percent of their economic output over a year buying foreign currencies in an attempt to drive those currencies up and their own currencies down. Treasury hasn't declared China a currency manipulator since 1994. For years, China manipulated its currency to gain an advantage over global competitors. It bought foreign currencies, the U.S. dollar in particular, to push them higher against the yuan. As it did, it accumulated vast foreign currency reserves — nearly $4 trillion worth by mid-2014.But now the Chinese economy is slowing, and Chinese companies and individuals have begun to invest more heavily outside the country. As their money leaves China, it puts downward pressure on the yuan. The yuan has dropped nearly 7 percent against the dollar in 2016. The Chinese government has responded by draining its foreign exchange reserves to buy yuan, hoping to slow the currency's fall. China's reserves have dropped .Trump could nonetheless escalate any dispute over the currency on his own. Over the years, Congress has ceded the president broad authority to impose trade sanctions. Trump has threatened to impose a 45 percent tax, or tariff, on Chinese imports to punish it for unfair trade practices, including alleged currency manipulation. China can retaliate and that will cause a trade war- tit for tat. China  is likely to bring the case to the World Trade Organization against any protectionist measures that are a violation of U.S. commitments to the WTO.
 Q. 151. Where does India stand in the race for super computers? What are Government's future plans?
Ans.
Government has proposed to commit 2.5 billion USD to supercomputing research during the 12th five-year plan period (2012-2017). The project is handled by Indian Institute of Science (IISc), Bangalore.Additionally, it was later revealed that India plans to develop a supercomputer with processing power in the exaflop range. It will be developed by C-DAC within the subsequent 5 years of approval.

Government supports  building and installing 100-150 supercomputers at the local, district and national levels under an Indian national programme.
In 2015, the Indian government has approved a seven-year supercomputing program worth $730 million (Rs. 4,500-crore). The National Supercomputing grid will consist of 73 geographically-distributed high-performance computing centers linked over a high-speed network. By 2016 , India has 11 super-computers, which have been ranked as Top500 supersystems in the world. Under the Top500 list, Indian supercomputers are right now ranked at positions 96, 119, 145, 166, 251, 286, 300, 313, 316, 380 and 397.Besides, Indian built PARAM Yuva II was  ranked at impressive 44th position at Super Computing Conference in Denver, Colorado, under the renown Green500 List for Super Computers.
 
In 2013, 4 Indian supercomputers were included in the World’s fastest supercomputers as well.
 Q. 150. Discuss the problem of undernutrition in India. What are the key objectives of National Nutrition Mission (NNM)? Discuss the components of NNM?
Ans.
The “Global Nutrition Report 2016” once again demonstrates India’s slow overall progress in addressing chronic malnutrition, manifest in stunting (low weight for age), wasting (low weight for height), micronutrient deficiencies and over-weight. Our track record in reducing the proportion of undernourished children over the past decade has been modest at best, and lags what other countries with comparable socio-economic indicators have achieved. In a ranking of countries from lowest to highest on stunting, India ranks 114 out of 132 countries.
Aggregate levels of undernutrition in India remain shockingly high, despite the impressive reduction in stunting in the last decade. The segments most at risk continue to be adolescent girls, women and children, and among them Scheduled Castes and Tribes are the worst off, reflecting the insidious economic and sociocultural deprivation so prevalent in India. According to the most recent United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) report, nearly 50 per cent of women in India are married before they turn 18, in violation of the law.
The poor nutritional status of adolescent girls, combined with child marriage and multiple pregnancies even before becoming an adult, lead to another dismal fact, that 30 per cent of all children are born with low birth weight. So we add approximately seven million, potentially wasted and stunted, to our population every year. For India to be healthy and break the inter-generational cycle of malnutrition, we have to focus on the health, nutrition and social status of children, adolescent girls and women as a priority. In order to achieve this, Ministry of Women and Chid Development launched the National Nutrition Mission (NNM).
The key objectives of this program is as under:
  • To create awareness relating to malnutrition amongst pregnant women, lactating mothers, promote healthy lactating practices and importance of balanced nutrition;
  • To improve maternal and child under-nutrition in 200 high burdened districts and to prevent and reduce the under-nutrition prevalent among children below 3 years; 
  • To reduce incidence of anaemia among young children, adolescent girls and women.
There are two components of the National Nutrition Mission:
  • Information, Education and Communication (IEC) Campaign against malnutrition: To create awareness about nutrition challenges and promote home-level feeding practices. 
  • Multi-sectoral Nutrition Programme: to address Maternal and Child Under-Nutrition in 200 high-burden districts, which aims at prevention and reduction in child under-nutrition (underweight prevalence in children under 3 years of age) and reduction in levels of anaemia among young children, adolescent girls and women. 
 Q. 149. Government receives about Rs 5,000 crore through DMF
Ans. What is DMF?
The Mines and Minerals (Development & Regulation) Amendment Act, 2015, mandated the setting up of District Mineral Foundations (DMFs) in all districts in the country affected by mining related operations. District Mineral Foundation (DMF) is a trust set up as a non-profit body to work for the interest and benefit of persons and areas affected by mining related operations. It is funded through the contributions from miners. Its manner of operation comes under the jurisdiction of the relevant State Government.
DMF funds are treated as extra-budgetary resources for the State Plan. Efforts are made to achieve convergence with the State and the District Plans so that the activities taken up by the DMF can supplement the development and welfare activities already being carried out. Using the funds generated by this contribution, the DMFs are expected to implement the Pradhan Mantri Khanij Kshetra Kalyan Yojana (PMKKKY).
Nearly Rs 5,000 crore has been collected so far through District Mineral Foundation (DMF), which will be utilised by the states for the development of places and people affected by mining-related operations. 

About Pradhan Mantri Khanij Kshetra Kalyan Yojana (PMKKKY)
The objective of PMKKKY scheme is:
(a) to implement various developmental and welfare projects/programs in mining affected areas that complement the existing ongoing schemes/projects of State and Central Government.
(b) to minimize/mitigate the adverse impacts, during and after mining, on the environment, health and socio-economics of people in mining districts.
(c) to ensure long-term sustainable livelihoods for the affected people in mining areas. High priority areas like drinking water supply, health care, sanitation, education, skill development, women and child care, welfare of aged and disabled people, skill development and environment conservation will get at least 60 % share of the funds. 
 Q. 148. What is a Payment Bank?
Ans. Payments Banks are a new set of banks licensed by the Reserve Bank of India to further financial inclusion by enabling them to provide:
  1. Small savings/ current accounts below Rs. 1 lakh
  2. Distribution of mutual funds, insurance products on a non-risk sharing basis and
  3. Payments / remittance services to migrant labour workforce, low income households, small businesses, other unorganised sector entities and other users through high volume-low value transactions in deposits and payments / remittance services using a secured technology-driven environment including issuance of prepaid cards etc.
Salient features:
  • Payments Banks are differentiated or restricted banks.
  • The Payments Bank cannot set up subsidiaries to undertake non-banking financial services activities (hire purchase, leasing etc.) nor can it undertake lending business.
  •  It may choose to become a banking correspondent (BC) of another bank for credit and other services which it cannot offer.
  • Since liquidity is the most important aspect required for such banks they will be bound by the reserve requirement rules of RBI (CRR, SLR etc.).
  • The minimum paid-up equity capital for payments banks shall be Rs. 100 crores.
  • The Payments Bank are proposed to be registered as a public limited company under the Companies Act, 2013, and licensed under Section 22 of the Banking Regulation Act, 1949.
The proposal for creating payments banks stemmed from the report of the Committee on Comprehensive Financial Services for Small Businesses and Low Income Households (Chairman: Dr. Nachiket Mor) submitted in January 2014.

Non-Banking Finance Companies (NBFCs), corporate Banking Correspondents (BCs), mobile telephone companies, super-market chains, companies, real sector cooperatives and public sector entities may apply to set up a Payments Bank. Even banks can take equity stake in a Payments Bank to the extent permitted under Section 19 (2) of the Banking Regulation Act, 1949. In pursuance to this, Department of Posts is launching India Post Payments Bank (IPPB) as a Public Limited Company with 100% Government of India (GOI) equity Payment Bank. 
 Q. 147. What are the implications of a likely Prime Minister's stand-alone visit to Israel?
Ans. Prime Minister had visited four major countries along the Persian Gulf – the UAE, Saudi Arabia, Iran and Qatar – without any sign of an Israeli visit. Notwithstanding that, there have been unprecedented high-level contacts with Israel. In May 2014, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu became the first world leader to congratulate Modi on his landslide victory when most Arab leaders stood stunned at the electoral debacle of the UPA. That September, Modi met Netanyahu on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly and both have been exchanging greetings and messages at regular intervals. Such regular engagement with Israel comes against the backdrop of Modi’s high-visibility political visits to the region. Prime Minister visited UAE in August 2015, Turkey in November 2015 for the G-20 meeting, and followed these up in 2016 with visits to Saudi Arabia (April), Iran (May) and Qatar (June). Israel is the only other major country in the region that he did not visit.
A pattern is noticeable in Modi’s engagements with the Middle East.
  • Military-security cooperation occupies a prime place in all bilateral engagements. The same emphasis on security cooperation was also visible in his engagements with Saudi Arabia, Iran and Qatar. Israel would not be different especially when security has been a major area of cooperation since the normalization of relations in January 1992.
  • Unlike in the past, Modi’s visits were preceded or followed by reciprocal visits or bilateral meetings in third countries. Since May 2014, Modi has met Saudi leaders at three G-20 summits. The Emirati Crown Prince visited New Delhi in February 2016 and will be the Chief Guest at the Republic Day Celebrations in 2017. The Qatari emir visited India in March 2015. This pattern may recur in the case of Israel as well. A Modi visit to Israel could be followed by a Netanyahu visit to India.
  • Modi’s visits to the region have a pattern. Each has been a stand-alone visit and hence did not take away the primary focus from the country visited.
India and Palestine
Moreover, the political gains of Modi visiting Palestine are rather limited. Not only does Palestine not offer any economic incentives, even its political advantages have diminished over the years. While there is popular support for the Palestinian cause, its relevance for inter-Arab relations is marginal. The Palestinian cause is their last priority and they are unlikely to modify their policy towards India due to a stand-alone visit by Modi to Israel.
A standalone visit to Israel will not only be in line with Modi’s engagement with the Middle East but would also send a powerful message to the international community that India is no longer apologetic about befriending Israel. In practical terms, that would mean strategic Indian investments in hi-tech industries in Israel including military industry, cyber security, Nano technology, alternative energy, and recycling, and India becoming a partner in technology development and sharing. Sensitive technologies are either stolen or bought, but never shared even among friends. Indian investments would be the easiest and, in the long run, the cheapest way to ensure technology transfers from Israel. Should the visit be premised on such an endeavour, Modi’s standalone visit to Israel would be both feasible and likely.
 Q. 146. What is the impact of India's Surgical Strikes across the LoC? Discuss how the operation stood out and the International response.
Ans. On September 18, 2016, four terrorists belonging to the Pakistani jihadi group Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM) struck at an Indian Army camp in Uri. The resultant impact of the Uri incident, which led to the death of 19 army soldiers hardened the government’s resolve to move beyond standard reactions.
The military options available for counter terror strikes has been analysed threadbare over the years. When viewed along the escalatory ladder, these included shallow strikes across the LoC against terrorist launch pads, precision long range missile strikes against terror camps, deep Special Forces strikes against terrorist camps, surgical strikes to eliminate terrorist leaders, and neutralisation of Pakistan Army positions along the LoC directly involved in the launch of terrorists into India. The innovation in executing the counter punch was, therefore, more likely to come in terms of the time and place of its delivery. The government decided to undertake a shallow surgical strike along the LoC. This clearly implied that the Army intended to target terrorist launch pads, which are typically located between 500 metres and a couple of kilometres along the LoC inside Pakistan occupied Kashmir (PoK).
  • By limiting the strike to terrorist launch pads, India maintained the requisite balance between resolve to punish the perpetrators of terrorism and keeping a low military threshold as would be expected from a reasonable state.
  • A large number of friendly foreign countries as well as the media were informed about the operation. This saw the government and the army take ownership of the operation and its intended consequences.
  • The government called for cooperation from the Pakistan to fulfil its international obligations to fight terrorism, as has been promised by Islamabad on more than one occasion.
Impacts and Implications of the Surgical Strikes
  • This was the first operation conducted by the Army across a wide frontage of well over 100 kilometres at multiple terrorist targets along the LoC.
  • By taking ownership of the strike, India snatched the initiative from Pakistan, which had continued its provocations through terrorist attacks at regular intervals.
  • The Army raised the cost of using terrorism as an instrument of state policy by a couple of notches.
  • The Pakistani narrative about the absence of India-targeting terrorists on its soil stood exposed for the world to see.
  • The strikes proved to be an important element for maintaining the morale of the people of India and the armed forces.
  • The strike reinforced the credibility of the government and displayed its resolve, even as justified restraint and maturity was on display.
  • India called into question the Pakistani belief that it would not react to terrorist provocations because of the fear of escalation. Along with this, the army also crossed the laxman rekha that had for long constrained its ability to hit terrorists in their own backyard.
International Responses to Uri and India’s Surgical Strikes
  • India was then quick to rally international support from the US, UK, and France, which condemned the Uri attack, and also highlighted Pakistan’s atrocities in Balochistan, which led the European Union to respond with a threat of punitive economic sanctions if Islamabad did not come clean on human rights violations.
  •  Countries such as Germany, Japan, and South Korea also issued statements condemning the incident and expressed support for India’s stand on countering terrorism globally.
  • Key West Asian countries and members of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) also issued statements condemning the Uri terrorist attack.
  • China’s reaction to the strikes came two days after Pakistan dispatched two special envoys on Kashmir to Beijing to drum up support for its position. It called on all relevant parties to exercise restraint and refrain from actions that would escalate tension. Co-incidentally, China also continued with its decision to extend its technical "hold" on a UN resolution to ban the Jaish-e-Mohammed leader Masood Azhar. The resolution to ban him was co-sponsored by the US, UK, France and India, with 14 other countries acquiescing. China was the only one to block it with a technical hold.
  • Russia came out strongly in support of Indian action saying Moscow stood for “decisive struggle against terrorism in all its manifestations.”
  • Within South Asia, India found support from all its other neighbours, after its decision to boycott the SAARC summit.
The operation stood out particularly for the clarity with which information about the surgical strike was presented in the public domain. The narrative was precise, had clarity of purpose, and showed the unity of response in the military, political and diplomatic wings of the government. 
 Q. 145. What is Mahila e-Haat? How it will ensure empowerment of women?
Ans. Mahila e-Haat is an online marketing platform for women. Mahila e-Haat is a unique online platform where participants can display their products. It is an initiative for women across the country as a part of ‘Digital India’ and ‘Stand Up India’ initiatives. Participation in e-Haat is open to all Indian women citizens more than 18 years of age and women SHGs desiring for marketing their legal products/services after indemnifying RMK from any or all acts of transaction.

The empowerment of women will take place in three stages:
  • First stage is Mahila E-Haat.
  • Second stage is planned to integrate it with e-commerce portals to provide a larger platform for selling and buying.
  • In the third stage, it will culminate into Women’s Entrepreneurs Council which will help to expand this initiative further and give it an institutional shape.
The initiative can prove to be a game changer.
  • It will provide access to markets to thousands of women who make products and are spread all over the country but have little access to markets.
  •  The initiative is unique since this is the first time that the government will help women to sell products online.
  • The endeavour will help women to make financial and economic choices which will enable them to be a part of ‘Make in India’ and ‘Stand Up India’.
  • The Mahila E-Haat will help to meet the goal of financial inclusion of women and it is a big step forward for empowerment of women.
  • Mahila E-Haat is an initiative for meeting aspirations and need of women entrepreneurs which will leverage technology for showcasing products made/manufactured/sold by women entrepreneurs.
  •   The entire business of e-Haat can be handled through mobile phone. The product, along with photograph description, cost and mobile no./address of the participants will be displayed on the e-Haat enabling direct contact between sellers/service providers and buyers.   
  • They can even showcase those services being provided by them which reflect creative potential e.g. tailoring.
  • More than 10000 Self Help Groups (SHGs) and 1.25 Lakh women beneficiaries would be benefited from the day of launch of the site itself.      
The e-Haat is expected to result in paradigm shift enabling women to exercise control over their finances. 
 Q. 144. Q. What is LCA Tejas? What is its significance for India?
Ans. The Light Combat Aircraft (LCA) is the smallest and lightest multi-role supersonic fighter aircraft of its class. It is designed and developed by the Aeronautical Development Agency (ADA) and Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) for the Indian Air Force and the Indian Navy. Hindustan Aeronautics Limited handed over the first two Tejas aircrafts to IAF which will make up the 'Flying Daggers' 45, the name of the first squadron of the LCA. India's first indigenous LCA, which is all set to replace the MiG-21 series, is a result of several years of design and development work by Aeronautical Development Agency (ADA) and HAL. 

Features of stealth fighter jet
  • The home-grown aircraft is equipped with a quadruplex digital fly-by-wire flight control system to ease handling by the pilot. Due to its small size and the extensive usage of carbon composits, its radar cross section is very less compared to other aircrafts like MiG-29, F-16. 
  • Glass cockpit: Tejas incorporates a distinctive 'glass cockpit' in which information is displayed real-time to the pilot. Tejas also has open architecture software for avionics, which can be updated by DRDO as and when required. 
  • How it stacks up against JF-17: In comparison to JF 17, jointly built by Pakistan and China, Tejas is superior as it is mostly made of composite which makes it light and agile. Further, LCA Tejas and JF-17 were built with totally different purposes in mind. Hence, even though they were built along a similar timeline, it is not really fair to compare them.
  • How it stacks up against Mig-21 series: Unlike Mig-21, LCA Tejas is of a newer generation. It has better avionics and improved cockpit. Since Tejas uses carbon composites in its structure, it is lighter in weight and has a much stronger body compared to Mig-21 bisons.
  • Not a substitute to MMRCA: Tejas will definitely help the Indian Air Force to make up for the decreasing numbers. However, at the same time, the light-weight jet cannot be used as a substitute for the medium-weight multi-role combat aircraft (MMRCA) or heavy-weight fighter jets.
  • Limited reach: Tejas will have a limited reach of a little over 400-km, which means it can be used for close air-to-ground operations. For any strikes which happen deep into enemy territory will have to be undertaken by Russian-origin Sukhoi-30MKIs or the Rafales.
  • Named by Atal Bihari Vajpayee: The light combat aircraft was named 'Tejas', which means 'radiance', by former prime minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee.
  • Cost of upgraded version: The upgraded version of Tejas, with Active Electrically Scanned Array Radar, Unified Electronic Warfare Suite, mid-air refuelling capacity and advanced BVRs, will cost somewhere between Rs 275 crore and Rs 300 crore.
Significance for India
  • Incidentally, Tejas has also caught the attention of foreign buyers with Sri Lanka and Egypt evincing interest in the indigenously built fighter jet. The two countries are interested in the current version of the Tejas and not the upgraded one which will be rolled out later.
  • The induction comes at a time when IAF desperately needs replacement for its MiG 21s. IAF has a depleting fighter aircraft strength, and while Tejas has been designed for only light combat, it will nevertheless provide a much needed boost to the air force.
  • It makes us conversant with a new technology: Fighter plane development is a huge technology which is mastered by very few countries. With Tejas we have made a start. By continuing on it, we will go ahead and develop more advance planes.
  • It is an indicator of power projection: it shows the world that India is capable of developing a world class fighter. It will increase our respect.
 Q. 143. DOMESTICALLY SYSTEMICALLY IMPORTANT BANKS (D-SIB)
Ans. What is Systemically Important Bank?
Systemically important banks or a bank is one whose failure will have nationwide or worldwide repercussions, they are ‘too big to fail’. A bank failure is a scenario in which the bank or financial institution is unable to pay its depositors or fulfil its financial obligations.
'Too Big To Fail (TBTF)', this perception of TBTF creates an expectation of government support for these banks at the time of distress. Due to this perception, these banks enjoy certain advantages in the funding markets.
The Reserve Bank of India announced State Bank of India and ICICI Bank Ltd as Domestic Systemically Important Banks (D-SIBs) & subjected them to higher levels of supervision to prevent disruption to financial services in event of any failure. To understand this better, lets discuss this in detail. 
Why RBI chose these banks as DSIBs?
The RBI uses a methodology to determine whether a bank is systemically important or not on the basis of its size, inter-connectedness, substitutability and complexity. Such banks have been termed as domestic-systemically important banks (D-SIB).
  • Size: takes into account all exposures (Loans, savings deposits, commissions from mutual fund businesses) of a bank.
  • Inter-connectedness: A bank is deemed more interconnected if it has borrowed or lent more money from other banks or financial institutions.
  • Sustainability: it is a financial infrastructure indicator which determines whether the services provided by the bank are easily replaceable. 
  • Complexity: If a bank has higher complexity the cost and time taken to resolve its issues is more.
Based on these factors, RBI have chosen these banks as D-SIBs.

Framework for DSIBs
The Reserve Bank had issued the Framework for dealing with Domestic Systemically Important Banks (D-SIBs) in 2014. The Framework also requires that D-SIBs may be placed in four buckets depending upon their Systemic Importance Scores (SISs).  The D-SIB Framework specifies a two-step process of identification of D-SIBs. In the first step, the sample of banks to be assessed for systemic importance has to be decided. The selection of banks in the sample for computation of SIS is based on analysis of their size as a percentage of annual GDP.
 Q. 142. Explain how Climate change is affecting the Arctic and the Antarctic ecosystem. Also elaborate its effect on India.
Ans. The world has recently received dire warnings about the deteriorating health of our planet from two of its most fragile and critical ecosystems, the Arctic in the north and the Antarctica in the South. For India, with its extensive coastline, the implications are enormous.

The Arctic Ocean has experienced the warmest winter this year since temperature records began to be compiled. There has been an extraordinary 20-degree deviation above what temperature levels should have been at this time of the year. Satellite images have also revealed that sea ice in the Arctic Ocean is at the lowest extent ever recorded. It comes as a culmination of a steady warming of the Arctic over the past half a century, resulting in a 75% loss of its ice cover.

In the Antarctica, there had been complacency because the loss of the thick ice cover over the southern continent had been minimal in recent years. The loss of some ice-shelves located at the coast, had been made up by increased accumulation in other parts of the continent. However, it has been reported that a massive ice-shelf in the western part of the continent, known as Larsen C, may be about to detach itself from the thick mass of ice covering the continent, and float away into the ocean as a gigantic iceberg. Larsen C is part of what was originally a very extensive ice-shelf, parts of which, Larsen A and Larsen B, have already disintegrated and floated away. Larsen A disappeared in 1995 and Larsen B in 2002. But Larsen C is by far the largest shelf in this part of the Antarctica.
Effects:
  • Ice-loss from this part of West Antarctica is already making a significant contribution to global sea-level rise and is actually one of the largest uncertainties in global sea-level prediction. The Arctic and the Antarctic are different eco-systems but both are very fragile. The Arctic is an ocean, enclosed by land, constituted by territories belonging to the US, Canada, Russia, Greenland, Norway and Denmark. The Antarctica is an ice-covered land-mass of continental proportions, which is surrounded by deep ocean. The melting of ice, floating in the Arctic Ocean, will not add to net sea-level rise, but the mass of ice covering the Antarctica and Greenland (in the Arctic region), would add to the volume of water in the world’s oceans and lead to significant sea-level rise.
  • But sea-level rise is not the only consequence to worry about due to the steady loss of the polar ice-caps. For example, the thick ice-cover over the Antarctica and over Greenland will release a huge amount of methane which lies trapped in the frozen bio-mass below the ice. The same is true of the perma-frost that covers the northern zones of Arctic littoral. Methane is a much more powerful climate change-forcing agent than carbon dioxide (CO2) is, though it stays in the atmosphere for a shorter time than CO2. The release of methane will lead to a significant spike in global warming.
  • Another change relates to what is known as the albedo effect. The mass of white ice, both in the Arctic and the Antarctica, reflects back the rays of sun reducing the warming of temperatures. With its melting, much more of the heat from the sun will be absorbed by the oceans and the landmass, which will exacerbate global warming.
Implication on India: climatic conditions and oceanic wave movements in the polar regions have a significant effect on weather patterns around the world, including the monsoons in our subcontinent.
Against this background, it is imperative that leaders across the world shed their complacency and recognise and respond to what is a planetary emergency.
 Q. 141. What does Rashtriya Mahila Kosh (RMK) do towards empowerment of women?
Ans.
Rashtriya Mahila Kosh (RMK) was established by the Government of India in March, 1993 as an autonomous body under the Ministry of Women & Child Development. It was registered under the Societies Registration Act 1860. The aims and objectives of the Kosh are to undertake activities for the promotion of  credit as an instrument of socio-economic change and development through the provision of  package of financial and social development services,  to demonstrate and replicate participatory approaches in the organization of women's groups for effective utilization of credit resources leading to self-reliance, to promote and support experiments in the voluntary and formal sector using innovative methodologies,  to promote research, study, documentation and analysis, to promote the federation and net working of women's organisations for shaping & exchange of experience and information and to develop skills in response management & social mobilization, to promote and support the expansion of entrepreneurship skills among women, and promote and support grassroot level societies and organisations and other participatory structures for providing for women effective access to decision making.
 Q. 140. What is a Payment Bank?
Ans. Payments Banks are a new set of banks licensed by the Reserve Bank of India to further financial inclusion by enabling them to provide:
(i) Small savings/ current accounts below Rs. 1 lakh
(ii) Distribution of mutual funds, insurance products on a non-risk sharing basis and
(iii) Payments / remittance services to migrant labour workforce, low income households, small businesses, other unorganised sector entities and other users through high volume-low value transactions in deposits and payments / remittance services using a secured technology-driven environment including issuance of prepaid cards etc.
Salient features:
  • Payments Banks are differentiated or restricted banks.
  • The Payments Bank cannot set up subsidiaries to undertake non-banking financial services activities (hire purchase, leasing etc.) nor can it undertake lending business.
  • It may choose to become a banking correspondent (BC) of another bank for credit and other services which it cannot offer.
  • Since liquidity is the most important aspect required for such banks they will be bound by the reserve requirement rules of RBI (CRR, SLR etc.).
  • The minimum paid-up equity capital for payments banks shall be Rs. 100 crores.
  • The Payments Bank are proposed to be registered as a public limited company under the Companies Act, 2013, and licensed under Section 22 of the Banking Regulation Act, 1949.
The proposal for creating payments banks stemmed from the report of the Committee on Comprehensive Financial Services for Small Businesses and Low Income Households (Chairman: Dr. Nachiket Mor) submitted in January 2014.
Non-Banking Finance Companies (NBFCs), corporate Banking Correspondents (BCs), mobile telephone companies, super-market chains, companies, real sector cooperatives and public sector entities may apply to set up a Payments Bank. Even banks can take equity stake in a Payments Bank to the extent permitted under Section 19 (2) of the Banking Regulation Act, 1949. In pursuance to this, Department of Posts is launching India Post Payments Bank (IPPB) as a Public Limited Company with 100% Government of India (GOI) equity Payment Bank.
 Q. 139. Write a short note on India Post Payments Bank.
Ans. India Post Payments Bank (IPPB) will be set up as a public limited company under the Department of Posts with 100 per cent government equity.
A.     The total corpus of the payments bank is of Rs 800 crore, which will have Rs 400-crore equity and Rs 400-crore grant.
B.     A total of 650 branches of the postal payments bank would be established in India, which will be linked to rural post offices.
C.     India has 154,000 post offices, of which 139,000 are rural post offices. IPPB will obtain banking licence from the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) by March 2017 and by September 2017, all 650 branches of the postal payments bank would become operational.
D.    IPPB will offer demand deposits such as savings and current accounts upto a balance of Rs 1 Lac, digitally enabled payments and remittance services of all kinds between entities and individuals and also provide access to third party financial services such as insurance, mutual funds, pension, credit products, forex, and more, in partnership with insurance companies, mutual fund houses, pension providers, banks, international money transfer organisations, etc.
The four key features of IPPB are:
FINANCIAL LITERACY: Even a little saving can go a long way if channelized correctly. With trustworthy advice and services designed to include everybody, income can be invested correctly, more can be saved, and people can start moving forward, faster. IPPB aims to make India prosperous by ensuring that everyone has equal access to financial information and services, no matter who they are, what they earn and where they live.
STREAMLINING PAYMENTS: Beneficiaries can access income from government’s DBT programs like MNREGA wages, Social Security Pensions and scholarships, directly from their IPPB bank account with near zero friction. They can also pay their utility bills, fees for educational institutions and many more from the same IPPB account. It ensures that wherever they are, they can make the most of financial opportunities available to them.
FINANCIAL INCLUSION: Millions of Indians don’t have access to banking facilities. They cannot avail of government benefits, loans and insurance, and even interest on savings. IPPB will reach the un-banked and the under-banked across all cross sections of society and geographies. Services offered by IPPB will help them take the first step towards prosperity.
EASE OF ACCESSIBILITY: IPPB is powered by the very postmen who deliver our letters. With over 1.54 lac post offices across the country, India Post enjoys the trust of Indians everywhere. The postal delivery system will make IPPB, India’s most accessible banking network. IPPB will also offer services through internet and mobile banking, and prepaid instruments like mobile wallets, debit cards, ATMs, PoS and MPoS terminals etc.
 
What is Small Finance Bank (SFB)? Who can get the license? What are its salioent features?
The Small Finance Bank (SFB) is a private financial institution intended to further the objective of financial inclusion by primarily undertaking basic banking activities of acceptance of deposits and lending to un-served and underserved sections including small business units, small and marginal farmers, micro and small industries and unorganised sector entities, but without any restriction in the area of operations, unlike Regional Rural Banks or Local Area Banks.
Following are ligible to apply
a)     Resident individuals/professionals with 10 years of experience in banking and finance and companies and societies owned and controlled by residents,
b)     Existing Non-Banking Finance Companies (NBFCs), 
c)     Micro Finance Institutions (MFIs), and 
d)     Local Area Banks (LABs) that are owned and controlled by residents can also opt for conversion into small finance banks.
Salient Features:
The minimum capital for SFBs is prescribed at Rs. 100 crores. Foreign Investment is permitted as in the case of other private sector commercial banks.
They are subject to all prudential norms and regulations of RBI as applicable to existing commercial banks like maintenance of Cash Reserve Ratio (CRR) and Statutory Liquidity Ratio (SLR).
SFBs can undertake other non-risk sharing simple financial services activities, not requiring any commitment of own fund, such as distribution of mutual fund units, insurance products, pension products, etc. with the prior approval of the RBI.
The concept of small finance banks was also one of the recommendations in the 2009 Report - A Hundred Small Steps - of the Committee on Financial Sector Reforms headed by Dr. Raghu Ram Rajan. 
 Q. 138. Micro Units Development Refinance Agency (MUDRA) Bank
Ans. Micro Units Development Refinance Agency (MUDRA) Bank is a refinance institution for micro-finance institutions. As on date, MUDRA is conceived not only as a refinance institution and but also as a regulator for the micro finance institutions (MFIs).
The MUDRA Bank is primarily be responsible for –
1) Laying down policy guidelines for micro/small enterprise financing business
2) Registration, Regulation, Accreditation /rating of MFI entities
3) Laying down responsible financing practices to ward off indebtedness and ensure proper client protection principles and methods of recovery
4) Development of standardized set of covenants governing last mile lending to micro/small enterprises
5) Promoting right technology solutions for the last mile
6) Formulating and running a Credit Guarantee scheme for providing guarantees to the loans which are being extended to micro enterprises
7) Creating a good architecture of Last Mile Credit Delivery to micro businesses under the scheme of Pradhan Mantri Mudra Yojana.
Salient Features
  • MUDRA has a corpus of Rs. 20,000 crores made available from the shortfalls of Priority Sector Lending. In addition, there is a credit guarantee corpus of Rs. 3,000 crores for guaranteeing loans being provided to the micro enterprises.
  • MUDRA Bank will refinance Micro-Finance Institutions through a Pradhan Mantri Mudra Yojana.
  • MUDRA Bank operates through regional level financing institutions who in turn connect with last mile lenders such as Micro Finance Institutions (MFIs), Small Banks, Primary Credit Cooperative Societies, Self Help Groups (SHGs), NBFC (other than MFI) and such other lending institutions.
  • In lending, MUDRA gives priority to enterprises set up by the under-privileged sections of the society particularly those from the scheduled caste / tribe (SC/ST) groups, first generation entrepreneurs and existing small businesses. There are estimated to be some 5.77 crore small business units in India 62% of these are owned by SC/ST/OBC.
  • MUDRA Bank will be operationalised as a subsidiary of Small Industries Development Bank of India (SIDBI). 
 Q. 137. Swachh Swasth Sarvatra
Ans. Swachh Swasth Sarvatra is a joint initiative of the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare (MoHFW) and the Ministry of Drinking Water and Sanitation (MDWS) to achieve better health outcomes through improved sanitation and increased awareness and healthy lifestyles.
 Advancing from Swachh Bharat to Swasth Bharat is a natural step. Open Defecation Free (ODF) should not be limited to creation of infrastructure alone but it should also bring the positive change in the habits and mindsets of people. “Swachh Swasth Sarvatra” is a much needed programme to achieve open defecation-free India by 2019.
The three key components of Swachh Swasth Sarvatra are:
.Community Health Centres (CHCs) in ODF blocks supported to achieve Kayakalp certification.
.Gram Panchayat of Kayakalp Primary Health Centres (PHCs) prioritized to become ODF.
.Training in WASH (Water, Sanitation and Hygiene) of CHC/PHC nominees. 

In blocks, where through efforts of the MDWS and local community, open defecation has been eliminated, the MOHFW will provide the Community Health Centre (CHC), a grant of Rs. 10 lakhs to ensure that the facility achieves the quality benchmarks for sanitation, hygiene and infection control with a minimum score of 70 under the Kayakalp assessment.  Improved sanitation practices of the community are expected to complement the high level of sanitation and hygiene in the health care facility, and consequently reduce the disease burden related to water borne diseases.  
In the first phase, during 2017-18, the  CHCs located in or catering to population in the 700 blocks that have been declared ODF and Gram Panchayats/Nagar Panchayats within which the Kayakalp PHCs (one each in 670 districts) are located will be covered in the initiative. The envisaged activities will culminate in a process of certification by the end of the financial year. Such CHCs and PHCs would be designated as SwachhRatna CHC and SwachhRatna PHC. The scheme may be progressively extended to additional blocks and public health facilities.  
 Q. 136. First 2G (Second Generation) Ethanol Bio-refinery in India
Ans. What is Ethanol?
Ethanol fuel is ethyl alcohol, the same type of alcohol found in alcoholic beverages, used as fuel. It is most often used as a motor fuel, mainly as a biofuel additive for gasoline.
What is 2G Ethanol Bio-Refinery?
First generation biofuels are made from the sugars and vegetable oils found in arable crops, which can be easily extracted using conventional technology. In comparison, second generation biofuels are made from lignocellulosic biomass or woody crops, agricultural residues or waste, which makes it harder to extract the required fuel.
First 2G (Second Generation) Ethanol Bio-refinery in India to be set up at Bathinda (Punjab) with an approximate investment of Rs 600 crores.  Hindustan Petroleum Corporation Limited (HPCL), a Central Government Public Sector Undertaking, is setting up the project.
  The Government of India is encouraging production of Second Generation (2G) Ethanol from agricultural residues to provide additional sources of  remuneration to farmers, address the growing environmental concerns and support the Ethanol Blended Petrol (EBP) programme for achieving 10% Ethanol Blending in Petrol.
 The Bathinda Bio-refinery will be utilizing agriculture residues for production of 100 KL per day or 3.20 crore litres per annum of ethanol which may be sufficient to meet the 26% of the ethanol blending requirement of the State. The project shall also help in reducing CO2 emissions from the paddy straw which currently is being burnt after harvesting. One of the major outputs of this Bio-refinery shall be Bio-fertilizer approximating 30,000 tonnes per annum which shall be incorporated into the soil for improving soil fertility and overall productivity of farms in Punjab.
 Oil PSUs, in line with vision laid down by Government of India, are planning to set up twelve (12) 2G Ethanol Bio-refineries across 11 States viz. Punjab, Haryana, U.P., M.P, Bihar, Assam, Odisha, Gujarat, Maharashtra, Karnataka and A.P. The Bio-refinery at Bathinda is the first step towards achieving 10% blending of Ethanol in petrol. 
 Q. 135. Scheme for Agro-Marine Produce Processing and Development of Agro-clusters (SAMPADA)
Ans. Union Ministry of Food Processing Industries is taking steps to implement a new scheme, Scheme for Agro-Marine Produce Processing and Development of Agro-clusters (SAMPADA) for:
  • Overall development of food processing sector.
  • Providing enabling infrastructure.
  • Expanding processing and preservation capacities.
  • Controlled temperature logistics.
  • Backward and forward linkages.
SAMPADA will be with an allocation of Rs.6000 Crore for a period co-terminus with 14th finance commission.
 Q. 134. Sukanya Samriddhi Yojana
Ans. What is the scheme?
  • Sukanya Samriddhi Yojana (SSY) is a small deposit scheme for the girl child launched as a part of the 'Beti Bachao Beti Padhao' campaign.
  • It is currently (2016-17) fetching an interest rate of 9.1 per cent and provides income-tax rebate. 
  • A Sukanya Samriddhi Account can be opened any time after the birth of a girl till she turns 10, with a minimum deposit of Rs 1,000.
  • The account can be opened in any post office or authorised branches of commercial banks. 
  • The account will remain operative for 21 years from the date of its opening or till the marriage of the girl after she turns 18. To meet the requirement of her higher education expenses, partial withdrawal of 50 per cent of the balance is allowed after she turns 18. 

What are the rules for opening Sukanya Samriddhi Account? 
  • The account can be opened by the natural or legal guardian in the name of the girl from her birth till she turns 10. 
  • A depositor may open and operate only one account in the name of the girl child under these rules.
  • The birth certificate of the girl in whose name the account is opened should be submitted by the guardian at the time of the opening of the account in the post office or bank, along with other documents relating to identity and residence proof of the depositor. 
 
How much can be deposited in the account? 
  • The account can be opened with an initial deposit of Rs 1,000 and thereafter, any amount in multiple of Rs 100 can be deposited, subject to the condition that a minimum of Rs 1,000 will be deposited in a financial year, but the total money deposited in an account on a single occasion or on multiple occasions will not exceed Rs 1,50,000 in a financial year. 
 
What is the mode of deposit? 
  • The deposit in the account can be made in cash or by cheque or demand. 
  • Deposits may also be made through electronic means (e-transfers).

How is the interest rate on deposits calculated? 
The government fixes interest rates on quarterly basis based on the G-sec yields.
 
How does the account operate? 
The account is opened and operated by the natural or legal guardian of the girl child in her name till she turns 10. When she turns 10, the girl child can operate the account herself. However, deposit in the account may be made by the guardian or any other person or authority. 

Under what circumstances can the account be closed prematurely? 
  • In the event of death of the account holder, the account will be closed immediately on the production of a death certificate issued by the competent authority, and the balance in the account will be paid, along with the interest till the month preceding the month of the premature closure of the account, to the guardian of the account holder. 
  •  In any other case, a request for the premature closure of an SSY account can be put forward after the completion of five years of the account opening. This too will be allowed, as per the rules, on extreme compassionate grounds such as medical support in life-threatening diseases.
 
What are the rules for partial withdrawal? 
To meet the financial requirements of the account holder for the purpose of higher education and marriage, withdrawal of up to 50 per cent of the balance at the credit of the account at the end of preceding financial year is allowed. However, the withdrawal will be allowed only when the account holder turns 18. 
 
When will the account mature? 
The account matures on the completion of 21 years from the date of opening or whenever the girl child gets married, whichever is earlier, subject to the following: 
  • It is also provided that where the marriage of the account holder takes place before the completion of such period of 21 years, the operation of the account will not be permitted beyond the date of her marriage. 
  • If the account is closed before the completion of 21 years, the account holder will have to give an affidavit to the effect that she is not below 18 as on the date of closing of account.
 
Can the account be opened in the name of an NRI girl child? 
A girl child is eligible for an SSY account only if she is a resident Indian citizen when the account is opened, and remains so until the maturity or the closure of account. 
Non-resident Indians can no longer open an SSY account
 
What are the tax benefits available in the scheme? 
Currently, SSY offers the highest tax-free return with sovereign guarantee and comes with the exempt-exempt-exempt (EEE) status. The annual deposit (contributions) qualifies for Section 80C benefit and the maturity benefits are non-taxable. 
 Q. 133. Rubella, pneumonia now in vaccine cover
Ans. What is Rubella?
Rubella is an acute, contagious viral infection. While the illness is generally mild in children, it has serious consequences in pregnant women causing foetal death or congenital defects known as congenital rubella syndrome (CRS). The rubella virus is transmitted by airborne droplets when infected people sneeze or cough. Humans are the only known host.
 
What is pneumonia?
Pneumonia is a form of acute respiratory infection that affects the lungs. The lungs are made up of small sacs called alveoli, which fill with air when a healthy person breathes. When an individual has pneumonia, the alveoli are filled with pus and fluid, which makes breathing painful and limits oxygen intake. Pneumonia is the single largest infectious cause of death in children worldwide. 
 
Why these are in news?
Pushing forward in its drive against vaccine-preventable diseases, the government is set to introduce two new vaccines -against pneumonia and rubella -under its universal immunisation programme in early 2017.
 
The move assumes significance as it is expected to reduce deaths by almost 20-25% among children under five years of age. India's current under-five mortality rate is around 45 deaths per 1,000 live births.
 
While India has the highest number of pneumonia and diarrhoea deaths among children with nearly 3 lakh children dying in 2016, Rubella is considered a major reason behind the birth of children with deformities. Official estimates show pneumonia alone accounts for 8-10% of the under-five mortality.
Currently, the government's immunisation programme provides cover against around 10 vaccine preventable diseases. The fast ramping up of the programme along with its coverage has been acknowledged globally.
 
Diseases Protected by Vaccination under Immunization program: Diphtheria, Pertussis, Tetanus, Polio, Tuberculosis, Measles, Hepatitis B, Japanese Encephalitis (commonly known as brain fever), Meningitis and Pneumonia caused by Haemophilus Influenza type b.






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