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Question and Answer :: SRIRAM'S IAS

Civil Services Exam Preparation

 Q. 161. What is novel about Mission Antyodaya?
Ans.
Announced in the 2017-18  Union Budget, it involves or reaching out to the last man, with  a plan to converge social welfare plans and schemes across ministries and target these to reach individual households. 

It  will involve convergence of various government schemes, sharing of infrastructure and resources and multi-pronged strategies to address target households based on their specific deprivations indicated in the recently published SECCIt means efforts to integrate  schemes from ministries of health, education, employment and social security (insurance schemes under financial services) . 

It is an ambitious programme aimed at lifting 10 million families out of poverty. It is baded on the following reasoning: Over Rs 3 lakh crores are spent in rural areas every year, if we add up all the programmes meant for rural poor from the Central Budget, State Budgets, Bank linkage for self-help groups, etc.  With a clear focus on improving accountability, outcomes and convergence, GOI  undertake a Mission Antyodaya to bring one crore households out of poverty and to make 50,000 gram panchayats poverty free by 2019, the 150th birth anniversary of Gandhiji. The government will utilise the existing resources more effectively along with annual increases. This mission will work with a focused micro plan for sustainable livelihood for every deprived household. A composite index for poverty free gram panchayats would be developed to monitor the progress from the baseline. This will be done through addressing all the parameters of poverty and constantly measuring them on a scale of multiple indices based on data collated through the Socio-Economic Caste Census (SECC). According to the SECC data, which was released in 2015, nearly one of three 180 families in India’s villages—or about 31.2 percent of the rural population—are poor with an income hardly enough to buy even the bare essentials. The SECC analysis used an “exclusion-inclusion” method count the poor, different from the erstwhile Planning Commission’s consumption and calorie intake-based estimates.
 
 Q. 160. Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana- Urban
Ans. Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana (Urban) was launched in June 2015 with an aim to provide affordable housing to urban poor.
The Mission will be implemented during 2015-2022 and will provide central assistance to Urban Local Bodies (ULBs) and other implementing agencies through States/UTs. This Mission has four components:
  • In-situ Slum Redevelopment with private sector participation using land as resource.
  • Affordable Housing through Credit Linked Subsidy.
  • Affordable Housing in Partnership with private and public sector.
  • Beneficiary led house construction/enhancement.
Under PMAY:
  • The government has identified 305 cities and towns in 9 states for construction of houses for urban poor.
  • It is proposed to build 2 crore houses for urban poor including Economically Weaker Sections and Low Income Groups in urban areas by the year 2022.
  • A financial assistance of Ã¢â€šÂ¹2 trillion (US$30 billion) from central government is being provided.
Other features of Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana
  • The houses given under this scheme will be owned by females or jointly with males.
  • The houses under Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana would be constructed through a technology that is eco-friendly.
  • While allotting ground floors in any housing scheme under PMAY, preference will be given to differently abled and older persons.
Rajiv Awas Yojana (RAY) was an Indian government program that aimed to help slum dwellers gain appropriate housing and address the processes by which slums are created and reproduced. It was introduced by the Indian Government’s Ministry of Housing and urban poverty Alleviation. The programme was a Centrally Sponsored Scheme, which ran from 2013 to 2014. The scheme aimed to make India slum-free by 2022 by providing people with shelter or housing, free of cost.
 
 Q. 159. What is the significance of Indian participation in International military exercises? What are the advantages of our participation? Mention a few military exercises conducted by India.
Ans.
In the domain of international relations, military diplomacy has, in recent years, emerged as a major tool to further diplomatic interests of nations.
  • Participation in international level military exercises is an indication of the highest level of trust and confidence between the member nations.
  • It is a key confidence building measure (CBM).
  • It is an indication of the faith reposed by India on another nation or a group of member nations.
  • On the operational side, military exercises enable militaries to understand each other’s drills and procedures,
  • Overcome language barriers.
  • Facilitate familiarisation with equipment capabilities.
  • It also facilitates understanding and familiarisation with new technologies that other countries may be utilising and enables on-the-job training of each other’s crews. This is particularly useful in the event of joint operations whether in war or in operations other than war (OOTW) - humanitarian aid, disaster relief, anti-piracy, etc – when nations come together for a common cause. A fine example was the aid assistance provided by a host of nations during the tsunami in South East Asia where a massive land, air and sea rescue effort was successfully executed to provide relief to the affected countries.
  • Perhaps, the most important advantage of joint military exercises is ‘strategic signalling’. A joint exercise with one or more nations serves the purpose of signalling to a third country of the influence we have in the region and a demonstration of our resolve to further our diplomatic objectives.
  • On the intangible side, military exercises promote brotherhood and camaraderie between soldiers and militaries.
  • Besides goodwill, it is a tool for projection of a nation’s soft power – culture, language, customs, beliefs, food habits and lifestyle. Soldiers all over the world have almost similar rank and organisational structures, which helps establish a unique spirit of bonding and friendship between their communities irrespective of the country of origin.
Military exercises conducted by India.
  • India-France Joint Military ‘Exercise Shakti – 2016’: ‘Exercise Shakti-2016’ is the seventh edition in the series of bilateral exercises.
  • India-Nepal Combined Military Training ‘Exercise Surya Kiran IX’
  • India–Indonesia Joint Training ‘Exercise Garuda Shakti IV’ it is the fourth edition of the joint exercise.
  • ‘Exercise Force -18’, the largest ground forces multinational field training exercise on ‘Humanitarian Mine Action and Peacekeeping Operations’
  • ‘Exercise Jalrahat’: As a step towards achieving the goals of National Disaster Management Plan 2016 released by the Prime Minister on 1 June and with the outlines of identifying high risk disaster areas and coordination between the Armed Forces, NDRF and State Disaster Management Agencies along with other State Emergency services, a mock exercise and demonstration under ‘Exercise Jalrahat’ was conducted on 29 June in Shantipur area of Guwahati on the banks of the Brahmaputra River.
  • ‘Exercise Maitree’:   A joint exercise of the Indian Army and Royal Thailand Army.
  • ‘Exercise YudhAbhyas’: As part of the continuing Indo - US defence cooperation, it is the 12thedition of the joint military training.
  • India -Kazakhstan Joint Exercise: As a part of India’s continued efforts to strengthen Indo-Kazakh relations, Armies of the two countries conducted a joint exercise.
  • ‘Exercise Indra – 2016’: Indo-Russian eight edition of Joint Exercise.
  • ‘Sino - Indian Joint Exercise’: As part of the ongoing initiative to enhance interaction and cooperation between India and China, under the provisions of the Border Defence Cooperation Agreement, 2013, the Indian and Chinese armies held their Second Joint Exercise ‘Sino India Cooperation 2016’.
 
 Q. 158. What is the strategic importance of Project Sagarmala and Project Mausam?
Ans. India’s recent maritime initiatives - Project ‘Mausam’ and ‘Sagarmala’ - have generated some discussion about a supposed Indian counter-strategy to China’s Maritime Silk Road in the Indian Ocean Region (IOR). While the inherent logic of such claims is based on reasonable assumptions, the truth apparently is more complex.
Project Mausam
Project Mausam is essentially a Ministry of Culture project concerning the creation of cultural links with India’s maritime neighbours. Pursued in concert with the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI).
The project’s objective is two-fold:
  • At the macro level to re-connect with the countries of the IOR with the aim of enhancing the understanding of cultural values and concerns.
  • At a more localised level, to enable an understanding of national cultures in a regional maritime milieu.
Project Sagarmala
Project Sagarmala, on the other hand, is an initiative to enable port-led direct and indirect development, especially the provision and efficient operation of port infrastructure.
While Sagarmala and Mausam are both outwardly development projects, they are also, in some ways, strategic undertakings.
Mausam, for instance, aims to explore maritime routes that link India to different parts of the Indian Ocean littoral. One of its sub-themes is the sharing of knowledge systems and ideas between the many coastal centres along the maritime routes connecting India with the Indian Ocean’s sub-systems. This could in the long-term imply an aspiration for greater Indian influence in the IOR.
Sagarmala too aims to obtain access to new development regions and enhanced connectivity with regional economic centres. Though the project’s remit is confined to infrastructure creation in Indian ports, given the contested nature of Indian Ocean politics, it could well expand into a regional undertaking.
Certainly, with the Chinese setting forth an ambitious plan for maritime infrastructure creation in the IOR, India will be keen on keeping its strategic options open. These would conceivably envisage the building of counter-leverages in the IOR to preserve India’s geostrategic influence. Therefore, in addition to being useful domestic initiatives, the two projects could serve as critical pillars of a broader Indian strategy for greater regional integration.
 
 Q. 157. What is Project Mausam?
Ans.
Project ‘Mausam’ is a Ministry of Culture project with Archaeological Society of India (ASI), New Delhi as the nodal agency and Indira Gandhi National Centre for the Arts (IGNCA), New Delhi as its Research Unit. ‘Mausam’ or Arabic ‘Mawsim’ refers to the season when ships could sail safely. This distinctive wind-system of the Indian Ocean region follows a regular pattern: southwest from May to September; and northeast from November to March. The English term ‘Monsoon’ came from Portuguese ‘Monção’, ostensibly from Arabic ‘Mawsim’. The etymology of this word signifies the importance of this season to a variety of seafarers. This intertwining of natural phenomena such as monsoon winds and the ways in which these were harnessed historically to create cultural networks form the building blocks of Project ‘Mausam’.
The endeavour of Project ‘Mausam’ is to position itself at two levels:
  • At the macro level it aims to re-connect and re-establish communications between countries of the Indian Ocean world, which would lead to an enhanced understanding of cultural values and concerns.
  • At the micro level the focus is on understanding national cultures in their regional maritime milieu.
The central themes that hold Project ‘Mausam’ together are those of cultural routes and maritime landscapes that not only linked different parts of the Indian Ocean littoral, but also connected the coastal centres to their hinterlands. Project ‘Mausam’ is an exciting, multi-disciplinary project that rekindles long-lost ties across nations of the Indian Ocean ‘world’ and forges new avenues of cooperation and exchange. The project, launched by India in partnership with member states, will enable a significant step in recording and celebrating this important phase of world history from the African, Arab and Asian-world perspectives. 

Project Mausam and China’s Maritime Silk Route
The project is one of the most significant foreign policy initiative designed to counter China. Project Mausam would allow India to re-establish its ties with its ancient trade partners and re-establish an “Indian Ocean world” along the littoral of the Indian Ocean.
The project is supposed to have both a cultural and serious strategic dimension. Perhaps one thing India could consider is seriously developing its Andaman and Nicobar Islands as a security and trade zone, which is sensible given the islands’ location close to the strategically important Straits of Malacca and Thailand. It is clear that Indian government intends to expand its maritime presence, culturally, strategically and psychologically (in order to remind the region why the ocean is called the Indian Ocean). Project Mausam seems like a positive step in that direction and one that will generally be well-received.
 
 Q. 156. Pradhan Mantri MUDRA Yojana (PMMY)
Ans. The Pradhan Mantri MUDRA Yojana (PMMY) is a scheme launched by the Union Government in 2015.

Salient Features:
  • For providing loans upto Rs. 10 lakhs (around US$15,000) to the non-corporate, non-farm small/micro enterprises.
  • All banks viz. Public Sector banks, Private Sector Banks, Regional Rural Banks (RRBs), State Co-operative Banks, Urban Co-operative Banks, Foreign Banks and Non-Banking Finance Companies (NBFCs)/Micro Finance Institutions (MFIs) - are required to lend to non-farm sector income generating activities below Rs.10 lakhs.  These loans are classified as MUDRA loans under PMMY.
  • For implementing the Scheme, government has set up a new institution named, MUDRA (Micro Units Development & Refinance Agency Ltd.), for development and refinancing activities relating to micro units, in addition to acting as a regulator for the micro finance sector, in general. 
  • MUDRA provides refinance to all banks seeking refinancing of small business loans given under PMMY. 
  • PMMY proposed to create MUDRA bank with a corpus of Rs. 20,000 crores made available from the shortfalls of priority sector lending, to refinance Micro-Finance Institutions through Pradhan Mantri Mudra Yojana.
 
Target Beneficiaries 
  • The purpose of PMMY is to provide funding to the non-corporate small business sector. Non- Corporate Small Business Segment (NCSBS) consists of millions of proprietorship/ partnership firms running as small manufacturing units, service sector units, shopkeepers, fruits/ vegetable vendors, truck operators, food-service units, repair shops, machine operators, small industries, artisans, food processors and others, in rural and urban areas. According to the NSSO Survey of 2013, there are 5.77 crore small business units.
Loan offerings under PMMY
  • Shishu: covering loans upto Rs. 50,000/- provided with no collateral, @1% rate of interest/month repayable over a period of 5 years.
  • Kishor: covering loans above Rs. 50,000/- and upto Rs. 5 lakhs.
  • Tarun:   covering loans above Rs. 5 lakhs to Rs. 10 lakhs.
 
 Q. 155. Briefly explain the importance of Trilateral Maritime Security Cooperation between India, Sri Lanka and Maldives.
Ans. The Trilateral Maritime Security Co-operation Initiative was launched by India, Sri Lanka and Maldives in 2011 at Male. This was a welcome initiative involving the three littoral states to enhance maritime security in the neighbourhood. There were two subsequent meetings in 2013 and 2014. There has, however, been no meeting under this mechanism for over two years and a fresh impetus for this initiative seems to be lacking.
There is an urgent need to revitalise and expand this construct given the growing maritime security challenges in the area. The expansion of Chinese activities in the Indian Ocean Region (IOR) should also be considered as another driver for India to further strengthen this initiative at an early date in order to safe-guard and further consolidate strategic influence in the extended neighbourhood.
Roadmap for Maritime Security Cooperation under Trilateral Maritime Cooperation are as follows: -
  • Initiatives to enhance Maritime Domain Awareness (MDA) through measures such as sharing of Automatic Identification System (AIS) and Long Range Identification and Tracking (LRIT) data, etc.
  • Training and capacity building initiatives in areas of MDA, Search and Rescue (SAR), Oil Pollution response, etc.
  • Joint activities including trilateral exercises, maintaining lines of communication on illegal maritime activities, formulation of marine oil pollution response contingency plan, and cooperation in legal and policy issues related to piracy.
The Prime Minister’s visit to Mauritius and Seychelles in 2015 was important from the stand point of maritime security of the region. His exposition of the mantra of SAGAR – Security and Growth for all in the Region – during the visit and the agreements in respect of Assumption and Agalega Islands were particularly important. In addition, the coastal radar chain commissioning and announcement of the provision of the second Dornier aircraft for Seychelles and joint commissioning of the Barracuda in Mauritius were also significant. During the visit, the Prime Minister had also laid out a five-point framework for India’s maritime engagement in the IOR. He also expressed the hope that Mauritius and Seychelles would also join the ongoing Trilateral Maritime Security Cooperation Initiative between India, Sri Lanka and Maldives.
Maritime security challenges in the region continue to be an issue of concern and this effective regional mechanism needs to be strengthened to deal effectively with them. It is time that the mechanism is revived.
 
 Q. 154. Why APEC is not letting India join as its member?
Ans. The ostensible reason for India's non-inclusion in the APEC is its extra-regional status. APEC is essentially a group of 'Pacific' countries that came together in 1989 to form an economic community. Its guiding motive was to resist protectionist policies by individual member states, and the promotion of trade liberalisation and economic cooperation within the affiliated Asia-Pacific economies. By that description, India did not seem to fit in.
In the past few years, however, the issue of India’s membership to the APEC has come under repeated discussion within the forum. The main impediment, apparently, has been the opposition of some participants who have held India’s record on economic reforms and WTO engagement to be unsatisfactory and unworthy of meriting inclusion as a member in the grouping.
Since 2012, when APEC’s leaders decided not to extend the moratorium on new membership (in force since 1997), there has been a renewed push to grant membership status to India. A majority of members now believe that India must be brought into the fold for it has shown progress in reforming and liberalising its economy. Granting India membership status may also act as a catalyst for trade reform among emerging economies. Moreover, India’s maritime strength and strong strategic relations with the region’s major powers, member states point out, could be used to bring strategic balance within the grouping. But the same logic is also causing some members to oppose India's inclusion.
India, which presently has 'observer' status, has been very keen to join the economic grouping as a full member. More importantly, inclusion in the APEC might open the door for India’s membership of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP).
 
 Q. 153. What is One China Policy? Differentiate it from One China Principle. What is India's position?
Ans.
The One-China policy refers to the policy or view that there is only one state called "China", despite the existence of two governments that claim to be "China". As a policy, this means that countries seeking diplomatic relations with the People's Republic of China (PRC, Mainland China) must break official relations with the Republic of China (ROC, Taiwan) and vice versa. The One China policy is different from the "One China principle", which is the principle that insists both Taiwan and mainland China are inalienable parts of a single "China".

India initially for a long period accepted the One China policy.  However, External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj said: For India to agree to a one-China policy, China should reaffirm a one-India policy.It means that “One India” policy is an acknowledgment from Beijing that Arunachal Pradesh that is claimed  by Beijing as South Tibet — is a part of India. When they raised with us the issue of Tibet and Taiwan, we shared their sensitivities  regarding Arunachal Pradesh.

 In 2010,  a joint statement signed following a high-level meeting between India’s former prime minister, Manmohan Singh, and China’s former premier, Wen Jiabao, omitted any mention of India respecting the “One China” policy.  New Delhi pressed Beijing to acknowledge Kashmir  as an integral part of India in exchange for a declaration of support for the “One China” . Beijing refused out of consideration for its “all-weather friend,” Pakistan. In 2013, India further extended its ambiguous position on the “One China” policy by refraining from including Tibet in a joint statement.
 
 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.
 






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