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Question and Answer :: SRIRAM'S IAS

Civil Services Exam Preparation

 Q. 166. Indo-UK made new Hawk combat aircraft looks to take on China
Ans.
India and the United Kingdom have jointly developed a combat ready aircraft that will be on offer to neighbouring countries, countering growing Chinese penetration of the defence market in the region.  The Advanced Hawk has been in the works for two years under a unique model with Hindustan Aeronautics (HAL) and BAE pooling resources to develop a faster, more agile Hawk that can also carry smart weapons. 
About the Advanced hawk
  • The aircraft is currently being assembled in Bengaluru, has several new features including a new wing design by HAL that gives the plane more agility, extra power and the ability to carry a range of conventional and precision weapons for an operational role.
  • BAE, which manufactures the plane and has exported it across the world, believes that the Advanced Hawk will be in demand with several air forces that are acquiring advanced fighter jets. The company estimates that there is a requirement of over such 300 trainers worldwide that will be targeted with the new product. 
  • The aircraft is also being projected as a force multiplier for any air force due to its ability to carry a range of weapons and a laser designation pod.
  • The Advanced Hawk can carry a payload of 3,000 kg mounted across seven stations.
The Hawk has been a success story in India with 123 aircraft flying with the air force and Navy. HAL, which builds the aircraft under license has rolled out its 100th Hawk in February 2017.
 
 Q. 165. What is Gender Champion Scheme?
Ans.
The aim of the scheme is to make young boys and girls gender sensitive and create positive social norms that value the girls and their rights. The Ministry of Women and Child Development has issued Guidelines for engagement of Gender Champions by schools and colleges across the country. The broad mandate of Gender Champions is to provide an integrated and interdisciplinary approach to understanding the social and cultural constructs of gender that shape the experiences of women and men in society. Gender Champions are envisaged as responsible leaders who will facilitate an enabling environment within their schools/colleges/academic institutions where girls are treated with dignity and respect.
  • Gender Champions can be both boys and girls above 16 years of age enrolled in educational institutions.
  • They will strengthen the potential of young girls and boys to advocate for gender equality and monitor progress towards gender justice.
 The scheme also envisages Gender Champion Clubs in educational institutions. These clubs can organize focused group discussions, debates, poster competitions, thematic plays, workshops etc., identifying gaps in school/college’s activities vis-à-vis gender, and make recommendations on how to address these gaps. The Gender Champions Club can organize school’s annual function or college fest on the theme of gender equality and women's empowerment and encourage students to sign up and express their support for gender justice and equality. They can organize exposure visits to various public service institutions at the village, block, district and city level (public health centres, hospitals, post offices, banks, police stations, block office, SDM/DM office to facilitate knowledge about gender issues as they affect diverse populations.
On the basis of the quarterly progress reports, Gender Champions will be assessed according to his/her level of proficiency and accomplishment. These quarterly reports will be assessed at the end of his/her tenure to measure his/her performance. The Gender Champions will be awarded with a certificate of appreciation from the Head of the Institution for his/her committed efforts towards promoting gender equality. A competition has been announced for the design of badges for Gender Champions through Beti Bachao, Beti Padhao page on MyGov portal.
 
 Q. 164. Pradhan Mantri Awaas Yojana- Gramin
Ans.
Under the scheme, financial assistance is provided for construction of pucca house to all houseless and households living in dilapidated houses.
Under Pradhan Mantri Awaas Yojana — Gramin
  • The expenditure involved in implementing the project in a span of 3 years from 2016-17 to 2018-19 is Rs.81975 crores.
  • It is proposed that one crore households would be provided assistance for construction of pucca house under the project during the period from 2016-17 to 2018-19.
  • The scheme would be implemented in rural areas throughout India except Delhi and Chandigarh. The cost of houses would be shared between Centre and States.
  • Enhancing the unit assistance to Rs. 1,20,000 in plain areas and to Rs. 1,30,000 in hilly states/difficult areas /IAP districts.
  • Meeting the additional financial requirement of Rs 21,975 crore by borrowing through National Bank for Agriculture and Rural Development (NABARD) to be amortised through budgetary allocations after 2022.
  • Using SECC-2011 data for identification of beneficiaries.
  • Setting up of National Technical Support Agency at national level to provide technical support in achieving the target set under the project.
 
Implementation strategy and targets: -
  • Identification of beneficiaries eligible for assistance and their prioritisation to be done using information from Socio Economic and Caste Census (SECC) ensuring total transparency and objectivity.
  • The list will be presented to Gram Sabha to identify beneficiaries who have been assisted before or who have become ineligible due to other reasons. The finalised list will be published.
  • The cost of unit assistance is to be shared between Central and State Governments in the ratio 60:40 in plain areas and 90:10 for North Eastern and hilly states.
  • Funds will be transferred electronically directly to the account of the beneficiary.
  • Inspection and uploading of geo referenced photographs will be done though a mobile app. Beneficiary will also be able to track the progress of his payments through the app.
  • The beneficiary is entitled to 90 days of unskilled labour from MGNREGA. 
  • To meet the additional requirement of building materials, manufacture of bricks using cement stabilised earth or fly ash will be taken up under MGNREGA.
  • The beneficiary would be facilitated to avail loan of up to Rs. 70,000/- for construction of the house which is optional.
  • The unit size is to be enhanced from the existing 20 sq.m to up to 25 sq.m including a dedicated area for hygienic cooking.
A house is an economic asset and contributes to upward social mobility with salutary impact on health and educational achievement. The tangible and intangible benefits flowing from a permanent house are numerous and invaluable to both the family and the local economy. 

The impacts occur in two phases: during construction and during occupancy. The positive spinoffs include social integration including enhanced social capital and sustainable communities. Security and comfort of a home provides the launch pad for feeling of enhanced social security, positive self-perception and a powerful fillip to overcoming the difficulties of poverty. 

The intangible benefits from improvement in housing condition are gains in labour productivity and positive health benefits. It positively influences human development parameters of nutrition, sanitation, maternal and child health. Overall improvement in quality of life occurs along with improvements in the physical environment.
 
 Q. 163. Senkaku/Diaoyu islands dispute
Ans. Ties between China and Japan have been strained by a territorial row over a group of islands, known as the Senkaku islands in Japan and the Diaoyu islands in China.

What is the row about?
  • At the heart of the dispute are eight uninhabited islands and rocks in the East China Sea.
  • They have a total area of about 7 sq. km and lie north-east of Taiwan, east of the Chinese mainland and south-west of Japan's southern-most prefecture, Okinawa.
  • The islands are controlled by Japan.
They matter because:
  • They are close to important shipping lanes.
  • They offer rich fishing grounds.
  • They lie near potential oil and gas reserves.
  • They are also in a strategically significant position, amid rising competition between the US and China for military primacy in the Asia-Pacific region.
What is Japan's claim?
Japan says it surveyed the islands for 10 years in the 19th Century and determined that they were uninhabited. In 1895 Japan erected a sovereignty marker and formally incorporated the islands into Japanese territory.
After World War Two, Japan renounced claims to a number of territories and islands including Taiwan in the 1951 Treaty of San Francisco. These islands, however, came under US trusteeship and were returned to Japan in 1971 under the Okinawa reversion deal.
Japan says China raised no objections to the San Francisco deal. And it says that it is only since the 1970s, when the issue of oil resources in the area emerged, that Chinese and Taiwanese authorities began pressing their claims.
 
What is China's claim?
China says that the islands have been part of its territory since ancient times, serving as important fishing grounds administered by the province of Taiwan.
Separately, Taiwan also claims the islands.

Why is the row so prominent now?
The dispute has rumbled relatively quietly for decades. But in 2012, a fresh row ensued after outspoken right-wing Tokyo Governor Shintaro Ishihara said he would use public money to buy the islands from their private Japanese owner. The Japanese government then reached a deal to buy three of the islands from the owner.
This angered China, triggering public and diplomatic protests. Since then, Chinese government ships have regularly sailed in and out of what Japan says are its territorial waters around the islands.
In November 2013, China also announced the creation of a new air-defence identification zone, which would require any aircraft in the zone - which covers the islands - to comply with rules laid down by Beijing.
Japan labelled the move a "unilateral escalation" and said it would ignore it, as did the US.

What is the role of the US?
The US and Japan forged a security alliance in the wake of World War II and formalised it in 1960. Under the deal, the US is given military bases in Japan in return for its promise to defend Japan in the event of an attack.
This means if conflict were to erupt between China and Japan, Japan would expect US military back-up. US President Barack Obama has confirmed that the security pact applies to the islands - but has also warned that escalation of the current row would harm all sides.

What next?
The Senkaku/Diaoyu issue highlights the more robust attitude China has been taking to its territorial claims in both the East China Sea and the South China Sea. It poses worrying questions about regional security as China's military modernises amid the US "pivot" to Asia. In both China and Japan, meanwhile, the dispute ignites nationalist passions on both sides, putting pressure on politicians to appear tough and ultimately making any possible resolution even harder to find.
 
 Q. 162. Discuss the significance of Draft National Policy for Women. What are its priority areas? Also discuss the operational strategies involved in implementing the goals of the policy.
Ans.
Policy is being revised after 15 years and is expected to guide Government action on Women’s issues over the next 15-20 years. Several things have changed since the last Policy of 2001 especially women's attitude towards themselves and their expectations from life. The new draft Policy shifts the focus from entitlements to rights and from empowerment to creating an enabling environment.
Priority Areas
  • Health including food security and nutrition: Focus on recognizing women’s reproductive rights, shift of family planning focus also to males, addressing health issues in a life cycle continuum such as psychological and general well-being, health care challenges related to nutrition/ hygiene of adolescents, geriatric health care, expansion of health insurance schemes and addressing the intergenerational cycle of under-nutrition
  • Education: Improve access to pre-primary education, enrolment and retention of adolescent girls, implement innovative transportation models for better schooling outcomes, advocate gender champions and address disparities with regard to ICTs.
  • Economy: Raising visibility, engendering macro-economic policies and trade agreements, generate gender-disaggregated land ownership database, skill development and training for women, entrepreneurial development, review of labour laws and policies, equal employment opportunities with appropriate benefits related to maternity and child care services, address technological needs of women.
  • Governance and Decision Making: Increasing women’s participation in the political arena, administration, civil services and corporate boardrooms,
  • Violence Against Women:  Address all forms of violence against women through a life cycle approach, Legislations affecting /relating to women will be reviewed/harmonized to enhance effectiveness, Improve Child Sex Ratio (CSR), strict implementation of advisories, guidelines, Standard Operating Procedures (SoPs) and protocols, prevention of trafficking at source, transit and destination areas for effective monitoring of the networks.
  • Enabling Environment: Gender perspective in housing and infrastructure, ensuring safe drinking water and sanitation, gender parity in the mass media & sports, concerted efforts towards strengthening social security and support services for all women especially the vulnerable, marginalized, migrant and single women.
  • Environment and Climate Change:  addressing gender concerns during distress migration and displacement in times of natural calamities due to climate change and environmental degradation. Promotion of environmental friendly, renewable, non–conventional energy, green energy sources for women in rural households.
 The policy also describes emerging issues such as making cyber spaces safe place for women, redistribution of gender roles, for reducing unpaid care work, review of   personal and customary laws in accordance with the Constitutional provisions, Review of criminalization of marital rape within the framework women’s human rights etc. relevant in the developmental paradigms.
Operational strategies laid down in the policy provide a framework for implementation of legislations and strengthening of existing institutional mechanisms through action plan, effective gender institutional architecture. Advocacy and Stakeholder Partnerships, Inter-Sectoral Convergence, Gender Budgeting and generation of gender disaggregated data have also been given due focus. 
Operational strategies
  • Enabling safety and security of women – with initiatives such as One Stop Centres, Women Helpline, Mahila Police Volunteers, Reservation of women in police force, creating immediate response mechanism through panic buttons in mobiles, public and private transport, surveillance mechanisms in public places.
  • Creating eco-systems to encourage entrepreneurship amongst women – through platforms like Mahila E-Haat, dedicated theme based exhibitions, focussed skill training, mentoring through Women Entrepreneurship Council, availability of easy & affordable credit and financial inclusion.
  • Training and capacity building of all stakeholders including youth through Gender Champion initiative, frontline workers, women sarpanches and all officials dealing with policy and delivery systems impacting women.
  • Facilitating women in workplace – through gender friendly work place, flexi timings, increased maternity leave, provision of child care / crèches at workplace, life cycle health care facilities.
Nearly a decade and half has passed since the National Policy for Empowerment of Women, 2001 was formulated. Since then significant strides in global technology and information systems have placed the Indian economy on a trajectory of higher growth impacting the general populace and women in particular in unique and different ways. The discourse on women’s empowerment has been gradually evolving over the last few decades, wherein paradigm shifts have occurred –from seeing women as mere recipients of welfare benefits to mainstreaming gender concerns and engaging them in the development process of the country. These changes have brought forth fresh opportunities and possibilities for women’s empowerment while at the same time presenting new and emerging challenges which along with persisting socio-economic problems continue to hinder gender equality and holistic empowerment of women. The policy aims to create sustainable socio-economic, political empowerment of women to claim their rights and entitlements, control over resources and formulation of strategic choices in realization of the principles of gender equality and justice.
 
 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.
 






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