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Question and Answer :: SRIRAM'S IAS

Civil Services Exam Preparation

 Q. 346. Surrogacy (Regulation) Bill, 2016
Ans.
The Standing Committee on Health and Family Welfare has submitted its report on the Surrogacy (Regulation) Bill, 2016.

Key observations and recommendations of the Committee are:
  1. Commercial vs. altruistic surrogacy: Surrogacy is the practice where one woman carries the child for another with the intention of handing over the child after birth. The Bill prohibits commercial surrogacy and allows altruistic surrogacy. Altruistic surrogacy involves no compensation to the surrogate mother other than the medical and insurance expenses related to the pregnancy. The Committee has recommended for surrogacy model based on compensation rather than altruistic surrogacy. The compensation must take care of several things including the wages lost during the pregnancy, psychological counselling, and post-delivery care.
  2. Surrogate being a ‘close relative’: Under the Bill, the surrogate can only be a ‘close relative’ of the intending couple. Such an arrangement within the family may have:
  1. detrimental psychological and emotional impact on the surrogate child
  2. parentage and custody issues
  3. inheritance and property disputes.
The Committee has recommended that the criteria of being a ‘close relative’ should be removed to allow both related and unrelated women to become surrogates. The committee has also recommended that the Bill must unambiguously state that the surrogate mother will not donate her own eggs for the purpose of the surrogacy. 
 
 Q. 345. Code on Wages, 2017
Ans.
The Code on Wages, 2017 was recently introduced in Lok Sabha. The Code consolidates and modifies four Acts.

These Acts are:
  1. Payment of Wages Act, 1936
  2. Minimum Wages Act, 1949
  3. Payment of Bonus Act, 1965
  4. Equal Remuneration Act, 1976.
The Code will apply to establishments where any industry, trade, business, manufacturing or occupation is carried out. This will also include government establishments.

Key features of the Code are:
  1. National minimum wage: The central government may notify a national minimum wage for the country. It may fix different national minimum wage for different states or geographical areas. The minimum wages decided by the central or state governments will not be lower than the national minimum wage.
  2. Minimum wage: The Code requires employers to pay at least the minimum wages to employees. These wages will be notified by the central or state governments. The wages will be determined based on time, or number of pieces produced, among others.
  3. Payment of wages: Wages will be paid in coins, currency notes, by cheque, or through digital or electronic mode.
  4. Bonus: The employer will pay employees an annual bonus of at least: (i) 8.33% of their wages, or (ii) Rs 100, whichever is higher.
 
 Q. 344. Quantum Computing
Ans.
Quantum computing studies theoretical computation systems that make direct use of quantum-mechanical phenomena to perform operations on data. Quantum computers are different from binary digital electronic computers based on transistors. Common digital computing requires that the data be encoded into binary digits (bits), each of which is always in one of two definite states (0 or 1). A quantum computer employs the principles of quantum mechanics to store information in ‘qubits’ instead of the typical ‘bits’ of 1 and 0. Qubits work faster because of the way such circuits are designed. They can perform intensive number-crunching tasks much more efficiently than the fastest comparable computers.

Indian initiative
The Department of Science and Technology (DST) is also planning to fund a project to develop quantum computers. Physics departments at the Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore, and the Harish Chandra Research Institute, Allahabad, have forayed into the theoretical aspects of quantum computing.
 
 Q. 343. Methanol from methane
Ans.
Scientists have discovered a new way to produce methanol from methane using oxygen from the air. Methanol got its name 'wood alcohol' because it is produced chiefly as a byproduct of the destructive distillation of wood. It has become an important chemical often used as fuel in vehicles. Using Methanol as fuel has major implications for cleaner, greener industrial processes worldwide, using the freely available air, inexpensive chemicals and an energy efficient methanol production process.

Currently, methanol is made with the help of an inexpensive and energy-intensive processes known as steam reforming and methanol syntheses. Natural gas is broken down at high temperatures into hydrogen gas (H2) and carbon monoxide (CO) before reassembling them to procure methanol.

The new method will help scientists produce methanol from methane through simple catalysis. Catalysis is simply an addition of substance called catalyst which speeds up a chemical reaction. It enables methanol production at low temperatures using oxygen and hydrogen peroxide. The relative abundance of methane on Earth makes it an attractive fuel. The new process can help to reduce dependence on fossil fuels but the commercialisation of methane may take longer. It seeks to use waste gas flared into the atmosphere during natural gas production, thus reducing carbon dioxide emissions and helping out nature.

At present global natural gas production is about 2.4 billion tonnes per annum and 4% of this is flared into the atmosphere - roughly 100 million tonnes. The new approach of using natural gas could use this waste gas saving, cutting on carbon dioxide emissions.
 
 Q. 342. Rules to tackle on-board disruptive and unruly behaviour by passengers
Ans.
Rules to tackle on-board disruptive and unruly behaviour by passengers
 
The Ministry of Civil Aviation has unveiled rules to tackle on-board disruptive and unruly behaviour by passengers. This promulgation of the No - Fly List in India is unique and first-of-its-kind in the world. The concept of the No-Fly List is based on the concern for safety of passengers, crew and the aircraft, and not just on security threat.
The Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) has revised the relevant sections of the Civil Aviation Requirement to bring in a deterrent for passengers who engage in unruly behaviour on board aircrafts. The revision has been done in accordance with the provisions of Tokyo Convention 1963 (Convention on Offences and Certain Other Acts Committed on Board Aircraft).
The new rules:
  • Unruly behaviour of passengers at airport premises will be dealt with by relevant security agencies under applicable penal provisions.
  • The revised CAR will be applicable for all Indian operators engaged in scheduled and non-scheduled air transport services, both domestic and international carriage of passengers.
  • The CAR would also be applicable to foreign carriers subject to compliance of Tokyo Convention 1963.
  • The complaint of unruly behaviour would need to be filed by the pilot-in-command. These complaints will be probed by an internal committee to be set up by the airline.
  • The airlines will be required to share the No-Fly list, and the same will be available on DGCA website. The other airlines will not be bound by the No-Fly list of an airline.
  • The revised CAR also contains appeal provisions against the ban. Aggrieved persons (other than those identified as security threat by MHA) may appeal within 60 days from the date of issue of order.
The revised CAR defines three categories of unruly behaviour:
i. Level 1 refers to behaviour that is verbally unruly, and calls for debarment upto 3 months;
ii. Level 2 indicates physical unruliness and can lead to the passenger being debarred from flying for upto 6 months and
iii. Level 3 indicates life-threatening behaviour where the debarment would be for a minimum of 2 years.
The focus of the new rules is on ensuring on board safety while maintaining an element of balance and safeguarding the interest of passengers, cabin crew and the airlines.
 
 Q. 341. The Representation of The People Act (Amendment) Bill, 2017
Ans.
The Representation of The People Act (Amendment) Bill, 2017

About
The Representation of The People Act (Amendment) Bill, 2017, will be presented in the Winter Session of Parliament this year. According to the bill, Parliamentarians must declare their assets at the end of their tenure to ensure accountability and transparency. This provision will be inserted as sub section 75B(1) in the 'Representation of People Act, 1951'.  It is a new private member's bill.

Significance
The proposed amendment in the Representation of People Act will help in maintaining transparency and accountability of people's representatives at the apex level. It will also help in creating a positive atmosphere of corruption-free status of MPs. At present, elected candidate of the two Houses of Parliament have to declare their assets and liabilities within ninety days from the date on which they take their seat. However, there are no such provisions for declaration of assets and liabilities after the expiry of the term.

Context
The bill comes in the wake of Supreme Court observations on the issue, after it was irked over the non-disclosure of action on meteorical rise in politicians' assets. The Supreme Court took strong exception to non-disclosure of information on action taken by it against politicians.  Some of these politicians assets’ had seen a massive jump of up to 500 per cent between two elections. Also, the Central Board of Direct Taxes (CBDT) told the Supreme Court that there has been a substantial hike in the assets of seven Lok Sabha MPs and 98 MLAs across the country and "discrepancies" had been found. 
 
 Q. 340. North East Venture Fund (NEVF)
Ans.
North Eastern Development Finance Corporation Limited (NEDFi) in association with Ministry of Development of North Eastern Region (M-DoNER) has launched the first dedicated venture capital fund for the North Eastern Region Namely “North East Venture Fund”.

The primary objective of North East Venture Fund (NEVF) would be to invest in enterprises focused on and not limited to Food Processing, Healthcare, Tourism, Aggregation of Services located in the NER and to provide resources for entrepreneurs from the region to expand throughout the country.

The investment focus of the NEVF will be early and growth stage investment mostly in enterprises involved in the fields of, Food processing, Healthcare, Tourism, Aggregation of Services and IT & ITES.
NEVF would inter alia invest in areas such as development of new products and services, technological up gradation, expansion or diversification, process improvement and quality improvement with the purpose of creating value for all stakeholders.

Investments will typically be in startups, early stage and growth stage companies with new products and technologies or innovative business models which have the potential to bring superior value proposition to the customers and clients and high growth in earnings and profitability and also in companies undertaking expansions which already have sound financial performance. Investment Manager will select businesses for investments which have high scalability and can reap dividend by quickly and cost effectively reaching to their target customers. The Fund will also cover organizations which are in partnership / proprietorship form with the aim to convert them into company form of organization, so that the Fund is able to invest in them.

The overall objective of the Fund is to contribute to the entrepreneurship development of the NER and achieve attractive risk-adjusted returns through long term capital appreciation by way of investments in privately negotiated equity/ equity related investments.
 
 Q. 339. Bullet train
Ans.
India and Japan have laid the foundation stone for India’s first bullet train project in Ahmedabad. The rail project will transform railways and ‘create new India’.

The Ahmedabad-Mumbai high-speed bullet train project will cost an estimated Rs 1.08 lakh crore or USD 17 billion. The project is expected to be completed by 2022.

The bullet trains would have two categories of seats, executive and economy, and the ticket fares will be comparable to that of AC-2 tier fare for Rajdhani Express.

The bullet train will run at an average speed of 320 km per hour which can go up to 350 km per hour. The bullet train will cover the distance between Mumbai and Ahmedabad in 2 hours and 58 minutes if it halts at 10 stations. The travelling time, however, will come down to barely two hours if the train halts at only two stations. A 21-km-long tunnel will be dug between Boisar and Bandra Kurla Compex (BKC) in Mumbai, with seven km of the stretch under sea.

Roughly 1.6 crore people are expected to travel by the high-speed bullet train annually.

The Railways will operate 35 bullet trains but the number will increase to 105 by 2053.

The bullet train in India will be based on Japan's famed Shinkansen network which is known for its punctuality and cutting-edge technology.

The Shinkansen uses 1,435 mm standard gauge tracks in contrast to the 1,067 mm narrow gauge. The Shinkansen uses an automatic train control system, thereby, doing away with the need for trackside signals. Trains running on Shinkansen network are extremely punctual and have an impeccable safety record.

Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) and the Railway Ministry have inked a Memorandum of Understanding for the 508-km bullet train corridor. Japan will partially fund the bullet train project.
 
 Q. 338. Swachhta Hi Seva
Ans.
Government has launched a nationwide jan aandolan, Swachhta Hi Seva. It aims to encourage the whole country  to do mass Shramdaan for toilet making and cleaning of public places.

“Swachhta Hi Seva” Campaign is an unprecedented campaign to highlight the jan aandolan that is the Swachh Bharat Mission. The objective of the campaign is to mobilise people between 15th September and 2nd October, reigniting the “jan aandolan” for sanitation.

Government has also launched the Solid and Liquid Waste Management activities in the village which is the next major step in Swachhta after getting the villages Open Defecation Free.

A World Bank study that says that lack of Sanitation costs the country 6% of GDP annually, and the weakest sections of society are the ones most affected by this problem. Lack of sanitation also results in the diseases transmitted by open defecation, concerns around dignity and safety of women, and economic loss to the family.

The campaign has also called upon people from all sectors - elected representatives, corporates, NGOs, women, children, senior citizens, Panchayati Raj institutions, media and the youth - to come forward and contribute to the Swachh Bharat movement with vigour and enthusiasm. 
 
 Q. 337. Navika Sagar Parikrama
Ans.
Navika Sagar Parikrama is a project wherein a team of women officers of the Indian Navy would circumnavigate the globe. The circumnavigation of the globe has been flagged off on an Indian-built sail boat INSV Tarini. This is the first ever Indian circumnavigation of the globe by an all-women crew.

The expedition has been titled ‘Navika Sagar Parikrama’. It is aimed at promoting women empowerment in the country and ocean sailing by the Indian Navy. The expedition would inspire the youth of our nation to develop an understanding of the sea and instil a spirit of adventure and camaraderie.

The expedition titled ‘Navika Sagar Parikrama’, is in consonance with the National policy to empower women to attain their full potential. It also aims to help discard the societal attitudes and mindset towards women in India by raising visibility of their participation in challenging environment.

The voyage of will finish around March 2018. The entire distance will be covered in five legs and it will have stop overs at four ports for replenishment of ration and repairs. The ports are: Fremantle (Australia), Lyttelton (New Zealand), Port Stanley (Falklands) and Cape Town (South Africa)
Additional aims of the Expedition are as follows:-
  • Nari Shakti: In consonance with the National policy to empower women to attain their full potential, the expedition aims to showcase ‘Nari Shakti’ on the world platform. This would also help to discard the societal attitudes and mind-set towards women in India by raising visibility of participation by women in challenging environment.
  • Environment and Climate Change: The expedition aims at harnessing the use of environment friendly non-conventional renewable energy resources which affects the life of women.
  • Make in India: The voyage also aims to show case the ‘Make in India’ initiative by sailing onboard the indigenously built INSV Tarini.
  • Meteorological/ Ocean/ Wave Data Observation: The crew would also collate and update Meteorological/ Ocean/ Wave data on a daily basis for subsequent analysis by research and development organisations.
  • Marine Pollution: The crew would monitor and report marine pollution on the high seas.
  • Interaction with Local PIOs:  Since the expedition aims to promote Ocean Sailing and the spirit of adventure, the crew would interact extensively with the local PIOs at the various port halts. 
INSV Tarini is a 55-foot sailing vessel, which has been built indigenously, and was inducted in the Indian Navy earlier this year, thus showcasing the ‘Make in India’ initiative on the World forum.
Sailing encourages the use of environment friendly non-conventional renewable energy resources and this expedition therefore aims at harnessing the renewable energy.
 
 Q. 336. Institutions of Eminence
Ans.
The University Grants Commission has announced a scheme for public and private universities to seek the status of institutions of eminence. It will provide them freedom from the regular regulatory mechanisms. The aim of the scheme is to help institutions break into the top 500 global rankings in 10 years, and then break into the top 100 over time.

Twenty institutions — 10 public and 10 private — will be given this status. The 10 state-run institutions will be given an additional benefit of Rs. 10,000 crore over a period of 10 years, over and above the regular grants.

By March-April 2018, the chosen institutions will be accorded the status of “Institutions of Eminence” with a mandate to achieve world-class status over 10 years.

Institutions in the top 50 of the National Institute Ranking Framework rankings or those which have secured ranking among top 500 of the Times Higher Education World University Rankings, QS University Rankings or Shanghai Ranking Academic Ranking of World Universities are eligible to apply to avail the benefits of the scheme. The mission will set up universities with all-India character and with international standards. 
 
 Q. 335. Space Junk
Ans.
Scientists are developing an ultra-thin spacecraft that can remove space debris which potentially threaten satellites or astronauts. The spacecraft will achieve this by enveloping junk in the Earth’s orbit and dragging it through the atmosphere, causing it to burn up.

The craft is called Brane Craft and is being developed by US-based Aerospace Corporation. It is flexible and less than half the thickness of a human hair. The spacecraft will be bullet-proof. The spacecraft is designed to be resilient. Its microprocessor and digital electronics are fabricated in a way to ensure that if one component gets damaged, the others will continue to work. Brane Crafts will be powered by ultra-thin solar cells as well as a little bit of propellant.

The Kessler syndrome is also called the Kessler effect which was proposed by the NASA scientist Donald J. Kessler in 1978. It is a scenario in which the density of objects in low earth orbit (LEO) is high enough that collisions between objects could cause a cascade where each collision generates space debris that increases the likelihood of further collisions. One implication is that the distribution of debris in orbit could render space activities and the use of satellites in specific orbital ranges infeasible for many generations.
 
 Q. 334. Project Insight
Ans.
The Income Tax department of Government of India will very soon launch Project Insight. The tax department will analyse mismatches in income declarations and spending patterns to trace tax evasions and black money. The government has recently made linking of PAN with Aadhaar mandatory. This was done to get a 360 degree view of a person’s income and assets. The project is part of the steps the government has taken to unearth and tax undeclared or illegal wealth. The steps include launch of ‘Operation Clean Money’ after demonetisation of old higher denomination currency for collection, collation and analysis of information on cash transactions, extensive use of information technology and data analytics tools for identification of high risk cases, expeditious e-verification of suspect cases and enforcement actions.

It will use big data analytics to match information from social media sites to deduce mismatches between spending pattern and income declaration. The government had signed a pact with L&T Infotech for implementation of Project Insight. The project is designed to strengthen the non-intrusive information driven approach for improving tax compliance. Project has been initiated by the income tax department for data mining, collection, collation and processing of such information for effective risk management with a view to widen and deepen the tax base. It will help the taxmen monitor high value transactions, and curb the circulation of black money.

The project will use technology to allow the government collate databases of IT returns, IT forms, TDS/TCS statements and Statement of Financial Transactions received from financial institutions. As part of project, a new Compliance Management Centralised Processing Centre (CMCPC) would also be set up for handling preliminary verification, campaign management, generation of bulk letters/notices and follow-up.
 
 Q. 333. C-17 Globemaster
Ans.
About
US will sell India one C-17 transport aircraft. The proposed sale of C-17 transport aircraft by Boeing is estimated at a cost of is USD 366.2 million. The sale includes one missile Warning System, one Countermeasures Dispensing System, one Identification Friend or Foe (IFF) Transponder and precision navigation equipment.

C-17 Globemaster
The Boeing C-17 Globemaster is a large military transport aircraft. It was developed for the United States Air Force (USAF) from the 1980s to the early 1990s by McDonnell Douglas. The C-17 commonly performs tactical and strategic airlift missions, transporting troops and cargo throughout the world. It can also perform medical evacuation and airdrop duties. The C-17 is capable of strategic delivery of up to 170,900 pounds of personnel and/or equipment to main operating bases or forward operating locations. C-17 has a fully integrated electronic cockpit and advanced cargo delivery system. It allows a crew of three: pilot, co-pilot, and loadmaster, to operate the aircraft on any type of mission.

Significance
  • The Globemaster will improve India's capability to meet current and future strategic airlift requirements.  As India lies in a region prone to natural disasters therefore it will use the additional capability for humanitarian assistance and disaster relief.
  • The aircraft is capable short field landings with a full cargo load. It can also perform tactical airlift and airdrop missions as well as transport litters and ambulatory patients during aeromedical evacuation when required.
  • Also, the C-17 will provide more rapid strategic combat airlift capabilities for India’s armed forces.
  • India currently operates C-17 aircraft bought from Boeing, therefore Indian armed force will have no problem in absorbing the aircraft. Moreover, the proposed sale will not alter the basic military balance in the region. 
 
 Q. 332. Navika Sagar Parikrama
Ans. Navika Sagar Parikrama is a project wherein a team of women officers of the Indian Navy would circumnavigate the globe. The circumnavigation of the globe has been flagged off on an Indian-built sail boat INSV Tarini. This is the first ever Indian circumnavigation of the globe by an all-women crew.

The expedition has been titled ‘Navika Sagar Parikrama’. It is aimed at promoting women empowerment in the country and ocean sailing by the Indian Navy. The expedition would inspire the youth of our nation to develop an understanding of the sea and instil a spirit of adventure and camaraderie.

The voyage of will finish around March 2018. The entire distance will be covered in five legs and it will have stop overs at four ports for replenishment of ration and repairs. The ports are: Fremantle (Australia), Lyttelton (New Zealand), Port Stanley (Falklands) and Cape Town (South Africa)
Additional aims of the Expedition are as follows:-
  • Nari Shakti: In consonance with the National policy to empower women to attain their full potential, the expedition aims to showcase ‘Nari Shakti’ on the world platform. This would also help to discard the societal attitudes and mind-set towards women in India by raising visibility of participation by women in challenging environment.
  • Environment and Climate Change: The expedition aims at harnessing the use of environment friendly non-conventional renewable energy resources which affects the life of women.
  • Make in India: The voyage also aims to show case the ‘Make in India’ initiative by sailing onboard the indigenously built INSV Tarini.
  • Meteorological/ Ocean/ Wave Data Observation: The crew would also collate and update Meteorological/ Ocean/ Wave data on a daily basis for subsequent analysis by research and development organisations.
  • Marine Pollution: The crew would monitor and report marine pollution on the high seas.
  • Interaction with Local PIOs:  Since the expedition aims to promote Ocean Sailing and the spirit of adventure, the crew would interact extensively with the local PIOs at the various port halts.  
 
 Q. 331. National Sports Development Fund
Ans. About: Ministry of Youth Affairs and Sports has created a National Sports Development Fund (NSDF) to bridge the gap of lack of sufficient facilities like qualified coaches/specialists, sports infrastructure and inadequate sponsors to sportspersons for their training/coaching and the sub-optimal performance of the athletes in the international sports events.

Objectives:
  • To promote sports in general and specific sports disciplines and individual sports persons in particular for achieving excellence at the National and International level;
  • To impart special training and coaching in relevant sports disciplines to sports persons, coaches and sports specialists;
  • To construct and maintain infrastructure for promotion of sports and games;
  • To supply sports equipment to organizations and individuals for promotion of sports and games;
  • To identify problems and take up research and development studies for providing support to excellence in sports;
  • To promote international cooperation, in particular, exchanges which may promote the development of sports; and
Resource: NSDF will mobilize resources from Government as well as non-government organizations and individuals.

For: Institutions, government and non-government organizations exclusively dealing with promotion of sports and individual sportspersons of outstanding ability are eligible for getting financial assistance from NSDF for specific projects.
 
 Q. 330. Plastic waste
Ans.
The menace
The quantum of solid waste is ever increasing due to increase in population, developmental activities, changes in life style, and socio-economic conditions. Plastics waste is a significant portion of the total municipal solid waste (MSW). The plastics waste constitutes two major category of plastics; (i) Thermoplastics and (ii) Thermoset plastics. Thermoplastics, constitutes 80% and thermoset constitutes approximately 20% of total post-consumer plastics waste generated in India. The Thermoplastics are recyclable plastics which include; Polyethylene Terephthalate (PET), Low Density Poly Ethylene (LDPE), Poly Vinyal Choloride(PVC), High Density Poly Ethylene (HDPE), Polypropylene(PP), Polystyrene (PS) etc. Recycling of plastics should be carried in such a manner to minimize the pollution during the process and as a result to enhance the efficiency of the process and conserve the energy.

The menace
The Task Force on plastic pollution, set up by the Planning Commission in 2014 had estimated that 60 cities across the country generate over 15,000 tons of plastic waste every day—almost 6 million tons per year. Cattle and other animals, which freely move around the streets, unknowingly devour some of this plastic material, which is not digested but stays put in their stomachs leading to their eventual death. It is time that India ban plastic bags and related stuff before the water bodies, land and seacoasts are choked and menace turns into a manmade disaster.

The landlocked African country Rwanda has banned plastic bags since a few years; Kenya has just announced a ban on plastic bags; Morocco has had such a ban for almost a decade.

Plastic degrading microbes
A lot of plastic waste from across the world eventually ends up in the oceans, which cover over 70% of the earth’s surface and hold 97% of the earth’s water. The amount of plastic rubbish reaching the oceans is 8 million tons per day. By 2050, there will be more plastic in the world’s oceans than fish. The huge amounts of plastic thrown in the oceans that keeps floating is hardly 1%, the rest sinks way down and/or are slowly being degraded or broken down.

Researchers have partially succeeded to identify, isolate and study the biological species that seem to degrade plastics into small molecules. These plastics can be used for safer purposes. Scientists have identified certain species which are responsible for biodegradation of plastics, these are some fungi and bacteria. Two strains of the fungus aspergillus spp, found in the waters of the Gulf of Mannar degrade the plastic HDPE which is used to make milk and fruit juice bottles, grocery bags and such. These fungi release some enzymes which degrade HDPE, essentially breaking up the polymeric molecule into smaller pieces.

Also, enzymes from the microbe named, Ideonella sakainesis are capable of breaking down the polymer PET (polyethylene terephthalate, used in making packaging trays, polyester clothing and others) into its basic monomeric molecules terephthalic acid and ethylene glycol which are used as building blocks for a variety of chemicals. The microbe is found in soil, sediment, waste water and similar material.

Recently, scientists have shown that the fungus Aspergillus tubigensis can degrade plastic material called polyurethane or PU (used in the manufacture of car tyres, gaskets, bumpers, fibres, plastic foam, synthetic leathers).

Scientists have concluded that microbes can be genetically modified to suit any intended purpose. This type of research will bring a great deal of benefit to not only terrestrial life forms but those living under water as well.
 
 Q. 329. Hortinet
Ans.
Hortinet is an integrated traceability system developed by Agricultural and Processed Food Products Export Development Authority (APEDA) for providing Internet based electronic services to the stakeholders for facilitating farm registration, testing and certification of Grape, Pomegranate and Vegetables for export from India to the European Union in compliance with standards. This mobile app initiative is expected to increase the accessibility and reach of the Traceability software system among the farmers and other stakeholders.

This new Mobile app will also assist State Horticulture/ Agriculture Department to capture real time details of farmers, farm location, products and details of inspections like date of inspection, name of inspecting directly from field.

Through this App not only the process of farmer and farm registration will become convenient but laboratory testing of product samples will also become easier. The level of agricultural exports is low considering that we have enormous population and most of what is produced is consumed domestically. Though we have only 2.2% share yet we are amongst the top 10 players in global agricultural trade. The efforts made by APEDA in promoting exports especially the use of traceability software has benefitted Indian agricultural trade and ensuring that importing countries get the product of  quality and standards that they desire.
 
 Q. 328. New model agriculture law and the Farm forestry sector
Ans.
The Ministry of Agriculture and Farmers Welfare has proposed a new model law, the Agricultural Produce Market Committee (APMC) Act, 2017.
  • It seeks to end the monopoly of APMC mandis and promote private players through wholesale markets, direct sale and purchase of agricultural produce, single market fee, and one-time registration for trade in multiple markets.
  • 12 states, namely Madhya Pradesh, Gujarat, Bihar, Odisha, Maharashtra, Kerala, Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, Himachal Pradesh, Andhra Pradesh, Punjab and Haryana, have agreed to implement the reforms.
Farm forestry sector
  • The model law is expected to bring necessary reforms in the farm forestry sector, which has been listed along with allied activities such as livestock, poultry and bee-keeping to double farmers’ income by 2022.
  • The ministry is also working towards an electronic registration system which will ensure that once registered, farmers will not have to seek permission to harvest and transport the trees they plant.
  • These reforms are expected to provide the agro-forestry sector a much-needed boost through exemption of trees grown by farmers on private land from felling, a unified trading license, relaxation of transit rules and a single point levy of market fee.
  • Restrictions on felling of farm-grown trees, transit pass regulations and lack of access to markets have been the major reasons behind farmers’ disinterest and inability in utilising their lands for producing timber.
  • Agro-forestry in India needs an open policy in which the regulations are relaxed. States will have to work with the Centre in tandem to ensure implementation of the reforms.
  • Currently, farmers face many problems in plantation harvest and transit as tree felling is not regulated by one authority. Instead, the revenue and the forest department regulate tree felling and that too varies state wise. 
  • State governments can further help by notifying certain tree species as exempt from felling and transit. That would mean that the forest check-posts will not stop such species of timber from being transported.
  • Since the forests and wildlife are in the concurrent list of the Constitution, the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change should consider an amendment in the Indian Forest Act, 1927, where for certain tree species, a central enactment of power be possible.
 
 Q. 327. What is a Hydrogen bomb? How is the reaction mechanism of Hydrogen bomb different from an atomic bomb?
Ans.
Nuclear weapons trigger an explosive reaction that shears off destructive energy locked inside the bomb’s atomic materials. A thermonuclear weapon is a second-generation nuclear weapon design which is bombarded by the energy released by the detonation of a primary fission bomb within, compressing the fuel material (tritium, deuterium or lithium deuteride) and causing a fusion reaction. That fusion stage is mashing hydrogen atoms together in the same process that fuels the sun. When these relatively light atoms join together, they unleash neutrons in a wave of destructive energy. Some advanced designs use fast neutrons produced by this second stage to ignite a third fast fission or fusion stage. The fission bomb and fusion fuel are placed near each other in a special radiation-reflecting container called a radiation case that is designed to contain x-rays for as long as possible. The result is greatly increased explosive power when compared to single-stage fission weapons. The device is colloquially referred to as a hydrogen bomb or, an H-bomb, because it employs the fusion of isotopes of hydrogen.

Hydrogen bombs, or H-bombs, are far more powerful than the relatively simple atomic weapons. Atomic bombs rely on fission, or atom-splitting, just as nuclear power plants do. The hydrogen bomb can be 1,000 times more powerful. The technology of the hydrogen bomb is more sophisticated, and once attained, it is a greater threat. It can also be made small enough to fit on a head of an ICBM.
The hydrogen bomb is the global standard for the five nations with the greatest nuclear capabilities: the US, Russia, France, the UK and China.
 
 Satellite technology and Border management
The government will very soon use satellite technology for the Border Security Force (BSF), Indo-Tibetan Border Police (ITBP) and Sashastra Seema Bal (SSB) for better border surveillance. The government will dedicate satellite bandwidth for this purpose.
Satellite technology will be used carry out the following activities:
  1. Monitor movement of Pakistani and Chinese troops in real time
  2. Track terrorist infiltration
  3. Map terrain
  4. Communicate effectively in remote areas
  5. Assess the strength of soldiers and artillery deployed by neighbours near the border in case of a stand-off.
Significance
Fortification is important because the: command, control, communication, surveillance, intelligence and reconnaissance abilities of border security forces need to become impregnable.
Satellites can play an important role in border management. India has one of the best satellite technologies in Asia. Defence forces are already using space technology. Border forces depend on intelligence shared by central agencies like IB, RAW and National Technical Research Organisation. There is also the issue of poor communication in areas like Ladakh, Sikkim, Arunachal Pradesh and Kashmir Valley. With satellite technology real-time information can be better monitored.

Satellite and Armed forces
India shares over 15,000km of borders with Pakistan, China, Bangladesh, Nepal and Myanmar. The armed forces currently use 13 ISRO satellites to watch land and maritime boundaries. The Navy has a dedicated military satellite, GSAT-7 or `Rukmini' which monitors the Indian Ocean Region.
The recently launched Cartosat-2 series advanced remote sensing satellite has added more teeth to India's military surveillance capabilities because of its high resolution image processing technology.

Comprehensive Integrated Border Management System (CIBMS)
Under CIBMS the government is already providing:
  1. CCTV cameras
  2. Thermal image and night-vision devices
  3. Battlefield surveillance radar
  4. Underground monitoring sensors
  5. Laser barriers
These are helping to track movement from the other side along the border. The integrated set-up ensures that if one device doesn't work, another alerts the control room in case of a transgression. 
 






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