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Question and Answer

SRIRAM'S IAS

 Q. 173. Airborne Early Warning and Control System (AEW&C) "Netra"
Ans.
The first indigenously built Airborne Surveillance System is a game changer in air warfare. The AEW&C System is a system of systems populated with state-of-the art Active Electronically Scanned Radar, Secondary Surveillance Radar, Electronic and Communication Counter Measures, LOS (Line of Sight) and beyond LOS data link, voice communication system and self-protection suite, built on an Emb-145 platform, having an air to air refuelling capability to enhance surveillance time. These airborne warning systems, capable of long range surveillance, are huge force multipliers. Netra is based on Embraer aircraft. A Complex tactical software has been developed for fusion of information from the sensors, to provide the air situation picture along with intelligence to handle identification/classification threat assessment. Battle management functions are built in house to work as a network centric system of Integrated Air Command & Control System (IACCS) node. 

This system has been developed and evaluated through collaborative efforts between DRDO and the IAF. The AEW&C system has undergone all weather and environmental trials and has been accepted by the IAF for induction. 
 Q. 172. What is Pradhan Mantri Ujjwala Yojana?
Ans. Pradhan Mantri Ujjwala Yojana was launched by the Prime Minister Ballia, Uttar Pradesh. The initiative, in line with the dream of the Prime Minister of creating smoke-less villages across the country, has come as a moment of pride for the women in BPL- households for getting LPG connection as an identity of their own and to lead a smoke-free, less polluted, convenient and healthy life.
To carry the scheme forward and implement it on mass level, special Ujjwala Melas for distributing LPG connections to identified beneficiaries under PMUY have been organised at all the LPG distribution outlets.
  • The main mantra of this scheme is Swacch Indhan, Behtar Jeevan – Mahilaon ko mila samman.
  • On the national level, 5 crore LPG connections will be provided in the next 3 years to eligible BPL households.
  • The scheme provides a financial support of Rs. 1600 for each LPG connection to the eligible BPL households.
  • The connections under the scheme will be given in the name of women-head of the households.
  • The OMCs will provide EMI facility for meeting the cost of stove and the first refill.
  • The scheme is aimed at replacing the unclean cooking fuels used in the most underprivileged households with clean and more efficient LPG (Liquefied Petroleum Gas).
  • Ensuring women’s empowerment, especially in rural India, the connections will be issued in the name of women of the BPL households.
  • The identification of eligible BPL families will be made on Social-Economic Caste Census (SECC) data that is being provided by the Union Ministry of Petroleum and Natural Gas.
  • The scheme is implemented using the money saved in LPG subsidy through the ‘Give-it-Up’ campaign.
  • This is for the first time that the Ministry of Petroleum and Natural Gas has launched such an enormous scheme.
  • PMUY aims at empowering the women and protect their health by reducing the serious health hazards associated with the cooking based on fossil fuel. The other aims of this scheme are to reduce the number of deaths resulted by the use of unclean cooking fuel and preventing toddlers from acute respiratory illness caused due to indoor air pollution caused by the unclean cooking fuel.
Indian is home to more than 24 crore households out of which about 10 crores are still deprived of LPG as cooking fuel and have to rely on firewood, coal, dung – cakes etc. as primary source of cooking. 
 Q. 171. What can be the implications of Trump's Presidency for India?
Ans. India, like other major powers, will have to carefully monitor how the Obama legacy morphs into the Trump inheritance and the degree of continuity in past policies.
The assumption of office by US president-elect Donald Trump and his penchant for pursuing a disruptive agenda has aroused both interest and concern globally. Earlier there was a revisionist reference to the sanctity of the ‘one China’ policy much to Beijing’s ire. The Trump phase of US politics promises to be turbulent globally and bilaterally.
In the absence of a cogent policy document, one can outline broad and likely Trump policy indicators and their relevance for India. The levels at which the impact of the Trump presidency can be analysed are:
  • Geostrategic affairs
  • Trade relations
  • Immigration policy
  • Bilateral relationship
  • Indian Economy
  • Terrorism
  • The personal equation between leaders
Geostrategic affairs: Early reactions indicate that Pakistan and China are nervous about resetting their relationship with the US. That would imply good news for India because America under the Democrats had been very convenient for both. While Pakistan has successfully exploited its geostrategic positioning to blackmail the US into providing a perpetual line of credit, China has sucked dry US manufacturing jobs and runs a huge trade surplus.
Not surprisingly, both nations have issued nervous statements, warning Washington that any change in the terms of engagements will end up harming US interests. While China is concerned about increased American isolationism, Pakistan's nervousness stems from Trump's anti-Muslim rhetoric and his open admiration for India.
At the bilateral level, India will continue to be seen as a significant strategic partner of the US. The introduction of an India-specific law during the last lap of the Obama administration that enables greater defence cooperation will be nurtured.

Trade relations: Trump faces an incongruity of policies because the angry, forgotten men and women who propelled him to Oval Office demand a greater share of the economic spoils that globalisation promised but failed to deliver. A tiny few seemed to have gotten richer in a globalised world at the expense of a vast number of the discontented, and the inequality of wealth has caused an angry populace to install a protectionist leader at the helm. Trump vowed, just like Nigel Farage (the father of Brexit) did, that he would slap duties, taxes and tariffs but in a world which runs on interconnectivity, that would mean raising costs of the nuts and bolts of the engine that drives America.
The American economy depends on access to a global supply chain that produces parts used by innumerable industries, along with a great range of consumer goods. Mexico and China are central actors. Disruption threatens to increase costs for American households. Tariffs on China might provoke a trade war that could slow economic growth, while most likely just shifting factory work to Vietnam and India. If America raises the cost of trade with China, India stands to benefit in more ways than one.

Immigration policy: This has been the biggest area of concern for Indians. Given the fact that we are witnessing a global backlash against softer borders and easier immigration policies, one may be inclined to think that Trump's term might be bad for India's IT industry. But the reality isn't so simple. Trump has been contradictory, at certain times he has been praising the contribution made by skilled Indian workers and at other times needling US companies for hiring them in large numbers.
Trump is in favour of bringing skilled foreign workers into the US, as long as they come legally. He has also canvassed for increasing the H1B visa fees to pressurise US companies into hiring domestic workers.

Bilateral relationship: When it comes to government to government relationship, A Trump regime might be just what the doctor ordered for India, which is boxed in by an irritant in Pakistan and a formidable power in China. Indo-US areas of interest converge on a number of issues and Trump, for one, has not been hesitant in calling India America's "natural ally".
Indian wonks and political leaders should find it easier to deal with a businessman rather than a career politician like Clinton who carried a greater understanding of bilateral relations but also a huge baggage of past mutual suspicion. Trump, who still has large business interests in India, should be a refreshing change.
The sub-text of the US relationship with India since the nuclear rapprochement of late 2008 has been the strategic underpinning to the bilateral relationship and this is where the manner in which the Trump team defines its Asian policy will be critical for India.

Indian Economy: During the election process, Trump promised to lower taxes and increase military expenditure. It is assumed that to fulfil these promises, Trump will use government money that may lead to a debt burden and a falling dollar. And a recession in US, would obviously adversely affect investment and growth across the world, including India.

Terrorism: Then there’s the fact that Trump has openly expressed dislike for Pakistan. He’s really suspicious of the country. This distrust for Pakistan can work in India’s and the world’s favour. Whereas, the Obama policy was one of muted acceptance of a fait-acompli that Rawalpindi is both the problem (US troops being killed by US taxpayers’ money given as aid to the Pakistani military) and the solution–to ensure the safety of US troops stationed in Afghanistan and its periphery. While Trump has been antithetical to this view.

The personal equation between leaders: Trump has never hidden his admiration for Narendra Modi and has been effusive in his praise for Hindus and Indians. He has praised Modi's leadership, his effort to simplify the tax system through GST and on his part, Modi has carefully veered away from reacting to any of the controversies that dogged Trump during the election campaign. With a better personal equation between the two leaders, Indo-US relationship should remain on the path of a greater synergy.
The US, Russia, China and India are now grappling with the contradictory compulsions of 21st century globalization and the Trump advocacy of ‘make America great’ will be carefully studied. Is the US likely to retreat and adopt an isolationist economic and trade policy and is this a viable option? Will the US-Russia bilateral relationship become more accommodative of Moscow’s strategic anxiety? And what of climate change? Will this also be jettisoned?
The answers to these questions will point to the contours of opportunities and challenges of what the Trump presidency will mean for India. Uncertainty is in the air.
 Q. 170. Single vaccine for dual protection against measles and rubella as part of Universal Immunization Programme
Ans.
The Ministry of Health and Family Welfare launched Measles Rubella (MR) vaccination campaign in the country. The campaign against these two diseases will start from five States/UTs (Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, Puducherry, Goa and Lakshadweep).
  • It will be taken up in a mission mode approach and rolled out in partnership with States, NGOs and development partners such as WHO, UNICEF, Gates Foundation, Lions Club, IPA, IMA, etc.
  • All children aged between 9 months and less than 15 years will be given a single shot of Measles-Rubella (MR) vaccination irrespective of their previous measles/rubella vaccination status or measles/rubella disease status.
  • MR vaccine will be provided free- of- cost across the states from session sites at schools as well as health facilities and outreach session sites.
  • Measles vaccine is currently provided under Universal Immunization Programme (UIP). However, rubella vaccine will be a new addition.
Measles is a deadly disease and one of the important causes of death in children. It is highly contagious and spreads through coughing and sneezing of an infected person. Measles can make a child vulnerable to life threatening complications such as pneumonia, diarrhoea and brain infection. In India, in 2015, measles killed an estimated 49,200 children. 
Rubella is generally a mild infection, but has serious consequences if infection occurs in pregnant women, causing congenital rubella syndrome (CRS), which is a cause of public health concern. CRS is characterized by congenital anomalies in the foetus and new-borns affecting the eyes (glaucoma, cataract), ears (hearing loss), brain (microcephaly, mental retardation) and heart defects, causing a huge socio-economic burden on the families in particular and society in general. 
In 2010, an estimated 1,03,000 children were born with CRS (congenital rubella syndrome) globally, of which around 47,000 children, i.e. 46% were in South-East Asia Region.
 
Measles immunization directly contributes to the reduction of under-five child mortality, and with combination of rubella vaccine, will control rubella and prevent CRS in country population. Given the wide target group of the vaccination campaign, schools and educational institutions will play a critical role, and will require partnership from multiple stakeholders at all levels. 
 Q. 169. National Investment and Infrastructure Fund (NIIF)
Ans. National Investment and Infrastructure Fund (NIIF) is a fund created by the Government of India for enhancing infrastructure financing in the country. NIIF is registered with SEBI as Alternative Investment Fund (AIF).

Objective
The objective of NIIF is to maximize economic impact mainly through infrastructure development in commercially viable projects, both greenfield and brownfield, including stalled projects.

Functions of NIIF
The functions of NIIF are as follows:
  • Fund raising through suitable instruments including off-shore credit enhanced bonds, and attracting anchor investors to participate as partners in NIIF;
  • Servicing of the investors of NIIF.
  • Considering and approving candidate companies/institutions/ projects (including state entities) for investments and periodic monitoring of investments.
  • Investing in the corpus created by Asset Management Companies (AMCs) for investing in private equity.
  • Preparing a shelf of infrastructure projects and providing advisory services.

NIIF:
  • provides equity / quasi-equity support to those Non-Banking Financial Companies (NBFCs)/Financial Institutions (FIs) that are engaged mainly in infrastructure financing.
  • invests in funds engaged mainly in infrastructure sectors and managed by Asset Management Companies (AMCs) for equity / quasi-equity funding of listed / unlisted companies.
  • provides Equity/ quasi-equity support / debt to projects, to commercially viable projects, both greenfield and brownfield, including stalled projects.

Operational Aspects
  • NIIF is not a single entity. There can be more than one fund.
  • NIIF is eligible for a pass through status under the Income Tax Act. A 'pass-through' status means that the income generated by the fund would be taxed in the hands of the ultimate investor, and the fund itself would not have to pay tax on the same.
  • The initial authorized corpus of NIIF was Rs. 20,000 crores.

Governance
  • There is a Governing Council of the NIIF which has Government representatives and experts in international finance, eminent economists and infrastructure professionals. It includes representatives from other non-Government shareholders. The Governing Council oversees the activities of the Trust and is constituted as a separate legal entity.
  • NIIF has full autonomy for project selection.
 Q. 168. 'Smallholder farmers are on the front lines of climate change'
Ans. A large part of the world’s food is produced by smallholder farmers. But why they have remained economically disadvantaged? 
It is a tragic irony that smallholders grow much of the developing world’s food but often go hungry themselves. They have long been left out of the mainstream of economic growth, development, and government policies because governments did not give priority to agriculture as the engine of economic growth.
  • Smallholders need access to water and land, rural finance, markets and credit and information about prices.
  • They also need an enabling policy environment, a supportive infrastructure and incentives to make business competitive.
Lack of these are the main reasons for their marginalisation.
What methods/policies are best for uplifting smallholder farmers?
  • Improve smallholders´ access to improved seeds and other inputs, ownership of the land they farm, build their capacity to link with markets
  • Strengthen infrastructure of agriculture.
  • Provide them with the means and incentives to manage their land sustainably in the face of climate change, and create an enabling policy environment for all of these changes.
How many people worldwide have benefitted from these methods?
  • The number of beneficiaries from improvements in agriculture is in the millions worldwide. It includes not only smallholders and their communities, but also the urban populations that depend on them for their food.
  • Globally, the number of chronically undernourished people has declined to just under 800 million.
How important is the role of cooperatives in improving the economic status and scientific knowledge of smallholder farmers?
Producer organisations play an absolutely vital role in enabling rural people to seize new economic opportunities.
  • They allow numerous small producers to aggregate their product so that they can supply modern value chains, and give them power to advocate for themselves in dealing with other players in the food system.
  • They can be a conduit for access to knowledge through training, cultivation of leadership, and access to finance and inputs.
Climate change continues to threaten agriculture, with small famers being more vulnerable to it. What can be done in the future to climate-proof crop production at small scale?
The Paris Agreement on Climate Change was a watershed moment in the fight against this threat.
  • Channelling climate finance to smallholders: so that they can access the information and technologies they need to build resilience.
Capacity building of farmer associations, women’s groups, and extension services to adopt and promote climate-smart technologies, such as biogas and drought- and flood-resistant crop varieties. Smallholder farmers are on the front lines of climate change but often lack the resources and resilience to cope, so building their capacity is absolutely important.
 Q. 167. What is the significance of Inter-State Council for Internal Security?
Ans.
Significance of Inter-State Council for Internal Security
The nation can only progress if the State and the Centre work shoulder to shoulder. With reference to internal security it is not possible to strengthen it if intelligence exchange is not improved. Chairing the 11th meeting of the Inter-State Council (ISC) on July 13, 2016 Prime Minister emphasized the significance of Inter-State Council for Internal Security.
Over the last few decades, the dividing line between internal and external security has blurred considerably, with the respective facets of the two aspects of security often enmeshed. ‘Law and Order’, which is a subject in the State list, can no longer be exclusively left to the States. Evolving and deepening nexus between crime and terrorism/insurgency bears testimony to the fact that ‘law and order’ issues have wider pan-Indian ramifications with obvious connections to external security, given India’s inimical neighbourhood. Also, insurgents often do not recognise state boundaries and have exploited to their advantage the lack of synergy amongst the States and between the States and the Centre. A case in point is the current version of Left Wing Extremism, which thrives in the central eastern tribal belt by exploiting the gaps along inter-state boundaries.
In this regard, the ISC is the best constitutional forum at the disposal of the Union Government. The ISC, a forum that facilitates cooperative federalism, is an ideal setting to deliberate on the interests of the people, address their problems and take collective and concrete decisions.
Considering the all-pervasive and grave threats to national security, it is important that the Centre takes the most urgent steps for finalising the National Security Policy (NSP) and the machinery for its administration, in consultation with the States, in a non-partisan way.
Terrorism and other federal offences cannot be dealt with by the existing security management apparatus. It is necessary that the Prime Minister undertakes urgent discussions with the Chief Ministers to resolve all doubts and issues raised by the States. The ISC, with the Prime Minister at its helm, could prove to be a game changer in this regard. In the same stead, it would be useful for the Central Government to consider inducting representatives of the States in the National Security Advisory Board (NSAB) and in the National Security Council (NSC). Similarly, a NCTC should also be established by going beyond party lines.
In the current circumstances, a seemingly ‘law and order’ issue has the potential to cascade into a serious national security threat. As a general practice, instead of progressively improving the capability of their police and security maintenance apparatus for effectively dealing with disturbances, the States have been perennially seeking assistance from the Centre. The Centre too has been adopting a mathematical ‘battalion approach’ by pumping in troops without associating itself with the root cause of the challenge. Countering such threats by the governments at all levels cannot be done in silos. Ownership shall have to be taken up by the Centre and States and regular ISC meetings could provide the necessary impetus for the executive to act, as warranted.
 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).






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