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Question and Answer :: SRIRAM'S IAS

Civil Services Exam Preparation

 Q. 246. Deen Dayal Antyodaya Yojana
Ans. What is DAY?
  • Deen Dayal Antyodaya Yojana - National Livelihoods Mission (NRLM) was launched by the Ministry of Rural Development (MoRD), Government of India in 2011.
  • The Mission aims at creating efficient and effective institutional platforms of the rural poor enabling them to increase household income through sustainable livelihood enhancements and improved access to financial services.
  • NRLM has set out with an agenda to cover 7 Crore rural poor households, across 600 districts, 6000 blocks, 2.5 lakh Gram Panchayats and 6 lakh villages in the country through self-managed Self Help Groups (SHGs).
  • In addition, the poor would be facilitated to achieve increased access to their rights, entitlements and public services, diversified risk and better social indicators of empowerment.
To reduce poverty by enabling the poor households to access gainful self-employment and skilled wage employment opportunities, resulting in appreciable improvement in their livelihoods on a sustainable basis, through building strong grassroots institutions of the poor.

Key Features
  • Universal Social Mobilisation
  1. At least one woman member from each identified rural poor household, is to be brought under the Self Help Group (SHG) network in a time bound manner.
  2. Special emphasis is particularly on vulnerable communities such as manual scavengers, victims of human trafficking, Particularly Vulnerable Tribal Groups (PVTGs), Persons with Disabilities (PwDs) and bonded labour.
  3. NRLM has devised special strategies to reach out to these communities and help them graduate out of poverty.
  • Participatory Identification of Poor (PIP)
  1. The inclusion of the target group under NRLM is determined by a well-defined, transparent and equitable process of participatory identification of poor, at the level of the community.
  2. All households identified as poor through the PIP process is the NRLM Target Group and is eligible for all the benefits under the programme.
  3. Target Group is identified through the Participatory Identification of Poor (PIP) method. The NRLM Target Group (NTG) derived through the PIP is de-linked from the BPL.
  • Financial Inclusion
  1. NRLM works on both demand and supply sides of financial inclusion.
  2. On the demand side, it promotes financial literacy among the poor and provides catalytic capital to the SHGs and their federations.
  3. On the supply side, the Mission coordinates with the financial sector and encourages use of Information, Communication & Technology (ICT) based financial technologies, business correspondents and community facilitators like ‘Bank Mitras’.
It also works towards universal coverage of rural poor against risk of loss of life, health and assets. Further, it works on remittances, especially in areas where migration is endemic.
  • Livelihoods –NRLM focuses on stabilizing and promoting existing livelihood portfolio of the poor through its three pillars – ‘vulnerability reduction’ and ‘livelihoods enhancement’ through deepening/enhancing and expanding existing livelihoods options and tapping new opportunities in farm and non-farm sectors; ‘employment’ - building skills for the job market outside; and ‘enterprises’ - nurturing self-employed and entrepreneurs (for micro-enterprises).
Convergence and partnerships
  • Convergence: NRLM places a high emphasis on convergence with other programmes of the MoRD and other Central Ministries. Convergence is also sought with programmes of state governments for developing synergies directly or indirectly with institutions of the poor.
  • Partnerships with NGOs and other CSOs: NRLM has been proactively seeking partnerships with Non-Government Organizations (NGOs) and other Civil Society Organizations (CSOs), at two levels - strategic and implementation. 
  • Linkages with PRIs: In view of the eminent roles of Panchayat Raj Institutions (PRIs), it is necessary to consciously structure and facilitates a mutually beneficial working relationship between Panchayats and institutions of the poor, particularly at the level of Village Panchayats.
National Rural Livelihoods Project (NRLP)
NRLP has been designed as a sub-set of NRLM to create ‘proof of concept’, build capacities of the Centre and States and create an enabling environment to facilitate all States and Union Territories to transit to the NRLM. NRLP would be implemented in 13 high poverty states accounting for about 90 percent of the rural poor in the country. Intensive livelihood investments would be made by the NRLP in 107 districts and 422 blocks of 13 states (Assam, Bihar, Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand, Gujarat, Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh, Orissa, Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh, West Bengal, Karnataka and Tamil Nadu). Distribution of project funds among the states would be based on inter-se poverty ratios.
 Q. 245. Norms for NGOs seeking govt. funds
Draft guidelines outlining stringent regulations intended to enhance accountability of lakhs of NGOs and voluntary organisations receiving nearly Rs 1,000 crore of government grants every year were submitted by the Centre to the Supreme Court.
  • Organisations wanting to get government funds must register afresh online with Niti Aayog's `NGO-Darpan' portal giving details of past work, fund utilisation, yearly audit reports and key persons managing the NGO or VO.
  • Government would have the right to initiate criminal prosecution and blacklist an NGO for not meeting the deadline for completing a project for which grant was given or if money was misused.
  • The registration system should facilitate seamless operation of applicable provisions of the Income Tax Act and Foreign Contribution Regulation Act (FCRA) with respect to NGOs without the need for cumbersome processes, which create mutual distrust and scope for misuse.
  • Another provision mandates NGOs and their office-bearers to execute a bond, equivalent to the money received, promising to refund the amount with 10% interest if funds are misused or not used for the sanctioned purpose. The members of the executive committee of the organisation shall execute a bond in favour of the President of India, for the sanctioned amount in the prescribed format, binding themselves jointly and severally to the terms & conditions.
  • In the event of the grantee (NGOVO) failing to comply with the conditions or committing breach of the conditions of the bond, the signatories to the bond shall be jointly and severally liable to refund to the President of India, the whole or part amount of the grant with interest at the rate of 10% per annum thereon or the sum specified in the bond.
More than 33 lakh NGOs and VOs operated in India but less than 10% (3.07 lakh) filed audited accounts before the competent authority.
 Q. 244. Aichi Biodiversity Targets
In the tenth meeting of the Conference of the Parties, held in 2010, in Nagoya, Aichi Prefecture, Japan, adopted a revised and updated Strategic Plan for Biodiversity, including the Aichi Biodiversity Targets, for the 2011-2020 period.
This plan provides an overarching framework on biodiversity, not only for the biodiversity-related conventions, but for the entire United Nations system and all other partners engaged in biodiversity management and policy development.
Parties agreed to translate this overarching international framework into revised and updated national biodiversity strategies and action plans within two years.
Key elements

  • The rationale for the new plan is that biological diversity underpins ecosystem functioning and the provision of ecosystem services essential for human well-being.
  • It provides for food security, human health, the provision of clean air and water; it contributes to local livelihoods, and economic development, and is essential for the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals, including poverty reduction. 
  • The conclusions of the third edition of the Global Biodiversity Outlook (published in 2010) analyses future biodiversity scenarios and reviews possible actions that might be taken to reduce future loss.
  • The mission of the new plan is to take effective and urgent action to halt the loss of biodiversity in order to ensure that by 2020 ecosystems are resilient and continue to provide essential services, thereby securing the planet's variety of life, and contributing to human well-being, and poverty eradication.
  • To ensure this, pressures on biodiversity are reduced, ecosystems are restored, biological resources are sustainably used and benefits arising out of utilization of genetic resources are shared in a fair and equitable manner; adequate financial resources are provided, capacities are enhanced, biodiversity issues and values mainstreamed, appropriate policies are effectively implemented, and decision-making is based on sound science and the precautionary approach."
Strategic Goals and the Aichi Biodiversity Targets
The new plan consists of five strategic goals, including twenty Aichi Biodiversity Targets.
Strategic Goal A: Address the underlying causes of biodiversity loss by mainstreaming biodiversity across government and society.
Strategic Goal B: Reduce the direct pressures on biodiversity and promote sustainable use.
Strategic Goal C: To improve the status of biodiversity by safeguarding ecosystems, species and genetic diversity.
Strategic Goal D: Enhance the benefits to all from biodiversity and ecosystem services. 
Strategic Goal E: Enhance implementation through participatory planning, knowledge management and capacity building.

The twenty headline Aichi Biodiversity Targets for 2015 or 2020 are organized under the five strategic goals. The goals and targets comprise both aspirations for achievement at the global level, and a flexible framework for the establishment of national or regional targets.

Parties are invited to set their own targets within this flexible framework, taking into account national needs and priorities, while also bearing in mind national contributions to the achievement of the global targets, and report thereon to the eleventh meeting of the Conference of the Parties. 

Means for implementation: The Strategic Plan will be implemented primarily through activities at the national or subnational level, with supporting action at the regional and global levels.

Programmes of work: The thematic programmes of work of the Convention include: biodiversity of inland waters, marine and coastal biodiversity, agricultural biodiversity, forest biodiversity, biodiversity of dry and sub-humid lands, mountain biodiversity and island biodiversity. Together with the various cross-cutting issues, they provide detailed guidance on implementation of the Strategic Plan, and could also contribute to development and poverty reduction.
 Q. 243. Why has India chosen to become a member of the International Energy Agency?
Ans. About IEA
The International Energy Agency (IEA) is a Paris-based autonomous intergovernmental organization established in the framework of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) in 1974 in the wake of the 1973 oil crisis. The IEA was initially dedicated to responding to physical disruptions in the supply of oil, as well as serving as an information source on statistics about the international oil market and other energy sectors.

India IEA relation
  • India joined the ranks of the IEA’s membership on March 30, 2017, albeit as a “Member by Associate”, it was seen inevitable, as one can’t talk about the future of the global energy markets without talking with India.
  • Long before India formally came on board the IEA, it had been engaging with the organisation. As early as 1998, India had signed the Declaration of Cooperation covering issues related to energy security and statistics.
  • The priority area for co-operation had been in oil and gas security and, to that end, the IEA and India’s Ministry for Petroleum and Natural Gas (Mo&PNG) signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) in 2011, the first time that the IEA signed one with a key partner country in the area of emergency preparedness.
Pussyfooting around
  • Interestingly, despite the cooperative nature of the relationship, India has been wary in committing itself to the IEA’s agenda.
  • The rationale then was that while interacting and cooperating with the IEA would allow India to maximise the strategic depth of its crude oil reserves as well as benefit from the IEA’s technical assistance in the energy sector, it would preclude it from taking on the obligations entailed by membership.
  • However, over time, and with the increasing move towards greater integration with the global energy market, the government has been interacting more frequently with the Agency, holding high level policy dialogues and workshops, joint research and analyses projects on energy sectors and markets, and exchanging technical know-how and information on future projections.
IEA’s perspective
  • The IEA’s rationale for inviting non-OECD countries to join it is evident, as the agency benefits from the growing association of emerging economies by gaining access to their data and by adding to the oil stockpiles in the event of supply disruptions, which is its raison d’etre.
  • Second, given the IEA’s growing role in combating climate change, it allows the promotion of clean energy technologies in some of the world’s largest carbon emitters.
Advantages for India
  • Current government’s goal of not only providing access to electricity for the people under its “24x7 Power For All” initiative but also in meeting its climate change targets undertaken under the Paris Climate change agreement may be a giant leap.
  • Moreover, it will provide India the geopolitical platform to take the lead in climate and energy issues.
  • It would also give India an opportunity to become the voice of the developing world. International Solar Alliance (ISA) initiative in particular. For India, the ISA provides it with a platform to position itself as a leader on the world energy and environment stage.
  • However, given that the success of the initiative will depend largely on the number of countries coming on board, collaboration with other multilateral bodies, including the UN, IEA, IRENA (International Renewable Energy Agency) as well as corporates and industry, among others, is critical as these will assist in adapting the technologies needed by developing member countries to their specific conditions and economic realities.
  • Given that over 70 per cent of the world's energy consumption comes under the IEA umbrella, the association with the IEA will substantially increase India’s relevance in global energy governance. Finally, and more importantly, the IEA can encourage financial institutions to support India’s energy, particularly, its solar energy programme.
 Q. 242. What do you know of Micro Units Development Refinance Agency (MUDRA) Bank?
Ans. Micro Units Development Refinance Agency (MUDRA) Bank is a refinance institution for micro-finance institutions. As on date, MUDRA is conceived not only as a refinance institution and but also as a regulator for the micro finance institutions (MFIs).

The MUDRA Bank is primarily be responsible for –
1) Laying down policy guidelines for micro/small enterprise financing business
2) Registration, Regulation, Accreditation /rating of MFI entities
3) Laying down responsible financing practices to ward off indebtedness and ensure proper client protection principles and methods of recovery
4) Development of standardized set of covenants governing last mile lending to micro/small enterprises
5) Promoting right technology solutions for the last mile
6) Formulating and running a Credit Guarantee scheme for providing guarantees to the loans which are being extended to micro enterprises
7) Creating a good architecture of Last Mile Credit Delivery to micro businesses under the scheme of Pradhan Mantri Mudra Yojana.
Salient Features
  • MUDRA has a corpus of Rs. 20,000 crores made available from the shortfalls of Priority Sector Lending. In addition, there is a credit guarantee corpus of Rs. 3,000 crores for guaranteeing loans being provided to the micro enterprises.
  • MUDRA Bank will refinance Micro-Finance Institutions through a Pradhan Mantri Mudra Yojana.
  • MUDRA Bank operates through regional level financing institutions who in turn connect with last mile lenders such as Micro Finance Institutions (MFIs), Small Banks, Primary Credit Cooperative Societies, Self Help Groups (SHGs), NBFC (other than MFI) and such other lending institutions.
  • In lending, MUDRA gives priority to enterprises set up by the under-privileged sections of the society particularly those from the scheduled caste / tribe (SC/ST) groups, first generation entrepreneurs and existing small businesses. There are estimated to be some 5.77 crore small business units in India 62% of these are owned by SC/ST/OBC.
  • MUDRA Bank will be operationalised as a subsidiary of Small Industries Development Bank of India (SIDBI).
 Q. 241. Great Indian Bustard
The Great Indian Bustard is a bustard found in India and the adjoining regions of Pakistan. A large bird with a horizontal body and long bare legs, giving it an ostrich like appearance, this bird is among the heaviest of the flying birds. Once common on the dry plains of the Indian subcontinent, as few as 250 individuals were estimated in 2011 to survive and the species is critically endangered by hunting and loss of its habitat, which consists of large expanses of dry grassland and scrub. These birds are often found associated in the same habitat as blackbuck. It is protected under Wildlife Protection Act 1972 of India. In India, the bird was historically found in Punjab, Haryana, Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Odisha, Andhra Pradesh, Rajasthan, Gujarat, Maharashtra, Karnataka and Tamil Nadu. Today the bustard is restricted to isolated pockets in Andhra Pradesh, Gujarat, Karnataka, Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan (shared with Pakistan).

Great Indian bustards make local movements but these are not well understood although it is known that populations disperse after the monsoons.

The habitat where it is most often found is arid and semi-arid grasslands, open country with thorn scrub, tall grass interspersed with cultivation. It avoids irrigated areas. The major areas where they are known to breed are in central and western India and eastern Pakistan. The dry semi-desert regions where it was found in parts of Rajasthan has been altered by irrigation canals that have transformed the region into an intensively farmed area.

The Rajasthan government will set up a captive breeding centre for the great Indian bustard in an attempt to boost the wild population of the country's most critically endangered bird. The task of conservation will be taken up through two facilities in Kota and Jaisalmer districts. This will be the first such facility in the country aimed at saving the bird, which is the State bird of Rajasthan. Its last remnant wild population of about 90 in Rajasthan accounts for 95% of the total world population. The captive breeding centre will come up at Sorsan in Kota district, while a hatchery will be set up at Mokhala in Jaisalmer district in the next one year. Wildlife Institute of India (WII) is its scientific arm. For the breeding centre, the comparatively moist habitat of Sorsan has been selected. The region has better rainfall, besides forest land, and it was home to the bustards until two decades ago. After the chicks are raised, they would be transported to the desert for reintroduction in the wild.
 Q. 240. HRIDAY
National Heritage City Development and Augmentation Yojana (HRIDAY) was launched on 21 January 2015 with the aim of bringing together urban planning, economic growth and heritage conservation in an inclusive manner to preserve the heritage character of each Heritage City. The Scheme shall support development of core heritage infrastructure projects including revitalization of linked urban infrastructure for heritage assets such as monuments, Ghats, temples etc. along with reviving certain intangible assets. These initiatives shall include development of sanitation facilities, roads, public transportation & parking, citizen services, information kiosks etc.With a duration of 4 years (completing in November 2018) and a total outlay of ₹500 crore , the Scheme is set to be implemented in 12 identified Cities namely, Ajmer, Amaravati, Amritsar, Badami, Dwarka, Gaya, Kanchipuram,Mathura, Puri, Varanasi, Velankanni and Warangal.
 Q. 239. Recent legislative and regulatory measures to boost investor interest
Ans. In the recent past, India has embarked upon a number of legislative and regulatory measures that are certain to create a positive impact on the investment climate prevailing in the country and capable of boosting the confidence of investors.
Some key measures include:

Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code, 2016
  • The recent enactment of a comprehensive legislation relating to insolvency of corporates, firms and individuals has been a much awaited move.
  • The Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code, 2016 (IBC) lays down a resolution process that is time bound and undertaken by professionals.
  • It creates an institutional mechanism for insolvency resolution process for businesses operated by companies, individuals or any other entities, either by coming up with a viable survival mechanism or by ensuring their prompt liquidation.
  • Through this enactment, Parliament has codified the laws governing insolvency and bankruptcy of both corporates and individuals, which were spread over a number of legislations.
The Financial Resolution and Deposit Insurance Bill, 2016 (Draft)
  • The IBC 2016, does not provide for resolution of corporates providing financial services.
  • Recently, a draft Bill for this purpose has been recommended by a working group constituted by the Centre and it aims to establish a framework to carry out the resolution of certain categories of financial service providers in distress and to provide deposit insurance to consumers of certain categories of financial services.
  • The draft Bill not only consolidates the resolution provisions presently scattered in different statutes, but also introduces new requirements like classification of financial service providers into various categories of risk to viability, submission of resolution/restoration plans, etc. and new methods for resolution, on the lines of prevalent international practices.
  • The overall mechanism contemplated under the Bill would certainly bring in more clarity in terms of the rights of investors in the event of resolution of the investee financial service provider and is expected to improve investor confidence in the market.
Slow pace of recovery of financial debts has been imposing considerable strain on the financial position of the lenders, thus raising concerns for any investor of such lenders.
Specialised laws establishing Debt Recovery Tribunals (DRTs) and empowering secured creditors to enforce security interest without the intervention of court, have been in vogue for several years now. While, such mechanisms have definitely facilitated faster recovery, much more needs to be done.

Some of the changes made with respect to the functioning of DRTs are:
  • Stricter time lines for filing of written statement, conclusion of hearings, etc. to expedite adjudication
  • Filing of recovery application, documents and written statements in electronic form
  • Uniform procedure for conduct of proceedings
 Q. 238. Malegam panel proposes 24 % cap on interest rate on MFI loans
  • Aimed at reviving the crisis- ridden micro finance sector, a Reserve Bank of India Committee suggested that micro finance institutions (MFIs) be allowed to charge a maximum interest of 24 per cent on small loans which cannot exceed Rs. 25,000.
  • The committee, headed by Reserve Bank's Central Board Director Y. H. Malegam, also pitched for creation of a separate category of non-banking financial companies (NBFC-MFI) for the micro finance sector.
  • The panel also said small loans of up to Rs. 25,000 could be given to families having an income up to Rs. 50,000 per annum. On repayment, the borrowers should be given the option of weekly or fortnightly or monthly return of the loan.
  • At least 75 per cent of loans extended by MFIs should be for income generation purposes.
  • Borrower cannot take loans from more than two MFIs.
  • The decisions taken by the State government to regulate MFIs slowed down the loan recovery process hitting the financial health of the sector. It was further aggravated by the reluctance of banks to support MFIs.
  • To deal with the problem, the RBI had relaxed provisioning norms to enable banks to continue lending to the cash-strapped MFIs.
  • About the regulations of MFIs: it should be done by the National Bank for Agriculture and Rural Development (NABARD) in close coordination with the RBI.
 Q. 237. Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety
Ans. The Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety to the Convention on Biological Diversity is an international treaty governing the movements of living modified organisms (LMOs) resulting from modern biotechnology from one country to another. It was adopted in 2000 as a supplementary agreement to the Convention on Biological Diversity and entered into force in 2003.

What are Living modified organisms (LMOs)?
The protocol defines a 'living modified organism' as any living organism that possesses a novel combination of genetic material obtained through the use of modern biotechnology, and 'living organism' means any biological entity capable of transferring or replicating genetic material, including sterile organisms, viruses and viroids.
'Modern biotechnology': is defined in the Protocol to mean the application of in vitro nucleic acid techniques, or fusion of cells beyond the taxonomic family, that overcome natural physiological reproductive or recombination barriers and are not techniques used in traditional breeding and selection. 
'Living modified organism (LMO) Products': are defined as processed material that are of living modified organism origin, containing detectable novel combinations of replicable genetic material obtained through the use of modern biotechnology (for instance, flour from GM maize).
'Living modified organism intended for direct use as food or feed, or for processing (LMO-FFP)': are agricultural commodities from GM crops. Overall the term 'living modified organisms' is equivalent to genetically modified organism – the Protocol did not make any distinction between these terms and did not use the term 'genetically modified organism.'
The Protocol applies to the transboundary movement, transit, handling and use of all living modified organisms that may have adverse effects on the conservation and sustainable use of biological diversity, taking also into account risks to human health.

Relationship with the WTO
A number of agreements under the World Trade Organization (WTO), such as the Agreement on the Application of Sanitary and Phytosanitary Measures (SPS Agreement) and the Agreement on Technical Barriers to Trade (TBT Agreement), and the Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPs), contain provisions that are relevant to the Protocol.

Main features
  • The Protocol promotes biosafety by establishing rules and procedures for the safe transfer, handling, and use of LMOs, with specific focus on transboundary movements of LMOs.
  • It features a set of procedures including one for LMOs that are to be intentionally introduced into the environment called the advance informed agreement procedure, and one for LMOs that are intended to be used directly as food or feed or for processing. 
  • Furthermore, the shipment of LMOs subject to transboundary movement must be accompanied by appropriate documentation specifying, among other things, identity of LMOs and contact point for further information.
 Q. 236. Integrated Development of Wildlife Habitats
Ans. The Government of India provides financial and technical assistance to the State/UT Governments for activities aimed at wildlife conservation through the Centrally Sponsored Scheme viz. ‘Integrated Development of Wildlife Habitats’. The scheme has following three components:
  • Support to Protected Areas (National Parks, Wildlife Sanctuaries, Conservation Reserves and Community Reserves). At present India has a network of 700 Protected Areas (103 National Parks, 528 Wildlife Sanctuaries, 65 Conservation Reserves and 4 Community Reserves)
  • Protection of Wildlife Outside Protected Areas
  • Recovery programmes for saving critically endangered species and habitats.
1.Support to Protected Areas:
Eligible PAs: National Parks, Wildlife Sanctuaries, Conservation Reserves and Community Reserves, other than those availing central assistance under the CSS- Project Tiger, which are duly notified under the Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972 and are under the control of the Chief Wildlife Wardens.
Pattern of funding: 100% central assistance is provided for non-recurring items and 50% assistance for recurring items. Areas falling in mountain regions, coastal zones, deserts, or those areas which support certain selected endangered species, are eligible for 100% central assistance for both recurring and non-recurring items.

2.Protection of Wildlife Outside Protected Areas:
There is substantial wildlife and natural resources lying outside the Protected Areas network of India. This component seeks to support the conservation of wildlife in these areas.
Eligible areas: High value biodiversity areas outside PAs. Areas contiguous to PAs/corridors are given priority.
Pattern of funding: Same as in the case of PAs.

3.Recovery programme for critically endangered species and habitats:
This component is for affecting the recovery of critically endangered species in the country. Initially 17 species have been identified under this component. These are Snow Leopard, Bustard (including Floricans), Dolphin, Hangul, Nilgiri Tahr, Marine Turtles, Dugongs, Edible Nest Swiftlet, Asian Wild Buffalo, Nicobar Megapode, Manipur Brow-antlered Deer, Vultures, Malabar Civet, Indian Rhinoceros, Asiatic Lion, Swamp Deer and Jerdon’s Courser.
 Pattern of funding: 100% assistance is provided for both non-recurring and recurring items.
Activities covered under the Centrally Sponsored Scheme ‘Integrated Development of Wildlife Habitats’ are as follows:
  • Management Planning and capacity building
  • Anti-poaching & infrastructure development
  • Restoration of habitats
  • Eco-development and community oriented activities
 Q. 235. Light Detection and Ranging (LiDAR)
Ans. What is LIDAR?
  • The government has adopted radars that sense utility lines beneath the ground using Light Detection and Ranging (LiDAR) technology.
  • LiDAR uses a pulsed laser to measure distance.
What is India doing?
  • The government has made several policy interventions such as increased threshold for project approval, enhanced inter-ministerial coordination, exit policy and promoting innovative project implementation models like the Hybrid Annuity Model.
  • In an effort to increase the pace of construction of roads, the government is using technologies such as radar and remote sensing for mapping underground infrastructure like telephone lines to prevent time and cost overruns caused due to manual mapping errors.
  • About a third of manual groundwork for constructing roads, are rejected for missing infrastructure details such as electricity, phone and sewage lines, leading to delays and cost overruns.
  • India has an ambitious highways construction goal of 41km per day. The current rate of construction is 22-23km per day.
  • The government had awarded 9,655km of highways construction contracts till February out of a target of 25,000 km. It has also raised its construction target to 15,000km as against 6,000 km constructed last year. Out of this 6,467km was constructed till February.
How it will help?
  • With the help of LiDAR technology, the human error will be minimized.
  • The data collected by such technologies and associated photogrammetry is comprehensive, therefore revisits to site for measurements is not needed.
  • The system provides designers with a complete picture of the project with accurate point measurements and the ability to locate features that may be inaccessible or missed with other methods such as clearance height of high tension electricity cable.
  • LiDAR saves time, as the survey time using mobile LiDAR is much shorter than conventional surveys.
  • Technology allows minimum dependence on manpower, and weather and logistics factors are minimal.
  • The cost of LiDAR survey is found to be equal to conventional survey.
  • The output from LiDAR technology is much more comprehensive, complete and reliable which are missing in the conventional technologies, especially ground-based surveying.
 Q. 234. Sagarmala: Concept and implementation towards Blue Revolution
Ans. What is sagarmala project?
The prime objective of the Sagarmala project is to promote port-led direct and indirect development and to provide infrastructure to transport goods to and from ports quickly, efficiently and cost-effectively. Therefore, the Sagarmala Project shall, inter alia, aim to develop access to new development regions with intermodal solutions and promotion of the optimum modal split, enhanced connectivity with main economic centres and beyond through expansion of rail, inland water, coastal and road services. 

Three objectives
  • Supporting and enabling Port-led Development through appropriate policy and institutional interventions and providing for an institutional framework for ensuring inter-agency and ministries/departments/states’ collaboration for integrated development,
  • Port Infrastructure Enhancement, including modernization and setting up of new ports, and
  • Efficient Evacuation to and from hinterland.
The Sagarmala Project therefore intends to achieve the broad objectives of enhancing the capacity of major and non-major ports and modernizing them to make them efficient, thereby enabling them to become drivers of port-led economic development, optimizing the use of existing and future transport assets and developing new lines/linkages for transport (including roads, rail, inland waterways and coastal routes), setting up of logistics hubs, and establishment of industries and manufacturing centres to be served by ports in EXIM and domestic trade.

Presently, Indian ports handle more than 90 percent of India’s total EXIM trade volume. However, the current proportion of merchandize trade in Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of India is only 42 percent, whereas for some developed countries and regions in the world such as Germany and European Union, it is 75 percent and 70 percent respectively. Therefore, there is a great scope to increase the share of merchandising trade in India’s GDP. With the Union Government’s “Make in India” initiative, the share of merchandise trade in India’s GDP is expected to increase and approach levels achieved in developed countries. India lags far behind in ports and logistics infrastructure. Against a share of 9 percent of railways and 6 percent of roads in the GDP the share of ports is only 1 percent. In addition, high logistics costs make Indian exports uncompetitive. Therefore, Sagarmala project has been envisioned to provide ports and the shipping the rightful place in the Indian economy and to enable port-led development.
An illustrative list of the kind of development projects that could be undertaken in Sagarmala initiative are
  • Port-led industrialization
  • Port based urbanization
  • Port based and coastal tourism and recreational activities
  • Short-sea shipping coastal shipping and Inland Waterways Transportation
  • Ship building, ship repair and ship recycling
  • Logistics parks, warehousing, maritime zones/services
  • Integration with hinterland hubs
  • Offshore storage, drilling platforms
  • Specialization of ports in certain economic activities such as energy, containers, chemicals, coal, agro products, etc.
  • Offshore Renewable Energy Projects with base ports for installations
Modernizing the existing ports and development of new ports. This strategy incorporates both aspects of port-led development viz. port-led direct development and port-led indirect development.
 Q. 233. Which are the primary Highway grids in India? Explain how National Highways are numbered in India?
Ans. The primary highway grids in India are:
  • The North-South Corridor stretches from Srinagar in J&K state to Kanyakumari – the southernmost tip of India. The length of this major road is 4000kms.
  • The East-West Corridor connects Porbandar in Gujarat with Silchar in Assam and the total length of this road being 3300kms. (Wonder why they didn’t plan it till the boarder including Arunachal Pradesh!)
  • The Golden Quadrilateral (GQ) is the highway network connecting the four metros in India – i.e. Delhi, Mumbai, Chennai and Kolkata. The spin-offs of GQ also connect cities like Bangalore, Pune and Ahmedabad. The total length of GQ is 5846kms.

Ministry of Road Transport & Highways had taken the initiative of re-numbering most of the highways in India a couple of years ago. India has more than 200 national highways totalling to a length of 70,000+ kilometres which is maintained by the NHAI (National Highway Authority of India).

The logic behind numbering is as follows:
  • All North-South highways will carry EVEN number
  • All East-West highways will have ODD numbers
  • All major Highways will be single digit or double digit in number
  • North-South highways will increase their numbers from East to West. For example, a particular North-South highway in Central India or Western India will have a higher number than the one in East India. To be specific, now you can guess that NH4 is somewhere in East India whereas highway 44 may be towards the west of India while both runs north-south due to the even numbering
  • Similarly, East-West highways will increase their numbers as we move from North to South. By this logic NH1 will be running East-West somewhere in North India while NH 83 may be somewhere down south. Of course, there may be a minor confusion among some roads that may be running diagonally in stretches
  • THREE digit numbered highways are secondary routes or branches of a main highway. For example, 144, 244, 344 etc will be the branches of the main National highway 44. Please note that since NH44 (NS Corridor) runs the length of the country from North to South a side shoot say 144 may be up north while something like 944 may be down south
  • Suffixes A, B, C, D etc are added to the three digit sub highways to indicate very small spin-offs or stretches of sub-highways. For example, 966A, 527B etc
 Q. 232. Olive Ridley Turtle
Ans. About Olive Ridley Turtle
The Olive Ridley turtles are the smallest and most abundant of all sea turtles found in the world, inhabiting warm waters of the Pacific, Atlantic and Indian oceans. These turtles, along with their cousin the Kemps Ridley turtle, are best known for their unique mass nesting called Arribada, where thousands of females come together on the same beach to lay eggs. Though found in abundance, their numbers have been declining over the past few years, and the species is recognized as Vulnerable by the IUCN Red list.

Turtle turnaround
  • An initiative driven by fishing communities in Odisha has not only given the Olive Ridley turtles a new lease of life, but has also halted the construction of ports in the nesting areas.
  • The turtle nesting at Astaranga, Puri is significant as turtle deaths have occurred with alarming regularity in Odisha.
  •  Though the Gahirmatha Marine Sanctuary has traditionally been the most preferred nesting site for turtles, the nesting at Astaranga has opened new vistas to secure Olive Ridley numbers. 
  • The record nesting of turtle eggs at Astaranga is due to the efforts of Green Light Rural Association (GLRA), a non-profit based in Astaranga, which has also managed to stall a state government move to acquire land for proposed ports in the fragile nesting area.
The Green Light Rural Association (GLRA) efforts
  • GLRA’s activities are focused in the region around the mouth of the river Devi, which is a distributary of the Mahanadi.
  • 1994: they undertook a rigorous seven-month-long tour to various nesting sites to monitor turtle nesting and documented the various factors that were leading to turtle deaths. 
  • 2002: GLRA started a project called “Turtle Friends” to identify strategic sites and fishing communities along the coastline.
  • 2007: GLRA started a programme to control the stray dog population in the Devi mass nesting area with the help of the Blue Cross of Hyderabad and the Odisha government’s department of animal husbandry, as stray dogs often consume turtle eggs from the nesting sites.
  • 2009-10: GLRA built an artificial reef with the help of fishing communities and funding support from the Orissa Marine Resources Conservation Consortium. This artificial reef of concrete blocks stopped net fishing and helped create new fishing areas.
  • GLRA apprised forest officials of a new phenomenon affecting turtles visiting the area. Fisher folk used massive artificial illumination for shrimp seedling harvesting. The zero mesh nets also prevented turtles from climbing ashore for nesting. Strong illumination drove away the turtles since they are highly sensitive to light.
GLRA members are also worried about the ports being planned along Odisha’s coastline. Conservationists say that even minor ports, such as the proposed Astaranga Port, which was announced by the state government in 2010, could endanger turtle nesting. 
 Q. 231. List of countries by carbon dioxide emissions

List of countries by carbon dioxide emissions

Country   % CO2 emissions by country     Emission per capita (t) in 2015  
China 29.51% 7.7
 United States  14.34% 16.1
India 6.81% 1.9
Russia 4.88% 12.3
Japan 3.47% 9.9
 Q. 230. Department of Space
Ans. Launch Vehicle and Satellite Missions of ISRO:
  • PSLV-C31/IRNSS-1E Mission: In this flight, the workhorse launch vehicle PSLV launched IRNSS-1E, the fifth satellite of the Indian Regional Navigational Satellite System (IRNSS) constellation.
  • PSLV-C32/IRNSS-1F Mission: In this flight, which was its 34th, PSLV launched IRNSS-1F, the sixth satellite of the Indian Regional Navigational Satellite System (IRNSS) constellation.
  • PSLV-C33/IRNSS-1G Mission: In this flight, PSLV launched the seventh and the last satellite IRNSS-1G of the Indian Regional Navigational Satellite System (IRNSS) constellation. With this, the space segment of the IRNSS is fully deployed. IRNSS signals are now available and trials with the receiver system are in progress. IRNSS is also called as ‘NavIC’ (Navigation Indian Constellation). This is an independent regional navigation satellite system designed to provide position information in the Indian region and 1500 km around the Indian mainland. IRNSS provides two types of services, namely, Standard Positioning Services (SPS) - provided to all users and Restricted Services (RS) - provided to authorised users only.
  • Reusable Launch Vehicle – Technology Demonstrator (RLV-TD): India’s first winged body aerospace vehicle, RLV-TD i.e. Reusable Launch Vehicle-Technology Demonstrator (RLV-TD), was successfully flight tested.
  • PSLV-C34/Cartosat-2 Series Mission: PSLV-C34 successfully launched 20 satellites in a single mission. It included India’s CARTOSAT-2 series of satellite as primary payload, two academic institutes’ satellites, namely, SWAYAM and SATHYABAMASAT and 17 satellites (total weighing 555 kg) of foreign customers from Canada, Germany, Indonesia and USA as co-passengers.
  • GSLV-F05/ INSAT-3DR Mission: GSLV-F05, India's Geosynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle, equipped with the indigenous Cryogenic Upper Stage (CUS), successfully launched the country's weather satellite INSAT-3DR. INSAT-3DR is a follow-on meteorological satellite to INSAT-3D. This launch is significant, considering that fact that this is the third consecutive success of the indigenous CUS, which signified the country’s successful assimilation of the complex cryogenic rocket propulsion.
  • Successful Flight Testing of ISRO's Scramjet Engine Technology Demonstrator: The first experimental mission of ISRO’s Scramjet Engine towards the realisation of an Air Breathing Propulsion System was successfully conducted from Satish Dhawan Space Centre SHAR, Sriharikota. The Scramjet engine designed by ISRO uses Hydrogen as fuel and the Oxygen from the atmospheric air as the oxidiser. India is the fourth country (United States, Russia and China) to demonstrate the flight testing of Scramjet Engine.
  • Uttarakhand Forest Fire: The Uttarakhand state witnessed episodic fire incidents during the last two weeks of April 2016.  Recurrence of fire incidences is common in the hilly state in summer season. Satellite data based temperature anomalies were used for the detection of active fire locations. About 1600 active forest fire locations were recorded during 24th April to 4th May 2016. The burnt area was also assessed using Satellite data. The information on a near-real time basis was disseminated to Forest Survey of India, State Forest Departments, NDMA and SMS on fire alerts were sent to the identified forest officials of Uttarakhand. All Fire alerts were also published on BHUVAN geoportal. The most affected districts were Nainital, Pithoragarh, Champawat, Almora, Pauri and Tehri Garhwal.
  • Mars Orbiter Mission: India’s first inter-planetary mission completed two years in its orbit around Mars. The health parameters of Mars Orbiter spacecraft are normal and all the five payloads are sending useful data. The success of Mars Orbiter Mission has showcased India’s technical capability in exploring planetary bodies and has motivated India’s student and research community in a big way.
  • ASTROSAT Mission: ASTROSAT, India’s first multi-wavelength observatory has completed one year in orbit as of September 2016.  
 Q. 229. Monetary Policy Committee (MPC)
What is a MPC?
The Monetary Policy Committee would be entrusted with the task of fixing the benchmark policy rate (repo rate) required to contain inflation within the specified target level. A Committee-based approach for determining the Monetary Policy will add lot of value and transparency to monetary policy decisions. The Reserve Bank of India Act, 1934 (RBI Act) has been amended by the Finance Act, 2016, to provide for a statutory and institutionalised framework for a Monetary Policy Committee, for maintaining price stability, while keeping in mind the objective of growth. The meetings of the Monetary Policy Committee shall be held at least 4 times a year and it shall publish its decisions after each such meeting.
 The Government, in consultation with RBI, has notified the inflation target dated 5th August 2016 for the period beginning from the date of publication of this notification and ending on the March 31, 2021, as under: - 
  • Inflation Target                 :             Four per cent.
  • Upper tolerance level    :               Six per cent.
  • Lower tolerance level    :             Two per cent.
As per the provisions of the RBI Act, out of the six Members of Monetary Policy Committee, three Members will be from the RBI and the other three Members of MPC will be appointed by the Central Government. In case there is a tie of votes in the six-member committee’s decision, then the RBI governor will have the final power to take the decision. In that sense, while the MPC seeks to ensure that the decision making is more balanced, in case of a tie, the governor still has the veto right. The meetings of the MPC will be held at least 4 times a year and it shall publish its decisions after each such meeting. The Members of the Monetary Policy Committee appointed by the Central Government shall hold office for a period of four years. 
(a) The Governor of the Bank—Chairperson, ex officio;
(b) Deputy Governor of the Bank, in charge of Monetary Policy—Member, ex officio;
(c) One officer of the Bank to be nominated by the Central Board—Member, ex officio;
(d) Shri Chetan Ghate, Professor, Indian Statistical Institute (ISI) —Member
(e) Professor Pami Dua, Director, Delhi School of Economics (DSE) — Member        
(f)  Dr. Ravindra H. Dholakia, Professor, Indian Institute of Management - Member.
 Q. 228. Space technology based tools in Governance & Development
Ans. Space technology applications, derived through synergistic use of earth observation, communication & navigation satellites and complemented with ground-based observations, play a key role in harnessing the benefits of space technology for socio-economic development in the country and improving the quality of life of citizens.
  • Satellite-based Earth Observation is a cost effective means of obtaining essential and reliable data on our Earth. Such data on natural resources have become an integral part of planning and implementation of action plans for managing land & water resources, developing urban & rural infrastructure, monitoring weather & climate, protecting environment including disaster risk reduction. The capabilities of satellite communication are also exploited for delivering societal applications towards education & health, connectivity, skill development and livelihood sustenance. Space technology-based applications & tools are being increasingly used in governance and development for enabling planning, periodic monitoring, mid-course correction, evaluation of developmental activities and scientific decision making in various sectors right from agriculture, urban & rural planning to disaster risk reduction.
  • Department of Space is working closely with various Central Ministries/Departments and State Governments towards maximizing the use of space technology in the various areas viz. Natural Resources Management, Energy & Infrastructure, Disaster & Early Warning, Communication & Navigation, e-Governance & Geo-spatial Governance and Societal Services. Many flagship programmes namely, Atal Mission for Rejuvenation & Urban Transformation; Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana; Pradhan Mantri Krishi Sinchayee Yojana; National Mission for Clean Ganga, Digital India & MGNREGA are also utilizing space-based tools.
ISRO is focusing on providing assured services through data continuity, improved connectivity & location-based services and enabling proactive user engagement through institutionalisation of space applications and capacity building.
 Q. 227. Digitising agriculture in the face of climate change
Ans. Digitisation of agriculture or e-agriculture is seen as an emerging field focused on enhancing agricultural and rural development through improved information and communication processes. Digitisation interventions seek to achieve a triple bottom line:
  • Increasing farm productivity and income sustainability.
  • Helping farmers adapt to climate change.
  • Reducing greenhouse gas emissions wherever possible.
Digitisation is integral to climate smart agriculture, a sector rapidly expanding. Climate-smart agriculture (CSA) is an approach that helps to guide actions needed to transform and reorient agricultural systems to effectively support development and ensure food security in a changing climate.
Interventions using ICT have already taken shape. Major activities include:
  • Testing and developing portfolios of climate-smart interventions for different agro-ecological zones and farm types.
  • Developing climate-smart villages.
  • Weather-based insurance.
  • Disseminating climate information based agro-advisories.
  • Mapping hotspots of germplasm collection and conservation. 
Importance of e-agriculture
The world will need 50-70 per cent more food by 2050. Thus, the main challenge today is, how to produce more food. A way to do that is to make the world’s 500 million smallholder farmers more productive and efficient. ICT is crucial for this to happen. Digitising agriculture can help countries meet goals effectively in many areas like: agricultural extension and advisory services, promoting environmentally sustainable farming practices, disaster management and early warning system, enhancing market access, food safety and traceability, financial inclusion, insurance and risk management, capacity building and empowerment, among others. ICT-based initiatives in different aspects of agriculture allow farmers access to information about agricultural value chains, risk management, market and price information, advisory services, policies. They also bring back data for agricultural research.

How can digitisation of agriculture benefit smallholder farmers?
  • It will dissipate information directly to the farmers, giving them the power of information and facilitating decision-making.
  • It brings transparency in agricultural supply chains, removing the huge inequality that exists and guaranteeing adequate income to the farmers, who are generally at the losing end of the chart.
  • It will provide reliable data for research and policy-making. Better data will allow government as well as non-government organisations to design farmer-friendly policies and planned interventions.
In a bid to facilitate countries to form national and regional strategies for digitisation of agriculture, the FAO along with the International Telecommunication Union, released a framework to guide formulation of national plans. The organisation offers technical assistance in the design, development and implementation of sustainable ICT solutions to address some of the key challenges in agriculture.
Hindrances in development of e-agriculture
  • E-agriculture is a multi-stakeholder process that involves bringing together many different ministries and departments as well as private sector players such as insurance, banking and mobile network operators. It is quite difficult to bring all the stakeholders on the same page.
  • Another challenge is that paying for digitisation of agriculture is not as mainstream as thought till now.

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