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IAS Preparation: Questions for Prelims 19 February to 23 February 2018

Feb 23, 2018 10:08 IST
    IAS Preparation: Questions for Prelims 19 February to 23 February 2018
    IAS Preparation: Questions for Prelims 19 February to 23 February 2018

    To clear the IAS Exam, continuous efforts to master the current affairs component are a must. To answer current affairs based questions in prelims, one should not only have the preliminary information about the current events, but also the clarity about the issues and concepts involved.

    To cater to this need of IAS Exam aspirants, Jagran Josh is providing important current affairs Multiple Choice Questions (MCQs) on a weekly basis. The questions cover important current affairs events in the fields of economy, national, India-World relations, science and technology, environment, etc. Answers along with detailed explanations to the questions will help the aspirants in answering further questions on the given topic in all the phases of the exam – Preliminary, Mains written and Personality Test.

    IAS Prelims Exam Guide

    The IAS weekly current affairs quizzes for the period from 19 February to 23 February 2018 are given below.

    1. It is with this country, India recently signed nine agreements/MoUs on bilateral cooperation, including one agreement on double taxation avoidance?
    a. Afghanistan
    b. Iran
    c. Jordan
    d. Yemen

    Answer: b

    Explanation:

    In February 2018, India and Iran signed eight agreements/Memorandums of Understanding (MoU) to expand cooperation in matters related to traditional systems of medicine, health, agriculture and double taxation avoidance. The agreements were signed during Iranian President Hassan Rouhani’s visit to India.

    The India-Iran Double Taxation Avoidance Agreement (DTAA) facilitates mutual economic cooperation and provides tax certainty to the resident taxpayers of both the countries. Further, the DTAA has provisions for exchange of information for tax purposes. So far, India has signed such DTAAs with more than 85 countries, including China, South Korea and Sri Lanka. However, India has not signed DTAAs with Afghanistan, Jordan and Yemen.

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    2. Recently, scientists discovered 100 new exoplanets using the Kepler Space Telescope. Against this backdrop, consider the following statements.
    1. Exoplanets are planets that are located outside the Milky Way galaxy.
    2. Kepler Space Telescope was launched by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA).

    Which of the above statements is/are correct?
    a. 1 only
    b. 2 only
    c. Both 1 and 2
    d. Neither 1 nor 2

    Answer: b

    Explanation:

    In February 2018, an international team of scientists has confirmed the discovery of nearly 100 new exoplanets. The discovery was based on the data from the NASA's Kepler Space Telescope or K2.
    About exoplanets:

    An exoplanet is a planet that orbits a star outside our solar system. Exoplanets can be within our galaxy i.e. Milky Way or outside the Milky Way. The first scientific detection of an exoplanet was in 1988. Shortly afterwards, the first confirmed detection was in 1992. As of February 1, 2018, there are 3,728 confirmed exoplanets in 2,794 systems, ranging from rocky Earth-sized planets to large gas giants like Jupiter.

    NASA's Kepler Mission

    The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) of the USA launched the Kepler spacecraft in 2009 to hunt for exoplanets in a single patch of sky. However, in 2013, a mechanical failure crippled the telescope.

    Astronomers and engineers then devised a way to repurpose and save the space telescope by changing its field of view periodically. This solution paved the way for the follow up the K2 mission.

    With the recent discovery, the total number of exoplanets discovered by the K2 mission goes up to almost 300.

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    3. Recently, Richard Branson’s Virgin Hyperloop One has signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with the Maharashtra government to build a hyperloop transportation system between Mumbai and Pune. Consider the following statements regarding this:
    1. The Pune-Mumbai route is an ideal first corridor as part of a national hyperloop network that will dramatically reduce travel times between most of India’s major cities to under two hours.
    2. The Hyperloop concept was first proposed by Elon Musk, the force behind SpaceX and Tesla.
    3. Hyperloop is the next-generation train system, which uses a magnetic levitation and a low-pressure transit tube.

    Which of the above statements is/are correct?
    a. 1 only
    b. 1 and 2
    c. 2 and 3
    d. 1, 2 and 3

    Answer: d

    Explanation:

    Richard Branson’s Virgin Hyperloop One has signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with the Maharashtra government to build a hyperloop transportation system between Mumbai and Pune. Billionaire investor Branson claims Hyperloop will drastically reduce the travel time between the two cities to 25 minutes from the present three hours. The announcement was made during the Magnetic Maharashtra investor summit.

    “Virgin Hyperloop One can help India become a global transportation pioneer and forge a new world-changing industry. The Pune-Mumbai route is an ideal first corridor as part of a national hyperloop network that will dramatically reduce travel times between most of India’s major cities to under two hours,” Virgin Hyperloop One Chairman stated in a press release.

    For those who are not aware, Hyperloop is the next-generation train system, which uses a magnetic levitation and a low-pressure transit tube. The high-speed train network has been visualised as an alternative to short distance air travel and the existing train network. One can expect speeds reaching over 700 mph. The Hyperloop concept was first proposed by Elon Musk, the force behind SpaceX and Tesla. The technology has been open-sourced and Musk is no longer directly involved in the development.

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    4. Cyclone Gita, Severe Tropical Cyclone to impact which of the following areas?
    a. Fiji
    b. India
    c. Sri Lanka
    d. Haiti

    Answer: a

    Explanation:

    Cyclone Gita hit the Pacific island nations of Fiji and Tonga last week, packing winds up to 275 km per hour and causing widespread destruction and flooding. It earlier caused extensive damage in Samoa and American Samoa.

    After Gita was named, a prolonged period of rapid intensification ensued as it quickly intensified into a Category 1 tropical cyclone on the Australian tropical cyclone intensity scale, before it passed within 100 km (60 mi) of Samoa and American Samoa. After moving past the Samoan Islands, Gita turned southeast, then southwards, under the influence of a near-equatorial ridge to the northeast. On February 10, Gita rapidly intensified to a category 3 severe tropical cyclone on the Australian scale while traversing anomalously warm sea surface temperatures of between 28–29 °C (82–84 °F).

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    5.  Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) is planning to launch India’s second AstroSat-2. Consider the following statements regarding this:
    1. ISRO had sought proposals from institutions in astronomy for the development of scientific instruments on February 3.
    2. Through Astrosat, one can conduct studies on astrophysical objects from nearby solar system to distant stars, timing studies of pulsations of hot white dwarfs and active galactic nuclei.

    Which of the above statements is/are correct?
    a) 1 only
    b) 2 only
    c) Both 1 and 2
    d) Neither 1 nor 2

    Answer: c

    Explanation:

    Astrosat is a one-of-its-kind satellite, which is designed to observe the universe in the visible, ultraviolet, low- and high-energy X-ray regions of the electromagnetic spectrum simultaneously with the help of its five payloads.

    A unique feature of Astrosat is that it will provide simultaneous multi-wavelength observation of various astronomical objects from a single satellite.The space observatory consists of a total of six instruments such as the ultraviolet imaging telescope, soft X-ray imaging telescope and scanning sky moni tor among others. The information from Astrosat is being used not only by ISRO scientists but also by private research firms and laboratories in India.

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    6. Consider the following statements related to the Watan Ko Jano initiative that was in the news recently.
    1) It seeks to give exposure to the youth and children of the North East about the economic development taking place in other parts of the country.
    2) The programme is primarily organised by the Union Ministry of Home Affairs.

    Which of the above statements is/are correct?
    a) 1 only
    b) 2 only
    c) Both 1 and 2
    d) Neither 1 nor 2

    Answer. b

    Explanation:

    ‘Watan Ko Jano’ was in the news in February 2018 as the Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh met the youth of Jammu and Kashmir in New Delhi under the Youth Exchange Programme of the initiative.

    Addressing the youth, the Minister expressed happiness that these youth have visited various parts of the country and witnessed the rich cultural and historical heritage of the country. The children have visited Ajmer, Jaipur and Agra and will now visit the historical places in Delhi.

    About Watan Ko Jano

    • It seeks to give exposure to the youth and children of Jammu and Kashmir about the cultural, social and economic development that is taking place in other parts of the country.

    • Youth and children hit by militancy and from weaker sections of the society are identified for this purpose.

    • Every year, around 400 youths from the State visit different places of the country.

    7. Consider the following statements related to the Botanical Survey of India that was in the news recently.

    1) It was established by the Union Government in 1950.
    2) It works under the Department of Science and Technology.

    Which of the above statements is/are correct?
    a) 1 only
    b) 2 only
    c) Both 1 and 2
    d) Neither 1 nor 2

    Answer. d

    Explanation:

    In February 2018, the Botanical Survey of India (BSI) and the Natural History Museum (NHM) of the United Kingdom signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) for cooperation in the field of genetic and taxonomic studies in India.

    The MoU will pave the way for BSI staff to work in the NHM and vice-versa. They will share fairly and equitably the benefits that may arise from the collection, study and conservation of the plant materials such as seeds, herbarium specimens and tissue samples and exchange associated data and images. NHM will help BSI in capacity building in areas of systematic botany and long-term conservation of plant genetic resources in India.

    About Botanical Survey of India

    • The Botanical Survey of India (BSI) was established in 1890 with the objectives of exploring the plant resources of the country and identifying plant species with economic virtue.

    • In 1954, it was reorganised with the objectives of undertaking intensive floristic surveys and collecting accurate and detailed information on the occurrence, distribution, ecology and economic utility of plants in the country.

    • It works under the Union Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change.

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    8. It is with this country, India recently launched joint research projects on clean water and energy.
    a) The UK
    b) Germany
    c) Australia
    d) China

    Answer. a

    Explanation:

    On 19 February, 2018, India and the United Kingdom launched joint research projects on ‘Water Quality Research and Energy Demand Reduction in Built Environment’. The projects were jointly launched by NITI Aayog member Dr V K Saraswat, Department of Science and Technology Secretary Ashutosh Sharma and Research Councils UK- India Director Daniel Shah in New Delhi.

    These projects aim to deliver mutual benefits and research solutions not only to the UK and India, but also to address shared global sustainable development goals of clean water and clean energy.

    The Water Quality Research programme has eight projects, while the Energy Demand Reduction in Built Environment programme has four projects. The total joint investment will be up to 15 million British Pound.

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    9. Recently, India and Iran have signed agreements and memorandums of understanding on a wide variety of issues. Consider the following statement regarding this:
    1) In a joint statement, India and Iran described the Chabahar Port, which is being developed with funding from India, as a "golden gateway" that will help in reaching out to land-locked Afghanistan and the Central Asia.
    2) Trade ties between the two countries have been dominated by Indian import of Iranian crude oil.
    3) India is the second largest buyer of Iranian crude after China.

    Which of the above statements is/are correct?
    a) 1 only
    b) 1 and 2
    c) 2 and 3
    d) 1, 2 and 3

    Answer: d

    Explanation:

    Recently,  India and Iran have inked nine agreements, including leasing part of the Iranian port of Chabahar to an Indian company, after "substantive" bilateral talks between the Indian prime minister and the Iranian president in New Delhi. A joint statement described the Chabahar Port, which is being developed with funding from India, as a "golden gateway" that will help in reaching out to land-locked Afghanistan and central Asia.

    During the joint press conference, Rouhani spoke on the importance of rail links from Chabahar to Zahedan, near the Afghan border. Last year, New Delhi successfully sent shipments of wheat assistance to Afghanistan through Chabahar Port, bypassing archrival, Pakistan. Islamabad does not allow New Delhi to use its land route to reach Afghanistan.
    "Chabahar offers India connectivity to Afghanistan and Central Asia. Along with Bandar Abbas port, it also offers India a means of multimodal connectivity all the way to Europe," said Manoj Joshi, senior analyst at Observer Research Foundation (ORF), a think-tank based in New Delhi.

    10. ISRO is going to launch the Chandrayaan-2, its very first lunar rover this year. Consider the following statements regarding this:
    1) ISRO is planning to launch the Chandrayaan-2 in April 2018 from Sriharikota.
    2) After its launch from Sriharikota, it will take one or two months time for the orbiter to reach moon's orbit.

    Which of the above statements is/are correct?
    a) 1 only
    b) 2 only
    c) Both 1 and 2
    d) Neither 1 nor 2

    Answer: c

    Explanation:

    ISRO is planning to launch in April 2018 from Sriharikota. After its launch from Sriharikota, it will take one or two months time for the orbiter to reach moon's orbit, the ISRO chief said.

    "After reaching the moon's orbit, the lander will get detached from the orbiter and do a soft-landing near the south pole of the moon. The 6-wheeled rover fixed within the lander will get detached and move on the lunar surface. The rover has been designed in such a way that it will have the power to spend a lunar day or 14 Earth days on the moon's surface and walk up to 150-200 km. It will do several experiments and on-site chemical analysis of the surface.

    The mission Chandrayaan-2 has generated lots of buzz due to its cheap operative cost. At Rs 800 crore, Chandrayaan-2 is much cheaper than Interstellar, Christopher Nolan’s mega sci-fi Hollywood movie. The 2014 blockbuster was made at the cost of Rs 1,062 crore. The 2018 lunar mission shows how ISRO is not only able to not complete its project on time, but also within the limited budget.

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    11. Recently, the Union Cabinet has approved India-Morocco Cooperation Agreement in Railway Sector. Consider the following statements regarding this:
    1. The MoU facilitate exchange of technical experts, reports and technical documents, training and seminars/workshops focusing on specific technology areas and other interactions for knowledge sharing.
    2. The identified areas under cooperation include high-speed corridors, speed raising of existing routes, development of world-class stations, heavy haul operations and modernization of rail infrastructure, etc.
    3. The Cooperation Agreement was signed on 14th December 2017.

    Which of the above statements is/are correct?
    a. 1 only
    b. 1 and 2
    c. 2 and 3
    d. 1, 2 and 3

    Answer: d

    Explanation:

    The Union Cabinet has given its ex-post facto approval to the Cooperation Agreement between India and the Moroccan National Railways Office (ONCF) to develop long-term cooperation and partnership in different areas of railway sector. The Cooperation Agreement was signed on 14th December 2017.

    The Cooperation Agreement will enable technical cooperation in the following areas:-

    • Training and staff development;

    • Expert missions, exchange of experience and personnel; and

    • Mutual technical assistance, including exchanging of experts.

    Background:

    Ministry of Railways has signed MOUs for technical cooperation in the Rail sector with various foreign Governments and National Railways. The identified areas of cooperation include high-speed corridors, speed raising of existing routes, development of world-class stations, heavy haul operations and modernization of rail infrastructure, etc. The cooperation is achieved through the exchange of information on developments in areas of railways technology & operations, knowledge sharing, technical visits, training & seminars and workshops in areas of mutual interest.

    The MoUs provide a platform for Indian Railways to interact and share the latest developments and knowledge in the railway sector. The MoUs facilitate exchange of technical experts, reports and technical documents, training and seminars/workshops focusing on specific technology areas and other interactions for knowledge sharing.

    12. State Cabinet of which of the following States has approved new medical policy where vaccination certificate will become mandatory for school admission?

    a. Haryana
    b. Kerala
    c. Gujarat
    d. Uttar Pradesh

    Answer: b

    Explanation:

    In Kerala, certificate of vaccination will become mandatory for school admission. The Kerala cabinet approved a draft Medical Policy on 20 February 2018. According to the draft Medical Policy, it is necessary for all students seeking admission to produce a vaccination card.

    A few major highlights in the draft policy apart from the mandatory vaccination card include autonomy for the state-run medical colleges, primary health centres in the state to function till 6 pm, separate clinics for transgender, and a training programme for the common public who will be trained in trauma care so as to act quickly when an accident occurs.

    According to the prevalent basic health protocol in Kerala, vaccination for babies starting from two months includes against diphtheria, tetanus, whooping cough, measles, mumps, rubella and polio.

    13. Recently, the Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs (CCEA) has approved Silkyara Bend-Barkot Tunnel in Uttarakhand as part of ‘Chardham Mahamarg Pariyojana’. Consider the following statements regarding this:
    1. The project aims at the construction of 4.531 Km long two-lane Bi-Directional tunnel (along with 328m approach road) with escape passage on Dharasu –Yamunotri in the State of Uttarakhand.
    2. The construction of this tunnel will provide all-weather connectivity to Yamunotri, one of the Dhams on Chardham Yatra, encouraging regional socio-economic development, trade and tourism within the country.
    3. The project will be built on Engineering, Procurement and Construction (EPC) Mode which is under NH (O) Scheme of Ministry of RT&H and forms part of ambitious Chardham Plan.

    Which of the above statements is/are correct?
    a. 1 only
    b. 1 and 2
    c. 2 and 3
    d. 1, 2 and 3

    Answer: d

    Explanation:

    The Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs has given its approval to the construction of 4.531 km long 2-Lane Bi-Directional Silkyara Bend - Barkot Tunnel with escape passage including approaches on Dharasu -Yamunotri section between Chainage 25.400 Km. and Chainage 51.000 Km in Uttarakhand.

    The project will be falling along NH-134 (old NH-94) in the State of Uttarakhand.  The project will be built on Engineering, Procurement and Construction (EPC) Mode. This is funded under NH (O) Scheme of Ministry of RT&H and forms part of ambitious Chardham Plan.

    The construction period of the project is 4 years. The civil construction cost of the project is estimated at Rs. 1119.69 crore, while the total project cost is Rs. 1383.78 crore, which is inclusive of the cost towards Land Acquisition & Rehabilitation and other pre-construction activities as well as Maintenance and Operation cost of the tunnel for 4 years.

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    14. Recently, the Union Cabinet gave its approval for the creation of National Urban Housing Fund. Against this backdrop, consider the following statements related to the fund.

    1. The fund will be managed by the Building Materials and Technology Promotion Council.
    2. The fund will be created at an estimated cost of Rs 60,000 crores.

    Which of the above statements is/are correct?
    a. 1 only
    b. 2 only
    c. Both 1 and 2
    d. Neither 1 nor 2

    Answer. c

    Explanation:

    On 20 February 2018, the Union Cabinet gave its approval for the creation of National Urban Housing Fund (NUHF). The decision was taken at a meeting of the Cabinet, which was chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

    The Rs.60,000 crores fund will be managed by the Building Materials and Technology Promotion Council (BMTPC). The BMTPC is an autonomous body under the Union Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs. It was registered under the Societies Registration Act, 1860.

    NUHF will facilitate raising the requisite funds in next four years so that flow of Central Assistance under different verticals of the Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana (Urban) - Beneficiary Linked Construction (BLC), Affordable Housing in Partnership (AHP), In-Situ Slum Redevelopment (ISSR) and Credit Linked Subsidy Scheme (CLSS) - are sustained.

    The Union Government has so far sanctioned 39.4 lakh houses under the Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana (Urban). The target is to cater to the demand of housing shortage of nearly 1.2 crore and make an available housing to all by 2022 when India celebrates its 75th anniversary of independence.

    15.  Recently proposed Mahanadi Water Disputes Tribunal will adjudicate disputes between these two States.
    a. Chhattisgarh and Odisha
    b. Odisha and Andhra Pradesh
    c. Andhra Pradesh and Telangana
    d. Andhra Pradesh and Chhattisgarh

    Answer: a

    Explanation:

    On 20 February 2018, the Union Cabinet gave its approval for the proposal for the adjudication of disputes on Mahanadi River Waters by a tribunal. The decision was taken at a meeting of the Cabinet, which was chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

    The tribunal shall determine water sharing among two basin States – Odisha and Chattisgarh - on the basis of the overall availability of water in the complete Mahanadi basin, the contribution of each State, the present utilization of water resources in each State and the potential for future development.

    The tribunal was constituted as per the provisions of the Inter-State River Water Disputes (ISRWD) Act, 1956. The tribunal shall consist of a chairman and two other members nominated by the Chief Justice of India from amongst the Judges of the Supreme Court or High Court.

    Further, the services of two water resources experts, who have experience in handling sensitive water-related issues, will be provided to advise the tribunal in its proceedings.

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    16. Recently, which of the following States launched the Asmita Yojana to provide cheap sanitary pads?
    a) Maharashtra
    b) Rajasthan
    c) Haryana
    d) Bihar

    Answer. a

    Explanation:

    The Maharashtra Government  announced that a new programme, Asmita Yojana, will be launched to provide cheap and subsidised sanitary pads to school girls and women. The scheme will be launched on the occasion of the International Women’s Day on March 8, 2018.

    Under the scheme, girls studying in Zilla Parishad schools will get sanitary napkin packets at Rs 5, while rural women would be able to avail it at a subsidised rate of Rs.24 and Rs.29.

    Asmita Yojana seeks to raise awareness regarding hygiene during periods among girls between the age group of 11 and 19 years and also women in general in the rural areas of Maharashtra.

    As per reports, only 17 per cent of the women in rural areas of Maharashtra use sanitary napkins. This is mainly because of high costs of sanitary pads, their unavailability in rural areas and awkwardness among women to purchase them from male chemists.

    17. Consider the following statements related to the Agni II missile that was successfully test-fired recently.
    1) The test-fire was conducted by the Strategic Forces Command.
    2) Agni-II is a medium-range cruise missile with two solid fuel stages.

    Which of the above statements is/are correct?
    a) 1 only
    b) 2 only
    c) Both 1 and 2
    d) Neither 1 nor 2

    Answer. a

    Explanation:

    India on February 20, 2018 successfully test-fired indigenously developed Agni-II ballistic missile at the Integrated Test Range (ITR) in the Dr. Abdul Kalam Island off the coast of Odisha. The test-fire was conducted by the Strategic Forces Command (SFC) of the Indian Army and monitored by the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO). The SFC is responsible for the management and administration of the country's tactical and strategic nuclear weapons stockpile. It was created in January 2003.

    About Agni-II missile

    • It is a medium-range ballistic missile with two solid fuel stages.

    • It is 20 metres long, weighs 17 tonnes and can carry a payload of up to 1000 kg.

    • It has a strike range of more than 2000 km.

    • The missile can be fitted with 150 kilotons of yield nuclear warheads in addition to chemical and high explosive versions.

    • It can be fired from both rail and road mobile launchers and it takes only 15 minutes for the missile to be readied for firing.

    • The first prototype of an operational variant of the Agni-II was tested on April 11, 1999.

    Ballistic vs. Cruise missile

    • While a ballistic missile has a ballistic (arc-like) trajectory  over most of its flight path, a cruise missile can fly in a relatively straight line. A cruise missile also has high maneuvering capability.

    • While a ballistic missile travels at higher altitudes, a cruise missile travels at lower altitudes.

    • While ballistic missiles are used for long distances, a cruise missile is used for short distances.

    • While Prithvi, Agni and Dhanush are ballistic missiles, BRAHMOS is the only known versatile supersonic cruise missile system that is in service.

    18. Recently, the Union Government has launched six new user friendly features of e-NAM Platform like Mobile App, BHARAT payment facility, etc. Against this backdrop, consider the following statements.
    1) It helps farmers in buying and selling agricultural products online.
    2) Mandis across the country are linked through e-NAM software.
    3) Its software will be provided to all the willing states without cost.

    Which of the above statements is/are correct?
    a) 1 and 2 only
    b) 2 and 3 only
    c) 1 and 3 only
    d) All of them

    Answer. d

    Explanation:

    In February 2018, the Union Minister of Agriculture and Farmers’ Welfare Radha Mohan Singh launched six new features of e-trading platform of the National Agriculture Market (e-NAM) to make it more users friendly. The six new features are e-NAM Mobile App, BHIM payment facility, new and improved website with e-learning module, MIS dashboard, Grievance Redressal Management System for Mandi Secretaries and integration of e-NAM with Central Farmer Database.

    About e-NAM

    It was launched by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in April 2016 on a pilot-basis. With this, the farmers can sell or buy the agricultural products online using this portal. This project will operate through an online portal which is being linked to the mandis of the States. Its software will be provided to all the willing states without cost.

    A knowledgeable person will be deployed for one year in every mandi to facilitate the smooth functioning of the portal. Under this Project, Union Government is providing a grant of 30 lakh rupees to the proposed agriculture mandis of the states. The farmers will be provided farmer helpline services 24X7 for obtaining information related to this portal.

    19. NER’s first regional Centre for Agriculture is going to be inaugurated in Mizoram with collaboration with which of the following which of the following countries?
    a) USA
    b) Israel
    c) Iran
    d) Japan

    Answer: b

    Explanation:

    A Centre for Agriculture, with collaboration of Israeli expertise, is going to be inaugurated in Mizoram on 7th March this year. This will be the first such centre in the North East region of India that is being established with Israeli collaboration, he added. Set up with a cost of Rs 8-10 crore, this centre is exclusively for processing of citrus fruits. The project has been set up with the tripartite collaboration of Ministry of Agriculture and Farmers Welfare, Government of India, Government of Israel and State Government of Mizoram. Israel will provide expertise knowledge and professional support. Though located in Mizoram, this centre will cater to the whole north east. There are 22 such operational centres in India including in the states of Haryana, Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan and Punjab. The first centre was established in 2008 in Haryana. He said that in the long run, Israel wants to establish one such centre in each state.

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    20. For the first time, UNICEF has come out with rankings based on their newborn mortality rate (the number of deaths per 1,000 live births). Consider the following statements regarding this:
    1) India ranks 12th among 52 low-middle income countries having highest infant mortality rates with over 6 lakh children dying within the first month of their birth in 2016.
    2) With the neonatal mortality rate being recorded at 25.4 deaths per 1,000 live births in 2016, India ranked below Sri Lanka (127), Bangladesh (54), Nepal (50) and Bhutan (60) but was above Pakistan.
    3) As per the report, Babies born in Japan, Iceland and Singapore have the best chance of survival, while newborns in Pakistan, the Central African Republic and Afghanistan face the worst odds.

    Which of the above statements is/are correct?
    a) 1 only
    b) 1 and 2
    c) 2 and 3
    d) 1, 2 and 3

    Answer: d

    Explanation:

    India ranks 12th among 52 low-middle income countries having highest infant mortality rates with over 6 lakh children dying within the first month of their birth in 2016, a report by the United Nations Children’s Fund says.

    With the neonatal mortality rate being recorded at 25.4 deaths per 1,000 live births in 2016, India ranked below Sri Lanka (127), Bangladesh (54), Nepal (50) and Bhutan (60) but was above Pakistan, which was ranked among the lowest in the list with 45.6 deaths per 1,000 live births, according to the report released on February 19.
    Babies born in Japan, Iceland and Singapore have the best chance of survival, while newborns in Pakistan, the Central African Republic and Afghanistan face the worst odds, the report stated.

    India’s progress has been far better than the world’s, the global decline in the under-five mortality during the MDG period was 55%, the official said, adding the number of annual under-five deaths in India has gone below one million for the first time in 2016.

    21. Consider the following statements related to ‘NITI Forum for Northeast’ that was set up recently:
    1. The forum will be headed by the Prime Minister.
    2. Its primary objective is to accelerate the development in the northeast region.
    3. Chief Ministers of all the eight States of the northeast are members of the forum.

    Which of the above statements is/are correct?
    a. 2 only
    b. 1 and 3 only
    c. 2 and 3 only
    d. All of them

    Answer. a

    Explanation:

    On February 21, 2018, the Union Government issued an order to set up the NITI Forum for Northeast. The primary objective of the forum is to identify constraints and recommend suitable interventions for speedy and sustainable growth in the North East Region (NER).

    The forum will be co-chaired by the Vice-Chairman of NITI Aayog and the Union Minister (Independent Charge) for the Development of North Eastern Region (DoNER). The forum will have its Secretariat in the Ministry of DoNER. The DoNER oversees the development in eight States in the NER i.e. Arunachal Pradesh, Nagaland, Manipur, Mizoram, Tripura, Meghalaya, Assam and Sikkim.

    Secretaries of Ministries of Road Transport and Highways, Railways, Power, Water Resources, etc, are the members of the forum. Chief Secretaries of northeastern states will also be members of the Forum. Secretary, North East Council (NEC), Shillong will be Member Secretary.

    The NITI Forum for Northeast is tasked to identify various constraints on the way of accelerated, inclusive and sustainable economic growth in the NER of the country and to recommend suitable interventions for addressing identified constraints. It will also review the development status in the NER.

    22. India will host the inaugural conference of the International Solar Alliance (ISA) in March 2018. Against this backdrop, consider the following statements related to the ISA:

    1. ISA is the first International intergovernmental treaty-based organization headquartered in India.
    2. It was jointly launched by India and France in November 2015.
    3. The only mandate of the ISA is to encourage the usage of solar energy in industries.

    Which of the above statements is/are correct?
    a. 1 and 2 only
    b. 2 and 3 only
    c. 1 and 3 only
    d. All of them

    Answer: a

    Explanation:

    The Union Government announced that the inaugural conference of the International Solar Alliance (ISA) will be held in New Delhi on March 11, 2018.

    The conference will be attended by Prime Minister Narendra Modi and French President Emanuel Macron. Besides, heads of States/Governments of countries like Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Seychelles, Ghana, Gabon, Australia, Venezuela, Fiji and Mauritius will attend the conference.

    About International Solar Alliance

    • The ISA was launched by Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Francois Hollande, the former President of France in November 2015 in Paris. It was launched on the sidelines of the United Nations Climate Change Conference (UNFCCC).

    • ISA is the first International intergovernmental treaty-based organization headquartered in India. Its headquarters is located in Gurugram in Haryana.

    • So far, 46 countries have signed the ISA Framework Agreement. And, out of these, 19 countries have ratified the agreement.

    • ISA is a coalition of solar resource-rich countries lying fully or partially between the Tropics of Cancer and Capricorn and aims to specifically address energy needs by harnessing solar energy. The ISA seeks to reduce the cost of finance and cost of technology for immediate deployment of solar generation assets.

    • Presently ISA has three programmes. They are Scaling Solar Applications for Agricultural Use, Affordable Finance at Scale and Scaling Solar Mini-grids. In addition, ISA plans to launch two more programmes on Scaling Solar Rooftops, and Scaling E-Mobility and Storage.

    UPSC IAS Prelims CSAT 2017 Answer Key & Question Paper

    23. Recently, SpaceX has launched first high-speed internet satellites into orbit. Consider the following statements regarding this:

    1. A used Falcon 9 rocket blasted off from Space Launch Complex 4E at California's Vandenberg Air Force Base, carrying Spain's PAZ, a radar-imaging satellite, and two SpaceX test satellites for global broadband.
    2. According to the mission description, equipped with an advanced radar instrument, PAZ will cover the entire globe in 24 hours, serving both commercial and government needs.
    3. Designed for a mission life of five and a half years, PAZ will orbit the Earth 15 times per day, providing internet coverage for an area of over 300,000 square km from an altitude of 514 km and a velocity of seven km per second.

    Which of the above statements is/are correct?
    a. 1 only
    b. 1 and 2
    c. 2 and 3
    d. 1, 2 and 3

    Answer: d

    Explanation:

    US private flight company SpaceX on Thursday launched its first two test satellites for its global broadband internet in space project. A used Falcon 9 rocket blasted off from Space Launch Complex 4E at California's Vandenberg Air Force Base, carrying Spain's PAZ, a radar-imaging satellite, and two SpaceX test satellites for global broadband, Xinhua news agency reported.

    The Falcon 9's first stage separated from the second stage about two minutes after lift-off. Cheers and applause broke out in the SpaceX control room as the launch was streamed live online. The launch's primary mission is to deliver PAZ into orbit for the Spain-based company Hisdesat. The satellite has been deployed approximately 11 minutes after launch. "Successful deployment of PAZ satellite to low-Earth orbit confirmed," the California-based company tweeted.

    24. Double Taxation Avoidance Agreement (DTAA) between India and Kenya was signed and notified in 1985. Consider the following statements regarding the recent revision of Double Taxation Avoidance Agreement (DTAA) between India and Kenya:

    1. The DTAA was renegotiated and a revised DTAA was signed between both countries on 11th July 2016.
    2. The revised DTAA provides for a new Article on Limitation of Benefits to allow treaty benefits to bonafide residents of both countries, to combat treaty abuse by third country residents and to allow application of domestic law to prevent tax avoidance or evasion.

    Which of the above statements is/are correct?
    a. 1 only
    b. 2 only
    c. Both 1 and 2
    d. Neither 1 nor 2

    Answer: c

    Explanation:

    The Double Taxation Avoidance Agreement (DTAA) between India and Kenya was signed and notified in 1985. Subsequently, the DTAA was renegotiated and a revised DTAA was signed between both countries on 11th July 2016. The revised DTAA has been notified in the Official Gazette on 19th February 2018.

    Some of the key features of the revised DTAA are highlighted as under:

    In order to promote cross-border flow of investments and technology, the revised DTAA provides for reduction in withholding tax rates from 15% to 10% on dividends, from 15% to 10% on interest, from 20% to 10% on royalties and from 17.5% to 10% on fees for management, professional and technical services.

    The revised DTAA provides for a new Article on Limitation of Benefits to allow treaty benefits to bonafide residents of both countries, to combat treaty abuse by third country residents and to allow application of domestic law to prevent tax avoidance or evasion.

    The Article on Exchange of Information has been updated to the latest international standard to provide for the exchange of information, including banking information for tax purposes, to the widest possible extent.

    A new Article on Assistance in Collection of Taxes has also been provided in the revised treaty which will enable assistance in collection of tax revenue claims between both countries.

    The revised DTAA will improve transparency in tax matters, help curb tax evasion and tax avoidance, remove double taxation and will stimulate the flow of investment, technology and services between India and Kenya.

    IAS Exam 2018: All You Need Know

    25. Consider the following statements regarding the NITI Aayog's role in the national policy, frontier technologies:
    1. The Budget 2018-19 envisages a defined role for NITI Aayog in critical areas of artificial intelligence and agriculture policy, apart from reiterating a shared vision for national development in line with NITI Aayog’s Three Year Action Agenda, the Seven Year Strategy and the 15 Year Vision Document.
    2. NITI Aayog will initiate a national program to direct our efforts in the area of artificial intelligence, including research and development of its applications.
    3. NITI Aayog, in consultation with Central and State Governments, will put in place a fool-proof mechanism so that farmers will get adequate price for their produce.

    Which of the above statements is/are correct?
    a. 1 only
    b. 1 and 2
    c. 2 and 3
    d. 1, 2 and 3

    Answer: d

    Explanation:

    The New India Budget presented by the Finance Minister has cemented NITI Aayog’s role as a driver of transformational change in the country, said Hon’ble MoS (IC) for Planning Shri Rao Inderjit Singh, addressing a press conference today highlighting the budget allocations, achievements and programmes of NITI Aayog.

    Allocations for the Ministry of Planning, which is embodied by the NITI Aayog, have increased by more than 20% over last year i.e. to Rs 339.65 crore in 2018-19 from Rs 279.79 crore in 2017-18.

    Further, the budget envisages a defined role for NITI Aayog in critical areas of artificial intelligence and agriculture policy, apart from reiterating a shared vision for national development in line with NITI Aayog’s Three Year Action Agenda, the Seven Year Strategy and the 15 Year Vision Document.

    NITI in the Budget

    NITI Aayog, in consultation with Central and State Governments, will put in place a fool-proof mechanism so that farmers will get adequate price for their produce.

    NITI Aayog, in consultation with State Governments, will evolve a suitable mechanism to enable access of lessee cultivators to credit without compromising the rights of the landowners.

    NITI Aayog will initiate a national program to direct our efforts in the area of artificial intelligence, including research and development of its applications.

    Apart from the above mentions, NITI Aayog through its officers, advisers and policy-shaping role has been predominant in the planning of Ayushman Bharat, the world’s largest health insurance scheme.

    IAS Preparation: Questions for Prelims 12 to 16 February 2018

    IAS Preparation: Questions for Prelims 5 February to 9 February 2018

     

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