Government Committees, Schemes & Bills - General awareness questions on current affairs

1)   Which subsidies would be transferred to manufacturers on actual sales when reforms are announced?
- Published on 24 Mar 17

a. Fertilizer
b. Insurance
c. Agriculture
d. Mining
Answer  Explanation 

ANSWER: Fertilizer

Explanation:
Centre has decided to roll out one of its biggest subsidy reforms across the country from June where fertilizer subsidies would be transferred to manufacturers on the basis of actual sales.

This is a move which will pave the way for implementation of the direct benefit transfer (DBT) system in this sector and could save up to INR 7,000 crore by plugging leakages.

Though it will take some more time for the government to directly transfer subsidies to accounts of the end users (farmers), the June roll out will provide the government enough data through point of sale (PoS) machines having Aadhaar-based authentication system at retailers end.

It will aim to achieve its ultimate objective system of transferring benefits to farmers possibly after mid-2018.

The government has budgeted INR 70,000 crore for fertilizer subsidy in the current financial year.

Subsidies are currently paid to fertilizer companies on the basis of receipt of fertilizer at rail rake points or identified godowns in districts.

Once the new system is implemented from June, the manufacturers will get the difference between the actual value and the subsidized price of fertilizer in the companies bank account after giving actual details of sales through the PoS.

It will plug leakages and save huge amount of money to the exchequer.

Sales of neem-coated Urea have already stopped illegal diversion of fertilizer for non-agriculture applications like in plywood and textile sectors or for milk adulteration.

A soil health card scheme launched last year will help in determining the actual need of fertilizer but so far it has achieved only 40% of its target.


2)   What is the name of the newly proposed OBC panel?
- Published on 24 Mar 17

a. National Commission for Socially and Educationally Backward Categories
b. National Commission for Socially and Educationally Backward Classes
c. National Commission for Educationally and Socially Backward Classes
d. National Commission for Educationally and Socially Backward Categories
Answer  Explanation 

ANSWER: National Commission for Socially and Educationally Backward Classes

Explanation:
The Centre has approved a proposal to set up a national commission for OBCs with constitutional status.

This is an initiative that carries the symbolic gesture of putting backwards on a par with scheduled castes and scheduled tribes.

The announcement, coinciding with the birth anniversary of Ram Manohar Lohia, a mascot for Mandal classes has the proposed OBC panel, to be named National Commission for Socially and Educationally Backward Classes.

It will be created through a constitutional amendment similar to the ones providing for national commissions for SCs and STs.

It will replace the National Commission for Backward Classes (NCBC) and will have the power of "grievance redressal" of backwards as exercised by the panels for SCs and STs.

The first big task before the new commission will be deciding the demand of Jats for OBC status.

In a departure from post-Mandal Commission paradigm, the Centre has proposed that Parliament will decide on inclusion and exclusion of communities in the central OBC list.

Currently, the Centre can simply issue a notification to change entries in the OBC list based on recommendations of the NCBC.

However, changes to the lists of SCs and STs can only be made through a legislation.

It has been a longstanding demand of OBC champions that the Mandal classes should get a separate constitutional identity , with its own grievance redressal mechanism.

The NCBC's mandate was limited to inclusion and exclusion of communities from the Central OBC list and OBC grievances were heard by the National Commission for SCs.


3)   Which state government is providing free WiFI in colleges and universities?
- Published on 24 Mar 17

a. Bihar
b. Jharkhand
c. Odisha
d. West Bengal
Answer  Explanation 

ANSWER: Bihar

Explanation:
The Bihar government has launched an ambitious programme to provide free WiFi facilities in colleges and universities.

Chief Minister Nitish Kumar formally launched free WiFi facilities for students on the occasion of Bihar Divas celebrations.

The objective is to provide free Wi-Fi facility to help youths to move ahead in life and to become digital smart.

Incubation centre is being established in different educational institutions in the state to help young entrepreneurs.

Start-up means an entity, incorporated or registered in Bihar not prior to five years with an annual turnover not exceeding INR 25 crore in any preceding financial year.

It should also be working towards innovation, development, deployment or commercialisation of new products, processes or services driven by technology or intellectual property.

Bihar: Know More

  • Land area: 99,200 km²
  • Population: 99.02 million (2012)
  • Capital: Patna
  • Sorrow: Koshi River


4)   Which of the following are provisions of the Finance Bill 2017?
- Published on 23 Mar 17

a. Aadhaar card mandatory for filing income tax returns
b. Aadhaar card to be made compulsory for applying for PAN
c. Cash transaction limit to be INR 2 lakhs
d. All of the above
Answer  Explanation 

ANSWER: All of the above

Explanation:
FM Arun Jaitley indicated on March 22nd that 18 lakh persons deposited funds higher than disclosed income levels; 8 lakh of these have responded to government queries through emails and SMSes.

Meanwhile LS passed the Financial Bill 2017 which has made the Aadhaar card mandatory for filing income tax returns or applying for a PAN (permanent account number) card.

GoI has also cut the limit for cash transaction to INR 2 lakhs from 3 lakhs proposed in the budget. The transaction will be illegal beyond the stipulated upper limit.

Aadhaar has been made mandatory for tax returns. Cases of individuals holding 5 PAN cards to evade tax have been noted. Around 98% of Indians have Aadhaar cards.

Agriculture is set to remain outside the taxation net.

Government has merged several administrative tribunals. It has also assumed powers to appoint and remove their chiefs, raising a question on the independence of quasi judicial institutions.

The bill has also allowed companies to make bigger, anonymous political donations. 8 autonomous tribunals have been merged with others and GoI now has the power to appoint and remove members in 17 such bodies.

The bill also laid down severance terms for chairpersons, vice chairpersons and members of merged tribunals. Up to 3 months pay and allowances are specified and officers will then revert to parent cadre, department or ministry.

Government indicated reducing the tribunals will increase dispute resolution and curb expenditure.

So far, a company could contribute 7.5% of three year average of net profits and had to disclose name of recipient political party. But now the cap is gone and companies don't need to disclose the names of beneficiaries.

Elections: Know More

  • Voting system: First past the post
  • Last election: 7 April – 12 May 2014
  • Next election: Indian general election, 2019


5)   Which is India's top drug regulator?
- Published on 23 Mar 17

a. DGCI
b. FSSAI
c. NPAA
d. None of the above
Answer  Explanation  Related Ques

ANSWER: DGCI

Explanation:
Aiming to make combination drugs for HIV and Hepatitis B and C available to patients rapidly, government has decided to waive the regulatory processes to fast track approvals.

India's top drug regulator has said in a new order that companies manufacturing combination drugs for HIV and Hepatitis B & C can seek early approval with a WHO recommendation even if internationally the medicines are not approved as a combination but only individually.

However, the drugs have to be relevant for India.

The move is expected to benefit many of the over 21 lakh people estimated to be living with HIV in India.

Moreover, viral hepatitis has also been recognised as a serious public health problem in India by the World Health Organisation (WHO) with a total of over 52 million people infected with chronic hepatitis in the country.

Out of this, 40 million people in India are chronically infected with Hepatitis B and 6 to 12 million people are chronically infected with Hepatitis C.

The regulator has also allowed leeway to manufacturers for conducting clinical trials or bio-equivalence studies in India.

While these studies are conducted to test new drugs on local patients, they take a long time and hence often delays launches in the country.

The new norms issued by the regulator allows companies to apply for such studies and product approvals simultaneously.

Till now, companies had to submit data from trials before seeking product approvals.

In fact, in some cases the regulator has also suggested waiving off clinical trials for urgent use.

HIV and Hepatitis In India: Know More

  • Though India has demonstrated a 57% reduction in overall annual number of new HIV cases, it continues to have the third highest number of people living with HIV in the world.
  • Similarly, chronic Hepatitis is placing a huge disease, social and economic burden on affected families as well as the health system.
  • The condition can be self-limiting or can progress to liver fibrosis (scarring), cirrhosis or liver cancer.
  • Early approvals in India are also likely to benefit people around the world as India is a major supplier of generic medicines, mainly anti-retroviral.


6)   India is working with how many countries for information exchange on cybercrimes and bilateral cooperation?
- Published on 22 Mar 17

a. 15
b. 16
c. 17
d. 18
Answer  Explanation  Related Ques

ANSWER: 15

Explanation:
India is working with 15 countries for information exchange on cybercrimes and bilateral cooperation on tackling it.

India is working for bilateral cooperation with 15 countries for exchange of information and data pertaining to cyber crimes and related cooperation in law enforcement.

There is a steady increase in the government websites that have been hacked since 2014.

As per the information provided by MeITY, a total of 155, 164, 199 and 39 websites of certain ministries and departments as well as state governments were hacked in 2014 to 2017.

The government has constituted an Expert Group to study gaps and challenges in tackling cyber crimes in the country and prepare a road map for tackling and giving recommendations on all facets.

Cyber Crime Prevention Against Women and Children scheme: Know More

  • CCWPC has been approved by the government
  • It aims at setting up online cyber crime reporting platforms.
  • It also works for cyber forensic training cum labs in states and UTs as well as R&D facilities and capacity building in law enforcement agencies against cyber crime across the nation.
  • Indian cyber crime coordination centre 14C scheme has been placed for appraisal.


7)   Which bill aims at equal rights while seeking treatment, education and job by HIV positive people?
- Published on 22 Mar 17

a. HIV and AIDS (Prevention and Control) Bill 2014
b. HIV Prevention and Control Bill 2014
c. AIDS Prevention and Control Bill 2014
d. None of the above
Answer  Explanation  Related Ques

ANSWER: HIV and AIDS (Prevention and Control) Bill 2014

Explanation:
The HIV and AIDS (Prevention and Control) Bill, 2014, aimed at ensuring equal rights while seeking treatment, education and job by people living with HIV, was passed by the Rajya Sabha on March 21, 2017.

The Bill also assumes significance as it protects such people from specific acts of discrimination by the state, or any other person.

It also lays down penal provisions for any discrimination practised against a person with HIV/AIDS and breach of confidentiality.

Under the Bill, central and state governments are obliged to provide for anti-retroviral therapy (ART) and management of opportunistic infections (infections that take advantage of weakness in the immune system and occur frequently).

The protection mandated in the Bill extends to the fields of employment, healthcare services, educational services, public facilities, property rights, holding public office, and insurance.

Though the Bill was initially introduced in the Parliament by the UPA government, the amendments to the HIV and AIDS (Prevention and Control) Bill, 2014 were revived by the Modi government in July 2016.

During the debate on the measure, many members suggested amending the Section 14(1) of the bill, to remove the phrase "as far as possible" for providing medical treatment by the Centre and the states to those infected with HIV and AIDS.

Rules will have provision to provide justification for denying treatment to the patients.

A large number of members were of the view that the phrase 'as far possible' would defeat the purpose of the bill as it provides a leeway to the Centre and the states.

Changes in the Bill

  • Bill now makes anti-retroviral treatment a legal right for all HIV/AIDS patients.
  • It has also adopted "test and treat" policy which means any person testing positive will be entitled for free treatment by the state and central government.
  • Earlier, this was restricted by a CD4 count rate.
  • It also provides for confidentiality of HIV-related information and makes it necessary to get informed consent for undertaking HIV tests, medical treatment and research.
  • The Bill also provides for fast tracking of cases relating to HIV positive persons by courts on a priority basis.
  • In any legal proceeding, if an HIV infected or affected person is a party, the court may pass orders that the proceedings be conducted (a) by suppressing the identity of the person, (b) in camera, and (c) to restrain any person from publishing information that discloses the identity of the applicant.
  • When passing any order with regard to a maintenance application filed by an HIV infected or affected person, the court shall take into account the medical expenses incurred by the applicant.


8)   In which year was the Rail Budget first merged with the general budget?
- Published on 21 Mar 17

a. 1924
b. 1945
c. 2005
d. None of the above
Answer  Explanation  Related Ques

ANSWER: None of the above

Explanation:
Lok Sabha passed the Railway Appropriation Bills and supplementary demands for grants this year.

The total proposed outlay for 2017-218 is INR 131,000 crore. This marks an 8 percent increase from the 2016-2017 budget estimate of INR 121,000 crore.

Railway revenue for 2017-2018 is estimated at INR 178,350 crore recording a 9 percent increase from revised estimates of 2016-2017.

The total revenue in 2016-2017 undershot budget estimates by INR 6300 crore.

The House also passed Railways supplementary demands for grants 2016-2017 and the demands for excess grants for 2013-2014.

Railway finances were presented along with the Union Budget. This is the first time since 1924 that the Railway Budget was merged with the Union Budget.

Lok Sabha: Know More

  • Speaker: Sumitra Mahajan, BJP (Since 6 June 2014)
  • Deputy Speaker: M. Thambidurai, AIADMK (Since 13 August 2014)
  • Leader of the House: Narendra Modi, BJP (Since 26 May 2014)


9)   Which province has its own law to regulate the marriage of Hindus in Pakistan?
- Published on 20 Mar 17

a. Khyber Pakhtunwala
b. Sindh
c. Peshawar
d. None of the above
Answer  Explanation 

ANSWER: Sindh

Explanation:
The law provides for the punishment of imprisonment and fines up to INR 100,000 or both for contraventions and all other offences to be tried in the court of the first class magistrate.

This is the first law applicable to entire Pakistan except Singh province which has its own law to regulate the marriage of Hindus.

The law would be passed on March 10 by the National Assembly which has endorsed amendments made by the Senate in Feb 2017.

Sindh Province: Know More

  • Area: 140,914 km²
  • Population: 55.25 million (2011)
  • Largest city: Karachi
  • Interior minister: Syed Murad Ali Shah


10)   Union Ministry for textiles has announced a solar energy scheme for which units from April 1, 2017?
- Published on 20 Mar 17

a. Solar Energy Scheme for Small Powerloom Units
b. Solar Energy Scheme for Medium Powerloom Units
c. Solar Energy for Large Powerloom Units
d. None of the above
Answer  Explanation  Related Ques

ANSWER: Solar Energy Scheme for Small Powerloom Units

Explanation:
Union Minister of State for Textiles, Ajay Tamta on March 16, 2017 announced to the LS that the ministry has approved the Solar Energy Scheme for Small Powerloom Units.

The scheme will come into force on April 1, 2017. Scheme seeks to provide financial assistance in the form of capital subsidy to small powerloom units for installation of SPV/Solar Photo Voltaic plants.

These plants will overcome the problem of power cuts and shortages faced by decentralized powerloom units in the nation.

Under the scheme, the plants will have 2 options:

  • On-Grid Solar Power Plant
  • Off-Grid Solar Power Plant
On-Grid solar power plants in areas where the power cuts and shortages are negligible, involves high power tarrifs.

Off-Grid Solar Power plants are involved in areas where there is power shortage and on-grid power is not constantly available.

Some of the initiatives to promote the powerloom sector across the country seek to assist entrepreneurs in establishment of world class units with latest technology, modern infrastructure and suitable market linkages.

The scheme was launched in two clusters - Bhiwandi (Maharashtra) and Erode (TN).

In 2013-2014, the Modified Comprehensive Powerloom Cluster Development Scheme was launched to extend the original scheme to other parts of the nation.

Guidelines of the scheme were issued in Oct 2013 by the Union Government with the objective of empowering the power loom industry and building capacity to meet challenges of international competition in a self reliant, sustainable way.

The 5 components include market development programme, establishing common facility centres and organizing awareness programs, seminars and workshops.

An SPV is set up to oversee the scheme implementation.


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