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National Testing Agency

 

Paper: GS 2

Subject: Governance

Topic: Government policies and interventions aimed at development in various sectors and issues arising out of their design and implementation

 

  • National Testing Agency (NTA) was established as a Society registered under the Indian Societies Registration Act, 1860.
  • It is an autonomousand self-sustained testing organization to conduct entrance examinations for admission/fellowship in higher educational institutions.

 

Objectives

 

  • To conduct efficient, transparent and international standards testsin order to assess the competency of candidates for admission and recruitment purposes.

 

Functions

 

  • To identify partner institutionswith adequate infrastructure from the existing schools and higher education institutions which would facilitate the conduct of online examinations without adversely impacting their academic routine.
  • To create a question bankfor all subjects using modern techniques.
  • To establish a strong R&D cultureas well as a pool of experts in different aspects of testing.
  • To provide training and advisory servicesto the institutions in India.
  • To collaborate with international organizationslike ETS (Educational Testing Services).
  • To undertake any other examinationthat is entrusted to it by the Ministries/Departments of Government of India/State Governments.
  • To undertake the reformsand training of school boards as well as other bodies where the testing standards should be comparable with the entrance examinations.

 

Governance

 

  • NTA is chaired by an eminent educationistappointed by the Ministry of Human Resource Development.
  • The Chief Executive Officer (CEO) will be the Director-General to be appointed by the Government.
  • There will be a Board of Governorscomprising members from user institutions.

 

Significance

 

  • Establishment of a specialized testing body like NTA has relieved the agencies such as CBSE, AICTEof their responsibilities of conducting Entrance examinations.
  • Examinations are conducted by NTA in the online mode at least twice a year,in order to give enough opportunities to candidates and to bring out the best in them.
  • In order to increase the accessibilityand meet the requirements of the rural students, it will locate centers at sub-district and district level.
  • National Testing Agency (NTA) has launched a‘mobile app’ and Test Practice Centres (TPC’s) through which students can practice or take mock tests on their own computers or smartphones.

 

Pashu Aadhar

 

Paper: GS 2

Subject: Governance

Topic: Government policies and interventions aimed at development in various sectors and issues arising out of their design and implementation

 

India has the world’s largest livestock population and is also its biggest milk producer. A giant database relating to livestock information is currently being created in India. It issues an animal UID or Pashu Aadhaar to the animals. So far, nearly 22.3 million cows and buffaloes have been assigned UIDs.

 

Facts

 

  1. The nodal agency and repository for this – Information Network for Animal Productivity and Health or INAPH is the National Dairy Development Board (NDDB).
  2. The similarities with Aadhaar are:
    1. INAPH too assigns a unique random identification number to each animal
    2. It captures a host of data and information useful for the effective and scientific management of India’s livestock resources
    3. It will be the biggest global database of animals when fully captured
  3. The first phase of the INAPH project would cover the country’s 94 million-odd productive “in milk” female cow and buffalo population.
  4. It covers all indigenous, nondescript, crossbred as well as exotic milch animals.
  5. The exercise will subsequently be extended to all bovines, including males, calves and heifers, old and stray animals.
  6. Each animal will be provided a thermoplastic polyurethane ear tag bearing a 12-digit UID.
  7. The data being captured includes the species, breed and pedigree of the particular animal, information relating to its calving, milk production, artificial insemination (AI), vaccination and feeding/nutrition history.

 

Challenges so far

 

  1. Low productivity, poor animal health, the prevalence of economically debilitating diseases, and genome selection based on non-scientific and anecdotal methods

 

Objective

 

  1. Enable proper identification of animals and traceability of their products, be it milk or meat
  2. Farmers, processors, animal husbandry department officials and healthcare professionals can devise appropriate strategies for livestock management
  3. A major cause of zoonotic diseases and challenges in addressing them today is the absence of animal identification and traceability mechanisms
  4. If our dairy and livestock industry has to meet internationally-accepted sanitary and phytosanitary standards, a robust and comprehensive animal information system that allows traceability of products to their source is sine qua non
  5. The products obtained from healthy or premium animals can be separated from those originating from diseased or nondescript ones
  6. Leverage this data for scientific and risk-based management of animals to deliver better health and reproduction outcomes, enhanced productivity and improved livestock product quality.
  7. The information through INAPH, including the ancestry and production performance of animals, would help identify healthy and productive livestock for breeding, rejuvenation of weaker ones, plan for better nutritional management and systematically manage diseases.
  8. The data can be used to select disease-free, high genetic merit bulls and fertile cows for breeding indigenous breeds that are low on productivity

 

Step ahead than identity

 

  1. Artificial Insemination has so far met with limited success in terms of boosting overall animal productivity. One reason is the use of not-so-good quality semen from low genetic merit bulls. The poor records of AI status of most cows or the donor bulls is a caus. AI programme will get a shot in the arm with more reliable data on the insemination history of each animal.
  2. More efficient nutrition management through ration balancing can be achieved based on information on the feeding status of each animal.
  3. The entire chain, from inputs (AI/breeding, vaccination, feed and fodder, and nutrition) to output (milk and meat) can be managed to assure enhanced animal productivity and improved product quality.

The database should be seen as a significant step in heralding the next White Revolution and making livestock a vehicle of rural prosperity.

 

FASTag Rollout Picking up pace

 

Paper: GS 3

Subject: Science and Technology

Topic: Indigenisation of technology and developing new technology.

Implications:

 

The objective is to remove bottlenecks and capture all toll electronically.

All 560-odd plazas under the control of the National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) will collect toll without human intervention, and vehicles need not stop to pay toll.

 

How does FASTag work?

 

The device employs Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) technology for payments directly from the prepaid or savings account linked to it.

It is affixed on the windscreen, so the vehicle can drive through plazas without stopping.

It is valid for five years, and can be recharged as and when required.

The payment method is a part of the National Electronic Toll Collection (NETC) programme. The National Payments Corporation of India (NPCI) collects the payments.

 

Why do we need this scheme?

 

  • According to the National Highways Authority of India (NHAI), these devices will make passing through tolls considerably smoother since drivers will no longer have to carry cash or stop to make a transaction.
  • Cameras at toll booths will take photos of passengers in a vehicle, which will be useful for the Ministry of Home Affairs as there will be a record of a vehicle’s movement.