FACT # 1
Why in news?
- NITI Aayog has signed Statement of Intent (SoI) with IBM to develop precision agriculture using Artificial Intelligence (AI).
- Precision agriculture(PA) is also known as satellite farming or site specific crop management (SSCM).
- It is a farming management concept based on observing, measuring and responding to inter and intra-field variability in crops.
- The goal of precision agriculture research is to define a decision support system(DSS) for whole farm management with the goal of optimizing returns on inputs while preserving resources.
- The first wave of the precision agricultural revolution will come in the forms of satellite and aerial imagery, weather prediction, variable rate fertilizer application, and crop health indicators.
- The second wave will aggregate the machine data for even more precise planting, topographical mapping, and soil data.
- Aims of Precision agriculture are to optimize field-level management with regard to:
- crop science: by matching farming practices more closely to crop needs (e.g. fertilizer inputs)
- environmental protection: by reducing environmental risks and footprint of farming (e.g. limiting leaching of nitrogen)
- economics: by boosting competitiveness through more efficient practices (e.g. improved management of fertilizer usage and other inputs)
- Precision agriculture also provides farmers with a wealth of information to:
- build up a record of their farm
- improve decision-making
- foster greater traceability
- enhance marketing of farm products
- improve lease arrangements and relationship with landlords
- enhance the inherent quality of farm products (e.g. protein level in bread-flour wheat)
Precision agriculture using Artificial intelligence:
- The practice of precision agriculture has been enabled by the advent of GPSand GNSS or artificial intelligence.
- The farmer’s and/or researcher’s ability to locate their precise position in a field allows for the creation of maps of the spatial variability of as many variables as can be measured (e.g. crop yield, terrain features/topography, organic matter content, moisture levels, nitrogen levels, pH, EC, Mg, K, and others).
- Similar data is collected by sensor arrays mounted on GPS-equipped combine harvesters.
- These arrays consist of real-time sensors that measure everything from chlorophyll levels to plant water status, along with multispectral
- This data is used in conjunction with satellite imageryby variable rate technology (VRT) including seeders, sprayers, etc. to optimally distribute resources.
FACT # 2
GST NETWORK (GSTN)
Why in news? The 27th meeting of GST Council has approved proposal to convert GST Network (GSTN) into government entity from current private entity status by taking over stakes held by private entities.
GST Network (GSTN):
- Goods and Services Tax Network (GSTN) is a Section 8 (under new companies Act, not for profit companies are governed under section 8), non-Government, private limited company.
- It was incorporated on March 28, 2013.
- The Government of India holds 24.5% equity in GSTN and all States of the Indian Union, including NCT of Delhi and Puducherry, and the Empowered Committee of State Finance Ministers (EC), together hold another 24.5%.
- Balance 51% equity is with non-Government financial institutions.
- The Company has been set up primarily to provide IT infrastructure and services to the Central and State Governments, tax payers and other stakeholders for implementation of the Goods and Services Tax (GST).
- The Authorised Capital of the company is Rs. 10,00,00,000 (Rupees ten crore only).
- Its revenue model after Goods and Services Tax (GST) was rollout out consisted of User Charge to be paid by stakeholders who will use the system and making it self-sustaining organization.
Conversion of GST Network (GSTN) to government from current private entity:
- Majority of Goods and Services Tax (GST) processes including registration, filing of returns, payment of taxes, processing of refunds is IT driven and mainly through GSTN.
- For this, GSTN handles large-scale invoice level data of lakhs of business entities including data relating to exports and import.
- Considering nature of state function performed by GSTN, it was felt that the network should be converted into fully government-owned company.
- The 27th meeting of GST Council chaired by Finance Minister Arun Jaitley has approved proposal of convert GST Network (GSTN) into government entity from current private entity status by taking over stakes held by private entities.
- The council has agreed to buy out stake of private entities in GSTN.
- Following the move, central government will own 50% in GSTN and the remaining will be collectively held by state government-owned company.
FACT # 3
BORDER ROADS ORGANISATION (BRO)
Why in news? Border Roads Organisation (BRO), is celebrating its Raising Day on 07 May 2018.
Border Roads Organisation (BRO):
- BRO is a leader in the arena of infrastructural development in the border areas of the country.
- It is celebrating its 58 years of glorious service to the nation in 2018.
- Since its inception in 1960, so far the Organisation has grown from 02 to 19 projects.
- It is currently headed by Lt General SK Shrivastava who is the 25th Director General Border Roads (DGBR).
- Focus areas of BRO:
- The works executed have ensured the territorial integrity and the socio-economic upliftment of the most inaccessible regions of the country as well as India’s neighbourhood.
- Works executed in friendly foreign countries are a message of the Organisation’s ideology ‘Shramena Sarvam Sadhyam’.
- BRO shall endeavour to explore new frontiers while it undertakes systematic modernisation of its construction techniques.
- Its focus shall remain enhanced productivity and quality construction.
- The BRO has its job in task forces aka PROJECTS.
- The task forces/PROJECTS of BRO are:
- Arunank, Beacon, Brahmank, Chetak, Deepak, Dantak, Himank, Hirak, Pushpak, Sampark, Setuk, Sewak, Shivalik, Swastik, Udayak, Vartak, and Vijayak.
- Constitution of BRO:
- The BRO is staffed by officers and troops drawn from the Indian Army’s Corps of Engineers, Electrical and Mechanical Engineers, Army Service Corps, Military Police and army personnel on extra regimental employment.
- Officers from the Border Roads Engineering Service and personnel from the General Reserve Engineer Force (GREF) form the parent cadre of the Border Roads Organisation.
- Operational areas of BRO:
- Currently, the organisation maintains operations in twenty-one states, one UT (Andaman and Nicobar Islands), and neighbouring countries such as Afghanistan, Bhutan, Myanmar, and Sri Lanka.
- The BRO operates and maintains over 32,885 kilometres of roads and about 12,200 meters of permanent bridges in the country.
- Presently, BRO is also involved in the construction of a tunnel at the Rohtang passwhich is estimated to be ready by 2019.