General - Current Affairs for January,2017

Month and Year:   
▼ India becomes associate member of CERN   [01-19-17]

India has become an associate member of CERN w.e.f 16th Jan 2017 with the Indian government completing internal approval procedures. This is based on agreement signed with CERN in Nov 2016.

On Nov 21, 2016, Sekhar Basu, Chairman of the Atomic Energy Commission and DAE secretary signed the agreement. CERN DG Fabiola Gianotti was the other signatory.

As an associate member, India will have total access to all data generated in CERN. Prior to this, India could get data only from experiments it was participating in.

India can participate in all experiments now and choose which ones it wants to participate in.

Indian industry will also be entitled to bid for CERN contracts, which will allow it to work in areas of advanced technology.

“Make in India” will get a boost due to CERN. Indian scientists will become eligible for staff appointments.

It will enhance the participation of young scientists and engineers in operation and maintenance of various CERN projects.

India has to pay about INR 40 crore a year as an Associate member.

India has been actively involved in CERN’s scientific activities for over 50 years.

LHC accelerator and ALICE and CMS experiments, as well as to accelerator R&D projects are some projects where Indians scientists have participated.

In 1991, India and CERN signed a Cooperation Agreement.

It was setting priorities for scientific and technical cooperation.

India and CERN have signed several other protocols since then.

India’s involvement in CERN began in the 1960s with researchers from the TIFR participating in experiments at CERN.

In the 1990s scientists from Raja Ramanna Centre for Advanced Technology, Indore too got involved in CERN experiment.

India was granted Observer status to the CERN Council in 2002.

CERN: Know More

  • The CERN convention was signed in 1953.
  • It was signed by the 12 founding state.
  • Currently, CERN has 22 member states.
  • Besides India, Turkey, Pakistan, Ukraine are Associate members.
  • Serbia and Cyprus are associate members in the pre-stage to membership.

▼ Hilsa fish to get legal protection in West Bengal   [01-19-17]

West Bengal fisheries department has proposed to give legal protection to Hilsa Fish.

The aim is to arrest its dwindling population.

Fisheries department is speaking to the state home department to bring about provisions in CrpC and IPC.

With the formal introduction of the provisions, Hilsa will become the first fish variety in the country to get legal protection.

It will lead to arrest or fine anyone for selling, catching and buying small Hilsa.

Hilsa is commonly called “khoka ilish” in Bengal.

Hilsa fish is on brink of extinction due to decades of migration barriers, over-fishing and pollution.

Earlier as a protection measure, state government had declared five hilsa sanctuaries on the Hooghly river from Farakka to Sagar .

Covering a stretch of 250 km, here, fishing has been banned between June-August and October-December.

▼ Oxfam: Gap between rich and poor widens   [01-18-17]

Research by the human rights watchdog found that the eight richest men on the planet have a collective worth of US$426 billion.

This includes six American businessmen, including Facebook co-founder Mark Zuckerberg, Amazon creator Jeff Bezos and Microsoft founder Bill Gates, who remains the world’s richest man.

By contrast, the combined fortunes of 3.6 billion of the world’s poorest inhabitants adds up to a just US$409 billion.

The figures showed the gap between rich and poor is far greater than had been feared. It has also pointed to a growing discontent with mainstream politics around the world.

The report was released on the eve of the 47th Annual Meeting of the World Economic Forum in Switzerland. The report by Oxfam was titled “An economy for the 99 per cent”.

Inequality will be among the issues topping the agenda as 3000 members of the world’s business and political elite meet in Davos

The theme of this year’s summit is “Responsive and responsible leadership.”

In its report Oxfam called for an increase in tax rates targeting rich individuals and cooperations. It also highlighted the need for a global agreement to end competition between countries to lower corporate tax rates.

The report found that between 1988 and 2011, the incomes of the poorest 10 per cent increased by just US$65, while the incomes of the richest one per cent grew by US$11,800 - 182 times as much.

Oxfam said the world’s richest one per cent had as much wealth as the rest of the world combined.

THE RICHEST MEN IN THE WORLD

These eight billionaires have a combined wealth of 3.6 billion of the poorest people on the planet, according to Oxfam:

1. BILL GATESUS founder of Microsoft Corp - net worth US $75 billion
2. AMANCIO ORTEGAFounder of Spain’s Inditex, Zara fashion chain - net worth US$67 billion
3. WARREN BUFFETTUS CEO, largest shareholder in Berkshire Hathaway - net worth US$60.8 billion
4. CARLOS SLIM HELUOwner of Mexico’s Grupo Carso - net worth US$50 billion
5. JEFF BEZOSUS founder, chairman, CEO of Amazon - net worth: US$45.2 billion
6. MARK ZUCKERBERGUS chairman, CEO, co-founder of Facebook - net worth US$44.6 billion
7. LARRY ELLISONUS co-founder, CEO of Oracle - net worth US$43.6 billion
8. MICHAEL BLOOMBERGUS founder, owner, CEO of Bloomberg LP - net worth: US$40 billion

▼ German Passport most powerful, India ranks 78.   [01-18-17]

Indian passports have ranked a low 78 in international ranking of the world's most powerful passports.

Germany topped the ranking with a visa-free score of 157 while Singapore overtook South Korea to become the top ranked Asian passport with visa free score of 156.

India is at 78th position with visa-free score of 46. China and Pakistan ranked 58th and 94th on the list respectively.

The least powerful passport with a visa-free score of 23 was Afghanistan.

The ranking was by Arton Capital's Passport Index. It is based on cross border access of national passports.

This is an interactive tool which collects, displays and ranks the passports globally. It assigns a "visa-free score" according to the number of countries a passport holder can visit visa-free or with visa on arrival.

The newly added 'World Openness Score' (WOS) tracks the progression of freedom of mobility across the globe.

The WOS in 2016 was 17,925. In the first month of 2017, the score has already increased to 17,948.

Citizenship by investment has become a $2 billion industry, with over 20,000 investors seeking a second residency or citizenship around the globe every year.

▼ Jaipur, Ahmedabad airports to be privatised    [01-18-17]

The Airports Authority of India (AAI) has decided to privatise terminal operations at its Jaipur and Ahmedabad airports.

It has invited bids from global firms with a promise to give the winning bidder a free hand in replacing existing airport staff.

AAI officials said that about 230 workers were employed at the Jaipur airport in total, while Ahmedabad airport employed about 330 staff.

The AAI Chairman said only a limited number of direct employees worked in the terminal side of the airports.

He said private operators who bid for the lowest management cost and the highest rise in airport revenue will bag the terminal management contract for a period of 15 years

According to the bid document, the developer will manage passenger terminal building, including fire control room, kerbside approach road and passenger boarding bridges.

The developer will further supervise ground handling services, car parking and all terminal approach roads along with assets, equipment and machinery at the two airports.

The AAI will continue looking after operations and maintenance of airside facilities at these two airports including runway, taxiway, cargo complex and other city side facilities.

AAI: Know More

  • Industry: Aviation sector
  • Founded: 1 April 1995
  • Headquarters: Rajiv Gandhi Bhawan, Safdarjung Airport, New Delhi-110003
  • Key Executives and Officials: Dr.Guruprasd Mohapatra , Chairman, M. Sathiyavathy, DGCA
  • Members: S.Suresh, Member(Finance), Anuj Aggarwal, Member(HR), A K Dutta, Member(ANS)

▼ Australia returns three antiques to India   [01-17-17]

NEW DELHI: Australia has returned to India three antiquities, including two stone statues.

These were illegally exported out of the country in the recent past, the MEA said on 16th Jan 2017 namely:

  • The granite stone image of Pratyangira from Tamil Nadu,
  • Marble stele showing devotees of Buddha from Andhra Pradesh and
  • Red stand stone image of Buddha from Mathura region
Objects were in possession of National Gallery of Australia in Canberra.

The objects are currently kept at the Central Antiquities Collection at Purana Qila in New Delhi.

Pratyangira image is a case property of Idol Wing of Tamil Nadu Police and it would be handed over to them after a temporary display at the National Museum.

▼ MEA joins hands with US government MCC to strengthen regional connectivity   [01-16-17]

The Indian ministry of external affairs has joined hands with the US government's Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC) to strengthen regional integration and connectivity.

This is more so particularly in the areas of energy, trade and investment in third countries.

The agreement is to promote economic growth, development, regional cooperation and connectivity. Proposed cooperation between MCC and MEA's Development Partnership Administration was in line with that spirit.

MCC is a US government agency. It provides eligible countries with grants to fund country-led solutions. It works for reducing poverty through sustainable economic growth.

DPA concerns implementation of India's development cooperation programmes with partner countries.

The two agencies will pursue a range of activities designed for:

  • Promoting sustainable economic growth,
  • Identifying and developing strategic opportunities and
  • Cooperating at the country or regional level in mutually-identified countries or regions (partner countries).
The two agencies will also look to facilitate site visits to cross-border projects.

The partnership is also significant in the context of the US-India Joint Strategic Vision for the Asia-Pacific and Indian Ocean Region which the two countries signed in 2015.

MCC: Know More
  • Formed: January 2004
  • Headquarters: Washington, D.C.
  • Employees: Around 300 (2011)
  • CEO: Dana J. Hyde
  • Website: www.mcc.gov

▼ Guess which password was the most common for 2016?   [01-16-17]

It is none other than 123456 followed by 123456789 and qwerty according to scientists who reviewed 10 million security codes becoming public following data breach.

In the top 10 list, 4 passwords were six characters or shorter namely '12345678', '111111', '1234567890', '1234567', 'password', '123123', '987654321.'

Brute force cracking software and hardware can beat these passwords in seconds!

Nearly 17 per cent of users are safeguarding their accounts with '123456'.

What really perplexed scientists is that so many website operators are not enforcing password security best practices.

The study found that the list of most-frequently used passwords has changed little over the past few years, which means that user education has limits.

The presence of passwords like '1q2w3e4r' and '123qwe' indicates that some users attempt to use unpredictable patterns to secure passwords,.

Dictionary-based password crackers know how to look for sequential key variations and can crack such passwords in seconds.

▼ ILO report says unemployment on the rise in India   [01-16-17]

According to the World Employment and Social Outlook for 2017, number of unemployed people is set to rise in India by 1 lakh in 2017.

The ILO report has further stated a rise by another 2 lakh in 2018.

The report was based on projections of econometric modelling in Nov 2016.

Report found India to be in the category of emerging nations.

Key Statistics: ILO Report

India

  • Number of jobless in India will increase from 17.7 million in 2016 to 18 million by 2018.
  • India's unemployment rate is expected to go down from 3.5% to 3.4% in 2017.
  • India performed slightly well in terms of job creation in 2016, as majority of the 13.4 million new employment were created.

  • Global

  • Globally, the number of jobless people will increase by 3.4 million in 2017.
  • The global unemployment rate is expected to rise slightly from 5.7 to 5.8% in 2017.
  • It is held pace of labour force growth will outstrip job creation.
  • The rise in unemployment levels and rates in 2017 will be driven by deteriorating labour market conditions in emerging countries.
  • Vulnerable forms of employment, which include own account workers and contributing family workers are expected to stay above 42% of total employment.
  • About 1.4 billion people are likely to be engaged in such employment in 2017, with the number rising by 11 million per year.
  • Sub-Saharan Africa and Southern Asia will be the most affected.
  • In developing countries, the number of workers earning less than US$3.10 per day is even expected to increase by more than 5 million over the next two years.
  • Global uncertainty and the lack of decent jobs are, among some of the other factors influencing social ecosystems.

▼ Socio Economic and Caste Census Expert Group submits report   [01-16-17]

The expert group set up to prepare Socio Economic and Caste Census has submitted the report to the Ministry of Rural Development.

Expert group was headed by former Finance Secretary Submit Bose.

Objective of the group is to study criteria for allocation of resources to states and identify beneficiaries under several programmes using SECC data.

The MoRD will use the SECC data for identifying beneficiaries and generating priority list of beneficiaries under the programmes.

In association with this, appropriate guidelines for inter state allocation to cover households were issued

Households will be covered under Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana and Deendayal Antyodaya Yojana/National Rural Livelihood Mission.

Use of SECC data and TIN number enables the government to improve the efficacy of interventions and result in improved outcome.

SECC can function like a Social Registry Information System, and use of its daya will lead to better budgetary planning and allocation of resources.

▼ Guided Pinaka rocket mark-II successfully launched    [01-16-17]

Pinaka rocket converted to a Guided Pinaka was successfully test-fired from launch complex-III, ITR, Chandipur on Jan 13, 2017.

Research Center Imarat of DRDO developed the navigation system for the Guided Pinaka.

The Pinaka rocket Mark-II, which developed from Pinaka Mark-I is equipped with a navigation, guidance and control kit has been transformed to a Guided Pinaka.

This conversion has bettered the range and accuracy of Pinaka.

The radars, electro-optical and telemetry systems at Chandipur tracked and monitored the vehicle all through the flight-path.

The Guided Pinaka is developed jointly by:

  • ARDE Pune,
  • RCI Hyderabad and
  • DRDL Hyderabad.
ITR Chandipur gave the range and launch support.

The army has two Pinaka regiments currently.

The range of the Pinaka multiple launch rocket System by DRDO has a range of 40km for Mark-1.

The Mark-11 Pinaka has a range of 65km.

The ministry of defence will spend INR 3,306 cr on adding two more Pinaka regiments.

The Pinaka rocket are manufactured by Tata Group and L & T.

The Pinaka system is mounted on a truck.

From this system, 12 rockets with extremely explosive material can be fired in a span of only 44 seconds.

The rocket was fired from a multi-barrel rocket launcher (MBRL).

Instant reaction time and high rate of fire of the system gives an edge to the Army during a low-intensity conflict situation.

The weapon's capability for several types of warheads makes it deadly for the enemy. It can even destroy solid structures.

▼ Veteran Congress leader Eduardo Faleiro conferred Portuguese knighthood   [01-16-17]

Portuguese Prime Minister Antonio Costa on 13th Jan 2017 honoured former Union Minister of State for External Affairs Eduardo Faleiro.

Faleiro was honoured with the 'Grande Oficial da Ordem do Infante da Henrique', the Portuguese national order of knighthood.

The order was bestowed on Mr. Faleiro (76), a veteran Congress leader, by Mr. Costa.

Bestowed on individuals for services in the expansion of Portuguese culture, the order honours those who promote Portugal history and its values.

Faleiro studied in Portugal. He was an MLA in Goa and the MP of Both Houses of Parliament.

He established good diplomatic relations as Union Minister of MEA with Portugal.

Paulo Varela Gomes, a historian and ex director of the Fundacao Oriente, an institution for cultural activities in Goa, was posthumously awarded a Cultural Merit Medal.

His wife Patricia Vieira accepted the medal.

▼ Operation Sard Hawa BSF to protect infiltration in Rajasthan   [01-16-17]

To keep vigil on instances of infiltration due to dense fog in the western international border of Rajasthan, BSF on 15th Jan 2017 launched Sard Hawa, an operation.

The operation will continue till January 28.

The purpose of the operation is to keep a hawk's eye on the international border, where vigil has been beefed-up and officers have also been asked to be part of operation to motivate jawans.

About BSF

  • Headquarters New Delhi, India
  • Minister responsible: Rajnath Singh, Minister of Home Affairs
  • Agency executive: K.K Sharma Director General, BSF
  • Parent agency: Ministry of Home Affairs

▼ World's largest library gets its first librarian for the day   [01-16-17]

A 4 year old Daliyah Arana from Gainesville Georgia became the first ever librarian for the day at US Library of Congress.

The US Library of Congress is the world's largest library and is located in the United States.

Arana was librarian on Jan 11, 2017.

She has read more than 1,000 books. She joined Librarian of Congress Carla Hayden.

Hayden made history in 2016, being the first female and the first African-American to hold the position.

Arana has taken part in 1,000 Books Before Kindergarten Programme –a programme that promotes reading for young kids.

The Library of Congress now plans to invite other young book-lovers as 'Librarians For The Day' in the future.

US Library of Congress: Know More

  • Address: 101 Independence Ave SE, Washington, DC 20540, USA
  • Founded: 1800, Washington, D.C., United States
  • Director: Carla Hayden (Librarian of Congress)

▼ China's first aircraft formation completes war drills on SCS islands   [01-16-17]

China's first aircraft carrier formation moved close to Taiwan and conducted drills in the disputed South China Sea.

It has returned to Qingdao port after finishing exercises and testing combat-capability.

The formation included aircraft carrier Liaoning, a number of destroyers, some J-15 carrier-based fighter jets and helicopters.

The fleet sailed through the Bohai Sea the Yellow Sea, the East China Sea and the South China sea.
Formation passed through the Miyakato, Bashi and Taiwan straits, according to the People's Liberation Army Navy (PLAN).

Taiwan protectively rushed fighter jets and naval ships.

J-15 fighter jets on board the carrier carried out exercises including taking off and landing in different hydrological and meteorological conditions. It also is capable of air-combat tactics, air refuelling and others.

China is currently manufacturing second aircraft carrier with plans to build a third one.

▼ SeaBubbles : Flying water taxis powered by river currents   [01-16-17]

Flying water taxis run on power generated by river currents could be tested on Thames in London; the electric boats are called SeaBubbles.

These have hydrofoils to lift them out of the water, reducing the drag allowing them to reach 25 knots.

This creates a ride likened to the magic carpet.

This comes with specially designed dock with numerous turbines in the water. As the solar panels will supply power needed to run the boats, they are “off grid.”

Five SeaBubbles are due to start a trial on the River Seine in Paris too.

SeaBubble was more efficient than traditional boats because of the hydrofoils. As you lift the hull out of the water you lose 40% of the drag.

With the system, with the water turbines below the docks, one can create the energy needed to operate the fleet.

The river currents are 24 hours.

It stores the energy in 'power walls' (batteries) to run the taxis for 12 to 15 hours, depending on the power of the river and the size of the turbines.

▼ INS Khanderi: India's second indigenously built Scorpene launched   [01-13-17]

INS Khanderi, the second indigenously built Scorpene submarine, was launched. It was at the Mazagon Dock Shipbuilders Limited (MDL) in Mumbai on 12th Jan 2017.

The submarine's features include superior stealth and the ability to launch a crippling attack on the enemy using precision guided weapons.

The attack can be launched with torpedoes, as well as with tube-launched anti-ship missiles, while underwater or on surface.

The submarine is designed to operate in all theatres, including the tropics.

All means and communications are provided to ensure interoperability with other components of a naval task force.

It can undertake multifarious types of missions, i.e anti-surface warfare, anti-submarine warfare, intelligence gathering, mine laying, area surveillance, etc.

Khanderi is the second of the six submarines being built at the MDL in collaboration with DCNS of France.

It is part of Project-75 of the Indian Navy.

The first one, Kalvari, is completing sea trials and will be commissioned shortly into the Navy.

Khanderi is named after the Island fort of Maratha forces ensuring their supremacy at sea in the late 17th century.

Khanderi is also the name of Tiger Shark.

Submarine has been built on principle of modular construction. This involves dividing the submarine into a number of sections and outfitting them concurrently.

All equipment has been installed in the submarine, with 95 per cent cabling and piping also being completed.

The important safety milestone of vacuum-testing was completed in the first attempt itself on January 5.

This matched the record of Kalvari.

As per tradition, ships and submarines of the Navy are brought alive again after decommissioning.

The first INS Khanderi was commissioned into the Navy on December 6, 1968 and decommissioned on October 18, 1989.

Indian Submarine Day

  • The Indian Navy’s submarine arm will complete 50 years on December 8, 2017.
  • Submarine Day is celebrated every year to commemorate the birth of the submarine arm with the induction of the first submarine (Kalvari, into the Navy on December 8, 1967).
  • Submarine contracting nations were joined by India on Feb 7, 1992 with the commissioning of INS Shalki.
  • This was followed by INS Shankul.

▼ CNS Kaiyangxing or Mizar: Sixth electronic reconnaissance ship by China   [01-13-17]

CNS Kaiyangxing or Mizar, China's new electronic reconnaissance ship has been added to its expanding fleet. The PLA now has 6 electronic reconnaissance vessels.

In 2016, the PLA Navy commissioned 18 ships, including missile destroyers, corvettes and guided missile frigates.

China has also said it is building a second aircraft carrier. China's only carrier is the second-hand, Soviet-built Liaoning.

CNS Kaiyangxing or Mizar, with hull code 856, was on Tuesday delivered to a combat support flotilla of the North Sea Fleet at the eastern port of Qingdao.

Capable of all-weather, round-the-clock reconnaissance on multiple and different targets, it is a sophisticated system.

China Is currently involved in a spat with its neighbours on SCS islands.

Brunei, Malaysia, the Philippines, Taiwan and Vietnam also have claims on these islands.

▼ Aziz Ansari: First Indian American to host Saturday Night Live   [01-13-17]

Indian American comedian and TV star Aziz Ansari will become comedy sketch SNL's first host of South Asian descent.

He was also the first Indian American to be nominated for outstanding lead actor in a comedy at the Emmy.

The 33-year-old stand up comic won his first Emmy for comedy series “Master of None” for outstanding writing.

Other “Saturday Night Live” hosts of Asian descent include Lucy Liu and Jackie Chan, who both hosted the show in 2000. Bruno Mars and Fred Armisen, who are multiracial, have also hosted.

▼ IGI Airport - First in world to adopt performance digital platform Arc   [01-13-17]

Indira Gandhi International Airport claimed to be the world's first aerodrome to adopt Arc.

Arc is a unique performance and benchmarking digital platform.

The digital platform at T3 helps in monitoring and tracking building performance and has been developed by Green Business Certification Inc and US Green Building Council.

USGBC is a global certifying body for all Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design projects.

It will be used by airport operators to measure and manage performance of the airport on resource consumption, quality of passenger space and carbon emissions.

Airport authorities will measure, manage and improve performance against other green building projects in the world.

IGI’s Terminal 3 had earned LEED Gold certification in 2011 under the new construction category.

Know More About LEED

  • Stands for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design
  • It is one of the most popular green building certification programs used worldwide.
  • Developed by the non profit US Green Building Council.
  • It includes a set of rating systems for design, construction, operation and maintenance of green buildings, homes and neighbourhoods.
  • It aims to build owners and operators to be environmentally responsible and use resources effectively.

  • Top 10 Busiest Airports in the World

  • In 2015, twelve of the 30 busiest airports are located North America.
  • Six are located in Europe; one each in France, Germany, the Netherlands, Spain, Turkey and the United Kingdom.
  • The rest are located in Asia; four are in China and one each in India, Indonesia, Japan, Malaysia, Singapore, South Korea, Thailand and the UAE.

▼ Largest tremor in Andaman Sumatra to have created plate boundary on Indian Ocean floor   [01-13-17]

Largest tremor that shook the Andaman-Sumatra region in 2012 may be resulting in a plate boundary on the Indian Ocean floor.

This is according to scientists who warn that the new fault system could trigger more quakes in the future.

Evidence of a possible new plate boundary forming on the floor of the Indian Ocean in the Wharton Basin has been found.

A slip-strike quake occurs when two plates slide horizontally against one another.

Such quakes can be caused by deformations that occur in plates distant from fault lines as pressure builds up across a plate.

They can lead to inter-plate earthquakes and cause a plate to break, resulting in a new boundary and this in turn can lead to even more quakes.

It is this scenario that the researchers believe happened in 2012 when two earthquakes struck the Andaman-Sumatran region (north-west part) of the Indian Ocean - the largest inter-plate earthquakes ever recorded.

Data also proved the plate had broken along a 1,000 km fracture zone, resulting in a new plate boundary - one that is likely to be the site of future fault-slip quakes.

Know More About Wharton Basin

  • Wharton Basin is the marine area of the north east quarter of the Indian Ocean.
  • It is named after William Wharton (1843-1905), Hydrographer of the Navy.
  • Alternative names are Cocos Basin (after the Cocos Islands) and West Australian Basin.
  • It lies east of the Ninety East Ridge and west of Western Australia.
  • It features a mix of Indian and Australian plates and has not been charted since 1960s.

▼ Dhanush to be inducted to Indian army   [01-10-17]

Indian Army has carried out user validation trials of indigenous Advanced Towed Artillery Gun System Dhanush in the Himalayas.

This clears the way for induction in the army. Proof firing tests of Dhanush armament systems were carried out using technical trials in 2016.

DRDO in collaboration with private sector companies has developed this gun system– it was designed by DRDO Armament Research and Development Establishment.

This is the nation's first self made, long range artillery gun. The gun system was designed by Gun Carriage Factory in Jabalpur, part of the Ordnance Factory Board.

What is Project 155?

Project 155 has been a code name for Dhanush since Oct 2012. Efforts to upgrade the Bofors gun beyond 30km was not successful.

From 39 to 52 calibre guns, the systems have advanced considerably.

Features of Dhanush

This is a self propelled gun with limited mobility. It is designed to shoot and scoot, to avoid being bombarded by enemy radars.

The gun can cover a distance of 5km in an hour's time. Weighing 12.7 tonnes and INR 13 crore a piece, Dhanush has seen investment of INR 100 crore till date.

81 percent of the 8500 components which make a Dhanush gun coming from indigenous sources. This is a Make in India initiative.

It can fire older as well as next generation charges. Dhanush has improved laying speed and firing accuracies.

It can correct itself using data even when it fires.

Target impact area covered increased by 100% over Bofors.

Dhanush has modified loading trough for all types of charges. Modified double baffle muzzle brake limits stress on the structure. Gun can auto lay and has a fire control computer on board.

From indigenously producing full manual 105mm Light Field Gun with a range of 17km, Dhanush represents a massive change.

Dhanush 155 MM/45 calibre gun is based on the 1980s’ Bofors FH-77B/39 Calibre artillery gun design. It was aided by the transfer of technology (ToT) clause signed with the Swedish company.

This gun system was first unveiled in February 2014.

Dhanush: Know More

  • Designer: Ordnance Factories Board/DRDO
  • Designed: 2010-2013
  • Manufacturer: Ordnance Factories Board
  • Unit cost: US$ 2.11 million (INR 14 crore)
  • Produced: 2015 onwards
  • Number built: 6 (2015) / 414 (by 2020)

▼ Norway : First country to switch off FM radio network   [01-9-17]

Norway is set to become the first country in the world to switch off its FM radio network.

The Scandinavian country’s parliament has approved a proposal to shift to Digital Audio Broadcasting (DAB).

The shutdown of FM (frequency modulation) radio will begin on January 11, 2017 from the northern city of Bodoe.

Norwegian government claims that Radio digitization will help to save money and allow national radio stations to invest more in radio content.

It will also open the door to a far greater range of radio channels, benefiting listeners across the country.

Know More About Norway

  • Capital: Oslo
  • Currency: Norwegian krone
  • Population: 5.084m (2013) World Bank
  • Official languages: Norwegian, Bokmål, Nynorsk, Saami, North

▼ Astronaut Peggy Whitson : Oldest woman to spacewalk   [01-9-17]

When Peggy Whitson completed a spacewalk for NASA on Jan 7, 2016, the 56 year old became the oldest woman to perform one.

That's no mean feat because the spacewalk was six-and-a-half hours long. When she took off for the International Space Station in November, Whitson also became the oldest woman to travel to space ever.

When she finishes her current mission, called Expedition 50/51, Whitson will hold the record for the most time spent in space–377 days-by any American astronaut. This was her seventh spacewalk

On her current mission, Whitson will spend six months in space - in fact, she will turn 57 up there next month. The purpose of the mission is a power upgrade on the International Space Station.

This was the first of two power upgrade spacewalks. During the six-hour-and-thirty-two-minute spacewalk, the two NASA astronauts successfully installed three new adapter plates and hooked up electrical connections for three of the six new lithium-ion batteries on the International Space Station, according to NASA scientists.

Know More About NASA

  • Formed : July 29, 1958; 58 years ago
  • Preceding agency : NACA (1915–1958)
  • Jurisdiction: United States government
  • Headquarters: Washington, D.C.
  • Employees: Around 17,345

  • Key Officers
  • Charles Bolden, Administrator
  • Dava Newman, Deputy Administrator

▼ Hayden Cross: First British man to give birth   [01-9-17]

A British man, Hayden Cross has put his gender transition on hold to have a baby after finding a sperm donor on social media and is expected to become the first UK male to give birth.

Living as a man for three years, Cross is already part-way through hormone treatment to transform from a woman to a man. But the 20-year-old's full transition was paused after the UK's state-funded National Health Service (NHS) refused to carry out a 4,000-pounds process to freeze his eggs.

The ex supermarket worker found a sperm donor through FB and is now pregnant. He is expected to be the first UK male to give birth.

▼ Centre to ban 18 pesticides   [01-9-17]

Acting on advice of an expert committee, the Centre will ban use of 18 pesticides in India as it involves risk to humans and animals.

The Union agriculture ministry has issued an order, asking manufacturers, importers and state authorities to completely ban 12 of the identified pesticides from January 1, 2018 and remaining six from December 31, 2020.

Though these were banned or restricted in other areas, they continued to be used in India. Some of these were heavily toxic for honey bees and birds.

Use of these pesticides also contaminates water bodies and thereby affects aquatic organisms.

The decision to ban these pesticides is taken after considering recommendations of an expert committee, headed by former national professor of the Indian Agricultural Research Institute (IARI) Anupam Varma.

The committee, constituted in July 2013, had reviewed use of 66 pesticides which are banned or restricted in many countries.

Since the ban will come into force beginning early next year, the ministry has instructed current importers and manufacturers to incorporate in the label and leaflet of the product about the danger associated with the use of specific pesticide to water bodies and aquaculture or its toxic effect to human being, honey bees and birds.

▼ In a first, Sikh US army personnel allowed faith based directives   [01-6-17]

In a milestone for Sikhs, US Army commanders have been ordered to allow those of the faith to wear turbans, karas and keep their beards.

Army Secretary Eric Fanning on 4th Jan 2016 signed the order that said the soldier’s brigade-level commander will approve a request for a religious accommodation” by Sikhs. Up till now Sikhs had to get permission from the Army Secretary, a cumbersome process prone to delays and not automatically given.

Permission has now been given except in certain cases involving their safety like exposure to poison gases. Once it is granted they can keep the exemption for most positions in the military.

The order also allows Muslims to wear hijabs. Muslim men can also keep beards.

▼ UK ambassador to EU, Sir Ivan Rogers resigns   [01-4-17]

The UK ambassador to the EU, Sir Ivan Rogers on 3rd Jan 2016 unexpectedly resigned from the post weeks after Brexit negotiations with the economic bloc.

Senior diplomat Rogers was expected to lead Brexit negotiations with the economic bloc but said instead that leaving the EU could take up to 10 years.

Labour MP Hilary Benn is the chair of the UK Parliament Brexit Select Committee and said this will obstruct the handover.

Rogers was at the post of United Kingdom Permanent Representation to the European Union (UKRep).

This post represents the UK in negotiations that take place in the EU.

The team is sourced from 20 UK govt departments to ensure UK policies are explained to:

  • EU member states
  • European Commission
  • European parliament

  • The civil servant was set to leave his post in Nov 2017, but is stepping down earlier.

    Brexit

  • PM May announced invocation of A50 of the Lisbon Treaty.
  • Official talks as per this treaty will be conducted on Brexit.

  • Organisations advocating and campaigning for a referendum:

  • People's Pledge Labour for a Referendum

  • Leave:

  • Vote Leave (official lead group)
  • Business for Britain Conservatives for Britain Students for Britain Labour Leave Leave.EU
  • Bpoplive (cancelled) Grassroots Out Get Britain Out The Freedom Association
  • Better Off Out
  • Other anti-EU advocacy organisations :
  • Bruges Group Campaign for an Independent Britain

    Remain:
  • Britain Stronger in Europe (official lead group) Labour In for Britain European Movement UK
  • Other pro-EU advocacy organisations:
  • Britain in Europe
  • British Influence Business for New Europe
  • New Europeans Nucleus

▼ France levies terror tax   [01-2-17]

French Government is levying ‘terror tax’ on the property insurance policies of French citizens to help finance a fund for victims of the extremist attacks that have recently hit the country.

The measure comes into force on from 1 January 2017 and requires policy holders to contribute 5.90 euros.

French government earlier in October 2016 had launched scheme that about 90 million insurance policies are floating the fund which currently has reserves of 1.45 billion euros.

More than 200 people have died in France in attacks over the last 20 months.

▼ Union Health Ministry issues new guidelines for EHR   [01-2-17]

The Union health ministry has issued new standards and guidelines for implementation of interoperable electronic health records (EHR).

This is a move seen as the foundation for digitalisation of healthcare data in the country.

The standards, notified by the ministry, aim to set uniform norms for capturing, storage, retrieval, exchange, and analytics of healthcare data and information, including images and clinical codes.

It also puts forth guidelines for maintaining privacy and confidentiality of such information.

With rise of self and home care devices and systems, meaningful healthcare data is constantly getting generated.

Such data also have long-term clinical relevance and helps the government and healthcare agencies establish public health trends in specific areas.

The move is also expected to help patients as they would not be required to repeat diagnosis and similar procedures, which will translate into faster treatment at lower cost.

What is an EHR?

  • An EHR is a collection of various medical records that get generated during any clinical encounter or events.
  • EHR, in line with PM Modi's Digital India initiative, will build a cloud based hospital application where real-time health data will be fed from all hospitals.
  • This will enable the government to streamline data, better analyse health indicators and formulate strategies accordingly.

▼ UNSC welcomes ceasefire in Syrian civil war   [01-2-17]

United Nations Security Council on 31st Dec 2016 welcomed a ceasefire in the Syrian civil war.

Rebel groups threatened to abandon the two day old truce if violations persisted. A resolution welcoming the ceasefire, the third truce this year, sought to end 6 weeks of war.

It was unanimously adopted by the 15 member council meeting in New York.

Deal brokered by Russia and Turkey which back opposing sides, reduced violence but firefighters, air strikes and shelling went on in certain areas.

Factors belonging to the Free Syrian army- a loose alliance of militias excluding more radical islamist groups- indicated that government forces and Iranian backed Lebanese Hezbollah fighters have been trying to push rebels back in the Wadi Baradavalley, northwest of Damascus.

Continued violations by the regime and bombardments and attempts to attack areas under control of the revolutionary factions will make the agreement null and void.

Rebels and political opposition said the government side was amassing forces to launch a ground attack in the area.

FSA factions indicated in a separate statement that they would abandon the truce deal if Russia, whose air power has helped President Bashar al-Assad to turn the tide of the war, did not use its influence to halt the Wadi Barada attacks.

Air raids around Wadi Bharadahad stopped and the ceasefire still held, though clashes in the area were continuing.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights monitoring group confirmed there had been fighting in the area, which is the source of capital's water.

The resolution has also welcomed plans for talks in Kazakhstan before the resumption of UN brokered talks.

The war has killed more than 300,000 people and made more than 11 million homeless.

In particular, Turkey is trying to push back Kurdish forcesand the jihadist Islamic State, both excluded from the deal,from areas south of its border.

The position of other Islamist groups such as Jabhat Fatehal-Sham and Ahrar al-Sham with respect to the ceasefire is unclear with both having criticised it.

▼ Beipanjiang Bridge: World's tallest bridge opens for use    [01-2-17]

Beipanjiang Bridge is the world's highest bridge that connects the province of Guizhou and Yunnan in the mountainous part of China.

It was opened to traffic on 29th Dec 2016.

The bridge spans 1850 feet or 564 m over the gorge above the Beipan river.

Built at a total cost of USD 146.7 million dollars, the bridge will reduce road travel time between Xiunwei and Limpanshui from 5 hours to 2.

As per reports, the bridge surpassed the 1837-foot-tall Sidu River Bridge for its world record title.

While Beipanjiang Bridge is the highest in the world, the world's tallest bridge at the height of 1125 feet the French Millau viaduct has an unbroken record.

China is home to 8 of 10 highest bridges in the world. Most of these bridges are found in rural parts of the country namely:

  • Beipanjiang Bridge, China
  • Sidu River Bridge , China
  • Puli Bridge, China
  • Qingshui River Bridge, China
  • Hegigio Gorge Pipeline Bridge, Papua New Guinea (world's highest pipeline bridge)
  • Baluarte Bridge, Mexico (highest cable-stayed bridge in the world and also the highest bridge in the Americas)
  • Baling River Bridge, China
  • Beipan River Guanxing Highway Bridge, China
  • Liuchong River Bridge, China
  • Dimuhe River Bridge, China
  • Aizhai Bridge, China (world's highest tunnel-to-tunnel bridge)

  • Interesting facts about Beipanjiang Bridge

  • The bridge that hangs above the Beipan River was developed in three years.
  • The 1341-meter long bridge is a four-lane roadway.
  • The bridge is named after Beipan River over which it was developed.
  • The bridge is a part of 2115 mile Hangrui Highway that will connect Hangzhou to the China-Myanmar border crossing in Ruili.
  • As per reports, may be Beipanjiang is the highest bridge in the world, but France’s Millau viaduct remains the world’s tallest bridge at a height of 1125 feet.

▼ Shanghai-Kunming Line: World's longest high speed railway   [01-2-17]

China on 28th Dec 2016 commenced operations of Shanghai-Kunming line, the longest high speed railway in the world.

Link joins the prosperous east coast to the less developed southwestern part of the nation.

Launch of the Shanghai-Kunming line is an indication that China's high speed rail grid has taken shape and connects all provinces on most of the Chinese mainland.

The line is part of the China Railway High Speed's System of High Speed Rail Corridors, beginning in Shanghai and ending in Kunming.

China Railway High Speed is a high speed rail service operated by China Railway.

Hexie Hao is the designation for rolling stock operated for the service and CRH’s introduction was a major part of the sixth national railway speedup.

It was implemented on 18th April 2007 and every high speed train in commercial use in China is called CRH.

CRH1/2A/2B/2E/5 are expected to have a maximum speed of 250 km/h. CRH2C/3 have a maximum speed of 350 km/h.

The new trainsets CRH380A have a maximum test speed of 416.6 km/h. CRH380BL, the fastest trainset, attained a maximum test speed of 487.3 km/h.

Know More About the Shanghai-Kunming line

  • Length: 2552 km
  • Line is the longest east-west high speed railway in China.
  • It passes through 5 provinces of Zhejiang, Hunan, Jiangxi, Guizhou and Yunnn.
  • It completes the journey from Shanghai to Kunming in 11 hours as compared to 34 hours.
  • Maximum speed of the train is 330 km/hour.

Chronology of events
Colombia’s Congress has approved an amnesty law to protect thousands of demobilising Farc guerrilla fighters from prosecution for minor crimes committed during the country’s 52-year war.
China’s State Grid Corporation is set to build a $1.5-billion power line across Pakistan to enable the transmission of 4,000 megawatts (MW) of electricity from the country’s north to south.
Israel country issued an "immediate and severe" travel warning for Western tourists in India, citing an immediate threat of attack on tourist targets during New Year celebrations, particularly in south-west part of the country.
Professional road and track racing cyclist Sir Bradley Wiggins (36) from Britain has announced retirement from cycling.
India’s first transgender school opened in Kochi. The school, named Sahaj International, was inaugurated by transgender activist, writer and actor Kalki Subramaniam at Thrikkakara in Kerala’s Ernakulam district.
Pakistan’s President Mamnoon Hussain conferred the nation’s highest civilian honour ‘Nishan-e-Imtiaz’ on Army chief Qamar Bajwa and Chairman Joint Chiefs of Staff Committee Zubair Hayat.
The Border Security Force (BSF) is going to install laser walls and smart sensors at Indo-Bangla International Border in West Bengal to plug the porous riverine and unmanned terrain
Finland became the first country in Europe to pay its unemployed citizens a basic monthly income, amounting to 560 euros (USD 587).
The United Nations General Assembly declared 2017 as the International Year of Sustainable Tourism for Development recalling the potential of tourism to advance the universal 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
30 Indian origin innovators, entrepreneurs and leaders have been featured in the 2017 edition of Forbes’ list of super achievers under the age of 30 who seek to break the status quo and transform the world.
The Union Commerce and Industry Minister Nirmala Sitharaman on 4 Jan 2017 launched an Intellectual Property Rights (IPR) Enforcement Toolkit for police in New Delhi to catch criminals violating copyright.
Russia has sent two warships to the Philippines in the first official navy-to-navy contact between the countries.
Indonesia has suspended military cooperation with Australia after material deemed offensive to Indonesians was found on an Australian military base.
The Union Cabinet has approved an agreement between India and Uruguay for cooperation in matters related to customs.
The two-day Assam Biotech Conclave was held in Guwahati, inaugurated by Chief Minister Sarbanand Sonowal in presence of Science and Technology Minister Keshab Mahanta.
Afghanistan at the Torkham international border between Pakistan and Afghanistan announced that Pakistani nationals without a valid passport and visa will not be permitted to enter Afghanistan starting January 1, 2017.
The Gujarat Government has declared the one kilometer area near Hathijan village in Ahmedabad district as H5N1 bird flu hit.
Andhra Pradesh Government has announced a monetary reward of Rs 100 crore to anyone from the state government who wins Nobel Prize.
India asked the World Bank not to rush in brokering a deal on its dispute with Pakistan over Ratle and Kishenganga projects coming up in Jammu and Kashmir.
East Timor plans to negotiate a larger share of the oil and gas wealth in the seabed between the impoverished Southeast Asian nation and Australia by restarting talks on a maritime boundary.
The 20th Edition of the National Conference for e-Governance 2016-17 has started in Visakhapatnam, Andhra Pradesh. The theme of this year’s conference is ‘Internet of Things and e-Governance’ and will be covering newly evolving areas of e-Governance across five plenary sessions.
The Union Home Minister Shri Rajnath Singh laid the foundation stone of the new NDRF campus at Konda Pavuluru, Gannavaram (Mandal), Krishna, Andhra Pradesh.
The security along the China-Pakistan border would be further tightened "to prevent terrorists from entering or leaving the region illegally in 2017”; This is being seen as China's signalling its displeasure with Pakistan over its inability to stop terrorists from sneaking into its restive border region of Xinjiang.
Ministry of Water Resources, River Development and Ganga Rejuvenation has organised the third National conference called “Jal Manthan-III” on January 13, 2017 in New Delhi.
Russian rhythmic gymnast Yana Kudryavtseva has retired from competition aged just 19 following a brief but dazzling career.
Kerala started a boat service that is solar powered; Goyal launched the service in Vaikom-Cherthala-Thavanakadavu waterways along with chief minister Pinarayi Vijayan.The first solar-powered boat was launched recently by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in Varanasi.
Christopher Steele, who wrote reports on compromising material Russian operatives allegedly had collected on U.S. President-elect Donald Trump, is a former officer of MI-6, Britain’s Secret Intelligence Service.
The 2017 DEFCOM was inaugurated in Jan 17 in Delhi jointly by CII and Indian army. This year the theme for the conference is ‘Infrastructure and Skilled Human Resource for Digital Army’
Telangana state government has signed MoU with the Union Ministry of Civil Aviation and Airports Authority of India (AAI) for the Regional Connectivity Scheme (RCS).
The United States of America (US) has announced the end of a 20-year economic embargo on Sudan by lifting trade and financial sanctions.
Joint military exercises between the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and British forces started in the Gulf Arab state. Dubbed “Sea Dagger 2017”, the exercises were held “within the framework of cooperation.
Japan and Indonesia have reaffirmed their commitment to cooperate on maritime security and deepen defence ties as both nations feud with China over sea territory.
China has handed over two ships to the Pakistan to safeguard the strategic Gwadar port and trade routes under the ambitious China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), named as Hingol and Basol.
Five million Somalis, or more than four out of 10 people, do not have enough to eat because of poor rains and fighting between the Islamist militant group al Shabaab and Somalia's African Union-backed government: UN.
All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS), New Delhi here today signed MoUs with NBCC (India) Limited, HSCC (India) Limited and with HITES HLL Life Care Ltd to expand infrastructure and other facilities.
The Union Cabinet has given its approval to the proposal for India’s taking full membership of the International Vaccine Institute (IVI) Governing Council.
The Union Cabinet has approved holding negotiations for Trade Agreement with Peru on trade in goods, services and investment. The trade agreement will be an important landmark in India-Peru relations
The 58th edition of India International Garment Fair (IIGF) began in New Delhi. It is organised by Apparel Export Promotion Council India (AEPCI).
Mawlynnong village in Meghalaya has become a role model for other states in maintaining cleanliness; It is also claimed as Asia’s cleanest village.