Latest News & Updates

Latest News & Updates, Current Affairs And Breaking Stories

Makaravilakku is an annual festival held on Makar Sankranti in Kerala, India at the shrine of Sabarimala. Makara vilakku is a light lit at Ponnambalamedu, a plateau across the Sabarimala shrine. The light, believed to have celestial origins, is shown three times by the chief priest of Pamba temple. Pamba is the base station of Sabarimala.

The light is dubbed as Makara vilakku. This ritual is done after the Sirius star appears in the sky. This ritual had been done by Malaya araya tribals in the past. When the Travancore Devaswom Board took over the administration of the temple in the early 1950s, the tribal community lost that right.

GSAT- 31

India’s telecommunication satellite, GSAT-31 has been successfully launched from Kourou launch base, French Guiana by Ariane-5 VA-247. GSAT-31 will augment the Ku-band transponder capacity in Geostationary Orbit. The satellite will provide continuity to operational services on some of the in-orbit satellites.

Applications

GSAT-31 will be used for supporting VSAT networks, Television uplinks. Digital Satellite News Gathering (DSNG), DTH-television services, cellular backhaul connectivity and many such applications. The satellite also provides wide beam coverage using a wide band transponder. Two Ku-band beacon downlink signals are transmitted by the satellite for ground tracking purpose.

Kerala Set up Drug Price Monitoring Unit

Kerala has become the first Indian state to set up a price monitoring and research unit (PMRU) to track violation of prices of essential drugs and medical devices under the Drugs Price Control Order (DPCO). The monitoring unit shall be chaired by the Health Secretary of the state with Drug Controller as its member secretary. The unit shall act as a watchdog offering technical help to the State Drug Controllers and the NPPA to monitor notified prices of medicines.

Monkey Fever

Kyasanur Forest disease (KFD) is caused by Kyasanur Forest disease virus (KFDV), a member of the virus family Flaviviridae. Hard ticks (Hemaphysalis spinigera) are the reservoir of KFD virus and once infected, remain so for life. Rodents, shrews, and monkeys are common hosts for KFDV after being bitten by an infected tick.

After an incubation period of 3-8 days, the symptoms of KFD begin suddenly with chills, fever, and headache. Severe muscle pain with vomiting, gastrointestinal symptoms and bleeding problems may occur 3-4 days after initial symptom onset. Patients may experience abnormally low blood pressure, and low platelet, red blood cell, and white blood cell counts.

Government Grants Divisional Status to Ladakh

Jammu and Kashmir Governor granted Ladakh a divisional status. The J&K government has approved the creation of a separate administrative and revenue division for Ladakh. It will comprise Leh and Kargil districts, with headquarters at Leh. Earlier, Ladakh was a part of the Kashmir division.

Ladakh’s Kargil and Leh districts already have separate hill development councils for local administrative powers. The move leaves the Kashmir valley geographically the smallest division at 15,948 sq. km, Jammu division at 26,293 sq. km and Ladakh, the biggest division, at 86,909 sq. km.

Why done?

During the winter months, the entire Ladakh region remains cut-off from the rest of the country for almost six months. The remoteness and inaccessibility of the area makes it eligible for establishing a separate division.

Benefits

Ladakh will now get its own Divisional Commissioner and Inspector General of Police. Divisional status would facilitate this region in a great way to progress.  Routine administrative clearances for Leh and Kargil can be obtained at Divisional headquarters in Leh. Apart from that, new Division also brings opportunities of employment of different levels in various departments for the locals.

Abu Dhabi has Announced Hindi as 3rd Official Language in Courts

Abu Dhabi has included Hindi as the third official language used in its courts, alongside Arabic and English, as part of a move designed to improve access to justice. This is aimed at helping Hindi speakers to learn about litigation procedures, their rights and duties without a language barrier.

According to official figures, the UAE population is estimated to be around five million of which 2/3rd are immigrants from foreign countries. The Indian community in the UAE, numbering 2.6 million, constitutes 30 per cent of the total population and is the largest expatriate community in the country.

 Private players get Government Nod to set up Vedic Board

The Centre has cleared the way for private players to set up the country’s first national school board for Vedic education. It will function with the objective of “standardising Vedic education”.

Like any school board, BSB will draft syllabus, conduct examinations, issue certificates and affiliate Gurukulas, Veda pathshalas and new schools that offer a blend of Vedic and modern education. As per the draft proposal, the eligibility criteria states that applicants (company/trust/society) should have worked in the area of Indian traditional knowledge and been in existence for at least 10 years.

Hydroelectric Project

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi has laid the foundation stone of 624-MW Kiru Hydroelectric Project. Kiru is a run-of-river scheme that will be located 25 km upstream of the 390-MW Dulhasti Hydroelectric Project on the Chenab River in the Doda district of Jammu & Kashmir. The underground powerhouse will contain four 150-MW turbine-generator units (the NHPC website lists a capacity of 600 MW), and water will be impounded by a concrete gravity dam 140 m high. 

Sri Venkateswara temple

The Sri Venkateswara temple at the country’s southern tip of Kanyakumari was inaugurated by Tirumala Tirupati Devasthanams (TTD) with a ‘Maha Kumbhabhishekam’ ritual. The Temple is dedicated to Lord Sri Venkateswara, an incarnation of Vishnu, who is believed to have appeared here to save mankind from trials and troubles of Kali Yuga.

 

Guru Padmasambhava

A 19-foot-high statue of Guru Padmasambhava, the founder of Tibetan Buddhism has been unveiled in Odisha. Guru Padmasambhava(Guru Rinpoche) was known in Tibet as one of the founding fathers of Tibetan Buddhism, who appeared in Tibet in 749 A.D, and spent 54 years. Other two founders were Acharya Shanta Rakshita and prevalent King Thisong Deotsen.

Disruptive technologies

A disruptive technology is one that displaces an established technology and shakes up the industry or a ground-breaking product that creates a completely new industry.   Harvard Business School professor Clayton M. Christensen coined the term disruptive technology. For example: The personal computer (PC) displaced the typewriter and forever changed the way we work and communicate.

Often times, these technologies force companies to alter the way they approach their business, or risk losing market share or becoming irrelevant.

 

Navy Project – 75I

The Project 75I-class submarine is a follow-on of the Project 75 Kalvari-class submarines for the Indian Navy.

Under this project, the Indian Navy intends to acquire six diesel-electric submarines, which will also feature advanced Air-independent propulsion (AIP) systems to enable them to stay submerged for longer duration and substantially increase their operational range. The Project 75I-class submarines will have a vertical launch system (VLS) to enable them to carry multiple Brahmos supersonic cruise missiles, making the submarines fully capable of anti-surface and anti-ship warfare missions.

HPV vaccine

HPV infection can cause:

  • cancers of the cervix, vagina, and vulva in women;
  • cancers of the penis in men; and
  • cancers of the anus and back of the throat, including the base of the tongue and tonsils (oropharynx), in both women and men.

Widespread immunization with the HPV vaccine could reduce the impact of cervical cancer worldwide.

Hubble Telescope

    • NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope has found strange storms that are raging on the surfaces of Neptune and Uranus, which could help solve the mystery of the storm circling around Uranus’ north pole.
    • The Hubble Space Telescope (HST) is a space telescope that was launched into low Earth orbit in 1990 and remains in operation.
    • The HST was built by the United States space agency NASA, with contributions from the European Space Agency.
    • The telescope was also instrumental in the discovery of dark energy, a little-known but ubiquitous force that works against gravity and contributes to the ongoing expansion of the universe.
    • Hubble also measures the atmospheres of planets outside our own solar system, exploring their compositions and building data that could someday aid the search for extraterrestrial life.

 

Microbial fuel cell treats textile water

        • A microbial fuel cell (MFC) is a bio-electrochemical device that harnesses the power of respiring microbes to convert organic substrates directly into electrical energy.

        Process

        • A carefully selected cohort of bacteria is made to act on the textile wastewater placed in the fuel cell.
        • These bacteria are isolated from the very wastewater they are meant to degrade. They feed on the organic material in the water and break it down under anaerobic (without oxygen) conditions, releasing electrons in the process.
        • The electrons are collected at the anode which results in a current in the circuit. Because the bacteria form a biofilm on the anode, the electrons are collected easily by it.
        • After a period, when the thickness of the biofilm exceeds a limit, it will automatically detach and bring back the thickness to optimal level.

 

Medical devices to be treated as drugs

        • The Centre stated that medical devices — all implantable devices, CT Scan, PET and MRI equipment, defibrillators, dialysis machines and bone marrow separators — will be treated as drugs for human beings with effect from April 1, 2020.
        • With this move, all implantable devices and some diagnostic equipment will be brought into the regulatory framework which is important from a patient safety perspective.
        • Apart from catheters, stents and orthopaedic implants, the list also includes heart valves, intra-ocular lenses, syringes and needles.
        • The new rules will also re quire critical devices to undergo trials in India before they are approved for launch in the market. The rules classify medical devices under four categories ­ A, B, C and D.
        • The categories are based on the level of risk such as low risk, medium risk and high risk.
        • Standards for regulations will differ based on their use and risk factor.
        • For instance, implantable devices like stents, which involve critical procedure, will be part of the high-risk category and monitored directly by the government regulator. Medium and low-risk devices will be regulated by state drug authorities and quality monitoring agencies.

 

Solid Fuel Ducted Ramjet

          • The second indigenously developed “Solid Fuel Ducted Ramjet (SFDR)” propulsion-based missile system was successfully flight tested in Odisha by the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO)
          • This propulsion technology will be applied in developing India’s long-range air-to-air missile systems and is a major step towards defence indigenisation.
          • Compared to conventional rockets that must carry a propellant and oxidizer – Ramjet, like a jet engine, uses the air as an oxidizer thus eliminates the weight of that fuel. Therefore, such missile can carry more fuel or use a smaller propulsion unit. With more fuel stored on board, longer burn time is achieved, resulting in higher velocity, that enabling missiles to fly farther and maintain good kinematic performance through the endgame, being able to chase a target through a series of high G maneuvers. Relying on solid propellant the system avoids flameout risk through such maneuvers, that jets engines or ramjets are subjected to.
          • The Solid Fuel Ducted Ramjet (SFDR) developed under a joint Indo-Russian R&D project achieved a speed of Mach 3 on its first flight. SFDR uses a ramjet propulsion system to react with the solid propellant as air, that acts as oxidizer flows through a solid propellant duct. The design of the SFDR propulsion allows for throttling up and down, enabling the missile to increase the speed as it reaches the terminal phase of the flight, or when sharp turns are required in pursuit of highly maneuvering targets.

 

Mission Buniyaad

          • The inability of children to read and write fluently is a reflection on the failure of the school system. The focus has been on finishing the syllabus instead of concentrating on whether the student is being able to understand what is being taught. Hence government has launched Mission Buniyaad.
          • Under Buniyaad, students will be divided into three categories. Those who perform at par will be taken into the ‘Ujjawal’ group; those who score medium-level marks will be placed in ‘Utkarsh’ while those who are behind their peers will be placed in ‘Udyam’.
          • The entire programme will run from Classes 3 to 5 in MCD schools and in Classes 6 to 8 in government school. The scheme will run for three months from April to June. The students will be assessed on reading abilities and basic mathematics before being divided into groups for focused teaching.

           

          Market and Inventory based model

          • Marketplace based model of e-commerce means providing an information technology platform by an e-commerce entity on a digital & electronic network to act as a facilitator between the buyer and seller.
          • Inventory based model of e-commerce means an e-commerce activity where inventory of goods and services is owned by e-commerce entity and is sold to the consumers directly.
  • National Company Law Appellate Tribunal
  • National Company Law Appellate Tribunal (NCLAT) was constituted under Section 410 of the Companies Act, 2013 for hearing appeals against the orders of National Company Law Tribunal(s) (NCLT), with effect from 1st June, 2016.
  • NCLAT is also the Appellate Tribunal for hearing appeals against the orders passed by NCLT(s) under Section 61 of the Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code, 2016 (IBC), with effect from 1st December, 2016. NCLAT is also the Appellate Tribunal for hearing appeals against the orders passed by Insolvency and Bankruptcy Board of India under Section 202 and Section 211 of IBC.
  • NCLAT is also the Appellate Tribunal to hear and dispose of appeals against any direction issued or decision made or order passed by the Competition Commission of India (CCI) – as per the amendment brought to Section 410 of the Companies Act, 2013 by Section 172 of the Finance Act, 2017, with effect from 26th May, 2017.

 

Pink Revolution

  • The objective is to breed imported pigs to address the problem of protein deficiency in a sizeable section of the population that has been deprived of access to affordable meat besides providing livelihood to farmers.

 

Nikkei India Services Business Activity Index fell

  • The Nikkei IHS Markit Services Purchasing Managers’ Index declined to a three-month low of 52.2 in January from 53.2 a month before, but remained above the 50 mark that separates growth from contraction for the eighth month.
  • The PMI services activity index is based on a survey of purchasing executives of more than 400 service providers in five categories: consumer services, transport and storage, information and communication, financial and insurance and real estate and business services.
  • A key factor restricting rise in services activity was a softer expansion in new work. Companies noted a moderate increase in sales that was the weakest in four months.

 

Government forms panel on regional transport planes

  • The government has set up a committee for the development of regional transport aircraft for commercial use in the country.
  • This is part of the road map being prepared by the government for domestic manufacturing of aircraft. Currently, Hindustan Aeronautics Limited is the only entity that produces aircraft and helicopters for military and non-military purposes.
  • The panel is tasked with the “creation of a special purpose vehicle for the development of regional transport aircraft
  • A separate committee of experts has also been formed to explore manufacturing of aircraft, helicopters and associated equipment within the country.

 

Aadhaar optional for 1st installment of PM-Kisan; Compulsory from second

  • In the interim Budget, FINANCE Minister announced direct income support of Rs 6000 per year to 12 crore small and marginal farmers holding cultivable land up to 2 hecture.
  • The central Govt. fully funded scheme, Pradhan Mantri Kisan Samman Nidhi (PM-Kisan), will be implemented from this year and the first installment will be transfer by March.
  • The centre has made Aadhaar number of small and marginal farmers optional for availing the first installment of Rs 2000 under the recently launched Rs 75000 crore PM-Kisan scheme.
  • It has been made compulsory for farmers to show Aadhar number for verifying their identity.
  • If Aadhaar number is not there, then other alternative documents namely driving licence, voters ID card, NREGA job card, or any other identification issued by central/state government or their authorities will have to provide for availing first installment.

 

Kerala to get 2nd longest rail tunnel

  • A 10.7-km railway line, including a 9.02-km tunnel, has been proposed to connect the upcoming Vizhinjam International Multipurpose Deepwater Seaport to the railway network.
  • The 9.02-km tunnel, mooted by Konkan Railway Corporation Ltd (KRCL) from near the Balaramapuram station on the Kanyakumari-Thiruvananthapuram railway line, will be the second longest railway tunnel of the country on completion.
  • The proposed railway line from Balaramapuram to Vizhinjam will be a single line and will be sufficient for the movement of 9 to 10 rakes daily through the corridor for the next 20 years, according to KRCL.

 

National Salt Satyagraha Memorial

  • The ‘National Salt Satyagraha Memorial’, Dandi, Gujarat, India is conceived as an experiential journey recreating the spirit and the energy of the 1930 Dandi March led by Mahatma Gandhi and 80 of his fellow Satyagrahis, taking the visitors to the Monument step-by-step in order to visualise and understand the history of the historic Salt March and the methodology of Satyagraha, which finally led to India’s Independence from the British colonial rule.
  • This project, endorsed by the Ministry of Culture, Government of India is advised by a High Level Dandi Memorial Committee (HLDMC) with IIT Bombay as a Design Coordination Agency.
  • It will have life-size statues of Mahatma Gandhi and around 80 associates who completed the march in 1930.

 

Target Olympic Podium Scheme

The Target Olympic Podium Scheme is a flagship program of the Ministry of Youth Affairs and Sports which is an attempt to provide assistance to India’s top athletes.

  • The Scheme looks to add a premium to the preparations of these athletes so that they can win Olympic medals in 2020 and 2024 Olympics. Under the Scheme, the Department of Sports shall identify athletes who are potential medal winners in 2020 / 2024 Olympics.
  • The idea of the Scheme is to also keep an eye in the future and fund a Developmental Group of Athletes who are medal prospects for the Olympic Games in Paris in 2024 and Los Angeles Games in 2028.

 

EC seeks views on plan to release manifesto 72 hrs before 1st phase

  • In 2014 the BJP had released its Lok Sabha manifesto on the day of voting in the first phase. Although the Congress had complained to the EC, stating this would influence voters, the commission was unable to act since the MCC is silent on the timing of manifesto release.
  • Hence amendment have been proposed to the Model Code of Conduct (MCC) to regulate timing of manifesto releases may get implemented before the Lok Sabha Polls, as unlike most electoral reform the require Parliament’s nod, MCC can be amended by the Election Commission itself.
  • Amendment under the Part VIII (Guidelines on Election Manifestos) of the Model Code of Conduct (MCC) has been made to fix a timeline, for the release of manifesto by political parties in an election, to maintain the sanctity of Section 126 of the Representation of the People Act.
  • Section 126 of the Act embodies “election silence”, which prohibits any form of election campaign in the last 48 hours leading up to voting.
  • If a party or candidate intends to release election manifesto in connection with any election, the same should be released latest by 72 hours prior to the hours fixed for conclusion of poll for the election. In case of multiphase election, the released latest by 72 prior to the hour fixed for conclusion of poll for the first phase. Manifesto should not be released after this cut-off time.

 

Iranian Revolution 1979

  • ContextIranian Revolution of 1978–79, also called Islamic Revolution, Persian Enqelāb-e Eslāmī, resulted in the toppling of the monarchy on February 11, 1979, and led to the establishment of an Islamic republic.CausesCauses included the modernization/westernization programs undertaken since the 1920s, particularly the economic and social reform programs of the 1963 White Revolution; state control of religious institutions, which deprived clerics of power and income; and the perceived corruption and extreme wealth of the shah and the ruling class.

    Course of Action

    The revolution began on 9 January 1978, when theology students in Qom protested a newspaper article accusing Khomeini of licentiousness and crimes against the state. Demonstrators and police entered into violent conflict, fostering other protests throughout country.

    Khomeini, in exile in France, preached that the shah had conspired with foreign powers, particularly the United States, to exploit the Iranian people and undermine Islam. The message appealed to a broad base of economic classes from all regions of the country. The shah was forced to leave Iran on 16 January 1979.

    Khomeini appointed his own provisional revolutionary government and returned to Iran on 1 February 1979, to great popular acclaim. Khomeini officially seized power on 11 February. In March a referendum was held to determine the form of the new government, and Iran became an Islamic republic.

    The constitution adopted in 1979 invested ultimate power in Khomeini as the chief jurisprudent (faqih), along with a five-person religious Council of Guardians.

    The revolution was a symbolically important event that demonstrated that Western-influenced secular regimes could be overthrown by opposition forces organized under Islamic reformers. It gave new impetus to Islamic revivalists and triggered a rise in Islamic fundamentalist activities from Morocco to Southeast Asia.

India Maldives reverse visa stand off

  • India and Maldives has exchanged an agreement to facilitate visas for travel between the two countries in a number of categories, easing a bilateral stand-off which had resulted in thousands of Indian job seekers being denied work permits last year.This Agreement provides a very liberal visa regime for Maldivian nationals to visit India for tourism, business, education & medical purposes. It also makes it easier for Indians to travel to Maldives for business purposes.Under the agreement, the government will free up the visa regime for Maldives citizens who travel to India for medical reasons and for education in particular. This will include allowing Maldives citizens who receive a visa on arrival in India to change their visa status to medical visas if they require hospitalization during their stay.The agreement will ease visas on arrival for Indian businessmen, and bring cheer to Indians applying for work in the Maldives, as it stipulates that work permits will be issued within 15 days to Indian employees, and the visa fees will be paid by employers in the Maldives.

RBI impose penalty on 7 banks

  • The RBI has imposed penalties on seven lenders, The banks are: Allahabad Bank (Rs 1.5 crore), Andhra Bank (Rs 1 crore), Bank of Maharashtra (Rs 1.5 crore), Indian Overseas Bank (Rs 1.5 crore), HDFC Bank (Rs 20 lakh), IDBI Bank (Rs 20 lakh) and Kotak Mahindra Bank (Rs 20 lakh) for violation of various banking norms.Penalties are based on deficiencies in regulatory compliance and “is not intended to pronounce” upon the validity of any transaction or agreement entered into by the banks with their customers.The penalties have been imposed under the provisions of Section 47A(1)(c) read with Section 46(4)(i) of the Banking Regulation Act, 1949, taking into account the failure of these banks to adhere with directions issued by RBI.

India USA inks contract for 72000 assault rifles

  • After repeated attempts to equip the infantry soldier with a basic rifle, the Army has signed a contract with Sig Sauer of the U.S. for 72,400 SIG 716 assault rifles for the frontline soldier deployed in operational areas.Of the 72,400 rifles, 66.400 are for the Army, 2,000 for the Navy and 4,000 for the Indian Air Force. The broad parameters for the assault rifle are an effective range of 500m and weigh less than 3kg. The entire quantity would be delivered within 12 months from the date of signing the contract.Assault rifle, military firearm that is chambered for ammunition of reduced size or propellant charge and that has the capacity to switch between semiautomatic and fully automatic fire. Because they are light and portable yet still able to deliver a high volume of fire with reasonable accuracy at modern combat ranges of 1,000–1,600 feet (300–500 metres), assault rifles have replaced the high-powered bolt-action and semiautomatic rifles of the World War II era as the standard infantry weapon of modern armies.

Retail inflation at 19 months low in January

  • Backed by cheaper food and fuel prices, India’s retail inflation cooled to 2.05% in January, the lowest in the past 19 months.Core inflation too came down slightly, raising the prospects of another rate cut by the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) in AprilFood prices at the retail declined (-) 2.17% in January from (-) 2.51% in December reflecting the contracting vegetable and pulse prices by around three percentage points each, government data showed.Core Inflation is also known as underlying inflation, is a measure of inflation which excludes items that face volatile price movement, notably food and energy. The headline inflation measure demonstrates overall inflation in the economy.

    The inflation process in India is dominated to a great extent by supply shocks. The supply shocks (e.g., rainfall, oil price shocks, etc.) are transitory in nature and hence produce only temporary movements in relative prices.

Angel Tax

  • Angel tax is a term used to refer to the income tax payable on capital raised by unlisted companies via issue of shares where the share price is seen in excess of the fair market value of the shares sold. The excess realisation is treated as income and taxed accordingly.Angel investors are a class of well-to-do investors, usually experienced industry folk who take equity stakes in startups. They take very early-stage businesses under their wing. Typically, institutional investors such as venture capital funds or private equity funds do not like to commit capital to tiny businesses. Nor do they like to bet their shirt on firms that are yet to prove themselves in the marketplace. Angel investors literally step in where others fear to tread.These funds that pool money from many individual ‘angels’ so that they can invest sizeable amounts into start-ups and enjoy better negotiating power while doing so. Angel Funds in India, are regulated by SEBI, which lumps them with venture capital funds, SME funds, social impact funds and sundry other funds, under the umbrella regulations for Alternative Investment Funds (AIFs).Alternative Investment Fund or AIF means any fund established or incorporated in India which is a privately pooled investment vehicle which collects funds from sophisticated investors, whether Indian or foreign, for investing it in accordance with a defined investment policy for the benefit of its investors.