Indian Polity

 Startup Academia Alliance programme: Startup India launched Startup Academia Alliance programme to fulfill Government’s mission to promote spirit of entrepreneurship in the country. The programme aims to reduce gap between scientific research and its industrial applications in order to increase efficacy of these technologies and widen their impact. It strives to create lasting connections between stakeholders of startup ecosystem by creating bridge between academia and industry and implement third pillar on which Startup India Action Plan is based – Industry Academia Partnerships and Incubation.

IMPRINT Scheme: Union Ministry of Hume Resource Development (MHRD) has approved 122 new research project proposals worth Rs 112 crore for funding under its IMPRINT-II (Impacting Research Innovation and Technology) scheme. IMPRINT is first of its kind MHRD supported scheme to address major science and engineering challenges and boost original scientific and technological research in 10 technology identified domains in the country. It was launched in November 2015 with an aim to develop new engineering education policy and create road map to pursue engineering challenges. These 10 domains are Health Care, Computer Science and ICT, Advance Materials, Water Resources and River systems, Sustainable Urban Design, Defence, Nano-technology Hardware, Environmental Science and Climate Change and Energy Security. Initially under IMPRINT-I, IITs and IISC, were asked to identify major areas where India is facing engineering and technology challenges. Now its scope also has been expanded private institutions along with IITs and IISc under IMPRINT-II and jointly funded and steered by MHRD and Department of Science and Technology (DST).

Asia-Pacific Institute for Broadcasting Development (AIBD): AIDB is regional inter-governmental organisation serving countries of United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (UN-ESCAP) in field of electronic media development. It was established in 1977 under auspices of UNESCO. It is hosted by Government of Malaysia and its secretariat is located in Kuala Lumpur. AIBD is mandated to achieve vibrant and cohesive electronic media environment in Asia-Pacific region through policy and resource development. Currently it has broadcasters from 26 full member countries, represented by 34 organisations and 67 Affiliate Members (organisations) and over 50 partners in Asia, Pacific, Europe, Africa, Arab States and North America. It was in news as India has been elected as President of Asia-Pacific Institute for Broadcasting Development.

Pradhan Mantri Ujjwala Yojana (PMUY): Union Government has announced that it has reached target of providing 5 crore free LPG connections under Pradhan Mantri Ujjwala Yojana (PMUY) almost eight months ahead of schedule (i.e. in 27 months instead of 35 months). Union Government launched PMUY in May, 2016 with tagline of Swachh Indhan, Behtar Jeevan. It aims at providing clean-cooking fuel to poor households, who are otherwise vulnerable to various health hazards associated with indoor air pollution and bringing in qualitative charges inliving standards. PMUY is implemented by Ministry of Petroleum and Natural Gas through its Oil Marketing Companies (OMCs), Beneficiaries are identified through Socio-Economic Caste Census (SECC) List-2011 and in such cases where names are not covered under SECC list, beneficiaries are identified from seven categories which includes SC/ST households, beneficiaries of Antyodaya Anna Yojana, PMAY (Gramin), Forest Dwellers, Most Backward Classes, Resident of Islands/River Islands and Tea Garden & Ex-tea Garden Tribes.

Designer of Indian National Flag: 141st birth anniversary of freedom fighter and designer (architect) of Indian National Flag Pingali Venkayya was observed on August 2, 2018. India’s National Flag (tricolor or ??????) is based on Swaraj flag of Indian National Congress designed by Pingali Venkayya. It was adopted during by Constituent Assembly on the 22 July 1947, a few days before India’s independence from the British. The national flag is horizontal rectangular tricolour of India saffron, white and India green, with Ashoka Chakra (24-spoke wheel) in navy blue at its centre. Usage of national flag is governed by Flag Code of India and other laws relating to the national emblems. The flag code also governs protocol of flying flag and its use in conjunction with other national and non-national flags.

Logo and Tagline for Geographical Indication: Department of Industrial Policy and Promotion (DIPP) under Ministry of Commerce and Industry has unveiled tricolour logo for geographical indication (GI) certified products. The logo has tagline “Invaluable Treasures of Incredible India” printed below it. GI tag is name or sign used on certain products which correspond to specific geographical location or origin. It is used for agricultural, natural and manufactured goods having special quality and established reputation. The goods and products having tag are recognised for their origin, quality and reputation and gives it required edge in global market. It also ensures that none can use their name, giving them exclusivity. The registration of GI is valid for 10 years after which it needs to be renewed. Violation of GI tags is punishable offence under law. The purpose of GI tag enables stakeholders to authenticate their production while earning a premium and derive an improved livelihood. GI is covered as element of intellectual property rights (IPRs) under Paris Convention for Protection of Industrial Property. At international level, GI is governed by WTO’s Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS). In India, GI tag Geographical Indications of Goods (Registration and Protection Act), 1999 governs it. This Act is administered by Controller General of Patents, Designs and Trade Marks, who is also Registrar of Geographical Indications and is based in Chennai, Tamil Nadu. So far, total of 320 products have been conferred GI status in India. Darjeeling Tea, Tirupathi Laddu, Kangra Paintings, Nagpur Orange and Kashmir Pashmina are among registered GIs in India. Karnataka tops with 38 GI products, followed by Maharashtra which has 32 GI products. Tamil Nadu comes third with 25 GI products.

Seva Bhoj Yojana: Union Ministry of Culture launched Seva Bhoj Yojna, a new scheme to provide financial assistance on purchase of specific food items by Charitable Religious Institutions (CRIs) for free distribution among people. Under this scheme, Centre’s share of Central Goods and Services Tax (CGST) and Interstate GST charged on raw food materials purchased by the religious institutions will be refunded. The scheme aims to reimburse Central Government share of Central Goods and Services Tax (CGST) and Integrated Goods and Service Tax (IGST) to lessen financial burden of religious and charitable institutions providing food, prasad, langar (Community Kitchen), Bhandara free of cost without any discrimination to public and devotees.

International Affairs

British New Organ Donation Plan: United Kingdom Government has announced new plans to change law for organ and tissue donation to address urgent need for organs within Indian-origin communities in the country. The amendment in existing law will propose new system of consent for organ and tissue donation. This will be known as Max’s Law after Max Johnson, a 10-year-old boy who was saved by a heart transplant. The changes in law will try to incorporate opt-in system similar to India, whereby families’ decision to donate organs of their loved one after death is discretionary. This will come into effect in England in 2020 as part of a drive to help black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) people desperately waiting for a life-saving transplant. Under this new presumed consent system, those who do not want to donate their organs will be able to record their decision on state-funded National Health Service (NHS) Organ Donor Register (ODR).

Russia-Pakistan Joint Military Consultative Committee (JMCC): Pakistan and Russia have signed contract on admission of service members of Pakistan in Russia’s Military Training Institutes. The agreement was signed at conclusion of first meeting of Russia-Pakistan Joint Military Consultative Committee (JMCC), the highest forum of defence collaboration between both countries held in Rawalpindi, Pakistan. This will be for first time, Pakistani soldiers will undergo training at Russian military institutes. This agreement is considered as sign of further strengthening defence ties between Russia and Paksitan. Pakistan’s defence ties with Russia have moved past bitter Cold War hostilities in recent years, mostly after chill in Pakistan’s relations with US. This has further pushed Pakistan close towards Russia and China. Russia and Pakistan had defence cooperation agreement in 2014. This has further enhance their bilateral relations. Both countries also have initiative military exercise DRUZBA (Friendship) in 2016.


Economic Affairs

  Gender Gap in Mobile Ownership: According to recent study released by LIRNEAsia, India has highest gender gap in mobile phone ownership amongst 18 comparable countries and ranks among the lowest in women’s access to Internet. LIRNEAsia is an information and communications technology (ICT) policy think tank that is involved in pro-poor, pro-market research in Asia-Pacific since 2005. The study also included comparative research done by ICT Africa in Africa and DIRSI in Latin America.

Government extends deadline for imposing duty hike on 29 US products by 45 days: Union Finance Ministry has further extended deadline on imposing import duty hike on 29 products, imported from United States (US) by 45 days till September 18, 2018 from earlier August 4, 2018. This decision for extension of retaliatory measures for another 45 days was taken based on suggestion of Union Commerce Ministry. The 29 products included agricultural products such as almonds, apples, chickpeas, lentils, and walnuts, and industrial inputs such as boric acid, phosphoric acid, diagnostic reagent, flat rolled products of iron, certain flat rolled products of stainless steel. Prior to issuing duty hike notification, India has also had dragged US to World Trade Organization’s (WTO) dispute settlement mechanism over imposition of import duties on steel and aluminium.

Government imposes 25% safeguard duty on import of solar cells: Union Government has imposed safeguard duty of 25% on import of solar cells (whether or not assembled in modules or panels) from China and Malaysia. The move is aimed at helping domestic solar cell manufacturing sector. But it could affect existing projects dependent on cheap imports and hike solar power tariffs in India since around 90% of panels sector uses solar cells made in China and Malaysia. Safeguard Duty is tariff barrier imposed by government on the commodities to ensure that imports in excessive quantities do not harm the domestic industry. It is mainly temporary measure undertaken by government in defence of the domestic industry which is harmed or has potential threat getting hared due to sudden cheap surge in imports.


Science Affairs

 Thermal Batteries: The world’s first-ever thermal battery plant owned by Bharat Energy Storage Technology Private Limited (BEST) was inaugurated in Amravati, Andhra Pradesh. This plant aims to create new energy storage form that is expected to have commercial applications, while also maintain low carbon footprint and less dependent on external factors like weather. Thermal battery use thermal energy to operate i.e. energy created by temperature differences. The energy transfer in in this battery helps to store heat when heat travels from one part of battery setup to other. For this transmission, thermal battery consists of two parts viz. cool zone (sink) and hot source (source.) Both these sides consist of compounds known as phase-changing materials (PCMs), which can change their state of matter on basis of physical and chemical reaction. When sink of thermal battery receives heat, it transforms physically or chemically, thereby storing energy, while source cools down. During operation, sink is cooled down, so it releases stored energy, while source heats up. Depending on nature of battery, system can derive heat from any source, which makes thermal battery very versatile. For power transmission, thermal batteries can function as long as there is heat source.

RISECREEK microprocessors: Computer scientists from Indian Institute of Technology (IIT), Madras have developed first of family of six industry-standard microprocessors under Project Shakti. The initial batch of 300 chips have been named RISECREEK and have been fabricated at Intel’s facility at Oregon, US for free to run Linux operating system. Project Shakti was started in 2014 as IIT-M initiative and part of it is funded by Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology. These viable industry-grade microprocessors can operate at frequency of 350 MHz, thus meets demands of defence and strategic equipment of country such as NAVIC (Indian Regional Navigation Satellite) and Internet of Things (IoT) electronics. These processors can also be tapped for future efforts in semiconductors.

Chandrayaan 2 Mission: Chandrayaan-2 is India’s most challenging and India’s second mission to Moon. It is advanced version of previous Chandrayaan-1 mission (launched in 2008) which only involved orbiting around moon, Chandrayaan-2 is much complicated mission as it involves an orbiter, lander and rover. Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) has postponed Chandrayaan-2, India’s second mission to moon to January 2019. This will be second time mission has been postponed. The ambitious mission was earlier planned to be launched in April 2018 and was later fixed for October 2019. With this delay, India may lose fourth position in the world for soft-landing on the moon to Israel as it too planning to launch moon mission in December 2018. Chandrayaan 2 will be launched on board of Geosynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle Mk III (GSLV-F10). It will be ISRO’s first inter-planetary mission to land rover on any celestial body. The spacecraft (orbiter) weighs around 3,290 kg and it will orbit around moon and perform objectives of remote sensing moon.

Kadaknath chicken meat from Jhabua district of Madhya Pradesh gets GI tag: Kadaknath chicken meat from Jhabua district of Madhya Pradesh has received Geographical Indication (GI) tag from Chennai based Geographical Indication Registry and Intellectual Property India. GI tag denotes that product comes from particular geographical. Kadaknath chicken was awarded GI tag in “Meat Product, Poultry & Poultry Meat” category. The application for GI was made by Gramin Vikas Trust of Krishak Bharati Cooperative (KRIBHCO) on behalf of tribals of Jhabua district who breed the variety. Kadaknath or Kali Masi (flowl with black flash) is unique breed of chicken that is complete black colour. It is completely black with black plumage having greenish iridescence, black legs, beak, tongue, comb and wattles. Apart from its meat, its bones and most organs are also black. Its black colour stems from deposition of melanin pigment. Kadaknath chicken contains 25-27% of protein in comparison with other breeds of chickens that contain 18% protein. It is also known for its high iron content. It has fat and cholesterol content lower compared with other chicken breeds. Due to this special characteristics, Kadaknath chicken’s chicks and eggs are sold at much higher rate than other varieties of chicken. This chicken breed is very popular among local tribal people mainly due to its adaptability to the local environment, disease resistance, meat quality, texture and flavour.

Gaofen 11: China successfully launched Gaofen-11, an optical remote sensing satellite, as part of the country’s high-resolution Earth observation project. It was launched on board of Long March 4B rocket from Taiyuan Satellite Launch Center in northern Shanxi Province. It was overall 282nd flight mission by Long March carrier rocket. Gaofen-11 is sub-meter resolution optical satellite. It was developed by China Academy of Space Technology (CAST). It is the sixth in Gaofen series launched this year, following triplet of Gaofen-1 satellites and larger Gaofen-5 and Gaofen-6, all placed in Sun-synchronous orbits. Gaofen means “high resolution” in Chinese. It is ambitious space project of China that aims to launch seven high-definition observation satellites before 2020. Gaofen-1 was the first satellite of the project series which was launched in April 2013. Presently, Gaofen-1 and Gaofen-2 satellites part of Gaofen project series are orbiting around the earth at low orbits around 600-700km. Since launch of Gaofen project, China has gained increasingly clearer view of planet.

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Topper Speaks

Khandagale Dhammapal
Khandagale Dhammapal Rank-1020 Year-2017 (IAS)
Dear Sir thank you for your warm wishes. I always had conviction in my abilities and the constant support and guidance from teachers and mentors like you helped me a lot in this strenuous journey , I would also like to thank you from the bottom of the heart for taking pains of providing questions on my DAF for personality test and sending me interview preparation book from Delhi to remote location of Latur in Maharastra. Once again thank you for helping me realize my dream.
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