Current Affairs Oct 30

MoC between India and Japan

  • Memorandum of Cooperation (MoC) signed between India and Japan on bilateral cooperation in the field of Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs).


  • It will contribute in strengthening bilateral cooperation and mutual understanding in the field of communications
  • It will serve as a strategic initiative for India as Japan is an important partner with “Special Strategic and Global Partnership” status.
  • The MoC will help in cooperation between two countries in various fields like 5G network, telecom security, Submarine cable, standard certification of communication equipment, utilization of latest Wireless Technologies and ICTs, ICTs capacity building, Public Protection and Disaster Relief, Artificial Intelligence (AI) / Block Chain, Spectrum Chain, Spectrum Management, Cooperation on Multilateral platforms etc.
  • The MoC will further enhance opportunities for India to get into global standardization process.
  • Cooperation in the development of future submarine cable networks and technologies will help in boosting connectivity of mainland India to remote areas. 
  • The MoC aims to promote human capacity building in field of ICTs and further development of startup ecosystem which will contribute in realizing the objectives of Atmanirbhar Bharat.




MoU between India and Cambodia

  • The Union Cabinet chaired by the Prime Minister, Shri Narendra Modi has approved the signing of the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between India and Cambodia on cooperation in the field of Health and Medicine.
  • The bilateral MoU will encourage cooperation between the two countries through joint initiatives and technology development n the health sector.
  • It will strengthen bilateral ties between India and Cambodia.
  • The MoU shall become effective on the date of its signature and shall remain in force for a period of five years.

The main areas of cooperation between the two Governments include:

i. Mother and child health;

ii. Family Planning;

iii. HIV/AIDS and TB;

iv. Drugs and Pharmaceuticals;

v. Technology Transfer;

vi. Public Health and Epidemiology;

vii. Disease Control (Communicable and Non-Communicable);

viii. Medical Research and Development, subject to the approval of the National Ethic Committee of Cambodia and to the         clearance by concerned Department/Ministry in India;

ix. Medical Education;

x. Health manpower development in the field of public health;

xi. Training in clinical, para-clinical and management skills; and

xii. Any other area of cooperation as may be mutually decided upon.




Dam Rehabilitation and Improvement Project

  • The Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs chaired by the Prime Minister has approved

         ○ the Dam Rehabilitation and Improvement Project (DRIP) Phase II & Phase III

         ○ with the financial assistance of the World Bank (WB), and Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB)

         ○ to improve the safety and operational performance of selected dams across the whole country,  

              along with institutional strengthening with system wide management approach


  • The Project will be implemented over a period of 10 years duration in two Phases, each of six years duration with two years overlapping from April, 2021 to March, 2031.
  • The share of external funding is Rs 7,000 crore of the total project cost, and balance Rs 3,211 crore is to be borne by the concerned Implementing Agencies (IAs).

DRIP Phase II & Phase III envisages the following objectives:-

i. To improve the safety and performance of selected existing dams and associated appurtenances in a sustainable manner.

ii. To strengthen the dam safety institutional setup in participating states as well as at central level, and

iii. To explore the alternative incidental means at few of selected dams to generate the incidental revenue for sustainable operation and maintenance of dams

To achieve the above objectives, DRIP Phase II & Phase III has following components:

a. Rehabilitation and improvement of dams and associated appurtenances,

b. Dam safety institutional strengthening in participating States and Central agencies,

c. Exploration of alternative incidental means at few of selected dams to generate the incidental revenue for sustainable operation and maintenance of dams, and

d. Project management.



Mandatory Packaging in Jute Materials

  • The Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs chaired by the Prime Minister has approved that 100% of the foodgrains and 20% of the sugar shall be mandatorily packed in diversified jute bags.
  • The decision to pack sugar in diversified jute bags will give an impetus to the diversification of the jute industry.
  • The decision also mandates that initially 10% of the indents of jute bags for packing foodgrains would be placed through reverse auction on the Gem portal.
  • This will gradually usher in a regime of price discovery. The Government has expanded the scope of mandatory packaging norms under the Jute Packaging Material (JPM) Act, 1987.
  • In case of any shortage or disruption in supply of jute packaging material or in other contingency/exigency,

            ○ the Ministry of Textiles may, in consultation with the user Ministries concerned, relax these provisions further, up to a maximum of 30% of the production of foodgrains over and above the provisions.

  • Nearly 3.7 lakh workers and several lakh farm families are dependent for their livelihood on the jute sectors,

               ○ the government has been making concerted efforts for the development of jute sector;

              ○ increasing the quality and productivity of raw jute, diversification of jute sector and also boosting and  sustaining demand for jute products.

Benefits :

  • The approval will benefit farmers and workers located in the Eastern and North Eastern regions of the country particularly in the states of West Bengal, Bihar, Odisha, Assam, Andhra Pradesh, Meghalaya and Tripura.
  • Under the Jute Packaging Materials (Compulsory use in Packing Commodities) Act, 1987 (hereinafter “the JPM Act”),

              ○ the Government is required to consider and provide for the compulsory use of jute packaging material  in the supply and distribution of certain commodities

              ○ in the interest of production of raw jute and jute packaging material and of persons engaged in the production thereof.

  • The jute industry is predominantly dependent on Government sector which purchases jute bags of value of more than Rs. 7,500 crore every year for packing foodgrains.
  • This is done in order to sustain the core demand for the jute sector and to support the livelihood of the workers and farmers dependent on the sector.
  • The ‘Jute ICARE’ interventions have resulted in enhancing the quality and productivity of raw jute and increasing income of jute farmers by Rs 10,000 per hectare.
  • Under the Jute ICARE, the government has been supporting about two lakh jute farmers by disseminating improved agronomic practices such as line sowing using seed drills, weed management by using wheel-hoeing and nail-weeders, distribution of quality certified seeds and also providing microbial assisted retting.
  • Recently, the Jute Corporation of India has entered into MoU with National Seeds Corporation for distribution of 10,000 quintals of certified seeds on commercial basis also.



Ethanol Blended Petrol Programme

  • The Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs chaired by the Prime Minister has approved the following,

               ○  including fixing higher ethanol price derived from different sugarcane based raw materials under the Ethanol Blended Petrol (EBP) Programme

               ○  for the forthcoming sugar season 2020-21 during Ethanol Supply Year (ESY)  2020-21 from 1st December 2020 to 30th November 2021.

  • Raised the price of ethanol extracted from sugarcane juice to ₹62.65 per litre from current ₹59.48 per litre for the supply year beginning December 2020.
  • The rate for ethanol from C-heavy molasses has been increased from ₹43.75 per litre to ₹45.69 per litre and that of ethanol from B-heavy to ₹57.61 per litre from ₹54.27 per litre.
  • India, which is 85% dependent on imports to meet its oil needs, allows doping of up to 10% ethanol in petrol with a view to cutting oil import and vehicular emissions as also offer a remunerative source for sugarcane farmers to sell their produce.
  • The steady rise in the price of ethanol paid by oil marketing companies has led to ethanol procurement jump to 195 crore litre in 2019-20 (December 2019 to November 2020) from 38 crore litre in 2013-14.
  • Oil marketing companies Indian Oil Corp (IOC), Bharat Petroleum Corp Ltd (BPCL) and Hindustan Petroleum Corp Ltd (HPCL) will bear GST and transportation cost on the ethanol procured for doping in petrol.
  • Previously there was only one rate of ethanol but the government has fixed different price for different sources of ethanol.
  • At present ethanol production is allowed from C-heavy molasses, B-heavy molasses, sugarcane juice or syrup or direct sugar.
  • The ethanol procurement season by oil marketing companies (OMCs) will run from December 1, 2020, to November 30, 2021.
  • The government has been implementing Ethanol Blended Petrol (EBP) Programme wherein OMCs sell petrol blended with ethanol up to 10%.
  • This programme has been extended to the whole of India except Union Territories of Andaman Nicobar and Lakshadweep islands with effect from April 1, 2019, to promote the use of alternative and environment-friendly fuels.
  • Government has notified administered price of ethanol since 2014.
  • For the first time during 2018, the differential price of ethanol-based on raw material utilized for ethanol production was announced by the government.



Govt Revises PLI Scheme Guidelines

  • The Department of Pharmaceuticals revised guidelines of the Production Linked Incentive (PLI) schemes for promoting domestic manufacturing of bulk drugs and medical devices keeping in view the suggestions and comments received from the industry.
  • Accordingly ‘minimum threshold’ investment requirement has been replaced by ‘committed investment’ taking into account availability of technology choices which varies from product to product.
  • The PLI schemes were approved by the Cabinet on March 20,2020, and detailed guidelines for the implementation of the schemes were issued by the Department of Pharmaceuticals on July 27, 2020.
  • The change has been made to encourage efficient use of productive capital as the amount of investment required to achieve a particular level of production depends upon choice of technology and it also varies from product to product.
  • The provision which restricts the sales of eligible products to domestic sales only for the purpose of eligibility of receiving incentives has been deleted, bringing the scheme in line with other PLI schemes and encouraging market diversification.
  • A change has also been made in the minimum annual production capacity for 10 products.
  • The tenure of the scheme has been extended by one year keeping in view the capital expenditure expected to be done by the selected applicants in FY 2021-22.
  • Accordingly, the sales for the purpose of availing incentives will be accounted for 5 years starting from FY 2022-2023 instead of FY 2021-2022.


Infrastructure Management System (IMS)

  • The Indian Army has introduced a software called the Infrastructure Management System (IMS).
  • Infrastructure development has gained significant importance in many of the Army stations where major works are planned to replace vintage accommodation of pre-independence era.
  • The process is cumbersome and time consuming involving multiple agencies.
  • Presently all functions towards infrastructure development and management to include ascertaining availability of land, planning and monitoring of works, environment conservation and responsive quartering policies are carried out manually, which is not only time consuming but is also in-efficient.
  • Realising that automation is the key to empowering all stake holders to transform and become efficient, transparent and enhance accountability, Indian Army has introduced a software named the “Infrastructure Management System (IMS)’ software.

The scope of the software package developed includes the following

  • To automate works initiation, preparation of list and its approval by the MoD.
  • To accord administrative approval and monitoring of execution by the CFA.
  • To automate availability of CAO pool accommodation, plan vacation, re-allocation and undertake maintenance.
  • To automate approval of accommodation allocation/extention for children education ground, special children and Battle/Physical casualty.
  • Manage cantonment roads including emergency closure.
  • Make land, works and quartering policies available on line.
  • Monitor land encroachment, Old Grant Bungalows, VIP references and transfer/exchange of land.



Secure Application for Internet (SAI)

  • Indian Army has developed a simple and secure messaging application named the “Secure Application for Internet (SAI)”.
  • The application supports end to end secure voice, text and video calling services for Android platform over internet.
  • The model is similar to commercially available messaging applications like Whatsapp, Telegram, SAMVAD and GIMS and utilises end to end encryption messaging protocol.
  • SAI scores over on security features with local in-house servers and coding which can be tweaked as per requirements.
  • The application has been vetted by CERT-in empaneled auditor and Army Cyber Group.
  • SAI will be utilised pan Army to facilitate secure messaging within the service.
  • Col Sai Shankar developed the application.




  • Indian Railways has launched “Meri Saheli” initiative for focused action on security of women across all zones

               ○ with an objective to provide safety and security to lady passengers travelling by trains for their entire journey from starting station to destination station.

  • An initiative of RPF, the Strategy of the entails interaction with lady passengers especially those travelling alone by a team of young lady RPF personnel at the originating station.
  • These lady passengers are briefed about all precautions to be taken during the journey and told to dial 182 in case they face or see any problem in the coach.
  • The RPF team collects only the seat numbers of the ladies and conveys them to stoppages en-route.
  • The platform duty RPF personnel at the stopping stations en-route keep unobtrusive watch over the concerned coaches and berths and if need arises, interact with the lady passengers.
  • RPF/RPSF escort onboard also covers all the coaches/identified berths during its duty period.
  • RPF teams at the destination collect the feedback from the identified lady passengers
  • The “Meri Saheli” initiative was started as a pilot project in South Eastern Railway in September 2020 and after getting encouraging response from lady passengers, it was extended to all zones and KRCL w.e.f. 17.10.2020.




  • Ministry of Science & Technology launched a Scheme titled “SERB-POWER (Promoting Opportunities for Women in Exploratory Research)”, designed exclusively for women scientists.
  • The Science and Engineering Research Board (SERB), a Statutory body of the Department of Science and Technology (DST),

has been contemplating to institute a scheme to mitigate gender disparity in science and engineering research  in various S&T programs in Indian academic institutions and R&D laboratories.


  • SERB – POWER Scheme will have two components namely

(i) SERB-POWER Fellowship

(ii) SERB- POWER Research Grants.

A-  Salient features of the SERB-POWER Fellowship:-

a)   Target: Women researchers in 35-55 years of age. Up-to 25 Fellowships per year and not more than 75 at any point in time.

b)  Components of support: Fellowship of Rs. 15,000/- per month in addition to regular income; Research grant of Rs. 10 lakh per annum; and Overhead of Rs. 90,000/- per annum.

 c). Duration: Three years, without the possibility of extension. Once in a career.

B-  Salient features of the SERB – POWER Research Grants :

a) POWER Grants will empower women researchers by funding them under following two categories:

  1. Level I (Applicants from IITs, IISERs, IISc, NITs, Central Universities, and National Labs of Central Government Institutions): The scale of funding is up to 60 lakhs for three years.
  2. Level II (Applicants from State Universities / Colleges and Private Academic Institutions): The scale of funding is up to 30 lakhs for three years.

b) POWER Grant will be regulated through terms of reference conforming to SERB-CRG(Science and Engineering Research Board-Core Research Grant) guidelines.

  • While a Search-cum-Selection Committee constituted for the purpose will help in identifying the POWER Fellowship, the existing Programme Advisory Committee (PAC) mechanism will be used to select the POWER Research Grants.
  • It is proposed to institute 25 POWER Fellowships annually.
  • A total of 50 Power Grants each will be sanctioned in Level I & Level II per annum.

Bye Bye Corona


  • A ‘scientoon’ is a cartoon communication based on science. Scientoons are meant to inform and sensitize people to science and scientific concepts in an intelligible and interesting way.
  • World’s first scientoon book entitled “Bye Bye Corona”, written by ‘scientoonist’ Dr Pradeep Srivastava, former Senior Principal Scientist at CSIR-Central Drug Research Institute (CDRI), Lucknow,  was released.
  • The book is published by Vigyan Prasar.
  • The 220 pages book contains comprehensive information on novel coronavirus pandemic, its symptoms and its prevention through precautions.
  • ‘Bye Bye Corona’ also has a very interesting chapter on the ‘Art of Living with Coronavirus’ highlighting the methods to deal with the virus in day to day life if it is here to stay for a longer time.
  • The basic purpose of this book is to make people awareof COVID-19 in an engaging way.
  • Post its launch in India, the book would soon be released in Brazil under Brazil-India Network program and would possibly be translated into Portuguese language.


Coastal Shipping Bill, 2020


  • In accordance with Prime Minister vision for augmenting people’s participation and transparency in the governance, Ministry of Shipping has issued the draft of Coastal Shipping Bill, 2020 for suggestions from the stakeholders and general public.
  • As the shipping sector grows and evolves in the country, a need was felt to have a separate legislation on coastal shipping,
  • which considers it an integral part of the transport chain and recognizes the policy priorities of the sector to meet the demands of the Indian shipping industry.

The Ministry of Shipping has drafted a Coastal Shipping Bill, 2020 in lieu of part XIV of the Merchant Shipping Act, 1958.

Some of the highlights of the Bill are as under:

  • The definition of coastal shipping and coastal waters has been expanded.
  • It is proposed to do away with the requirement of trading licence for Indian flag vessels for coastal trade.
  • The Bill seeks to create a competitive environment and reduce transportation costs, while encouraging Indian vessels to increase their share in coastal shipping.
  • The Bill also proposes integration of coastal maritime transport with inland waterways.
  • There is a provision for a National Coastal and Inland Shipping Strategic Plan.





Call For Destruction Of Terror Safe Havens


  • The Central Asian republics joined India in demanding destruction of “safe havens” of terrorism.
  • The second meeting of the India-Central Asia Dialogue jointly expressed support for the peace negotiations in Afghanistan which is expected to usher in a new age for the war-torn country.
  • The Ministers strongly condemned terrorism in all its forms and manifestations and reaffirmed the determination of their countries to combat this menace by destroying terrorist safe-havens, networks, infrastructure and funding channels.
  • They also underlined the need for every country to ensure that its territory is not used to launch terrorist attacks against other countries.
  • Among the key takeaways from the meeting was the announcement of an additional $1 billion Line of Credit by India for the Central Asian countries.
  • It is expected that the money will be spent for major infrastructural and connectivity projects.
  • The meeting also led to the announcement of grant financing by India for high impact community development projects in the countries.
  • It also led to the establishment of working groups by India Central Asia Business Council comprising the key Chambers of all participating countries.



Global Art Competition


  • A six year old Bangladeshi boy Anzar Mustaeen Ali won a special prize of USD 1000 for his artwork in the global art competition organised by the Indian Council of Cultural Relations (ICCR).
  • The ICCR had launched a global painting competition named ‘United Against CORONA- Express through Art’ which attracted 8000 artwork entries from around the world.
  • The maximum number of entries for the global competition were received from Bangladesh.
  • Six other art works from Bangladesh were selected for showcasing at the digital art exhibition of ICCR.


Annual State of Education Report (ASER) survey


  • About 20% of rural children have no textbooks at home, according to the Annual State of Education Report (ASER) survey conducted in September, the sixth month of school closures due to COVID-19 across the country.
  • In Andhra Pradesh, less than 35% of children had textbooks, and only 60% had textbooks in Rajasthan. More than 98% had textbooks in West Bengal, Nagaland and Assam.
  • Although the Centre has now permitted States to start reopening schools if they can follow COVID-19 safety protocols, the vast majority of the country’s 25 crore students are still at home after seven straight months.
  • The ASER survey provides a glimpse into the levels of learning loss that students in rural India are suffering, with varying levels of access to technology, school and family resources resulting in a digital divide in education.
  • ASER is a nationwide survey of rural education and learning outcomes in terms of reading and arithmetic skills that has been conducted by the NGO Pratham for the last 15 years. This year, the survey was conducted via phone calls.
  • It found that 5.3% of rural children aged 6-10 years had not yet enrolled in school this year, in comparison to just 1.8% in 2018. 
  • This seems to indicate that due to the disruptions caused by the pandemic, families are waiting for the physical opening of schools to enrol their youngest children, with about 10% of six-year-olds not in school.
  • Among 15-16-year-olds, however, enrolment levels are actually slightly higher than in 2018. Enrolment patterns also show a slight shift toward government schools, with private schools seeing a drop in enrolment in all age groups.
  • In 2018, ASER surveyors found that about 36% of rural households with school-going children had smartphones.
  • By 2020, that figure had spiked to 62%. About 11% of families bought a new phone after the lockdown, of which 80% were smartphones.
  • Two thirds of rural children nationwide reported that they had not received any learning materials or activities at all.
  • In Bihar, less than 8% got such materials from their schools, along with 20% in West Bengal, Rajasthan and Uttar Pradesh.
  • On the other hand, more than 80% of rural children in Himachal Pradesh, Punjab, Kerala and Gujarat received such input.
  • About 20% of children whose parents had less than five years of education got learning materials, compared to 46% among parents who had studied beyond Class IX themselves.
  • Almost 40% in low education households got no materials and did no learning, compared to 17% of high education families.
  • However, almost 40% of low education families persevered and did some learning activities even without receiving any learning materials at all





Non-central Govt Employees Can Avail Tax Exemption Too


  • Non-Central government employees availing cash equivalent of LTC fare — under a facility put together on October 12 – would get income tax exemption benefits as well, the Finance Ministry said.
  • This would be on the lines of the tax exemption extended to Central government employees on receipt of deemed LTC fare.
  • The payment of cash allowance, subject to maximum of ₹36,000 per person as Deemed LTC fare per person (Round Trip) to non-Central Government employees, would be allowed income-tax exemption subject to fulfilment of conditions.
  • The income-tax exemption to receipt of deemed LTC fare by a non-Central government employee would be allowed subject to fulfilment of the following conditions:-

(a)     The employee exercises an option for the deemed LTC fare in lieu of the applicable LTC in the Block year 2018-21;

(b)     The employee spends a sum equal to three times of the value of the deemed LTC fare on purchase of goods / services which carry a GST rate of not less than 12 per cent from GST registered vendors / service providers through digital mode during the period from the 12th of October, 2020 to 31st of March, 2021 and obtains a voucher indicating the GST number and the amount of GST paid and

(c)      An employee who spends less than three times of the deemed LTC fare on specified expenditure during the specified period shall not be entitled to receive full amount of deemed LTC fare and the related income-tax exemption and the amount of both shall be reduced proportionately.





GST Commissioner Has Power To Authorise Arrest


  • Gujarat High Court has ruled that the GST Commissioner can invoke power to arrest prior to the issuance of showcause notice or completion of adjudication/assessment and determination of the liability.
  • However, this will be possible in case the officer has ‘reason to believe’ that the person has committed offence which is cognisable and bailable.
  • Section 132 of CGST Act list offences (sub section 1) and punishment (sub section 1 and 2).
  • Here offences, as mentioned in the order, include supply of good or services without any invoice
  • with the intention of evading tax, issuing invoice or bill without supply of goods or services,
  • leading to wrongful availment or utilisation of input tax credit (ITC) or refund of tax, availing ITC on the basis of fake bill and collecting tax,
  • but not depositing with the government even after three months.
  • Penalty here would be the amount of tax evaded and jail term up to five years.




New Norms For Construction Equipment Vehicles


  • The Centre has issued a notification laying down safety requirements such as visual display, handrail and seat belt anchorages for construction equipment vehicles.
  • This is to ensure safety while these vehicles are running on public roads along with other vehicles.
  • Certain safety requirements are already mandated for construction equipment vehicles under the Central Motor Vehicles Rules (CMVR), 1989.
  • The new norms will be rolled out in a phased manner — Phase-I (April 2021) and Phase-II (April 2024) — as per the notification.
  • The norms aim to introduce several safety requirements including visual display requirements, requirements for operator station and maintenance areas, non-metallic fuel tanks, minimum access dimensions, and others.



Un Award For Efforts To Fight Climate Change Amid Covid-19


  • An Indian organisation that leverages tourism and technology to help remote communities access solar energy has won a prestigious UN award for its efforts to combat climate change amid the Covid-19 pandemic.
  • The Global Himalayan Expedition (GHE) is among the winners of the 2020 UN Global Climate Action Award.
  • GHE is one of the world’s first organisations using tourism and technology to bring solar energy to remote communities, as recognised by the World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC) and the United Nations World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO).
  • GHE conducts “Impact Expeditions” to remote Himalayan villages and uses a portion of the expedition fee to fund the capital cost of the hardware, transportation, installation and training of village-scale solar micro-grids.
  • The micro-grid infrastructure set up by GHE is owned and operated by the community.
  • UNFCCC said this year’s award-winning projects demonstrate leadership on climate change by nations, businesses, investors, cities, regions and civil societies as a whole.
  • They range from the Caribbean’s only carbon-neutral hotel to the world’s first platform fully dedicated to green bonds to the first all-women solar team in Lebanon.



F-18 Naval Fighter Jets


  • The United States of America (USA) has offered its F-18 naval fighter jets for the Indian Navy’s requirements of combat jets for its aircraft carriers.
  • The Indian Navy had a few years ago expressed interest in the acquisition of 57 naval fighter aircraft for operations from its aircraft carriers including the present INS Vikramaditya and the under-construction Indigenous Aircraft Carrier.
  • The US government has offered to sell their F-18 fighters along with the unmanned aircraft Sea Guardian to the Indian Navy along with a number of other systems to the Indian armed forces in recent times.
  • At the moment, the Indian Navy has been assessing the F-18 and the Rafale naval fighters for its present and futuristic requirements as its present fighter is likely to be phased out by the end of this decade or the beginning of next.
  • Both Rafale and F-18 have been showcasing the simulated capability of their respective fighter aircraft to take off and land at the INS Vikramaditya aircraft carrier to the Indian Navy.
  • In the recent past, the Indian Navy has moved towards American equipment in a big way as its long-range surveillance aircraft fleet consists of 12 P-8I aircraft and would have six more of these in near future.
  • The Sea King multirole helicopters would also be replaced by 24 MH-60 Romeos which are being acquired under a government to government deal.
  • American equipment including The C-17 heavy-lift and the C-130J Super Hercules transport aircraft, M-777 ultra-light howitzers, Apache attack and Chinook heavy-lift choppers along with the SiG Sauer assault rifles have become mainstays in the Air Force and the Army in the last one decade.




NISAR Mission


  • The NASA-ISRO Synthetic Aperture Radar (NISAR) satellite is on course to be launched by 2022 with India and the United States agreeing to share Space Situational Awareness Information expected to accelerate efforts to create a safe and sustainable space environment.

What is NISAR?

  • The NISAR satellite is Synthetic Aperture Radar Imaging Satellite that makes use of dual-frequency technology.
  • The satellite uses advanced radar imaging to map the Earth’s land and ice masses and measure subtle and complex changes on the planet’s surface as a result of natural and human processes.
  • The voluminous data that the satellite will gather can be used towards assessing and mitigating damage caused by natural disasters like tsunamis, volcanoes, earthquakes and landslides.
  • As more of the planet’s human population locate themselves in high-risk areas, the likelihood and scale of human and financial losses continue to increase.
  • Key to mitigating these losses is understanding how these natural hazards take place by taking detailed measurements of the planet’s natural processes over the hazard cycle.
  • Several natural disasters cause subtle deformities on the Earth’s surface before causing a large-scale event.
  • The NISAR mission will allow scientists to track these changes and respond more swiftly.
  • Moreover, with water becoming an increasingly scarce resource, the mission will provide invaluable insights that will assist in constructing safer and more resilient water storage and distribution systems.
  • The data that the NISAR mission gathers will be open access, allowing policymakers across the world to use it towards achieving scientific or commercial objectives.





 Commission for Air Quality Management in National Capital Region


  • With the President signing the Commission for Air Quality Management in National Capital Region and Adjoining Areas Ordinance, 2020, a statutory authority to track and combat air pollution in and around the National Capital Region has come into existence.
  • The Commission, the Ordinance says, will supersede bodies such as the central and state pollution control boards of Delhi, Punjab, Haryana, UP and Rajasthan and will have the powers to issue directions to these state governments on issues pertaining to air pollution.

What does it change on the ground?

  • The one body with powers similar to the new Commission’s was the Environment Pollution (Prevention and Control) Authority (EPCA).
  • It was not a statutory body but drew legitimacy from the Supreme Court, which has been looking at cases of air pollution as part of the judgment in M C Mehta vs Union of India (1988).
  • The EPCA was not, however, supported by a legal framework in the form of a law.
  • It did have the authority to issue fines or directions and guidelines to the governments in other states.
  • It had no state representatives, just two permanent members. The Commission, on the other hand, will have representation from the state.

What is the role of the Commission vis-à-vis states?

  • The ordinance makes it clear that state as well as central bodies will not have jurisdiction over matters related to air pollution:
  • “No other individual, or body, or authority, constituted either under the law enacted by Parliament or by state government or nominated in terms of judicial order shall act upon or have jurisdiction in relation to the matters covered by this ordinance.”
  • The ordinance says the Commission will look at coordination between states, planning and execution of policy and interventions, operations of industry, inspections, research into the causes of pollution etc.
  • Experts say the ordinance means that the power to issue fines may also lie with the new Commission.
  • In case the directions issued by a state and the Commission clash, the decision of the Commission will be implemented. 

How does it help?

  • Experts say the move doesn’t automatically guarantee action on the ground.
  • Environment activist Vimlendu Jha said that by forming a new commission, the government has taken the issue of air pollution out of the purview of the judiciary.
  • As per the Ordinance, only NGT, and not civil courts, is authorised to hear cases where the commission is involved. 

What are the challenges?

  • According to the Ordinance, the committee has been formed to do away with “ad-hoc measures” and to replace them to “streamline participation” from states and experts.
  • The Commission has a large number of members from the central government, which has not gone down well with the states.
  • Political differences will also now play a part in the functioning of the Commission because states are not happy with the overarching powers being vested in it.




Threat Of Space Debris

  • The Canadian company NorthStar Earth and Space has contracted Thales Alenia Space to build the first three satellites of its Skylark space traffic monitoring system, with LeoStella, a Seattle-based firm, overseeing the final assembly.
  • This will make NorthStar the first commercial company to monitor space traffic from space.
  • The service will alert users to potential collisions between satellites, both operational and defunct, and other large pieces of debris.
  • The service will become increasingly important as new satellites, especially the mega-constellations such as SpaceX’s Starlink and Amazon’s Project Kuiper, are launched.
  • In the coming decade more than 50,000 satellites are expected to be placed in orbit.
  • The first three satellites are expected to be launched in 2022.