India Mobile Congress 2020
Why in News?
- IMC 2020 is being organised by the Department of Telecommunications, Government of India, and the Cellular Operators Association of India (COAI).
- It will be held from 8th to 10th December 2020.
About IMC 2020
- The theme for IMC 2020 is “Inclusive Innovation – Smart, Secure, Sustainable”.
- It aims to align to the Prime Minister’s vision to promote ‘Aatmanirbhar Bharat’, ‘Digital Inclusivity’, and ‘Sustainable development, entrepreneurship & innovation’.
- It also aims to drive foreign and local investments, encourage R&D in the telecom and emerging technology sectors.
- IMC 2020 will see the participation from various Ministries, the telecom CEOs, global CEOs, and domain experts in 5G, Artificial Intelligence (AI), Internet of Things (IoT), Data Analytics, Cloud and Edge computing, Blockchain, Cyber-security, Smart Cities and Automation.
Investment Promotion Award 2020
Why in News?
- The United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) has declared ‘Invest India’ as winner of the 2020 United Nations Investment Promotion Award.
- The Award recognises and celebrates the outstanding achievements of the world’s best-practice investment promotion agencies.
- The evaluation was based on UNCTAD’s assessment of work undertaken by 180 national investment promotion agencies across the world.
- UNCTAD highlighted good practices followed by ‘Invest India’ such as the Business Immunity Platform, Exclusive Investment Forum webinar series, its social media engagement and focus Covid response teams (such as business reconstruction, stakeholder outreach and supplier outreach) created as a response to the pandemic in its publications.
- Invest India has also shared long-term strategies and practices being followed for investment promotion, facilitation and retention at UNCTAD’s high-level brainstorming sessions.
- UNCTAD is the central agency which monitors performance of investment promotion agencies and identifies global best practices.
- Germany, South Korea, and Singapore have been some of the past winners of the award.
Two New Zoos Granted Recognition by Central Government
Why in News?
- At the 37th General Body meeting of Central Zoo Authority chaired by Union Minister for Environment, Forest and Climate Change, two new zoos the Rajgir Zoo Safari in Nalanda, Bihar and Shaheed Ashfaque Ullah Khan Prani Udyaan in Gorakhpur, Uttar Pradesh were granted recognition.
Rajgir Zoo Safari, Nalanda, Bihar
- The zoo is established exclusively comprising on only safari enclosures which, on contrary to conventional enclosure, offer larger space for captive animals.
- The zoo proposes to house Lion, Bear, Tiger, Leopard and a mixed safari of common herbivore species such as Spotted Deer, Sambar among others.
- The establishment of the zoo was personally monitored by the Chief Minister of the state.
- The zoo will display wild animals in naturalistic safari enclosures and promote awareness of towards wildlife conservation.
Shaheed Ashfaque Ullah Khan Prani Udyaan, Gorakhpur, U.P.
- With this, the state of Uttar Pradesh has a total of 9 zoos.
- The zoo is situated in the spiritual land of Gorakhpur and has a high visitation.
- The zoo aims to create awareness through naturalistic enclosures and create long-lasting visitor experience through state-of-the-art visitor facilities like 4D Theatre, battery-operated train and accessibility to Divyangjan.
Narmada Landscape Restoration Project
Why in News?
- NTPC Ltd., one of India’s largest integrated energy company and a PSU under Ministry of Power, signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with Indian Institute of Forest Management (IIFM), Bhopal, to implement the Narmada Landscape Restoration Project.
- The program is in partnership with a grant in aid from NTPC Ltd and United States Agency for International Development (USAID) in equal proportions.
- The 4-year project will be implemented in Khargone District of Madhya Pradesh, in the catchments of selected tributaries of the River Narmada between Omkareshwar and Maheshwar dams.
- The project aims to establish an incentivisation mechanism that can continue to support the riparian forest and farm communities of the Narmada basin to maintain sustainable landscape practices.
- This is expected to positively impact the water quality and quantity in the Narmada tributaries.
Aerial LiDAR Survey Technique
Why in News?
- National High Speed Rail Corporation Limited will be adopting Light Detection and Ranging Survey (LiDAR) technique using Laser enabled equipment mounted on a Helicopter for conducting ground survey for the preparation of Detailed Project Report for the proposed Delhi-Varanasi HSR corridor.
About Light Detection and Ranging Survey (LiDAR) technique
- This technique uses a combination of Laser data, GPS data, flight parameters and actual photographs to give accurate survey data.
- Based on the findings of the survey, designing of the vertical & horizontal alignment, structures, location of the stations and depots, Land requirement for the corridor, identification of project affected plots/structures, Right of Way etc are decided.
- The aerial LiDAR survey technique, for the first time for any railway project in India, was adopted forthe Mumbai- Ahmedabad High Speed Rail Corridor primarily because of its high accuracy.
HOW DOES LIDAR WORK?
- A LIDAR instrument consists of a laser, a scanner and a GPS receiver mounted on a platform.
- This platform may be mobile or stationary, aerial or terrestrial, based on the needs of the application — the laser, scanner and GPS receiver are the only constants.
There are two types of LIDAR — topographic and bathymetric.
- Topographic: Topographic LIDAR measures distances on land using a near-infrared laser. This is essential for the majority of civil engineering, roadwork and mining operations, which require measuring distances on land.
- Bathymetric: Bathymetric LIDAR measures distances in aquatic environments by using a water-penetrating green light laser. This type of LIDAR is commonly used in civil engineering and roadwork applications that require working with underwater environments, such as under bridges.
How does LIDAR surveying work on a technical level?
- LIDAR works by pointing a laser at a target surface on the ground or under the water.
- The surface reflects the light back to the LIDAR equipment, and the sensor records the reflected light to measure the distance traveled.
- This data is then combined with the position and orientation of the LIDAR equipment, which is measured using the GPS receiver and internal measurement systems.
- This creates a set of three-dimensional spatial coordinates that include latitude, longitude and height, creating a combination of data that is called a point.
Draft Guidelines For Technical Specifications Of Floating Structures
Why in News?
- Ministry of Ports, Shipping and Waterways has compiled the draft guidelines for technical specifications of floating structures, with a vision to set up and deploy world-class floating infrastructure all along the coastline and issued the same for public consultation.
The benefits of floating jetties over the conventional quay and fixed concrete structures are as follows:
- It is a cost-effective solution and much cheaper than conventional structures price.
- Setting up of floating structures is much faster as compared to conventional jetties. Usually, floating structures can be built in 6-8 months as compared to 24 months for conventional structures.
- Its environmental impact is minimal.
- Expansions are easily feasible due to modular construction techniques.
- It is easily transportable in case of reconfiguring of the port.
- It provides constant freeboard between jetties and boats.
- Deployment of floating jetties, especially in locations having a large tidal range, where conventional quay poses problems during low tide periods, is very convenient.
- The ministry has successfully implemented a few pilot projects in the recent past by following the international guiding principles.
- These include setting up of passenger floating jetties in Goa, water-aerodromes at Sabarmati River and at Sardar Sarovar Dam (for the seaplane services).
- A benchmark and standard specifications at par with international standards are being evolved by the ministry so that technical specifications of floating structures are frozen after due deliberations with various stakeholders.
- For this, Ministry has entrusted IIT Chennai to work out the technical specifications of sustainable floating structures like floating jetties, water-aerodromes, floating marinas, fish landing facilities etc. so that precise and stringent technical specifications are established.
Vanchit Ikai Samooh aur Vargon ki Aarthik Sahayta (VISVAS) Yojana
Why in News?
- Implementation of Interest subvention Scheme of Ministry of Social Justice & Empowerment –Vanchit Ikai Samooh aur Vargon ki Aarthik Sahayta (VISVAS) Yojana
- for financial empowerment of economically marginalized OBC/SC SHGs & Individuals got a major boost
- with signing of Memorandum of Agreements (MoAs) by National Backward Classes Finance & Development Corporation (NBCFDC) and National Scheduled Castes Finance and Development Corporation (NSFDC) with Central Bank of India.
- The scheme will benefit OBC/SC SHGs with loans/borrowings up to Rs.4.00 Lakh and OBC/SC individuals with loan/borrowing up to Rs.2.00 Lakh with a quick interest subvention benefit of 5% directly into the standard accounts of borrowing SHGs/beneficiaries.
Violation Of Religious Freedom
Why in News?
- The United States has designated Pakistan and China among eight other countries that are of particular concern for violation of religious freedom.
- Pakistan and China along with Myanmar, Eritrea, Iran, Nigeria, North Korea, Saudi Arabia, Tajikistan and Turkmenistan were placed in the list for engaging in or tolerating systematic, ongoing, egregious violations of religious freedom.
- Placed the Comoros, Cuba, Nicaragua and Russia on a Special Watch List (SWL) for governments that have engaged in or tolerated severe violations of religious freedom.
- Also designated al-Shabaab, al-Qaida, Boko Haram, Hayat Tahrir al-Sham, the Houthis, ISIS, ISIS-Greater Sahara, ISIS-West Africa, Jamaat Nasr al-Islam wal Muslimin and the Taliban as ‘Entities of Particular Concern’.
- Sudan and Uzbekistan have been removed from the Special Watch List based on significant, concrete progress undertaken by their respective governments over the past year.
Pravasi Bharatiya Divas
Why in News?
- Prime Minister will inaugurate the Pravasi Bharatiya Divas Convention on January 9.
- In view of the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic, the 16th PBD Convention will be held in virtual format on January 9.
- Pravasi Bharatiya Divas Convention is the flagship event of the Government of India and provides an important platform to engage and connect with the overseas diaspora.
- The theme of PBD 2021 is “Contributing to Atmanirbhar Bharat”.
- The winners of ‘Bharat ko Janiye Quiz’ will also be announced in the inaugural session.
- The PBD Convention will include two Plenary Sessions —
- ‘Role of Diaspora in Atmanirbhar Bharat’ and
- ‘Facing Post Covid Challenges-Scenario in Health, Economy, Social and International Relations’.
Why in News?
- India’s first human space flight mission Gaganyaan is likely to be delayed by one year due to the adverse impact from the COVID-19 pandemic.
About Gaganyaan Mission
- As per the mandate of Gaganyaan, two uncrewed missions would be undertaken prior to the manned mission.
- Accordingly, the unmanned missions were slated for launch in December 2020 and July 2021, and the first manned mission was scheduled in December 2021.
- The Gaganyaan project has the objective of demonstrating human space flight capability to Low Earth Orbit with three crew members in orbit and safely recovering them after the mission.
- ISRO’s heavy lift launcher, GSLV MkIII is identified for the Gaganyaan mission and the process for human rating of this rocket is in progress.
- The space agency has short-listed 20 space-based experiment proposals for the Shukrayaan mission to study the planet for more than four years.
- They include “collaborative contributions” from Russia, France, Sweden and Germany.
- ISRO was eyeing June, 2023 for the country’s first mission to Venus.
Bangladesh, Bhutan sign historic PTA
Why in News?
- Bangladesh signs its first ever preferential trade agreement (PTA) with the country that recognised it as an independent and sovereign nation before any other state did.
- India as the second, to recognise Bangladesh as an independent country.
- The agreement has been signed between these two friendly nations on the same day, December 6 that is, Bhutan had accorded recognition to the country 49 years ago in 1971.
- Bhutan is the second least populous nation in South Asia but holds the enviable record of ranking as the number one country in economic freedom and ease of doing business in the region. It is also the most peaceful and least corrupt nation in South Asia.
- Under the agreement signed, as many as 100 products from Bangladesh would get duty-free access to Bhutan and the latter would receive the same facility from the former for 34 of its products.
- Goods like Jute and Jute products, baby clothes and accessories, men’s trousers, jackets and blazers are among the 100 items from Bangladesh which will get duty free access to Bhutan.
- On the other hand fruit juice, natural honey, wheat flour jams, jellies and lime stone, quartzite etc from Bhutan will have duty free access to Bangladesh.
- The trade volume between the two countries is approximately 50 million dollars with 7.56 million of export and 42.09 million import into Bangladesh.
- Bangladesh is expected to sign 11 more PTAs and Free Trade Agreements (FTAs) with countries like Indonesia and Nepal by June next year.
Why in News?
- At a time when the world is facing its biggest medical challenge due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, health insurance policies in India are poised for a revamp that will make health insurance cover more customer friendly.
- Inclusions in the policy, specifically for robotic and bariatric surgeries in India, were very limited and that was the reason why many policyholders were not able to avail of the best and most-advanced treatment on offer in the country.
- Insurance Regulatory and Development Authority of India (IRDAI) has now taken cognisance and all health policies are being standardised across health insurers.
- Robotic surgery holds significant promise in the field of healthcare. The introduction of such surgeries has made the performance of complicated procedures much easier.
- They allow doctors to perform different types of complex procedures with more precision, flexibility, and control than possible with conventional techniques.
- The benefits of such procedures in India come at a lower cost than in developed nations, making it easily accessible to a larger section of the population.
- Robotic surgeries reduce the trauma caused to the patient by allowing surgery to be performed through small ports or ‘keyholes’ rather than via large incisions.
- The instruments can access hard-to-reach areas of a patient’s body more easily through smaller incisions compared with traditional open and laparoscopic surgeries.
- This helps in shorter recovery times, with fewer complications and a shorter hospital stay. They are minimally invasive, painless and have a bigger cosmetic advantage.
- When it comes to the cost of robotic surgery, it is very affordable unlike in the U.S., U.K., and Canada. Overall, the cost of such procedures in India is pocket-friendly, that too, without compromising on the quality of services and infrastructure.
Cost of surgery
- Owing to their effectiveness and efficiency, the cost of performing robotic surgeries is a bit higher than regular procedures.
Why in News?
- Nokia will lead European Commission’s 6G flagship initiative project Hexa-X, that will focus on next generation wireless networks.
- The project is aimed at connecting human, physical and digital worlds by creating unique 6G use cases with fundamental 6G technologies.
- Hexa-X can create a 6G network with a sixth sense that can understand human intentions, anticipate needs, make interactions with the physical world more effective, thereby improving our productivity.
- The European Commission-funded project will commence on January 1, 2021 with a planned duration of 2.5 years.
- Nokia expects 6G systems to launch commercially by 2030.
Green Hydrogen Production
Why in News?
- Seven companies, including developer ACWA Power and Spanish utility Iberdrola , have formed a joint initiative to scale up production of “green” hydrogen in the next six years and bring down costs.
- “Green” hydrogen is a zero-carbon fuel made by electrolysis, using renewable power from wind and solar to split water into hydrogen and oxygen.
- It is increasingly being touted as a way to decarbonise emissions-intensive heavy industry and transport sectors, but currently costs of production are too high to be competitive with other fuels.
- It aims to deploy 25 gigawatts (GW) of renewables-based hydrogen production to 2026, and to halve the current cost of the fuel to below $2 per kg.
- Its goal will require investment of around $110 billion — to be raised from a mix of debt and equity providers, with some public co-investment — and deliver more than 120,000 jobs.
- Industry experts say a $2/kg price will make green hydrogen more competitive with other fuels and encourage more large-scale projects.
Digital Currencies Need To Be Regulated
Why in News?
- Finance ministers and central bankers from the Group of Seven (G7) advanced economies strongly supported the need to regulate digital currencies.
- German Finance Minister underscoring his concerns about authorizing the launch of Facebook’s Libra cryptocurrency – newly renamed Diem – in Germany and Europe.
- The G7 finance officials discussed ongoing responses to “the evolving landscape of crypto assets and other digital assets and national authorities work to prevent their use for malign purposes and illicit activities.
- Stablecoins are tied to a traditional currency or basket of assets, and used for payments or for storing value.
- Facebook announced plans in June to launch its digital currency but regulators around the world fear it could destabilise the global financial system.
Why in News?
- The Uttar Pradesh government has recently embarked upon a scheme to take the unique culture of its ethnic Tharu tribe across the world.
- The intention is to put Tharu villages on the tourism map, and to create jobs and bring economic independence to the tribal population.
What is this scheme about?
- The state government is working to connect Tharu villages in the districts of Balrampur, Bahraich, Lakhimpur and Pilibhit bordering Nepal, with the home stay scheme of the UP Forest Department.
- The idea is to offer tourists an experience of living in the natural Tharu habitat, in traditional huts made of grass collected mainly from the forests.
- The Uttar Pradesh Forest Corporation will train the Tharu people to communicate effectively with visitors, and encourage villagers to acquaint them with aspects of safety and cleanliness, and with the rules of the forest.
- The homestay scheme will be expanded to include the Tharu villages in a few weeks’ time.
Who exactly are the Tharu people?
- The community belongs to the Terai lowlands, amid the Shivaliks or lower Himalayas.
- Most of them are forest dwellers, and some practice agriculture.
- The word tharu is believed to be derived from sthavir, meaning followers of Theravada Buddhism.
- The Tharus live in both India and Nepal.
- In the Indian terai, they live mostly in Uttarakhand, Uttar Pradesh, and Bihar.
- According to the 2011 census, the Scheduled Tribe population in Uttar Pradesh was more than 11 lakh; this number is estimated to have crossed 20 lakh now.
- The biggest chunk of this tribal population is made up of Tharus.
What is unusual about the Tharu language, food, and culture?
- They speak various dialects of Tharu, a language of the Indo-Aryan subgroup, and variants of Hindi, Urdu, and Awadhi.
- In central Nepal, they speak a variant of Bhojpuri, while in eastern Nepal, they speak a variant of Maithili.
- Tharus worship Lord Shiva as Mahadev, and call their supreme being “Narayan”, who they believe is the provider of sunshine, rain, and harvests.
- Tharu women have stronger property rights than is allowed to women in mainstream North Indian Hindu custom.
- Standard items on the Tharu plate are bagiya or dhikri – which is a steamed dish of rice flour that is eaten with chutney or curry – and ghonghi, an edible snail that is cooked in a curry made of coriander, chili, garlic, and onion.