DRDO Celebrates 63rd Foundation Day
- DRDO was established in 1958 with just 10 laboratories to enhance the research work in Defence sector and was tasked with designing and developing cutting edge defence technologies for Indian Armed Forces.
- Today, DRDO is working in multiple cutting edge military technology areas, which include aeronautics, armaments, combat vehicles, electronics, instrumentation, engineering systems, missiles, materials, naval systems, advanced computing, simulation, cyber, life sciences and other technologies for defence.
- Chairman DRDO declared Export as the theme of DRDO for 2021 and mentioned that many products based on DRDO technologies have already been exported by DPSUs and Industry.
- In 2020, DRDO achieved many milestones such as maiden landing of LCA Navy onboard INS Vikramaditya, demonstration of Hypersonic Technology Demonstration Vehicle (HSTDV), Quantum Key Distribution (QKD) & QRNG developments in area of Quantum Technology, Laser Guided Anti-Tank Guided Missile (ATGM),
- Supersonic Missile Assisted Release of Torpedo (SMART), Anti-Radiation Missile (NGARM), enhanced version of PINAKA Rocket System, Quick Reaction Surface to Air Missile (QRSAM), Maiden launch of MRSAM, 5.56 x 30 mm Joint Venture Protective Carbine (JVPC) and many other milestones.
- DRDO has established three dedicated COVID hospitals at Delhi, Patna and Muzaffarpur in a record time for strengthening the medical infrastructure.
- In addition, Mobile Virology Research and Diagnostics Laboratory (MVRDL) were developed to speed-up the COVID-19 screening and R&D activities at various locations for strengthening the COVID testing capabilities.
Flagship programmes of DRDO
- Hypersonic Cruise Missile, Advanced Medium Combat Aircraft (AMCA), New Generation MBT, Unmanned Combat Aerial Vehicle, Enhanced AEW&CS, LCA MK II etc.
- Chairman DRDO also launched an Online Industry Partner Registration Module to simplify the process of vendor registration.
- He released the DRDO Monograph on “Issues on Development of Communication Technology using Orbiting Satellites” and also the Environmental Safety Manual and Guidelines for Disposal of Life Expired Chemicals and Gases at DRDO Laboratories.
Horticulture in Himachal Pradesh
Why in News?
- The Asian Development Bank (ADB) and the Government of India signed a $10 million project readiness financing (PRF).
- To help finance piloting activities, and design and capacity building for an ensuing project that aims to expand horticulture production and farm household income in the hill state of Himachal Pradesh.
About PRF Project
- PRF project will support advance actions to achieve high level of project readiness through detailed design activities, capacity building of state level agencies, and creating an enabling environment for subtropical horticulture development in the state.
- To ensure implementation readiness with prior testing of new production technologies and marketing systems so that the ensuing project is cost-effective and gets completed in a timely manner to enhance farm profitability.
- The ensuing project, to be designed by the PRF, will support development of subtropical horticulture, including cultivation of fruits and vegetables, in the state’s southern region which is currently lagging due to limited access to perennial water sources, crops losses due to wild animal encroachment and limited access to high value markets.
Enhance Power Generation Capacity In Assam
Why in News?
- The Asian Development Bank (ADB) and the Government of India signed a $ 231 million loan to augment electricity generation capacity in the state of Assam.
- Through construction of a 120 megawatts (MW) hydroelectric power plant that will enhance availability of electricity for households.
- This is the third tranche loan for the ongoing Assam Power Sector Investment Programme that was approved by the ADB Board in July 2014.
- The programme, including its two previous tranches, focuses on enhancing capacity and efficiency of the energy generation and distribution systems in Assam to improve electricity service to end users.
- The project will add to Assam’s power generation capacity from clean hydroelectric source and improve electricity availability.
- The proposed hydroelectric project is run-of-the-river project over Kopili River which will help increase electricity supplied from clean energy by 469 gigawatthour (GWh) by 2025 and reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
IFSCA becomes member of IOSCO
Why in News?
- The International Financial Services Centres Authority (IFSCA) has become an Associate Member of the International Organization of Securities Commissions (IOSCO).
- The IOSCO is the international organization that brings together the world’s securities regulators, covering more than 95% of the world’s securities markets, and is the global standard setter for the securities sector.
- IOSCO works closely with the G20 and the Financial Stability Board (FSB) in setting up the standards for strengthening the securities markets.
- The IOSCO Objectives and Principles of Securities Regulation have been endorsed by FSB as one of the key standards for sound financial systems.
- The membership of IOSCO would provide IFSCA the platform to exchange information at the global level and regional level on areas of common interests.
- Further, the IOSCO platform would enable IFSCA to learn from the experiences and best practices of the regulators of other well established financial centres.
- The IOSCO’s membership is a significant milestone in connecting IFSCA with the regulators of securities markets globally.
- Iy would contribute immensely towards the development and regulation of the financial products, financial services and financial institutions at the Gujarat International Finance Tec-City International Financial Services Centre.
Why in News?
- Ministry of Personnel, Public Grievances & Pensions informed of the government decision to extend “Disability Compensation” for all serving employees, if they get disabled in the line of duty while performing their service and are retained in service in spite of such disablement.
- It will particularly provide a huge relief to young Central Armed Police Force (CAPF) personnel like CRPF, BSF, CISF, etc since disability in performance of duties is generally reported in their case due to constraints of job requirement as well as hostile or difficult work – environment.
- Earlier OM dated 5/5/2009, the provisions of disability benefits under Central Civil Services(CCS) (EOP) Rules did not provide such compensation to those government servants who were appointed on or after 1.1.2004 and covered under National Pension System (NPS).
- The employees covered under NPS will also get benefits under Rule (9) of Extra Ordinary Pension (EOP).
- In other words, if a government servant gets disabled while performing his duties and this disablement is attributed to government service, in that case if he is still retained in the service in spite of disablement,
- A lump sum compensation will be paid to him by arriving at the capitalized value of the disability element, with reference to the Commutation Table in force from time to time.
Minimum Qualifying Service
- The Ministry of Personnel recently did away with minimum qualifying service of 10 years for pension, if a government servant is incapacitated due to bodily or medical infirmity and retired from government service.
- Accordingly, Rule 38 of CCS (Pension) Rules was amended to provide Invalid Pension at 50% of the last pay, even if the employee had not completed minimum qualifying service of 10 years.
Pension at enhanced rate to the family of an employee
- A decision was also taken to amend the rule and provide pension at enhanced rate to the family of an employee who died during service before completing the requisite service of minimum 7 years.
- As a result, now the family pension of 50% of the last pay is also admissible to the family of employees who die even before completing 7 years of service.
Missed Call Facility for LPG consumers Launched
Why in News?
- Ministry of Petroleum & Natural Gas launched Missed Call Facility for LPG consumers, a major step towards government’s efforts to boost ease of living.
- Indian Oil LPG customers can use single missed call number 8454955555 for refill booking- for all India and for new connection- for Bhubaneshwar City.
- Also rolled out the second phase of world class premium grade petrol (Octane 100), branded as XP100 by Indian Oil.
- In seven more cities including Chennai, Bangalore, Hyderabad, Kolkata, Kochi, Indore and Bhubaneswar.
- Had launched XP100 and rolled out the first phase a month ago on 01st December, 2020 at select outlets in 10 Indian cities.
- First load of XP100 from the country’s oldest operating refinery at Digboi, Assam, epitomizes the Prime Minister’s vision of Purvodya.
- XP100 is of world class quality which would enhance the efficiency of High speed cars.
- Digboi has joined the elite group of Mathura and Barauni Refineries by producing XP-100 Petrol using existing infrastructure and secondary processing facilities.
Punjab State Data Policy (PSDP)
Why in News?
- Punjab cabinet approved the Punjab State Data Policy (PSDP) to track progress and to provide citizens access to services.
- PSDP would be instrumental in leveraging data and technology to optimize service delivery and citizens’ access and participation through user friendly and secure e-governance systems.
- The data would be efficaciously utilized for evidence-based policy making and programme decision making.
- Punjab has now become one of the first states in the country to formulate a comprehensive data policy.
- The policy will be a guiding principle for all departments to collect, process, manage and use data for efficient, effective, transparent and accessible service delivery to citizens.
- It shall serve the purpose of facilitating easy access and sharing of government data, in order to support sustainable and inclusive governance and effective planning, implementation and monitoring of developmental programmes, managing and mitigating disasters and scientific research aiding informed decisions.
New Science Policy Draft
Why in News?
- The draft Science, Technology and Innovation Policy (STIP) has been uploaded by the Department of Science and Technology (DST) on its website.
- The DST has also invited suggestions, inputs and comments for making changes.
- To achieve technological self-reliance and position India among the top three scientific superpowers in the decade to come;
- To double the number of Full-Time Equivalent (FTE) researchers, Gross Domestic Expenditure on R&D (GERD) and private sector contribution to the GERD every 5 years;
- Build individual and institutional excellence in STI with the aspiration to achieve the highest level of global recognitions and awards in the coming decade.
What all Policy talks About?
- The formation of an STI Development Bank for direct investments on various long and medium-term projects in select strategic areas, commercial ventures, start-ups, technology diffusion and licensing.
- It also aims to create an accountable research ecosystem, promoting translational as well as foundational research in the country in alignment with global standards.
- The lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer (LGBTQ+) community will be included in gender equity conversations with special provisions to safeguard its members’ rights and promote their representation and retention in STI.
- The STIP will lead to the establishment of a National STI Observatory that will act as a central repository for all kinds of data related to and generated from the STI ecosystem. It will encompass an open centralised database platform for all financial schemes, programmes, grants and incentives existing in the ecosystem.
- A dedicated portal to provide access to the outputs of such publicly-funded research will be created through the Indian Science and Technology Archive of Research (INDSTA).
- To create pathways for the government to negotiate with journal publishers for a “one nation, one subscription” policy, whereby, in return for a centrally-negotiated payment, all individuals in the country will have access to journal articles.
- Each state will earmark a percentage of the state allocation for STI-related activities under a separate budget head. Foreign Multi-National Companies (MNCs) will collaborate with domestic private and public sector entities on projects aligned to national needs and prioritie.
- Hybrid funding models with enhanced participation from public and private sectors will be created through the Advanced Missions in Innovative Research Ecosystem (ADMIRE) initiative.
- The DST, along with the Office of Principal Scientific Adviser, started the process of formulating the STIP 2020 last year.
‘Namma Tiruvannamalai’ App
Why in News?
- ‘Namma Tiruvannamalai’, a mobile application to ensure better communication between the district administration and the public, was released by Hindu Religious and Charitable Endowments Minister in Arani, Tamil Nadu.
- The app, created by the district administration with the help of a private agency, is expected to help in ensuring two-way communication between the district administration and the public.
- It will help the public in understanding the government schemes, development works and new projects. It disseminates information on various schemes and would be useful to get public feedback on the initiatives.
- The app will aid in grievance redress and have contact information of officials.
- Through this app, the public can actively participate in social awareness campaigns like plastic-free Tiruvannamalai, Swachh Bharat and Jal Shakti Abhiyan.
Why in News?
- A group of hobbyist butterfly trackers attempting to document and learn about the different butterfly species in the Nilgiris has helped expand the knowledge-base of the life cycles of two rare butterfly species in the district.
- The Wynter-Blyth Association (WBA), have successfully “rediscovered” the Branded Royal (Tajuria melastigma) after a period of 130 years, while also recording the early life cycle of the Nilgiri tit (Hypolycaena nilgirica), which the team found laying eggs on a species of ground orchid.
Branded Royal (Tajuria melastigma)
- The Branded Royal, which was last observed in the Nilgiris in the 1880s was not only rediscovered in the hills, but has also had its entire lifecycle documented.
- This elusive butterfly has been sighted hardly in three places in Tamil Nadu and there are only a handful of overall sightings of the adult from the Peninsular India.
- This butterfly breeds in a species of Loranthus (Scurrula parasitica) during its larval stage after which it goes through a series of physiological changes to dissolve itself into a beautiful pupa and to finally emerge as an adult.
Why in News?
- Britain abolished the so-called “tampon tax”, eliminating sales taxes on women’s sanitary products.
- EU law had prevented member states from reducing the rate of value-added tax below 5%, meaning the period products were treated as luxury items and not essentials.
Why in News?
- With the government refusing to call the winter session of Parliament, the Rajya Sabha sat for just 33 days in 2020, its lowest-ever tally of sittings in a year.
- Both sessions of Parliament — Budget session and the monsoon session — had to be cut short due to COVID-19 pandemic.
- There are only three other occasions when Rajya Sabha met for less than 50 sittings in a year — 48 in 1999 and 46 each in 2004 and 2008.
- The last time the winter session was cancelled was 36 years back in 1984. In overall Parliamentary history, there have been only two other instances in 1979 and 1975 when the winter session was cancelled.
- During the year 2020, the annual productivity of Rajya Sabha has been 82.7%, the highest annual productivity during the last 11 years.
- A total of 39 Bills have been passed by the Rajya Sabha during 2020, including 12 during the Budget session and 27 during the monsoon session.
Why in News?
- Covishield, the vaccine candidate from Pune-based Serum Institute of India, was approved by a Subject Expert Committee (SEC) of the Drug Controller General of India (DCGI).
- Bharat Biotech has been asked to furnish more data demonstrating the efficacy of its candidate, Covaxin.
- Covishield, which is similar to the ‘Oxford vaccine’ developed by the Oxford University vaccine group and marketed by AstraZeneca, was approved by the health regulator in the UK under emergency use conditions.
- In the UK, the vaccine has been recommended to be given in two doses 4-12 weeks apart.
Why in News?
- An assistant professor of Physics at Madurai Kamaraj University has come up with a prototype of a unique respiratory mask that can pick up oxygen from the atmosphere for the wearer.
What it do?
- A ventilator-cum-respiratory mask that ensures more than 40% of atmospheric oxygen is available within the mask.
- Called LIDS-VR mask, it contains sensors to regulate the level of oxygen.
- The atmosphere has 20.9% of oxygen. He had developed a nanomaterial that can absorb oxygen. It requires energy to release the oxygen for the wearer. For this, he use 1.5-cm-2-cm lipo 3.7 volt battery. The mask can be charged like a mobile phone.
- The respirator could be used when a sick patient is waiting for ambulance or by festival shoppers at a heavily crowded mall.
- Helpful for asthmatic persons. It can also be used in aeroplanes.
National Defence Authorisation Act (NDAA) 2021
Why in News?
- A bipartisan Congressional provision condemning China’s aggression towards India has become a law as the U.S. Congress overrode President Donald Trump’s veto on the $740 billion defence policy bill which, among other things, included calling out the Chinese government for its actions along the Line of Actual Control (LAC).
- The National Defence Authorisation Act (NDAA) 2021, which became a law, after Congress overrode Trump’s veto, included a resolution urging the Chinese government to end its military aggression towards India along the LAC.
India & China Dispute
- China and India have been locked in a military stand-off along the LAC in eastern Ladakh since May this year.
- Several rounds of talks between the two countries to resolve the stand-off have not yielded any concrete outcome.
- The inclusion of this provision, as an amendment when the bill passed the House of Representatives, reflects the American government’s strong support for its allies and partners like India in the Indo-Pacific region and beyond.
What else the Bill Says
- Attempts by China to advance baseless territorial claims, including those in the South China Sea, the East China Sea, and with respect to Bhutan, are destabilising and inconsistent with international law, says the bill.
- China is also engaged in hotly contested territorial disputes in both the South China Sea and the East China Sea. China claims sovereignty over all of the South China Sea. Vietnam, Malaysia, the Philippines, Brunei and Taiwan have counter claims.
- Beijing has built up and militarised many of the islands and reefs it controls in the region. Both areas are stated to be rich in minerals, oil and other natural resources and are also vital to global trade.
Why in News?
- In an in-depth study of how Covid-19 affects a patient’s brain, researchers from the US National Institutes of Health (NIH) consistently spotted hallmarks of damage in tissue samples from deceased patients of the disease.
- This damage to tissue samples was caused by thinning and leaky brain blood vessels.
- Yet the researchers saw no signs of SARS-CoV-2 in the tissue samples.
- This suggests that the damage was not caused by a direct viral attack on the brain.
Effects on Brain of COVID-19 Patients
- The brains of patients who contract infection from SARS-CoV-2 may be susceptible to microvascular blood vessel damage.
- This may be caused by the body’s inflammatory response to the virus.
- Although Covid-19 is primarily a respiratory disease, patients often experience neurological problems including headaches, delirium, cognitive dysfunction, dizziness, fatigue, and loss of the sense of smell.
- The disease may also cause patients to suffer strokes.
- Several studies have shown that the disease can cause inflammation and blood vessel damage.
Olfactory bulbs & Brainstem
- Olfactory bulbs control our sense of smell while the brainstem controls our breathing and heart rate.
- The scans revealed that both regions had an abundance of bright spots (called hyperintensities) that often indicate inflammation, and dark spots (called hypointensities) that represent bleeding.
- The researchers used the scans as a guide to examine the spots more closely under a microscope.
- They found that the bright spots contained blood vessels that were thinner than normal and sometimes leaking blood proteins, like fibrinogen, into the brain.
- This appeared to trigger an immune reaction.
- The spots were surrounded by T cells from the blood and the brain’s own immune cells called microglia.
- In contrast, the dark spots contained both clotted and leaky blood vessels but no immune response.
Why in News?
- The Japanese tradition of fukubukuro – or lucky bags sold at stores to ring in the New Year – began unseasonably early this year, as retailers attempted to avoid large crowds descending on their premises in search of a bargain.
- The term fukubukuro is comprised of two Japanese words: fuku, meaning good fortune or luck; and fukuro (pronounced as bukuro), meaning bag.
- Fukubukuro typically go on sale at the start of the New Year, with outlets ranging from high-end fashion boutiques to discount liquor stores bagging up a selection of items and customers taking a chance on the bag that they grab.
- There may be no way of knowing just what is inside, but the understanding is that it will be worth around double of what the buyer pays.
Data on Police Organizations (DoPO)
Why in News?
- There is a jump of 16.05 per cent in women in the police force in the year, Bureau of Police Research and Development (BPR-D) observed in the Data on Police Organizations (DoPO) released for the year 2020.
- The BPR- D has been publishing the DoPO annually, since the year 1986.
- There are 26,23,225 sanctioned police force in the country.
- The total actual police force is 20,91,488 with a vacancy of 5,31,737 in the police force.
- There is a jump of 16.05 per cent for women police this year.
- But, in Central Armed Police Force (CAPF) like ITBP, BSF, CRPF, CISF, SSB, NSG total percentage of female police still remains at 2.98 per cent.
- There are 16,855 sanctioned police stations in 800 districts.
Digital Payment Index
Why in News?
- The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) has constructed a composite Digital Payments Index (DPI) to capture the extent of digitisation of payments across the country.
- The RBI-DPI has been constructed with March 2018 as the base period. The DPI for March 2019 and March 2020 work out to 153.47 and 207.84 respectively, indicating appreciable growth.
The RBI-DPI comprises five broad parameters,that enable the measurement of deepening and expansion of digital payments in the country over different time periods. These parameters are
- Including Payment Enablers (weight 25%),
- Payment Infrastructure – Demand-side factors and (10%),
- Payment Infrastructure – Supply-side factors (15%),
- Payment Performance (45%) and
- Consumer Centricity (5%).
- Each of these parameters have sub-parameters which, in turn, consist of various measurable indicators.
- Going forward, RBI-DPI shall be published on RBI’s website on a semi-annual basis from March 2021 onwards with a lag of 4 months.