Current affairs of july 02 2019

1. UGC approved a new initiative named “STRIDE” to boost research culture in India

The Main aim to boost research culture in India, the University Grants Commission (UGC) has approved a new scheme called Scheme for Trans-disciplinary Research for India’s Developing Economy’ (STRIDE). The STRIDE will provide support to research projects that are socially relevant, locally need-based, nationally important and globally significant. It will support research capacity building as well as basic, applied and transformational action research that can contribute to national priorities with a focus on inclusive human development. STRIDE will support the creation, development, and integration of new ideas, concepts, and practices for the public good and strengthening civil society. “STRIDE scheme will strengthen research culture and innovation in colleges and universities to help students and faculty to contribute towards India’s developing economy with help of collaborative research,’ said HRD minister Ramesh Pokhriyal in an official release.

2. Jal Shakti Abhiyan launched by the Government to create awareness on the benefits of water conservation 

Union Government has launched Jal Shakti Abhiyan to create awareness on the benefits of water conservation and declining sources of water in the country. Launching the initiative in New Delhi this evening, Jal Shakti Minister Gajendra Singh Shekhawat said, water conservation is now a national priority and it is time to make water conservation a people's movement. He requested the people to associate themselves with Jal Shakti Abhiyan. Mr. Shekhawat said, everyone should make efforts to save the country from the threat of water scarcity. The Minister said, per capita, water availability has dropped a lot in India and India is also one of the most vulnerable countries to climate change. He said, there is a need to conserve more water as at present only 8 percent of rainwater is being conserved.

3. PM formed a high powered panel of CMs headed by Maharashtra CM Devendra Fadnavis for the transformation of Indian agriculture

Prime minister Narendra Modi has constituted a high powered committee of chief ministers to be convened by Maharashtra chief minister Devendra Fadnavis for transforming Indian agriculture and raising farmers’ income. “Agriculture, rural development, water conservation, and its proper use have been among the major planks of NDA Government led by Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi. In keeping with his promises and subsequent to the deliberations of Governing Council meeting of NITI Aayog, the Prime Minister has set up a High Powered Committee of Chief Ministers for ‘Transformation of Indian Agriculture’," a statement from Niti Aayog said on Monday. The terms of reference (ToR) of the committee include suggesting modalities for adoption and time-bound implementation of reforms such as Agriculture Produce and Livestock, Contract Farming and Services (Promotion & Facilitation) Act, 2018’; changes in the Essential Commodity Act, 1955 to attract private investments in agricultural marketing and infrastructure.

4. Japan officially resumes commercial whaling after more than 30 years

Japan has officially resumed commercial whaling (July 1) after more than 30 years of limiting whale hunts to "scientific" purposes — a policy that still resulted in the deaths of hundreds of whales every year, Reuters.com reported. In December 2018, Japan announced that it would withdraw from the International Whaling Commission (IWC) moratorium on whale hunting, which began in 1985 to give endangered and overhunted whale species a chance to rebound. Japan joined the compact in 1988, agreeing to only hunt whales for scientific purposes (such as collecting population data) — however, according to Reuters, the gesture did little to curb commercial whaling in Japan. From 1985 to 2017, Japanese vessels caught and killed nearly 17,000 whales, whose meat often ended up for sale in stores and restaurants after any research had concluded.

5. SBI & NIIF tie-up to finance infrastructure projects

State Bank of India, the country’s largest lender, and National Infrastructure Investment Fund, the country’s sovereign wealth fund, announced on Monday that they have tied up to “provide a boost to infrastructure financing,". The two institutions have signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU), to make equity investments, project funding, bond financing, renewable energy support and take-out finance for operating assets. The tie-up aims to fill the gap at a time when the availability of equity and debt financing for infrastructure has moderated, the statement said.

6. Pullela Gopichand bestowed upon an honorary doctorate by IIT Kanpur

India's chief national badminton coach Pullela Gopichand was bestowed upon an honorary doctorate by IIT Kanpur on the occasion of their 52nd convocation, on Friday. The badminton coach received the honor from former ISRO chairman and Chairman of Board of Governors of IIT Kanpur, Prof K Radhakrishnan. Honorary Degree from IIT Kanpur acknowledges the valuable contribution of the awardee to his or her chosen field. This year, we are proud to be conferring the honorary degree of Doctor of Science on Dr. Tessy Thomas, Smt Sudha Murty, and Shri Pullela Gopichand.

7. Mark Tully presented the Lifetime Achievement Award at UK-India Awards 2019

British Indian actor Kunal Nayyar - best known for his role as Rajesh Koothrappali on the US sitcom The Big Bang Theory - was named Global Indian Icon of the Year. Veteran British journalist Sir Mark Tully was presented with a Lifetime Achievement Award in London for his contributions to the UK-India relationship. Mr. Tully, the former Bureau Chief of the BBC, New Delhi, received a standing ovation on Friday from the gathering as he said that being in India was his karma. "I owe a great debt to India and I have been rewarded way beyond my expectations," said 83-year-old Tully, who has been previously knighted by Queen Elizabeth II in the UK and conferred with the Padma Bhushan in India. "The UK is a wonderful global power and if there is a special relationship, it is with India," said Karan Bilimoria.

8. Aparna Kumar becomes the first civil servant & IPS Officer to conquer the ‘Seven Summits’ challenge

Aparna Kumar scaled the Mount Denali in North America which has a summit elevation of 20,310 feet above sea level. The IPS officer has also completed her 7th summit in the "7 Summits" challenge. She has, hence, become the first civil servant and IPS officer to achieve the feat. Aparna Kumar, Uttar Pradesh cadre IPS officer, who became the first woman Indian Police Service (IPS) DIG and Indo-Tibetan Border Police (ITBP) officer to successfully conquer the south pole, has now scaled the highest peak in North America, Indo-Tibetan Border Police (ITBP) said. The IPS officer has scaled the summit in her third attempt. She had also recently completed her south pole expedition. After completing the south pole expedition, Aparna Kumar headed to the north pole to start the 111-mile journey from April 4 from Norway's Oslo.

9. N.S. Vishwanathan reappointed RBI deputy governor for one year

The Appointments Committee of Cabinet has approved the extension of Vishwanathan's term as RBI deputy governor by one year with effect from 4 July this year. Vishwanathan is in charge of regulation of banks, non-banking finance companies, and cooperative banks. N.S. Vishwanathan on Monday was reappointed as deputy governor of the Reserve Bank of India. The order issued by the Personnel Ministry said his tenure ends on Wednesday, 3 July. Vishwanathan is in charge of regulation of banks, non-banking finance companies, and cooperative banks. Vishwanathan's reappointment has caught many RBI watchers by surprise as they were expecting him to superannuate next month.

10. Karnam Sekar takes over as new MD and CEO of IOB

Public sector Indian Overseas Bank Monday said it has elevated Karnam Sekar as the new Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer with immediate effect, replacing R Subramaniakumar. Prior to taking up the new role, Sekar RPT Sekar was appointed as an officer on Special Duty and Whole Time Director in April, the city-headquartered bank said in a press release. Sekar, who began his career in State Bank of India as a probationary officer, had served Dena Bank as its Managing Director and CEO. He had also served State Bank of India as Deputy Managing Director and Chief Credit Officer. Sekar also headed SBI as Manager-Treasury in Johannesburg, South Africa.

11. Indian Railways conducting trials of Tri-Netra technology: Piyush Goyal

Railways are conducting extensive trials of Tri-Netra technology but it cannot be introduced till it is found to be perfect in detecting any obstruction on tracks during fog, the Rajya Sabha was informed Friday. Railway Minister Piyush Goyal told members during the Question Hour that the Tri-Netra system is another attempt by the Railways to develop modern technology. "This is also under extensive trials. This Tri-Netra device is making an attempt during fog through ultrasonic waves where it will be able to detect any obstruction on tracks. It is under testing, but without proper testing, it cannot be implemented, as it does not give us the confidence to implement it," the minister said. Goyal also informed members that Railways is setting up small Reverse Osmosis (RO) water plants at some stations for provisions of drinking water to people.

12. NASA’s TESS Mission Finds Its Smallest Planet Yet

NASA’s Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite (TESS) has discovered a world between the sizes of Mars and Earth orbiting a bright, cool, nearby star. The planet, called L 98-59b, marks the tiniest discovered by TESS to date. Two other worlds orbit the same star. While all three planets’ sizes are known, further study with other telescopes will be needed to determine if they have atmospheres and, if so, which gases are present. The L 98-59 worlds nearly double the number of small exoplanets — that is, planets beyond our solar system — that have the best potential for this kind of follow-up. “The discovery is a great engineering and scientific accomplishment for TESS,” said Veselin Kostov, an astrophysicist at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland, and the SETI Institute in Mountain View, California. “For atmospheric studies of small planets, you need short orbits around bright stars, but such planets are difficult to detect. This system has the potential for fascinating future studies.”

13. NASA to send ‘Dragonfly’ drone mission to Titan for looking origins & signs of life

NASA has announced that our next destination in the solar system is the unique, richly organic world Titan. Advancing our search for the building blocks of life, the Dragonfly mission will fly multiple sorties to sample and examine sites around Saturn’s icy moon. Dragonfly will launch in 2026 and arrive in 2034. The rotorcraft will fly to dozens of promising locations on Titan looking for prebiotic chemical processes common on both Titan and Earth. Dragonfly marks the first time NASA will fly a multi-rotor vehicle for science on another planet; it has eight rotors and flies like a large drone. It will take advantage of Titan’s dense atmosphere – four times denser than Earth’s – to become the first vehicle ever to fly its entire science payload to new places for repeatable and targeted access to surface materials.

14. Astronomers discovered the source of Fast radio burst

Astronomers keep hearing unexplained, incredibly powerful signals from the far reaches of space -- signals that come through loud and clear for a thousandth of a second and then mysteriously disappear. First discovered in 2007, "these pulses are known as fast radio bursts", and they remain one of the universe's biggest mysteries. Dozens of the enigmatic cosmic signals have been detected, and astronomers have puzzled over them for the past decade, trying to decide where they come from -- and what causes them. In a historic first, an international team of researchers has pinpointed the location of a non-repeating fast radio burst, finding its source originates in the outskirts of a galaxy 4 billion light-years away.

15. NASA’s PUNCH mission has selected Indian Scientist Dipankar Banerjee as its co-investigator

NASA has selected Texas-based Southwest Research Institute to lead its PUNCH mission which will image the Sun. This is a landmark mission that will image regions beyond the Sun’s outer corona. Dipankar Banerjee, a solar physicist from Indian Institute of Astrophysics is also a Co-Investigator of the PUNCH mission. PUNCH, which stands for “Polarimeter to Unify the Corona and Heliosphere,” is focused on understanding the transition of particles from the Sun’s outer corona to the solar wind that fills interplanetary space. “The Sun and the solar wind are one interconnected system, but [these] have until recently been studied using entirely different technologies and scientific approaches,” explains Prof. Banerjee in an email to The Hindu.

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