Current Affairs for IAS Exams - 02 January 2021
Union Cabinet gives approval for Akash missile export
- The Union Cabinet has approved the export of the indigenously developed and manufactured Akash short-range Surface to Air Missile (SAM) system. It also approved the high-level committee formed to expedite clearance of such exports.
- The Defence Ministry said, besides Akash, there was interest coming in for other major platforms such as the Coastal Surveillance System, radars and air platforms.
- For faster approval of export of such platforms, a committee comprising the Defence Minister, the External Affairs Minister and the National Security Advisor had been created.
Export of big platforms:
- Akash is a Surface to Air Missile and it has a range of 25 km and can simultaneously engage multiple targets in all weather conditions.
- It has a large operational envelope from a low altitude of 30 metres to a maximum of up to 20 km.
- It was inducted in 2014 in the Air Force and in 2015 in the Indian Army.
Ginger Processing Plant
- North East’s first-ever specialised Ginger Processing Plant at district Ri-Bhoui in Meghalaya.
- It is being revived and is likely to become functional in the beginning of 2021.
- The only Ginger Processing Plant of North East India was established around the year 2004 but has remained non-functional for many years.
- The NERAMAC has now undertaken the responsibility of reviving it and initiated steps to operationalise the closed Plant through PPP mode.
- The North Eastern Regional Agricultural Marketing Corporation (NERAMAC) is a PSU working under the aegis of the Ministry of Development of North Eastern Region (DoNER).
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International Financial Services Centres Authority
- International Financial Services Centres Authority (IFSCA) said that it has become an associate member of the International Organization of Securities Commissions (IOSCO).
- The IOSCO works closely with the G20 nations and the Financial Stability Board (FSB), in setting up the standards for strengthening the securities markets, said IFSCA.
- 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 will provide the IFSCA a platform to exchange information at the global level, and even at the regional level, on areas of common interests.
- Further, the IOSCO platform will enable the IFSCA to learn from the experiences and best practices of the regulators of other well established financial centres.
- The first International Financial Services Centre (IFSC) in the country has been set up at the Gujarat International Finance Tec-City (GIFT) in Gandhinagar.
- To regulate such institutions, the government established IFSCA on April 27 last year with its head office in Gandhinagar.
- In December 2019, Parliament passed a bill to set up a unified authority for regulating all financial activities at IFSCs in the country.
Kazakhstan ratifies international protocol to abolish death penalty
- Kazakh President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev has signed a law ratifying the Second Optional Protocol to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, which entails a formal commitment to abolish the death penalty.
- In late September, the Second Optional Protocol was signed by Kazakhstan’s permanent envoy to the United Nations, Kairat Umarov. The document then went to the Kazakh parliament and was ratified by it on December 29.
- The Second Optional Protocol to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights commits its signatories to ensuring the abolition of death penalty within their jurisdiction, with the exception of war time.
- In 2003, the first president of Kazakhstan, Nursultan Nazarbayev, signed a decree temporarily suspending the death penalty.
- This suspended the execution of all death sentences but did not prohibit the courts from issuing death sentences. Life imprisonment was introduced in Kazakhstan in 2004 as an alternative punishment.
- Cabinet approved a project Deepening and Optimization of Inner Harbour Facilities including Development ofWestern Dock to handle cape size vessels at Paradip Port.
- Project would help in decongesting the port, reducing sea freight, thereby making coal imports cheaper andcreating jobs.
- Paradip is one of the Major Ports of India situated in Odisha.
- Other Major ports are Kandla, Mumbai JNPT, Mormugao, New Mangalore, Cochin, Kolkata, Visakhapatnam,Ennore, Chennai, and Tuticorin.
- Earlier this year, Union Cabinet has given 'in-Principal' approval for setting up of 13th Major Port atVadhavan.
Science and Technology
Meteorological Centre at Leh
- The Union Minister of Earth Sciences inaugurated Meteorological (Met) Centre at Leh(Ladakh)via video conferencing in Ministry of Earth Sciences, New Delhi.
- The Ladakh region has lofty mountains with high slopes and no vegetation and lot of loose soil and debris making the region vulnerable to various kinds of natural hazards like Cloud burst (of 2010), Flash Floods, Avalanches and Glacial Lake Outbursts, etc.
- To avert losses due to such weather events in future, the Government felt the need to establish a State of the Art Meteorological (Met) Centre at Leh in 2020 to strengthen weather related Early Warning System in Ladakh.
- Located ata height of 3500m, Meteorological CentreLehis creating history, as it will be the highest meteorological centre in India.
NASA Approves Heliophysics Missions to Explore Sun, Earth’s Aurora
- The United States National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) has approved two missions to explore the sun and the system that drives space weather near earth.
- These missions are the Extreme Ultraviolet High-Throughput Spectroscopic Telescope Epsilon Mission, or EUVST, and the Electrojet Zeeman Imaging Explorer, or EZIE.
- These missions are meant to help researchers better understand the sun and the earth as an interconnected system.
- The EUVST Epsilon Mission (Solar-C EUVST Mission) will be led by the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA), along with other international partners. It is targeted for launch in 2026.
- The EUVST is a solar telescope that will study the manner in which the solar atmosphere releases solar wind and drives eruptions of solar material.
- EZIE is meant to study electric currents in earth’s atmosphere linking the aurora to the earth’s magnetosphere.
- The aurora, which is a part of the earth’s complicated space weather system, responds to solar activity and other factors.
- EZIE will leverage a trio of CubeSats to study the source of and changes in the auroral electrojet, an “electric current circling through earth’s atmosphere around 60-90 miles above the surface and extending into the earth’s magnetosphere,” as per NASA.
- EZIE is targeted for launch no earlier than June 2024. The total budget for the EZIE mission is $53.3 million.
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Nikhil Nandy dies at the age of 88
- A member of 1956 Olympics fourth-place finishing Indian football squad, Nikhil Nandy died here on Tuesday after a prolonged illness, according to family sources.
- He was 88, and is survived by his wife, a son and two daughters.
- He formed the core of India's defence in the late 1950s, battled COVID-19 in September-October but later developed some renal problems and had to be hospitalised for more than a month.
- The historic fourth-place finish in the 1956 Games in Melbourne was the best ever show by an Indian football team in the Olympics.
- The feat was considered as one of the greatest achievements of Indian football's 'Golden Era'.