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India-Rwanda sign three MoUs in innovation, aviation, visa requirements

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  • India and Rwanda on 21st Feb signed three MoUs in innovation, aviation sectors and visa requirements here during Vice President Hamid Ansari’s visit to the East African country.
  • In innovation, the two countries will set up an entrepreneurship development centre in Kigali while in aviation, Rwanda Air will start services to India in coming months and both countries will mutually exempt visa requirements.
  • Rwanda Prime Minister Anastase Murekezi said the three MoUs will boost economic and business ties.
  • Addressing the India-Rwanda Business Forum organized jointly by the Federation of Indian Chamber of Commerce and Industry and the Rwanda Development Board in Kigali, Vice-president Hamid Ansari said India-Rwanda Innovation Growth Program is being launched to expand ties in Science, Technology and Innovation.
  • The MoUs have been signed during Ansari’s five-day tour to Rwanda and Uganda.
  • Vice-president Ansari said that this program aims at creating an ecosystem wherein Indian innovations and technology enterprises will thrive and encourage business ventures from both sides.
  • The Government of India also offers scholarships and fellowships to Rwandan students to enable them to pursue undergraduate, masters, post-graduate, and research courses in India under ITEC, ICCR, CV Raman Fellowship and Special Agricultural Scholarships.
  • In addition to these, several short-term, fully-funded, training courses will be offered to Rwandese nationals as part of the initiatives under the India -Africa Forum Summit.

India’s only live volcano, Becomes Active

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  • India’s only live volcano in the Andaman and Nicobar Islands which had started showing activity in the year 1991 after being dormant for over 150 years has once again started spewing ash, the researchers at Goa based National Institute of Oceanography (NIO) said on 18th Feb.
  • The Barren Island volcano, located 140-km north-east of Port Blair, dormant for more than 150 years started erupting in 1991 and has since then shown intermittent activity.
  • A team of scientists led by Abhay Mudholkar, from CSIR-National Institute of Oceanography (CSIR-NIO) in Goa reported that the volcano is active and spewing smoke and lava once again.
  • During the daytime only ash clouds were observed. However, after sundown, the team observed red lava fountains spewing from the crater into the atmosphere and hot lava flows streaming down the slopes of the volcano
  • NIO has said the volcano was revisited in the early hours of January 26, 2017 again during the second leg of the cruise led by B Nagender Nath, adding the team witnessed the continuation of spurts of blasts and smoke.
  • They have sampled the sediments and water in the vicinity of the volcano and recovered coal-like black pyroclastic material representing proximal volcanic ejecta.
  • These samples will help in deciphering the nature of the present and past volcanic activity in the region.
  • Researchers from CSIR-NIO have been studying the past volcanic events in Andaman Basin-based on the ash layers in a sediment column.
  • The Andaman Basin is an active back-arc spreading basin and is known for its strong seismicity and many submarine volcanoes and hydrothermal activity, the release said.
  • Scientists from CSIR-NIO have been surveying the Andaman Basin and they have identified many small submerged volcanoes in a linear chain called a volcanic arc.
  • These volcanoes are formed due to the rising magma formed deep in the mantle due to the melting of the subducted Indian Ocean crust, said the release.
  • A few of these submarine volcanoes have been dredged for samples and pumice type of light volcanic rock have been recovered, it said.
  • The volcanic island is uninhabited and the northern part of the island is, as the name suggests, barren and devoid of vegetation.
  • Private citizens of India can visit the volcanic island by chartered boats after obtaining permission of the Forest Department in Port Blair.

India’s Largest Cryogenic Engine, Developed Indigenously By ISRO, Tested Successfully

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  • After stealing the headlines worldwide this week for launching 104 satellites with a single rocket, the Indian Space Research Organisation or ISRO has successful tested the country’s largest cryogenic engine for a full 10 minutes.
  • The engine will power its mammoth Geosynchronous Satellite
  • Launch Vehicle (GSLV) Mark III rocket capable of propelling a 4-ton class satellites into geo-synchronous orbit – the altitude where satellites revolve in sync with the Earth’s rotation.
  • With this final hurdle crossed yesterday at an ISRO facility in Tamil Nadu’s Mahendragiri, India is all set to test the GSLV Mark III rocket which is almost 50 meters high and weighs 414 tons – equal to 75 Asian elephants.
  • The rocket will be a successor to the GSLV Mark II which was first launched in 2001 and can carry a heavier payload than the Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle or PSLV.
  • This engine has been developed after two decades of hard work as the technology was denied to India by Russia under pressure from the US.
  • The rocket engine uses liquid hydrogen and liquid oxygen as fuel that are stored at minus 253 degrees centigrade and then ignited to burn at plus hundreds of degrees centigrade just a few centimetres down engine. A very complex technology, the cryogenic engine has been mastered only by Russia, USA, France, China, Japan and India.
  • India’s space programme received international acclaim after ISRO scientists pulled off an ambitious mission three years ago to send a probe to orbit Mars that succeeded at the first attempt – and at $74 million cost less than the Hollywood space film Gravity.

 

Cabinet approves SBI merger with 5 associate banks

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  • Union Cabinet abinet on 15th Feb approved the takeover by State Bank of India (SBI) of several subsidiaries, a government official said, in a first move to consolidate the country’s struggling public sector banks.
  • As earlier proposed, SBI was to take over five units that had been run at arms-length, as well as the state-run Bharatiya Mahila Bank, a bank for women set up in 2013.
  • India’s 27 public sector banks account for 70 percent of its banking sector assets, as well as  he lion’s share of the country’s $120 billion in troubled assets.
  • Policymakers want to recapitalise and consolidate the state banks so that they can extend fresh credit and help drive an investment-led recovery in Asia’s third-largest economy that is now being buoyed by state and private consumption.
  • SBI’s board had already approved the takeover of State Bank of Bikaner and Jaipur, State Bank of Hyderabad , State Bank of Mysore and State Bank of Travancore, as well as Bharatiya Mahila Bank.

Supreme Court: No need to stand up for national anthem if it is part of a film

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  • The apex court said the audience need not stand up when the national anthem is part of the story-line of a film, newsreel or documentary, as was seen in blockbuster Dangal recently.
  • Modifying its earlier order ordering that everybody must stand while the national anthem is played in theatres, the Supreme Court today said the audience need not stand if the anthem is part of a film.
  • It is not compulsory to sing the national anthem in cinema halls.
  • There is also no need to stand up if it is a part of film, the apex court said.
  • On November 30 last year, the Supreme Court had ordered cinema halls across the nation to mandatory play the national anthem before screening of a movie and the audience must stand and show respect.
  • Last week, the court refused to give an urgent hearing on a plea seeking direction for framing of a policy to promote and propagate the national anthem, national flag and national song.
  • “The time has come when citizens must realise they live in a nation and are duty-bound to show respect to National Anthem which is a symbol of constitutional patriotism and inherent national quality,” a bench of Justices Dipak Misra and Amitava Roy had observed.

ISRO creates history, launches 104 satellites in one go

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  • Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) scripted history today by successfully launching a record 104 satellites, including India’s earth observation satellite, on a single rocket from the spaceport in Sriharikota.
  • This is the highest number of satellites ever launched in a single mission.
  • The space agency’s trusted workhorse Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle PSLV-C37, on its 39th mission, took off in the morning, at 9.28 am, today, from Sriharikota space centre with the 104 satellites, of which 101 belongs to international customers.
  • The first to be let off was India’s high resolution Cartosat-2 series satellite made especially to monitor activities of India’s hostile neighbours at a resolution of less than a metre keeping a bird’s eye view on both Pakistan and China.
  • Out of the total 104 satellites placed in orbit, 101 satellites belonged to six foreign countries.
  • They included 96 from the US and one each from Israel, the UAE, the Netherlands, Switzerland and Kazakhstan.
  • It then took less than 10 minutes for the rocket to spew out 101 passengers, which are all foreign nanosatellites, as it travelled up in altitude reaching the polar sun synchronous orbit.Russian Space Agency held a record of launching 37 satellites in one go during its mission in June 2014. India previously launched 23 satellites in a single mission in June 2015.

All about 104 satellites

  • Equipped with panchromatic and multispectral cameras, the 664kg Cartosat -2 will provide remote sensing services similar to that of its predecessors.
  • Images from the satellite will be used for cartographic applications, urban and rural applications, coastal land use and regulation, utility management like road network monitoring, water distribution, creation of land use maps, change detection to bring out geographical and manmade features and various other land information system (LIS) and geographical information system (GSI) applications.
  • INS-1A and INS-1B are versatile and modular nanosatellite bus system envisioned for future science and experimental payload.
  • Among the foreign satellites, 88 cube satellites belonged to San Francisco-based earth imaging startup Planet.
  • With the launch, the company has increased its fleet to 143 satellites which will soon begin capturing images of the earth’s entire landmass, including India, every day.
  •  Eight other satellites belonging to Spire Global, US, will provide services for vessel tracking and weather measurement.
  • The nano satellites from Israel, Kazakhstan, the Netherlands, Switzerland and the UAE are mostly technology demonstrators.

Reliance Defence inks Pact with US Navy to repair warships

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  • Reliance Defence has announced an agreement with the US Navy for repairs and servicing of warships at the Pipavav shipyard in Gujarat.
  • The agreement will see warships from the US Navy’s Seventh Fleet visiting the Indian facility for complex repair and alteration works.
  • Reliance Infrastructure (R-Infra) controlled Reliance Defence and Engineering (RDEL) has signed master ship repair agreement (MSRA) with the US Navy.
  • In January this year, Reliance Shipyard was qualified by the US Navy as an approved contractor to perform complex repair and alternation services for its Seventh Fleet vessels operating in the region,” a press release by the company stated.
  • Sources said that the business expectations of the Indian company is in excess of Rs 15,000 crore in revenue over the next five years.
  • The Indian shipyard is likely to handle various types of ships — front line warships, supply vessels and patrol vessels — that are part of the Seventh Fleet.
  • At present the US Navy uses yards in Singapore and Japan for these works.
  • The company expects major work after the signing of the logistics exchange memorandum of agreement (LEMOA) in August last year that enables either side to use facilities for refuelling and replenishment.
  • Reliance Shipyard says it is the first in the country to receive MSRA certification to undertake servicing and repairing works for the vessels of Seventh Fleet.

 

INS Sarvekshak goes green

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  • Indian Navy’s survey vessel INS Sarvekshak has gone green by installing a solar power system on board.
  • The navy said the system, equipped on the ship, works using sunlight and hence, is 100% reliable for power source that can be used for communication equipment, battery charging and general lightings onboard round the clock with battery outputs during the night.
  • The system is “maintenance free” whereas the diesel generator requires regular maintenance, it said.
  • Even if the system is used for 25 days in one year, the system can repay its cost in less than 10 years while protecting the nature
  • By installing the 5 KW solar power system, the vessel will be able to avoid around 165kg of carbon a day, 60,225 kg of carbon a year plus 22,995 litres of diesel.
  • The estimated profit generated in a ship service life of 25 years is Rs 2.7 crore in this small project alone.
  • So in its 25 years of life cycle, the total carbon saved is around 15 lakh kg and 5.75 lakh litres of diesel by this innovation,
  • A navy spokesman said this was “a unique activity never attempted on any warship in India, perhaps not even abroad on warships.”
  • Noting that the world is looking for clean, renewable and sustainable sources of energy to protect and reduce the harm caused to the environment, the navy said the deterioration of the environment was highly correlated to the production and usage of fossil-based fuels worldwide.
  • The Navy said it has created a new mechanism to encourage the utilization and development of renewable energy resources.

Govt approves revenue insurance scheme for plantation crops

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  • The commerce ministry has approved the pilot Revenue Insurance Scheme for Plantation Crops for protecting the growers from the risks such as yield loss, pest attacks and income decline caused by fall in prices.
  • The Price Stabilization Fund (PSF) Scheme, 2003 was closed on September 30, 2013 and Revenue Insurance Scheme for Plantation Crops (RISPC) is an improved form of the PSF, Commerce and Industry Minister Nirmala Sitharaman said in a written reply to the Rajya Sabha.
  • She said that RISPC was approved on September 16 last year and will be implemented on a pilot basis for two years covering tea, coffee, rubber, cardamom and tobacco in eight districts in West Bengal, Kerala, Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh, Assam, Sikkim and Tamil Nadu by the commodity boards.
  • On the basis of performance of the pilot project, the minister said, the scheme will be considered for extension to other districts.
  • Replying to a separate question on industrial corridors, Sitharaman said as per the institutional and financial framework for the development of these corridors approved by the government, land acquisition/ pooling/ procurement and making it available for projects is the responsibility of the concerned state.
  • Citing example of Delhi Mumbai Industrial Corridor, the minister said for the Ahmedabad Dholera Special Investment Region in Gujarat, 1706.13 hectares of land has been transferred by the state to Dholera Industrial City Development Ltd.
  • For the Visakhapatnam Chennai Industrial Corridor (VCIC), the land under possession is 1,887 acres and the land under acquisition/alienation is about 24,056 acres, she added.

MoU signed between India and France in science and technology

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  • The Union Cabinet chaired by the Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi has been apprised of the signing of the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) of Cooperation between Technology Development Board (TDB), Department of Science & Technology, Govt. of India and Bpifrance, a Public Investment Bank, France.
  • The agreement will foster exchange of desirable practices and setting up of coordinated measures to further developmental exchange in the field of science, technology and innovation.
  • The MoU aims at carrying out activities related to exchange of best practices in the field of science and technology through TDP and Bpifrance
  • The Cabinet was also apprised of the Framework Agreement between India and Senegal in the field of health and medicine which includes cooperation in AIDS control, integrated disease surveillance and emergency relief.
  • A working group will be set up to further elaborate the details of cooperation and to oversee the implementation of this pact, as per the decision of the Union Cabinet taken this evening.
  • The areas of cooperation include medical research, hospital management, drugs and pharmaceutical products and hospital equipment’s, traditional medicine and other areas of mutual interest.
  • The agreement will ensure exchange of best practices and setting up of coordinated measures to foster technological exchanges in the field of science, technology and innovation through collaboration between companies, organisations and institutions of France and India.