Current Affairs Current Affairs - 19 December 2014 - Vikalp Education

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Current Affairs - 19 December 2014

India successfully test fires its heaviest rocket
  • India Thursday moved forward in rocket technology with the successful flight testing of its heaviest next generation rocket and the crew module.
    Precisely at 9.30 a.m., the 630 tonne Geosynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle-Mark III (GSLV-Mark III) standing 43.43 metre tall freed itself from the second launch pad and with a reverberating deep throated roar, rose into the sky.
    With a thick orange flame at its tail, the expendable rocket ascended towards the heavens with one way ticket as its design life span is just around five minutes.
    The Rs.155 crore mission has twin purposes. The main purpose is to test the rocket's atmospheric flight stability with around four tonne luggage.
    The second and incidental objective is to study the re-entry characteristics of the crew module-called Crew Module Atmospheric Re-entry Experiment - its aero braking and validation of its end-to-end parachute system.
    According to an Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) official, it will be of the size of a small bedroom and can accommodate two to three people. Just over five minutes into the flight, the rocket spat out the giant cup cake shaped 3.7-tonne crew module at an altitude of 126 km.
    The crew module then descended towards Earth at a high speed. The speed was moderated remotely manipulating its on-board motors till 80 km above the earth.

UN’s Liberian mission extended
  • United Nations:  The Security Council has extended the United Nations Mission in Liberia (UNMIL), which has the participation of Indian police, till September next year, tailoring its mandate to focus on civilian protection, humanitarian assistance, and justice and security reforms.
    The Security Council said Monday it was extending mandate because grappling with the Ebola outbreak has slowed the Liberian government’s efforts to carry out national reforms. It also said that coordinating with the UN Mission for Ebola Emergency Response (UNMEER) would be among its tasks.
    UNMIL, which has 103 women police in the 249-strong Indian contigent, should focus on abuse of women and children, especially sexual  violence as part of its human rights mandate, according to the Security Council.
    Following years of turmoil in the West African nation, UNMIl was set up in 2003 to help bring about peace and stability to a country that had been wracked by more than a decade of brutal civil war that claimed more than 150,000 lives. It comprises military, police and civilian personnel whose mandate goes beyond law and order to supporting national reconciliation and building political and government institutions.

New Cuba policy to normalise relations
  • US President Barack Obama Wednesday announced a historical, new policy toward Cuba, in a move to normalise relations and end more than five decades of estrangement between the two countries.
    "We will end an outdated approach that for decades has failed to advance our interests," Obama said in an address at the White House. "Instead we will begin to normalise relations between our two countries."
    Obama said he had instructed Secretary of State John Kerry to initiate talks with Cuba on restoring diplomatic relations with the island country, and to review Cuba's designation as a state sponsor of terrorism. He added that the US will reestablish an embassy in Havana, the Cuban capital, and high-ranking officials will visit Cuba, Xinhua reported. 
    The US is also taking steps to increase travel, commerce and the flow of information to and from Cuba, said Obama, adding that he also looked forward to engaging Congress in discussion about lifting the embargo the US has imposed on Cuba. These changes will "begin a new chapter among the nations of the Americas," and move beyond "a rigid policy that is rooted in events that took place before most of us were born," the US president said.
    Wednesday's announcement came after Obama spoke with Cuban leader Raul Castro by telephone Tuesday, the first direct contact between the leaders of the two nations in more than 50 years.

International mobilisation against terror: UN
  • The year 2015 must be a "time for global action", UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon has said and asked the international community to do more to counter extremism and work on reforms of world body to adapt it to a new global landscape.
    Highlighting the key imperatives for the world body in the next year, Ban told reporters at his end of the year press conference here yesterday that nations must do more to counter extremism and the "rise of far-right political parties that target minorities, migrants and in particular Muslims.
    Ban said that world must keep ambition high to forge a new development agenda and secure a climate change agreement next year, by when the "nightmare" in Syria must also end and escalation of other worrying situations be averted. "... We will continue to adapt the United Nations itself to a new global landscape," he said.
    "The year 2015 must be a time for global action. As we mark the 70th anniversary of the United Nations next year, we have a duty to answer the call of people across the world for shared prosperity and a sustainable future for all," he said.
    Ban noted that a number of key reviews of the United Nations' work will come to fruition in 2015, including panels on peace operations which he had launched last month, peace-building review by the General Assembly, and humanitarian financing and implementation of the Security Council’s resolution on women, peace and security.

India signs 625 million euro loan agreement with Germany
  • India has signed a 625 million euro loan agreement with Germany for financial assistance to Green Energy Corridors (GEC) project under Indo-German bilateral development cooperation.
    "... the loan agreements were also signed for GEC project amounting to 625 million euro," an official statement said.
    "Department of Economic Affairs Joint Secretary Rajesh Khullar signed loan agreements with German government's Development Bank KfW for a loan of 76 million euro to Tamil Nadu and 49 million euro to Rajasthan for intra-state transmission schemes.
    "Power Grid Corporation of India Limited signed loan agreement for 500 million euro with KfW for inter-state transmission schemes," it added.
    GEC project aims to create transmission infrastructure in states with high renewable energy potential and facilitate evacuation of renewable energy (RE) into the national grid.
    During the ceremony, agreements were also signed by the Department of Economic Affairs with KfW for a grant amount of 2 million euro to provide technical assistance to 'Himachal Pradesh Forest Ecosystems Climate Proofing project', the statement said.
    Germany and KfW are long-standing partners of India. Since the 1950s, sectors like energy, environment protection, natural resources and sustainable economic development have received KfW support, it added.

List of launches by ISRO on GSLV
  • With an eye on manned space missions, ISRO today successfully tested the atmospheric re-entry of a crew module after its heaviest launch vehicle, GSLV Mark-III, blasted off from here. Following is a list of launches made by ISRO on GSLV —
    GSLV-D1 GSAT-1
    Date: Apr 18,2001
    Weight: 1,540-kg
    Result: Successful
    GSLV-D2 GSAT-2
    May 8, 2003
    Sep 20, 2004
    Jul 10, 2006
    Sep 2, 2007
    GSLV-D3 GSAT-4
    Apr 15, 2010
    GSLV-F06 GSAT-5P
    Dec 25, 2010
    GSLV D5 GSAT-14
    Jan 5, 2014
    Dec 18, 2014

No plans to create separate time zone for northeast
  • NEW DELHI: Government has no plans to create a separate time zone for seven northeastern states, Rajya Sabha was informed on Thursday. 
    Minister of state for development of north eastern Region Jitendra Singh also denied that the region was wasting a huge amount of electricity at home and offices in absence of a separate time zone. 
    A scientific study based on regional load curves and several assumptions carried out by the National Institute of Advanced Studies, Bengaluru has indicated a modest saving of power between 1.2 to 1.5 per cent of the total usage if North Eastern Region has a separate time zone, which is not very high, he said replying a written question. 
    The demand for two time zones in India had first come from the northeastern states in the mid-1990s with the reasoning that the sun rises in the region between 4.30am and 5.00am, at least one hour ahead of the rest of the country. 
    Noted film maker Jahnu Barua and several students organisations in the North East have been quite vocal in raising the demand for past several years, saying many nations worldwide follow different time zones within their territory. 
    India currently follows a time, which is 5-1/2 hours ahead of the international standard, Greenwich Mean Time (GMT). 
    Russia has 11 time zones, while the US and Canada have six. However, China, which is much broader than India, sticks to only one time zone, the largest country to do so. 
    The decision generally rests with the country, taking into account its convenience and international conventions.

Overseas Citizens of India
  • The Minister of State in the ministries of Overseas Indian Affairs & External Affairs General (Retd.) V. K. Singh said in Lok Sabha today thatRegistration of 27,606 OCI applications was pending as on 08.12.2014.  These applications are at various stages of processing.  Persons of Indian origin who specifically apply are granted OCI registration. Application is not mandatory.  Hence no time frame can be indicated by which all PIOs are likely to be issued OCI cards.  NRIs are Indian citizens and do not require OCI cards.
    General (Retd.) V. K. Singh said that OCIs have been granted the following benefits:-
    (i) A multiple entry multi-purpose life long visa for visiting India.
    (ii) Exemption from registration with local police authority for any length of stay in India.
    (iii) Parity with Non resident Indians (NRIs) in  respect of economic, financial and educational fields except in relation to acquisition of agricultural or plantation properties. No parity is allowed in the sphere of political rights.
    (iv) Parity with NRIs in entry fee for visiting national monuments, historical sites, museums, national parks and wildlife sanctuaries as well as in domestic air fares in India.
    (v) Preference in the matter of inter-country adoption of Indian children.
    (vi) Parity with NRIs for practice as doctors, dentists, nurses, pharmacists, advocates, architects and chartered accountants in pursuance of the provisions contained in the relevant Acts.
    (vii) Parity with NRIs to appear in AIPMT or such other tests in India to make them eligible for admission in pursuance of the provisions contained in the relevant Acts.
    (viii)Permitting OCIs to file an affidavit to declare their address in India, for the purpose of availing services like securing admission of their children to educational institutions in India, obtaining of driving licenses, gas connections, residential telephones and mobile phones, electricity/water connection, etc.

Cyclone Centres in Various Coastal States
  • Under the oversight mechanism of Earth System Science Organization (ESSO), an integrated cyclone and associated storm surge warning system is made functional all along the coastal and island regions. Such an effort has resulted into the considerable demonstrated improvement of cyclone forecast in respect of the Phailin cyclone during 08-14 October 2013 and the Hudhud cyclone during 06-14 October 2014. 
    For effective operational cyclone activities, an appropriate institutional mechanism comprising cyclone warning division at ESSO-India Meteorological Department (ESSO-IMD), New Delhi and three Area Cyclone Warning Centers (ACWCs) at Kolkata, Chennai, Mumbai and Cyclone Warning Centers (CWCs) at Bhubaneswar, Vishakhapatnam and Ahmadabad are made functional on 24X7 basis. 
    ESSO-IMD operates 24X7 monitoring of satellite based weather monitoring over the potential cyclogenic zones of the Bay of Bengal and Arabian Sea for detecting the cyclogenesis. Commissioning of the high performance computing (HPC) system has provided opportunity to assimilate satellite radiance, Doppler Weather Radar (DWR), OCEANSAT (scatterometer, total precipitable water content) data etc. of global oceans in to the global (22Km grid scale)/meso-scale (9Km grid scale) forecast systems. The performance evaluation of the updated global/meso-scale forecast systems in continuation with adoption of improved local forecast systems for the past 5-7 years have demonstrated enhanced forecast skill by about 18% quantitatively as far as the track and landfall forecasts of the tropical cyclones are concerned. 

New hope for rare disease drug development
  • Using combinations of well-known approved drugs has for the first time been shown to be potentially safe in treating a rare disease, according to the results of a clinical trial published in the open access Orphanet Journal of Rare Diseases. The study also shows some promising preliminary results for the efficacy of the drug combination.
    Drug development can take decades to bring safe and effective treatments to patients. Re-use of existing drugs for new purposes is of considerable interest due to its potential to save time and resources, and help circumvent the low amount of funding that goes into rare disease drug development.
    Presently incurable, Charcot-Marie-Tooth type 1A disease (CMT1A) is a rare genetic condition that affects around one in 5,000. The disease leads to loss of nerve fibers, muscle wasting and weakness, and causes slowly progressive sensory defects and loss of fine motor skills.
    Principal Investigator of the trial, Shahram Attarian of Marseilles University Hospital, Hôpital de la Timone, Marseilles, France, said: "Considering the debilitating nature of the disease and the absence of treatment, there remains a pressing unmet need for an efficacious and safe treatment for CMT1A. The study shows that we now have a potential treatment that is safe to use, but also shows some initial promise in being effective. This invaluable insight will be key in designing the next stages of the international Phase 3 clinical trial which is set to begin in 2015."

First in India (Women)
  • First Women's UniversityMaharshi Karve starts SNDT University in Pune with five students in 1916.
    First Woman to hold a Union Cabinet postVijaya Lakshmi Pandit
    First Woman governor of Independent IndiaSarojini Naidu, in charge of United Provinces
    First Woman president of UN General Assembly1953 Vijaya Lakshmi Pandit
    First Woman Prime Minister of India1966 Indira Gandhi
    First Woman IPS Officer of India1972 kiran Bedi
    First Woman to win Nobel Peace Prize1979 Mother Teresa
    First Indian Woman to climb Mount Everest1984 Bachendri Pal
    First Indian Woman to win Booker Prize1997 Arundhati Roy
    First Woman President2007 Pratibha Patil
    First Woman Speaker of Lok Sabha2009 Meira Kumar
    First Indian Woman to become "Miss World"Rita Faria
    First Woman judge in Supreme CourtMrs. Meera Sahib Fatima Bibi
    First Woman AmbassadorMiss C.B. Muthamma
    First Woman to climb Mount Everest twiceSantosh Yadav
    First Woman President of the Indian National CongressMrs. Annie Besant
    First Woman Chief Minister of an Indian StateMrs. Sucheta Kripalani
    First Woman chairman of Union Public Service CommissionRoze Millian Bethew
    First Woman Director General of Police (DGP)Kanchan Chaudhary Bhattacharya
    First Woman Lieutenant GeneralPuneeta Arora
    First Woman Air Vice MarshalP. Bandopadhyaya
    First Woman chairperson of Indian AirlinesSushama Chawala
    First &Last Muslim Woman ruler of DelhiRazia Sultan
    First Woman to receive Ashoka ChakraNiraja Bhanot
    First Woman to cross English ChannelArati Saha
    First Woman to receive Bharat RatnaIndira Gandhi
    First Woman to receive Gyanpith AwardAshapurna Devi
    First Woman Headmistres in schoolSavitribai Phule
    First Indian woman who reached AntarcticaMahel Musa

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