|31.||India’s first Hyperloop to come up in Andhra Pradesh|
India’s first Hyperloop project will come up in Andhra Pradesh, connecting its city centres, Vijayawada and Amaravati.
In this regard, Andhra Pradesh Economic Development Board (APEDB) has inked memorandum of understanding (MoU) with Hyperloop Transportation Technologies (HTT) for developing the project.
The first of its kind project in India will use a Public Private Partnership (PPP) model with funding primarily from private investors. In its first phase, HTT will conduct six-month feasibility study, following which it will construct and build HTT’s first Hyperloop in India. The proposed hyperloop will cover 35 km distance between Vijayawada and Amaravati only in five minutes.
Hyperloop Technology is brainchild idea of technology entrepreneur Elon Musk who dubs it as fifth mode of transportation. It is system of magnetically levitating capsules (pods) that are sent at high speeds through low-pressure tubes. It envisages tube modular transport system that runs free of friction. It uses linear Induction motors in it to control speed of pods. It is still in trial stages in different countries and not been implemented for practical use anywhere in world yet.
Hyperloop is two-to-three times faster than fastest high-speed rail and claimed to have speeds even greater than commercial air travel. It has smaller civil engineering footprint, with no direct emissions or noise compared to railways. Hyperloop system’s capital cost per mile is 60% that of high-speed rail, and is less expensive to operate. Furthermore, Hyperloop departures could happen with a low frequency of a pod every 20 seconds which is not possible in railways.
It requires heavy investments and therefore effective public and private sector coordination is prerequisite for implementing it. It consumes high-power compared to railways. Technical challenges and accidents may hamper its progress.
|32.||UJALA scheme launched in Melaka, Malaysia|
India’s zero-subsidy UJALA (Unnat Jyoti by Affordable Lighting for All) Scheme was launched in Melaka State of Malaysia by Efficiency Services Limited (EESL), under Union Ministry of Power.
It highlights success of Indian model UJALA scheme to promote efficient lighting, using efficient equipment to reduce electricity bills and preserve environment at global level.
India’s Ujala scheme will be replicated in Malaysia, under which each household in Melaka state will get 10 high quality 9-watt LED bulbs, at subsidised rate almost half price offered in market. The initiative is implemented by India’s EESL with logistical assistance and facilitation support from Green Growth Asia, a non-profit organisation in Malaysia. The EESL is planning to distribute about 1 million 9W LED bulbs, replacing 18W CFLs. It will help Melaka promote efficient lighting and conserve the resources, money and environment by reducing19,000 tonnes carbon emissions per year.
The main objective of scheme is to promote efficient lighting, enhance awareness on using efficient equipment which reduce electricity bills and preserve environment. It is LED based Domestic Efficient Lighting Programme (DELP). Under it, LED Bulbs are distributed.
Its purpose is not only to help reduce electricity bills of consumers but also contribute to energy security of India. It is being implemented by EESL, a joint venture of PSUs under Union Ministry of Power. LED bulbs have a very long life, almost 50 times more than ordinary bulbs, and 8-10 times that of CFLs, and therefore provide both energy and cost savings.
|33.||World University Rankings 2018: IISc ranked highest from India|
The Indian Institute of Science (IISc) retained top position among Indian Universities in the Times World University Rankings 2018, but its position fell in global rankings compared to its last year position.
Top 10 in Universities in World are Oxford University (1st, UK), Cambridge University (2nd, UK), California institute of Technology (3rd, US), Stanford University (4th, US), Massachusetts Institute of Technology (5th, US), Harvard University (6th, US), Princeton University (7th, US), Imperial College London (8th, UK), University of Chicago (9th, US), ETH-Zurich (10th, Switzerland).
Rankings of Indian Universities
A total of 30 Universities in India featured in this edition of the list, but none was in the top 100. 8 feature in top 500 and 3 in top 200 (IIT Delhi, IIT Bombay, and IISc Bangalore). In this year’s rankings, Indian Universities also slipped down from their previous ranking.
IISc slipped from the 201-250 band to the 251-300 one due to drop in its research influence score and research income. IIT Delhi and IIT Kanpur, which were among best Indian institutions, slipped down from previous year’s position of the 401- 500 club to 501-600 band. IIT Bombay was placed in t351-400 club, same as in 2017 ranking and. IIT Kharagpur and IIT Roorkee also retained their positions in 501-600 bracket.
Reasons for decline in ranking of Indian Universities
Indian institutes were lagging behind in research funding and citations and also on internationalisation front. Most of premier institutes in India cater to one particular stream such as engineering or management etc. which reduces volume and variety of research. Government policy strictly limits number of students from abroad who can study in India and prevents international scholars from being hired into long-term faculty positions.
If India desires to feature at a larger scale in these rankings, Indian Universities along with Indian education system need urgent revamp and there need to focus more on research, research funding and internationalization of Indian campuses
World University Rankings
These rankings are only global performance tables that judge research-intensive universities across all their core missions viz. teaching, research, knowledge transfer and international outlook.
The thirteen point performance indicators calculating rankings are grouped in five areas: Teachings (learning environment; 30% weight), Research (volume, income and reputation; 30%), Citations (research influence; 30%), International outlook (staff, students and research; 7.5%) and Industry income (knowledge transfer; 2.5%).
Universities that do not teach undergraduates or those whose research output amounted to fewer than 1000 articles between 2012 and 2016, were excluded from the rankings.
|34.||NITI Aayog constitutes Expert Task Force on Employment and Exports|
The National Institution for Transforming India (NITI) Aayog has constituted Expert Task Force to provide major thrust to job creation by enhancing India’s exports. It will be headed by NITI Aayog Vice Chairman Dr Rajiv Kumar.
The task force will give sector-specific recommendations in key employment sectors for policy interventions and suggest measures to enhance trade in services with high employment potential.
Majority of Indian workforce are still employed in low-productivity, low-wage jobs in small, micro and own-account enterprises. There is urgent and sustained expansion of organized sector to address India’s unemployment and under-employment issue also jobless growth issue. Moreover considering importance of exports in generating formal sector jobs, India also needs to create favorable environment in which globally competitive exporters emerge and flourish. So, it has become necessary to devise strategy to enable shift towards more labour-intensive goods and services that are destined for exports.
Terms of References
The expert task force will propose comprehensive plan of action to generate employment and alleviate under-employment and low wages by boosting India’s exports in key labour-intensive industries. It will recommend sector-specific policy interventions in key employment sectors and suggest measures to enhance trade in services with high employment potential
It will identify key macroeconomic factors constraining exports and suggesting methods to address these constraints. It will assess effectiveness of existing schemes to promote exports. It will also suggest measures to address issues related to logistics, export credits and trade facilitation.
|35.||SLINEX 2017: India-Sri Lanka joint maritime naval exercise|
The seventh edition of India-Sri Lanka joint maritime naval exercise SLINEX 2017 was held near Vishakhapatnam (Andhra Pradesh) in Bay of Bengal. It will be conducted from 7th to 14th September 2017.
The seven days exercise aimed to reinforce strong neighbourly ties between both countries underscored by extensive maritime interaction and improved understanding.
SLINEX 2017 focused on fleet work, seamanship, communication, replenishment at sea as well as helicopter operations. Sri Lanka Navy’s offshore patrol vessels, SLNS Sayura and Sagara had participated in this edition of biennial exercise.
The exercises was held in both Harbour Phase and Sea Phase. In harbour phase, both participant navies engaged in professional, cultural and social interactions. In Sea Phase, both navies jointly conducted complex operations including anti-piracy exercises, cross-deck helicopter operations, gun firings and anti-surface exercises.
SLINEX series of biennial bilateral maritime exercises between India and Sri Lank, initiated in 2005. Its mandate is to enable navies of both countries to rehearse and improve their own capabilities and enhance operational effectiveness required to maintain maritime security in region.
|36.||India, Japan to step up defence cooperation|
India and Japan have agreed to collaborate closely in defence production, including on dual-use technologies. Decision in this regard was taken at the India-Japan annual defence ministerial dialogue held in Tokyo.
The annual defence ministerial dialogue aimed to further strengthen defence and security cooperation under the framework of the ‘Japan-lndia Special Strategic and Global Partnership’.
The decision of both countries to boost defence ties comes amid escalating tension in region in wake of China’s growing assertiveness in South China Sea and nuclear test by North Korea. Further during Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to Japan in November 2016, both sides had decided to ramp up bilateral defence and security cooperation and explore ways to further deepen it.
Both countries resolved to ramp up overall military engagement under bilateral special strategic framework. They agreed to ramp up counter-terror cooperation, besides deepening engagement among navies, air forces and ground armed forces of two countries.
They strongly condemned North Korea’s latest nuclear test and called upon the country to cease such action which adversely impacts peace and stability of region. They also commended progress made in discussions to identify specific areas of collaboration in field of defence equipment and technology cooperation for production of various military platforms. They also agreed to commence technical discussions for research collaboration in areas of Unmanned Ground Vehicles and Robotics.
They also welcomed constructive engagement between India’s Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) and Japan’s Acquisition, Technology and Logistic Agency (ATLA). India is planning to buy the US-2 ShinMaywa aircraft from Japan for its navy.
|37.||TRAI recommends delicensing of some spectrum for M2M services|
The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) has recommended delicensing of chunk of spectrum in few bands to facilitate smooth roll-out of machine-to-machine (M2M) communications.
TRAI has suggested that no separate spectrum band will be allocated exclusively for M2M services, rather it will utilise existing license exempt airwaves.
TRAI has suggested to Department of Telecom (DoT) that all existing operators should be allowed to provide connectivity for M2M services. Under this technology, devices will be fitted with SIM or universal integrated circuit card (eUICC).
TRAI has suggests delicensing of 1 MHz of spectrum from 867-868 MHz frequencies and another six units from the 915-935 MHz range for M2M communication services.
TRAI has suggested that government, through DoT, should identify critical services in M2M sector and these services should be provided only by connectivity providers using licensed spectrum. It also suggested that companies offering M2M services using unlicensed spectrum should be covered under licence through a new permit to be called Unified Licence (M2M).
|38.||CSIR scientists develop artificial leaf create hydrogen fuel from sunlight, water|
CSIR scientists have developed an ultra-thin wireless device that mimics plant leaves to produce energy using water and sunlight. The artificial leaf absorbs sunlight to generate hydrogen fuel from water.
In advance, this artificial leaf may provide clean energy for powering eco-friendly cars in the future. It can serve ultimate solution for our energy and environment problems.
Need for such technology
At present, hydrogen is produced from fossil fuels by steam reforming. In this process large amount of carbon di-oxide (CO2) – a greenhouse gas is emitted which promotes global warming. So in view of pressing energy and environmental issues, it is important to produce hydrogen from natural resources such as sunlight and water. India is also blessed with plenty of sunlight throughout year that is not exploited significantly to produce energy or hydrogen.
The artificial leaf or the wireless device consists of semiconductors stacked in manner to simulate natural leaf system. The device has an area of 23 square centimetres. When visible light strikes semiconductors, electrons move in one direction and produce electric current.
The current almost instantaneously splits water into hydrogen – making it one of cleanest forms of fuel as its main byproduct is water. It can produce 6 litres of hydrogen fuel per hour.
To improve light-absorbing efficiency of artificial leaf, researchers had used gold nanoparticles, titanium dioxide and quantum dots. Quantum dots are semiconductor crystals of nanometre dimensions with properties that depend on the size of dots.
|39.||India, Myanmar sign 11 MoUs in range of sectors|
India and Myanmar have signed 11 Memoranda of Understanding (MoUs) in range of sectors, including one on maritime security cooperation.
The MoUs were signed after Prime Minister Narendra Modi held wide-ranging talks with Myanmar’s State Counsellor Aung San Suu Kyi in Nay Pyi Taw.
It was first bilateral visit of PM Narendra Modi to Myanmar and overall second. The focus of visit was to strengthen cooperation in security and counter-terrorism, trade and investment, infrastructure and energy and culture between both countries.
Signed Agreements are
|40.||Government launches Diksha Portal for teachers|
The Union Ministry of Human Resource and Development (HRD) has launched Diksha Portal (diksha.gov.in) for providing digital platform to teacher to make their lifestyle more digital.
It will serve as National Digital Infrastructure for Teachers. Through this portal, all teachers across nation will be equipped with advanced digital technology.
Diksha portal will enable, accelerate and amplify solutions in realm of teacher education. It will aid teachers to learn and train themselves for which assessment resources will be available. It will help teachers to create training content, profile, in-class resources, assessment aids, news and announcement and connect with teacher community.
The portal will record complete work and accomplishment of teachers in educational institutes from start to end point till their retirement. It will cover entire life cycle of teacher– from time they were enrolled as student teachers in Teacher Education Institutes (TEIs) to after they retire as teachers.
The portal will help teachers boost their teaching skills and create their own separate profile with their skills and knowledge. It will help in improving quality of education wit use of latest technologies in education sector. Government, private institutes and NGO’s also can participate in the Diksha initiative.