|191.||US Scientists develop micropropulsion system based on liquid water|
Engineers from Purdue University in US have designed and tested a micropropulsion system called a Film-Evaporation MEMS Tunable Array (FEMTA) thruster that uses liquid water as the propellant for orbital maneuvering of tiny satellites called CubeSats.
CubeSats are basically miniature satellites which typically weigh around two kilograms. In the future, they have potential to carry out tasks like imaging and remote-sensing currently performed by heavier satellites which are expensive to build and launch. CubeSats at present cannot totally replace their larger counterparts as they are incapable of changing orbit or performing complex manoeuvres as they donot have a propulsion system. If CubeSats would be having system would allow such tiny satellites to correct their orbit or maintain their altitude, thereby prolonging their operating life in space before becoming space debris.
Film-Evaporation MEMS Tunable Array (FEMTA)
The FEMTA system uses an innovative design of small thrusters that deliver bursts of water vapor to manoeuvre the spacecraft into different orbits. It uses pure water as the propellant since it is safe, green, easy to use and free from the risk of contaminating sensitive instruments by the backflow from plumes as in the case of thrusters using chemical propellants.
It uses capillaries thinner than human hair through which the propellant water can flow. Small heaters located near the ends of the capillaries turn the water into vapor, which, on escaping provides the thrust. The minuscule capillaries act like valves that can be turned on and off by activating the heaters. It is compact and not power hungry. The technology is said to be similar to the inkjet printer, which uses heaters that fire dots of ink of ink at the paper.
|192.||15th BIMSTEC Ministerial meeting begins in Kathmandu|
The 15th edition of Bay of Bengal Initiative for Multi-Sectoral Technical and Economic Cooperation (BIMSTEC) ministerial meeting was held in Kathmandu, Nepal.
The two-day meet was inaugurated by Prime Minister of Nepal Sher Bahadur Deuba and will be chaired by Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Foreign Affairs Krishna Bahadur Mahara. India was represented by External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj.
The meeting will review the progress and achievements in the identified areas of cooperation and discuss the ways to accelerate the partnership under the BIMSTEC process. The key areas expected to be focused in the meeting are trade, investment, energy, transport, tourism, poverty alleviation and counter-terrorism.
The main agenda of this edition of the meeting is to finalise a free trade agreement among the BIMSTEC member countries. It will also include negotiations on market access for professionals and reducing the duty on trading goods.
The BIMSTEC is a sub-regional grouping comprising of seven countries of South Asia and South East Asia. It was established on 6 June 1997 through the Bangkok Declaration. It is headquartered at Dhaka, Bangladesh.
BIMSTEC mainly comprises of seven countries viz. Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Nepal, Sri Lanka, Myanmar and Thailand lying in the littoral and adjacent areas of the Bay of Bengal.
Its objectives are technological and economical cooperation among south Asian and south East Asian countries along the coast of the Bay of Bengal. It also covers cooperation in commerce, technology, investment, agriculture, tourism, human resource development, fisheries, transport and communication, textiles, leather etc.
|193.||Venkaiah Naidu sworn in as 13th Vice President of India|
Former Union Minister M Venkaiah Naidu was sworn in as 13th Vice President of India. He was administered the oath of office by President Ram Nath Kovind at a special function at Rashtrapati Bhavan.
After the swearing in he took charge as the Chairman of Rajya Sabha. He also chaired the proceedings of the Upper House. He was elected as the Vice President after defeating opposition candidate Gopal Krishna Gandhi.
About M Venkaiah Naidu
Muppavarapu Venkaiah Naidu was born on 1st July 1949 at Chavatapalem, in Nellore district of Andhra Pradesh. He acquired his bachelor’s degree in law with specialisation in international law from Andhra University, Visakhapatnam.
He was elected as the president of the students union of colleges affiliated to his University and joined RSS and ABVP during his college days. He came into spotlight for his prominent role in the Jai Andhra Movement and for his contribution in Jayaprakash Narayan Chhatra Sangharsh Samiti.
He has held several positions and carried his successful political career during his three decade long public life. He has served as national president of BJP (2002 to 2004). In the Atal Bihari Vajpayee Government he was the Union Cabinet Minister for Rural Development.
In present Narendra Modi led government he had served as the Minister of Housing and Urban Affairs, Parliamentary Affairs and Information and Broadcasting. Before getting elected as Vice President, he had held several positions and carried his successful political career during his three decades in public life.
About office of Vice President
The officer of Vice-President is second highest public office in India. It is second highest constitutional post of the country after President. Practically, office of Vice President has been created to provide political continuity of the Indian state. His main function is in the form of ex-officio Chairman of Rajya Sabha. He works as acting President when President is not available.
|194.||National Mission for Clean Ganga approves 10 projects|
The National Mission for Clean Ganga (NMCG) has approved ten projects in Uttar Pradesh, Bihar and West Bengal to the tune of about Rs. 2,033 crore.
These projects were approved in the 5th meeting of the Executive Committee of NMCG. Eight of the ten projects pertain to sewage infrastructure and treatment, one each to ghat development and Ganga Knowledge Centre.
In Bihar, three major sewage infrastructure projects were approved in Barh, Kankarbagh and Digha. These projects will create additional sewage treatment capacity in Kankarbagh and Barh.
In West Bengal, three projects were approved. Out of these two pertain to sewage infrastructure while the third one is for ghat development. In Uttar Pradesh, sewage infrastructure work in Chunar, district Mirzapur, has also been approved at an estimated cost of around 28 crore rupees.
Project to establish Ganga Monitoring Centres (GMCs) was also approved in five riparian Ganga states. The objective of GMCs is to establish efficient monitoring of wholesomeness of river including flow levels, pollution levels, point and non-point sources of pollution, among other parameters. Two pilot demonstrative projects of treatment of drains using bioremediation method were also approved.
About National Mission for Clean Ganga (NMCG)
NMCG is the implementation wing of National Council for Rejuvenation, Protection and Management of River Ganga (referred as National Ganga Council). It was established in 2011 as a registered society under Societies Registration Act, 1860.
It has a two tier management structure and comprises of Governing Council and Executive Committee. Both of them are headed by Director General (DG), NMCG. Executive Committee is authorized to approve projects under mission up to Rs.1000 crore.
Similar to structure at national level, State Programme Management Groups (SPMGs) acts as implementing arm of State Ganga Committees. This structure attempts to bring all stakeholders on one platform to take a holistic approach towards the task of Ganga cleaning and rejuvenation.
|195.||Parliament passes Banking Regulation (Amendment) Bill, 2017|
Parliament has passed the Banking Regulation (Amendment) Bill, 2017 with the Rajya Sabha approving it. The Lok Sabha has already passed it. The bill will replace the Banking Regulation (Amendment) Ordinance, 2017 promulgated by President in May 2017.
The bill seeks to amend the Banking Regulation Act, 1949 to insert provisions for handling cases related to stressed assets or non-performing assets (NPAs) of banks. Stressed assets (NPAs) are loans defaulted by borrower in repayment or the loan which has been restructured by changing the repayment schedule.
Key Features of the Bill
Initiating insolvency proceedings: It will enable the Central government to authorize the RBI to direct banking companies to resolve specific stressed assets by initiating insolvency resolution proceedings under the Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code, 2016.
Issuing directions on stressed assets: It empowers RBI to issue directions to banks for resolution of stressed assets from time to time.
Committee to Advise banks: It enables RBI to specify committees or authorities to advise banks on resolution of stressed assets. RBI will appoint or approve members on such committees.
Applicability to State Bank of India (SBI): It inserts provision to make above provisions applicable to the SBI and its subsidiaries and also Regional Rural Banks (RRBs).
Need for Amendment
NPAs in the banks stand at Rs. 6.41 lakh crore in the public sector banks while total stressed assets are at Rs. 8.02 lakh crore. It has resulted in choking the banking system. So it had become necessary for the RBI to intervene in order to take urgent measures for their speedy resolution. Government is also expanding infrastructures in Debt Recovery Tribunal, National Company Law Tribunal to deal with stressed assets.
|196.||India and US to co-host Global Entrepreneurship Summit|
India and US are going to co-host the Global Entrepreneurship Summit at Hyderabad, Telangana from 28th to 30th November 2017. American delegation will be led by US President Donald Trump’s daughter Ivanka Trump.
The Summit will serve as a unique opportunity for bringing together entrepreneurs and start-ups with global leaders. Earlier it was hosted by the US State Department.
The three-day Global Entrepreneurship Summit will be organised by the NITI (National Institution for Transforming India) Aayog in coordination with Ministry of External Affairs.
The summit aims at connecting American entrepreneurs and investors to their international counterparts to form lasting relationships. It seeks to create new opportunities for investment, partnership and collaboration around the world.
The summit includes a wide range of panels, ignite talks, workshops, pitch competitions, mentoring and networking sessions. These events at the summit mainly aim to give participants tailored opportunities to gain skill and relationships that will help them to grow. It also create opportunities for participants to connect with industry experts.
|197.||Lok Sabha passes State Banks (Repeal and Amendment) Bill, 2017|
The Lok Sabha has passed the State Banks (Repeal and Amendment) Bill, 2017. The bill seeks to repeal the two Acts namely State Bank of India (Subsidiary Banks) Act, 1959, and State Bank of Hyderabad Act, 1956.
It also seeks to amend the State Bank of India (SBI) Act, 1955 to remove references to subsidiary banks and powers of SBI to act as an agent of the RBI for subsidiary banks.
Repealing of SBI (Subsidiary Banks) Act and State Bank of Hyderabad Act: These two acts have established the State Bank of Bikaner, State Bank of Patiala, State Bank of Mysore, State Bank of Hyderabad and State Bank of Travancore. These banks were subsidiaries of the SB). This repealing of two acts is consequent to the decision of the Union Cabinet February 2017 to approve merger of five subsidiary banks of SBI were merged with it.
Amendments to the SBI Act: The Bill removes references related to subsidiary banks from the parent Act. These references include the definition of a subsidiary bank and powers of SBI to act as an agent of the RBI for subsidiary banks.
The Union Cabinet had approved the merger of five associate banks along with Bharatiya Mahila Bank with SBI. The five banks were State Bank of Bikaner and Jaipur, State Bank of Hyderabad, State Bank of Travancore, State Bank of Mysore and State Bank of Patiala. After the acquisition by SBI, the subsidiaries banks have ceased to exist and, therefore, it was necessary to repeal the two Acts. The merger had made State Bank of India one of the 50 biggest banks of the world. The main motive behind the merger was to increase the capital base of the bank to enable it to disburse more loans.
|198.||NGT bans use of non-biodegradable plastic bags in Delhi|
The National Green Tribunal (NGT) imposed an interim ban on use of non-biodegradable plastic bags which are less than 50 microns in the entire national capital Delhi.
It also slapped a fine of Rs 5,000 on anyone found in possession of non-biodegradable plastic bags less than 50 microns, which is the thickness of a human hair.
NGT ordered Delhi government to seize entire stock of the banned plastic bags within a week. Besides, it asked Delhi Pollution Control Committee (DPCC) and Delhi Government to file an affidavit on steps taken to implement the ban. It also imposed an environment compensation of Rs. 10,000 on vegetable vendors and slaughter houses for throwing garbage in public places.
Non-biodegradable plastic waste has been identified as one of the major source of environmental pollution as they don’t decay naturally. These bags have zero reusable value. Besides choking drains, water-bodies and adding to the load of the already-exhausted landfill sites, there are also cases of cattle eating and dying after choking on plastic bags.
According to plastic bag manufacturers, the market share of thin plastic bags (less than 50 microns) is not more than 25%. Mostly the banned bags are made by unregistered units which find many takers because of their cheaper products.
Most of the garbage bags used at homes are above 50 microns. Their use and manufacturing is already banned under the Plastic Management Handling Rules, 2016. The NGT in 2017 had banned the use of disposable plastic in Delhi and NCR with effect from January 1, 2017 and directed the city government to take steps to reduce dumped waste.
|199.||National Cyber Coordination Centre made operational: Government|
The Union Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MEITY) has announced that the first phase of National Cyber Coordination Centre (NCCC) has become operational.
NCCC has been set up to scan the country’s web traffic to detect cyber security threats. It scans the cyberspace in the country for cyber security threats at metadata level to generate situational awareness.
NCCC is a multi-stakeholder cyber-security and e-surveillance agency implemented by Indian Computer Emergency Response Team (CERT-In), Union Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology. It derives its powers as per provisions of section 69B of the Information Technology Act, 2000 and the Rules notified thereunder.
It will be India’s first layer for cyber threat monitoring and all communication with government and private service providers will be monitored by it. Its mandate is to scan internet traffic and communication metadata coming into the country to detect real-time cyber threat and alert various organisations as well as internet service providers (ISPs) for timely action.
NCCC also will coordinate between intelligence agencies, specifically during network intrusions and cyber-attacks. It will have virtual contact with the control room of all ISPs to scan traffic within the country, flowing at the point of entry and exit, including international gateway. Apart from monitoring the Internet, the NCCC will also look into various threats posed by cyber-attacks. It will have top experts from the cyber security field and will run like similar organisation in other countries such as the US, the UK, France, Germany, etc.
|200.||ISRO to develop full-fledged Hyperspectral Imaging Earth observation satellite|
The Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) is planning to launch a full-fledged niche Earth observation (EO) satellite — called the Hyperspectral Imaging Satellite (HySIS).
The HySIS satellite has critical chip called an “optical imaging detector array’” indigenously developed by ISRO. Its launch will allow ISRO to enter the domain of operational hyperspectral imaging from earth orbit.
Hyperspectral imaging or hyspex imaging (imaging spectroscopy) combines the power of digital imaging and spectroscopy. It collects and processes information from across the electromagnetic spectrum. Hyspex’ imaging enables distinct identification of objects, materials or processes on Earth by reading the spectrum for each pixel of a scene from space. The hyspex technology is still an evolving science. In recent times, it has become trend that is being experimented globally. It has ability to add a new dimension to plain-vanilla optical imagers.
HySIS satellite developed by ISRO can see in 55 spectral or colour bands from 630 km above ground. It can be used for a range of applications from monitoring the environment, crops, looking for oil and minerals, military surveillance. The architecture of the optical imaging detector array chip on board of satellite has been designed by the payloads development centre, Space Applications Centre, Ahmedabad. It was manufactured at ISRO’s electronics arm, the Semi-Conductor Laboratory, Chandigarh. It can read upto 1000 x 66 pixels.
ISRO for first time had tried out hyspex imaging technology in an 83-kg IMS-1 experimental satellite in May 2008. The same year, it also had mounted hyperspectral camera on Chandrayaan-1 and used to map lunar mineral resources. Globally so far, very few space agencies have such a satellite.