Daily Current Affairs 23rd June, 2017
Amendment of the Social Security Agreement between India and the Netherlands
- The Union Cabinet has approved Amendment of the bilateral Social Security Agreement (SSA) between India and the Netherlands by incorporating the “Country of Residence” Principle into the said SSA.
- The circumstances where the “country of residence” principle will apply to a few instances of Indian nationals include the following:
- An Indian worker who dies in the Netherlands and has his/her spouse and children living in India.
- An Indian worker who gets disabled while working in the Netherlands and returns to India.
- The SSA allows exemption from double contribution to the social security system in both jurisdictions, exportability of accumulated social security benefits across jurisdictions (applicable even to the self-employed), and totalization of serving periods.
A law, this time for Antarctica
- India is drafting a dedicated Antarctica policy and a law that will likely be tabled in the winter session of Parliament. Ministry of Earth Sciences will draft the law.
- India, being among the countries that have acceded to the Antarctica Treaty, is expected to have a clear policy on the consequences of its activities in the region. India is expanding its infrastructure development in Antarctica. The government is rebuilding its station, Maitri, to make it bigger and last for at least 30 years. Dakshin Gangotri, the first Indian base established in 1984, has weakened and become just a supply base.
Government launches VAJRA Scheme
- Department of Science and Technology has launched VAJRA (Visiting Advanced Joint Research) Faculty scheme that enables NRIs and overseas scientific community to participate and contribute to research and development in India.
- On 8th January 2017, during the 14th Pravasi Bharatiya Divas Convention, Prime Minister had announced that a new scheme called VAJRA (Visiting Advanced Joint Research) Faculty scheme would be launched by the Department of Science and Technology.
- Under this scheme, foreign researchers abroad of Indian origin or otherwise can collaborate with faculties in public funded Indian institutions. The researchers would receive endowments at par with those in their own countries.
- They would be given USD 15,000 in the first month of residency and USD 10,000, for the remaining months.
- The scheme would promote broad areas of research like energy, health, advance material among others. Public funded academic institutions and national laboratories will be eligible for hosting the VAJRA Faculty.
- The VAJRA faculty can reside in India for a minimum of 1 month and a maximum of 3 months a year.
- The applications received from the interested foreign researchers would be evaluated by a Selection Committee of eminent scientists. The Committee will meet twice a year in January and July and make recommendations
Government announces 30 new Smart Cities
- Union Minister for Urban Development and Housing & Urban Poverty Alleviation, M. Venkaiah Naidu has announced a new batch of 30 smart cities under Smart City Mission, which was launched on June 25, 2015.
- The newly selected cities include Thiruvananthapuram in Kerala, Naya Raipur in Chhattisgarh, Rajkot in Gujarat, Amravati in Andhra Pradesh, Patna in Bihar, Karimnagar in Telangana, Muzaffarpur in Bihar, Puducherry, Gandhinagar in Gujarat, Srinagar in Jammu and Kashmir, Sagar in Madhya Pradesh, Karnal in Haryana, Satna in Madhya Pradesh, Bengaluru in Karnataka, Shimla in Himachal Pradesh, Dehradun in Uttarakhand, Tirupur in Tamil Nadu, Pimpri Chinchwad in Maharashtra, Bilaspur in Chhattisgarh, Pasighat in Arunachal Pradesh, Jammu in Jammu & Kashmir, Dahod in Gujarat, Tirunelveli, Thootukkudi and Tiruchirapalli in Tamil Nadu, Jhansi in Uttar Pradesh, Aizawl in Mizoram, Allahabad and Aligarh in U.P. and Gangtok in Sikkim.
- With the addition of these 30 smart cities, the total cities picked up under the Smart City Mission has reached 90.
POSOCO-IMD Weather Portal & Web Portal ‘MERIT’ launched
- Union Minister of State for Power, Coal, New & Renewable Energy and Mines Piyush Goyal has launched Weather Portal for Power Sector & Web Portal ‘MERIT’ (Merit Order Despatch of Electricity for Rejuvenation of Income and Transparency).
- The weather portal has been developed in association with POSOCO and IMD. The portal will have information regarding weather forecast to the state Discoms.
- The weather variations have an impact on load demand, energy production, transport and distribution management, as well as on energy prices.
- Extreme events associated with weather like heat waves or cold waves, windstorms or floods can have adverse impacts on the production and can inflict physical damage to the infrastructure.
- Hence, the portal aims to provide weather related information and help states to take pro-active steps regarding management and plan for infrastructure availability as well as to ensure cost effective and reliable supply.
US Approves Sale of UAV Technology to India
- The United States has cleared the sale of the state-of-the-art Guardian 22 unmanned Guardian drones to India.
- The deal to sell UAV drones to India is estimated to be worth $2 to $3 billion. Though the deal has been approved by the State Department, an official announcement regarding the deal is yet to be announced. S
- The transfer of the state-of-the-art UAV technology to India will be the first significant progress after India’s entry into the exclusive Missile Technology Control Regime (MTCR) and after the US has designated India as a major defence partner.
- India became the 35th full member of the Missile Technology Control Regime (MTCR) in June 2016. The transfer of Guardian UAV technology is aimed at furthering mutual security interests to protect the Indian Ocean.
- The deal would also pave the way for the transfer of other key technology sales from the US to India. The Guardian unmanned aircraft has been classified as Category 1 aircraft with cutting edge technologies.
NATGRID can soon access PAN, I-T records
- The Centre has empowered the National Intelligence Grid (NATGRID), the integrated mechanism to keep track of security-related data, to access the Income Tax department’s records on individual taxpayers as well as PAN card holders. NATGRID and the I-T department could sign a pact soon to operationalise the data sharing arrangement.
- NATGRID is an ambitious counter terrorism programme, which will utilise technologies like Big Data and analytics to study and analyse the huge amounts of data from various intelligence and enforcement agencies to help track suspected terrorists and prevent terrorist attacks. It will connect, in different phases, data providing organisations and users besides developing a legal structure through which information can be accessed by the law enforcement agencies.
‘Moncoes do Reino’ (Monsoon correspondence)
- These are the digital copies of 62 volumes of the collection recently handed over to the National Archives of India by the Torre do Tombo (National Archives of Portugal.
- These volumes were originally part of over 456 volumes that cover the period from 1568 to 1914 and form the largest of all record collections in the Goa State Archives.
- The collection consists of direct correspondence from Lisbon to Goa and is important primary source for the study of the Portuguese expansion in Asia, their trade rivalries with the Arabs and European powers and their relations with neighbourings Kings in South Asia and East Asia.
SCIENCE AND TECH
NASA launches World’s Lightest Satellite designed by Indian Student
- NASA has launched world’s lightest satellite weighing only 64 grams designed by 18-year-old boy Rifath Sharook from Tamil Nadu.
- The tiny satellite has been named as KalamSat after the former President APJ Abdul Kalam. The tiny satellite was launched into space on a sounding rocket from NASA’s facility in Wallops Island.
Cartosat-2 launch: India puts another smart eye in the sky
- India’s Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle has launched the Cartosat-2 series satellite—a dedicated satellite for defence forces—along with 30 co-passenger satellites from Sriharikota in Andhra Pradesh. This is the 40th flight of PSLV and 17th flight of PSLV in ‘XL’ configuration (with the use of solid strap-on motors).
- PSLV-C38 launched the 712 kg Cartosat-2 series satellite for earth observation and 30 co-passenger satellites together, weighing about 243 kg at lift-off, into a 505-km polar sun synchronous orbit.
- The co-passenger satellites include 29 Nano satellites from 14 countries—Austria, Belgium, Chile, Czech Republic, Finland, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Latvia, Lithuania, Slovakia, the United Kingdom and the United States of America—besides a nano satellite from India.
- The international customer nano satellites are being launched as part of the commercial arrangements between Antrix Corporation Limited (Antrix), commercial arm of ISRO and International customers.
- Cartosat-2 is a remote sensing satellite and it is similar in configuration to earlier satellites in the series with the objective of providing high-resolution scene specific spot imagery.
- It has a resolution of 0.6 metres, which means it can spot even smaller objects within a square of 0.6 m by 0.6 m.
- Once this satellite becomes operational, it would be handed over to the defence forces, which have their own infrastructure, which includes ground stations, and trained manpower to access data.
AWARDS AND HONOURS
Nisha Dutt bags Social Entrepreneur of the Year Award
- Nisha Dutt, Chief Executive Officer of Intellecap has become the first Indian woman leader to have been honoured with the “Social Entrepreneur of the Year” award at The 7th Asian Awards in London.
- Nisha Dutt has been honoured in recognition of her work in making Intellecap a globally known enterprise that focuses on social capital.
- Her key contribution lies in integrating technology with challenges of healthcare, financial services, incubation and conceptualising programs such as Innovations Labs.