04 , September 2017

Senior IAS officer Rajiv Mehrishi was appointed as the next Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) of India. He will succeed Shashi Kant Sharma who is going to demit office on September 25, 2017.

Nirmala Sitharaman: India’s first full time woman Defence Minister

Nirmala Sitharaman is second woman to become Defence Minister of India. First was former Prime Minister Indira Gandhi, who was holding additional portfolio as Defence Minister from 1980-82. She takes charge of the crucial ministry from Union Finacne Minister Arun Jaitley.


Surya Kiran- Joint India-Nepal army exercise
India and Nepal have begun their joint military exercise in Nepal. This is the 12th edition of Nepal-India joint military exercise. The exercise – Surya Kiran –is being participated by around 300 troops each side.

  • The battalion-level joint training between the two armies will focus on counter-terror operations in mountainous terrain by facilitating interoperability. Disaster management and joint operations for disaster relief will also be a part of the exercise.
  • The 11th edition of the joint exercise was held in Pithoragarh in Uttarakhand.

Ahmedabad’s Walled City gets World Heritage City Certificate

The 600-year-old Walled City in Gujarat’s commercial capital Ahmedabad was formally accorded status of India’s first World Heritage City by United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO).

  • The walled city of Ahmedabad was founded in the 15th century by Ahmed Shah of Gujarat Sultanate. It is situated on the eastern bank of Sabarmati River.
  • It presents rich architectural heritage from sultanate period, notably the Bhadra citadel, walls and gates of Fort city and numerous mosques and tombs, as well as important Hindu and Jain temples of later periods.
  • It has 28 Archaeological Survey of India’s centrally protected monuments.
  • The 5.5 km walled city area has approximate population of four lakh living in century old wooden residences in around 600 pols or neighbourhoods.

Note: The walled city of Ahmedabad is first city in India to get World Heritage City status and third in Asia after Bhaktapur (Nepal) and Galle (Sri Lanka).

1.Assam for first time extends AFSPA orders on its own
Source: The Hindu

Assam Government has extended term of Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act (AFSPA), 1958 and declared entire state a Disturbed Area for six more months under Section 3 of AFSP Act. This is for first time state government has extended AFSPA and Disturbed Area provision on its own. In past, AFSPA provisions in state were always extended by the Centre.

The law and order situation in Assam continues to be matter of concern due to violent incidents carried out by the underground groups, as many as 16 incidents involving these groups were reported between May and July 2017. These incidents had resulted in deaths of civilians, security personnel and militants. Background Assam has remained “disturbed area” under provisions of AFSPA for nearly 27 years, after it was invoked by Centre for first time in November 1990, after ethnic insurgencies broke out in end of 1980s and following incidents of violence by ULFA (United Liberation Front of Asom).

Note: At present, the AFSA has been enforced in 6 states viz. Assam, Nagaland, Arunachal Pradesh (only the Tirap, Changlang and Longding districts plus 20-km belt bordering Assam), Manipur (except Imphal municipal area), Meghalaya (confined to 20-km belt bordering Assam) and Jammu and Kashmir.

2.Planets orbiting TRAPPIST-1 may have water
Source: The Hindu

According to scientists, the Earth-sized planets orbiting the ultracool TRAPPIST-1 dwarf star 40 light-years away may have substantial amounts of water and could be habitable.

  • An international team of astronomers used the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope to estimate whether there might be water on the seven planets orbiting in the nearby TRAPPIST-1 planetary.
  •  The results suggest that the outer planets of the system might still harbour substantial amounts of water.
  • This includes the three planets within the habitable zone of the star, lending further weight to the possibility that they may indeed be habitable.
  • In February this year, astronomers had announced the discovery of seven Earth-sized planets orbiting the ultracool dwarf star TRAPPIST-1, 40 light-years away.
  • Scientists used the Space Telescope Imaging Spectrograph (STIS) on the Hubble telescope to study the amount of ultraviolet radiation received by the individual planets of the system.

3.Novel compounds destroy biofilm-forming bacteria
Source: The Hindu

Scientists at the Bengaluru-based Jawaharlal Nehru Centre for Advanced Scientific Research (JNCASR), have developed two new molecules capable of destroying bio-film forming bacteria.

The molecules performed better than conventional antibiotics in killing the bacteria during the dormant phase

When used in combination with existing antibiotics, the molecules reduced the microbial burden in the case of burns and surgical wounds.

What are Bio-films?
Biofilms are communities of microorganisms that attach to each other and to surfaces and are able to act as barriers to antibiotics

4.Diplomacy must to solve conflicts
Source: The Hindu

Prime Minister Modi and President Xi are expected to hold a one-on-one meeting during the ninth BRICS summit at Xiamen

Doklam Issue

  • With military tensions between India and China finally coming to an end, the meet might focus
  • The agenda for the meet shall be aimed at “peace and development” of the five emerging countries.
  • Mr. Modi is scheduled to hold a meeting with nine other countries, including BRICS partners, during an Emerging Markets and Developing Countries Dialogue

BRICS bank

  • The New Development Bank (NDB) of the world’s five emerging economies has begun construction of a state-of-the-art headquarters in Shanghai, symbolising the rise of the grouping in revamping the world’s financial architecture.
  • Prior to the meeting, Beijing focused on highlighting the maturing of the BRICS institutional architecture.

De-linking Belt-Road

  • India’s disagreement to any formal docking of China’s Belt and Road Initiative with the BRICS as part of an end-of summit document in Xiamen.
  • China’s proposal for establishing a BRICS arrangement where the host country of the summit is free to invite non-members is likely to be endorsed at Xiamen.

5.North Korea conducts 6th nuclear test, says it was H-bomb
Source: The Hindu

  • North Korea has announced that it set off a hydrogen bomb in its sixth nuclear test
  • Experts are judging it by the its explosion, and it was appeared to be its most powerful explosion yet
  • South Korea’s weather agency has estimated the nuclear blast yield of the presumed test was between 50 and 60 kilotons
  • That would mark a significant step forward in the North’s quest for a viable nuclear missile capable of striking anywhere in the United States
  • But it may be difficult for outside experts to confirm that the nuclear device detonated today was an H—bomb

6.In Nicaragua, a fight to save endangered tapirs
Source: The Hindu

Tapir: The largest land mammals in Central America, the brown, pig-like animals with sloping snouts.

International Union for Conservation of Nature classification: considered at risk of extinction and is the “most threatened” quadruped in Nicaragua.

Threats: Human encroachment and climate change have decimated the woodland habitat of the Baird’s tapir, one of five species left in the world, and, along with human and feline predators, have helped wipe out 16 other tapir species.

7.Xiamen Summit declaration: First time, BRICS names Jaish, Lashkar in list of terror outfits
Source: The Hindu

BRICS has named Pakistan-based terrorist groups, Lashkar-e-Taiba and Jaish-e-Mohammad, in the Xiamen declaration

Although the Heart of Asia declaration in Amritsar, a grouping which includes China and Pakistan, also named them in December 2016. But there has been no visible change in China’s policy on the ground so far.

Along with the Haqqani network, Taliban and Islamic State, the Xiamen declaration Monday also named the Eastern Turkistan Islamic Movement, a Muslim separatist group founded by militant Uighurs, members of the Turkic-speaking ethnic group in northwest China’s Xinjiang province.

From India’s perspective, naming LeT and JeM are symbolic takeaways, since China has in the recent past blocked the designation of Jaish-e-Mohammad chief Maulana Masood Azhar as a global terrorist at the United Nations Security Council.

The Xiamen declaration also deplored all terrorist attacks worldwide, including attacks in BRICS countries, and condemned terrorism in all its forms and manifestations wherever committed, by whomsoever.

It also stressed on the necessity to develop international cooperation, in accordance with the principles of international law, including that of “sovereign equality of states and non-interference in their internal affairs

 8.BRICS Leaders’ Xiamen Declaration
Source: The Hindu

9th BRICS summit was recently held in Xiamen, China. This is the second time the China has hosted the summit after the 2011 summit. At the end of the summit, Xiamen declaration was adopted by the leaders of the five countries.

  • BRICS countries will strive towards broad partnerships with emerging markets and developing countries, and pursue equal-footed and flexible practices and initiatives for dialogue and cooperation with non-BRICS countries, including through BRICS Plus cooperation.
  • BRICS countries have resolved to promote the development of BRICS local currency bond markets and to jointly establish a BRICS local currency bond fund and also to facilitate financial market integration.
  • They will also encourage explorations toward the establishment of the BRICS Institute of Future Networks. Besides, partner countries will enhance joint BRICS research, development and innovation in information and communications technology, including the internet of things, cloud computing, big data, data analytics, nanotechnology, artificial intelligence, 5G and their innovative applications.
  • They have also committed to strengthen BRICS cooperation on energy and work to foster open, flexible and transparent markets for energy commodities and technologies.
  • BRICS Agriculture Research Platform is proposed to be established in India.
  • They also called upon the international community to establish a genuinely broad counterterrorism coalition and support the UN’s central coordinating role in this regard.
  • Importance of people-to-people exchanges in promoting development and enhancing mutual understanding, friendship and cooperation among BRICS peoples was also emphasized.
  • Countries also resolved to work together to promote most effective use of fossil fuels and wider use of gas, hydro and nuclear power, which will contribute to the move towards a low emission economy, better energy access and sustainable development.

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