18, February 2017

1.There’s no concept of National Song: SC

Source: The Hindu

The Supreme Court has refused to intervene in a petition seeking a direction to the government to frame a national policy to promote and propagate the ‘National Song’, along with the National Anthem and the National Flag.


The decision came on a petition contending that a national policy should be framed “in the spirit of Article 51A to achieve the great golden goals, as set out in the Preamble of the Constitution of India.” The petition also sought the court to “ascertain the feasibility of singing/playing the National Anthem and National Song in the Parliament/Assembly, public offices, courts and schools on every working day.”

What the court said?

  • According to the supreme court, “there is no concept of National Song”. Article 51A (a), citing the citizens’ fundamental duties, does not refer to ‘National Song.’ It only refers to National Flag and National Anthem.
  • Article 51A(a) mandates that citizens should abide by the Constitution and respect its ideals and institutions, the National Flag and the National Anthem.

2.Project Loon can now predict weather systems

Source: The Hindu

Researchers at Google have moved a step closer to rolling out a network of huge balloons to provide Internet connectivity to billions of people around the world, particularly those in difficult-to-reach rural areas.

Key facts:

  • The Project Loon team, part of the company’s X research lab, said it can now use machine learning to predict weather systems. By using machine-learning algorithms, Google thinks it has found a way to predict weather with enough accuracy to make it possible to hover balloons over a relatively small area for a long period of time.
  • The advance means Google has much more control over where its balloons reach, making it possible to focus on a specific region, rather than circumnavigating the globe.

Project Loon

  • Project Loon aims to provide internet services to the remote parts of the world. Rather than use under-ground fibre optic cables or construct cell towers to connect users, it will use balloons that float in the stratosphere. That explains the name.
  • Huge helium filled balloons — about 15m wide and 12m tall — will be launched at altitudes of 20 km above the earth, above the zone where airplanes fly. The balloons can then act as cell towers to receive and transmit signals. Solar panels will power these ‘loons’ with their batteries storing up charge for night-time operation.
  • The balloon’s path will be controlled by changing its altitude, so that it can optimally use wind speed and direction. The altitude will be altered by pumping or releasing air to raise or lower the balloon. As one ‘station’ moves off to a new pre-determined location, the next one moves in. Users will need a special antenna for receiving and sending radio signals to/from the balloon. They will need a connection to the internet service provider to access the web.

3.India slips to 143 in economic freedom index

Source: The Hindu

The Heritage Foundation has released its Index of Economic Freedom report 2017.

About the index:

Economic freedom is measured based on 12 quantitative and qualitative factors, grouped into four broad categories, or pillars, of economic freedom:

  • Rule of Law (property rights, government integrity, judicial effectiveness).
  • Government Size (government spending, tax burden, fiscal health).
  • Regulatory Efficiency (business freedom, labor freedom, monetary freedom).
  • Open Markets (trade freedom, investment freedom, financial freedom).

Each of the ten economic freedoms within these categories is graded on a scale of 0 to 100. A country’s overall score is derived by averaging these ten economic freedoms, with equal weight being given to each.

Highlights of the report:

  • India is ranked 143, behind its several South Asian neighbours including Pakistan, as progress on market-oriented reforms has been “uneven”.
  • India has been placed in the category of “mostly unfree” economies, as progress on market-oriented reforms has been “uneven”.
  • India’s overall score of 52.6 points is 3.6 points less than that of last year, when India ranked 123rd.
  • India is a significant force in world trade, the report noted, but corruption, underdeveloped infrastructure, and poor management of public finance undermine overall development.
  • Hong Kong, Singapore and New Zealand topped the index. Among South Asian countries, only Afghanistan (163) and Maldives (157) were ranked below India.

4.INSV Tarini

It is the Indian Navy’s second ocean going sailboat. It was recently inducted in to the Indian Navy.

  • INSV Tarini is a sloop built by M/s Aquarius Shipyard Pvt Ltd at Divar, Goa.
  • It is slated to be the platform for First Indian All Women Circumnavigation of the Globe expedition of the Indian Navy.
  • The boat draws her origin from the famous Tara-Tarini temple of Orissa’s Ganjam district. The word Tarini means a Boat and is also a Sanskrit word for Saviour. Tara-Tarini is a patron deity for sailors and merchants and is worshipped for safety and success at sea.

5.NRAI gets highest WHO ratings for vaccine regulations

Source: PIB

India’s vaccine regulatory body NRAI (National Regulatory Authority of India) was given the maximum ratings by the World Health Organisation (WHO) for vaccine regulations.

The ratings were given by WHO after completing the assessment of the status of the NRAI system against WHO NRA Global Benchmarking Tool and measured the maturity of the system in India.

Need for assessment

  • India is one of the main players in the pharmaceutical industry worldwide and often is referred as pharmacy of the world.
  • India, as a large vaccine producing country, is currently supplying several vaccines to the United Nations agencies (UNICEF, WHO and PAHO).
  • A fully functional NRAI is a pre-requisite for WHO prequalification of vaccines.
  • One of the requirements to become eligible and retain prequalification status is to get assessed.

Key Facts

  • The assessment was done in respect of 9 different functionalities by a WHO team comprising lead experts in different areas from WHO Headquarters Geneva, WHO India Country Office, experts from several countries.
  • Based on it, NRAI was declared functional with a maturity level of 4 which is highest level as per currently evolved definitions in respect of 5 functions, and maturity level 3 in respect of 4 functions.
  • Maturity level 4 indicates good results and sustained improvement trends, while level 3 reflects systematic process based approach, early stage of systematic improvements, data availability regarding conformance to objectives and existence of improvement trends.
  • The result reflects growing maturity of NRAI emanating from a concerted effort by Government in consultation with WHO to build capacity and capability of NRAI over last several years.

National Regulatory Authority of India (NRAI)

NRAI comprises the Central Drugs Standard Control Organisation (CDSCO), State Drug Regulatory Authorities, Adverse Events Following Immunization (AEFI) and Pharmaco-vigilance Programme of India (PvPI) structures at the Central and States levels.


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