19, January 2018

  1. International Solar Alliance Forum at World Future Energy Summit

 Source: PIB

On receipt of 15 ratifications, the International Solar Alliance (ISA) Framework Agreement entered into force on the 6th December, 2017 thereby making ISA a de jure treaty based international intergovernmental organisation.

  • So far 19 countries have ratified and 48 countries have signed the ISA Framework Agreement.
  • In one of its first outreach programmes post-ratification, the ISA hosted a two Day Event ‘International Solar Alliance Forum’ during 17-18th January, 2018 at the Future World Energy Summit (WFES) 2018

Key facts:

  • Minister of State (IC) for Power and New & Renewable Energy, Government of India congratulated ISA for organising the ISA Forum as its first overseas outreach activity.
  • Stated that over the years the Renewable Energy has become cheaper and is set to replace conventional energy, which is a healthy development, and added that India has one of the fastest growing Renewable Energy programmes in the World and the country would achieve its target of 175 GW of installed Renewable Energy capacity well before 2020.
  • The Ministerial Plenary was followed by three technical panel discussions: ISA a Trillion Dollar Opportunity; Networking of R&D Institutions in ISA Countries for Solar Innovation, Incubation & Start-Ups; and Best Practices for Solar Capacity Building in ISA Countries. These sessions were attended by Energy Ministers, policymakers, Multilateral Banks & Finance Institutions, R&D Institutions & Innovators, solar project developers and manufacturers, investors and other stakeholders.


  • The Paris Declaration establishes ISA as an alliance dedicated to the promotion of solar energy among its member countries. The ISA’s major objectives include global deployment of over 1,000GW of solar generation capacity and mobilisation of investment of over US$ 1000 billion into solar energy by 2030.
  • As an action-oriented organisation, the ISA brings together countries with rich solar potential to aggregate global demand, thereby reducing prices through bulk purchase, facilitating the deployment of existing solar technologies at scale, and promoting collaborative solar R&D and capacity building.
  • When the ISA Framework Agreement entered into force on December 6th, 2017, ISA formally became a de-jure treaty based International Intergovernmental Organization, headquartered at Gurugram, India.
  • As of now the ISA Framework Agreement has been signed by 48 countries, with 19 of them also depositing the instruments of ratification with the Ministry of External Affairs, Government of India. For further details please visit ISA website http://isolaralliance.org.

World Energy Summit:

  • The annual World Future Energy Summit (WFES) is the foremost platform dedicated to the innovation and digitalisation trends that are key to transformation in the global energy mix. Located in Abu Dhabi,
  • WFES is a business-first exhibition for project developers, distributors, innovators, investors and purchasers from across the globe to come together and discover new solutions to the world’s growing energy challenges.
  • WFES brings together thousands of decision makers, policy makers, investors, experts and media with the following company profiles from over 175 countries to source cutting-edge technologies, network with solution providers and do business.


  1. Agni-5, Nuclear-Capable ‘Fire And Forget’ Missile, Successfully Test-Fired- DRDO

Source: PIB

India successfully test-fired nuclear capable surface-to-surface Agni-5 Ballistic Missile today, boosting indigenous missile capabilities and deterrence strength of the country.

  • Agni-5 is the most advanced missile in the Agni series with a strike range of over 5,000 kilometres.

Key facts:

  • Agni-5 is most advanced missile in the Agni series with new technologies incorporated in it in terms of navigation and guidance, warhead and engine. It has a range of over 5,000 km.
  • The redundant Navigation systems, very high accuracy Ring Laser Gyro based Inertial Navigation System (RINS) and the most modern and accurate Micro Navigation System (MINS) had ensured the missile reached the target point within few metres of accuracy, said an official of Defence Research and Development Organization (DRDO).
  • After four successful developmental trials, this was the first user associate test of Agni-5 missile.
  • Agni-5 missile has a high speed on-board computer and fault tolerant software along with robust and reliable bus. Its path is precisely directed by the advanced on-board computer and inertial navigation system.
  • The three-stage, 17-metre tall, two-metre wide Agni-5 missile is capable of carrying a nuclear warhead of about 1.5 tonnes
  • The missile so programmed that after reaching the peak of its trajectory it will turn towards Earth to continue its journey towards the intended target with an increased speed due to the attraction of the earths gravitational pull.
  • The first two successful flights of Agni-5 missile in 2012 and 2013 were in open configuration. Agni-5 has higher reliability, longer shelf life, less maintenance and enhanced mobility.
  • At present, Agni series missiles that India has in its armoury are: Agni-1 with 700 km range, Agni-2 with 2,000 km range, Agni-3 and Agni-4 with 2,500 km to more than 3,500 km range.
  • The first test of Agni-5 was conducted on April 19, 2012, the second on September 15, 2013, the third on January 31, 2015 and fourth trial on December 26, 2016 from the same base.
  • With testing of Agni-5, India had become a part of the super-exclusive club of countries with ICBMs or inter-continental ballistic missiles after US, Britain, Russia, China and France.

Inter-continental ballistic missiles

  • An intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) is a guided ballistic missile with a minimum range of 5,500 kilometres (3,400 mi) primarily designed for nuclear weapons delivery (delivering one or more thermonuclear warheads).
  • Similarly, conventional, chemical, and biological weapons can also be delivered with varying effectiveness, but have never been deployed on ICBMs.
  • Most modern designs support multiple independently targetable reentry vehicles (MIRVs), allowing a single missile to carry several warheads, each of which can strike a different target.


  • US, Britain, Russia, China, France, India, North Korea, Israel


  1. Three cryptocurrencies you need to know about

Source: The Hindu

Now that most of the world is caught up on blockchain basics, here is a look at three of the most prominent cryptocurrencies in the space

  • After the way cryptocurrency has dominated the news over the past few months, it is safe to assume that most people are familiar with the term and the basic premise.

Bitcoin (BTC)

  • This is the one that started it all. Despite widespread community interest, the largest market cap among all cryptocurrencies and consistent public scrutiny, Bitcoin has held firm.
  • It is the first decentralised digital currency that used a peer-to-peer network for transactions between users. While originally considered a fast and efficient payment method, Bitcoin’s growing user base and relatively large block time (the time taken for one block in the blockchain to be ‘mined’ by the miners that keep the blockchain up and running) have led to delays in transactions on the network and increasing transaction fees.
  • This has led to Bitcoin beginning to lose favour to other cryptocurrencies (collectively dubbed altcoins) as a payment method, but its long history and robust performance have led to it retaining its crown as the ultimate cryptocurrency, at least in terms of wealth storage.

Litecoin (LTC)

  • Founded in 2011 by ex-Google employee Charlie Lee, Litecoin is often referred to as the silver to Bitcoin’s gold. This is one of the go-to currencies used today for transactions, thanks to its faster block time of around 2.5 minutes, compared to Bitcoin’s 10 minutes, enabling much faster exchanges between users.
  • Litecoin’s algorithm also makes it difficult to build Application-Specific Integrated Circuits (ASIC), the likes of which are used to mine Bitcoin, and have been criticised for the massive electricity consumption that goes into mining the cryptocurrency, leading to long-term scalability problems.
  • By eliminating purpose-built ASIC mining, Litecoin presents a greener, faster alternative to Bitcoin, when it comes to transactions.

Ether (ETH)

  • Ether was until recently the second-largest cryptocurrency in terms of market cap. It is the cryptocurrency used in the Ethereum network, which is essentially a decentralised computing platform, upon which ‘smart contracts’ can be built and executed.
  • The main application for this platform is the use of smart contracts between parties, that usually require an intermediary for the purposes of trust or verification (such as the services performed by Airbnb or Uber).

  1. Pradhan Mantri Surakshit Matritva Abhiyan (PMSMA)

Source: PIB

Pradhan Mantri Surakshit Matritva Abhiyan (PMSMA) has crossed one crore mark in antenatal check-ups.

  • The programme has been successful in reaching out to the difficult and remote areas of India, since out of the 1 crore checkups across the country, more than 25 lakh check-ups were conducted in high priority districts identified by the Health Ministry for focussed attention.
  • While all States/ UTs have made significant efforts to reach out to pregnant women, Maharashtra has reported the largest number of check-ups among the Non-Empowered Action Group (EAG) States and Rajasthan has reported the largest number of check-ups among the Empowered Action Group States.


  • The Pradhan Mantri Surakshit Matritva Abhiyan has been launched by the Ministry of Health & Family Welfare (MoHFW), Government of India.
  • The program aims to provide assured, comprehensive and quality antenatal care, free of cost, universally to all pregnant women on the 9thof every month. PMSMA guarantees a minimum package of antenatal care services to women in their 2nd/3rd trimesters of pregnancy at designated government health facilities.
  • The programme follows a systematic approach for engagement with private sector which includes motivating private practitioners to volunteer for the campaign; developing strategies for generating awareness and appealing to the private sector to participate in the Abhiyan at government health facilities.


  • Data indicates that Maternal Mortality Ratio (MMR) in India was very high in the year 1990 with 556 women dying during child birth per hundred thousand live births as compared to the global MMR of 385/lakh live births. As per RGI- SRS (2011-13), MMR of India has now declined to 167/lakh live births against a global MMR of 216/lakh live births (2015). India has registered an overall decline in MMR of 70% between 1990 and 2015 in comparison to a global decline of 44%.
  • While India has made considerable progress in the reduction of maternal and infant mortality, every year approximately 44000 women still die due to pregnancy-related causes and approximately 6.6 lakh infants die within the first 28 days of life. Many of these deaths are preventable and many lives can be saved if quality care is provided to pregnant women during their antenatal period and high risk factors such as severe anemia, pregnancy-induced hypertension etc are detected on time and managed well.

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