News: Union Environment Minister has launched the Surakhsya Portal on World Elephant Day
- Surakhsya Portal: It is a National Portal on Human elephant conflict (HEC) that aims to collect real time information & manage conflicts on a real time basis to set data collection protocols, data visualization tools and data transmission pipelines.
- Significance: This will enable policy-makers to use data for policy formulation and for preparation of Action Plans for mitigation of conflicts.
- World Elephant Day: It is observed on August 12 to create awareness of the urgent plight of African and Asian elephants and to share the knowledge and positive solutions for the better care and management of captive and wild elephants.
- Conservation Status: The African elephants are listed as Vulnerable and Asian elephants as Endangered on the IUCN Red List of threatened species.
- Project Elephant(PE): It was launched by the Government of India in 1992 as a Centrally Sponsored Scheme to a) protect elephants, their habitat & corridors b) address issues of man-animal conflict and c) Welfare of captive elephants.
News: A massive Sunspot group, AR2770 was observed using images of the Sun’s surface from NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory(SDO).
- Sunspots: It is an area on the Sun that appears dark on the surface and is relatively cooler than surrounding parts.
- Why are sunspots relatively cool: It’s because they form at areas where magnetic fields are particularly strong.These magnetic fields are so strong that they keep some of the heat within the Sun from reaching the surface.
- Significance: These spots are the visible markers of the Sun’s magnetic field which forms a blanket that protects the solar system from harmful cosmic radiation.
- Solar Cycle: It is the cycle that the Sun’s magnetic field goes through approximately every 11 years.The greatest number of sunspots in any given solar cycle is designated as solar maximum.The lowest number is solar minimum.
- Solar Flares: The magnetic field lines near sunspots often tangle, cross, and reorganize.This can cause a sudden explosion of energy called a solar flare.
- Solar flares release a lot of radiation into space.If a solar flare is very intense, the radiation it releases can interfere with our radio communications here on Earth.
- Coronal Mass Ejection(CME): These are huge bubbles of radiation and particles from the Sun.They explode into space at very high speed when the Sun’s magnetic field lines suddenly reorganize.
News: Indian armed forces have reportedly decided to revive Project Cheetah amid border tensions with China.
- Project Cheetah: The project involves arming Heron unmanned aerial vehicles(UAV) with laser-guided bombs, precision-guided munitions and anti-tank missiles for keeping an eye on enemy locations and stations and taking them out if required.
- Heron: It is a Medium Altitude Long Endurance(MALE) unmanned aerial system(UAS) developed by Israel Aerospace Industries.
News: Prime Minister has launched the submarine optical fibre cable project in Andaman and Nicobar Islands.
- Submarine optical fibre cable project: It is a 2,300 kilometre undersea cable that provides better connectivity from Chennai to Port Blair and seven other Islands — Swaraj Dweep (Havelock), Long Island, Rangat, Hutbay (Little Andaman), Kamorta, Car Nicobar and Campbell Bay(Great Nicobar).
- Funding: The connectivity project was funded by the Centre through the Universal Service Obligation Fund(USOF) under the Ministry of Communications.
- Implementation: It was executed by Bharat Sanchar Nigam Limited (BSNL) and Telecommunications Consultants India Limited(TCIL) was the technical consultant.
- Significance: It will improve internet connectivity in the Andaman and Nicobar islands enabling its citizens to use net banking, e-commerce, online education and telemedicine facilities.
- Submarine communications cable: It is a cable laid on the seabed between land-based stations to transmit telecommunication signals across stretches of ocean and sea.
- Universal Service Obligation Fund(USOF): It was set up in 2002 and was given statutory status under the Indian Telegraph (Amendment) Act, 2003.
- Objective: Enabling rural Indians to achieve their fullest potential and participate productively in the development of the nation by virtue of being effectively connected through a reliable and ubiquitous telecommunications network.
News: A Loya Jirga-grand assembly in Afghanistan has approved the release of 400 Taliban prisoners.
- Loya Jirga: It is a mass national gathering that brings together representatives from the various ethnic, religious and tribal communities in Afghanistan.
- Purpose: It is mainly organized for choosing a new head of state in case of sudden death, adopting a new constitution or to settle national or regional issues such as war.
News: Finance Minister has inaugurated the National Infrastructure Pipeline (NIP) Online Dashboard.
- NIP Online Dashboard: It is a one-stop solution for all stakeholders looking for information on infrastructure projects in India.
- The dashboard is being hosted on the India Investment Grid(IIG).
- India Investment Grid: It is an interactive and dynamic online platform that showcases updated and real-time investment opportunities in the country.
- Developed by: It is an initiative of Department for Promotion of Industry & Internal Trade(DPIIT) Ministry of Commerce and Invest India, the National Investment Promotion and Facilitation Agency.
- National Infrastructure Pipeline(NIP): It is the investment plan unveiled by the Central Government for enhancing social and economic infrastructure projects in India over a period of five years from 2020-25 with the aim to help India reach a $5 trillion economy by 2025.
- Task Force: The task force chaired by Secretary, Department of Economic Affairs,Ministry of Finance has projected infrastructure investment of ₹111 lakh crore during FY 2020-25.
News: The Mount Sinabung of Indonesia has erupted again releasing a huge column of ash.
- Mount Sinabung: It is located in the North Sumatra Island of Indonesia. The volcano was dormant for 400 years and erupted recently in the year 2010 and in 2014.
- Mt Sinabung is among more than 120 active volcanoes in Indonesia which is prone to seismic upheaval due to its location on the Pacific “Ring of Fire”.
- Ring of Fire also referred to as the Circum-Pacific Belt, is a path along the Pacific Ocean characterized by active volcanoes and frequent earthquakes.
- It traces boundaries between several tectonic plates—including the Pacific, Juan de Fuca, Cocos, Indian-Australian, Nazca, North American, and Philippine Plates.
News: Defence minister has launched several initiatives by Defence PSUs and OFB as part of the Atma Nirbhar Bharat Saptah.
- Atma Nirbhar Bharat Saptah: It is an initiative of the Ministry of Defence to boost indigenisation of defence production which will provide impetus to Atma Nirbhar Bharat Abhiyan.
Key Initiatives Taken and Launched:
- Negative List: These are a list of 101 items that the Defence Ministry will stop importing.It essentially means that the Armed forces will procure these items from domestic manufacturers.The manufacturers could be private sector players or defence Public Sector Undertakings(DPSUs).
- Increase in FDI limit: The Government of India has raised the Foreign Direct Investment(FDI) in defence manufacturing from 49% to 74% under the automatic route.
- Separate budget for domestic capital procurement: Defence ministry has bifurcated the capital procurement budget for 2020-21 between domestic and foreign capital procurement routes.
- Maareech Integration facility: It has been launched by Bharat Electronics Limited(BEL) for manufacturing, integration and testing of Anti Torpedo Defence System Maareech which has been designed by DRDO.
- Industrial Design Centre: It has been set up by BEML to focus on infrastructure creation in the Defence Sector.
- Center of Excellence – Special Materials: It has been set up by MIDHANI to primarily focus on promoting applied research for the development of Special Materials used in aerospace, defence, nuclear, space and other strategic areas.