India became an associate member of the European Organisation for Nuclear Research (CERN), the world’s largest nuclear and particle physics laboratory. In this regard, an agreement was signed by Dr. Sekhar Basu, Chairman, Atomic Energy Commission (AEC) and CERN Director General Dr. Fabiola Gianotti in Mumbai, Maharashtra.
As an associate member, India can take part in meetings of the CERN Council and its committees (Scientific Policy Committee and Finance Committee). It will open up new avenues for Indian scientists to engage with their counterparts in front line research in physics and engineering It will help to boost India’s science credentials and give access to high end scientific technology. It will also make Indian scientists eligible for staff appointments in CERN. Besides, Indian industry will be entitled to bid for CERN contracts. Thus, it will open up opportunities for industrial collaboration in areas of advanced technology. India will also has to contribute a certain amount of money for research activities including annual contribution of 11.5 million swiss frank to CERN.
In September 2016, CERN Council adopted a resolution upgrading India’s position as associate member from earlier ‘observer’ status. Prior to it, in 2015 the Union Cabinet had given its nod to the proposal for India’s officially entry to CERN. Earlier because of the observer status India was allowed to attend council meetings and to receive council documents but was not allowed to take part in the decision-making procedures of the organisation.
European Organisation for Nuclear Research (CERN) : CERN as an organisation is world’s largest nuclear and particle physics laboratory. It is situated in North West suburbs of Geneva on France-Swiss Border. It was established in 1954. Members: It has 22 member states (including India and Pakistan), four associate member states, and four states and three International Organisations have observer status.
The laboratory helps scientists and engineers probing fundamental structure of Universe using the most sophisticated scientific instruments and advanced computing systems Provide the necessary infrastructure needed for high-energy physics research including particle accelerators. Achievements: CERN operates the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) which is the world’s largest and most powerful particle accelerator. It is associated with the discovery of the Higgs Boson which is popularly known as the God particle.
Guided Missile Destroyer INS Chennai was commissioned into the Indian Navy by Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar at the Naval Dockyard, Mumbai.
The ship was indigenously designed by the Indian Navy’s Directorate of Naval Design and was constructed by Mazagon Dock Limited, Mumbai.
Highlights of INS Chennai : INS Chennai is the last of the Project 15 A class Destroyers. It will be placed under the operational and administrative control of the Flag Officer Commanding-in-Chief, Western Naval Command.
It measures 163m in length, 17.4m in breadth with a displacement of 7500 tonnes. It is propelled by four powerful Gas Turbines, in a Combined Gas and Gas (COGAG) configuration which makes it capable of achieving speeds in excess of 30 knots. It also has enhanced stealth features resulting in a reduced Radar Cross Section (RCS) which is achieved through efficient shaping of hull, plated masts and radar transparent materials on exposed decks.
It contains contemporary and refined weapons and sensors such as Surface to Surface Missile and Surface to Air Missiles.
It is fitted with a up to date Surveillance Radar which provides data to the gunnery weapon systems of the ship. Its Anti Submarine Warfare capabilities are rendered by the indigenously developed Rocket Launchers and Torpedo Launchers.
It is equipped to fight under Nuclear, Biological and Chemical (NBC) warfare conditions.
Its unique feature is the high level of indigenised equipment- Combat Management System, Rocket Launcher, Foldable Hangar Doors, Helo Traversing system, Auxiliary Control System and the Bow mounted SONAR.
It will be under the command of Captain CR Praveen Nair, a Communication & Electronic Warfare specialist.
An earthquake with a magnitude of 7.4 hit the coast of Fukushima, in Japan, triggering off tsunami scares on 22 November 2016.
The same region fell victim to one of Japan’s worst quakes in 2011, which resulted in a devastating tsunami that led to the killing of around 18000 people and destruction of one of Japan’s nuclear power plants.
The quake was felt even in Tokyo, 150 miles southwest of the epicenter. Though there has been no report of death as yet, there have been reports of minor injuries and damage.
An initial tsunami warning was put out after reports of a rise in tidal waves along the coastline with the highest being in Sendai. The advisories have however been lifted in most areas.
According to the Japan Meteorological Agency, the earthquake was an aftershock to the 2011 earthquake and it might be followed up with another quake in the upcoming days.
While there have no reports of damage in the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant, a pump that supplies cooling water to a spent fuel pool at the plant had stopped working. The situation is now under control with a backup pump put into action to conduct the same activity.
The dismantling work of the destroyed Daiichi nuclear plant, which was underway earlier, has however been called off temporarily in the wake of the earthquake.
Meanwhile, motor company Nissan also suspended its work at its Fukushima factory.
Flights to and from the Sendai airport have also been suspended.
A team of scientists has recently discovered a super-Earth orbiting around a red dwarf star just 32.7 light years away. The discovery was published in the journal Astronomy & Astrophysics on 5 November 2016.
The study was led by Alejandro Suarez Mascareno from the Instituto de Astrofisica de Canarias (IAC) and the University of La Laguna (ULL) in Spain.This exoplanet is named as GJ 536 b.
It is around 5.4 times the mass of Earth. Planets that are up to 15 times the mass of Earth are classed as super-Earths.
While the exoplanet is not located with the habitable zone of its star GJ 536 but it has a short orbit period of just 8.7 days.
This rocky exoplanet is orbiting a star that is much smaller and cooler than the sun but is sufficiently nearby and bright. It can be observed from both the northern and southern hemispheres.
The planet was detected in a joint effort between the IAC and the Geneva Observatory.
To detect the planet, the researchers measured the velocity of the star with an accuracy of the order of a metre per second.
The research was carried out using the HARPS (High Accuracy Radial velocity Planet Seeker) spectrograph on the 3.6M ESO Telescope at La Silla in Chile.
HARPS North was also used on the Telescopio Nacional Galileo (TNG) at the Roque de los Muchachos Observatory, Garafia in Spain.
The McLaren Technology Group on 21 November 2016 announced the appointment of Zak Brown as its Executive Director.
Brown is chosen for the position after Ron Dennis was forced out as Chairman and Chief Executive of McLaren in November 2016.
Zak Brown : Zak Brown is a former professional racing driver. He is the founder and CEO of Just Marketing International, the world’s largest motorsport marketing agency.
In 2013, CSM Sport & Entertainment acquired JMI, which was founded in 1995.
McLaren Technology Group : The McLaren Technology Group is a British conglomerate based in Woking, Surrey, United Kingdom. It was founded by Ron Dennis shortly after his acquisition of the McLaren Formula One team in 1981.
The group was originally named the TAG McLaren Group due to a partnership with Mansour Ojjeh's TAG Group. It was renamed to simply the McLaren Group in 2003. In 2015, it was renamed as McLaren Technology Group.
It was originally formed from a Formula One team established by New Zealander Bruce McLaren in 1963. It is the third largest conglomerate in the UK by revenue.
The Supreme Court (SC) of India has directed the Union Government to frame model rules prescribing objective norms for the administration of consumer courts. It should be done within four months.
The direction was passed by the three-judge bench comprising of Chief Justice TS Thakur and Justices DY Chandrachud and L Nageswara Rao. The bench expressed its concern over the working of consumer courts including the National Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission. It said that a systematic overall of the infrastructure is necessary if the Consumer Protection Act, 1986 is not to become a dead letter.
In its directions, the apex court clarified the role, functions and powers of the National Consumer Commission, State consumer commissions and district consumer fora. This was done to ensure that the mechanism to protect the consumer from unfair trade practices is strengthened.
Besides, the court also asked both, the union and state governments, to immediately interfere to set right the system. It also asked the two to fill up the vacancies of members in these courts.
The Infosys Science Foundation declared the names of six individuals as the winners of Infosys Prize 2016 on 18 November 2016. The prize, which is given to recognize and celebrate the talent and contribution of some of the best researchers and scientists today, is running into its eighth consecutive year.
The winners were selected from 6 categories including the field of Engineering and Computer Science, Humanities, Life Sciences, Mathematical Sciences, Physical Sciences and Social Sciences. The prize for each category included a winning amount of 65 Lakh Rupees, a 22 karat gold medallion and a citation certificate.
Six people were chosen from a total of 250 nominations by an esteemed jury panel including renowned scientists and professors such as Prof. Pradeep K Khosla, Prof. Amartya Sen, Prof Shrinivas Kulkarni, Dr. Inder Verma, Prof Srinivasa S R Varadhan and Prof Kaushik Basu.
Prof. V. Kumaran for Engineering and Computer Science:
Kumaran, a Professor at the Department of Chemical Engineering, Indian Institute of Science (IISc) Bangalore, was awarded for his exemplary work in complex fluids and complex flows, especially in transition and turbulence in soft walled tubes and tubes that play an important role in cardio-vascular and pulmonary health.
Prof. Sunit Amrith for Humanities
Amrith, a Professor of History at Harvard University (US), was awarded for his excellent contribution to the history of migration, environment and international public health. It was also to recognize his field-changing research on the interrelated past of contemporary Asia.
Dr. Gagandeep Kang for Life Sciences
She was awarded for her ground-breaking contribution to understanding the natural history of rotavirus and other infectious diseases prevalent both in India and abroad. She is the Executive Director of Translational Health Science and Technology Institute (THSTI) Faridabad.
Prof. Akshay Venkatesh for Mathematical Sciences
A professor in Department of Mathematics at Stanford University (US), Verma has been awarded for his enormous contribution to the modern number theory.
Dr. Anil Bhardwaj for Physical Sciences
Bhardwaj, Director of Space Physics Laboratory at Vikram Sarabhai Space Centre in Thiruvananthapuram, has been recognised for his exceptional work in Planetary Science and Exploration including detection and delineation of the nature and origin of planetary x-rays.
Prof. Kaivan Munshi for Social Sciences
Munshi, Professor at Faculty of Economics at the University of Cambridge (UK) has been recognised for his deep analysis of the multifaceted role of ethnic groups and caste-based communities in the process of economic development.
Senior journalist Akshaya Mukul won the Shakti Bhatt First Book Prize 2016 for his book Gita Press and the Making of Hindu India.
The judges, authors Samanth Subramanian, Mahesh Rao and Janice Pariat, chose Mukul’s book for its “eye-opening and captivating exploration into a parallel literary culture that can often feel at a great remove from English-speaking metropolitan India”.
Mukul had also won the best non-fiction book prize for Gita Press and the Making of Hindu India at the Ramnath Goenka awards. However, he boycotted the event.
The Shakti Bhatt First Book Prize was set up in 2008 to encourage authors from the sub-continent.
The book talks about Jaydayal Goyandka and Hanuman Prasad Poddar, two Marwari businessmen-turned-spiritualists, who set up the Gita Press and Kalyan magazine.
The book goes on to explain how Gita Press created an empire that spoke in a militant Hindu nationalist voice; and how ideas articulated by Gita Press played a critical role in the formation of a Hindu political consciousness.
Mahesh Bhalla, former Executive Director of Dell’s Consumer & SMB business in India, has been appointed as Chief Mentor of StartupsClub India.
StartUpsClub is the largest community for such ventures in India with over 10,000 plus entrepreneurs on its board, the Bengaluru headquartered company said.
Bhalla is a 20-year-industry veteran, having held leadership positions across various companies including Uber, India, a StartupsClub release said.
StartupsClub is an initiative that helps entrepreneurs build an ideal platform to create a conducive environment for starting an enterprise, it said.
Startupsclub is founded by Salma Moosa and Vivek.
India’s longest expressway connecting Agra and Lucknow was inaugurated by Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav at Bangarmau in Unnao district of UP. It has been built by the Uttar Pradesh Expressways Industrial Development Authority (UPEIDA) in a record time of 23 months.
The Agra-Lucknow Expressway is six-lane greenfield expressway having total length of 302-km. It has a design speed of up to 120 kms per hour. It starts from Agra and passes through Firozabad, Mainpuri, Etawah, Auraiya, Kannauj, Hardoi, Unnao, Kanpur to reach Lucknow.
The expressway will help cut down the time between Agra and Lucknow to just 3.5 hours, from the current 7 hours. Moreover, it is expected to reduce the road travel time between Delhi and Lucknow to anywhere between 5 to 6 hours.
The expressway has 2 km dedicated stretch built for fighter jets to land and take-off in times of “war-like emergencies”. It also has State-of-the-art Advance Traffic management System for safe & secure transit and reducing road accidents and helping even at the time of fog. The entire Expressway is lined with metal beam crash barrier on both sides and wire fencing for safe & secure transit.
During the inauguration ceremony, six fighter jets (Three Mirage 2000s and three Sukhois) of the Indian Air Force (IAF) touched down on a stretch of the expressway in simulated landings. This was the first time that IAF fighterjets took part in the inauguration of an expressway as part of Union Government’s plan to increasingly use highways as landing and take-off strips. In May 2015 an IAF Mirage 2000 had landed on the Yamuna Expressway in Uttar Pradesh making it India’s first road runway.
The 10-day-festival ‘Sangai Festival 2016’ inaugurated by Manipur CM Okram Ibobi Singh on November 21 2016. It will continue till November 30 2016 .Theme is ‘Destination Manipur’.
To promote Manipur as a potential tourist destination.
The participants from different Indian states, foreign traders and cultural troupes expected to participated in this festival.
A wide range of shows from fashion to rock music, along with activities like boat race and other water sports at Loktak to be held as a part of this festival .
The 47th edition of the International Film Festival of India (IFFI) began in Goa. It is one of Asia’s oldest and India’s biggest film festival. It was inaugurated by Veteran filmmaker Ramesh Sippy in the presence of Union Information and Broadcasting Minister M. Venkaiah Naidu.
This year over 300 films including 4 premieres, 6 international premieres, 26 Asian premieres 104 Indian premieres and Oscar-winning entries from nearly 90 countries will be screened.
South Korea is the focus country of IFFI 2016. Polish film “After-Image” of filmmaker Andrzej Wajda’s is the opening film of the festival. The South Korean film “Age of Shadows” of Kim Jee Woon will be the festival’s closing film.
This film also South Korea’s official entry for the Oscar awards. In addition, 20 award winning short films based on ‘Swachh Bharat’ theme as a part of Swachh Bharat campaign will be showcased in the festival. The Centenary Award for Indian Film Personality of the Year was bestowed upon Veteran singer SP Balasubrahmanyam.
Besides, prestigious Lifetime Achievement Award at IFFI 2016 was bestowed upon legendary South Korean film director and writer Im Kwon Taek.
International Film Festival of India (IFFI) : IFFI was founded in 1952 and is annually held in Goa. It is the biggest state-backed film festival and conducted jointly by Union Ministry of Information and Broadcasting, Directorate of Film Festivals and Government of Goa.
It aims at providing a common platform for the cinemas of the world to project the excellence of the film art. It also seeks to contribute to create awareness for understanding and appreciation of film cultures of different nations in the context of their social and cultural ethos and promote friendship and cooperation among people of the world.
As many as 16 of 22 public sector banks skipped paying dividends to Government in fiscal 2015-16 due to issue of mounting bad loans. It has led to a 67% decline in government receipts to Rs. 1,444.6 crore. Only six PSBs have declared dividends, though at a lower rate for the fiscal ended March 2016.
PSBs which skipped dividend payments included Allahabad Bank, Bank of India, Bank of Baroda, Central Bank of India, Canara Bank, Corporation Bank, Punjab National Bank, Dena Bank and Syndicate Bank. During 2015-16, the highest dividend was paid by State Bank of India (SBI) to the government at Rs. 1,214.6 crore, 22% lower than in the previous fiscal.
Profit-making PSBs have to pay a minimum dividend of 20% of their equity or 20% of their post-tax profit, whichever is higher.
The Union Government which is the majority shareholder in all the PSBs has witnessed a 67% decline in dividend receipts from PSU banks at Rs. 1,444.6 crore.
Balance sheets of most of the PSBs have been under stress due to the clean-up exercise targeted at non-performing assets (NPAs). Banks have been given time till March 2017 to clean up their balance sheet. Due to heavy provisioning for bad loans, many banks posted losses in last quarter of the previous fiscal.
In 2014-15, the Gross NPAs of the PSU banks had surged from 5.43% (Rs 2.67 lakh crore) to 9.32% (Rs 4.76 lakh crore) in 2015-16 of the total advances.
Thailand’s Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn was presented with the first ‘World Sanskrit Award’ for her exemplary contribution for the promotion of the language for the year 2015.
Besides, American linguist and Indologist Prof. George Cardona was also presented with this award for the year 2016. They were bestowed with the award by Vice President Hamid Ansari at a function held in New Delhi.
Maha Chakri Sirindhorn : She is noted educator and scholar of Sanskrit and Pali. She has been awarded with several awards and Honorary Doctorates including Honorary Degree of Doctor of Literature (Sanskrit) from Delhi University in 1987.
She also won Indira Gandhi Prize for Peace, Disarmament and Development Award from the Union Government in 2004; and Magsaysay Award for Public Service in 1991. She was also the Royal Patron of the 16th World Sanskrit Conference which was held in Bangkok in 2015.
World Sanskrit Award : The award was instituted by the Indian Council for Cultural Relations (ICCR). It was announced by the Union External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj during her inaugural address in the 16th World Sanskrit Conference in Bangkok in June 2015.
It is presented to eminent Sanskrit scholars to recognise their outstanding contribution to the study/research/ teaching in Sanskrit language and literature.
The twin trial of surface-to-surface nuclear capable Prithvi-II missile was successfully conducted by the India Army from a test range at Chandipur in Odisha During the test, two Prithvi-II missiles in salvo mode were successfully test-fired in quick succession from mobile launcher from launch complex-3 of the Integrated Test Range (ITR). Earlier, similar twin trial was conducted by Indian Army in October 2009 from the same base where both tests were successful.
Prithvi-II missile Prithvi-II is the first missile to be indigenously developed by the DRDO under the Integrated Guided Missile Development Programme.
It is surface-to-surface medium range ballistic missile with strike range of 350 km.
It is capable of carrying 500 kg to 1000 kg of conventional as well as nuclear warheads.
It is single-stage liquid-fuelled. It uses advanced inertial guidance system along with manoeuvring trajectory to hit its target precisely. It already has been inducted into India’s armed forces in 2003.
Prithvi-I for the Indian Army, Prithvi-II for the Indian Air Force, and Dhanush Missile for Indian Navy.
Haryana Government in November 2016 made the fitting of auto-dippers mandatory in four-wheel transport vehicles as a road safety measure. It was done in accordance with the terms of Rule 106 of the Central Motor Vehicles Rules, 1989.
The State Transport Department informed that no four wheeled transport vehicles would be registered by the Registering authorities or authorised dealers unless the auto-dippers compatible with head lamps are fitted.
All registered four-wheeled transport vehicles would be fitted with the auto-dipper compatible with the head lamp.
The auto-dipper to be fitted should be approved by the Transport Department on the basis of the technology under license from the National Research Development Corporation (NRDC).
While submitting the application for approval of the auto-dipper by the Transport Department (Regulatory Wing), the manufacturer will have to declare that
Functioning of the auto dipper is compatible with headlamps working as per AIS: 034
There should not be any tampering with the original wiring/electric circuits of the vehicles.
The authorised distributor of the manufacturer will also have to attach the documents regarding Vat number, sale tax, patent certificate and hologram, details of manufacturing unit, registered office address, dealer network and service network in the State.
The authorised dealer will also have to submit one sample of the auto-dipper with the application. This would help in inspecting and verify the quality of the dipper.
Captain Radhika Menon was bestowed with the 2016 International Maritime Organization (IMO) Award for Exceptional Bravery at Sea at IMO Headquarters in London, United Kingdom on 21 November 2016.
Menon was honoured with the prestigious award for her role in the rescue of seven fishermen from a sinking fishing boat in the Bay of Bengal in June 2015.
With this, Captain Menon became the first female to receive the IMO Award for Exceptional Bravery at Sea.
Radhika Menon : Radhika Menon is the Master of the oil products tanker Sampurna Swarajya.She is the first woman captain in the Indian Merchant Navy.
She was nominated for the award by the Government of India for the rescue of all seven fishermen from the fishing boat Durgamma.
IMO Award for Exceptional Bravery at Sea : The annual bravery Award was established by International Maritime Organisation.It was established to provide international recognition for those who, at the risk of losing their own life, perform acts of exceptional bravery, displaying outstanding courage in attempting to save life at sea or in attempting to prevent or mitigate damage to the marine environment.
The recipient of the Award is invited to a special ceremony at IMO to receive a medal and a certificate citing the act of exceptional bravery performed.In 2015, the Award was given to United States’ Christopher Leon.
As expected, Eliud Kipchoge, Kenya’s reigning Olympic marathon champion bagged the winner’s title in Delhi Half Marathon on 20 November 2016. While he was declared winner in men’s category, Ethiopia’s Worknesh Degefa claimed the women’s title.
Kipchoge, who won the gold medal at Rio Olympics in August 2016, is considered to be one of the greatest marathon runners of all times.
Highlights of the race : The race was flagged off by Union Sports Minister, Vijay Goel and Adille Sumariwalla, President of Athletics Federation of India and Council member of IAAF. The race witnessed participation from nearly 34000 people spread across different categories.
Kipchoge completed the 21.097km course in 59:44, unable to beat the course record of 59:06 set by Ethiopia’s Guye Adole in 2014.
While Ethiopia’s Yigrem Demelash came in second with a very close timing of 59:48, Augustine Choge from Kenya finished third with 60:01.
In the women’s category, while winner Degefa finished first with a timing of 1:07:42, fellow Ethiopian Ababel Yeshaneh came in second with a timing of 1:07:52 and Kenya’s Helah Kiprop came third with 1:08:11.Kenya’s reigning half marathon world champion Peres Jepchirchir also participated in the race. She came in fifth with a timing of 1:08:28.
The women’s record of 1:06:54 set by Mary Keitany of Kenya in 2009 also remained unbeaten this time. Both the men’s and women’s winners were awarded 27000 US Dollars.
Amoung Indian men, G Lakshmanan came first with a timing of 1:04:34 and among the women, Monika Athare finished first with a timing of 1:15:34.
Mohd Yunus (1:04:38) and Man Singh (1:04:40) came second and third amoung Indian men while amoung women, Sanjeevani Jadhav (1:15:35) came second and pre-race favourite Swati Gadhave (1:17:43) finished third.
Eliud Kipchoge : This was Kipchoge’s first competitive race after his win in the Olympics. It is his second time in India. He was previously here to participate in the 2010 Delhi Commonwealth Games, where he won silver in a 5000m race. His personal best time in full marathon stands at 2:03:05, only third fastest behind Dennis Kimetto (2.02.57) and Kenenisa Bekele (2.03.03).