1. 7 islands in Andamans, Lakshadweep identified for seaplane operations
- During the 5th meeting of the Island Development Agency, Four islands in the Andamans and three in Lakshadweep have been identified for seaplane operations, while private sector participation has been invited for tourism-based projects.
- These islands are Swaraj Dweep, Shaheed Dweep, Hutbay and Long Island in Andaman and Nicobar Islands and Kavaratti, Agatti and Minicoy in Lakshadweep have been identified for seaplane operations.
- These islands are used for infrastructure projects such as operationalisation of the Diglipur airport for civilian aircraft and the construction of a new airport on Minicoy Island.
- The eco-tourism projects carried on Smith Island and Long Island and a tent city project on Aves Island.
- The tourism projects are also carried in the islands of Kadmat, Minicoy and Suheli Cheriyakara.
2. Aussie mammal the first ‘climate change extinction’
- Australia officially declared a Great Barrier Reef rodent extinct making it the first mammal believed to have been killed off by human-induced climate change.
- The rat-like Bramble Cay melomys who’s only known habitat was a small sandy island in far northern Australia has not been spotted in a decade.
Reason for disappearance
- Available data on sea-level rise and weather events in the Torres Strait region “point to human-induced climate change being the root cause of the loss of the Bramble Cay melomys.
- Also low-lying island on a coral reef over the last decade, which had resulted in dramatic habitat loss.
Note: The Melomys rubicola is the only mammal’s species endemic to the Great Barrier Reef’s.
3. Cabinet approves the proposal of National Policy on Electronics 2019
- The Union Cabinet approved the National Policy on Electronics 2019 (NPE 2019), proposed by the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MeitY).
- The Policy envisions positioning India as a global hub for Electronics System Design and Manufacturing – (ESDM) by encouraging and driving capabilities in the country for developing core components, including chipsets, and creating an enabling environment for the industry to compete globally.
Salient Features of NPE 2019
- Create eco-system for globally competitive ESDM sector: Promoting domestic manufacturing and export in the entire value-chain of ESDM.
- Provide incentives and support for manufacturing of core electronic components.
- Provide special package of incentives for mega projects which are extremely high-tech and entail huge investments, such as semiconductor facilities display fabrication, etc.
- Formulate suitable schemes and incentive mechanisms to encourage new units and expansion of existing units.
- Provide incentives and support for significantly enhancing availability of skilled manpower, including re-skilling.
- Create Sovereign Patent Fund (SPF) to promote the development and acquisition of IPs in ESDM sector by 2025.
- Promote trusted electronics value chain initiatives to improve national cyber security profile.
- The implementation of the Schemes/ Programmes under the aegis of the National Policy on Electronics 2012 (NPE 2012) has successfully consolidated the foundations for a competitive Indian ESDM value chain.
- NPE 2019 proposes to build on that foundation to propel the growth of ESDM industry in the country. The National Policy of Electronics 2019 (NPE 2019) replaces the National Policy of Electronics 2012 (NPE 2012).
- The NPE 2019 when implemented will lead to formulation of several schemes, initiatives, projects, etc., in consultation with the concerned Ministries/ Departments, for the development of ESDM sector in the country.
- It will enable flow of investment and technology, leading to higher value addition in the domestically manufactured electronic products, increased electronics hardware manufacturing in the country and their export, while generating substantial employment opportunities.
4. Cabinet approves Agreement on Proposed Participation of India in PISA
- The Union Cabinet has given ex-post facto approval to the Agreement between India and the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) for participating in the Programme for International Students Assessment (PISA).
- This which will be conducted by the OECD in 2021.
- Learnings from participation in PISA will help to introduce competency-based examination reforms in the school system and help move away from rote learning.
- The Central Board of Secondary Education and the National Council for Educational Research and Trainin will be part of the process and activities leading to the actual test.
About Programme for International Students Assessment
- PISA is a competency-based assessment which unlike content-based assessment, measures the extent to which students have acquired key competencies that are essential for full participation in modern societies.
- It would lead to recognition and acceptability of Indian students and prepare them for the global economy in the 21st century.
- The CBSE and the NCERT will be part of the process and activities leading to the actual test.
- Schools run by the Kendriya Vidyalaya Sangathan (KVS), Navodaya Vidyalaya Samiti (NVS) and schools in the Union Territory of Chandigarh will participate.
5. SPHEREx : NASA new Telescope to investigate the Universe in 2023
- NASA will launch a new space telescope SPHEREx in 2023, which could provide a glimpse of the first moments in the history of the universe.
- The Spectro-Photometer for the History of the Universe, Epoch of Reionization and Ices Explorer (SPHEREx) mission is a planned two-year mission.
About NASA’s new mission
- NASA’s SPHEREx mission will help astronomers understand both how our universe evolved and how common are the ingredients for life in our galaxy’s planetary systems.
- SPHEREx will survey the sky in optical as well as near-infrared lightwhich, though not visible to the human eye, serves as a powerful tool for answering cosmic questions.
- Astronomers will use the mission to gather data on more than 300 million galaxies, as well as more than 100 million stars in our own Milky Way.
What will SPHEREx do?
- SPHEREx will survey hundreds of millions of galaxies near and far, some so distant, that their light has taken 10 billion years to reach Earth.
- In the Milky Way, the mission will search for water and organic molecules.
- Every six months, SPHEREx will survey the entire sky using technologies adapted from Earth satellites and Mars spacecraft.
- The mission will create a map of the entire sky in 96 different colour bands, far exceeding the colour resolution of previous all-sky maps.
- It also will identify targets for more detailed study by future missions, such as NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope and Wide Field Infrared Survey Telescope.
6. Attukal Pongala : World’s largest religious congregation of women
- Kerala host the Attaukal Ponkala festival which is considered as one of the world’s largest religious gathering of women on a single day.
- Attukal Pongala is celebrated at the Attukal Temple, Thiruvananthapuram, Kerala.
- These women prepare a divine food made of rice in earthen pots and offer it to the Goddess of the Temple.
- The pongala preparation starts with the ritual called ‘Aduppuvettu’.
- This is the earliest Pongala festival in Kerala.
- Attukal temple is also called ‘women’s Sabarimala’ as only women perform the ritual.
7. Cabinet approves setting up a new company under Department of Space
- The Union Cabinet has given its approval to the Setting up of a new company under Department of Space (DoS), to commercially exploit the research and development work carried out by Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) Centers and constituent units of DOS.
The following areas/avenues provide opportunities for commercial exploitation of ISRO programmes:
- Small satellite technology transfer to industry, wherein the new company shall take license from DoS/ISRO and sub-license to industries;
- Manufacture of small satellite launch vehicle (SLV) in collaboration with the Private Sector;
- Productionisation of Polar SLV through industry;
- Productionisation and marketing of Space-based products and services, including launch and applications;
- Transfer of Technology developed by ISRO Centers and constituent units of DoS;
- Marketing of some spin-off technologies and products, both in India and abroad; and
- Any other subject which Government of India deems fit.