The Daily Brief – 18th July, 2016

The Ruins of Nalanda University
The Ruins of Nalanda University
  • The UNESCO has added three sites from India to its to its World Heritage List. These are:
    1. Sikkim’s National Park – This National Park has Mt. Khangchendzonga, the world’s third highest peak after Mt. Everest and K2.
    2. Nalanda University in Bihar – Nalanda was a Mahavihara in the ancient Kingdom of Magadha. In the 5th Century AD, it was developed as an academic University under the patronage of the Gupta Empire. Kumaragupta I was the King who established it. The Mahayana version of Buddhism was taught at Nalanda, although some evidence shows that the Vedas were taught too.
    3. The Capitol Complex – This is a Complex of 17 sites across the world designed by a world-renowned French architect, Le Corbusier. One of the 17 sites is in India. It is the Complexe du Capitole in Chandigarh.
  • The monsoon session of Parliament is set to begin today, and the Goods and Services Tax Bill (GST Bill) is set to be tabled before Parliament. Debates regarding the passing of this Bill will happen this week.
  • As the monsoon session of the Parliament starts, canine dogs have been deployed as an additional ring of security. This has been labelled ‘Operation Golden Nose‘ by the Ministry of Home Affairs. These dogs have been trained by the Indo-Tibetan Border Police and are said to be few of the highly trained dogs of the world. When President Barack Obama visited India, the United States’ Secret Service used these dogs for their President’s security. These dogs can detect not just explosives, but even those people who might have touched explosives.
  • India has greatly increased the deployment of troops in eastern Ladakh, along the border with China. This border is called the Line of Actual Control (LAC). New roads have been laid down, and battle tanks set up at an altitude of 14,000 feet. Thousands of more soldiers have been deployed, and the process has been underway for the past five years.
  • A recent WHO report has found that almost one-third (31 per cent) of those who claimed to be allopathic doctors in 2001 were educated only up to the secondary school level and 57 per cent did not have any medical qualification. The study is titled ‘The Health Workforce of India‘, and also notes the situation as being far worse in rural India. Interestingly, female healthcare workers were found to be more educated and medically qualified than their male counterparts. The data for this study was extracted from the 2001 Census.
  • Ramayana month‘ began in Kerala last week. The last month of the Malayalam almanac is celebrated as Ramayana month, and Ramayana recitals, classes and discourses are held across the state.
  • A team of women journalists has started a rural digital media start-up called Chambal Media. The team had, previously, started a rural newspaper called Khabar Lahariya fifteen years ago, so as to make news accessible to rural Uttar Pradesh, in the local language. Since the inception of the newspaper project in 2002, the production and marketing of Khabar Lahariya has been dependent on female journalists who are mostly recruited from the rural communities where the newspaper is produced and circulated. Chambal Media, too, is predominantly run by women. Chambal Media aims to enable a local authentic voice of journalism to reach the rural audience, and will distribute news generated by women, and especially from marginalised communities like Dalits, Muslims and Adivasis.
  • The High Court of Hyderabad has inaugurated its first e-court. The Court will use digitised case records thereby bringing down the human resource required to maintain these on paper. Advocates, judges and all litigant parties can use the e-court facility to digitally file records. The Court Display Board will be automatically updated. Even SMS alerts will be automatically sent to advocates. Note that the Delhi High Court is the first High Court in the country to have adopted the e-court system fully.
  • The Spanish Talgo train is set to become one of the fastest trains undertaking non-commercial journeys in the country. Undergoing trial runs at present, the train is soon expected to clock a speed of 180 kmph. Besides being faster, the Talgo trains are also up to 30 per cent more energy efficient and environment friendly. Indian Railways had recently started the semi high-speed train Gatimaan Express, which runs at 160 kmph between Delhi and Agra Cantonment railway stations, and is veering towards introducing more trains that can travel at faster speeds on busy routes such as Delhi-Mumbai.
  • Tata Advanced Systems Ltd (TASL) and US-based Bell Helicopter agreed to jointly develop the helicopter market in India. The agreement covers both commercial and government (including military) markets. TASL, which works with several global original equipment manufacturers, provides solutions for aerospace, defence and homeland security. Bell Helicopter is a company that has been supplying helicopters to India for more than six decades.
  • A US federal appeals court has said the U.S. government cannot force Microsoft Corp and other companies to turn over customer emails stored on servers outside the United States. The landmark decision comes as a victory for privacy advocates and for technology companies offering cloud computing and other services around the world.
  • Henrik Stenson won the British Open golf tournament by beating Phil Mickelson.
  • Meanwhile, the State of Odisha celebrated ‘Rasagola Dibasa’ (the day of Rasagola) on 17th of July. There is a dispute about the origin of Rasagola as West Bengal too claims to be the real place of origin. The State Government of Odisha said that it will apply for a Geographical Identification for Rasagolas. It also claimed that Odisha (and not West Bengal) is the true origin of Rasagolas because the Lord Jagannath offered the sweet to appease his wife Laxmi, who was upset after Jagannath went on the nine-day Rath Yatra to his aunt’s house. Historians of West Bengal rubbished this story and claimed that the sweet was invented in the state in 1868 by iconic confectioner Nobin Chandra Das, whose son later founded the famous sweetmeat chain K.C. Das. We’ll have to wait and see what happens next. But none of this should stop us from gulping down our own share of Rasagolas!


Today’s Quiz

  1. Which of the following is a site that has not been added to the UNESCO World Heritage List this year?

2. Who designed the Capitol Complex, which has been recognised as a World Heritage site this year?

3. Henrik Stenson recently won the British Open this year. What sport does this tournament pertain to?

4. Tata Advanced Systems limited and Bell Helicopters have entered into an agreement. What does this agreement purport to do?

5. The Indian Railways recently started a high speed train between Delhi and Agra. What is this train called?

6. The High Court in which city recently inaugurated its first e-court?

7. A team of women journalists has recently started an online news portal for rural access to news generated by women and marginalised communities. Which state does this portal operate in?

8. The last month of the Malayalam almanac is celebrated to commemorate an Indian epic. Which epic is commemorated during this time in Kerala?

9. What is the border separating India and China called?

10. The Ministry of Home Affairs has recently deployed trained canine dogs. What has this project been called?


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