The Daily Brief – 24th September, 2016

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  • Scientists and wildlife conservationists have highlighted threats to the protection of the Gangetic river dolphins by the National Waterways project. The animal is protected under Schedule I of the Indian Wildlife Protection Act, 1972 and is a declared endangered species. The development of the Ganga for shipping is seen by wildlife conservationists as the single-largest threat to the survival of the species, whose numbers are declining in most parts of their natural habitat. The Centre plans to develop a 1600-km waterway between Allahabad and Haldia for inland transportation under a Rs. 4200-crore World Bank-aided project as the National Waterway. In May 2016, the IUCN too had expressed its concerns to the Union Environment Ministry on this matter.
  • The Union Ministry of Health and Family Welfare will launch Mission Parivar Vikas for improved family planning services in 145 High Focus districts in seven states. The objective of the mission is to accelerate access to high quality family planning choices based on information, reliable services and supplies within a rights-based framework.
  • The eighth edition of joint military exercise ‘Indra-2016’ between India and Russia has begun in the Russian city of Vladivostok. The main focus of this edition of bilateral military exercise is on Counter-Terrorism Operations in semi mountainous and jungle terrain.
  • Indian Air Force (IAF) has successfully fired recently acquired long range air-to-air MICA missile from the Mirage-2000 Upgrade combat aircraft on a manoeuvring target. During the test, the missile achieved a direct hit on a target which was much smaller than an actual aircraft and flying at a low altitude. With this success IAF has become one of the few air forces in the world that have capability of launching such beyond visual range (BVR) air-to-air missile. 
  • The world’s largest solar power plant with an installed capacity of 648MW was commissioned at Kamudhi in Ramanathapuram district of Tamil Nadu. The plant was set up on an area of around 5,000 acres by Adani Group at a total cost of Rs 4,550 crore.
  • Union Government’s think-tank NITI Aayog has devised a short-term and medium-to-long term action plan to help India achieve 50 medals in the 2024 summer Olympics. The action plans were devised after a disappointing performance in the 2016 Rio Olympics by India.
  • The Bar Council of India (BCI), a statutory body under the Advocates Act of 1961 mandated among other functions to represent bar and set standards on legal education including grant of recognition to universities/colleges, has issued a notification asking vice-chancellors/registrars/principals to ensure that no person above the age of 20/30 years secures admission for a three/five year undergraduate law course respectively.
  • The Goods & Services Tax (GST) Council has decided that businesses in the Northeastern and hill states with annual turnover below Rs.10 lakh would be out of the GST net, while the threshold for the exemption in the rest of India would be an annual turnover of Rs.20 lakh.
  • India’s largest pharmaceutical company, Sun Pharma, has signed a deal with the Delhi unit of the International Centre for Genetic Engineering and Biotechnology (ICGEB) to develop a dengue vaccine. This would be the first time a vaccine developed entirely in India for a vector-borne disease has been advanced for clinical development in India. Though India is well-known for developing generic versions of drugs and vaccines it rarely develops drugs from scratch, in part due to a regulatory environment that discourages untested drugs and the huge costs and risks associated with early-stage drug development. Rotavac — a vaccine to protect children against infections by the rotavirus — is the only other vaccine developed, tested and commercialised in India. Dengue is transmitted by the Aedes Aegypti mosquito and can be caused by any of four closely-related viruses. There is no recommended treatment for dengue so far other than rest, fluids and paracetamol. The ICGEB vaccine candidate, called DSV4, employs an approach different from other vaccines.
  • India will host a delegation of over 200 Chinese government officials and businessmen at the India-China Strategic Economic Dialogue next month with an aim to showcase investment opportunities in the country. The delegation, led by National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC) Chairman Xu Shaoshi, will participate in the two-day Dialogue on October 6-7, 2016, NITI Aayog Vice-Chairman Arvind Panagariya said. Deliberations will also be held on cooperation in the areas of highways, railways and urban development.
Image result for manu prakash subhash khot
Subhash Khot (left) and Manu Prakash (right)
  • Two alumni of the IITs have been given the ‘Genius Grant’ this year, by the John D and Catherine T MacArthur Foundation. They are are Subhash Khot, now at New York University and Manu Prakash, now at Stanford University. Both are former students of the IITs, with Dr. Khot having studied in IIT Bombay and Dr. Prakash, in IIT Kanpur.
  • Just days ahead of the crucial first presidential debate, Senator Ted Cruz offered his endorsement to Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump.
  • The Vatican has issued new rules for the process to determine if healings qualify as miracles for sainthood, including safeguards against possible financial abuses. The rules, made public by the Holy See, deal with how a board of medical experts scrutinize potential miracles.
  • An earthquake measuring 6.5 on the Richter scale struck off Japan’s east coast. The Japan Meteorological Agency has not issued a tsunami warning or advisory as a result of the off-shore quake, but said there might be slight sea-level changes in coastal regions.
  • Yahoo Inc said that at least 500 million of its accounts were hacked in 2014 by what it believed was a state-sponsored actor, a theft that appeared to be the world’s biggest known cyber breach by far. The attack on Yahoo was unprecedented in size, more than triple other large attacks on sites such as eBay Inc.

Today’s Quiz

  1. Which specie has been threatened by the National Waterways project on the river Ganga?





2. What does Mission Parivar Vikas seek to do?





3. Where is the India-Russia joint military exercise being held?





4. Where has the world's largest solar power plant been installed?





5. The International Centre for Genetic Engineering and Biotechnology recently signed a deal with which Indian pharma company to develop a dengue vaccine?





6. Which is the only vaccine developed, tested and commercialised in India thus far?





7. Who is the NITI Aayog chaired by?





8. Which of the following has received the Genius Grant this year, by the John D and Catherine T MacArthur Foundation?









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