The Daily Brief – 25th February, 2017

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  • Idukki has set out on another agitation seeking the exclusion of non-forest areas from the land notified as Ecologically Sensitive Areas (ESAs) in the State. Idukki is a district in Kerala along the Western Ghats, and is known for its rich biodiversity.
  • In a rare gesture, India has decided to throw open its border roads to help Bangladesh construct border outposts in Chittagong hill tracts, known for its inhospitable terrain. Some areas in Chittagong, bordering Tripura and Mizoram, have no motorable roads and India has decided to allow the Border Guard Bangladesh to construct 13 border outposts using the road connectivity available in the two States. The Border Security Force, deployed along the Bangladesh border, will monitor the construction activities.
  • India will likely unveil its most powerful supercomputer in June this year. With a a clock speed a million times faster than the fastest consumer laptops, it could earn a place among the world’s top 10 fastest supercomputers. Though India has built or hosted supercomputers since the 1990s, it held a ‘top 10’ spot only once, in 2007, thanks to the EKA built by the Computational Research Laboratories, which is part of the Tata group. The as-yet-unnamed new machine will be jointly hosted at the Indian Institute of Tropical Meteorology, Pune and the National Centre for Medium Range Weather Forecasting at Noida in Uttar Pradesh.
  • Vivek Chaand Sehgal, chairman of Motherson Sumi Systems Limited (MSSL), the flagship company of Samvardhana Motherson Group (SMG), has been chosen as the ‘EY Entrepreneur of the Year 2016.’ Mr. Sehgal will represent India at the EY World Entrepreneur of the Year Award ceremony at Monte Carlo in June.
  • A group of countries pledged at least $672 million at an international donor conference on Friday to prevent a famine in the African countries around the Lake Chad Basin, comprising Nigeria, Cameroon, Chad and Niger. Norway co-hosted the conference with Germany, Nigeria and the UN.
The Svalbard Global Seed Vault in Norway
  • Nearly 10 years after a “doomsday” seed vault opened on an Arctic island, some 50,000 new samples from seed collections around the world, including India, have been deposited in the world’s largest repository built to safeguard against wars or natural disasters wiping out global food crops. The Svalbard Global Seed Vault, a gene bank built underground on the isolated island in a permafrost zone some 1,000 kilometres from the North Pole, was opened in 2008 as a master backup to the world’s other seed banks, in case their deposits are lost.
  • A giant penguin foot-bone discovered in New Zealand shows that the ancestors of the penguin lived on Earth during the age of dinosaurs. The eight-centimetre bone dates from about 61 million years ago. The Waipara giant penguin, to which the bone belongs, stood at least 150 centimetres tall, just shy of the average height of a female human. That’s at least a head taller than the Emperor penguin, the largest of the 17 penguin species — all in the southern hemisphere, and most in Antarctica — alive today.

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