IEA’s Report “The Future of Rail” launched
International Energy Agency’s (IEA’s) “The Future of Rail” Report was recently released by IEA Executive Director, Dr Fatih Birol and Union Minister of Railways Piyush Goyal in New Delhi. It is first-of-a-kind global report that analyses current and future importance of rail around world through perspective of its energy and environmental implications.
The Future of Rail Report
  • It has been prepared by International Energy Agency (IEA) in cooperation with International Union of Railways (UIC).
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  • It is latest in IEA report series highlighting “blind spots” in energy system, which are issues that deserve more attention from policymakers.
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  • According to it rail is among most energy efficient modes of transport for freight and passengers, but it is often neglected in public debate.
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  • It reviews impact of existing plans and regulations on future of rail and explores key policies that could help to realise an enhanced future rail.
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  • It gives special focus on India, elaborating on unique social and economic role of rail in India, together with its great enduring potential.
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  • It also shows how India can extend and update its existing networks to harness rail at scope and scale that is unparalleled.
Background
The transport sector is responsible for almost one-third of final energy demand, nearly two-thirds of oil demand and is responsible for nearly one-quarter of global carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions from fuel combustion. Therefore, changes in transportation are considered as fundamental to achieving energy transitions globally. The rail sector carries 8% of world’s passengers and 7% of global freight transport, it represents only 2% of total transport energy demand, highlighting its efficiency. Thus rail sector has potential to provide substantial benefits for energy sector as well as for the environment.
International Energy Agency (IEA)
  • It is an inter-governmental organization that works to ensure reliable, affordable and clean energy for its 30 member countries and 8 association countries.
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  • It was established in 1974 as per framework of Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) in the wake of 1973 oil crisis after Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) cartel had shocked the world with a steep increase in oil prices.
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  • Members: Presently it has 30 member countries and 8 association countries. India is associate member of IEA (not full member).
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  • Headquarters (Secretariat): Paris, France.
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  • Mandate: It was initially dedicated to responding to physical disruptions in oil supply as well as serving as information source on statistics about international oil market and other energy sectors.
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  • Its mission is guided by four main areas (“4Es”) of focus: energy security, economic development, environmental awareness (focused on mitigating climate change) and engagement worldwide.
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  • It also seeks to promote rational energy policies, alternate energy sources (including renewable energy) and multinational energy technology co-operation.
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  • It also acts as energy policy advisor to its member countries and also non-member countries like China, India and Russia.
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  • Publications/Reports: World Energy Outlook report.
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  • Relevance: IEA’s relevance in global energy governance is manifold as over 70% of world’s energy consumption is now under the IEA umbrella.
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  • Besides, it is also important part of global dialogue forum on energy, providing research, statistics/data, analysis and recommendations on the global energy sector.


Government signs contract for acquisition of two Project 1135.6 Follow-on Ships
Union Ministry of Defence has signed contract with Goa Shipyard Ltd (GSL) for construction of two additionalProject 1135.6 Follow-on Ships (Talwar Class-class guided missile frigates) with advanced stealth features for Indian Navy. The development of these additional ships is in line with Inter-Governmental Agreement (IGA) signed between India and Russia in 2016 for construction of additional ships under Project 1135.6.

Project 11356 frigates ships

They are Talwar-class guided missile frigates designed and built by Russia for Indian Navy. Currently Indian Navy has six of these ships. They are improved versions of Krivak III-class (Project 1135) frigates designed by Severnoye Design Bureau and used by Russian Coast Guard. These frigates were having semi-stealth features and better armament. The first batch of ships were built by Baltic Shipyard and second batch by Yantar Shipyard.

Follow-on P 1135.6 series

  • The two additional follow-on P1135.6 series of frigates ships will be built by GSL in line with Government's 'Make in India' initiative with Russia’s assistance.
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  • These ships will be largest in its class in Indian Navy with advanced stealth features such as special hull design to limit radar cross-section, low electromagnetic, infrared and underwater noise signatures.
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  • They will carry highly sophisticated and state-of-art weapon systems and sensors. They will be fitted with indigenous equipment such as sonar system, Brahmos missile system, Combat Management System etc.
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  • The ships will be equipped to operate in littoral and blue waters, both as single unit and also as consorts of naval task force.
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  • They will also serve as potent platforms with mission span covering entire spectrum of Naval warfare, Air, Surface and Sub-surface. They are scheduled for delivery in June 2026 and December 2026 respectively.
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  • To support these ships through their life cycle, Indian Navy has put in place requisite infrastructures for training and maintenance.

Goa Shipyard Limited (GSL)

  • It is Government owned ship building company located on India’s western coast at Vasco da Gama, Goa. It functions under administrative control of Union Defence Ministry.
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  • It manufactures warships for the Indian Navy and the Indian Coast Guard. So far it has built 167 vessels, including barges, tugs, landing craft, offshore patrol vessels (OPVs) and other vessels for Indian Navy and IGC and also exported to countries like Yemen.
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  • It was established in 1957 as "Estaleiros Navais de Goa", by then colonial Portuguese Government which was ruling Goa. After Goa’s liberation in 1961, its control was taken by Indian Government and was renamed to present name.


Sahitya Akademi Award 2018 awarded to 24 writers
Sahitya Academy, India’s national academy of letters has awarded prestigious Sahitya Akademi Award for year 2018 on 24 poets and authors for their premier literary works in 24 Indian languages. The awards were presented by President of Sahitya Akademi Chandrasekhar Kambarat at function held in New Delhi. 

2018 Recipients are

  • Six Short stories: Prof Bina Thakur (Maithili), Rituraj Basumatary (Bodo), Sanjib Chattopadhyay (Bengali), Mushtaq Ahmed Mushtaq (Kashmiri), Nath Upadhyay Chapagain (Nepali) and Prof. Budhichandra Heisnamba (Manipuri).
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  • Seven Poetry: Paresh Narendra Kamat (Konkani), Sananta Tanti (Assamese), Dr. Mohanjit (Punjabi), S Ramesan Nair (Malayalam) and Dr Rama Kant Shukla (Sanskrit), Khiman U Mulani (Sindhi) and Dr. Rajesh Kumar Vyas (Rajasthani).
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  • Six Novels: Anees Salim (English), Shyam Besra (Santali), Inderjeet Kesar (Dogri), Chitra Mudgal (Hindi), Ramkrishnan (Tamil) and Rahman Abbas (Urdu).
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  • 3 Literary Criticism: Ma. Su. Patil (Marathi), KG Nagarajappa (Kannada) and Prof. Dasarathi Das (Odia).
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  • 2 Essays: Prof. Sharifa Vijliwala (Gujarati) and Dr. Kolakaluri Enoch (Telugu).

Sahitya Akademi Awards

  • It is literary honour conferred annually by Sahitya Akademi on Indian writers for their outstanding works of literary merit.
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  • It was established in 1954.
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  • It awarded on writers for their outstanding works in one of twenty-four major Indian languages (22 Scheduled Languages under Eight Schedule of Constitution+ Rajasthani and English.
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  • The award consists of casket containing engraved copper-plaque (designed by film-maker Satyajit Ray), a shawl and monetary cheque of one lakh rupees.


LT Gen Rajeev Chopra appointed as DG of National Cadets Corps
Lt Gen Rajeev Chopra assumed charge of Director General of National Cadet Corps (DGNCC). He is alumnus of National Defence Academy (NDA), Khadakwasla and Indian Military Academy (IMA), Dehradun. He was commissioned in Madras Regiment in December 1980 and is currently Colonel of this regiment since June 2016. He has commanded infantry battalion in Operation Rhino (Assam) and also Brigade in Eastern Command and was Inspector General of HQ IGAR (South) in the insurgency-torn state of Manipur.

National Cadets Corps (NCC)

  • It is tri-services organization, comprising Indian Army, Navy and Air Force. It is engaged in grooming the youth of the country into disciplined and patriotic citizens.
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  • It is voluntary organization which recruits cadets from colleges, high schools and universities all over India. It is open to college and school students on voluntary basis.
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  • It was established on April 16, 1948 through The National Cadet Corps Act, 1948 enacted by Parliament.
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  • Motto: “Unity and Discipline".
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  • Headquarters: New Delhi.
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  • It gives basic military training in small arms and parades to its cadets. Its officers and cadets have no liability for active military service once they complete their course.

Mandate

  • Create human resource of organized, trained and motivated youth,
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  • Provide leadership in all walks of life and always be available for service of nation.
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  • Provide suitable environment to motivate youth to take up career in Armed Forces.
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  • Develop character, comradeship, discipline, leadership, spirit of adventure, secular outlook and ideals of selfless service amongst youth of country.

PETROTECH-2019: 13th International Oil & Gas Conference & Exhibition

The 13th International Oil & Gas Conference & Exhibition viz. PETROTECH-2019 will be held in Greater Nodia, Uttar Pradesh from February 10 to 12, 2019. It will be inaugurated by Prime Minister Narendra Modi. The theme for this year is Shaping the New Energy World through Innovation and Collaboration. The three-day mega event will showcase recent market and investor friendly developments that have taken place in the India’s oil and gas sector.

PETROTECH

  • It is India’s flagship hydrocarbon international conference organised under aegis of Union Ministry of Petroleum & Natural Gas. It is Asia’s largest oil and gas event. It is held biennially.
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  • It brings together energy ministers, professionals, industry leaders, academicians and domain experts from energy sector on a common platform to exchange views and share knowledge, expertise and experiences
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  • It aims to explore areas of growth in petroleum technology, exploration, drilling, production and processing, refining, pipeline transportation, petrochemicals, natural gas, Liquefied natural gas (LNG), petroleum trade, economics, legal and human resource development, marketing.
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  • It also showcases strengths and potential of Indian Hydrocarbon industry to world besides providing vibrant platform for sharing of experience, exchange of ideas, knowledge and technological development across various segments of hydrocarbon industry.

PETROTECH 2019

  • It will see participation of over 86 eminent speakers and 7000 delegates from around 70 countries, including technologists, scientists, planners, policy-makers, management experts, entrepreneurs, service-providers and vendors.
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  • Exhibition organized on sidelines of it will see participation of over 13 country pavilions and about 750 exhibitors from over 40 countries, with exclusive areas on Make in India and Renewable Energy theme.
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  • This exhibition will focus on development in technologies for exploration & production, process control, refining and pipeline and services, systems, products, oil field hardware, software, Renewable, R&D, training and publications of technical literature etc.


Eight core industries record 2.6% growth in December 2018

According to index of eight core industries (ICI) released by Union Ministry of Commerce and Industry, growth rate of eight infrastructure sectors slowed down to 2.6% in December 2018. It was slowest growth of core sectors recorded in last 18 months. This was mainly due to contraction in production in crude oil, refinery products and fertilisers sectors.

Key Facts

These core sectors had recorded 3.4% growth in November 2018. During April-December 2018 period, these sectors recorded growth of 4.8% compared to 3.9% in same period of the previous fiscal.

Sector wise performance - December 2018



Eight core industries record 2.6% growth in December 2018

Index of Eight Core Industries (ICI)

  • It is monthly production volume index of eight core industries of the economy. It is considered as lead indicator of monthly industrial performance. Its base year has been revised to 2011-12.
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  • It measures individual as well as collective performance of production in selected eight core industries viz. Petroleum Refinery Products, Natural Gas, Coal, Fertilizers, Crude Oil, Steel, Cement and Electricity.
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  • These eights industries are main industry of the economy i.e. are considered as backbone of all other industries.
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  • It is compiled and released by Office of Economic Adviser (OEA), Department for Promotion of Industry and Internal Trade (earlier DIPP), Ministry of Commerce & Industry.
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  • These eight core industries have impact on general economic activities as well as industrial activities.They constitute 40.27% of total of the weight of items included Index of Industrial Production (IIP).
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  • Components and weightages covered in ICI: Petroleum Refinery production (weight: 28.04%), electricity generation (9.85%), Steel production (17.92%), Coal production (10.33%), Crude Oil production (8.98%), Natural Gas production (6,88%), Cement production (5.37%) and Fertilizers production (2.63%).
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  • Note: Highest weightage is for Petroleum Refinery production (weight: 28.04%) and lowest is for Fertilizers production (2.63%).

DAC approves acquisition of 5000 Milan 2T Anti-Tank Guided Missiles
DAC also approved acquisition of approximately 5000 Milan 2T Anti-Tank Guided Missiles (ATGM) for Indian Army from France. This acquisition will significantly bolster Indian Army's capability to thwart off advancing armoured divisions of the enemy.

Anti-tank missile or anti-tank guided missile (ATGM), anti-armour guided missile is a missile that is created to destroy vehicles that are heavily armoured.

Milan 2T Anti-Tank Guided Missiles (ATGM)

  • It is portable medium-range, anti-tank weapon manufactured by Euromissile, based in Fontenay-aux-Roses in France. It is second generation ATGM.
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  • It has single shaped charge warhead for use against very thick and composite armour. Its munition consists of the missile in a waterproof launch tube.
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  • It is solid-fuel rocket with operational range upto 2km. It is wire guided SACLOS (semi-automatic command to line-of-sight) missile i.e. sight of launch unit has to be aimed at target to guide the missile.


    Background

    • Indian Army requires around 70,000 ATGMs of various types and around 850 launchers of different types. It is planning to procure third-generation ATGMs with longer range than that of its existing Milan-2T and Russian Konkurs ATGMs.
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    • Besides, DRDO also has indigenously developed Nag missile, third generation "fire-and-forget" anti-tank guided missile (with range of 3km). It is expected to be inducted into Indian army by 2019. Its induction will help India to achieve self-sufficiency and reduce imports of such missiles.

    Defence Acquisition Council (DAC)

    • It is Union Ministry of Defence’s highest decision making body on capital procurement of Indian Armed Forces (Indian Army, Navy and Air Force). Headed by Union Denfence Minister.
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    • It was set up in 2001 as part of post-Kargil reforms in defence sector to speed up decision-making in military procurements by optimally utilizing allocated budgetary resources.
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    • It gives policy guidelines to acquisitions, based on long-term procurement plans. It accords acceptance of necessity (AON) to begin acquisition proposals, clears all acquisitions, including imported equipment and those produced indigenously or under foreign licence.
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    • It also has the power to approve any deviations in acquisition and recommends all big purchases for approval of Cabinet committee on security (CSS) chaired by Prime Minister.


    DAC approves construction of six Project 75I submarines

    Defence Acquisition Council (DAC) chaired by Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman has approved indigenous construction of six new-generation conventional stealth submarines under Project 75I for Indian Navy through Strategic Partnership (SP) model. This approval is dubbed as “mother of all underwater deals” as it will cost at least Rs. 50,000 crore.

    Note

    This is the second project to be approved under SP model that aims at providing significant fillip to Government’s ‘Make in India’ programme. The first project (approved in August 2018) under this new model was acquisition of 111 utility helicopters for Indian Navy.

    Project 75I-class submarines

    • It is follow-on of Project 75 Kalvari-class submarines for Indian Navy. Under it, the Indian Navy intends to acquire diesel-electric submarines.
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    • Submarines under it will be constructed in Indian shipyards. They will have advanced stealth capabilities such as greater ability to suppress noise and acoustic signatures.
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    • They will have vertical launch system (VLS) to enable them to carry multiple Brahmos supersonic cruise missiles, making them fully capable of anti-surface (land attack) and anti-ship warfare missions.
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    • They will also be armed with torpedoes. They will also be outfitted with Air-independent propulsion (AIP) fuel cells which can significantly increase submerged endurance and operational range.
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    • Construction of these submarines under SP model will provide major boost to existing submarine design and manufacturing eco-system in India through transfer of design and equipment technology as well as necessary skill sets.

    What is Strategic Partnership (SP) model?

    • It envisages indigenous manufacturing of major defence platforms by Indian Strategic Partner, who will collaborate with foreign Original equipment manufacturer (OEM) as offset partner to set up production facilities in the country.
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    • Its long term vision is to promote India as manufacturing hub for defence equipment through transfer of niche technologies from foreign defence giants and promote higher indigenous content.

    Significance

    • This will help in enhancing self-sufficiency for meeting future requirements of armed forces.
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    • It will help in establishing indigenous industrial and Research & Development ecosystem in defence manufacturing sector in India.

    Doordarshan launches ‘Rag Rag Mein Ganga’ Travelogue Programme and ‘Meri Ganga’ Quiz Series

    State broadcaster Doordarshan launched travelogue programme ‘Rag Rag Mein Ganga’ and ‘Meri Ganga Quiz’ series. Both programmes are funded by National Mission for Clean Ganga (NMCG) under Namami Gange programme.

    Rag Rag Mein Ganga

    • This travelogue showcases spiritual, religious, cultural and socio economic heritage of River Ganga and its present ecological condition. It covers Ganga’s journey from Gomukh to Ganga Sagar.
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    • It will be aired on DD National and will be 21-episode series anchored by a well-known actor, Rajeev Khandelwal.
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    • It is embedded with many take-home messages for viewers on need of rejuvenating Ganga. It will highlight the present situation of Ganga in terms of cleanliness along with call for action to people.

    ‘Meri Ganga Quiz’ series

    • It has been designed by National Mission for Clean Ganga (NMCG) along with Doordarshan.
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    • It aims to cover school children from all zones of India to trigger curiosity in younger generation and to encourage them to take up the cause to conserve and rejuvenate Ganga.
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    • The 16-episode quiz series will be telecast on DD National from 2nd February 2019 every Saturday and Sunday from 10 a.m.

    Namami Gange Programme

    • It is an Integrated Conservation Mission to accomplish twin objectives of effective abatement of pollution, conservation and rejuvenation of National River Ganga
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    • It was approved as ‘Flagship Programme’ by Union Government in June 2014 with budget outlay of Rs. 20,000 Crore for integrating various efforts to clean and protect River Ganga in comprehensive manner.
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    • Its main pillars are sewerage treatment infrastructure, river-surface cleaning, river-front development, bio-diversity, afforestation, public awareness, industrial effluent monitoring and ganga gram.
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    • It will cover 12 rivers across 8 states, 47 towns. It seeks to benefit vast population dependent on River Ganaga in terms of job creation, improved livelihoods and health benefits.
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    • It also endeavours to deploy best available knowledge and resources international countries that have expertise in river rejuvenation for Ganga rejuvenation.

    National Mission for Clean Ganga (NMCG)

    • It is implementation wing of National Council for Rejuvenation, Protection and Management of River Ganga (also referred as National Ganga Council which is chaired by Prime Minister).
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    • It was established as a registered society under Societies Registration Act, 1860 in 2011.
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    • It has a two tier management structure and comprises of Executive Committee and Governing Council Both of them are headed by Director General (DG), NMCG.


    Rajiv Nayan Choubey sworn in as member of UPSC
    Rajiv Nayan Choubey was sworn in as member of Union Public Service Commission (UPSC). He was administered oath of office and secrecy by UPSC Chairman Arvind Saxena. He will have maximum tenure of six-years or till he attains age of 65, whichever is earlier. With his appointment, UPSC attained its full strength, which has maximum of 10 members, besides a chairperson.

    Rajiv Nayan Choubey

    He is retired Indian Administrative Service (IAS) officer of the 1981 batch, Tamil Nadu Cadre. In his bureaucratic career spanning over more than 35 years, has held several important positions in Central Government as well as in Tamil Nadu Government. His last position in central government was of Civil Aviation Secretary (from June 2015 to January 2019).

    Union Public Service Commission (UPSC)

    • It is India’s premier central recruiting agency. It is responsible for conducting examinations and appointments for All India services and group A & group B of Central services.
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    • It is constitutional body, deriving its mandate from Article 315 to 323 in Part XIV of Constitution. According to Constitution, it is ‘watch-dog’ of merit system in India.
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    • Composition: It consists of a Chairman and ten Members appointed and removed by President of India. The term of Chairman and members of UPSC is of six years or until they attain age of 65 years whichever is earlier.
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    • Headquarters: Dholpur House, New Delhi and functions through its own secretariat.
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    • It conducts prestigious civil services examination to select officers of Indian Administrative Service (IAS), Indian Foreign Service (IFS) and Indian Police Service (IPS) etc.
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    • Government is required to consult it in matters relating to appointment, transfer, promotion and disciplinary matters.

    US announces suspension of Intermediate Range Nuclear Forces Treaty with Russia

    United States announced unilateral suspension from Intermediate Range Nuclear Forces (INF) treaty with Russia. The announcement comes after US and Russia failed to resolve long-running accusation that Russia is violating this cold war era treaty. US will exit this treaty in six months unless Russia assures compliance by destroying all of its violating missiles, launchers, and associated equipment under this treaty.

    Reasons for suspension

    • The suspension comes after US President Donald Trump in October 2018 announced unilateral withdrawal of US from INF treaty.
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    • US alleges that Russia violated this treaty by testing 9M729 ground-launched cruise missile (NATO name SSC-8) in 2014, having range beyond prescribed by this treaty and had deployed the same missile that could strike Europe at short notice.
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    • Russia, however, has denied US accusation saying that relevant missile was never tested at distances banned under the agreement and has called on US to show proof of a violation.
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    • Russia also has accused US of breaching treaty by deploying its missile-defence systems in Europe, a charge which US rejects.
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    • Since then both countries have failed to find resolution using dispute resolution mechanism in treaty.

    Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) treaty

    • It was crucial Cold War-era treaty signed in December 1987 between then US President Ronald Reagan and his USSR counterpart Mikhail Gorbachev. (Russia was known as USSR before its disintegration after cold war in early 1990s).
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    • It prohibits US and Russia from possessing, producing or test-flying ground-launched cruise missiles with ranges of 500–1,000 km or (short-range) and 1,000–5,500 km (intermediate-range).
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    • It also covers all land-based missiles, including those missiles carrying nuclear warheads. However, it does not cover sea-launched or air-launched weapons.
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    • The ban under it was originally applied only to US and USSR forces, but its membership was eventually expanded in 1991 to include successor states of former Soviet Union. Thus, it offered blanket of protection to US’s European allies.