- NASA’s Opportunity rover recently completed 15 years on the surface of Mars.
- The Chin people are one of the major ethnic nationalities in Burma. There are an estimated 100,000 Chins in Mizoram, which is 20% of the total Chin population in Myanmar. Manipur too has an unspecified number of Chins, who are ethnically related to the majority Mizos of Mizoram and the Kuki-Zomi groups in Manipur.
- Centre’s National Clean Air Programme (NCAP) is a Rs. 300 crore initiative to reduce particulate matter (PM) pollution by 20-30% in at least 102 cities by 2024. Airpocalypse III, a report by Greenpeace, analyses air pollution data of 313 cities and towns for the year 2017.
- The Commerce Ministry recently announced the formation of a Domestic Council for Gems & Jewellery to bring the industry’s domestic business stakeholders under one umbrella so that they could evolve a unified approach to promote growth in the sector.
- During the latter half of 2018, India recorded its first major Zika outbreaks in Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh.
- The golden langur (Trachypithecus geei) is currently endangered. Apart from a 60 square mile area in north-western Assam, small populations are found in Bhutan and Tripura.
- Cow urine may also contribute to global warming. The urine from the ruminant is a source of nitrous oxide emissions (N2O), a gas that is 300 times more powerful than carbon dioxide. That cattle and livestock are a significant source of methane, a greenhouse gas, and therefore a contributor to global warming. Cattle and buffaloes were the largest contributors for ammonia from manure. India also hosts the world’s largest livestock population. Degraded grasslands emitted more N2O than healthy pastures because the vegetation in the latter took up some of the reactive nitrogen compounds and only the leftovers were emitted.
- Corruption Perception Index is released by Transparency International.
- India is acquiring the S-400 missile defence system from Russia in a multi-billion dollar deal. Last year, India and Russia signed the $5.2-billion deal for the S-400 system despite pressure from the U.S. and threats of sanctions. The S-400 is a highly advanced surface-to-air missile defence system that can shoot down hostile jets and missiles. Also, several connectivity projects between India and Russia are being discussed. First, the idea of establishing a transportation connect between Chennai and Vladivostok in Russia’s Far East. This transportation corridor could bring closer Tamil Nadu’s development to the vast natural resources of Russia’s Far East. Kudankulam nuclear power plant in Tamil Nadu is being developed successfully with the help from Russia.
- The government has notified changing the name of the Department of Industrial Policy & Promotion (DIPP) to the Department for Promotion of Industry and Internal Trade, and has enhanced its role. The notification has also included four new categories of responsibilities the renamed body will be in charge of, including the promotion of internal trade (including retail trade), the welfare of traders and their employees, matters relating to facilitating Ease of Doing Business, and matters relating to start-ups. These are in addition to the previous responsibilities of the erstwhile DIPP relating to general industrial policy, administration of the Industries (Development and Regulation) Act, 1951, industrial management, productivity in industry, and matters related to e-commerce.
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