The SDGs came into being in September 2015. The SDGs are ambitious global aspirations on development that address key aspects of universal well-being, across different socio-economic, cultural, geographical divisions as well as the interconnectedness among the economic, social and environmental dimensions of development. NITI Aayog has the twin mandate to oversee the implementation of SDGs in the country and promote Competitive and Cooperative Federalism among States and Union Territories. In exercise of these roles, NITI Aayog has developed the SDG India Index, a comprehensive Index to measure the progress of States and Union Territories, through a single measurable Index and the First Baseline Report for 2018, prepared with the support of Global Green Growth Institute and UN in India.
The Ministry of Home Affairs recently issued an order authorising 10 Central agencies to intercept, monitor, and decrypt “any information generated, transmitted, received or stored in any computer.” The agencies are the Intelligence Bureau, Narcotics Control Bureau, Enforcement Directorate, Central Board of Direct Taxes, Directorate of Revenue Intelligence, Central Bureau of Investigation; National Investigation Agency, Cabinet Secretariat (R&AW), Directorate of Signal Intelligence (For service areas of Jammu & Kashmir, North-East and Assam only) and Commissioner of Police, Delhi. The MHA gave the authorisation under 69 (1) of the Information Technology Act, 2000.
Train 18 (Vande Bharat Express), the country’s first engineless train manufactured by Integral Coach Factory, Chennai, recently became India’s fastest train by hitting speeds of over 180 kmph during a trial run on a section of the Delhi-Rajdhani route. It will replace Shatabdi trains and will run between Delhi and Varanasi.
The Advanced Towed Artillery Gun System (ATAGS) is an indigenously designed heavy artillery gun. It is in the trial stage (December 2018). The ATAGS is a 155mm, 52 calibre gun being developed by the Defence Research and Development Organisation on two parallel tracks: one prototype is being built in partnership with Tata Power (Strategic Engineering Division), and the other is in collaboration with Bharat Forge. The gun has several significant features including an all-electric drive, high mobility, quick deployability, auxiliary power mode, advanced communications system, automated command and control system. It also sports a six-round magazine instead of the standard three-round magazine. This necessitates a larger chamber and is a major factor pushing up the overall weight of the system. The gun currently weighs about 18 tonnes while the ideal weight for the army would be 14-15 tonnes.
The Army recently inducted its first modern pieces of artillery in three decades: the M777 Ultra-Light Howitzer from the U.S. and the K9 Vajra-T tracked self-propelled artillery gun from South Korea.
ISRO’s Vikram Sarabhai Space Centre (VSSC) has recently completed the design for the Small Satellite Launch Vehicle (SSLV), the ‘baby rocket’ billed as the quickest way to space for small-size satellites. The SSLV promises on-demand access to space, with the rocket assembly taking a mere 15 days and minimum personnel to do it. the SSLV will stand 34 metres tall, 10 metres shorter than the Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV) and around 15 metres shorter than the Mk-II version of the Geosynchronous Satellite Launch vehicle (GSLV). It is also a ‘thinner’ launch vehicle, possessing a diameter of just two metres. With a lift-off mass of 120 tonnes, the SSLV can place a 500 kg payload at a height of 500 km in the Low Earth Orbit (LEO). The SSLV has three solid motor stages, and like the PSLV and GSLV, can accommodate multiple satellites, albeit smaller ones. Unlike the PSLV and GSLV, the SSLV can be assembled both vertically and horizontally. PSLV and GSLV are assembled only in an upright position in the assembly bays. In that respect, the SSLV is like the old SLV and ASLV which could be assembled flat on the ground.
GSLV-F11 recently carried communication satellite GSAT-7A to space which is meant to enhance the communication infrastructure of the Indian Air Force. In its Mk-II version, the GSLV with the indigenous cryogenic stage carried on board its heaviest satellite that weighed 2,250 kg. The satellite was placed in a ‘super synchronous transfer orbit’. Gsat-7A will interlink all the ground-based radars, airbases & airborne early warning and control (AWACS) aircraft for surveillance & to maintain air superiority, it will also enhance KU band communication System. Although all Indian communication satellites offer capacity to the armed forces, GSAT-7A will be the first one built primarily for the IAF to qualitatively unify its assets and improve combined, common intelligence during operations.
Indian Air Force and the Russian Aerospace Forces recently participated in the joint exercise – Aviaindra 18.
In a first for India, every one of Kerala’s captive elephants now has a unique DNA-based genetic ID.
India has signed the ascension agreement to the Trans Regional Maritime Network (T-RMN) which facilitates information exchange on the movement of commercial traffic on the high seas. The multilateral construct comprises of 30 countries and is steered by Italy.