Prelims Primer

  1. Keibul Lamjao National Park, Manipur is the natural habitat of the endangered brow-Antlered deer.
  2. As per the first-ever ‘Total Cleanliness Survey’ of the Railways the winners are North Western Railway (NWR), which topped the zonal rankings in the ‘Premium’ category trains, and Southern Railway, which came out on top in the ‘Other than Premium’ category’ trains. The survey covered 209 trains and was conducted by the Indian Railway Catering and Tourism Corporation. Its aim was to assess the progress of the ‘Swachh Rail-Swachh Bharat’ mission and promote healthy competition among trains. The ‘Premium’ trains included the Rajdhani, Shatabdi, Duronto, Tejas and Gatiman while Sampark Kranti, Intercity, Jan Shatabdi and other Mail and Express trains were in the ‘Other than Premium’ category. Out of the 23 Rajdhanis surveyed, the Mumbai Rajdhani emerged on top. Among 26 Shatabdi trains, the Pune-Secunderabad Shatabdi, with 916, finished on top. The opinion of the passengers was also obtained for this survey.
  3. The Army will host a Field Training Exercise with 12 African countries in March at Pune. The India Africa FTE 2019 is scheduled to be conducted in Pune.
  4. Microsat-R – is a 740-kg military imaging satellite to be carried on ISRO’s PSLV C-44. The satellite would be placed within 15 minutes after take-off in a polar orbit 274 km away from Earth. This is much lower than any of its civil Earth observation spacecraft, which fly pole to pole over the globe at between 400 km and 700 km. For its part, ISRO is experimenting on two aspects of the vehicle. One is to reuse a waste stage. “For us, the excitement is about reusing the spent fourth stage [PS4] of the rocket as an orbiting platform for future experiments,” an official said. Kalamsat, a small student payload, will be the first to use PS4 as an orbital platform. For the third time in ISRO’s recent history, the mission team is slated to cut off and restart the PS4 engine twice over a flight lasting around 100 minutes. In PSLV-C44, the fourth stage (PS4) of the vehicle will be moved to higher circular orbit so as to establish an orbital platform for carrying out experiments. The other experiment with the launcher PSLV-C44 vehicle will be a new third variant having two strap-on boosters. Called the PSLV-DL, D standing for demonstration, it ranges between the older two variants.
  • More about Microsat – R mission – The mission, with a modified PSLV with just dual strap-on motors (PSLV-DL), marked another first for ISRO – it provided an alternative to its normal six strap-on motors. This will enable the rocket to carry slightly higher payloads than its Core-Alone version. It is the first time an Indian satellite was being placed by ISRO in a low orbit at an altitude of 274 km. ISRO also used this launch as an opportunity to demonstrate the usability of the fourth stage of the rocket after the satellites are ejected into orbit.
  • Till Thursday night, the fourth stage used to just become yet another piece of space debris. However, ISRO has found a way to make use of this stage with student satellite Kalamsat, made by Space Kidz India, weighing just 1.26kg, attached to it. This would enable any agency that wants to conducts experiments in space to use the fourth stage till it disintegrates naturally. The fourth stage may be orbiting in space for six months to a year. ISRO is aiming to use this time-frame to enable agencies to run short time experiments. ISRO is also developing a Small Satellite Launch Vehicle (SSLV), smaller than the PSLV. The first SSLV launch would take place this year.
  1. India conducted its largest coastal defence drill, Exercise Sea Vigil, to test its preparedness along the entire 7,516.6 km-long-coastline and exclusive economic zone of the country. Exercise Sea Vigil aims to comprehensively and holistically validate the efficacy of the measures taken since 26/11. It aims to simultaneously activate the coastal security mechanism across all 13 coastal States and Union Territories. Post 26/11, the Navy was designated as the agency responsible for overall maritime security, including offshore and coastal security, while the Coast Guard was designated as the agency responsible for coastal security in territorial waters. Progress has been made in real-time information sharing through the National Command Control Communication and Intelligence (NC3I) Network and improving intelligence and operational coordination.
  2. The Union Cabinet recently approved the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between India and Kuwait for cooperation on the recruitment of domestic workers. The move is likely to benefit around three lakh Indian workers deployed in Kuwait, including about 90,000 female domestic workers.
  3. Navy chief Admiral Sunil Lanba recently commissioned the Naval Air Station Shibpur in the North Andamans into a full-fledged base as the INS Kohassa. The base is in close proximity to Coco Islands (of Myanmar) and the wide expanse of the Indian Exclusive Economic Zone.
  4. The Union Cabinet recently approved the creation of a National Bench of the Goods and Services Tax Appellate Tribunal (GSTAT), which would serve as the forum of second appeals to do with the applicability of GST, and will also be the first common forum of dispute resolution between the Centre and the States. The National Bench of the Appellate Tribunal, to be situated in New Delhi, will be presided over by its president. It will consist of a technical member from the Centre and a representative of the States. Chapter XVIII of the CGST Act provides for an appeal and review mechanism for dispute resolution under the GST regime. Section 109 of this chapter empowers the Centre to constitute, on the recommendation of the GST Council, an appellate tribunal for hearing appeals against the orders passed by the Appellate Authority.
  5. Lance Naik Nazir Ahmad Wani has been posthumously awarded ‘Ashok Chakra’, India’s highest peace time gallantry award for his role in a counter-insurgency operation in Kashmir last year. He is Kashmir’s first Ashok Chakra awardee and was also awarded Sena Medal for gallantry twice in 2007 and 2018 for his acts of valour.
  6. Sri Lanka’s maize farmers are battling a tiny but powerful enemy – the fall armyworm. According to the Agriculture Department, the fall armyworm – from the moth species and known by the scientific name Spodoptera frugiperda – is said to have come from India, carried by strong winds across the Palk Strait. First detected in October, it has spread to many districts, threatening tens of thousands of farmers.