Prelims Revision

  1. NASA’s New Horizons spacecraft has beamed back the sharpest images of Ultima Thule — the most distant object ever explored by mankind. Just before its closest approach on January 1, the spacecraft pointed the cameras to snap the sharpest possible pictures of the Kuiper Belt object officially named 2014 MU69.
  2. Prime Minister Narendra Modi was conferred the Seoul Peace Prize in Seoul.
  3. Ministry of AYUSH and World Health Organisation (WHO) are jointly organising a three-day conclave for reviewing the WHO document “Benchmarks for Training in Yoga”. WHO is developing the yoga document as part of its global strategy to strengthen the quality, safety and efficacy of traditional and complementary medicine.
  4. Balakot air strikes – Twelve Mirage-2000 jets from Gwalior were involved in the strike and they carried SPICE 2000 and Crystal Maze Mk2, also called AGM 142 Popeye Precision Guided Munitions (PGMs). SPICE stands for ‘Smart, Precise Impact and Cost-Effective’ a kit which converts a conventional bomb into a smart munition and is manufactured by Rafael of Israel (not to be confused with Dassault Rafale aircrafts). The ‘2000’ refers to a bomb of 2,000 pounds (about 1,000 kg). The PGMs enable the aircraft to release them from stand-off distances while staying away from harm’s way and the munitions glide to the target once launched. The IAF also deployed the Israeli Phalcon and indigenous Netra early warning aircraft to monitor the mission — to direct the aircraft as well as to keep an eye out for Pakistani F-16s that might be deployed to counter them — and a Heron long range UAV that was used for monitoring and assessment. Sukhoi Su-30MKIs fighter jets were also airborne and standing by, as a precautionary move. The Mirages used the Israeli Litening targeting pods to mark the targets and the PGMs were launched from a safe distance. The use of air power is significant as it is the first time since the 1971 war that the IAF crossed over and struck inside Pakistani territory. Even during the Kargil conflict, the IAF was under strict instructions to not cross the LoC.
  5. Swapna Barman, the heptathlete won gold at the 2018 Asian Games.
  6. United Nations resolutions can be under Chapter VI or Chapter VII of the United Nations Charter. Resolutions adopted under Chapter VII are enforceable unlike those under Chapter VI (Resolutions regarding Kashmir are under Chapter VI).
  7. ‘Mrinal’ is the Indian space programme’s first composite solid propellant for launch vehicles.
  8. The government recently (in the last week of February 2019) brought 42 non-scheduled anti-cancer drugs under price control, capping trade margin at 30 per cent, which would reduce their retail prices by up to 85 per cent. The National Pharmaceutical Pricing Authority (NPPA) has invoked extraordinary powers in public interest, under the Drugs (Prices Control) Order (DPCO), 2013 to bring 42 non-scheduled anti-cancer drugs under price control through trade margin rationalisation. The NPPA currently fixes prices of drugs placed in the National List of Essential Medicines (NLEM) under Schedule-I of the DPCO. So far, around 1000 drugs have been brought under price control under the initiative.
  9. ‘Apatanis’ is tribe nestled in the valleys of Ziro in Arunachal Pradesh. They speak a local language called Tani, and worship the sun and the moon.
  10. The Union Cabinet approved the promulgation of an Ordinance to allow voluntary submission of Aadhaar as identity proof for use by private entities such as banks, telcos and fintech firms. The Ordinance also gives a child an option to exit from the Aadhaar on attaining 18 years of age. Subsequent to this amendment, no individual shall be compelled to provide proof of possession of Aadhaar number of undergo authentication for the purpose of establishing his identity unless it is so provided by a law made by Parliament. The amendment “provide for 12-digit Aadhaar number and its alternate virtual identity to conceal the actual Aadhaar number. The move follows, a Supreme Court judgement dated September 26, 2018 which struck down section 57 of the Aadhaar Act that allowed sharing of aadhaar data with private entities.