1- RIC Forum calls for early conclusion of Comprehensive Convention on International Terrorism
Russia, India and China have called for an early conclusion of negotiations on the Comprehensive Convention on International Terrorism in the RIC Forum held in Beijing. In this regard, a joint communiqué was issued by 3 nations in the 13th trilateral meeting of foreign ministers, under this forum.
India’s External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj, Chinese foreign Minister Wang Yi and Russian foreign Minister Sergey Levrov had participated in the meeting.
Key highlights of RIC Forum
- Condemned terrorism- Participating countries strongly condemned terrorism in all forms. They even mentioned that there can be no ideological, political, racial, ethnic or any other justification for acts of terrorism.
- Join efforts to combat terrorism- Ministers affirmed the need for all countries to join efforts in combating terrorism under the auspices of United Nations.
- Support to India-Russia and China supported India’s aspiration to play a greater role in the United Nations. They also welcomed India’s application for full membership of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO).
- Economic front-All members expressed their support for the forthcoming WTO 10th Ministerial conference in December 2015, to expand their cooperation in several areas including agriculture, medical services and disaster relief.
- Other Issues-They also discussed various issues including efforts to counter the threat of use of information and communication technologies for military and terrorism purposes, preventing arms race in outer space, solution to Iranian nuclear issue, latest developments in Syria, Israel- Palestine conflict and current crisis in Ukraine.
The next trilateral meeting of the RIC Forum will be held in Russia later in 2015.
2- Jackal research and translocation project launched in Uttar Pradesh
Jackal Research and Translocation Project
Wildlife SOS in collaboration with Uttar Pradesh (UP) Forest Department and Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) is launching Jackal Research & Translocation Project in UP. Under this project, study and translocation of 30-35 wild jackals from Akbar’s Tomb in Sikandra, Agra to safe natural habitat will be undertaken.
Jackal Translocation Project
- It seeks to protect Blackbuck(Antilope cervicapra) population in Akbar’s tomb as well as jackals.
- Recent surveys have shown that jackal population has increased inside the Akbars tomb premises.
- It had resulted in decrease in population of Blackbuck’s as jackals were preying on the young fawn of the black bucks.
- This project will help to reduce unnatural proximity between these two species by translocating jackal to other safe natural habitat and save almost 100 blackbucks.
3- Malaysia’s Nicol David sets world No.1 squash record
Malaysia’s female professional squash player Nicol David has set a new record by topping the world squash rankings for 106th month. She is first Asian to achieve this milestone and has overtaken previous 105th month record set by four time world champion Susan Devoy from New Zealand which was set in February 1993. For first time she had topped Women’s Squash Association (WSA) list in January 2006.
- She is considered as one of the greatest female squash players of all time and first squash player to win the World Junior title twice, in 1999 and 2001
- Her glittering professional squash career includes a record of eight World Championship titles, two Commonwealth Games gold medals and four Asian Games gold medals.
- 8 World Championship titles: 2005, 2006, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012 and 2014.
- She also has won 8 Asian Squash Championship in year 1998, 2000, 2002, 2004, 2006, 2008, 2010 and 2011.
- She was WSA Player of the Year on seven occasions i.e. from 2005-2010 and 2012.
- She was also appointed as United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) National Goodwill Ambassador for Malaysia.
4- Bharat Rang Mahotsav begins in New Delhi
Bharat Rang Mahotsav, New Delhi
The 17th edition of Bharat Rang Mahotsav has begun in New Delhi. It is a theatre festival, organized by National School of Drama (NSD).
It was inaugurated by Culture Minister Dr Mahesh Sharma and National Award-winning actor and NSD alumnus Om Puri. This year’s edition will showcase more than 200 national and international theatre performances. International performances will include theatre productions from countries like Poland, Israel, USA, France and Bangladesh.
Bharat Rang Mahotsav
- It was established in 1999 as an annual theatre festival of National School of Drama (NSD).
- Originally it was founded to show case, works of Indian theatre practitioners but later it got international fame and attracted international performers as well.
- Now it is acknowledged as the largest theatre festival of Asia.
- National School of Drama (NSD)is India’s premier theatre training institute operating under the aegis of Union Ministry of Culture.
5- NASA launches SMAP satellite to observe soil moisture
National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) has launched Soil Moisture Active Passive (SMAP) satellite to observe soil moisture. It was launched from the Delta 2 rocket from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California.
Soil Moisture Active Passive (SMAP) satellite
- SMAP satellite is three-year mission which will measure the amount of moisture in soil.
- The satellite is built to measure moisture in the top 2 inches (5 centimeters) of soil. It can measure the moisture content of the soil from its spot in orbit about 426 miles (685 kilometers) above Earth’s surface.
- SMAP satellite will produce high-resolution global maps from space and data collected from it will help scientists to monitor droughts and improve flood forecasts.
- NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory located in Pasadena, California is responsible for SMAP satellite project management, system engineering, mission operations and the ground data system.
- SMAP is going to take real-time measurements that will be incorporated into forecasts and replace current drought mapping and flash flood guidance mechanism as it issued based on computer modeling.
- Applications:It will help to monitor drought, predict floods, assist crop productivity, weather forecasting and linking water, Energy and Carbon Cycles.
6- World Wetlands Day is being observed on 2 February
World Wetlands Day
Every year World wetland day (WWD) is observed on 2 February. The theme for the world wetland day 2015 is Wetlands for our future.
Significance of Day
- This day marks the date of the adoption of the Convention on Wetlands also called as Ramsar Convention on 2 February 1971 in the Iranian city of Ramsar.
- Each year on this day government agencies, non-governmental organizations (NGO’s), and groups of citizens at all levels of the community raise public awareness of wetland values and their benefits. They also spread awareness about Ramsar Convention in particular.
For first time, WWD was celebrated in year 1997 and since then it is observed every year. The theme for the world wetland day 2014 was Wetlands and Agriculture.
- Currently there are 2,186 wetlands of international importance sites under the Ramsar Convention known as Ramsar Sites covering around 208,449,277 hectares km².
- The maximum Ramsar sites are located in UK i.e. 168.
- The largest area covered by the Ramsar sites is in Canada.
- The number of parties to the Ramsar Convention is 168.
- Ramsar Sites in India are 26 (as of September 2012).
7- Pakistan successfully test-fires new cruise missile Ra’ad
Pakistan has conducted a successful flight test of the indigenously developed Air Launched Cruise Missile (ALCM)Ra’ad. This successful launch has helped Pakistan to achieve strategic standoff capability both on land and at sea.
Key facts about Ra’ad missile
- Designed to operate with Pakistan Air Force (PAF) aircraft’s like Dassault Mirage III ROSE and JF-17 combat aircraft.
- Range of 350 kms and stealth capabilities due to its cruise technology.
- High maneuverability capabilities that can deliver nuclear and conventional warheads with pin-point accuracy.
- Low altitude missile designed to attack fixed enemy installations such as radar posts, command nodes and stationary surface to air missile launchers at stand-off range
8- Anish Aggarwal takes over as Director (Pipelines) at Indian Oil Corporation
Indian Oil Corporation
Anish Aggarwal has taken charge as Director (Pipelines) at nation’s largest oil refining and marketing company, Indian Oil Corporation (IOC). Previously, he was Executive Director (Operations) at the IOC’s Pipelines Division.
- As Executive Director (Operations), he was leading a IOC team that looked into operations and maintenance of company’s 11,221 kms long pipeline network across country for transporting crude oil and petroleum products.
- He also had headed the IOC’s Western Region Pipelines as Executive Director and was responsible for operations of offshore crude oil terminals in this region.
- He is an engineering graduate and also holds post graduate management degree from Management Development Institute, Gurgaon. He has over 30 years of work experience in IOC especially in pipeline projects.
9- First major trials of Ebola vaccine begins in Liberia
The first large-scale human trials of two experimental vaccines against Ebola virus has begun in Liberia’s capital Monrovia. With help of these vaccines, scientists are aiming to immunise more than 30,000 volunteers, including front-line health workers in Liberia.
These trials are taking place after smaller studies determined that the vaccines were safe for human use. However, it is not yet clear whether these trial vaccines will offer protection against the disease.
- As per World Health Organisation (WHO) Ebola outbreak (which started in July 2014) has infected more than 22,000 people and claimed more than 8,800 lives in three Western African countries Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone.
- Liberia was worst hit by this outbreak and alone had reported more than 3,600 deaths. But in past few months number of cases has been steadily decreased.
- Previously without any vaccine, health workers in these nations had fought the outbreak with old-fashioned public health measures which included isolating the sick, tracking and quarantining those who had contact with them, and setting up teams to safely for disposing death bodies of infected.
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