WORLD SANSKRIT CONFERENCE
The 2018 World Sanskrit Conference (WSC) is being hosted by the Department of Asian Studies at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver, Canada. It is 17th such conference.
World Sanskrit Conference:
- The World Sanskrit Conference is the premier international forum for professional researchers and educators of the Sanskrit language and its literatures, and of the history, religion, and cultures of premodern South Asia.
- It is convened every three years under the auspices of the International Association of Sanskrit Studies.
- At the 29th International Congress of Orientalists, held in Paris in 1973, Sanskritists from various countries endorsed the formation of the International Association of Sanskrit Studies and drafted its constitution.
- The main task of the IASS was agreed to be the organizing of a World Sanskrit Conference at different venues around the world.
- The 1972 International Sanskrit Conference in New Delhi was recognised retrospectively as the First World Sanskrit Conference.
- Indologica Taurinensia is the journal of the IASS.
During recent consultations with the Law Commission of India, as many as nine parties expressed their reservations while four parties supported holding of simultaneous elections.
Simultaneous elections were held in the country during the first two decades after Independence up to 1967. Dissolution of certain Assemblies in 1968 and 1969 followed by the dissolution of the Lok Sabha led to the “disruption of the conduct of simultaneous elections.
Simultaneous elections: Why is it a good idea?
- This will help save public money.
- It will be a big relief for political parties that are always in campaign mode.
- It will allow political parties to focus more on policy and governance.
Need for simultaneous elections:
To reduce unnecessary expenditures: Elections are held all the time and continuous polls lead to a lot of expenditure. More than Rs1,100 crore was spent on the 2009 Lok Sabha polls and the expenditure had shot up to Rs4,000 crore in 2014.
To reduce the unnecessary use of manpower: Over a crore government employees, including a large number of teachers, are involved in the electoral process. Thus, the continuous exercise causes maximum harm to the education sector.
Security concerns: Security forces also have to be diverted for the electoral work even as the country’s enemy keeps plotting against the nation and terrorism remains a strong threat.
The time is ripe for a constructive debate on electoral reforms and a return to the practice of the early decades after Independence when elections to the Lok Sabha and state assemblies were held simultaneously. It is for the Election Commission to take this exercise forward in consultation with political parties.
Fish samples in Chennai test positive for formalin. This is the first time samples of fish in Tamil Nadu have tested positive for formalin.
Formalin- key facts:
- Formalin is a toxic, colourless solution that is derived by dissolving formaldehyde gas in water.
- It is a cancer-inducing chemical used to preserve fish is used as a disinfectant. It is used in the manufacture of pesticides, fertilisers, glue, paper and paint, among other products.
- Formalin causes irritation in the eyes, throat, skin and stomach. In the long run continued exposure causes harm to the kidneys, liver and can even cause cancers.
- Formaldehyde is a highly reactive, flammable gas, which means it can become a fire hazard when exposed to flame or heat.
- Formaldehyde solutions can be flammable when there are high concentrations of formaldehyde or methanol.
The Multi Commodity Exchange of India (MCX), the country’s largest commodity bourse in terms of market share, is planning to enter the currency derivatives segment.
What are currency derivatives?
- Currency derivatives are exchange-based futures and options contracts that allow one to hedge against currency movements.
- Simply put, one can use a currency future contract to exchange one currency for an another at a future date at a price decided on the day of the purchase of the contract.
- In India, one can use such derivative contracts to hedge against currencies like dollar, euro, U.K. pound and yen. Corporates, especially those with a significant exposure to imports or exports, use these contracts to hedge against their exposure to a certain currency.
- While all such currency contracts are cash-settled in rupees, the Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI), early this year, gave a go-ahead to start cross currency contracts as well on euro-dollar, pound-dollar and dollar-yen.
Why were such derivatives introduced on exchange platforms?
Prior to the introduction of currency derivatives on exchanges, there was only the OTC – over the counter – market to hedge currency risks and where forward contracts were negotiated and entered into. It was kind of an opaque and closed market where mostly banks and financial institutions traded. Exchange-based currency derivatives segment is a regulated and transparent market that can be used by small businesses and even individuals to hedge their currency risks.
What is MCX?
- Multi Commodity Exchange (MCX) as the name suggests is an exchange like BSE and NSE where commodities are traded.
- It is a platform for commodity traders that facilitate online trading, settlement and clearing of commodity futures transactions, thereby providing a platform for risk management (hedging).
- It was established in November 2003 under the regulatory framework of FMC (Forward Markets Commission).
- In 2016, the FMC was merged with SEBIand MCX as an exchange falls under the regulatory purview of SEBI.
Einstein’s Theory of Relativity
Einstein’s Theory of Relativity Proven to Work Even in Three-star Systems. A study conducted by scientists proved that the legendary scientist was correct about gravity even in the most extreme scales.
The researchers observed gravitational behaviour in a three-star system known as PSR J0337+1715. The massive system located 4,200 light years away consists of two white dwarfs and a neutron star, an ideal example of an extreme scale.
After years of study, the researchers reported finding no detectable difference indicating no alternative theories of gravity were in motion. The results were consistent with Einstein’s theory of relativity.
The theory of general relativity:
- In 1915, Albert Einstein presented his theory of general relativity, which proposed that gravity itself was the result of a warping of spacetime by massive objects like stars and planets.
- Einstein’s theory of relativity indicates that all objects fall the same way regardless of mass or composition.
Things predicted by General relativity include:
- As light gets closer to the sun, it bends towards the sun twice as much as classical physics (the system used before general relativity) predicts.
- The perihelion of the planet Mercury rotates along its orbit more than is expected under Newtonian physics. General relativity accounts for the difference between what is seen and what is expected without it.
- Redshift from gravity. When light moves away from an object with gravity (moving away from the center of the valley), it is stretched into longer wavelengths. This was confirmed by the Pound-Rebka experiment.
- The Shapiro delay. Light appears to slow down when it passes close to a massive object. This was first seen in the 1960s by space probes headed towards the planet Venus.
- Gravitational waves. They were first observed on 14 September 2015.
Alternatives to Einstein’s general theory of relativity:
Alternatives to Einstein’s general theory of relativity predict that compact objects with extremely strong gravity, like neutron stars, fall a little differently than objects of lesser mass. That difference, these alternate theories predict, would be due to a compact object’s so-called gravitational binding energy – the gravitational energy that holds it together.
However, to date, Einstein’s equations have passed all tests, from careful laboratory studies to observations of planets in our solar system.
Kepler space telescope
Scientists at NASA are preparing to download the latest bit of data stored in its plant-hunting Kepler space telescope as the spacecraft is now running “very low” on fuel. NASA has placed the spacecraft in a no-fuel-use safe mode to save the remaining fuel so that data extraction can be completed.
About Kepler telescope:
Launched in 2009, the Kepler mission is specifically designed to survey our region of the Milky Way galaxy to discover hundreds of Earth-size and smaller planets in or near the habitable zone and determine the fraction of the hundreds of billions of stars in our galaxy that might have such planets.
- Since the launch of the observatory in 2009, astronomers have discovered thousands of extra-solar planets, or exoplanets, through this telescope alone. Most of them are planets that are ranging between the size of Earth and Neptune (which itself is four times the size of Earth). Most of these planets were discovered in a small region of the constellation Cygnus, at which Kepler was pointed for the first four years of its mission.
- As of March 2018, Kepler had found 2,342 confirmed planets; add potential planets, and its find of exoworlds stands at 4,587.
RAMA (Reconstituting Asteroids into Mechanical Automata)
NASA has announced it would give funds to Made In Space’s project- RAMA (Reconstituting Asteroids into Mechanical Automata), for finding ways to turn asteroids into giant, autonomous spacecrafts, which could fly to outposts in space.
About RAMA (Reconstituting Asteroids into Mechanical Automata):
Project RAMA, Reconstituting Asteroids into Mechanical Automata, has been designed to leverage the advancing trends of additive manufacturing (AM) and in-situ resource utilization (ISRU).
- The project aims to enable asteroid rendezvous missions in which a set of technically simple robotic processes convert asteroid elements into very basic versions of spacecraft subsystems (GNC, Propulsion, Avionics).
- Upon completion, the asteroid will be a programmed mechanical automata carrying out a given mission objective; such as relocation to an Earth-Moon liberation point for human rendezvous.
- This technique could some day create an affordable and scalable way for NASA to achieve future roadmap items for exploring the solar system.
- These techniques could be beneficial to scientific goals for understanding the solar system and its formation, as it is estimated that an order of magnitude increase in NEO targets could be explored for the same mission cost compared to the SOA.
- RAMA would enable this by removing the need to launch all spacecraft subsystems and instead converting the asteroid material in-situ.
Civil Aviation Research Organization at Begumpet Airport, Hyderabad
- What? State-run Airports Authority of India (AAI) will set up a Civil Aviation Research Organisation (CARO).
- Where? CARO will be set up at Begumpet Airport, Hyderabad.
- Why? CARO is aimed at “finding indigenous solutions” to meet the challenges posed by the growing air traffic.
What Is Aphelion
On July 6, Earth was at aphelion, officially at its farthest from the sun, orbiting at a distance of 94,507,803 miles, as opposed to its usual 93 million miles.
What is it? Aphelion Day is a special event that takes place once a year. On this date, the Earth is at its biggest distance from the sun. This point is called the aphelion. At aphelion, Earth receives about 7% less sun than it does in January.
Gujarat government grants religious minority status to Jews
Gujarat Government has granted religious minority status to Jews living in the state.
Now, Jews living in Gujarat will get religious minority rights envisaged in Constitution of India and various acts and rules of the state government.
- Gujarat is third state in India to grant religious minority status to Jews after West Bengal and Maharashtra.
- The Synagogue Judah Hyam Hall is the only place of worship in Delhi for Jews.
- Constitution of India has not defined word ‘Minority’ and only refers to ‘Minorities’ but it speaks of those ‘based on religion or language’ and rights of minorities have been spelt out in Constitution in detail.
- Six religious communities, viz. Muslims, Christians, Sikhs, Buddhists, Zoroastrians (Parsis) and Jains have been notified in Gazette of India as minority communities by Union Government all over India.
- Judaism originated in the Middle East over 3500 years ago
- Judaism was founded by Moses, although Jews trace their history back to Abraham.
- Jews believe that there is only one God with whom they have a covenant.
- In exchange for all the good that God has done for the Jewish people, Jewish people keep God’s laws and try to bring holiness into every aspect of their lives.
- Judaism has a rich history of religious text, but the central and most important religious document is the Torah.
- Jewish traditional or oral law, the interpretation of the laws of the Torah, is called halakhah.
- Spiritual leaders are called Rabbis.
- Jews worship in Synagogues.
- They follow Hebrew calendar. They have special thanks giving ceremony known as Eliyahoo-ha-Nabiore. ‘gratitude to Elijah the Prophet’, on festive occasions.
- 6 million Jews were murdered in the Holocaust in an attempt to wipe out Judaism.
Jews in India:
The Jewish community in India is one among a large number of groups who had come from outside the country’s modern territorial borders and made India their home.
Main Jews groups in India:
- Cochin Jews.
- Chennai/Madras Jews.
- Bene Israel.
- Baghdadi Jews.
- Delhi Jews.
- Bnei Menashe.
- Bene Ephraim (Telugu Jews).
‘Institutions of Eminence’
Government declares 6 educational ‘Institutions of Eminence’; 3 Institutions from Public Sector and 3 from Private Sector shortlisted.
The institutions selected are:
Public Sector: (i) Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore, Karnataka; (ii) Indian Institute of Technology, Bombay, Maharashtra; and (iii) Indian Institute of Technology, Delhi.
Private Sector: (i) Jio Institute (Reliance Foundation), Pune under Green Field Category; (ii) Birla Institute of Technology & Sciences, Pilani, Rajasthan; and (iii) Manipal Academy of Higher Education, Manipal, Karnataka.
Implications of the decision:
- Each ‘Public Institution’ selected as ‘Institution of Eminence’ will get financial assistance up to Rs. 1000 Crore over a period of five years.
- These Institutions shall be provided with greater autonomy to admit foreign students up to 30% of admitted students; to recruit foreign faculty upto 25% of faculty strength; to offer online courses upto 20% of its programmes.
- They will also be allowed to enter into academic collaboration with top 500 in the world ranking Institutions without permission of UGC; free to fix and charge fees from foreign students without restriction; complete flexibility in fixing of curriculum and syllabus, among others.
- At the same time, they will get more opportunity to scale up their operations with more skills and quality improvement so that they become World Class Institutions in the field of education.
Need for world-class institutes:
India lacks world-class universities according to international rankings, and Indian academics, compared internationally, are rather poorly paid. Students also suffer an immense shortage of places in top academic institutions and throughout the higher education system. India today educates only half as many young people from the university age group as China and ranks well behind most Latin American and other middle-income countries.
If India is to succeed as a great technological power with a knowledge-based economy, world-class universities are required. The first step, however, is to examine the problems and create realistic solutions. Spending large sums scattershot will not work. Nor will copying the American academic model succeed.
Institutions of Eminence scheme:
- The institutes of eminence scheme under the Union human resource development (HRD) ministry aims to project Indian institutes to global recognition.
- The 20 selected institutes will enjoy complete academic and administrative autonomy.
- The government will run 10 of these and they will receive special funding.
- The selection shall be made through challenge method mode by the Empowered Expert Committee constituted for the purpose.
- Only higher education institutions currently placed in the top 500 of global rankings or top 50 of the National Institutional Ranking Framework (NIRF) are eligible to apply for the eminence tag.
- The private Institutions of Eminence can also come up as greenfield ventures provided the sponsoring organisation submits a convincing perspective plan for 15 years.
Global Housing Construction Technology Challenge
The Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs is set to launch the Global Housing Construction Technology Challenge as part of the technology sub-mission of PMAY-U.
Global Housing Construction Technology Challenge:
- The challenge aims to provide more dynamism to the scheme.
- It will invite ideas from across the globe for alternative technologies that go beyond the brick-and-mortar building model used widely in Indian construction.
- The four parameters in the global challenge would be time, cost, quality, and sustainability. The technology will have to be better than the existing ones on all these four fronts.
- It will be tested in geographically different urban areas across the country with varying terrains such as say hilly, plain, or earthquake-prone.
- The winning technologies would be used to build mass houses, in a tie-up with the states, for the economically weaker sections and low-income groups under the affordable housing project vertical of PMAY-U.
- The Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana (Urban) Programme launched by the Ministry of Housing and Urban Poverty Alleviation (MoHUPA), in Mission mode envisions provision of Housing for All by 2022.
- Under the scheme, the government is providing an interest subsidy of 6.5% on housing loans which can be availed by beneficiaries for 15 years from start of loan date.
The Mission seeks to address the housing requirement of urban poor including slum dwellers through following programme verticals:
- Slum rehabilitation of Slum Dwellers with participation of private developers using land as a resource.
- Promotion of Affordable Housing for weaker section through credit linked subsidy.
- Affordable Housing in Partnership with Public & Private sectors.
- Subsidy for beneficiary-led individual house construction /enhancement.
Asian Development Bank (ADB)
Centre and ADB signed $84 million loan for water supply in Bihar. The ADB loan is part of the $200 million multi-tranche financing facility for the Bihar Urban Development Investment Programme, and it will facilitate improvement and expansion of water supply in Bhagalpur and Gaya towns in the state.
It is a regional development bank established on 22 August 1966 and is headquartered in Philippines. It aims to facilitate economic development of countries in Asia. It also aims for an Asia and Pacific free from poverty.
The bank admits the members of the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (UNESCAP, formerly known as the United Nations Economic Commission for Asia and the Far East) and non-regional developed countries.
Currently, it has 67 members – of which 48 are from within Asia and the Pacific and 19 outside.
ADB was modelled closely on the World Bank, and has a similar weighted voting system where votes are distributed in proportion with member’s capital subscriptions.
- ADB raises funds through bond issues on the world’s capital markets.
- ADB also rely on its members’ contributions, retained earnings from its lending operations, and the repayment of loans.
- Japan holds the largest proportions of shares at 15.67%. The United States holds 15.56%, China holds 6.47%, India holds 6.36%, and Australia holds 5.81%.
Board of Governors:
- It is the highest policy-making body of the bank.
- It is composed of one representative from each member state.
- The Board of Governors also elect the bank’s President who is the chairperson of the Board of Directors and manages ADB.
- The Alternate Board of Governors are nominated by Board of Governors of ADB’s 67 to represent them at the Annual Meeting that meets formally once year to be held in a member country.
It offers both Hard Loans and Soft loans. The ADB offers “hard” loans from ordinary capital resources (OCR) on commercial terms, and the Asian Development Fund (ADF) affiliated with the ADB extends “soft” loans from special fund resources with concessional conditions.
About three weeks after their launch, the twin climate-monitoring satellites- GRACE-FO satellites (short for Gravity Recovery and Climate Experiment Follow-On)- that NASA deployed in Earth’s orbit have switched on their powerful lasers for the first time, showing that their systems are shipshape.
About GRACE- FO mission:
The Gravity Recovery and Climate Experiment Follow-on (GRACE-FO) mission is a partnership between NASA and the German Research Centre for Geosciences (GFZ).
GRACE-FO is a successor to the original GRACE mission, which began orbiting Earth on March 17, 2002. The GRACE missions measure variations in gravity over Earth’s surface, producing a new map of the gravity field every 30 days.
- GRACE-FO will carry on the extremely successful work of its predecessor while testing a new technology designed to dramatically improve the already remarkable precision of its measurement system.
- GRACE-FO will continue the work of tracking Earth’s water movement to monitor changes in underground water storage, the amount of water in large lakes and rivers, soil moisture, ice sheets and glaciers, and sea level caused by the addition of water to the ocean. These discoveries provide a unique view of Earth’s climate and have far-reaching benefits to society and the world’s population.
Pak Spy Satellites Launched By China
China successfully launched two remote sensing satellites PRSS-1 and PakTes-1A of Pakistan on board of Long March-2C rocket from Jiuquan Satellite Launch Centre.
- It was overall 279th mission for the Long March rocket series (mainly used to send satellites into low Earth or Sun-synchronous orbits) and first international commercial launch in nearly two decades after it carried Motorola’s Iridium satellites into orbit in 1999.
- It is China’s first optical remote sensing satellite sold to Pakistan. It can carry out day and night monitoring. It also has viewing capacity even in clouded conditions.
- It will be used for land and resources surveying, agriculture research, urban construction, monitoring of natural disasters and to provide remote sensing information for (CPEC) under China’s ambitious Belt and Road Initiative (BRI).
- It is China’s first optical remote sensing satellite sold to Pakistan and overall 17th satellite developed by China Academy of Space Technology (CAST) for an overseas buyer.
It is Pakistan’s indigenously developed scientific experiment satellite developed by engineers from its space agency SUPARCO (Space and Upper Atmosphere Research Commission).
First ever ‘India Tourism Mart’:
First ever ‘India Tourism Mart’ will be hosted in New Delhi from 16th to 18th September by the Ministry of Tourism in partnership with the Federation of Associations in Indian Tourism and Hospitality (FAITH). India Convention Promotion Board (ICPB) shall coordinate the whole event.
- The objective of the event is to create an annual Global Tourism Mart for India in line with major international travel marts being held in countries across the world.
- ITM will be the best platform for the States to showcase their products to international buyers, opinion makers and bloggers and attract more tourists to their respective states.
- The Mart will provide a platform for all stakeholders in the tourism and hospitality industries to interact and transact business
World’s Oldest Color Discovered In Rocks Deep Beneath Sahara Desert:
Scientists have discovered the oldest color in the geological record- the bright pink pigment aged 1.1 billion years old. The bright pink pigments are the molecular fossils of chlorophyll that were produced by ancient photosynthetic organisms inhabiting an ancient ocean that has long since vanished.
The ancient pigment was extracted from marine black shales of the Taoudeni Basin in Mauritania, West Africa.
Tag:‘Institutions of Eminence’, Aphelion, Asian Development Bank (ADB), Civil Aviation Research Organization at Begumpet Airport, Currency Derivatives, Einstein’s Theory of Relativity, Formalin, Global Housing Construction Technology Challenge, GRACE FO mission, Gujarat government grants religious minority status to Jews, Pak Spy Satellite, RAMA, Reconstituting Asteroids into Mechanical Automat, Simultaneous elections, WORLD SANSKRIT CONFERENCE