1. The 16th International Energy Forum (IEF) Ministerial Meeting from 10-12th April 2018 was hosted by India in New Delhi. This is second time India hosting IEF Ministerial meeting. It had earlier hosted 5th IEF Ministerial in 1996 at Goa.This was inaugurated by PM Modi with the theme of 2018 was “The Future of Global Energy Security: Transition, Technology, Trade and Investment”. It was attended by Petroleum Ministers from 42 countries and was co-hosted by China and South Korea. It was aimed to improve policy and investment decisions, and through increased knowledge and experience sharing. The IEF is an inter-governmental arrangement set up in 1991 and based (Secretariat) in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. The IEF Ministerial Meetings are held biennially and is world’s largest gathering of Energy Ministers who engage in dialogue on global energy issues.
2. The National Institute of Wind Energy (NIWE) under Ministry of New and Renewable Energy (MNRE) has issued Expression of Interest (EoI) for first offshore wind energy project of India. The proposed area first offshore wind energy project is located 23-40 km seaward side from Pipavav port in Gujarat. MNRE is plannning to install at least 5 GW of offshore wind capacity by 2022. Under it, Chennai based NIWE was designated nodal agency to carry out necessary studies and surveys before final bidding of offshore wind project sites. NIWE has identified areas off coasts of Gujarat and Tamil Nadu for development of offshore wind power. It had had installed first offshore LiDAR in Gulf of Khambhat for measurement of wind resource and is collecting wind speed data from November 2017. It will install second LiDAR off Tamil Nadu coast by September, 2018.
3. A MoU was signed between India and Morocco in the field of Mining and Geology for a period of 5 years to promote mineral exploration in New Delhi after the bilateral discussions between Mines Minister Narendra Singh Tomar and his Moroccan counterpart Aziz Rabbah. The focus of MoU is on development of geological infrastructure for Geo science Maps and geochemical maps, strengthening geological research and evaluation of potential of mineral resources. Geological Survey of India (GSI) will assist Morocco in geological mapping and mineral exploration.
4. The signing of Host country (Headquarters) agreement between India and International Solar Alliance (ISA) was approved by the Union Cabinet. The agreement gives ISA juridical personality power to contract, acquire and dispose of movable and immovable properties and also to institute and defend legal proceedings. The agreement was signed between Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) and ISA in March, 2018.
5. The Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs (CCEA) has delegated powers to Finance and Petroleum Ministers to award oil and gas exploration blocks to successful bidders under Hydrocarbon Exploration Licensing Policy (HELP). Under HELP, Empowered Committee of Secretaries (ECS) considers Bid Evaluation Criteria (BEC), conducts negotiations with bidders wherever necessary and makes recommendations to CCEA on award of blocks. Then CCEA approves award of blocks. Central Government had launched Hydrocarbon Exploration and Licensing Policy (HELP) in March 2016, as a new policy regime for Exploration & Production (E&P) in petroleum and natural gas sector.
6. The Maharashtra state government on April 11, 2018 announced cash prizes for all the players from the state who have bagged medals in the ongoing Commonwealth Games Gold Coast. An official notification from the state’s Chief Minister’s office mentioned that each gold medal winner will be rewarded with a cash prize of 50 lakh rupees, silver medalists with 30 lakh rupees and bronze medalists will be awarded 20 lakh rupees each. Madhurika Patkar and Pooja Sahasrabuddhe, both from Thane, and Sanil Shetty have bagged gold in table tennis. Chirag C Shetty of Vile Parle has also bagged a gold medal in badminton.Besides, Heena Sidhu, who lives in the Mumbai suburb of Goregaon, also won a gold and silver medal in two categories of pistol shooting. The coaches would also be honoured with 12.5 lakh rupees, 7.5 lakh rupees and 5 lakh rupees, respectively for each gold, silver and bronze medal won by the players from the state.
7. A committee was constituted by the Union Ministry of Human Resource Development on April 11, 2018 under the Chairmanship of Gujarat Education Minister Bhupendrasinh Chudasama to eliminate the fear of maths among the students. The committee will also suggest the ways to make the maths subject easy and will submit its report in July 2018.
8. The Supreme Court on April 11, 2018 asked the Uttar Pradesh Sunni Waqf Board to show documents signed by Mughal emperor Shah Jahan to prove its ownership on the iconic Taj Mahal, a 17th century monument. A bench headed by Chief Justice Dipak Misra, Justices A.M. Khanwilkar and D.Y. Chandrachud asked the Waqf board counsel to authenticate through documents that Shah Jahan had executed a ‘Waqfnama’ in favour of the waqf board. Waqfnama is a document through which a person conveys intention to donate a property or land to waqf for charitable purpose.
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1. New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern on April 12, 2018 announced a ban on all new offshore oil exploration, as a transition towards a zero-carbon economy. The ban is applied with immediate effect to only new offshore oil exploration permits and will not affect existing permits and onshore drilling. Arden also assured that her policy will not lead to job losses in the country's oil industry, which currently employs at least 11,000 workers and generates about $1.8 billion per year. Greenpeace, a non-governmental environmental organisation, hailed Ardern's move in a statement, saying this was a historic moment for the country and a huge win for the climate and people power.
2. The Cabinet of United Arab Emirates (UAE) has approved the issuance of law on Equal Wages and Salaries for men and women. It will provide women with equal opportunities as partners in the UAE's development. The approval of the law comes in line with the government’s objective to ensure the protection of women's rights and support their role in the national development process. The law will further empower women to lead future national strategies and ambitious projects.
Science and Technology/Defence:
1. ISRO has successfully launched IRNSS-1I navigation satellite from Sriharikota in Andhra Pradesh. It is overall eighth satellite to join ISRO’s NavIC navigation satellite constellation. It replaced IRNSS-1A, the first of seven navigation satellites of IRNSS series that was rendered ineffective after its three rubidium atomic clocks failed. The satellite was launched on board of PSLV-C41 (height of 44.4 meters and weight of 321 tonnes) after the normal lift-off and was successfully placed in the designated orbit. It was overall 20th flight of PSLV-XL version and 41st successful mission of total 43 of PSLV. IRNSS-1I was made by Bengaluru-based Alpha Design Technologies in collaboration with ISRO. It was ISRO’s second attempt to send replacement satellite. The previous mission of a PSLV carrying IRNSS-1H in August 2017 failed after the heat shield covering satellite failed to separate in space after the launch.
2. The first of its kind 5G lab in the country has been set-up at Bharti School of Telecommunication Technology and Management which was installed by IIT-Delhi. It is a Massive Multiple-Input, Multiple-Output (MIMO) lab on campus for standardisation, R&D and manufacturing of 5G equipment. The lab will serve as 5G base station prototype that will be used to test and verify algorithms and also develop complete 5G base station. It will help in manufacturing of 5G base stations in India with support and collaboration from industry. It will also be instrumental in generating skilled manpower in this technology. 5G is wireless communication technology based on third-generation partnership project (3GPP). It is next generation mobile networks technology after 4G LTE networks. The 5G wireless technology will offer far greater upload and download speed i.e. 100 times faster internet data speed than current 4G networks.
3. The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) on April 11, 2018 permitted the marketing of the first medical device to use Artificial Intelligence (AI) to detect greater than a mild level of the eye disease diabetic retinopathy in diabetic adults. Diabetic retinopathy, the most common cause of vision loss for people living with diabetes, occurs when high levels of blood sugar lead to damage in the blood vessels of the retina, the light-sensitive tissue in the back of the eye. The device, called IDx-DR, is a software programme that uses an AI algorithm to analyse images of the eye taken with a retinal camera called the Topcon NW400. If the images are of the desired quality, the software will provide the doctor with one of the two results, either "more than mild diabetic retinopathy detected: refer to an eye care professional" or "negative for more than mild diabetic retinopathy: re-screen in 12 months."
1. The Index of Economic Freedom 2018 that measures the degree of economic freedom in the countries of the world was released by top US based Think Tank, The Heritage Foundation. India ranked 130th out of 186 economies in recently released Index. It ranks countries based on score ranging 0 (least free) to 100 (most free). The score is based on 12 factors of economic freedom. Twelve factors for calculating score are: property rights, government integrity, tax burden, judicial effectiveness, government spending, fiscal health, business freedom, monetary freedom, labor freedom, trade freedom, investment freedom and financial freedom. Top 10 countries are: Hong Kong, Singapore, New Zealand, Switzerland, Australia, Ireland, Estonia, United Kingdom, Canada and UAE.
2. The World Bank has approved $55 million to expand the use of clean renewable energy in rural areas of Bangladesh where grid electricity cannot reach easily. The project, including the additional financing, will enable about 10 million people living in villages, shoals and islands to access electricity and use energy efficient cooking stoves. The additional financing to the Second Rural Electrification and Renewable Energy Development (RERED II) Project will install 1,000 solar irrigation pumps, 30 solar mini-grids and about 4 million improved cooking stoves in rural areas. The project has already built 10 solar mini-grids in remote areas, including islands and shoals to provide grid-quality electricity.
1. Ace Indian shuttler Kidambi Srikanth became World number 1 in men’s singles category after Badminton World Federation updated its weekly rankings on April 12, 2018. Srikanth has now become the first Indian male shuttler to achieve the feat in modern ranking system. He overtook World Champion Viktor Axelsen at the top of rankings with 76,895 points. He joins Saina Nehwal to become only the second Indian to achieve the feat.
2. The Day 8 of Commonwealth Games 2018: Wrestling legend Sushil Kumar and Rahul Aware got gold medal matches, Babita Kumari opened India’s wrestling account at the games with silver in women's freestyle 53 kg and Kiran won bronze in women’s freestyle 76 kg event. Indian shooter Tejaswini Sawant also added to India’s medal tally by winning silver in the finals of the women’s 50m rifle prone.