Current Affairs, News & Facts of 31 Dec 2015

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  • Long range missile Barak-8 successfully test fired from INS Kolkata


    Noted Marathi poet Mangesh Padgaonkar passes away

    Long Range Surface to Air Missile (LRSAM) Barak 8 jointly developed by India and Israel was successfully test-fired from INS Kolkata. The firing trial of the LR SAM was jointly carried out by the Indian Navy, DRDO and Israel Aerospace Industries. 

    During the trial Barak 8 missile was fired by the Indian Navy from its warship INS Kolkata on the Western Seaboard during which it successfully intercepted an aerial target at extended ranges. The missile has a range of nearly 70 km.

    With this test, India has joined a select group of countries which has such an anti-air warfare capability for their navies as only a small club of countries including the US, France, Britain and Israel possess such a capability.

    Facts about Barak 8 :

    • Barak 8 ( it means Lightning in Hebrew language)  is an Indian-Israeli surface-to-air missile (SAM), designed  to defend the country against any type of airborne threat including aircraft, helicopters, anti-ship missiles, and UAVs at range of  70 km.
    • It has been jointly developed by Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI) and Defence Research & Development Organisation (DRDO) and other companies from Israel and India. The first 32 missile will be fitted on the Indian Navy stealth guided-missile destroyer INS Kolkata.

    MF-STAR radar system :

    Apart from the missile, the system includes a Multi Functional Surveillance and Threat Alert Radar (MF STAR) for detection, tracking and guidance of the missile.Israel made MF-STAR radar system is capable of simultaneously tracking hundreds of airborne targets to a range of more than 250 KM.

  • Noted Marathi poet Mangesh Padgaonkar passes away


    Noted Marathi poet Mangesh Padgaonkar passes away

    Noted Marathi poet Mangesh Keshav Padgaonkar (86) passed away in Mumbai, Maharashtra after a brief illness. He was a iconic poet  and was known for many poetry recitation programmes.He had also written lyrics for many Marathi films.

    About Mangesh Padgaonkar :

    • Padgaonkar was born on 10 March 1929 in Vengurla, Sindhudurg District of Maharashtra. He received a Master of Arts degree in Marathi and Sanskrit from the University of Bombay.
    • Padgaonkar taught Marathi at Matushree Mithibai College in Mumbai for several years, than he served as an editor at the US Information Service (USIS) from 1970–1990.
    • Padgaonkar started writing poems at the age of 14 and has 40 publications to his credit of which US Library of Congress has acquired 31 publications.
    • He was well known for writing 'Ya Janmawar, Ya Jagnyavar', 'Shukratara Manda Waara' and 'Bhatuklichya Khelamadhe' which were sung by Arun Date
    • Padgaonkar also had penned University of Pune’s theme song Punyamayee De Amha Akshar Vardaan in 1983.

    Translations :  He had translated works of Mirabai and published a book Mira in 1965. He also had translated Bible: The New Testament in Marathi in 2008. He translated works of Surdas and Kabir in Marathi and also Shakespeare’s plays The Julius Ceasar, Tempest and Romeo and Juliet.

    Awards and Honours:  Sahitya Academy Award (1980) , Maharashtra Bhushan Award (2008), Padma Bhushan (2013) 

  • BHEL commissions Prayagraj power project unit in UP 


    BHEL commissions Prayagraj power project unit in UP

    State-run heavy equipment-maker Bharat Heavy Electricals Ltd. (BHEL) has commissioned a 660 MW unit of Prayagraj Super Thermal Power Project at Bara town in Allahabad district of Uttar Pradesh.

    This is the first super-critical thermal unit in the state to achieve capacity addition on attaining full load. It should be noted that Super-critical units are generally eco-friendly and more efficient thermal power plants because they consume less coal as fuel.

    About Bharat Heavy Electricals Ltd. (BHEL)

    Bharat Heavy Electricals Limited (BHEL) is a  Government of India owned power plant equipment manufacturer .  BHEL is India's largest engineering and manufacturing company of its kind.

    •  Established : 1964
    • Headquartered : New Delhi

    BHEL has been earning profits continuously since 1971-72 and paying dividends uninterruptedly since 1976-77. It was awarded a Maharatna Company status in 2013.

  • Cabinet approves construction of 69 bridges in Myanmar


    Cabinet approves construction of 69 bridges in Myanmar

    The Union Cabinet, chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, approved the construction of 69 bridges including approach roads on the Tamu-Kyigone-Kalewa (TKK) road section of the trilateral highway in Myanmar at a cost of Rs. 371.58 crore. The project is envisaged to be completed by mid-2019.


    This will impart all weather usability to the TKK road section, which is also part of the route for the proposed Imphal-Mandalay bus service. It will improve connectivity between India and Myanmar and facilitate movement of goods and traffic

    Nodal agency :

    The project will be implemented in Engineering Procuring and Construction (EPC) mode through Project Management Consultant (PMC). It will be closely monitored by the Indian Embassy in Yangon, PMC and the Ministry of External Affairs. 

    Background : 

    During the visit of Prime Minister to Myanmar in May 2012, it was agreed, at the request of Government of Myanmar, to undertake construction of 71 bridges in the Tamu - Kyigone - Kalewa (TKK) road section of the Trilateral Highway. The Government of Myanmar has started work on constructing two bridges, on its own, as these bridges needed urgent attention. As a result, construction of the balance 69 bridges will be undertaken under Government of India's assistance. 

  • Union Cabinet approves MoU for the conservation of raptors 


    Union Cabinet approves MoU for the conservation of raptors

    The Union Cabinet, presided by Prime Minister Narendra Modi has  approved the signing of  Raptor MoU which aims to promote internationally coordinated actions to conserve and reserve the decline of birds of prey in Africa and Eurasia. Raptor or bird of prey include species such as eagles, kites, vultures, hawks and owls.

    With the signing of the MoU, India will become the 54th country to sign an international agreement aimed at conserving raptors. Among India’s neighbours, Pakistan and Nepal are already signatories to the agreement.

    Raptors are facing a variety of human-induced threats such as habitat loss and degradation, illegal shooting and poisoning, collisions with aerial structures and electrocution by power lines.

    Key facts about the MoU :

    • Raptor MOU is also in conformity with the provisions of the existing Wild Life (Protection) Act, 1972, in which the birds have been accorded protection.
    • The Raptors MoU extends its coverage to 76 species of birds of prey out of which 46 species, including vultures, falcons, eagles, owls, hawks, kites, harriers, etc. also occur in India.
    • The CMS or Bonn Convention, under the auspices of the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), aims to conserve migratory species throughout their range. India had become a party to the CMS since November 1, 1983.
  • Pakistan, Afghanistan set up military hotline


    Pakistan, Afghanistan set up military hotline

    Pakistan and Afghanistan have set up a hotline between their military commanders and made first contact on December 30. Hot line has been  established between DGMOs (Director Generals of military operations) of both countries. The plan to establish hotline between Pakistan and Afghanistan was agreed during Pakistan's army chief General Raheel Sharif  recent visit to Kabul . 

    Background :

    Pakistan and Afghanistan had decided in 2011 to set up a military "hotline" in an effort to ease tensions triggered by cross-border raids and mortar shelling incidents but it was not materialized. 

    Pakistan- Afghanistan relations :

    • Afghanistan accuses Pakistan of controlling the Afghan Taliban. Currently Afghan forces are battling to push out Taliban insurgents who have  seized large part of opium-rich district of Sangin in southern Helmand province.
    • Security co-operation between the two countries is seen as crucial in countering the growing Taliban threat and Afghanistan sees Pakistan's support as vital to bring the Taliban to the negotiating table.

    What is hotline ?

    A hotline is a point-to-point communications link in which a call is automatically directed to the preselected destination without any additional action by the user when the end user picks up the receiver. Dedicated hotline phones do not need a rotary dial or keypad. 

    Do you know about India–Pakistan hotline ?

    On 20 June 2004, both India and Pakistan agreed to extend a nuclear testing ban so  Islamabad–New Delhi hotline was set up between their foreign secretaries  with an aim to prevent misunderstandings that might lead to nuclear war. The hotline was set up with the assistance of United States military officers.

  • Indian-Origin Cancer Researcher receives Knighthood from Queen Elizabeth II


    Indian-Origin Cancer Researcher receives Knighthood from Queen Elizabeth II

    Indian-origin cancer research expert Harpal Singh Kumar, has received a Knighthood from Queen Elizabeth II for his "influential" work on prevention and treatment of cancer. 

    Harpal Singh Kumar, who is the chief executive of Cancer Research UK (CRUK),  has been honoured for services to cancer research and being "hugely influential in promoting research into the prevention, early diagnosis and treatment of cancer, and cancer care."

    Other Indian-origin winners of various civilian awards :

    • Raminder Singh Ranger : He is the chairman of Sun Mark Ltd . He has been honoured with Commander of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire (CBE)  for services to business and community cohesion.
    • Samir Desai  : He is the Founding-CEO of Funding Circle. He has been honoured with Commander of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire (CBE) for his work in the field of financial inclusion 
    • Kala Patel: He is the managing director of Kiddycare Ltd Nurseries. He has been honoured with  Officer of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire (OBE), for services to childcare business .

    Annual New Year's Honours list :

    There are 578 successful women candidates in the List, representing 48 per cent of the total, and 5.7 percent of the successful candidates come from ethnic minority backgrounds.The awards are presented in the name of the British monarch and published by the UK government in the London Gazette on New Year's Eve every year. 


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