Background – Jallikattu is again in news and has been in the news since Supreme Court banned it in 2014. Recently the CM of Tamilnadu has wirtten to center in this regard and famous personalities including Kamal Hassan has voiced their support for this sports.

Jallikattu – Jallikattu also known as Eruthazhuvuthal  or Manju virattu is an event of controlling bull held in Tamil Nadu as a part of Pongal celebrations

Those who support the sports claim that it is not a bull fight but a bull control sports.

India sees increase in tourist arrivals

India registered an 11 per cent increase in foreign tourist arrivals (FTAs) in 2016 (calendar year) over 2015, with as many as nine million tourists visiting the country. This excludes visits by non-resident Indians.Revealing the figures during a session on ‘Partnering with diaspora to accelerate tourism in India’ on the second day of the Pravasi Bharatiya Divas here on Sunday, Vinod Zutshi, Secretary, Ministry of Tourism, said this was way above the projected 4.5 per cent growth. The growth is attributed to liberal visa regime and e-Visa provisions.

New Ginger species with medicinal properties found in Andamans

Scientists of the Botanical Survey of India (BSI) have found a new species of Zingiber (commonly referred as Ginger) from the Andaman and Nicobar Islands. The species Zingiber pseudosquarrosum, new to science, belonging to genus Zingiber, was already used by the local Particularly Vulnerable Tribal Groups ( PVTGs) of the Andamans for its medicinal values.

The tribes of the Andaman and Nicobar Islands have interesting usage of other species of Zingibers. For instance, Shompen and Nicobari tribes use various plant parts of another species of Zingiber (Hornstedia fenzlii ) as bee repellent and, tranquiliser. Rhizome extracts and leaf pest are applied on body during extracting honey from honeycomb.The fresh extract [juice] of fleshy tuberous roots is used to treat abdominal pain and anti-helminthic troubles by Nicobarese and certain other tribal communities.

Important PVTGS of Andaman and Nicobar:-

  1. Andamanese
  2. Jarawas
  3. Nicobarese
  4. Onges
  5. Sentinelese
  6. Shom Pens

Tweaking photosynthesis for a better crop yield

As human population increases, we would need more of crops in order to cater to the global demands for food. It thus becomes important to study ways in which plant productivity can be increased. One way of approaching this is to find ways in which photosynthesis can be improved.

Energy from sunlight is captured by the green pigment called chlorophyll in the leaves in order to conduct these chemical reactions. But this energy can also damage the leaves (recall how sunbathers in beaches can get sunburnt). Plants protect themselves from such light-induced damage by releasing heat (but we use sun-tan lotions or dark glasses for protection). Now, such “quenching” of excess solar energy must be quick. If it takes too long (often as long as half an hour) to “relax” and resume the cycle, it may be thought of as a “waste of time.” If only we can hasten this process (termed non-photochemical quenching, abbreviated as NPQ) of recovery safely, argues the research team, we may be able to improve crop productivity.

An international team of researchers, led by Dr Stephen P. Long of the University of Illinois and Dr Krishna K. Niyogi of the University of California, Berkeley, USA has focused on this problem. Their paper, titled “Improving photosynthesis and crop productivity by accelerating recovery from photo-protection,” has appeared in the 18 November 2016 issue of the journal Science.

China setting up highest altitude telescopes close to LAC

China is setting up the world’s highest altitude gravitational wave telescopes in a Tibet prefecture close to the Line of Actual Control (LAC) with India, with a budget of $18.8 million to detect the faintest of echoes resonating from the universe, which may reveal more about the Big Bang theory.Construction has started for the first telescope, code-named Ngari No. 1, 30 km south of Shiquanhe Town in Ngari Prefecture.

To Counter Chinese Threat, India Offers To Supply Akash Surface-To-Air Missile Systems To Vietnam

In view of China’s growing assertiveness in the Asia-Pacific region, India has offered to supply indigenously-developed Akash surface-to-air missile systems to Vietnam.

Akash is a medium-range surface-to-air missile system developed by the Defence Research and Development Organisation and is capable of hitting and destroying incoming aircraft, missiles, helicopters and drones up to 30 kilometers away. While Vietnam is looking for transfer of technology and joint production, India initially wants to offer missile systems off-the-shelf.

Apart from selling a number of naval vessels to Hanoi, Delhi has offered BrahMos supersonic cruise missiles and Varunastra anti-submarine torpedoes to the country in the past. India is also training Vietnamese fighter pilots and submariners as both countries operate Russian equipment.

DIPP Asks For Fast-Track Commercial Courts To Improve India’s Ranking In ‘Ease Of Doing Business’ Index

To improve India’s contract enforcement record, which has a direct bearing on the ease of doing business in the country, the Department of Industrial Policy & Promotion (DIPP) has requested the law ministry to introduce an ordinance that allows the government to open fast-track commercial courts in Delhi and Mumbai.

Better enforcement of contracts will help India improve its ranking in the World Bank’s ease of doing business index. Under the “enforcing contracts” indicator, the country is currently ranked 172 out of 190 countries.

Though the Commercial Courts, Commercial Division and Commercial Appellate Division of High Courts Act passed in December 2015 allows state governments to set up commercial courts at the district level, no commercial court can be constituted in Delhi, Mumbai, Kolkata and Chennai- areas where high courts have exclusive civil jurisdiction to hear commercial matters.

The ordinance requested by DIPP will amend this provision. District commercial courts can then be set up in Delhi, Mumbai and other metropolitan areas of the country.

Source: The Economic Times

India’s overall ranking in the ease of doing business index improved by just one notch to 130 in its 2017 report from a revised rank of 131 last year, highlighting a gap between policy measures and their implementation. To make it to the top 50 , the government has prepared an eight-point strategy :-

  1. The government will mandate an eBiz portal for starting a business. It will have four functions: registration for PAN (permanent account number), TAN (tax deduction account number), EPFO (Employees’ Provident Fund Organisation) and ESIC (Employee’s State Insurance Corp.).
  2. The number of procedures and the number of days required to start a business will both be reduced to four.
  3. Shram Suvidha Portal will act as a one-stop destination for the filing of return, challan and making online payment for EPFO and ESIC.
  4. The cost and time of export and import will be reduced. The number of direct delivery consignments will be increased to 40 per cent by the department of revenue and the ministry of shipping.
  5. The provisions of the Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code will be implemented through the National Company Law Tribunal (NCLT).
  6. To improve India’s score in the ‘Getting Credit’ indicator, the ministry of corporate affairs will work towards creating a single registry of assets.
  7. To improve score in the “Enforcing Contracts” indicator, eCourts will be expedited for electronic filing of complaints, summons and payments.
  8. To ease ‘Construction Permit,’ procedures will be brought down to eight within 60 days.

India’s Monsoon Puddle Problem Solved: Sponge-Like Concrete Absorbs Over 3,000 Litres Of Water In 60 Seconds

Come monsoon, a common sight in Indian cities is the flooding of roads and waterlogging. Puddles of water accumulate on streets and alleyways, driving up traffic and making it incredibly hard for pedestrians to walk anywhere.

A new composite material called Topmix Permeable concrete can help solve this problem. It’s a surface covering that is designed to be highly absorbent, and can suck up water very quickly. In one of the tests, it gulped down over 3,000 litres of water in a minute.

The advantages of this concrete material are many. It can prevent surface water flooding, make walking or cycling safe post-rain by preventing puddles from forming, tackle flash flooding in urban areas, but also, reduce, in case of places like Delhi where reports of tar melting emerged this past summer, the heating of tarmac in hot weather.

Islamic Military Alliance to Fight Terrorism (IMAFT)

The Islamic Military Alliance to Fight Terrorism (IMAFT) is an intergovernmental military alliance of 39 muslim countries, united around military intervention against ISIL and other counter-terrorist activities. Recently, it is in news because General Raheel Sharif , the recently retired  Chief of Army Staff (CoAS) of Pakistan, has been appointed the new chief of IMAFT. The headquarters of the military alliance is at Riyadh, Saudi Arabia.

Chitwan National Park & Elephant Festival

The Chitwan National Park is the first national park in Nepal. It was established in 1973 and granted the status of a World Heritage Site in 1984. It is a rich natural area in the Terai, the subtropical southern part of Nepal, and covers an area of 932 km2. A total of 68 species of mammals, 544 species of birds, 56 species of herpetofauna and 126 species of fish have been recorded in the park. The park is especially renowned for its protection of One Horned Rhinoceros, Royal Bengal Tiger and Gharial Crocodile.

It was in news recently because the park hosted the 13th edition of Chitwan Elephant Festival from December 26-30, 2016 to promote tourism. The festival attracted about 20,000 domestic and foreign tourists. The 5-day event showcased elephant walk, elephant polo, elephant calf football, elephant beauty contest, elephant picnic and elephant painting.

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