GS Paper I- History and Geography of the World and Society.

Manali Girl Aanchal Thakur Becomes First Indian To Win An International Medal In Skiing.

Background

  • 21-year-old Aanchal Thakur from Manali etched her name in history books after she won India’s first-ever international skiing medal.
  • Aanchal won bronze in the coveted Alpine Ejder 3200 Cup at the Palandoken Ski Centre in Erzurum in Turkey. The event was organised by the Federation Internationale de Ski (FIS), the international governing body for skiing. She won the medal in the slalom race category.
  • What makes Aanchal’s achievement so special is that there is no culture, or even infrastructure, for winter sports in the country and there is hardly any support from the Union Sports Ministry.

Highlights Of The Development-

  • Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who follows Aanchal on Twitter, took to the micro-blogging site to congratulate her.
  • Skiing runs in her blood but it has not been an easy ride for the the 21-year-old, who is a student of DAV College in Chandigarh.
  • Her father Roshan Thakur, who is the secretary at the Winter Games Federation of India (WGFI), always loved skiing and therefore it was natural for his children, Aanchal and Himanshu, to pick up the sport at an early age.
  • Aanchal said if it was not for the efforts of her father, there was no way she could have pursued skiing.
  • The fact that Winter Games Federation of India is not recognised by the Sports Ministry also doesn’t help their case.
  • Her father Roshan adds that existing skiing venues in India at Gulmarg and Auli are only world-class during competitions and are not looked after well otherwise.
  • With a historic medal in the bag, the next target for this wushu player-turned skier is the qualification mark for the Winter Olympics to be held in Pyeongchang in South Korea in February, 2018.
  • While her brother Himanshu is closer to the qualification mark, making the Winter Games cut this year seems difficult for Aanchal, but she has already set her sights on 2022.

Sources- The Quint.

GS Paper II- Governance.

K Sivan Appointed New ISRO Chairman.

Background

  • K Sivan, Director of the Vikram Sarabhai Space Centre, will be the new Chairman of the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO).
  • The Appointments Committee of the Cabinet on 10th January, 2018 approved Sivan’s appointment, who contributed immensely to the development of PSLV and GSLV rockets, as Department of Space Secretary and Chairman of Space Commission.
  • Sivan, who would replace current ISRO chief AS Kiran Kumar, will have a tenure of three years.
  • The brain behind India’s Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV) project, which he has been working on since 1982, Sivan is popularly known as ‘Rocket Man’ for his significant contribution in the development of cryogenic engines.

 

 

Highlights Of The Development-

  • An alumunus of the Madras Institute of Technology and the Indian Institute of Science, Bengaluru, Sivan designed SITAR, a software that ISRO uses to simulate the trajectories of the rockets and track them in real-time.
  • Even though the development of the PSLV rocket — that launched 104 satellites in a single mission setting a record in February last year (2017) —  may have catapulted ISRO to the world stage, many are unaware of Sivan’s efforts in mission planning, design, integration and analysis.
  • Besides contributing significantly to the PSLV project, Sivan was also involved in designing the Geosynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle (GSLV) and GSLV Mk-III vehicle.
  • He led the Reusable Launch Vehicle – Technology Demonstrator (RLV-TD) project, one of the most technologically challenging endeavors of ISRO towards developing essential technologies for a fully reusable launch vehicle, and was the brain behind its design qualification, aerodynamic characterisation and hardware development.
  • In 2014, he received Doctor of Science (Honoris Causa) from Sathyabama University, Chennai and Shri Hari Om Ashram Prerit Dr Vikram Sarabhai Research award in 1999. He was conferred upon with the prestigious Dr Biren Roy Space Science award in 2011.
  • He is being appointed at a time when ISRO plans to outsource building of satellites and launch vehicles to a consortium of Indian industries.
  • Also the Space Agency is all set to begin the new calender year with the launch of 31 satellites on January 12, 2018 in its PSLV C-40.

Sources- The Indian Express, The Hindu Business Line.

GS Paper III- Economic Development.

PM To Commence Barmer Refinery Project Next Week: Pradhan.

Background

  • Amid political slugfest over construction of a refinery at Barmer in Rajasthan, Oil Minister Dharmendra Pradhan on 9th January, 2018 said Prime Minister Narendra Modi will next week do “project commencement” work on the Rs. 43,129 crore project.
  • Ahead of the January 16 (2018) event at Pachpadra, ruling BJP and opposition Congress were slugging it out to get credit for the refinery. Congress says its then president Sonia Gandhi had laid foundation stone of the refinery on September 22, 2013 and Modi was “re-laying” the foundation stone.
  • He termed the 2013 foundation laying as “political stunt” as the function was held just days before the model code of conduct for assembly elections came into force on September 27, 2013.

Highlights Of The Development-

  • Pradhan said that the 9 million tonnes a year refinery would now produce BS-VI or Euro-VI grade petrol and diesel in place of the earlier proposed BS-III compliant fuel.
  • Rajasthan will see by-polls in Alwar and Ajmer Lok Sabha, and Mandalgarh Assembly seats on January 29, 2018. The state goes to polls later this year.
  • Environmental clearance to the project was not obtained and no physical activities on the ground was initiated in 2013.
  • Pradhan said after NDA Government came at the Centre, genuine and earnest efforts and project financials were re- negotiated on “better and advantageous terms“.
  • As per the agreement, Hindustan Petroleum Corporation Ltd (HPCL) will have a 74 per cent stake in the project, while the state government will hold a 26 per cent interest.
  • The project will be completed by 2022-23, he said.
  • Instead of giving tax benefits, the state government will give Rs. 1,123 crore per annum for 15 years as interest free loan. This has resulted in reducing the financial burden on the state government from Rs. 56,040 crore to Rs. 16,845 crore.
  • Pradhan said it was decided to start physical activities at the project site before the formal ground breaking ceremony so as not to repeat the mistake committed by the then state government of launching the project only on paper.
  • For this, all the statutory clearances/approvals for commencement of work were obtained expeditiously. These included environmental clearance and execution of lease deed of the allotted land of 4,567.32 acre for the refinery.

Sources- The Hindu Business Line.