Kerala Fibre Optical Network (KFON)

Syllabus: GS2/ Government policies & intervention

Why in News ?

Kerala Fibre Optical Network (KFON):

  • Officially launched by the Kerala government.
  • Aims to provide high-speed broadband connectivity across the state.

Kerala Fibre Optic Network (KFON) 

  • Infrastructure provider, 30,000 km optical fibre cable network.
  • Connects 375 Points-of-Presence in Kerala.
  • Provides free Internet to 20 lakh below-poverty-line families and connects 30,000 government institutions.
  • Collaboration with Kerala State Electricity Board and Kerala State Information Technology Infrastructure Ltd.
  • Controversy: Opposition leader accuses government of corruption in KFON implementation.

Kerala’s e-governance achievements:

  • First fully e-governed state in India.
  • Implements e-office system and digital literacy campaigns.
  • Declares access to the internet as a basic human right, following a United Nations resolution in 2016.

KFON infrastructure benefits:

  • Private service providers can utilize the network.
  • Reduces digital divide, provides broadband access to all households and government offices.
  • Supports e-governance and promotes a knowledge-based economy.
Digital Divide:

  • ·       Gap in access to and usage of information and communication technology.
  • ·       Exists between rural and urban areas, educated and uneducated, different economic classes, and globally between developed and developing nations.

Implications of Digital Divide

  • ·       Challenges in political empowerment and mobilization without internet access.
  • ·       Information poverty in rural areas.
  • ·       Economic disparities between those with and without technology.
  • ·       Impact on children’s learning and development.
  • ·       Overall impact on political, governance, social, economic, and educational aspects of society.

Government’s Initiative to bridge the Digital Divide

  • ·       Optical Fibre Network (NOF-N) for broadband connectivity to 200,000 gram panchayats.
  • ·       National Digital Literacy Mission and Digital Saksharta Abhiyan.
  • ·       E-pathshala for study materials for rural and urban students.
  • ·       Common Service Centres for digital reach in inaccessible areas.

State’s projects

Gyandoot Project: Government-to-citizen intranet service in Madhya Pradesh, connecting rural areas through information kiosks.

Sourkaryan & E-Seva: Online property tax payment and government project details in Visakhapatnam, and E-Seva Kendras for citizen-bureaucracy interactions in Hyderabad.


  India-U.S. Strategic Trade Dialogue (IUSSTD)

Syllabus: GS2/ International Relations

Why in News ?

  • India and the U.S. commit to harmonizing export controls for critical technologies.
    • Initiated during the India-U.S. Strategic Trade Dialogue (IUSSTD) inaugural meeting.
    • Aims to enhance bilateral trade and cooperation in the field of critical technologies.


  • IUSSTD aims to facilitate development and trade in critical technology domains like semiconductors, space, telecom, quantum, AI, defence, and biotech.
  • It supports the India-US initiative on Critical and Emerging Technologies (iCET).
  • A monitoring group will review progress in advancing the high-tech trade and technology partnership.

 Export control regime for critical technologies:

Wassenaar Arrangement:

  • Promotes transparency and responsibility in arms and dual-use goods and technology transfers.
  • Established in 1996 with 42 member states, including India.

Nuclear Suppliers Group:

  • Aims to prevent nuclear proliferation by controlling exports of nuclear-related materials and technology.
  • Founded in response to the Indian nuclear test in 1974.
  • Has 48 member states, but India is not a member.

Australia Group:

  • Ensures exports do not contribute to chemical or biological weapons development.
  • Established in 1985 with 43 members, including India.

Missile Technology Control Regime (MTCR):

  • Limits the proliferation of missiles and missile technology.
  • Formed in 1987 with 35 member states, including India.


   US-India Defence Relations

 Syllabus: GS2/ International Relation

Why in News ?

  • India and the US have agreed on a roadmap for defense industrial cooperation.
  • The roadmap aims to expedite technology collaborations and co-production of military platforms.
  • Focus areas include air combat and land systems.


  • India and the US finalized the cooperation framework during talks between Defense Minister Rajnath Singh and US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin.
  • Negotiations will begin on a security of supply arrangement and a reciprocal defense procurement agreement.
  • Discussions included technology sharing for fighter jet engines and India’s plan to procure armed drones.
  • The partnership aims to support a free, open, and rules-based Indo-Pacific region.
  • The establishment of INDUS-X, a technology cooperation initiative, was welcomed.

Overview of India-US defence relations

  • New Framework for India-U.S. Defence Relationship(2005): The New Framework for India-U.S. Defence Relationship, established in 2005, intensified defence trade, joint exercises, personnel exchanges, and collaboration in maritime security. It was renewed in 2015 for another 10 years.
  • Defense Technology and Trade Initiative (DTTI): Launched in 2012, focuses on bilateral defence trade, co-production, codevelopment, and science and technology cooperation between the U.S. and India.

Bilateral Exercises:

  • MALABAR exercise: Annual naval exercise between India and the US since 1992, with Japan joining in 2015 and Australia in 2020.
  • Yudh Abhyas: India-U.S. Army exercise initiated in 2002.
  • Cope India: Air exercise between the Indian Air Force and United States Air Force started in 2004.

Major Defence Partner: June 2016: U.S. designates India as a “Major Defence Partner.”

  • Commitment to technology sharing and industry collaboration for defence co-production and co-development at par with closest allies.
  • Enhances defence cooperation and strategic partnership between India and the U.S.

Foundational defence agreement: India has signed all the four foundational defence agreements with the US.

 General Security of Military Information Agreement (GSOMIA):

  • Signed in 2002.
  • Prescribes security standards for safeguarding shared military information between the US and India.
  • Applies to information shared by the Pentagon with India’s defense ministry and US defense firms with Indian defense public sector undertakings (DPSUs).

  Logistics Exchange Memorandum of Agreement (LEMOA):

  • Signed in 2016.
  • Allows US and Indian militaries to access and replenish supplies, spare parts, and services from each other’s facilities.
  • Reimbursement is required for the accessed resources.

Communications Compatibility and Security Agreement (COMCASA):

  • Signed in 2018.
  • Facilitates communication security equipment transfer from the US to India, promoting interoperability between their forces.
  • Enhances secure data links and potential interoperability with other militaries using US-origin systems.

Basic Exchange and Cooperation Agreement (BECA)

  • Signed in 2020.
  • Provides real-time access to American geospatial intelligence, improving the accuracy of automated systems and weapons.
  • Enables sharing of maps, satellite images, topographical and aeronautical data, aiding navigation, and targeting.

Significance of India-US defence relations

  • Defence cooperation counters China’s aggression in India’s neighborhood and the Indo-Pacific region.
  • Co-development and co-production of technologies strengthen the defence startup ecosystem in both countries.


Syllabus: GS 3/Science and Technology 

Why in News ?

  • Scientists accomplished a remarkable achievement by successfully using X-ray technology to identify an individual atom, a groundbreaking accomplishment.

About X-rays

  • X-rays are a type of electromagnetic radiation, discovered by Wilhelm Conrad Roentgen in 1895.
  • They can penetrate solid objects and produce detailed images, particularly useful for visualizing bones and internal structures.
  • X-rays have higher energy and shorter wavelengths than ultraviolet light, and their energy is commonly used to characterize them.

Latest Developments

    • X-rays can be used to determine the composition of materials.
    • Scientists enhanced an X-ray detector by adding a fine metal tip and used synchrotron X-ray scanning tunneling microscopy (SX-STM) to improve signal detection from individual atoms.
Side Notes

  • The electromagnetic spectrum includes various forms of electromagnetic radiation, such as visible light, radio waves, microwaves, infrared light, ultraviolet light, X-rays, and gamma rays.
  • Each type of radiation has different wavelengths and energy levels.


5th State Food Safety index (SFSI) 2022-23

Syllabus: GS2/ Health

Why in News ?

  • 5th World Food Safety Day
  • Union Health Minister Released 5th State Food Safety Index (SFSI)

State Food Safety Index (SFSI)

  •  Launched in 2018-19 by FSSAI
  • Objective: Foster healthy competition among states/UTs and catalyze positive change in food safety ecosystem nationwide.

 Methodology: The index evaluates the performance of states/UTs across six different aspects of food safety –

  • o   Human Resources and Institutional Data (Total – 18 %)
  • o   Compliance (Total – 28 %)
  • o   Food Testing Infrastructure (Total – 18 %)
  • o   Training And Capacity Building (Total – 8%)
  • o   Consumer Empowerment And FSSAI Initiatives ( Total- 18 %)
  • o   Improvement in Rank of States/UTs from State Food Safety 2021-2022 (10%)

  For the year 2022-23, following are the Toppers among the –

o   Larger States: Kerala followed by Punjab and Tamil Nadu.

o   Smaller States: Goa followed by Manipur and Sikkim.

o   UTs: J&K followed by Delhi and Chandigarh.

World Food Safety Day

  • June 7 is observed as World Food Safety Day to raise awareness about food safety standards.
  • WHO and FAO collaborate to promote this day.
  • The theme for 2023 is “Food standards save lives.”
  • The United Nations General Assembly adopted the 73/250 resolution to proclaim World Food Safety Day on December 20, 2018.
Codex Alimentarius Commission (CAC):

  • CAC is an intergovernmental food standards body established in 1963.
  • It is jointly set up by the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) and the World Health Organisation (WHO) to protect consumer health and ensure fair food trade practices.
  • It has 189 members, including 188 member countries and 1 member organization (The European Union).
  • India became a member in 1964, and Timor-Leste is the latest country to join in 2018.
  • The Commission meets annually in alternating sessions between Geneva and Rome.


Commission of Railway Safety (CRS)

Syllabus: GS2/ Government policies & intervention

In News

  • Investigation into the recent tragic train accident in Odisha is being conducted by the Commissioner of Railway Safety (CRS).

Commissioner of Railway Safety (CRS)

  • The Commission of Railway Safety (CRS) is the railway safety authority in India.
  • CRS is responsible for ensuring the safety of rail travel and operations.
  • Administrative Control: Ministry of Civil Aviation (MoCA).
    • The CRS does not report to the Ministry of Railways of the Railway Board. 
  • Headquarter (HQ):  Lucknow, Uttar Pradesh

Why is it under MoCA Control?

  • The separation of the Commission of Railway Safety (CRS) from the Railway Board is to prevent conflicts of interest.
  • It ensures the credibility of safety oversight and investigations by keeping CRS independent from the railway establishment.

Exercise Air Defender 23

Syllabus: GS3/ Defence, GS2/ IR

Why in News ?

  • Germany will host Exercise Air Defender 23, the largest air deployment exercise in NATO’s history.
  • The exercise aims to enhance air defense capabilities and cooperation among NATO member countries.


  • Exercise Air Defender 23 will involve 10,000 participants and 250 aircraft from 25 nations.
  • It will simulate a NATO member country facing an attack and showcase NATO’s readiness.
  • The exercise is a response to the heightened threat from Russia and involves Sweden and Japan.

North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO)

  • NATO is a military alliance formed in 1949 to provide collective defense against potential threats.
  • It consists of the United States, Canada, France, and eight other European countries.
  • NATO’s headquarters is located in Brussels, Belgium.
  • India is not a member of NATO.
  • Membership is open to European nations that meet specific criteria, and new members require unanimous consent from existing members.


Vision Pro: Apple’s First Spatial Computer

Syllabus: GS3/ Science & Technology

In News

  • Apple has introduced the Vision Pro, a mixed reality headset.
  • The headset enables “spatial computing” through the user’s eyes, voice, and hands.
  • It combines virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) technologies for an immersive user experience.


  • The Vision Pro is an AR headset that seamlessly merges the real and digital worlds.
  • It can transition between augmented reality and full virtual reality modes using a dial.
  • Apple refers to the device as a “Spatial Computer” for its advanced capabilities in spatial computing.

What is Spatial computing?

  • Spatial computing enables seamless interaction between machines or humans in a 3D world using AR, VR, and mixed reality.
  • Simon Greenwold defined spatial computing in 2003.
  • The scope of spatial computing has expanded with the rise of IoT, VR, and AR, digitizing processes and allowing hardware control over object functions and operations.

Scheme for “Exploration of Coal and Lignite”

Syllabus: GS 1/3/Natural Resources/Energy 

Why in News ?

  • The Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs (CCEA) approved the continuation of the “Exploration of Coal and Lignite” scheme with an estimated outlay of ₹2,980 crore.
  • The scheme will run from 2021-22 to 2025-26.

About Central Sector Scheme of “Exploration of Coal and Lignite scheme”

  • The scheme includes two stages: Promotional (Regional) Exploration and Detailed Exploration in Non-Coal India Limited blocks.
  • Exploration helps in estimating coal resources and preparing project reports for coal mining.
  • Geological reports from exploration are used for auctioning coal blocks, and costs are recovered from successful allocatees.


Additional Information


  • Coal is used for thermal power generation and iron ore smelting.
  • Indian coal deposits are primarily found in Gondwana and tertiary sedimentary rock sequences.


  •  Lignite is a low-grade brown coal with high moisture content.
  • Indian lignite deposits are mainly located in Tamil Nadu, Puducherry, Kerala, Gujarat, Rajasthan, and Jammu & Kashmir
  • Neyveli in Tamil Nadu has significant lignite reserves used for electricity generation.


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