1. MoUs approved by the Union Cabinet

The issue in news

The Cabinet has approved the signing of a few MoUs between India and other countries.

The following MoUs received Cabinet’s approval:

  • MoU between India and Spain to develop scientific and technical collaborations in astronomy.
  • MoU was signed between the Indian Institute of Astrophysics (IIA), Bengaluru and the Instituto de Astrofisica de Canarias (IAC) and the GRANTECAN, S.A. (GTC), Spain.
  • MoU between India and the United Kingdom (UK) on cooperation in the field of Telecommunication/ICTs.
  • MoU between India and the UK on cooperation in the field of medical product regulation.
  • MoU between India and Israel on cooperation in the field of health and medicine.


  1. Luhri Stage-I Hydro Power Project

The issue in news

Cabinet approves the investment proposal of the 210 MW Luhri Stage-I Hydro Power Project.

About the Project:

  • The Luhri Stage-I Hydro Electric Project, located on river Satluj, is situated in Shimla & Kullu districts of Himachal Pradesh.
  • This project will generate 758.20 million units of electricity annually.
  • This project is being implemented by Satluj Jal Vidyut Nigam Limited (SJVNL) on Build-Own- Operate-Maintain (BOOM) basis with active support from the Government of India and the HP State Government.
  • The Luhri Stage-I Hydro Electric Project shall be commissioned within a span of 62 months.
  • The power generated from the project will help in providing grid stability and will improve the power supply position.
  • Besides adding valuable renewable energy to the grid, the project would also lead to a reduction of 6.1 lakh tons of carbon dioxide from the environment annually, thus contributing to an improvement in air quality.
  • The construction activity will also generate employment for around 2000 people.
  • Further, Himachal Pradesh will benefit with free power worth around Rs. 1140 crore from the Luhri Stage-I Hydro Electric Project, during the Project Life Cycle of 40 years.
  • The Project Affected Families will be provided with 100 units of free electricity per month for ten years.


  1. PINAKA Rocket System

The issue in news

Enhanced version of PINAKA Rocket System successfully flight-tested.

Main points

  • Enhanced PINAKA rocket, developed by Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) has been successfully flight-tested from Integrated Test Range, Chandipur off the coast of Odisha.
  • The design and development have been carried out by Pune-based DRDO laboratories, namely Armament Research and Development Establishment, ARDE and High Energy Materials Research Laboratory, HEMRL.
  • A total of six rockets were launched in quick succession and the tests met complete mission objectives.
  • The enhanced version of the Pinaka rocket would replace the existing Pinaka Mk-I rockets which are currently under production.


  1. Declaration of the Private Sector on Climate Change

The issue in news

The ‘Declaration of the Private Sector on Climate Change’ is slated to be signed at the India CEO Forum on Climate Change.

Main points

  • The India CEO Forum on Climate Change is a high-level virtual event being organized under the Chairmanship of the Union Environment Minister.
  • Key industry leaders from the sectors of steel, cement, power, pharmaceuticals, etc. will deliver statements to reinforce their commitment to the cause of climate change and share their vision for climate action in the post-2020 period.
  • This is the first time the private sector is joining hands with the government in its fight against climate change.



  • India is a signatory to the Paris Agreement under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change.
  • As part of its Nationally Determined Contribution (NDC), India has three quantitative climate change goals:
  • Reduction in the emissions intensity of Gross Domestic Product (GDP) by 33 to 35 percent by 2030 from 2005 level.
  • Achieving about 40 percent cumulative electric power installed capacity from non-fossil fuel-based energy resources by 2030.
  • Creating an additional carbon sink of 2.5 to 3 billion tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent through additional forest and tree cover by 2030.
  • The private sector plays a pivotal role in creating low-carbon sustainable economies and has embarked on a number of voluntary actions on climate change that can contribute towards achieving India’s NDC goals.


  • The private sector also benefitted from India’s participation in the Clean Development Mechanism of the Kyoto Protocol.


  1. There initiatives of the Ministry of Housing & Urban Affairs

The issue in news

The Minister of State for Housing and Urban Affairs launched three initiatives. They are discussed below.

1) Nurturing Neighbourhoods Challenge:

  • It is a 3-year initiative the will support cities to develop, pilot, and scale solutions that enhance the quality of life of young children, their caregivers and families in the public realm.
  • The challenge is conducted with the support of the Bernard van Leer Foundation, Netherlands with technical support from WRI India.
  • Through the challenge, selected cities will receive technical assistance and capacity-building to:
  • Reimagine parks and open spaces
  • Improve access to early childhood facilities
  • Adapt public spaces with early childhood-oriented amenities
  • Create accessible, safe, walkable streets for young children and families
  • Cities covered under the challenge:
  • All smart cities
  • Cities with a population of more than 5 lakh
  • Capitals of states and UTs



2) Data Maturity Assessment Framework (DMAF):

  • It is a framework to evaluate the data ecosystems of cities.
  • This will support cities in the creation of a ‘culture of data’ under the DataSmart Cities initiative of the Smart Cities Mission.
  • The core objective of this framework is to enable cities to assess their own data maturity with respect to a standardized framework covering aspects of enabling policies, governance structures, data management, capacity building, and stakeholder engagement at the city level.
  • This is expected to play an enabling role in democratizing the data culture for open- innovation, collaboration, co-creation and academic research.
  • Currently, the programme is in its second cycle and the assessment for this cycle has been expanded to include cities other than Smart Cities.


3) CDO Training Programme:

  • It is an online training programme for City Date Officers (CDOs) of 100 smart cities.
  • The Ministry has partnered with Tata Trusts to launch a six-week guided e-learning course called ‘Enabling Data Driven Decision Making in Urban Local Bodies’.
  • Specially designed for CDOs appointed in the 100 Smart Cities, this practice-based digital course will expose CDOs to basic and advanced tools for data collection, analysis and visualization.
  • CDOs will also be enabled to understand the principles of effective data-driven governance and show how to create actionable data policy frameworks using a use-case approach to enable practical learning and application.


  1. Leishmania donovani

The issue in news

CSIR-CDRI scientist bestowed with “Prof. A N Bhaduri Memorial Lecture Award-2020” by the Society of Biological Chemists (India).

Main points

  • The scientist won the award for his work on defining the survival tactics of Leishmania donovani.

Leishmania donovani:

  • Leishmania donovani is a protozoan parasite that infects macrophages and is a causative agent of visceral leishmaniasis (Kala-Azar).
  • It infects the mononuclear phagocyte system including the spleen, liver and bone marrow.
  • donovani was independently discovered by two British medical officers William Boog Leishman in Netley, England, and Charles Donovan in Madras, India, in 1903.


About Kala-azar:

  • Kala-azar, also called, visceral leishmaniasis, is the most severe form of leishmaniasis and, without proper diagnosis and treatment, is associated with high fatality.
  • Leishmaniasis is a disease caused by protozoan parasites of the genus Leishmania.
  • It is transmitted through the bite of sand bites.
  • Leishmaniasis is a neglected tropical disease affecting almost 100 countries including India.
  • There are three main forms of leishmaniasis:
    • Visceral, which affects multiple organs and is the most serious form of the disease
    • Cutaneous, which causes skin sores and is the most common form
    • Mucocutaneous, which causes skin and mucosal lesion
  • The only drug available against leishmaniasis, miltefosine, is rapidly losing its effectiveness because of emerging resistance to this drug due to a decrease in its accumulation inside the parasite, which is necessary for the drug to kill the parasite.
  • Specific types of protein molecules, called transporter proteins, play a major role in carrying miltefosine into and out of the parasite’s body, which comprises a single cell.
  • A protein called ‘P4ATPase-CDC50’ is responsible for intake of the drug by the parasite, and another protein, called ‘P-glycoprotein’ is responsible for throwing this drug out from within the parasite’s body.
  • A decrease in the activity of the former protein, and an increase in the activity of the latter results in less amounts of miltefosine being accumulated inside the parasite’s body, thus causing it to become resistant to the drug.


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