Current Affairs - 17th January 2023

1 ) Asteria Aerospace’s A200-XT drone Receives DGCA Type Certification

Asteria Aerospace Limited, based in Bengaluru, Karnataka, has received the type certification for its indigenously designed and manufactured A200-XT drone from the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA).

Key points:

• With this, Asteria becomes the 1st company to have 2 DGCA-certified drones that can be offered to its customers for various applications like law enforcement, industrial security and infrastructure inspections and agriculture and land survey.
• A200 XT drone is a versatile drone with payloads that can be swapped between a high resolution, and high zoom day camera and night time thermal camera.
• Asteria’s A200 becomes India’s 1st Micro Category Drone with DGCA Type Certification and is empanelled with Survey of India for SVAMITVA Yojana.
• It is a cost-effective, micro-sized multirotor drone offering up to 40 minutes of flight time for agriculture and GIS survey applications

2 ) India to be covered by the Doppler Weather Radar Network by 2025: Union Minister Jitendra Singh

On the occasion of the 148th Foundation Day of the Indian Meteorological Department(IMD) (15th January 2022), Dr Jitendra Singh, Union Minister of State(MoS) for Earth Sciences stated that India will be covered by Doppler Weather Radar Network by 2025 to predict extreme weather events more accurately.

Key points:

• This will enhance weather monitoring capabilities and benefit the farmers and other stakeholders to contribute significantly to the economy.
• IMD has initiated pro-active steps to increase the Radar Network from 15 in 2013 to 37 in 2023 and will add 25 more in the next 2-3 years.
• With the advent of the latest technologies in IMD, the weather prediction accuracy has increased by about 20 to 40 % for different severe weather events forecast during the last 5 years.

3 ) 21st Edition of India France Naval Exercise VARUNA – 2023: 16th to 20th January 2023

21st Edition of India France Naval Exercise VARUNA – 2023, the bilateral naval exercise between the Indian Navy (IN) and French Navy commenced on the Western Seaboard. The 5-day exercise will be conducted from 16th to 20th January 2023. Varuna is considered a hallmark of the India – France strategic bilateral relationship.

Key points:

• During the exercise there will be advanced air defence exercises, tactical manoeuvres, surface firings, underway replenishment and other maritime operations.
• Both sides will showcase their war-fighting skills, enhance their inter-operability to undertake multidiscipline operations in the maritime domain and demonstrate their ability to promote peace, security and stability in the region.
• Initiated in 1993, it is a bilateral exercise between the navies of India and France. However it was christened as ‘VARUNA’ in 2001.
• This exercise provides an opportunity to learn from each other’s best practices, and foster mutual cooperation for good order at sea.

4 ) WDRA Signed MoU with SBI to Support Farmers

Warehousing Development Regulatory Authority (WDRA) has signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with the State Bank of India (SBI) to help farmers in availing low interest-rate loans.

Key points:

• The MoU was signed with the intent to promote awareness about the new loan product called ‘Produce Marketing Loan’ to fund against e- NWRs (electronic Negotiable Warehouse Receipt) with features such as nil processing fee, no additional collateral and attractive interest rates.
• Along with the inherent security and negotiability of the e-NWR system, the ‘Produce Marketing Loan’ will improve rural liquidity and increase farmers’ income.
• As per the statement of the Ministry of Food and Consumer Affairs, a conference on “Digital financing against e-Negotiable Warehouse Receipts and way forward” was held at NABARD (National Bank for Agriculture and Rural Development), Mumbai, Maharashtra.
• To interact with bankers to increase post-harvest pledge finance against e-NWRs issued by warehouses registered by WDRA and create mechanisms that would improve the ease of doing business.
• Loaning against e-NWRs during FY 2022-23 has crossed Rs 1,500 crore.

5 ) Siemens Mobility received Rs 26,000-crore locomotive order from Indian Railways

Siemens Mobility, managed by Siemens AG of Germany, has received a locomotive order worth 3 billion Euro (~Rs 26,000 crore) from Indian Railways, under the Ministry of Railways, Government of India, for 1,200 electric locomotives of 9,000 horsepower (HP). Under this contract, the delivery of locomotives is planned over an 11-year period and the contract also includes 35 years of full-service maintenance. This is the single largest locomotive order in the history of Siemens Mobility and the single largest order in the history of Siemens India.

Key points:

• The state-of-the-art locomotives will be used for freight transport throughout the Indian Railways network and are specified to haul loads of 4,500 tons at a maximum speed of 120 km per hour.
• The locomotives are equipped with advanced propulsion systems, produced locally in Siemens Mobility factories in India.
• Siemens Mobility will use the power of its Railigent platform to deliver the highest availability and performance.

6 ) Russia Is Fourth Biggest Source of Imports for India

• Russia has now become India’s fourthlargest trading partner, with imports from Russia increasing five-fold to USD 32.9 billion between April – December 2022.
• India’s higher imports from Russia are mostly due to two commodities: fertilizers and crude oil.
• Russia has improved from being India’s 20th largest source of imports in the previous fiscal year (FY22).
• If the current rate of growth continues, Russia’s imports might reach USD 50
billion, just short of the value of items exported from the United States (US), India’s third largest source of imports.
• The US and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) might end FY23 with exports to India totaling USD 56 billion and USD 54 billion, respectively, if their rates of growth continue through the last quarter of FY23.
• The exports to India from the two countries increased by almost 25% each during April -December 2022.

7 ) NTPC REL signs MoU with Government of Tripura for collaboration in Renewable Energy Development

NTPC Renewable Energy Ltd (NTPC REL), wholly owned subsidiary of the NTPC Limited(formerly known as National Thermal Power Corporation Limited) signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the Government of Tripura for the development of Floating and Ground Mounted based Renewable Energy Projects in Tripura.

Key points:

• It was signed by Rajiv Gupta, Chief General Manager, NTPC REL and Mahananda Debbarma, Director General (DG) and CEO, Tripura Renewable Energy Development Agency (TREDA) in New Delhi, Delhi.
• This MoU will initiate the development of large sized Renewable Energy Projects in the State of Tripura and also help the Government of Tripura in meeting its Clean Energy Commitments and obligations.

8 ) J&K declared as ‘Free Area’ for purposes of Prevention and Control of Infectious and Contagious Diseases in Animals Act, 2009

Government of Jammu and Kashmir(J&K) has declared the Whole Union Territory (UT) as “Free Area” for purposes of the Prevention and Control of Infectious and Contagious Diseases in Animals Act, 2009. The declaration has been made in the exercise of powers conferred by sub-section (5) of section 6 of the Prevention and Control of Infectious and Contagious Diseases in Animals (PCICDA) Act, 2009, and in supersession of notification dated 5th September 2022, after the government of J&K on being satisfied that no cases of lumpy skin disease (LSD) have been reported from any district of Union Territory of J&K.

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