1. INDIA’S FIRST PRIVATE MISSILE PRODUCTION FACILITY UNVEILED
- India’s first private sector missile sub-systems manufacturing facility, a joint venture between the Kalyani Group and Israel’s Rafael Advanced Defence Systems Ltd., was inaugurated near Hyderabad on Thursday.
- To begin with, the Kalyani Rafael Advanced Systems (KRAS) plant will make anti-tank guided missile (ATGM) Spike.
- Formed in line with the ‘Make in India’ initiative of the Centre and the policy to encourage private sector participation in defence production, the 51:49 joint venture will develop a wide range of advanced capabilities.
- These include command control and guidance, electro-optics, remote weapon systems, precision guided munitions and system engineering for system integration.
- The plant would employ more than 300 engineers and provide indirect employment to 1,000 people.
SPIKE MR MISSILE
- The Spike MR is a 3rd generation portable multi-purpose electro-optical missile weapon system.
- The launcher weight is 12 kg and the round weight is 13.7 kg.
- The guidance unit is a dual electro-optical seeker.
- The ‘fire and forget’ missile can be deployed from a tripod, vehicles, helicopters and marine vessels.
- The choice for India was between the American ‘Javelin’ and Israel’s ‘Spike’. What perhaps went in favour of Spike was Israel was willing to transfer technology and manufacture the missiles in India.
- The ‘Made in India’ missiles would also be exported.
- The anti-tank missile system is one of the most advanced in the world.
- It can engage targets at distances ranging from 200 metres to 2,500 metres.
- It is easy for any operator to easily and accurately engage a target.
ANTI – TANK MISSILES OF INDIA
- It is a third generation “fire-and-forget” anti-tank missile developed in India.
- It is one of five missile systems developed by the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) under the Integrated Guided Missile Development Program (IGMDP).
- In addition to basic land and helicopter variants the DRDO is now developing number of advanced variants of the Nag missile:
- HeliNa, (Helicopter-launched Nag) with a range of 7–8 km, launched from twin-tube stub wing-mounted launchers on board the armed HAL Dhruv and HAL Light Combat Helicopter.
- Land based Nag will also have its range extended by development of a mast-mounted missile launcher that will be hydraulically raised out to a height of five metres to enable the Nag missile to acquire its targets out to a distance of 7–8 km.
- Air-launched version of Nag missile with 10 km-range launched from tactical interdiction aircraft like the upgraded Jaguar IS. It will use a nose-mounted millimetric-wave active radar seeker.
- NAMICA (Nag Missile Carrier) is a tank destroyer built for the army. It is equipped with a thermal imager for target acquisition. NAMICA is a modified BMP-2 IFV produced as “Sarath” in India. The carrier weights 14.5 tonnes in full combat load and is capable of moving 7 km/h in water. The carriers are capable of carrying 12 missiles with 8 in ready-to-fire mode.
- Amogha-1, is a second generation, Anti-Tank Guided Missile which has pin point accuracy for a range up to 2.8 km.
It is under development by Bharat Dynamics at Hyderabad.
2. SERVICES PMI DROPS TO LOWEST SINCE SEPT. 2013
- Service sector activity in July slowed to its lowest level since September 2013, due in large part to the implementation of the Goods and Services Tax, according to a private sector survey.
- The Nikkei India Services Purchasing Managers’ Index registered a reading of 45.9 in July, falling from the eight-month high of 53.1 seen in June.
- A reading over 50 indicates expansion and one below 50 implies a contraction in activity.
- The slowdown in services activity coincides with a similar sharp slowdown in manufacturing activity in July, with the Manufacturing PMI registering a reading of 47.9, the lowest it has been since February 2009.
- Services firms surveyed said that the introduction of the GST had caused a contraction in new work, leading to lower activity. This drop in new business inflows resulted in a fall in output, the first such case since January, and the most pronounced in almost four years, the report added.
3. ‘MAKE IN INDIA’ YET TO SPUR MANUFACTURING , SAYS PANEL
- The Parliament’s Standing Committee on Commerce has questioned the country’s low manufacturing growth despite initiatives such as Make In India, Startup India and FDI reforms that are now more than two years old.
- The committee, led by BJP MP Bhupender Yadav, had expressed concerns about manufacturing growth averaging just 1.6% in the five years till 2015-16 and a 0.5% contraction in the sector in the first 9 months of FY17, in a report tabled in Parliament this March.
- In an action taken report tabled in Parliament on Wednesday, the department of industrial policy and promotion (DIPP), under the ministry of commerce and industry, has listed out the several measures taken by the government to promote manufacturing and ease the business environment.
- While expressing appreciation for the measures enumerated by the government, the Committee stressed: “However, it will serve better to remember that most of these initiatives are now more than two years old and the manufacturing growth has not yet gone to the desired level.”
- Urging the department to take effective steps to implement initiatives such as Make in India in a ‘more robust manner’, the committee has said all obstacles to the ‘optimal implementation’ of such programs must be removed in a time-bound manner.
4. THE NOTA PRINCIPLE
- Should NOTA (none of the above) be an option in a State Assembly vote for the Rajya Sabha, as it is for the electorate in direct elections?
- Following the Gujarat Assembly secretary’s statement that the “NOTA” option will be available on the ballot paper in the Rajya Sabha election next week, both the Congress and the Bharatiya Janata Party have sought to convince the Supreme Court and the Election Commission that MLAs should not have this option.
- The Supreme Court refused to stay the process to allow NOTA, saying that the provision has been in place since April 2014 after a direction by the EC.
- It is important to note that open ballots are used in the Rajya Sabha elections. These elections follow a proportional representation system based on the single transferable vote, unlike the general elections to the Lok Sabha, which are conducted with secret ballots (or votes) and based on the first-past-the-post principle.
IDEA BEHIND USE OF NOTA
- The idea behind the use of NOTA is to allow the voter to register a “protest” vote if none of the candidates is acceptable to her for whatever reason.
- While NOTA votes are tallied, the candidate with the highest number of votes polled is declared elected irrespective of the NOTA total.
- In the case of the Rajya Sabha elections, the vote allows for the preferential ordering of candidates.
- If an MLA chooses NOTA, the vote is rendered ineffective.
- In principle, the presence of the NOTA option for the legislator allows the possibility of a protest vote against the party high command for choosing candidates who are not agreeable to her, without having to choose candidates from opposing parties.
- The principle of a protest vote remains the same even if these are indirect elections.
- The party high command can issue a whip for a Rajya Sabha candidate, but anti-defection law provisions do not apply, and a defiant MLA is not disqualified from membership of the House.
- The Supreme Court has in the past held that open ballot votes in Rajya Sabha elections against the whip will not lead to disqualification as the Tenth Schedule, pertaining to anti-defection provisions, has a different purpose.
5. COMERCIAL FISH IN CHILIKA FACE THREAT OF DEPLETION
- With the migration of a variety of fish from the sea to Chilika lake adversely affected by the rampant use of small and zero mesh size nets, and overfishing further damaging fish breeding, at least five commercially important fish species in the lake face the threat of depletion.
- The Central Inland Fisheries Research Institute (CIFRI), Barrackpore, has identified five fish species – Khainga (Mugil cephalus), Dangala (Liza macrolepis), Boraga (Dayscaena albida), Sahala (eleutheromema tetradactylum) and Kundala (Etroplus suratenis), which find adverse ecosystems to grow.
- The SSB (spawning stock biomass) decline in the case of Khainga is 82.64%, Sahala (89.73%), Dangala (87.1%), Boraga (80.9%) and Kundala (80%).
- Disappearance of commercially-valued fish species has hampered the livelihood of traditional fishing communities that live in and around Chilika, which is one of the fish-rich lagoons of the country.
REASONS FOR DECLINE
- There is rampant use of small and zero mesh size nets in the lake to catch all size groups of fish and shell fish species.
- This causes serious biodiversity loss besides destruction of larval and juvenile stages of a number of commercial fish species.
- Fishery of the lake depends to a large extent on species migrating into the lagoon through the sea mouth.
- Dense deployment of destructive nets blocks free movement of larvae, juveniles and adults.
- Destructive fishing practice especially fish enclosure (ghery) for aquaculture is the biggest obstruction for migration of fish between the sea and the lake.
6. CENTRE MULLS CHANGING MINIMUM WAGES FORMULA
- The Central government is mulling a revision in the formula to calculate minimum wages that may increase income levels of workers across the country.
- The laid down norms to fix the minimum wages is not commensurate for the present day workers.
- The norms for fixing minimum wages today are based on recommendations of the Indian Labour Conference in 1957.
- Under it, the minimum wage level for industries is fixed based on spending estimates for a working class family on 2,700 calories of food per person, 72 yards clothes, minimum housing rent and education and light and fuel.
- A standard working class family consists of three consumption units for one earner with earnings of women, children and adolescents being disregarded.
7. U.S. VIOLATING NUCLEAR DEAL : IRAN
- Iran said on Thursday that new U.S. sanctions were a violation of its nuclear deal with world powers, piling pressure on President Hassan Rouhani as he starts his second term.
- Mr. Rouhani vowed to keep up his efforts to end Iran’s isolation as he was sworn in by the Islamic Republic’s supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei following his re-election in May.
- “We believe that the nuclear deal has been violated and we will react appropriately,” Deputy Foreign Minister Abbas Araghchi said. “We will certainly not fall into the trap of U.S. policy and Trump, and our reaction will be very carefully considered.”
8. JHAJHARIA , SARDAR NAMED FOR KHEL RATNA
- Former India captain Sardar Singh followed in the footsteps of legendary Dhanraj Pillay to become only the second hockey player to be recommended for the Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna award even as javelin thrower Devendra Jhajharia created history of his own, becoming the first paralympian to be considered for the honour by the selection committee here on Thursday.
- Jhajharia was the first choice for the committee while Sardar was picked as its second recommendation after the members decided his achievements merited selection.
- The 36-year old Padma Shri awardee Devendra Jhajharia won gold at the 2013 World Championships before setting a new record on way to glory at the Rio Games in the F46 category.
9. GOA’S STATE TREE – COCONUT
- More than a year after de-classifying the coconut palm as a tree, the coalition cabinet in Goa on Wednesday passed an amendment to include the coconut palm in the tree list and declared it as a “State Tree”.
- The State government has decided to include coconut palm as a tree in the Goa, Daman and Diu Preservation of Trees Act, 1984, to regulate felling of coconut trees under the act.