Facts Corner-Part-123

Atal Ranking of Institutions on Innovation Achievements (ARIIA) 

  • Recently the Centre announced another annual ranking of higher educational institutions, based on how they fare in terms of innovation.
  • The new ranking – named Atal Ranking of Institutions on Innovation Achievements (ARIIA) – will be formally launched on October 15, the birth anniversary of former President APJ Abdul Kalam.
  1. Ministry of HRD announced the new ranking, which will work parallel to the overall ranking of institutions captured by the annual National Institutional Ranking Framework.
  2. ARIIA – named after Atal Bihari Vajpayee – will focus on:
  • budget expenses and revenues generated;
  • facilitating access to advance centres;
  • ideas of entrepreneurship;
  • innovation ecosystems supported through teaching and learning and
  • innovative solutions to improve governance of the institution.
  1. There is a slight distinction between research which is crucial in the NIRF framework – and innovation: research produces new knowledge while innovation puts that knowledge to use.

Nilgiri tahr

  • As per IUCN Conservation Status it is enlisted under Endangered category.
  • The Nilgiri tahr (Nilgiritragus hylocrius) aka the Nilgiri ibex or simply ibex.
  • It is endemic to the Nilgiri Hills and the southern portion of the Western Ghats in the states of Tamil Nadu and Kerala in Southern India.
  • It is the state animal of Tamil Nadu.
  • The Nilgiri tahr inhabits the open montane grassland habitat of the South Western Ghats montane rain forests eco-region.
  • At elevations from 1,200 to 2,600 metres (3,900 to 8,500 ft), the forests open into grasslands interspersed with pockets of stunted forests, locally known as sholas.
  • Eravikulam National Park is home to the largest population of this Tahr.
  • Recently census has revealed that the population of the Nilgiri tahr (an endangered mountain goat) at the Mukurthi National Park has grown by an impressive 18% in the last two years. 
  • Mukurthi National Park is a protected area located in the western corner of the Nilgiris Plateau west of Ootacamund hill station in the northwest corner of Tamil Nadu state in the Western Ghats mountain range of South India.

India Post Payments Bank

  • Recently the Prime Minister will launch the India Post Payments Bank (IPPB) at Talkatora Stadium in New Delhi on September 1st, 2018.
  • It has been conceptualized by the Reserve Bank of India (RBI).
  • These banks can accept a restricted deposit (which is currently limited to ₹1 lakh per customer)
  • These banks cannot issue loans and credit cards.
  • Both current account and savings accounts can be operated by such banks.
  • Payments banks can issue services like ATM cards, debit cards, net-banking and mobile-banking.
  • IPPB will offer a range of products such as savings and current accounts, money transfer, direct benefit transfers, bill and utility payments, and enterprise and merchant payments. These products, and related services, will be offered across multiple channels (counter services, micro-ATM, mobile banking app, SMS and IVR), using the bank’s state-of-the-art technology platform.

National Scheduled Caste and Scheduled Tribe Hub (National SC-ST Hub)

  • The National SC/ST Hub is an initiative of the Government of India targeted towards developing a supportive ecosystem towards SC/ST entrepreneurs.
  • Under the Ministry of Micro, Small and Medium Enterprise(MSME).
  • The Hub operates out of the National Small Industries Corporation (NSIC) headquartered in Delhi, supported by a special cell created for this purpose.

Project Navlekha

  • Google has launched Project Navlekha to expand the reach of Indian content.
  • The project would allow Indian vernacular news publishers to get their content online.
  • Currently, the project has publishers from Delhi and its reach would soon be expanded across India.
  • It helps to make offline content easily and fully editable and publish online without expert digital knowledge.
  • Navlekha aims to bring 135,000 local language publishers online.


  • Vostok 2018 is a large-scale upcoming Russian military exercise.
  • To be held from 11 to 15 September 2018.
  • The exercise will have more than 300,000 troops, 36,000 tanks, armoured personnel carriers, armoured infantry vehicles, over 1,000 military aircraft, two naval fleets participating.
  • It will be held throughout Siberia and the country’s the Far East.
  • The exercise will involve units from the Army, Air Force and Navy.
  • The exercise will be the largest to be held in Russia since “Zapad-81” held by the Soviet Union in 1981.
  • China and Mongolia are planning to participate in Vostok 2018.

Law Commission of India:

  • Law Commission of India is neither a constitutional body nor a statutory body.
  • It is truly an ad hoc and advisory body whose work is to do research and make recommendations for law reforms.
  • None of these recommendations is binding upon the Government.
  • Retired judge of Supreme Court heads India’s Law Commission. 
  • The First Law Commission was established in 1834 by the British Government under the Chairmanship of Lord Macaulay.

Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP)

  • RCEP is a mega trade pact, which proposes free trade agreement between 10 ASEAN and 6 FTA partners.
  • It aims to cover goods, services, investments, economic and technical cooperation, competition and intellectual property rights.
  • RCEP is the world’s largest economic bloc, covering nearly half of the global economy.
  • RCEP negotiations were formally launched in November 2012 at the ASEAN Summit in Cambodia.
  • The bloc comprises 10 ASEAN members, Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Malaysia, Myanmar, Singapore, Thailand, the Philippines, Laos and Vietnam and their six FTA partners India, China, Japan, South Korea, Australia and New Zealand.


  • In simple terms, AFSPA gives armed forces the power to maintain public order in “disturbed areas”.
  • They have the authority to prohibit a gathering of five or more persons in an area, can use force or even open fire after giving due warning if they feel a person is in contravention of the law.
  • If reasonable suspicion exists, the army can also arrest a person without a warrant; enter or search a premise without a warrant; and ban the possession of firearms.
  • An area can be disturbed due to differences or disputes between members of different religious, racial, language or regional groups or castes or communities.
  • The Central Government or the Governor of the State or administrator of the Union Territory can declare the whole or part of the State or Union Territory as a disturbed area.
  • The Ministry of Home Affairs would usually enforce this Act where necessary, but there have been exceptions where the Centre decided to forego its power and leave the decision to the State governments.
  • The Act came into force in the context of increasing violence in the Northeastern States decades ago, which the State governments found difficult to control.
  • The Armed Forces (Special Powers) Bill was passed and it became known as the Armed Forces Special Powers Act, 1958.
  • It is effective in the whole of Nagaland, Assam, Manipur (excluding seven assembly constituencies of Imphal) and parts of Arunachal Pradesh.
  • At present, May 2018, AFSPA is confined to the following 4 states:
    1. Jammu & Kashmir.
    2. Assam.
    3. Nagaland.
    4. Manipur (except Imphal Municipal Area)

Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV)

  • Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV) is the third generation launch vehicle of India.
  • It is the first Indian launch vehicle to be equipped with liquid stages.
  • It is an expendable launch system developed and operated by the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO).
  • It is a Medium-lift launch vehicle.
  • PSLV can also launch small size satellites into geostationary transfer orbit (GTO).
  • Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle was developed to launch Low Earth Orbit satellites into Polar and Sun Synchronous Orbits.
  • After its first successful launch in October 1994, PSLV emerged as the reliable and versatile workhorse launch vehicle of India.

Smart India Hackathon- 2019

  • The third edition of World’s Biggest Open Innovation Model – Smart India Hackathon 2019 was launched in New Delhi.
  • Ministry of Human Resources and Development, All India Council for Technical Education( AICTE), Persistent Systems and i4c have joined hands to make a hat trick with their highly popular and innovative Smart India Hackathon initiative (SIH).
  • Smart Hackathon is a national competition for students to develop digital solutions for real-life problems.
  • Smart India Hackathon, a unique initiative to identify new and disruptive digital technology innovations for solving the challenges faced by our country. 
  • The Smart India Hackathon was Launched on October 16, 2017, in Pune.


  • Recently the Health Ministry has instructed all the States that e-cigarettes and other Electronic Nicotine Delivery Systems (ENDS) should not be sold under their jurisdiction.
  • ENDS are noncombustible tobacco products.
  • These products use a liquid “e-liquid” that may contain nicotine, as well as varying compositions of flavourings, propylene glycol, vegetable glycerin, and other ingredients.
  • The liquid is heated into an aerosol that the user inhales.
  • ENDS may be manufactured to look like conventional cigarettes, cigars, or pipes.
  • Some resemble pens or other everyday items.
  • Larger devices, such as tank systems or mods, bear little or no resemblance to cigarettes.
  • Vapes, vaporizers, vape pens, hookah pens, electronic cigarettes (e-cigarettes or e-cigs), and e-pipes are some of the many terms used to describe electronic nicotine delivery systems (ENDS).

Non-Attainment Cities

  • Non-attainment cities are those cities marked by Central Pollution Control Board that have fallen short of the National Ambient Air Quality Standards (NAAQS) for PM 10 and NO over 5 years.
  • There are 94 non-attainment cities in the country.
  • These cities were asked as part of the National Clean Air Campaign (NCAP) to implement measures aimed at mitigating air pollution.
  • The measures include control and mitigation measures related to vehicular emissions, re-suspension of road dust and other fugitive emissions, bio-mass, municipal solid waste burning, industrial pollution, and construction and demolition activities.
  • The aim of pollution mitigation measures was to cut overall pollution in these cities by 35% in the next three years.

Spitzer telescope

  • The Spitzer Space Telescope (SST), formerly the Space Infrared Telescope Facility (SIRTF), is an infrared space telescope.
  • Launched into a solar orbit in 2003, and still operating as of 2018.
  • It is the fourth and final of the NASA Great Observatories program.
  • The planned mission period was to be 2.5 years with a pre-launch expectation that the mission could extend to five or slightly more years until the onboard liquid helium supply was exhausted
  • Spitzer has illuminated some of the oldest galaxies in the universe, revealed a new ring around Saturn, and peered through shrouds of dust to study newborn stars and black holes.
  • It assisted in the discovery of planets beyond our solar system, including the detection of seven Earth-size planets orbiting the star.

Enhancing Innovation for Clean Energy Transition

  • Recently Ministry of Science and Technology and the International Energy Agency (IEA) has recently signed a MoU on Enhancing Innovation for Clean Energy Transition.
  • It seeks to deepen co-operation in support of clean energy innovations to accelerate the R&D of clean energy technologies in India.
  • The agreement will be coordinated by Mission Innovation India Unit set up by Department of Biotechnology.
  • IEA is a Paris-based autonomous intergovernmental organization established in the framework ofthe Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD).
  • Only OECD member states can become members of the IEA.
  • Brazil, China, India, Indonesia, Morocco, Singapore and Thailand are the associate members of IEA.
  • The IEA acts as a policy adviser to its member states, but also works with non-member countries,especially China, India, and Russia.
  • Its flagship releases are World Energy Outlook and Key World Energy Statistics.

North American Free Trade Agreement

  • The North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) is an agreement signed by Canada, Mexico, and the United States, creating a trilateral trade bloc in North America.
  • The agreement came into force on January 1, 1994.
  • It superseded the Canada–United States Free Trade Agreement between the U.S. and Canada.
  • NAFTA has two supplements:
    1. The North American Agreement on Environmental Cooperation (NAAEC)
    2. The North American Agreement on Labor Cooperation (NAALC).

‘Horizon 2020’

  • The European Union and India will collaborate in research and innovation for developing a next generation influenza vaccine to protect people worldwide. The EU is funding is under its programme for research and innovation ‘Horizon 2020’.
  • The aim is to advance the efficacy, safety, duration of immunity, and reactivity against an increased breadth of influenza strains. The joint effort also aims to develop cost-effective and affordable influenza vaccine rapidly without compromising quality.
  • Horizon 2020 is the biggest EU Research and Innovation programme ever with nearly €80 billion of funding available over 7 years (2014 to 2020) – in addition to the private investment that this money will attract. It promises more breakthroughs, discoveries and world-firsts by taking great ideas from the lab to the market.
  • The goal is to ensure Europe produces world-class science, removes barriers to innovation and makes it easier for the public and private sectors to work together in delivering innovation.
  • Horizon 2020 is open to everyone, with a simple structure that reduces red tape and time so participants can focus on what is really important.

Corbett tiger reserve:

  • Corbett National Park is situated in the foothills of the Sub- Himalayan belt in Nainital districts of Uttarakhand state in India.
  • Established in the year 1936 as Hailey National Park, Corbett has the glory of being India’s oldest and most prestigious National Park. It is also being honored as the place where Project Tiger was first launched in 1973. This unique tiger territory is best known as the father who gave birth of the Project Tiger in India to protect the most endangered species and the Royal of India called Tigers.
  • Corbett National Park covers an area of 521 sq. km and together with the neighboring Sonanadi Wildlife Sanctuary and Reserve Forest areas, forms the Corbett Tiger Reserve.
  • Corbett is one of the richest bird regions of the Country and has been declared as an ‘Important Bird Area’ (IBA) by Birdlife International.

AARC Agri Cooperative Business Forum

  • The First South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) Agri Cooperative Business Forum began in Kathmandu.
  • The theme of three-day Forum is the ‘Organizing and Strengthening Family Farmers’ Cooperatives to attain the Sustainable-Development-Goals-1 and 2 in South Asia’. 
  • It is being co-organized by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations and Asian Farmers’ Association with the support from the International Fund for Agricultural Development.

The Varadero reef:

  • The Varadero reef, located in Cartagena Bay, has survived against the odds to thrive in a highly polluted environment.
  • The Caribbean Sea bay, a major waterway for shipping vessels and cruise ships, is contaminated by industrial and sewage waste.
  • According to marine biologists, the reef should not be alive, and yet it has flourished, providing a home to a large number of coral, fish and urchin species.
  • Current plans to dredge part of Varadero … could hinder researchers’ ability to gain insight into the factors that have allowed corals to thrive under such unusual conditions.
  • With further study, scientists hope the enigmatic reef could provide clues to recovering the world’s bleached and dying corals.

3D Graphene

  • A new 3D-printed graphene, with better mechanical properties and finer features, is here to be the game changer. Created using graphene oxide hydrogel trapped inside acrylate polymer, the lightweight graphene aerogel can be used to make batteries, sensors and even in the aerospace industry.

Hauling herpesvirus

  • How herpesvirus escapes our body’s defense mechanisms has puzzled scientists for a long time. Now a study has reported two proteins that help the viral DNA replicate inside the human cell and spread the infection. When the immune system tries to block the viral DNA it releases the proteins PP71 and IE1, which helps it survive. These findings can help device new therapeutic targets against herpesviruses like cytomegalovirus and Epstein-Barr virus.

 Jupiter’s Great Red Spot:

  • NASA scientists peering deep inside Jupiter’s Great Red Spot — a storm that has been raging on the planet for over 350 years — have detected signs of water above the planet’s deepest clouds.
  • The pressure of the water combined with their measurements of another oxygen-bearing gas, carbon monoxide, imply that Jupiter has two to nine times more oxygen than the Sun, researchers said. 
  • The Great Red Spot is full of dense clouds, which makes it hard for electromagnetic energy to escape and teach astronomers anything about the chemistry within. “It turns out they’re not so thick that they block our ability to see deeply,” said Gordon L Bjoraker, an astrophysicist at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center.
  • The data collected will supplement the information NASA’s Juno spacecraft is gathering as it circles the planet from north to south once every 53 days. Among other things, Juno is looking for water with its own infrared spectrometer and with a microwave radiometer that can probe deeper than anyone has seen — to 100 bars, or 100 times the atmospheric pressure at Earth’s surface.
  • Jupiter is thought to be the first planet to have formed by siphoning the elements left over from the formation of the Sun as our star coalesced from an amorphous nebula into the fiery ball of gases we see today. 


  • NASA is set to launch the most advanced laser instrument of its kind in to the space next month, to measure the changes in the heights of Earth’s polar ice in unprecedented detail.
  • The Ice, Cloud and land Elevation Satellite-2 (ICESat-2) will measure the average annual elevation change of land ice covering Greenland and Antarctica to within the width of a pencil, capturing 60,000 measurements every second.
  • The new observational technologies of ICESat-2 — a top recommendation of the scientific community in NASA’s first Earth science decadal survey — will advance our knowledge of how the ice sheets of Greenland and Antarctica contribute to sea level rise.
  • ICESat-2 — which is scheduled to be launched on September 12 — represents a major technological leap in our ability to measure changes in ice height. Its Advanced Topographic Laser Altimeter System (ATLAS) measures height by timing how long it takes individual light photons to travel from the spacecraft to Earth and back.
  • ICESat-2 will provide measurements of unprecedented precision with global coverage, it will yield not only new insight into the polar regions, but also unanticipated findings across the globe.

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