Sri Vedanta Desikan
A postage stamp has been released to commemorate 750th birth anniversary of Sri Vedanta Desikan and his great philosopher’s life and highly valued work.
About Sri Vedanta Desikan:
Sri Vedanta Desikan (1268–1369) was a Sri Vaishnava guru/philosopher and one of the most brilliant stalwarts of Sri Vaishnavism in the post-Ramanuja period.
He was a poet, devotee, philosopher and master-teacher (desikan).
He was the disciple of Kidambi Appullar, also known as Aathreya Ramanujachariar, who himself was of a master-disciple lineage that began with Ramanuja.
He is considered to be avatar (incarnation) of the divine bell of Venkateswara of Tirumalai by the Vadakalai sect of Sri Vaishnavite.
Literary works: Sri Sthothra Nidhi, Sri Paduka Sahasram, Rahasya Granthams, Sri Desika Prabandham, Kavyams.
Honors: Sarvathanthra Swathanthrar, Kavitharkiga Simham, Vedanthachariar.
Waste to Wealth Technologies
To commemorate the 150th birth anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi, the Office of the Principal Scientific Adviser (PSA) to the Government of India and Indian Institute of Technology Delhi (IIT Delhi) signed a Memorandum of Understanding for setting up a Centre of Excellence for Waste to Wealth Technologies for implementation of sustainable, scientific and technological solutions for waste management, through validation and deployment of available technologies for transformation of waste to wealth.
The waste to wealth mission project has been approved under the recently constituted Prime Minister’s Science Technology and Innovation Advisory Council (PM-STIAC).
The partnership will provide an effective platform for stakeholders to bring together integrated approaches for effective recycle, reuse and resource recovery of waste.
The immediate objective is to implement technologies that are available with various national and international academias, industries, research laboratories and other agencies by way of setting up pilot projects on-site effectively and successfully, and demonstrating the proof of concept of the technology under Indian condition.
This will be carried out by creating a strong collaborating network between IIT Delhi, and other national and international stakeholders through the aegis of the office of the PSA.
The long-term goal is to create circular economic models for waste management, by leveraging big data analytics and frontier technologies to streamline waste in India.
The overall outcomes would involve treating waste and generating different forms of energy, thereby making India a waste free nation, with zero greenhouse gas emission and no health hazard.
Under the initiative, a waste to wealth programme management centre will also be set up at IIT Delhi.
The office of the PSA acts as a ‘think-tank’ and ‘action-tank’ for science, technology and innovation activities. The office plays a catalytic and synergistic role to strongly connect government ministry, academia and industry, to evolve relevant policies, make recommendations for the relevant scientific departments and ministries, and implement scientific interventions in various sectors of national priority.
Why convert waste to wealth?
Over 75% of the waste we generate is recyclable but we, in India, recycle just 30%. It is time for the nation to wake up and start taking waste management seriously because if this issue is ignored any further then by 2030 we will need a landfill as big as Bengaluru to dump all the waste.
According to the Central Pollution Control Board, less than 15% of the municipal solid waste generated is processed or treated.
There are various issues plaguing efficient waste management in India, ranging from lack of proper guidelines, planning on the part of authorities, poor waste collection, and treatment system to poor awareness among citizens about waste segregation.
About Prime Minister’s Science Technology and Innovation Advisory Council:
Chairperson: Principal Scientific Adviser to the Government of India.
The PM-STIAC is an overarching Council that facilitates the PSA’s Office to assess the status in specific science and technology domains, comprehend challenges in hand, formulate specific interventions, develop a futuristic roadmap and advise the Prime Minister accordingly.
PSA’s Office also oversees the implementation of such interventions by concerned S&T Departments and Agencies and other government Ministries.
India is planning to launch its latest radar imaging satellite RISAT 2BR1 towards the end of May 2019 on board PSLV-C46.
The RISAT, which was first deployed in orbit on April 20, 2009 as the RISAT-2, uses synthetic aperture radars (SAR) to provide Indian forces with all-weather surveillance and observation, which are crucial to notice any potential threat or malicious activity around the nation’s borders.
Following the 2008 Mumbai terror attacks, the launch of RISAT-2 was prioritised over RISAT- 1, as its C-band SAR radar was not yet ready and RISAT -2 carried an Israeli-built X-band radar.
The to-be-deployed RISAT-2BR1 satellite uses the same SAR band and will further improve India’s imaging reconnaissance abilities.
International Religious Freedom 2019 report
United States Commission has released its International Religious Freedom 2019 report.
US Commission on International Religious Freedom is a bipartisan, independent federal government commission, created by International Religious Freedom Act of 1998.
Significance of the report:
In its Annual Report, USCIRF unflinchingly describes threats to religious freedom around the world and recommends to the State Department countries for designation as “countries of particular concern” (CPCs) for engaging in or tolerating “systematic, ongoing, egregious violations.”
USCIRF also recommends to the State Department that non-state actors cited for similarly severe violations be designated as “entities of particular concern” (EPCs).
This year, USCIRF has recommended 16 countries for CPC designation and five entities for EPC designation.
Also, USCIRF placed 12 countries on its Tier 2 list, meaning the violations meet one or two, but not all three, of the elements of the systematic, ongoing, egregious test for CPC status.
The 16 countries USCIRF recommended for CPC designation include 10 that the State Department so designated in November 2018 – Burma, China, Eritrea, Iran, North Korea, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Sudan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan – as well as six others that the State Department has not designated – Central African Republic (CAR), Nigeria, Russia, Syria, Uzbekistan, and Vietnam.
The 12 countries on USCIRF’s Tier 2 list are Afghanistan, Azerbaijan, Bahrain, Cuba, Egypt, India, Indonesia, Iraq, Kazakhstan, Laos, Malaysia, and Turkey.
The five entities recommended for EPC designation include the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS), the Taliban in Afghanistan, al-Shabab in Somalia, and new to the list this year, the Houthis in Yemen and Hay’at Tahrir al-Sham (HTS) in Syria.
India- specific Key findings:
India saw an “overall deterioration of religious freedom conditions in 2018”.
India continues to remain a Tier II country. It is in same list since 2009. Tier II countries are those in which violations engaged in or tolerated by government are serious and characterized by at least one of the elements of systematic, ongoing, and egregious (horrible)’.
India is facing declining religious freedom, apart from increased securitisation and politicisation of religion.
It is increasingly becoming difficult to separate religion and politics. It is a tactic which is sometimes intended by those who seek to discriminate against certain religious communities.
Over the last decade Minorities conditions have deteriorated in country. The reason is attributed to extremist groups, anti-conversion laws, cow-protection groups, mob lynching, concerns that millions from Assam will be incorrectly left out of NRC (National Register of Citizen) and a denying international NGOs registration.
Source: The Hindu
Sino- Indian Bilateral border trade
The 14th edition of the annual Sino-Indian border trade recently opened at Nathu La. Every year bilateral border trade between two countries is organised four days a week for period of six months, between May 1 and November 30.
The three open trading border posts between India and China are:
‘Operation Swift Retort’
Pakistan to observe its retaliatory action against India on Feb 27 as ‘Operation Swift Retort’.
Tensions between India and Pakistan escalated after the February 14 attack by a Pakistan-based Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM) suicide bomber in Pulwama that killed 40 CRPF soldiers. Amid mounting outrage, the Indian Air Force (IAF) carried out a counter-terror operation, hitting what it said was a JeM training camp in Balakot, deep inside Pakistan on February 26.
The next day, the PAF retaliated and downed a MiG-21 in an aerial combat and captured IAF Wing Commander Abhinandan Varthaman, who was later released and handed over to India on March 1.