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March 11, 2019
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March 13, 2019
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12 March Current Affairs

National Knowledge Network

In News:

India has decided to extend its National Knowledge Network to Bangladesh.

About NKK:

NKN is a multi-gigabit pan-India network which facilitates the development of India’s communications infrastructure, stimulates research and creates next generation applications and services.

Aim: With its multi-gigabit capability, NKN aims to connect all universities, research institutions, libraries, laboratories, healthcare and agricultural institutions across the country to address such paradigm shift.

It enables collaboration among researchers from different educational networks such as TEIN4, GARUDA, CERN and Internet2. It also enables sharing of scientific databases and remote access to advanced research facilities. The leading mission oriented agencies in the fields of nuclear, space and defence research are also part of NKN.

Role of NKN:

Establishing a high-speed backbone connectivity which will enable knowledge and information sharing amongst NKN connected institutes.

Enabling collaborative research, development and innovation amongst NKN connected institutes.

Facilitating advanced distance education in specialized fields like engineering, science, medicine etc.

Facilitating an ultra-high speed e-governance backbone.

Facilitating connection between different sectoral networks in the field of research

Home Min allows States to use 9,400 enemy properties

In News:

The Centre has allowed State Governments to take some enemy properties for public use. The guidelines for disposal of the Enemy Property Order, 2018 have been amended to facilitate “usages of enemy property by the State Government exclusively for public use”.


When wars broke out between India and China in 1962, and India and Pakistan in 1965 and 1971, the central government took over properties of citizens of China and Pakistan in India under the Defence of India Acts. These Acts defined an ‘enemy’ as a country that committed an act of aggression against India, and its citizens.

The properties of enemies in India were classified as enemy property. The properties included land, buildings, shares held in companies, gold and jewellery of the citizens of enemy countries. The responsibility of the administration of enemy properties was handed over to the Custodian of Enemy Property, an office under the central government.

Of the total properties left behind by those who took Pakistani citizenship, 4,991 are located in Uttar Pradesh, the highest in the country. West Bengal has 2,735 such estates and Delhi 487.

The highest number of properties left by Chinese nationals is in Meghalaya (57).West Bengal has 29 such properties and Assam seven.

The estimated value of all enemy properties is approximately Rs 1 lakh crore.

Enemy properties Act:

After the Indo-Pakistan War of 1965, the Enemy Property Act was enacted in 1968, which regulates such properties and lists the custodian’s powers.

The government amended the Act in the wake of a claim laid by the heirs of Raja Mohammad Amir Mohammad Khan, known as Raja of Mahmudabad, on his properties spread across Uttar Pradesh and Uttarakhand.

The government has vested these properties in the Custodian of Enemy Property for India, an office instituted under the Central government.

‘Trends in International Arms Transfers-2018’

In News:

The Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) has released the Trends in International Arms Transfers 2018 Report. The assessment was done for a five-year period (2014-2018).

Highlights of the report:

India was the world’s second largest importer of major arms in 2014-18 and accounted for 9.5% of the global total.

After eight years of holding the position of the largest importer of weapons, India has been superseded by Saudi Arabia and dropped down to become the second largest importer of weapons in the world. Last year (for the period 2013-17), India accounted for 13% of all imports and was the world’s largest importer.

Reasons for gradual lowering of imports by India: Imports decreased by 24% between 2009-13 and 2014-18 (two five-year blocks), partly due to delays in deliveries of arms produced under licence from foreign suppliers, such as combat aircraft ordered from Russia in 2001 and submarines ordered from France in 2008.

The five biggest exporters in five-year block period 2011-2015 were the US, Russia, France, Germany and China. The US and Russia remain by far the largest exporters, accounting for 36% and 21%, respectively, of the total global trade.

China, which is now the fifth largest exporter of weapons, has been aiding Pakistan and Bangladesh in stepping up their military prowess in the region. The two countries accounted for 53% of Beijing’s exports from 2014-2018. On the other hand, Beijing is also an importer. China is the world’s sixth largest arms importer in 2014-18 and accounted for 4.2% of the global total.​

Pakistan recorded a 39% dip in arms imports in 2014-18 compared to 2009-13, with the US becoming “increasingly reluctant” to provide military aid or sell arms to Pakistan.

US arms exports to Pakistan fell 81% between 2009-13 and 2014-18. Pakistan has instead turned to other suppliers. For example, in 2018 it ordered four frigates and 30 combat helicopters from Turkey.

Stockholm International Peace Research Institute:

Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) established in 1966 is an independent international institute dedicated to research into conflict, armaments, arms control and disarmament.

Based in Stockholm the Institute provides data, analysis and recommendations, based on open sources, to policymakers, researchers, media and the interested public.

Source: The Hindu

World Gold Council (WGC)

In News:

World Gold Council (WGC) has released a report on gold holdings of various countries.

Key facts:

India, which is the world’s largest consumer of gold, has the 11th largest gold reserve, with the current holding pegged at 607 tonnes.

International Monetary Fund (IMF) is third on the list with total gold reserves of 2,814 tonnes.

Top slot is occupied by the U.S., which boasts of gold reserves of 8,133.5 tonnes, followed by Germany with 3,369.7 tonnes.

Among Asian countries, China and Japan have more reserves of the precious metal when compared to India.

Pakistan, with its gold reserves of 64.6 tonnes, occupies the 45th position.

About World Gold Council:

The World Gold Council is the market development organisation for the gold industry. It works across all parts of the industry, from gold mining to investment, and their aim is to stimulate and sustain demand for gold.

The World Gold Council is an association whose members comprise the world’s leading gold mining companies. It helps to support its members to mine in a responsible way and developed the Conflict Free Gold Standard.

Headquartered in the UK, they have offices in India, China, Singapore, Japan and the United States.

Source: The Hindu

ISRO’s AstroSat

In News:

The Indian multi-wavelength space observatory AstroSat, launched in September 2015, continues to yield exciting results. Using this observatory, astronomers from Thiruvananthapuram and Mumbai have identified a new population of ultraviolet stars in the globular cluster NGC 2808.


Globular clusters are collections of thousands to millions of stars, moving as one unit. These stars are tightly held together by gravity of the cluster itself, and are believed to have formed together at roughly the same time. Some globular clusters could be among the oldest objects in our Milky Way, which hosts over 150 of them.


ASTROSAT is India’s first dedicated multi wavelength space observatory. This scientific satellite mission endeavours for a more detailed understanding of our universe.

ASTROSAT is designed to observe the universe in the Visible, Ultraviolet, low and high energy X-ray regions of the electromagnetic spectrum simultaneously with the help of its five payloads.

Astrosat aims at understanding the high energy processes in binary star systems containing neutron stars and black holes, to estimate magnetic fields of neutron stars, to study star birth regions and high energy processes in star systems lying beyond the Milky Way galaxy.

This mission has put ISRO in a very exclusive club of nations that have space-based observatories. Only the United States, European Space Agency, Japan and Russia have such observatories in space.

Source: The Hindu

Pinaka Guided Weapons

In News:

The indigenously developed Pinaka Guided Weapons System was successfully test fired at Pokhran desert in Rajasthan.


Pinaka rocket systems are developed by Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO). The rocket system was named after Pinaka, the bow of Lord Shiva.

It was initially a 30 to 40 km range rocket. Its range was increased 70 to 80 km with Pinaka Mark II.

30th birthday of World Wide Web

In News:

Google Doodle marked the 30 years of the innovation of World Wide Web on March 12, 2019 with a GIF doodle, which featured an old, plugged-in computer with a rotating globe.


The inventor of WWW, Sir Tim Berners-Lee, was 33 when he first submitted the ‘Information Management: A Proposal’ for World Wide Web while working at Europe’s CERN lab. He submitted his proposal on March 12, 1989, which led to the invention of World Wide Web. Today, it nearly has 2 billion websites online.

Berners started out with his invention by typing out the basic HTML language, the HTTP application, and WorldWideWeb.app, which became the first web browser and page editor. And by 1991, the external Web servers were up and running.

The web was made public in April 1993, after which the first search engine was launched called Mosaic.

The World Wide Web has been central to the development of the Information Age and is the primary tool billions of people use to interact on the Internet.

Wood snake

A species of wood snake that wasn’t seen for 140 years has resurfaced in a survey conducted by scientists in the Meghamalai Wildlife Sanctuary. The species is endemic to the Meghamalai forests and the Periyar Tiger Reserve landscape.

National Pharmaceutical Pricing Authority (NPPA)

NPPA is an organization of the Government of India which was established, inter alia, to fix/ revise the prices of controlled bulk drugs and formulations and to enforce prices and availability of the medicines in the country, under the Drugs (Prices Control) Order, 1995.

The organization is also entrusted with the task of recovering amounts overcharged by manufacturers for the controlled drugs from the consumers. It also monitors the prices of decontrolled drugs in order to keep them at reasonable levels.

Functions of National Pharmaceutical Pricing Authority:

  • To implement and enforce the provisions of the Drugs (Prices Control) Order in accordance with the powers delegated to it.
  • To deal with all legal matters arising out of the decisions of the Authority.
  • To monitor the availability of drugs, identify shortages, if any, and to take remedial steps.
  • To collect/ maintain data on production, exports and imports, market share of individual companies, profitability of companies etc, for bulk drugs and formulations.
  • To undertake and/ or sponsor relevant studies in respect of pricing of drugs/ pharmaceuticals.
  • To recruit/ appoint the officers and other staff members of the Authority, as per rules and procedures laid down by the Government.
  • To render advice to the Central Government on changes/ revisions in the drug policy.
  • To render assistance to the Central Government in the parliamentary matters relating to the drug pricing.