India’s Ministry of Petroleum and Natural Gas has granted authorisations to seven companies for selling of auto fuels in the country.
These new approvals come under the relaxed guidelines for authorization to market transportation fuels which were revised in the year 2019.
Under these norms Reliance Industries (RIL) were granted authorisation.
RBML Solutions India has also been granted authorisation.
Chennai-based IMC which specializes in oil terminals has also received approval to sell auto fuels.
The Government of Assam undertaking, Assam Gas Company has also received an approval from the ministry for fuel retailing.
Onsite Energy which was incorporated in the year 2020 has also received authority to sell automobile fuels.
Under the new rules, Manas Agro Industries and Infrastructure and M K Agrotech have also got fuel retailing authorisations.
Procedure for granting of authorisation
Companies having a minimum net worth of Rs 250 crore at the time of making application were granted authorisation by the petroleum ministry.
The minimum net worth requirement was Rs 500 crore in case if authorization is required for retail and bulk sales.
2019 rules for retail authorisation
The 2019 rules state that for receiving retail authorisation, an entity has to set up minimum of 100 retail outlets. Out of these outlets, 5% should be set up in the notified remote areas of the country that too within 5 years of receiving the authorisation.
Compared to 2019, there was a 22.6% increase in lightning in India last year. This is according to Earth Networks ‘2020 India Lightning Report’.
Highlights of the report
Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh, Odisha, West Bengal and Karnataka received the most lightning pulses.
During the year 2020, Maharashtra and Karnataka were among the top 10 States that had the highest lightning pulse counts.
More than 39.5 million pulses were detected in India last year by the company’s Total Lightning Network. Out of these, 12,022,402 were dangerous cloud-to-ground strikes.
In India, there were 7,447 Dangerous Thunderstorm Alerts issued and most of them were in the state of Tamil Nadu.
Odisha which was followed by Chhattisgarh experienced more than 1 million clouds to ground pulses in 2020.
In the year 2020, India saw the highest concentration of lightning in the months of May, June, and September because of the monsoon season.
According to the report, the dangers of lightning and severe weather pose a great threat to the population of India.
Due to the country’s proximity to the equator and the Indian Ocean, India experiences extreme amounts of moisture and heat which contributes to the sudden and severe thunderstorms throughout South Asian region.
A study conducted by the National Crime Records Bureau states that since the year 2001, every year 2,360 people die in India due to lightning strikes.
Earth Networks which published the report operates the largest global hyper local weather network.
The government of Tripura has taken initiatives to promote commercial cultivation of Agar trees and has set a target of achieving Rs 2,000 crore business from this sector in the coming three years.
Tripura government has plans to export 1,500 kg of Agar oil and 75,000 kg of Agar chips in the year 2021-22.
Chief Minister Biplab Kumar Deb had met Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Friday and apprised him about the potential of Agar trees.
Tripura government has launched a draft named Tripura Agar Wood Policy 2021 and a target has been set up of doubling the plantation by the year 2025. Currently, there are over 50 lakh agar trees in the state.
Chief Minister of Tripura had also requested PM Modi for fixing a quota on Agarwood exportation and its products.
About Agar Trees
Agar (Aquilaria malaccensis) is an evergreen tree that grows in abundance in the state of Tripura. The state’s forest department has said that this species has a huge potential of creating an economic revolution in the state after bamboo, rubber and other major forestry crops. Due to low input cost for its growth and management and its intercropping adaptation could make agar a cash crop.
The government of Tripura is contemplating in bringing a detailed policy for the promotion of Agar tree plantation, development and sustainable harvesting of the Agarwood-based Industry.
A conditional licensing framework for proprietary food products has been proposed by The Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI).
Those products for which no identification standards have been prescribed under any existing regulations, but are generally manufactured using permitted ingredients and additives are known as Proprietary food products.
FSSAI said that there have been instances where it has come across food manufacturers who apply for licenses for proprietary food products that resemble the products for which there are prescribed standards.
According to the FSSAI, due to the lack of clear guidelines for proprietary food compliance towards it is loose.
The concept of the Conditional Licensing of FSSAI is to check the market penetration of such products where to avoid compliance with standardized food products the composition of the product is diluted.
All food products available in the market need to comply with the food standards including standards for labelling, packaging, toxic substances and contaminants. Food safety regulations also include standards that mainly focus on the composition and identification standards of certain food products and also cover microbiological and additive requirements among others.
Therefore, the FSSAI is proposing the mapping of proprietary food products with closely resembled standardized food product category.
Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) was formed in the year 2011 and it is a statutory body established under the Ministry of Health & Family Welfare, Government of India. FSSAI is responsible for promoting and protecting public health through its supervision and regulation activities. The current Chairperson of FSSAI is Rita Teaotia and the current Chief Executive Officer is Arun Singhal. FSSAI is headquartered at New Delhi.
On 18th July, 2021, the new Prime Minister of Nepal, Sher Bahadur Deuba won a vote of confidence in the country’s Parliament days after the Supreme Court had reinstated the legislature which was dissolved in May.
Sher Bahadur Deuba has previously held the office four times and has won 165 votes (136 votes required) with 83 votes going against him.
In the month of July, the Supreme Court ordered Deuba should replace K.P. Sharma Oli.
Deuba faces the immediate task of controlling the spread of COVID-19 and procuring vaccines for the citizens of Nepal.
Less than 4% of the country’s population (Total population is 30 million) have been fully vaccinated against the virus.
As the government scrambles to procure shots more than 1.3 million people are awaiting a second dose.
Promises of the new Prime Minister
In the coming three months the new government of Nepal has pledged to vaccinate a third of its populations and full vaccination by April, 2022.
Decision of the Supreme Court
On 12th July, the Supreme Court ordered Deuba to be appointed replacing KP Sharma Oli. The court ruled against Oli by stating that by dissolving the parliament he had breached the constitution of the. Former PM Oli, says that he had been unfairly removed by the court. Oli had also said that he will be speaking with the citizens of Nepal regarding his position and unfair removal by the court.
A standard operating procedure (SoP) will be shortly developed by the forest department of Tamil Nadu for the capture and release of wild elephants which will be based on science and best practices
Releasing of adult male Elephant Rivaldo
After the release of the male elephant Rivaldo back into the wild from Vaazhaihottam check-post of Mudumalai Tiger Reserve, the Chief Wildlife Warden of the state visited camps that have housed elephants housed and interacted with the mahouts and cavadies.
The decision to capture Rivaldo was taken after some sections of the public demanded it. Keeping a fully adult elephants in a small kraal and attempts to train a healthy, fully mature and hefty adult elephant defeats the science involved in elephant ecology.
Rivaldo, despite his disabilities, appeared to be very intelligent and in a healthy condition. And it was noted that that there was not even a single instance of it indulging in crop-raiding or attacking humans.
Releasing the adult male elephant in the wild will be much more cost effective compared to the costs to be incurred in capturing, maintaining and training this adult elephant in captivity.
Elephant Species in Tamil Nadu
Tamil Nadu’s Asian elephant species has shown signs of population decline at an alarming reason and this was reason enough why Rivaldo was sent back to the breeding population in the wild.
Detailing these points and a few others, the TN Chief Wildlife Warden, Shekhar Kumar Niraj has emphasized on the need for a SoP for the capture and release of wild elephants in the state.
United States of America, Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Uzbekistan, have made a principle agreement to establish a new quadrilateral diplomatic platform with the primary aim to enhance regional connectivity. This QUAD group was announced by the administration of Biden.
A new quadrilateral group is being formed by the USA, Afghanistan, Uzbekistan and Pakistan amid the escalating violence in Afghanistan due to the pull out of US troops from the country.
According to the administration of President Biden, this new QUAD group’s primary focuses will be on enhancing the regional connectivity and the country of Afghanistan.
The US state department has said that the parties have recognised this opportunity to open flourishing inter regional trade routes; the parties also intend to cooperate among themselves to build transit links, expand trade and strengthen business ties.
QUAD group meetings
The four nations have agreed to meet in the coming few months to chalk out the various modalities of this QUAD cooperation with mutual consensus.
A Texas based Federal judge has created a storm in the USA by ruling that the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program which was created by former president Barack Obama in the year 2012 is illegal as the congress never formerly accepted it.
The DACA program is an immigration policy of USA which grants some extra rights to the immigrants who were illegally brought into the USA as minors. Under this program they can claim two-year period, which is renewable, of deferred action from deportation.
Those who are granted DACA status can also receive work permits in the country.
DACA program doesn’t provide a pathway to citizenship. Instead, it is a way of fending off the fear of deportation for those who entered illegally as minors.
Through an executive branch memorandum, Ex President Obama wrote this program into law in the year 2012. Later on January, 2021, current president Joe Biden issued another executive order to preserve the DACA program.
Verdict on DACA
Texas Judge Hansen has not ruled for those currently on DACA lists to lose their status but he has been able to prevent new applications from being processed. Hansen said that the reason for doing is a legal one as it is an unlawful implementation of the policy because it didn’t properly go through the Congress.
Current Situation on DACA
Those who are already in the DACA program can remain in it, but those who were waiting for DACA status will not be able to access it.
On 18th July, 2021, Lewis Hamilton of United Kingdom has won the Formula One British Grand Prix at Silverstone for a record eighth time. This was the 99th win of Hamilton’s career who has also won the world championship seven times.
Result of the race
Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes)
Charles Leclerc (Ferrari)
Valtteri Bottas (Mercedes)
On the opening lap of the British Grand Prix held on Sunday Lewis Hamilton and Max Verstappen, were involved in a high speed collision as Hamilton tried to overtake the Verstappen. Hamilton’s front-left wheel touched Verstappen’s back-right tire. Due to this Verstappen spun off the track and crashed into the barriers. Later, Verstappen was seen walking away from his crashed car.
Due to the collision, Hamilton was given a time penalty but in a dramatic conclusion to the race he overtook Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc to secure his eighth British GP victory.
About British Grand Prix
The British Grand Prix is a motor race which is organised in the United Kingdom. This race is organised by the Royal Automobile Club. It was first held in the year 1926; since the year 1948 the British Grand Prix has been held annually and every year since 1950 it has been a round of the FIA Formula One World Championship.
Pegasus spyware has been used to conduct surveillance on ministers, opposition leaders, journalists, government officials and scientists of India.
Phone numbers of around 40 Indian journalists were found in a leaked list of potential targets for surveillance. Forensic tests done on the list has confirmed that an unidentified agency has successfully snooped some of them using the Pegasus software.
Indian ministers, opposition leaders, government officials, and businessmen also figure in the leaked list of people.
The leaked database has around 50,000 phone numbers from around the globe. Names of the others who have been suspected to have been targeted by using this software will be revealed later.
This leaked database was accessed by Forbidden stories and Amnesty International and was shared with The Wire, Le Monde, The Guardian, The Washington Post and others as part of an investigation named the Pegasus Project.
India was among the 10 countries in the list with the most numbers and Mexico topped the list with 15,000 numbers. A large share of the numbers was also from West Asian countries such as Bahrain, UAE, and Saudi Arabia, with Pakistan, Hungary and France being the other prominent countries on the list.
The NSO group, an Israeli company, sells the spyware named Pegasus to governments across the world. This spyware can be used to snoop on phones that run on iOS and android systems. Seventeen international media groups that include The Washington Post and The Guardian have led the investigation into how Pegasus was used to allegedly extract information and messages from the phones of politicians, journalists, activists etc.
NBDriver (neighbourhood driver) is an AI tool which can be used in analyzing the cancer-causing mutations in cells. This AI tool has been developed by researchers working at the Indian Institute of Technology Madras (IIT-M)
The researchers of Indian Institute of Technology Madras (IIT-M) have created a mathematical model based on artificial intelligence. This AI algorithm will spot changes in cell that can cause cancer.
This algorithm studies the DNA structures and characterizes the genetic changes which are responsible for causing cancer. Using simple AI techniques, the researchers from this institute have developed a new prediction algorithm called NBDriver (NEIGHBOURHOOD Driver), and then tested its performance on various open-source datasets of cancers.
NBDriver (NEIGHBOURHOOD Driver) is a tool that is used to differentiate between passenger and driver mutations using the features derived from the neighbourhood sequences of somatic mutations.
Indian Institute of Technology Madras (IIT- M) is situated in Chennai. It was founded in the year 1959 with financial and technical assistance from the former government of West Germany. IIT-M was the third IIT to be established by the Government of India.
French director, Julia Ducournau of ‘Titane’, a horror drama becomes the first female director in the last 28 years to win the Palme d’or at Cannes Film Festival.
Cannes Film Festival 2021
On July 18, 2021, the awards of the 74th Cannes Film Festival were handed out at the closing ceremony of the event in the Grand Theatre Lumiere.
The runner up prize of the festival, The Grand Prix, was shared by two films. They are Finnish director Juho Kuosmanen’s ‘Compartment No. 6’ and Iranian Asghar Farhadi’s ‘A Hero’.
Best Director Award was won by Leos Carax for the pop-opera musical ‘Annette’.
This year, coming-of-age drama ‘Murina’ won The Camera d’or for the best first film screened in Cannes.
Caleb Landry Jones won the Best Actor prize for his lead performance in ‘Nitram’.
Norwegian Renate Reinsve bagged the Best Actress prize for her performance in ‘The Worst Persona in the World’.
Jury of the award
A jury chaired by Spike Lee decided upon the winner of the 74th Cannes Film Festival awards. Also, for the first time in history, in the Cannes Film Festival’s main international competition jury women outnumbered men five to four.
First woman to win the Palme d’or
Jane Campion of New Zealand was the first woman to win the Palme d’or for “The Piano” in the year 1993.
About Cannes Film Festival
The Cannes Festival, which was called the International Film Festival (Festival international du film) till the year 2003 and in English known as the Cannes Film Festival, is an annual film festival which is held in Cannes, France. Inthis festival new films of all genres, including documentaries, from all around the world are previewed. This festival was founded in the year 1946 and in 1951 was formally accredited by the FIAPF. It is one of the “Big Three” major European film festivals, alongside the Berlin International Film Festival, Germany and the Venice Film Festival in Italy. It is also one of the “Big Five” major international film festivals which consists of the three major European film festivals as well as the Sundance Film Festival in the United States and the Toronto International Film Festival, Canada.
Two Indian communities have bagged this year’s UNDP Equator Prize. They have won this prestigious prize for their exceptional achievement in exhibiting innovative, local and various nature-based solutions for tackling climate change and biodiversity loss and also achieving their local development goals.
Winners from India
Out of the ten winners globally, the two Indian winning organizations from are the Snehakunja Trust and Aadhimalai Pazhangudiyinar Producer Company Limited.
These two communities will win a prize amount of 10,000 USD.
They will also get the opportunity to join a series of virtual events associated with the Nature for Life Hub, UN General Assembly and the UN Food Systems Summit later in this year.
The winners from India will join a network of 255 communities that have received the Equator Prize from over 80 countries.
The virtual award ceremony is scheduled to be held on the month of October, 2021.
The UNDP Equator Prize was started from 2002.
Aadhimalai Pazhangudiyinar Producer Company Limited
Aadhimalai Pazhangudiyinar Producer Company Limited is a cooperative having 1700 member. It is run and managed entirely by the indigenous people from the Nilgiri Biosphere Reserve, Tamil Nadu. The work done by this community, in the past eight years, has improved the livelihood across 147 villages by marketing and processing a diverse range of crops and forest produce. Harvesting and agricultural practices are regularly monitored so as to ensure the product quality and also to prevent resource overuse.
For 45 years, the Snehakunja Trust has protected the coastal ecosystems and sensitive wetlands in the Karnataka coast and the Western Ghats with a focus on community-based conservation and restoration. This organization has supported and helped hundreds of village forest committees and self-help groups to manage resources sustainably based on implementation of various natural farming techniques, traditional knowledge, usage of clean energy, promoting entrepreneurship, and also by providing community health services. Currently, this trust is piloting India’s first blue carbon project.
Selection of Winners
The winners of this prize were selected from a pool of over 600 nominations from 126 countries by an independent Technical Advisory Committee consisting of experts who are internationally renowned.
On July 18, 2021, successful trial of movement of train was undertaken between Jaynagar in India and Kurtha in Nepal.
The length of the rail section is 34.50 and this is the first section of the rail line links between the two countries which connects Kurtha in the Mahottari district of Nepal to Jaynagar in the Madhubani district of Bihar.
The total cost for this rail section is 619 crores.
IRCON has set up the The Jayanagar – Kurtha Railway under the India – Nepal friendship rail project which was financed by the Indian government.
Announcement by East Central Railway
Rajesh Kumar, East Central Railway’s Chief Public Relations officer has said that, after fulfilling some technical and other formalities between the two countries, the train movement on this section will start soon.
The 34 km rail line which is remaining will be built in two phases.
The second section which is 17 km long will link Kurtha and Bhangaha.
The 17 km long third phase will extend from Bhangaha to Bardibas.
Two modern DEMU trains have been delivered by the Indian Railways to Nepal for the Jayanagar-Kurtha railway link.
Ircon International or Indian Railway Construction Limited (IRCON) is a subsidiary of the Indian Railways and a construction & engineering corporation which specializes in infrastructure used for transport. The subsidiary was established in the year 1976 with the primary aim of construction of various railway projects in India as well as abroad. At present, Ircon has successfully completed over 1650 major infrastructure projects in India and over 900 major projects around the world in 31 countries. M. K Singh is the current chairman of Ircon.