AWARDS AND HONOURS
- US President Barack Obama awards Joe Biden with highest civilian honour
President Barack Obama awarded Vice President Joe Biden with the Presidential Medal of Freedom with Distinction, the highest civilian honour, in a surprise tribute at the White House. Mr Obama celebrated the longtime Delaware senator and Pennsylvania native, saying he was a “lion of American history” and the “best vice president America’s ever had“, before making the surprise announcement that he was giving Mr Biden the award.
- TCS CEO N. Chandrasekaran appointed Tata Sons Chairman
Tata Sons has appointed Tata Consultancy Services (TCS) Chief Executive Natarajan Chandrasekaran as its new chairman. He will take over as the executive chairman from Feb. 21, Tata Sons said in a statement, adding the selection committee appointed by its board had unanimously recommended the group veteran for the job. The decision came about three months after the $100-billion conglomerate in October ousted Cyrus Mistry and appointed Ratan Tata as its interim chairman, sparking a bitter public spat.
- NTPC to take over Rajasthan’s Chhabra power plant
State-run NTPC has signed a non-binding agreement with Rajasthan Rajya Vidyut Utpadan Nigam Ltd and Rajasthan Urja Vikas Nigam Ltd for takeover of Chhabra Thermal Power Plant.
“NTPC Ltd has signed a non-binding MoU with Rajasthan Rajya Vidyut Utpadan Nigam Ltd and Rajasthan Urja Vikas Nigam Ltd for takeover of Chhabra Thermal Power Plant Stage-I (4x 250 MW) and Stage-II (2×660 MW) of Rajasthan Urja Vikas Nigam by NTPC Ltd. The Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) is to take over four operational units of 250 MW capacity each and two other under-construction units of 660 MW capacity each at Chhabara Thermal Power Plant.
- Lohri festival is celebrated in Punjab
The festival of Lohri, celebrated with much joy and vigour in Punjab, marks the onset of the harvest season. The traditional bonfires not only keep away the winter chill, they are also used to make offerings to Gods before the harvest. The fires of Lohri also keep away the darkness on what is traditionally considered the longest night of the year. The day after, the northern hemisphere is said to tilt towards the sun, bringing hope for more sunlight and warmer days. Folklore has it that the flames of the bonfire carry messages to the Sun.
- Ministry of DoNER celebrates Magh Bihu (Makar Sankranti) festival
The Union Minister of State (Independent Charge) Development of North Eastern Region (DoNER), MoS PMO, Personnel, Public Grievances, Pensions, Atomic Energy and Space, Dr Jitendra Singh addressed at the celebrations of Magh Bihu (Makar Sankranti) festival, organised by Ministry of Development of North-East Region (DoNER) at Dilli Haat. The theme of the festival was ‘Integration through fusion’.
Addressing on the occasion, Dr Jitendra Singh said that Bihu is the biggest post-harvest festival of Assam and other parts of the North-East and it coincides with the other festivals such as Pongal, Lohri and Makar Sankranti. He wished the people on this occasion as it is the beginning of newyear. He also said that dance performances by artists symbolize the unity in diversity of Indian culture.
- Ken-Betwa River linking project receives environment, forest & tribal clearances
The NDA government’s ambitious Ken-Betwa river linking project, which aims at addressing water needs of dry swathes in Madhya Pradesh and poll-bound Uttar Pradesh inter alia, has received environment, forest and tribal clearances.
Union water resources minister Uma Bharti, also states that the clearances for the project are in a “very advanced stage” of completion and that the government will start implementing the national project as “model link” of inter-linking of river (ILR) programme.
- India’s first solar-powered boat launched in Kerala
Launching a solar-powered boat service at Vaikom in the district, Union Power Minister Piyush Goyal today said the Centre would extend support to introduce more such boats in Kerala’s waters as it is keen to promote environment-friendly projects.
Goyal launched the service in Vaikom-Cherthala-Thavanakadavu waterways along with Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan. The first solar-powered boat was launched recently by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in Varanasi.
- ISKCON to hold Jagannath rath yatra in Mumbai on Jan 14
The International Society for Krishna Consciousness‘ Chowpatty Temple took out the Lord Jagannath Rath Yatra from Shivaji Park with the participation of nearly half a million devotees. ISKCON spiritual leader H.H. Radhanath Swami Maharaj performed the ‘maha-aarti’ on the chariot of Lord Jagannath, Baldev and Subhadra before the procession started and ended peacefully. On the auspicious day of Makar Sankranti, Uttaraayan which is the time for peace and prosperity, we celebrate the Rath Yatra of Lord Jagannath, as the Sun begins it six-month long northward journey.
SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY
- Physicists create a new form of hydrogen
Scientists have produced a new form of hydrogen in the lab negatively charged hydrogen clusters. Each cluster consists of hydrogen molecules arranged around a negatively charged hydrogen ion — a single hydrogen atom with an extra electron — at temperatures near absolute zero.
Similar, positively charged ion clusters have previously been found, but this is the first time scientists have seen negative hydrogen cluster ions beyond the simplest possible pairing of one molecule and one ion.
- India successfully test-fires guided rocket Pinaka Mark-II
Guided Pinaka, which has been upgraded from Pinaka Rocket, was successfully test fired from the Integrated Test Range at Chandipur. The Pinaka Rocket Mark-II, which evolved from Pinaka Mark-I, is equipped with a navigation, guidance and control kit and has been transformed to a Guided Pinaka. The test firing was conducted from Launch Complex-III of ITR. The conversion considerably enhanced the range and accuracy of Pinaka. The test firing had met all mission objectives.
- China commissions sophisticated electronic reconnaissance ship CNS Kaiyangxing
China’s Navy has commissioned a sophisticated electronic reconnaissance ship, capable of conducting all-weather, round-the-clock observation on multiple targets, the latest addition to Beijing’s expanding fleet amid tensions over its assertiveness in the disputed South China Sea
- The new ship CNS Kaiyangxing, or Mizar, with hull code 856, was delivered to a combat support flotilla of the North Sea Fleet in Qingdao, Shandong province .
- The Kaiyangxing is capable of conducting all-weather, round-the-clock reconnaissance on multiple and different targets, the daily quoted an official PLA Navy media adding that the ship is so sophisticated that only a few countries, such as the US and Russia, are capable of developing it.
BANKING AND FINANCE
- Airtel launches its payments bank across India
Airtel Payments Bank (APB), a joint venture between Bharti Airtel Ltd and Kotak Mahindra Bank Ltd, said it will spend Rs3,000 crore to develop a pan-India banking network and digital payments ecosystem. Through their 80:20 joint venture, Bharti and Kotak aim to disrupt a banking system that has gradually woken up to changing technology and yet incurred heavy costs in serving customers.
- Citi Bank India unveils voice biometrics authentication
Foreign lender Citi India has launched voice biometrics authentication that would replace the current practice of interactive voice response (IVR) for its customers. The new technology allows clients to use their voiceprints for authentication rather than having to remember multiple PINs or respond to questions used for verifying their identities. The voice biometrics authentication capability uses voiceprint, similar to fingerprint, which is unique for each person.
- Europe’s first underwater museum opens in Lanzarote
British artist Jason DeCaires Taylor has created what is the first underwater museum in Europe. An exhibition of 300 works of art, all in concrete have been taken to their new ‘home’ the Atlantic Museum Lanzarote.
The museum in Coloradas Bay, just off the coast of the town of Yaiza, in the southwest of Lanzarote has been created at a depth of between 12 and 15 meters on the ocean floor and will be accessible to scuba divers and visible to glass-bottom boats. The first artworks were submerged in February 2016 and almost a year later on January 10th the museum holds its official inaugeration.
- Japanese PM Shinzo Abe signs 1 trillion yen aid package to Philippines
Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has signed a 1-trillion yen (about $8.7 billion) aid package over the next five years to the Philippines, meant to improve economic and political relations between the two island nations. The package is focused on infrastructure and energy.
Abe’s two-day visit to the archipelago makes him the first foreign leader to visit since the election of the Philippines’ controversial President Rodrigo Duterte in May 2016. “I chose the Philippines as my first destination this year and that is a testament to my primary emphasis on our bilateral relationship.
- Sarita Devi set to become India’s first female professional boxer
Sarita Devi will become the first ever female professional boxer from India when she takes on seasoned pro Zsofia Bedo of Hungary. The Manipur pugilist, an Arjuna awardee and a former world and national champion, has been training for the January 29 bout under the watchful eyes of 73-year-old American Joe Clough who has coached Evander Holyfield in the past.