Current Affairs 2017 – May

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Union Cabinet Approves Pharma Mission to Develop Bio-Pharmaceuticals

The Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs (CCEA) has approved a collaborative mission between industry and academia called ‘Innovate in India empowering biotech entrepreneurs and accelerating inclusive innovation‘ that is aimed at accelerating research for early development of bio-pharmaceuticals. 

Salient Highlights

The mission would attract an investment of Rs 1,500 crore from the central government over a period of five years. Half of the funding would be funded through a loan from World Bank.

The mission will be implemented by Biotechnology Industry Research Assistance Council (BIRAC), a public sector undertaking working under the Department of Biotechnology (DBT).

The mission will focus on key areas that would supplement country’s technological and product development capabilities in the biopharmaceutical sector to enable the sector to become globally competitive over the next 10-15 years.

The significance of the mission lies in the fact that National Biotechnology Development Strategy 2015-2020 announced by the Department of Biotechnology (DBT) lays emphasis on making the country achieve USD 100 billion biotech industry by 2025. 

The mission will concentrate on development of specific products such as vaccines, biotherapeutics, medical devices and diagnostics etc. Besides, the mission will also work on establishment of shared infrastructure and facilities.

The mission will help in building and strengthening domain specific knowledge and management skills at the same time creating and enhancing technology transfer capabilities in public and private sector.

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Indian Army gets its First Artillery Gun in 30 Years

Nearly after 30 years after the induction of  Bofors howitzers, Indian Army will get its first artillery guns called M777 from BAE Systems. Swedish Bofors guns were inducted in late 1980s after which Army has not inducted any modern artillery guns. The two M777s has arrived in New Delhi and will be tested at the Pokhran field firing range in Rajasthan. The two M777 guns will be used for compilation of firing tables. Indian Army has plans to equip 169 regiments with 3,503 guns by 2020.

Salient Highlights

The deal for procuring M777 guns from the United States was initiated in 2010. Finally, the contract worth Rs 2,900-crore to buy 145 M777 guns were struck in November 2016. The government-to-government deal was struck under the Foreign Military Sales (FMS) route. 

The 155 mm/39-caliber howitzers will increase the army’s capabilities in high altitude and will be deployed in the northern and eastern sectors. The modular design of the guns would come handy in towing the guns along the narrow and treacherous mountain roads that is found in India’s borders with both Pakistan and China. It will be especially used by the army’s new mountain strike corps which is being raised to counter China in the Northeast. The new corps is expected to be fully operational by 2025.

The guns can also be airlifted by using heavy-lift helicopters like the Chinook. India has signed an agreement to acquire Chinook from the US. The C130J Super Hercules, which are used for strategic airlift by India is also capable of airlifting M777 guns.

The M777 guns are already in service in the countries like  the US, Canada and Australia. These guns were deployed by these armies in Afghanistan and Iraq.

The first 25 guns will be inducted directly. The rest 120 guns will be be assembled in India by BAE Systems in collaboration with Mahindra Defence.  

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NITI Aayog Conducts First Samavesh Meeting

NITI Aayog has conducted the first Samavesh meeting of the National Steering Group and other knowledge partners under the co-chairmanship of Amitabh Kant, CEO and Ratan P Watal, Principal Adviser, NITI Aayog. The meeting was also attended by representatives of four States- Kerala, Assam, Uttar Pradesh and Rajasthan.

Salient Highlights

The objective of the meeting was to bring together 32 premier educational and policy research institutions to boost the development process, improve institutional capacity and forge a field level interface with the community in pursuance with the Prime Minister’s call for a New India 2022,

In the meeting, Memorandum of Understands (MoUs) were signed between NITI Aayog and major think tanks across the country with an aim to create an atmosphere of evidence based policy research.

This is the first ever initiative undertaken by the government to bring a huge number of institutions across diverse domain themes to deliberate together to promote inclusive development of the country. This network is expected to promote efficient knowledge sharing and information exchange among all partners in order to achieve a sustainable and more inclusive development in line with the National Development Agenda, Sustainable Development Goals and the 15 year Vision, 7 year strategy and 3 year action plan.

NITI Aayog has been emphasizing upon the role that can be played by the country’s Premier institutes to promote for inclusive development of the country. As a part of Samavesh initiative, NITI Aayog will launch a new link in its website that would serve as a major repository of knowledge based reports and case studies across different sectors of the economy.

NITI Aayog

NITI Aayog or National Institution for Transforming India was established on January 1, 2015 through a government resolution. NITI Aayog is essentially an advisory body that seeks to provide critical directional and strategic inputs across spectrum of key elements of policy to the centre as well as to the states. NITI Ayog was established by the government as a “Think Tank” which has no power to impose policies. NITI Aayog seeks to put an end to the slow and tardy implementation of the policy by fostering inter-ministry, inter-state and centre-state coordination. It has been envisaged to follow the bottom-top development approach whereby, it would develop mechanisms to formulate credible plans to the village level and aggregate these progressively at higher levels of government.

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