Narendra Modi Current Affairs - 2020

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India, Nepal sign MoU on Raxual-Kathmandu railway line

India and Nepal have signed MoU to build strategic railway line connecting Raxaul city in Bihar, India to Kathmandu, capital of Nepal. It was signed  after Prime Minister Narendra Modi held talks on all aspects of the bilateral ties with his Nepalese counterpart KP Sharma Oli on sidelines of 4th BIMSTEC Summit held in Nepal.

Raxaul-Kathmandu rail line

It is expected to expand connectivity by enhancing people-to-people linkages and bulk movement of goods between both countries. It help to promote economic growth and development in the region. India’s Konkan Railway Corporation Ltd. will conduct preliminary engineering-cum-traffic survey of this new rail line in consultation with Government of Nepal. This will be followed by finalization of implementation and funding modalities of project based ondetailed project report.  Besides, there are also three other railway projects in pipeline between both countries viz. Nautanwa-Bhairahawa, New Jalpaiguri-Kakarbhitta and Nepalgunj Road-Nepalgunj.


The signing of MoU comes two years after China agreed to construct strategic railway link with Nepal through Tibet with apparent aim of reducing Himalayan nation’s dependence on India. It also comes in backdrop of recent Chinese linkages with Nepal as it took on building three highways to be completed by 2020. The two countries have recently also signed transit treaty. It also comes years after sense of mistrust had prevailed when certain sections in Nepal blamed India for the 135-day blockade in 2015 – 2016 that had crippled Nepal’s economy.

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India to launch first manned space mission by 2022: PM

Prime Minister Narendra Modi as part of his 72nd Independence Day speech vowed to put Indian in space by 2022 under manned space mission on board ‘Gaganyaan’. This announcement gives Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) definitive timeline for manned space mission it has been working on for the last 15 years.

Note: If successful, India will become fourth nation in the world to send astronaut into space after US, Russia and China. Former Indian Air Force (IAF) pilot Rakesh Sharma was first Indian to travel to space. He was part of the Soviet Union’s Soyuz T-11 expedition, launched on April 2, 1984, as part of the Intercosmos programme.

Key facts

The proposed human spaceflight programme (HSP) has been on table since 2004. ISRO is still long way away, despite advancements in some critical technologies in past decade. It is stilling building its capabilities and developing critical technologies required to send astronaut being into space.

The mission will be completed at budget of Rs 10,000 crore and some of technology components required for it already have been developed. This includes heavy-lift launch vehicle (GLSV Mark-III), re-entry and recovery technology, crew module, Environmental Control and Life Support System (ECLSS) and astronaut training.

The required key technologies ISRO still has to develop for such mission. It includes ability to launch, recover and ensure earth-like conditions for astronauts. ISRO so far has successfully tested many of the technologies required for such a manned mission, but there are still others to be developed and tested.

Successfully tested technologies are

In December 2014, experimental flight of GSLV Mk-III was successfully tested. It also had successfully tested experimental crew module, demonstrating reentry capability. In June 2017, first developmental flight of GSLV Mk-III was successfully conducted. In July 2018, first successful flight of crew escape system was tested.

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