21st November UPSC Current Affairs

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Australia to temporarily host ISRO satellite tracking facilities

Why in News?
  • As part of steps to deepen cooperation in civil space activities, the space agencies of India and Australia were working together to position temporarily Indian tracking facilities in Australia, said Australian Minister for Industry, Science and Technology Karen Andrews on Friday. This would support India’s planned human space flight programme.
2012 MoU
  • India, Australia space cooperation is underpinned by a formal Memorandum of Understanding signed between the two countries in 2012.
  • Both nations have been collaborating since 1987 to “support data calibration and laser raging for Indian satellites, launching Australian satellites, and conducting joint research”.
  • At a virtual summit in June, both countries elevated the bilateral relationship to a Comprehensive Strategic Partnership and put in place practical agreements on cybersecurity, emerging technology and critical minerals.
The Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) has embarked on an ambitious plan to put an Indian in space by 2022 under Gaganyaan mission.

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Private train operations: L&T, GMR, Welspun to participate in RFP stage for 12 clusters

Why in News?
  • Firms like L&T, GMR, Welspun are among top firms that have been found eligible to participate in the RFP stage for private participation in passenger train services over 12 clusters comprising 151 trains, according to an official statement on Thursday.
  • The railway ministry received 120 applications from 16 firms at the RFP stage, out of which 102 applications were found eligible for the RFP stage.
  • The project envisages private investment to the tune of ₹30,000 crore for running passenger trains over the rail network for the first time.
  • The private entities for undertaking the project would be selected through a transparent two-stage competitive bidding process comprising request for qualification (RFQ) and request for proposal (RFP).
  Reason Behind Privatisation:  
  • To develop India’s railway infrastructure to provide travel services to all its passengers.
  • According to the 2019-20 data, the Railways ferried 8.4 billion (840 crore) passengers in 2019-20, about five crore passengers could not be accommodated, meaning their wait-listed tickets were dropped.
  • During the busy seasons/summer season nearly 13.3% passengers were not able to get confirmed reservations.
  • Induction of modern technology and reduction in transit time and the demand-supply deficit in train tickets.

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PM Modi, Bhutan PM jointly launch RuPay card Phase-II

Why in News?
  • Prime Minister Narendra Modi along with his Bhutanese counterpart Lotay Tshering on Friday launched RuPay card Phase-II that will allow Bhutanese card holders to access the RuPay network in India
RuPay card:
  • RuPay is India’s indigenous card scheme created by the National Payments Corporation of India.
  • It was conceived to fulfil RBI’s vision to offer a domestic, open-loop, multilateral system which will allow all Indian banks and financial institutions in India to participate in electronic payments.
  • It is made in India, for every Indian to take them towards a “less cash” society.
  • RuPay is the first-of-its-kind domestic Debit and Credit Card payment network of India, with wide acceptance at ATMs, POS devices and e-commerce websites across India.
  • It is a highly secure network that protects against anti-phishing.
  Features and Benefits of RuPay Card:
  • Complimentary Lounge Access Program – Domestic & International
  • 24X7 Concierge Services
  • Earn Cash back time after time
  • Comprehensive Insurance Cover
  • Exclusive Merchant Offers
  Advantages of RuPay Card:
  • The benefits of RuPay debit card are the flexibility of the product platform, high levels of acceptance and the strength of the RuPay brand-all of which will contribute to an increased product experience.
  • Lower cost and affordability: Since the transaction processing will happen domestically, it would lead to lower cost of clearing and settlement for each transaction.

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1st animal study in India on coronavirus moves to its final stage: AYUSH Ministry

Why in News?
  • The first animal study in India on coronavirus, which is a collaborative effort between Ministry of AYUSH and Department of Bio-Technology (DBT), has moved to its final stage.
  • The clinical studies are being pursued through another collaboration of the Ministry of AYUSH, the partner in this one being the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR)
  • The collaboration relating to the animal study (in-vivo) arose from an MoU signed between the National Medicinal Plants Board (NMPB) of the Ministry of AYUSH and the DBT.
  • It is based on the concept of reverse Pharmacology (PH) which explores the scientific reasoning behind established medical practice like those of Ayurveda.

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Ancient Hindu temple discovered in northwest Pakistan

Why in News?
  • A Hindu temple, believed to have been constructed 1,300 years ago, has been discovered by Pakistani and Italian archaeological experts at a mountain in northwest Pakistan’s Swat district. The discovery was made during an excavation at Barikot Ghundai.
  • The discovered Temple is of Lord Vishnu. It was built by the Hindus 1,300 years ago during the Hindu Shahi period.
  • The Hindu Shahis or Kabul Shahis (850-1026 CE) was a Hindu dynasty that ruled the Kabul Valley (eastern Afghanistan), Gandhara (modern-day Pakistan), and present-day northwestern India.
  • During their excavation, the archaeologists also found traces of cantonment and watchtowers near the temple site. The experts also found a water tank near the temple site which they believe was used by the Hindus for bathing before worship.
  • Swat district is home to thousand-year-old archaeological sites and the traces of the Hindu Shahi period have been found for the first time in the area.





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