NJAC: National Judicial Appointments Commission.
Ashok Chakra, 2014
Major Mukund Vardarajan, who killed two terrorists in Kashmir before he was shot dead in April 2014, has been awarded the Ashok Chakra, the highest peace-time gallantry award of India.
Best Parliamentarian Award
Arun Jaitley, Karan Singh and Sharad Yadav have been given the award for 2010, 2011 and 2012, respectively.
Arjuna Awards 2014
Ravichandran Ashwin (Crikcet), Akhilesh Varma (Archery), Tintu Luka (Athletics), H.N. Girisha (Paralympics), V. Diju (Badminton), Geetu Ann Jose (Basketball), Jai Bhagwan (Boxing), Anirban Lahiri (Golf), Mamta Pujari (Kabaddi), Saji Thomas (Rowing), Heena Sidhu (Shooting), Anaka Alankamony (Squash), Tom Joseph (Volleyball), Renubala Chanu (Weightlifting) and Sunil Rana (Wrestling). The 12-member selection committee was headed by legendary cricketer Kapil Dev.
Maulana Abul Kalam Azad (MAKA) Trophy, 2012-12
Punjabi University, four-time consecutive winner of Maulana Abul Kalam Azad (MAKA) Trophy, again left other universities behind in the race to grab the prestigious sports award for 2012-2013. Punjabi University tops the chart with 53,590 points, 19,875 more than Kurukshetra University, which came second.
Samskara was the first novel of U.R. Ananthamurthy, Jnanpith award winning Kannada litterateur who died on 22 August 2014. The novel looked at the caste system, religious codes, culture and traditions and the uncertain relationship between traditional and cultural values. It was made into a film by Pattabhi Rama Reddy, which marked the dawn of parallel film movement in Kannada.
INS Kolkata—the biggest indigenously-built naval destroyer
On 16 August 2014, Prime Minister Narendra Modi dedicated INS Kolkata, the biggest indigenously-built naval destroyer, to the nation.
INS Kolkata, a part of the Kolkata Class destroyers of the Indian Navy, has been built at the Mumbai-based Mazgaon Docks, a defence Public Sector Unit. With an operating range of 15,000 km, INS Kolkata, first of the three such ships (the other two ships being built are INS Kochi and INS Chennai), is equipped to play a varied role. It has an in-built anti-submarine capability and can take on an anti-ship missile and fighter aircraft. It will also be the first Indian ship to be armed with the land attack, anti-ship BrahMos missile, also manufactured in India with Russian collaboration. These capabilities give INS Kolkata an ability to operate without supporting fleet of ships.
INS Kamorta Commissioned
The first indigenously-built stealth Anti-Submarine Warfare Corvette—INS Kamorta, built by Garden Reach Shipyard (GRSE), Kolkata, was commissioned on 23 August 2014. It is the first of four ASW stealth corvettes designed by Indian Navy’s in-house organisation, Directorate of Naval Design (DND), and built by GRSE. It would carry short-range Surface-to-Air missiles (SAM) and Active Towed Array Decoy System (ATDS). It can also carry an integral ASW helicopter.
Burning trash has adverse health effects
A new study by the National Center for Atmospheric Research says that unreported trash burning is a much larger threat to public health and contributor to air pollution than previously estimated. Rampant in the developing world, trash burning releases mercury and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, particles that have been linked to cancer, neurological problems and cardiovascular disease.
The study reported that up to 29 percent of human-related global emissions of these small particulates are the result of burning garbage.
As a larger percent of the developing world’s populations become consumers of disposable and un-recycled goods, the amount of air pollution caused by garbage burning is likely to rise.
The study’s authors compared population figures and per capita waste production with official reports of trash disposal for each country in the world. The findings suggest that over 40 percent of the world’s trash is burned, the study reports. The findings may have significant impacts on estimates of country-by-country emissions.
India has taken first formal step to recapture its erstwhile glory as an international knowledge destination with the opeining of the new Nalanda University (NU) on 1 September 2014, 12 km from where the ruins of the ancient university are located in Bihar. The modern centre of excellence is to come up on a 443-acre campus, encircled by an eight-kilometre boundary wall.
The University of Nalanda, believed to have been established in the 5th century AD during the reign of a Gupta king called Sakraditya, at the peak of its glory, accommodated over 10,000 students and 2,000 teachers. It was a centre of learning unmatched by any other of that era.
The University fell upon hard times when it was overrun by the Huns under Mihirakula during the reign of Skandagupta (455-467 AD). But it was restored by his successors. It was destroyed again by the Gaudas in early 7th century and was restored again by king Harshavardhana (606-648 AD). But it could not recover from the third and final blow dealt in 1193 AD by Bakhtiar Khilji, a general of Qutbuddin Aibak.
Sinjar is a town in northwestern Iraq’s Ninawa Governorate on Mount Sinjar near the Syrian border. The town is mainly inhabited by Yezidis with Arab and Assyrian minorities. Tens of thousands of members of one of Iraq’s oldest minorities were stranded, facing slaughter at the hands of ISIS jihadists surrounding them. More than 1000 were reportedly slaughtered by the militants till air-strikes by USA in second week of August 2014 helped to push-back the militants.
Chutak hydro-power project
Chutak project is located about 14-km upstream near Sarzhe village in Kargil. The project, a run-of-the-river scheme on the Suru river with installed capacity of 44 MW, is likely to generate 216 MU. It was inaugurated by Prime Minister Narendra Modi on 12 August 2014.
Nimoo Bazgo hydro-power project
The 45MW Nimoo-Bazgo hydro-power project is a ‘run-of-the-river’ scheme to harness the potential of the Indus river in Leh and designed to generate 239 MUs. It was inaugurated by Prime Minister Narendra Modi on 12 August 2014.
Rosetta makes a historic rendezvous with comet
European spacecraft Rosetta has become the first in history to rendezvous with a comet after a seven-minute burn of the probe’s thrusters brought it within 100km of the hurtling lump of dust and ice on 6 August 2014.
The billion-euro Rosetta spacecraft caught up with comet 67P/ Churyumov–Gerasimenko more than 400 million km from Earth as it streaked towards the sun at around 55,000 km per hour.
The manoeuvre that brought the spacecraft alongside the comet marked the end of the beginning of a mission that lifted off from French Guiana 10 years ago. Rosetta now begins its scientific mission, employing a suite of instruments to analyse the comet’s nucleus.
The Rosetta mission will be the first to give scientists close-up measurements of a comet as it transforms from a cold and inactive state to an active body that sheds hundreds of kilos of dust and gas as it swings around the sun. The comet is in a 6.5-year elliptical orbit that comes within the orbits of Mars and Earth and back out to beyond the gas giant Jupiter.
Initial images taken of the comet reveal it to be of extraordinary rubber duck-shape, the result of two bodies fusing in what space scientists call a contact binary.
Mission controllers are working against the clock to identify a safe spot on the surface to place a small lander called Philae, which is hitching a ride on Rosetta. The space agency aims to land Philae on 11 November 2014. The box of electronics on legs will latch on to the comet with the aid of an explosive harpoon.
With Philae in place, scientists will have their first opportunity to analyse material collected directly from the comet. The lander will also send x-rays through the comet’s nucleus to sensors on Rosetta to reveal the inner structure of the body.
Comets are formed from debris left over in the early solar system around 4.6bn years ago. Through studying the make-up of a comet, Rosetta scientists hope to learn how the primordial ingredients of the solar system led to the formation of Earth and the other planets.
Earth may have formed as a dry ball of rock and only later become enriched with water and organic compounds necessary for life. One theory that Rosetta will investigate is whether comets ferried water and carbon-containing molecules to Earth and potentially other planets in the solar system.