July 2015

ABBREVIATIONS
NIIF: National Investment and Infrastructure Fund.

AVIATION
GAGAN—GPS-Aided Geo Augmented Navigation—system launched
On 13 July 2015, Civil Aviation Minister, Ashok Gajapathi Raju launched the GPS-Aided Geo Augmented Navigation system, which would make airline operations more efficient and reduce costs.

GAGAN is a satellite-based navigation system which provides autonomous, high precision geo-spatial location information of the user in terms of latitude, longitude and height along with velocity and time.

It is jointly developed by the Indian Space Research Organisation and the Airports Authority of India, at an investment of ₹774 crore.

GAGAN will offer seamless navigation to the aviation industry. The benefits of GAGAN include improved efficiency, direct routes, increased fuel savings, approach with vertical guidance at runways, significant cost savings due to withdrawal of ground aids and reduced workload of flight crew and Air Traffic Controllers.

GAGAN will also provide augmentation service for GPS over the country, from Bay of Bengal, South East Asia and Middle East expanding up to Africa.

AWARDS
Golden Peacock Environment Management Award, 2015
Tata Steel’s West Bokaro Division has won the award for the year 2015. Regarded as a benchmark of corporate excellence worldwide, Golden Peacock Environment Management Award recognition for Tata Steel, underlines the private steel major’s responsible environmental practices and resource management while upgrading the skills of employees through training as new technologies evolve.

Royal Society’s Copley Medal
Nobel prize winner Peter Higgs has joined the ranks of Charles Darwin and Albert Einstein by winning the world’s oldest scientific prize, the Royal Society’s Copley Medal, for his pioneering work on the theory of the Higgs boson, which was discovered in 2012.

Higgs, 86, received the Copley Medal for his fundamental contribution to particle physics with his theory explaining the origin of mass in elementary particles, confirmed by the experiments at the Large Hadron Collider.

The Copley medal was first awarded by the Royal Society in 1731, 170 years before the first Nobel Prize. It is awarded for outstanding achievements in scientific research and has most recently been awarded to eminent scientists such as physicist Stephen Hawking, DNA fingerprinting pioneer Alec Jeffreys and Andre Geim, for his discovery of graphene.

Chaudhury Charan Singh Award for excellence in Journalism in Agricultural Research and Development, 2014
The Hindu’s senior journalist Gargi Parsai has been conferred with the prestigious Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR) award. She has been writing on crucial subjects of agriculture, food security, water resources and rural development for over two decades. She has also been reporting on politics and Parliamentary affairs.

Magsaysay Awards 2015
The 2015 Ramon Magsaysay Awardees are:
Kommaly Chanthavong, from Laos. She has been recognized for “her fearless, indomitable spirit to revive and develop the ancient Laotian art of silk weaving, creating livelihoods for thousands of poor, war-displaced Laotians, and thus preserving the dignity of women and her nation’s priceless silken cultural treasure.”

Ligaya Fernando-Amilbangsa, from the Philippines. She has been recognized for “her single-minded crusade in preserving the endangered artistic heritage of southern Philippines, and in creatively propagating a dance form that celebrates and deepens the sense of shared cultural identity among Asians.”

Anshu Gupta, from India. He has been recognized for “his creative vision in transforming the culture of giving in India, his enterprising leadership in treating cloth as a sustainable development resource for the poor, and in reminding the world that true giving always respects and preserves human dignity.”

Kyaw Thu, from Myanmar. He has been recognized for “his generous compassion in addressing the fundamental needs of both the living and the dead in Myanmar — regardless of their class or religion — and his channeling personal fame and privilege to mobilize many others toward serving the greater social good.”

Sanjiv Chaturvedi, for Emergent Leadership, from India. He has been recognized for “his exemplary integrity, courage and tenacity in uncompromisingly exposing and painstakingly investigating corruption in public office, and his resolute crafting of program and system improvements to ensure that government honorably serves the people of India.”

Established in 1957, the Ramon Magsaysay Award is Asia’s highest honour and is widely regarded as the region’s equivalent of the Nobel Prize. It celebrates the memory and leadership example of the third Philippine President after whom the award is named, and is given every year to individuals or organizations in Asia who manifest the same selfless service and transformative influence that ruled the life of the late and beloved Filipino leader.

DISCOVERY
Ancient port remnants found in Goa
India Scientists have found remnants of a historically important port on Goa’s Zuari River which is expected to be amongst the oldest signs of human trade on the central west coast and may be contemporary to Dwarka in Gujarat.

The researchers say they may discover a dockyard similar in structure to Lothal dockyard (4500 years old), discovered by Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) in Gujarat in 1954.

Goa-based National Institute of Oceanography (NIO) is working on 1.2 kms long wall along the Zuari River and it is expected to be a part of an old port that existed anywhere between 1,000 to 3,500 AD.

This area was earlier known as Gopakapattinam.

The initial observations have concluded that this port might be connected to Old Goa, ancient capital of Goa, through ‘Rajvidhi’ (Road built and used for the King).

The scientists feel that there are many such ports submerged on the western coast and discovery of this is just a beginning.

PERSONS
A.P.J. Abdul Kalam, Dr
Former Presient of India (2002-07), Dr Avul Pakir Jainulabdeen Abdul Kalam died on 27 July 2015, at age 83.

Born and raised in Rameswaram in Tamil Nadu on 15 October 1931, Dr Kalam rose from humble beginnings and earned the reputation of being the “People’s President” who endeared himself to all sections, especially the young.

The country’s first bachelor President, Kalam, whose flowing grey hair was seen as being at odds with what Indians thought a President ought to look like, was one amongst the most respected people of the country who contributed immensely both as a scientist and as a President.

Acknowledged as the driving force behind India’s quest for cutting-edge defence technologies, Kalam’s contributions to India’s satellite programmes, guided and ballistic missiles project, nuclear weapons programme and the Light Combat Aircraft (LCA) project made him a household name.

His contribution to the ballistic missile and launch vehicle technology earned him the named as the “Missile Man of India”.

He received several prestigious awards, including Bharat Ratna, and played a crucial role when India tested its nuclear weapons at Pokhran in 1998.

PLACES
Ufa
The BRICS and SCO summits were held here in July 2015. Ufa is the capital city of the Republic of Bashkortostan, Russia, and the industrial, economic, scientific and cultural center of the republic.

SPACE RESEARCH
ISRO successfully puts five UK satellites in orbit
On 10 July 2015, Indian Space Research Organisation successfully put in orbit five UK satellites from Satish Dhawan Space Centre (SDSC), Sriharikota. The five satellites together weighted around 1,440 kg at lift-off, making it the heaviest commercial launch ever undertaken by the national space agency.

In its thirtieth flight, the Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle PSLV-C28 successfully launched three identical DMC3 commercial Earth Observation Satellites, along with two smaller technology demonstrator satellites, into a polar Sun Synchronous Orbit. For the first time, ISRO used the heavy XL version of the PSLV with six strap-on motors of the first stage.

The five satellites were launched as part of the agreement entered into between DMC International Imaging (DMCii), a wholly owned subsidiary of Surrey Satellite Technology Limited (SSTL), UK and Antrix Corporation Limited, the commercial arm of ISRO.

The two auxiliary satellites from the UK include CBNT-1, an optical earth observation technology demonstration micro satellite built by SSTL and the 7-kg De-orbitSail from Surrey Space Centre, an experimental nano satellite for demonstration of sail used for changing the orbit of satellite in a process called drag deorbiting.

New Horizons reaches Pluto
On 15 July 2015, New Horizons spacecraft phoned back to Earth, confirming NASA mission success. New images of Pluto started to arrive after New Horizons mission reached the icy dwarf planet for the first time in human history.

A series of messages were sent back to the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory in Maryland in the 15-minute call. The spacecraft was programmed not to communicate with scientists on Earth before leaving the Pluto system.

New Horizons zoomed by Pluto 14 July morning and spent the day gathering data and information. It made it to around 12,500 kilometres from the dwarf planet, left unexplored until now.

New Horizons mission has settled a decades-long debate about the size of Pluto, discovering that the dwarf planet is 2,370 kilometres in diameter, larger than many prior estimates. The size was determined from images acquired with the Long Range Reconnaissance Imager (LORRI) aboard the spacecraft.

The result confirms what was already suspected: Pluto is larger than all other known solar system objects beyond the orbit of Neptune.

Pluto is the first Kuiper Belt object visited by a mission from Earth, NASA said in a statement. The mission will continue to explore the belt, “where thousands of objects hold frozen clues as to how the solar system formed.”

The New Horizons mission was the final destination on NASA’s planetary tour of the solar system, which began more than a half-century ago. Pluto was still a full-fledged planet when spacecraft rocketed away in 2006, only to become demoted to dwarf status later that year.

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