Current Affairs | National | International | SSC | UPSC 15th May 2024

National News

1. NASA announced to build the first railway system 'FLOAT' on the Moon 

  • NASA has unveiled its ambitious plans to build the first lunar railway system, known as FLOAT (Flexible Levitation on Track), designed to revolutionize payload transportation on the Moon.
  • Developed by engineers at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in California, FLOAT uses magnetic levitation technology similar to that used in high-speed rail systems. 
  • The system consists of flat, magnetic panels, or “robots,” that fly over a track with no moving parts. Powered by electromagnetic energy, these robots can efficiently and reliably carry payloads to the lunar surface. 
  • NASA said in a statement that the transportation system will be critical to the daily operations of a permanent lunar base in the 2030s. 
  • This innovative system aims to provide the reliable, autonomous and efficient transportation needed for daily operations of a permanent lunar base while aligning with mission concepts such as NASA's Moon to Mars initiative and Robotic Lunar Surface Operations 2 (RLSO2). 
  • The FLOAT transportation system is projected to move at a speed of approximately 1.61 kilometers per hour, with the capacity to carry up to 100 tons of material per day to and from NASA's future lunar base. 
  • FLOAT will primarily serve as a transportation service to areas where astronauts are active, carrying lunar soil and other materials to the lunar surface. 
  • Additionally, it will facilitate the transportation of large amounts of materials and equipment between spacecraft landing sites and base locations. 
  • FLOAT is set to play a key role in NASA's Artemis program, which aims to return astronauts to the Moon for the first time since 1972. NASA wants to send humans to the moon again by 2026 through the Artemis mission. 

2. India will organize 'Bharat Parv' at Cannes Film Festival for the first time 

  • The 77th Cannes Film Festival has started on 14 May 2024 in Cannes, France. India will host 'Bharat Parv' at the Cannes Film Festival for the first time. 
  • The pavilion will be organized by the National Film Development Corporation (NFDC) in collaboration with the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FICCI) as an industry partner. 
  • The India Pavilion has been designed by the National Institute of Design, Ahmedabad. It has been named 'The Sutradhar' to reflect this year's theme Create in India. 
  • The Ministry of Information and Broadcasting said industry members will showcase India's creative economy at the Marche du Films through a series of key initiatives. India is participating in the 12-day event, the Indian delegation includes representatives of the Government of India, state governments and members of the film industry. 
  • The official poster and trailer of the 55th International Film Festival of India (IFFI) 2024 will also be unveiled at the Bharat Parv. This year's IFFI will be held in Goa from 20 to 28 November 2024. 

Major indian films 

  • The internationally recognized festival will showcase a number of Indian films and productions. The highlight will be filmmaker Payal Kapadia's "All We Imagine as Light", which has been selected in the competition section, where it will compete for the top prize, the Palme d'Or. 
  • British-Indian filmmaker Sandhya Suri's "Santosh" will be screened under the Un Certain Regard section at the 77th edition. "Sunflowers Were the First Ones to Know", a short film by the students of Film and Television Institute of India (FTII) has been shortlisted in the La Cinef Competitive section.
  • Karan Kandhari's "Sister Midnight" will be screened at Directors' Fortnite and Maisam Ali's charming "In Retreat" will be screened at L'Acid. A restored version of veteran filmmaker Shyam Benegal's 1976 film "Manthan" will be screened under Cannes Classics. 
  • National Award-winning cinematographer Santosh Sivan will be the recipient of the prestigious Pierre Angenieux Tribute at the festival, where he will also give a masterclass, becoming the first Indian to be honored with this honour. 

International News 

3. U.S. lawmakers to introduce legislation to formalize strategy for Indian Ocean Region 

  • Members of the U.S. House of Representatives' Foreign Affairs Committee will introduce legislation on Tuesday requiring the U.S. administration to present a formal and "cohesive" Indian Ocean strategy across key departments. 
  • The Indian Ocean Region Strategic Review Act, sponsored by Joaquin Castro (Democrat, Texas) and Darrell Issa (Republican, California), is based on a recommendation of the Bipartisan U.S.-China Economic and Security Review Commission, a body set up in 2000 to review and report on the U.S.-China relationship. 
  • The Commission's November 2022 report had recommended that the U.S. administration submit an Indian Ocean Region the NATION FACE the the NATION FACE the the NA Joaquin Castro, member of the U.S. House of Representatives' Foreign Affairs Committee. REUTERS (IOR) strategy that would include plans to develop U.S. economic interests in the region, defend free- dom of navigation, support regional partners, and promote cooperation with Japan, Australia, India, the U.K., and France, among others. 
  • Mr. Castro supported the Biden administration's Indo-Pacific strategy, his spokesperson told The Hindu, but felt it was too heavily focused on the Pacific Ocean and wanted the State Department to increase its prioritization of the Indian Ocean Region. 
  • The proposed Act would require coordination across three key departments State, De- fence, and the U.S International Agency for International Development (USAID) in synthesizing and executing a strategy for the IOR. The strategy will require the U.S. to strengthen diplomatic ties in the region such as via its participation in regional organizations. 
  • The U.S. Secretary of State will be required to, within 180 days of the Act becoming law, submit a "multi-year strategy and implementation plan" for U.S. "engagement and pos5ure" in the region, according to the text seen by The Hindu. The Act will require the U.S. to "build upon existing agreements with strategic partners like India to foster military communication and intelligence sharing", according to a spokesperson for Mr. Castro. 
  • There is also a freedom of navigation clause in the legislation and a mandate to protect international shipping lanes. The text of the legislation says the report to Congress must provide details of efforts to improve cooperation between Quad countries (the U.S., India, Australia, and Japan). 
  • The legislation will also require the administration to work closely with island nations, India, Japan, Australia, and others to foster commercial exchanges and economic development. The Bill mandates that the U.S. government enhance the capacity of regional governments and NGOs to respond to and mitigate environmental disasters. "Congressman Castro is optimistic that the legislation could be included in future legislative packages focused on competition with China along with other bipartisan priorities," a spokesperson for Mr. Castro said. 

4. UNESCO included Ramcharitmanas, Panchatantra and Sahridayalok-Lokan in the ‘Memory of the World Asia-Pacific Regional Register’ 

  • Ramcharitmanas, Panchatantra and Sahridayalok-Lokan have been included in UNESCO's Memory of the World Asia-Pacific Regional Register. 
  • Professor Ramesh Chandra Gaur, Indira Gandhi National Center for the Arts was instrumental in securing their inclusion during the 10th meeting of the Memory of the World Committee for Asia and the Pacific MOWCAP in Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia. 
  • This is the first time that IGNCA has submitted a nomination to the regional register since its inception in 2008. UNESCO's 'Memory of the World (MOW) Asia-Pacific Regional Register' was established by UNESCO in 1992. The Asia-Pacific Regional Committee (MOWCAP) was established in 1998.
  • Ramcharitmanas was composed by Goswami Tulsidas, Panchatantra was composed by Pandit Vishnu Sharma and Sahridayalok-Lokan was composed by Acharya Anandvardhan. 

Other Asian works [20] 

  • Australia and Tuvalu - Funafuti: The Edgeworth David 1897 Expedition Documents. 
  • Bangladesh – "Sultana's Dream" by Rokeya S. Husain. 
  • China – Archives related to Chengdu traditional teahouses, Huizhou Genealogical Archives, printing blocks housed in the Derge Printing House. 
  • Indonesia – Indarung I, the first cement plant in Southeast Asia (1910–1972), Archives of the Indonesian Sugar Research Institute 1887–1986 and the Tambo Tuanku Imam Bonjol Manuscript. 
  • Malaysia - Al-Tarikh Salasilah Negeri Kedah: Genealogical History of the State of Kedah, Royal Correspondence of Baginda Omar (Surat Persendirian Baginda Omar). 
  • Mongolia – Family chart of the hereditary kings of the Khalkha Mongols, home of Genghis Khan, Mongolia's first postage stamp 'Eldev Ochir'. 
  • Philippines – Doctrina Cristiana en Lengua Española y Tagala (Christian Doctrine in Spanish and Tagalog), Manila, 1593, Hinilawod epic chant recording. 
  • Uzbekistan – Images of the Khorezm Oasis by Khudabergan Devanov (1879–1937), "Turkistan Album" 1871–1872. 
  • Vietnam – Bas-reliefs on nine bronze vases in the Huế Imperial Palace. 

State News 

5. Pine-needle power projects to check forest fires prove inadequate

  • Bio-energy projects set up by the Uttarakhand Renewable Energy Development Agency (UREDA), to use the vast quantities of flammable pine needles for generating electricity have been "unsuccessful", with officials saying appropriate technology does not yet exist to use them. 
  • "We have commissioned six plants so far but it is unlikely that we will add more. It has not been a major success as the technology to use pine needles for generating electricity isn't sustainable as of now," Y.S. Bisht of the UREDA said. 
  • With annual forest fires becoming more severe, partly from climate change-accentuated drought spells and rising stores of organic biomass, including pine needles and agricultural residue, State authorities have often tried to address the threat by lessening the available pine needle load. 
  • Valuable resource Uttarakhand makes a valuable resource. 
  • An official document says that out of the total forest area in the State, 16.36% or about 3,99,329 hectares is covered by chir pine (Pinus roxburghii) forests. 
  • In theory, the vast amount of pine needles available.
  • As per estimates, over 15 lakh tonnes of pine leaves are annually generated. Were even 40% of the esti- mated quantity available coupled with other agricultural residue, it could significantly aid the State's power requirements as well be a source of employment and livelihood. 

Sports News 

6. Magnus Carlsen wins Poland's Superbet rapid and blitz chess title 

  • World No. 1 Magnus Carlsen has won the 2024 SuperBet Rapid & Blitz chess tournament held in Poland. Despite starting the day trailing GM Wei Yi by 2.5 points, Carlsen embarked on a remarkable 10-game winning streak, eventually toppling his opponent and securing the championship title. 
  • Polish Grandmaster GM JanKrzysztof Duda had a strong performance and finished third with 19.5 points. Close to him was rising Indian star Praggnanandhaa, who finished fourth with 19 points. 
  • Erigaysi Arjun placed fifth with 18 points, while Nodirbek Abdusattorov placed sixth with 17.5 points. Earlier, India's R Praggnanandhaa had registered another win over World No. 1 Magnus Carlsen of Norway in the Rapid and Blitz chess tournament, a part of the Grand Chess Tour. 
  • SuperBet Poland Rapid & Blitz: Held May 6-13, 2024 in Warsaw, Poland. 

Ranks & Reports News 

7. Researchers discover rare tree species 'Uniala multibracteata' in Western Ghats after 140 years 

  • After a gap of 140 years, researchers have re-discovered a rare and endangered tree species, Uniala multibracteata (locally known as Kattupuvamkurunnila) from a non-protected area of the Vagamon Hills in the Western Ghats. 
  • This species was originally discovered by R.H. at Peermade in 1880. Beddome, a pioneering botanist who discovered plants in South India. 
  • Jomi Augustine, a former Botany professor at Pala St. Thomas College who led this research, says that after Beddom no one could collect this rare plant. It remained unknown for the last 140 years and scientists declared it critically endangered or possibly extinct. 
  • The genus Uniala is named after the famous plant taxonomist B.P. It is named in recognition of Uniyal's contribution. There are 11 species in this genus, most of which are found in South India. 
  • Kattupuvamkurunnila is a small tree or large shrub 2 to 5 meters high. Its leaves are covered with cottony hairs. Its flowers are very beautiful and [the tree] flowers from October to January. Its habitat consists of evergreen forests and rocky grasslands up to 1,200 m above sea level. 
  • The rediscovery of Kattupuvamkurunnila has been published in the recent issue of the Wildlife Information Liaison Development Society magazine Journal of Threatened Taxa.

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