9 PM Current Affairs Brief – October 18th, 2019

Mount Paektu

News:North Korea leader has visited the Mount Paektu.


About Mount Paektu:

  • Paektu Mountain is also known as Baekdu Mountain.In China,it is known as Changbai Mountain.
  • It is a volcanic mountain that had last erupted over 1,000 years ago.
  • The mountain is situated at the border between North Korea and China.
  • At a height of about 9,000 feet,it is also the highest peak in the Korean Peninsula.


News:Indian Air Force will be participating in a Bilateral Joint exercise with Royal Air Force Oman(RAFO) named EX EASTERN BRIDGE-V.


About the exercise:

  • The exercise EASTERN BRIDGE-V will be held at Air Force Base Masirah in Oman.The exercise was first held in 2009.
  • The joint exercise aims to improve interoperability during mutual operations between both Air Forces and it will provide an opportunity to learn from each other’s best practices.
  • It will be for the first time when MiG-29 fighter aircraft will be participating in an international military exercise outside India.
  • On the other hand,Royal Air Force of Oman contingent comprises of F-16 next-generation fighter jet, Hawk fighter aircraft and Oman’s Eurofighter Typhoon.

Other Bilateral exercises between India and Oman:

  • Naseem-al-Bahr:It is a bilateral biennial naval exercise between India and Oman.
  • AL NAGAH- It is a bilateral military exercise between India and Oman. 

Britain clinches Brexit deal with EU

News:A revised Brexit deal has been agreed by the UK Prime Minister and European Union(EU).


What is the revised Brexit deal?

  • Under the deal,the whole of the UK will leave the EU but Northern Ireland will stay in the EU’s single market for goods.
  • The deal also says that EU citizens who are now living in Britain and UK citizens who are living or working in EU countries won’t lose their rights to live and work in those areas. 
  • The deal also says that both EU and UK will work towards a Free Trade Agreement(FTA) and a high-level meeting will be convened in June 2020 to take stock of progress towards this goal.

Additional information:

About Brexit:

  • Brexit is a term used to define United Kingdom coming out of European Union(EU).During a referendum in 2016,UK voted by a narrow margin in favour of Brexit.
  • Article 50 of the Treaty of Lisbon gives any European Union(EU) member state the right to quit unilaterally and outlines the procedure for doing so.
  • The treaty gives the leaving country two years to negotiate an exit deal.

European Union:

  • The European Union is an international organization made up of 28 European countries.It governs common economic,social and security policies of its member states.
  • It operates an internal (or single) market which allows free movement of goods, capital, services and people between member states.
  • The 19 EU countries use EURO as their official currency.But nine EU members namely Bulgaria, Croatia, Czech Republic, Denmark, Hungary, Poland, Romania, Sweden and the United Kingdom do not use the euro.

Petroleum & Explosives Safety Organisation(PESO)

News:The Diwali be less polluted this year due to unavailability of crackers be­cause of strict certification norms by the Petroleum and Explosives Safety Organisa­tion(PESO).


About PESO:

  • Petroleum and Explosives Safety Organization (PESO) is a statutory authority.It comes under the Department for the Promotion of Industry and Internal Trade(DPIIT),Ministry of Commerce and Industry.
  • It is the apex department to control and administer manufacture, storage, transport and handling of explosives, petroleum, compressed gases and other hazardous substances in India.
  • It is entrusted with the responsibilities under the (a)Explosives Act, 1884, (b)Petroleum Act, 1934 (c)Inflammable Substances Act,1952 and (d)Environment (Protection Act),1986.
  • The Organization is headed by Chief Controller of Explosives with its headquarters located at Nagpur (Maharashtra).

India Innovation Index

News:NITI Aayog with Institute for Competitiveness as the knowledge partner has released the India Innovation Index 2019.


About India innovation index:

  • The index examines the innovation ecosystem of Indian states and union territories. 
  • The index has been developed on the lines of the Global Innovation Index(GII).It is expected to help the innovation ecosystem of Indian states and Union Territories(UTs) to design policies to drive innovation across regions.
  • The index performs the following three functions (a) ranking of states and UTs based on their index scores (b)recognizing opportunities and challenges and (c) assisting in tailoring governmental policies to foster innovation.


The Index is calculated as the average of the scores of its two dimensions – Enablers and Performance.

  • The Enablers are the factors that underpin innovative capacities.They are grouped into five pillars: (1) Human Capital (2) Investment (3) Knowledge Workers (4) Business Environment and (5) Safety and Legal Environment.
  • The Performance dimension captures benefits that a nation derives from the inputs.It is divided into two pillars (6) Knowledge Output and (7) Knowledge Diffusion.

Key takeaways from the index:

  • The index has bifurcated the states into three categories (a)major states, (b)north-east and hill states and (c)union territories/city states/small states.
  • There is a west-south and north-east divide across the country.The top ten major states are majorly concentrated in southern and western India.
  • Karnataka has emerged topper in the overall rankings in the category of major states with Tamil Nadu and Maharashtra in the second and third positions.
  • Karnataka’s top position is partly attributed to its top rank in the Performance dimension.
  • Maharashtra performs the best in the dimension of Enablers.This implies that it has the best enabling environment for innovation even though the state comes in at the third position in the overall innovation index.
  • Among the North-Eastern states and Union territories,Sikkim and Delhi occupy the top spots respectively.
  • Delhi, Karnataka, Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu, Telangana, and Uttar Pradesh are the most efficient states in translating inputs into output.
  • Bihar, Jharkhand, and Punjab were the least attractive states for investment.

Additional information:

About GII:

  • The global innovation index (GII) is an annual ranking that quantifies the state of national innovation ecosystem across countries. In 2019, it has ranked 129 countries based on 80 indicators.
  • The GII is co-published by World intellectual property organisation (WIPO), Cornell University and INSEAD.
  • India has improved its ranking by five places to 52nd in 2019 from 57th position in 2018. India has also outperformed on innovation relative to its GDP per capita for nine consecutive years.

Rangdum monastery

News:The Archaeological Survey of India is planning to declare the Rangdum Monastery located in Ladakh (Kargil district) as a monument of national importance.


About Rangdum Monastery:

  • Rangdum Monastery is a Tibetan Buddhist monastery belonging to the Gelugpa sect.
  • It is situated on top of a hill at an altitude of 13,225 ft at the head of the Suru Valley in Ladakh.
  • The main highlight of the monastery is its central prayer hall with a collection of Tibetan and other artifacts.

Significance of the move:

  • The move aims to look into the opportunities for expansion of tourism in the Ladakh region in the backdrop of the decision to split Jammu and Kashmir into two Union Territories.

Additional information:

About ASI:

  • Archaeological Survey of India(ASI) is the premier organization for the archaeological research, scientific analysis, excavation of archaeological sites, conservation and preservation of protected monuments.
  • It is an attached office under the Department of Culture, Ministry of Culture.
  • ASI was founded in 1861 by Alexander Cunningham who was the first Director-General of ASI.

About National importance:

  • The Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Sites and Remains (AMASR) Act, 1958 defines archaeological site and remains as any area which contains or is reasonably believed to contain ruins or relics of historical or archaeological importance which have been in existence for not less than 100 years.
  • When any archaeological site and remains is declared to be of national importance it is called protected area under AMASR Act.

KHON Ramlila

News:The Culture Department of Uttar Pradesh government is going to organise the country’s first training and performance programme of world famous KHON Ramlila in collaboration with Thailand government.


About Khon Ramlila:

  • Khon Ramlila is a masked form of Ramlila art of Thailand that depicts the scenes of Ramlila.
  • It has no dialogues.Only the background voices narrates the whole story of Ramayana. 
  • It is also known worldwide for its beautiful attire and golden masks.
  • Further,the Ramakien which means Glory of Rama is national epic of Thailand has been derived from the Hindu epic Ramayana.
  • It is also included in the list of Intangible cultural heritage list of UNESCO.

Additional information:

About Intangible cultural heritage list of UNESCO:

  • UNESCO’s Lists of Intangible Cultural Heritage is a list of important intangible cultural heritages worldwide.It aims at better protection of these intangible cultural heritages and raise awareness about their significance. 
  • Intangible Cultural Heritage means the practices, representations, expressions, as well as the instruments,artefacts and cultural spaces that communities,groups or individuals recognize as part of their cultural heritage.
  • The list was established in 2008 when the 2003 Convention for the Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage came into effect.
  • A total of 13 Intangible cultural heritage elements from India have been inscribed till date on the UNESCO’s Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity.

Army Inducts Excalibur Artillery Ammunition and Dhanush Howitzers

News:Indian army has inducted US made precision-guided Excalibur artillery ammunition and indigenous Dhanush howitzer in its inventory.


About Excalibur artillery ammunition:

  • The Excalibur ammunition can hit targets within 50 km range with less than 2 metres error margin. 
  • The ammunition also has the capability to destroy reinforced structures or bunkers.
  • The ammunition will be advantageous for the Indian army stationed at the borders as it has GPS and inertial navigation which guides the warhead to its precise location to help avoid collateral damage.

About Dhanush:

  • Dhanush is an upgraded version of the Swedish Bofors gun procured by India in the mid-1980s.
  • It is a 155-mm, 45-calibre gun with a maximum range of 40 km in salvo mode.
  • The gun has been developed by Ordnance Factory Board (OFB), Kolkata and manufactured by the Gun Carriage Factory(GCF) and 81 % of its components are indigenously sourced.
  • The gun is a versatile weapon that can operate in all the climatic conditions. 
  • It is equipped with (a)inertial navigation-based sighting system (b) auto-laying facility (c)on-board ballistic computation and (d)advanced day-night direct firing system.
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