9 PM Current Affairs Brief – October 29th, 2019

Smart Cities Mission and AMRUT

News:The second round of the Smart Cities Mission and the Atal Mission for Rejuvenation and Urban Transformation(AMRUT) were being considered and could be rolled out in 2020.


About About Smart Cities Mission:

  • Smart Cities Mission was launched in 2015.It aims to develop 100 smart cities across the country by 2022 making them citizen friendly and sustainable.
  • The objective is to promote sustainable and inclusive cities that provide core infrastructure and give a decent quality of life to its citizens, a clean and sustainable environment and application of ‘Smart’ Solutions
  • The Ministry of Housing and Urban affairs is implementing the mission in collaboration with the state governments of the respective cities.
  • The first round of the Smart Cities Mission that covers 100 cities would be 50% complete that is 50 cities by December,2019.

About AMRUT:

  • AMRUT stands for Atal Mission for Rejuvenation and Urban Transformation.The mission was launched in 2015.
  • The mission is aimed at transforming 500 cities and towns into efficient urban living spaces over a period of five years.
  • The mission seeks to provide basic civic amenities like water supply, sewerage, urban transport, parks to improve the quality of life for all, especially the poor and the disadvantaged. 
  • The focus of the mission is also on infrastructure creation that has a direct link to provision of better services to the citizens.

Global mobility report

News:Global mobility report has been released by the Sustainable Mobility for All (SuM4All) initiative.


About SuM4All:

  • The SuM4All initiative was launched in 2017.It is an umbrella platform that brings together 55 public and private organisations and companies to act collectively to implement the SDGs and transform the transport sector.
  • The report has analysed mobility performances of 183 countries on four key indicators which are (a)universal access (b)efficiency (c)green mobility and (d)safety.

Key takeaways from the report:

  • The report has said that the global mobility system is stressed due to growing urbanisation, increasing world trade and new technologies.
  • Developed countries outperformed developing countries on all mobility policy goals except per capita transport-related greenhouse gas emissions.
  • The gap between developed and developing countries is more striking on safety and air pollution placing a higher burden on developing countries.
  • More than one billion people or one-third of the global rural population, lack access to all-weather roads and transport services.Hence,closing the transport access gap in rural areas can connect this population to education,health and jobs.
  • Besides, improvements in border administration, transport and communication infrastructure can also increase global gross domestic product (GDP) by up to $2.6 trillion.

Sarayu river

News:A new history was created at Ayodhya as a record 6 lakh earthen lamps lit up the Sarayu river bank on the eve of Diwali.


About Sarayu River:

  • The Sarayu is a river that flows through the Indian states of Uttarakhand and Uttar Pradesh.
  • This river is of ancient significance as it is mentioned in the Vedas and the Ramayana.
  • The river is formed at the confluence of rivers karnali and mahakali.It is a tributary of River Ganges.
  • On Ram Navami,the festival that celebrates the birthday of Lord Rama, thousands of people take a dip in the Sarayu River at Ayodhya.

Exercise Shakti-2019

News:Indian and French armies will conduct joint counter-terrorism drills under ‘Exercise Shakti-2019’ in the Mahajan field firing range in Rajasthan.


About the exercise:

  • The Exercise SHAKTI is conducted between India and France.It was first conducted in the year 2011. 
  • The exercise is a biennial exercise and  is conducted alternately in India and France.
  • The exercise aims at enhancing understanding, cooperation and interoperability between the two Armies.
  • The joint exercise will focus on Counter Terrorism operations in backdrop of semi-desert terrain under United Nations Mandate.

Additional information:

  • Exercise Varuna:It is an annual naval exercise between India and France.It was initiated in 1983 and was named as Varuna in 2001.
  • Exercise Garuda:It is a bilateral exercise between Indian and French Air Force.The first edition of the exercise was held in 2003.

UDAN Scheme

News:The government is planning to soon award fresh routes under its regional connectivity scheme Ude Desh ka Aam Naagrik(UDAN).


About UDAN scheme:

  • UDAN scheme was launched in 2016 to make air travel affordable through subsidised tickets and to provide its access to smaller towns.
  • The Scheme is a key component of the National Civil Aviation Policy (NCAP) which was launched in June 2016.
  • The idea behind the scheme is to jump-start the regional aviation market by improving profitability of under developed regional routes. 
  • Under the scheme, the government offers incentives to airlines to flag off new flights to neglected smaller cities and towns by providing Viability gap funding to make these operations profitable. 

Significance of the scheme:

  • The scheme is is first-of-its-kind that aims to create affordable yet economically viable and profitable flights on regional routes.
  • The scheme gives India’s aviation sector a boost by giving chance to small and first-time operators to be part of the rapid growth in passenger traffic.
  • The state governments would reap the benefit of development of remote areas and will enhance trade and commerce and tourism expansion.
  • Airport operators will also see their business expanding as would original equipment manufacturers.

Challenges of the scheme:

  • Infrastructure bottlenecks has led to lower the pace in implementation of the scheme.
  • Some airports owned by State governments and private players have been hesitant in participating because of low profiting making.

India, Saudi Arabia to sign Strategic Partnership Council pact

News:India and Saudi Arabia are set to sign an agreement for creating a bilateral strategic partnership council.


About the strategic Council:

  • The strategic partnership council will be led by Indian Prime minister and Saudi Crown Prince and it will meet every two years.
  • The council will include multiple sections involving the External Affairs Ministry and NITI Aayog and counterpart organisations from Saudi Arabia.

About Future Investment Initiative(FII):

  • Indian Prime Minister will also be attending the third session of Future Investment Initiative Forum in Saudi Arabia.
  • Future Investment Initiative(FII) is an annual investment forum organized by the Public Investment Fund of Saudi Arabia.It was first conducted in 2017. 
  • The first event had announced the launch of a 500 billion USD economic zone in north west of Saudi Arabia.

Significance of Saudi Arabia for India:

  • Saudi Arabia is a key pillar of India’s energy security.Around 17% of crude oil and 32% of LPG requirements of India are imported from Saudi Arabia
  • The trade between the countries amount to 27.48 billion USD (2017-18). The Indian exports to the country stood at 22.06 billion USD while the imports were 5.41 billion USD.


News:Recently,Scientists has raised ethical concerns over growing of organoids in the laboratory that can perceive or feel things.


About Organoids:

  • Organoids are a group of cells grown in laboratories into a three dimensional, miniature structures that mimic the cell arrangement of a fully-grown organ. 
  • They are tiny typically the size of a pea organ-like structures that do not achieve all the functional maturity of human organs but often resemble the early stages of a developing tissue. 
  • Most organoids contain only a subset of all the cells seen in a real organ, but lack blood vessels to make them fully functional. 

How are organoids grown in the laboratory?

  • Organoids are grown in the lab using stem cells that can become any of the specialised cells seen in the human body.
  • They could be grown from stem cells taken from the organ or adults cells that have been induced to behave like stem cells, scientifically called induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSC).
  • Stem cells are provided with nutrients and other specific molecules to grow and become cells resembling a specific organ.
  • The growing cells are capable of self-organising into cellular structures of a specific organ and can partly replicate complex functions of mature organs

Importance of Organoids:

  • Organoids offer new opportunities to study proteins and genes that are critical for the development of an organ.This helps in knowing how a mutation in a specific gene causes a disease or disorder.
  • Organoids represents all components of organ and are suited to study infectious diseases affecting specialized human cell types.
  • Organoids can be used to study the safety and efficacy of new drugs and also test the response of tissues to existing medicines.
  • Organoids will bring precision medicine closer to reality by developing patient-specific treatment strategies by studying which drugs the patient is most sensitive to.


  • Experts have said that Scientists have transplanted lab-grown brain organoid to adult animals.This is seen as a step towards potential humanisation of host animals.
  • They have also argued that brain organoids developed do not have the necessary sensory inputs and sensory connections compared to the Human brain. 

Cyclone Kyarr

News:Many places in Maharashtra, Goa and Karnataka are receiving rains for the last few days, mainly because of cyclonic Karr in the Arabian Sea.


About Cyclone Kyarr:

  • Cyclone Kyarr is a tropical cyclone that has intensified west of India in the Northern Indian Ocean’s Arabian Sea.
  • It is the second most intense super cyclonic storm on record in the Arabian Sea in the last 12 years.
  • The only stronger storm on record in the Arabian Sea was 2007’s Tropical Cyclone Gonu.

Additional information:

About Tropical Cyclones:

  • Tropical cyclones are storms that originate and intensify over warm tropical oceans. 
  • They are intense low pressure areas with very strong winds circulating around it in anti-clockwise direction in the Northern Hemisphere and clockwise in the Southern Hemisphere.
  • The central calm region of the storm is called the “Eye“. The Eye is surrounded by Eye wall which is the region with heaviest precipitation and strongest winds

Tropical Cyclones are known by different names in different regions:

  • Cyclones in Indian Ocean
  • Hurricanes in Atlantic
  • Typhoons in Western Pacific in South China Sea
  • Willy-Willies in Western Australia

Necessary Conditions for development of a tropical cyclone:

  • Continuous supply of abundant warm and moist air
  • Sea temperature in lower latitudes should be around 27°C
  • A distance from the Equator is necessary, so that it allows the Coriolis Effect to deflect winds blowing toward the low pressure centre.Tropical cyclones develop in inter-tropical convergence zone
  • Pre-existence of weak tropical disturbances
  • Presence of anticyclonic circulation at the height of 9 to 15km above the surface
  • Low vertical wind shear between the surface and the upper troposphere. Vertical wind shear is the magnitude of wind change with height.

About India Meteorological Department (IMD)

  • India Meteorological Department (IMD) was established in 1875.It is an agency of the Ministry of Earth Sciences of the Government of India.
  • It is the principal agency responsible for meteorological observations, weather forecasting and seismology.
  • IMD ranks cyclones on a 5-point scale- a) Cyclonic storm, b) Severe cyclonic storm, c) Very severe cyclonic storm, d) Extremely Severe cyclonic storm and e) Super cyclonic storm.
  • Cyclonic Storms have storm force wind speeds of between 62–88 km/h. Severe Cyclonic Storms have storm force wind speeds of between 89–117 km/h.
  • Very Severe Cyclonic Storms have hurricane-force winds of 118–166 km/h.Super Cyclonic Storms have hurricane-force winds of above 222 km/h.

National Agricultural Cooperative Marketing Federation of India(NAFED)

News:More than half of the apple harvesting season is over, the NAFED has been able to procure less than 1 percent of the total production in Jammu and Kashmir.


About NAFED:

  • National Agricultural Cooperative Marketing Federation of India(NAFED) was established in 1958.It is registered under the Multi State Co-operative Societies Act.
  • NAFED was set up to promote cooperative marketing of agricultural produce to benefit farmers.
  • The objectives of the NAFED are (a)To organize, promote and develop marketing, processing and storage of agricultural, horticultural and forest produce (b)To distribute agricultural machinery, implements and other inputs (c)To undertake inter-state,import and export trade, wholesale or retail and (d)To act and assist for technical advice in agricultural production.
  • Agricultural farmers are the main members of NAFED who have the authority to say in the form of members of the General Body in the working of NAFED.

Nelloptodes gretae

News:A tiny species of beetle discovered more than 50 years ago has been named after Swedish climate activist Greta Thunberg.


About Nelloptodes gretae:

  • Scientists have officially named Nelloptodes gretae after Greta Thunberg to honour her contribution in raising global awareness of climate change.
  • The species belongs to the family of beetles called Ptiliidae.The beetle has no eyes or wings.It is less than 1mm long.
  • Despite their global distribution,the beetle are not particularly well known because of their miniature size.
  • The beetles are usually found in the leaf litter and soil, feeding on fungal hyphae and spores.
  • This new species of beetle was first found in 1965 by British naturalist Dr William C Block in Nairobi,Kenya.

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