20th Nov, 2020

Param Siddhi achieves global ranking of 63

Indian supercomputer Param Siddhi has achieved global ranking of 63 in TOP 500 most powerful non-distributed computer systems in the world.

The rankings were released recently.

 Param Siddhi is the high performance computing-artificial intelligence (HPC-AI) supercomputer established under National Supercomputing Mission (NSM) at C-DAC.

Conceived by: C-DAC 

Developed jointly: Department of Science and Technology (DST), Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MeitY) under NSM.

Indian Scientist proposes to have found treatment for Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy

Sandeep Eswarappa, Assistant Professor at IISc, Bengaluru proposes to provide new genetic treatment for duchenne muscular dystrophy.

Duchenne muscular dystrophy (DMD) is a severe type of muscular dystrophy that primarily affects boys. 

Females with a single copy of the defective gene may show mild symptoms.

Muscle weakness usually begins around the age of four, and worsens quickly. 

Muscle loss typically occurs first in the thighs and pelvis followed by the arms.

This can result in trouble standing up.

Most are unable to walk by the age of 12. 

Scoliosis is also common. 

Some may have intellectual disability.

It is caused by a mutation in the gene for the protein dystrophin. 

Dystrophin is important to maintain the muscle fiber’s cell membrane.

Although there is no known cure, physical therapy, braces, and corrective surgery may help with some symptoms.

Karnataka to declassify deemed forests

Recently, Karnataka Forest Minister announced that the state government would soon declassify 6.64 lakh hectares of the 9.94 lakh hectares of deemed forests in the state (nearly 67%) and hand it over to Revenue authorities.

The issue of deemed forests is a contentious one in Karnataka, with legislators often alleging that large amounts of agriculture and non-forest land are “unscientifically” classified as such.


While the concept of deemed forests has not been clearly defined in any law including the Forest Conservation Act of 1980, the Supreme Court in the case of T N Godavarman Thirumalpad (1996) accepted a wide definition of forests under the Act.

“The word ‘forest’ must be understood according to its dictionary meaning. 

According to the Supreme Court, this description covers all statutorily recognised forests, whether designated as reserved, protected or otherwise under Forest Conservation Act.

“The term ‘forest land’ occurring in Section 2 of the Act will not only include ‘forest’ as understood in the dictionary sense, but also any areas recorded as forest in the government record irrespective of the ownership.

The provisions enacted in the Forest Conservation Act 1980 for the conservation of forest and related matters must apply clearly to all forests.

Safaimitra Suraksha Challenge launched

Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs launched Safaimitra Suraksha Challenge across 243 Cities to ensure that no life of any sewer or septic tank cleaner is ever lost again owing to the issue of ‘hazardous cleaning’.

The Challenge was launched on the occasion of World Toilet Day.

Aim: Preventing ‘hazardous cleaning’ of sewers and septic tanks and promoting their mechanized cleaning.

Representatives from 243 cities across the country took a pledge to mechanize all sewer and septic tank cleaning operations by 30th April 2021.

The initiative is in line with the core of the Swachh Bharat Mission-Urban (SBM-U)

The actual on-ground assessment of participating cities will be conducted in May 2021 by an independent agency and results of the same will be declared on 15 August 2021.

Cities will be awarded in three sub-categories – with population of more than 10 lakhs, 3-10 lakhs and upto 3 lakhs, with a total prize money of ₹52 crores to be given to winning cities across all categories.

The Prohibition of Employment as Manual Scavengers and their Rehabilitation Act (2013) and various judgements of Supreme Court prohibit hazardous cleaning, i.e. manual entry into a septic tank or sewer without protective gear and observing operating procedures.

India-Luxembourg Summit held

Recently the first-ever India-Luxembourg Virtual Summit was held.

Luxembourg is a founding member of the EU. 

In this context, the two countries exchanged views on further strengthening India-EU relations including forward movement on India-EU trade agreements and investment agreements.

The Luxembourg Prime Minister conveyed the intention of Luxembourg to join the International Solar Alliance. 

Indian PM also invited Luxembourg to join the Coalition for Disaster Resilient Infrastructure.

The leaders looked forward to the 17th Joint Economic Commission between India and the Belgium-Luxembourg Economic Union to review the economic and trade relations.

Three agreements were signed coinciding with the Summit. The agreements were:

(1) MoU between India International Exchange (India INX) and Luxembourg Stock Exchange; (2) MoU between State Bank of India and Luxembourg Stock Exchange;

(3) MoU between Invest India and Luxinnovation

India and Bhutan to virtually launch RuPay Card phase-2 in Bhutan

Prime Ministers of India and Bhutan will virtually launch RuPay Card phase-2 in Bhutan in November, 2020 (20th November).

The two Prime Ministers had jointly launched phase-1 of the project during Indian PM’s visit to Bhutan in August 2019.

The implementation of phase-1 of RuPay cards in Bhutan has enabled Indian visitors in Bhutan to access ATMs and points of sale terminals across Bhutan. 

The phase-2 will now allow Bhutanese cardholders to access RuPay network in India.

Meghalaya Integrated Transport Project (MITP) signed

The Government of India, the Government of Meghalaya and the World Bank signed a $120 million project to improve and modernize the transport sector of state of Meghalaya.

The project will improve about 300 km of strategic road segments and stand-alone bridges by using innovative, climate resilient, and nature-based solutions. 

It will also support innovative solutions such as precast bridges to reduce both time and cost of construction.

MITP will help Meghalaya develop reliable, climate resilient and safe roads which is crucial for the economic development of the state. 

About half of the 5,362 habitations in the state lack transport connectivity.

This operation will also support state government’s “Restart Meghalaya Mission” to revive and boost development activities affected due to COVID-19 pandemic.