European Union and Japan sign biggest free trade deal
• The European Union and Japan have signed one of the world’s biggest free trade deals, covering nearly a third of the world’s GDP.
• The agreement shows the unshaken political will of Japan and the EU to lead the world as the champions of free trade at a time when protectionism has spread.
• The move contrasts sharply with actions by the US Trump administration, which has introduced steep import tariffs.
• Under the agreement, Japan will scrap almost all its tariffs on EU goods, particularly dairy items like cheese.
• The EU will also eliminate about 99 percent of its tariffs on Japanese goods, including removing levies on Japanese cars and scrapping tariffs on car parts.
Union Government to set up National Database of Arms Licenses system
• Union Ministry of Home Affairs announced to set up the National Database of Arms Licenses system in April 2019.
• It will include names of all arms licence holders, new or old and they will be issued a unique identification number (UIN).
• The move is aimed at keeping tab on authorised private gun holders, many of whom are often found involved in crimes and celebratory firing leading to loss of lives.
• The decision was taken under Section 44 of Arms Act, 1959 (54 of 1959) by amending the Arms Rules, 2016.
• These rules will be called the Arms (Second Amendment) Rules, 2018.
• Under Section 3 of Arms Act, it is essential to obtain arms possession licence issued by competent licensing authority, by any person for acquisition, possession or carrying any firearms or ammunition.
IIT-Madras unveils world’s first remotely operable LEAP microscope
• The IIT-Madras has commissioned remotely operable Local Electrode Atom Probe (LEAP) microscope.
• It is claimed to be world’s first remotely operable LEAP microscope, as it can be remotely operated through special terminal by researchers divided geographically.
• LEAP is high-performance microscope that can provide a precise atom-by-atom view of materials.
• The remotely operable LEAP microscope has been developed in a collaborative exercise involving eight top research institutions in country, spearheaded by IIT-M.
• Other partner institutions are IITs of Bombay, Delhi, Kanpur, Kharagpur and Ropar, International Advanced Research Centre for Powder Metallurgy and New Materials (ARCI) and Board of Research in Nuclear Sciences (BRNS).
All India Institute of Ayurveda signs MoU with IIT Delhi to give scientific validation to Ayurveda
• All India Institute of Ayurveda (AIIA) and IIT-Delhi have signed Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to enhance research in the field of Ayurveda.
• The MoU was signed on sidelines of two-day conference on ‘Raising towards Excellence’ held at New Delhi.
• As of part of MoU, AIIA will invite technological experts from IIT Delhi for research in ancient Indian medicine.
• IIT Delhi does not have medical facility and has lined up 10 projects in Ayurveda research.
• It was the idea of Ministry of AYUSH to utilise technological expertise of IIT Delhi for further research in ancient Indian medicine.
UNEP partners with Google for monitoring impact of human activity on global ecosystem
• UN Environment Programme (UNEP) partnered with Google to monitor impacts of human activity on global ecosystems by using sophisticated online tools.
• The partnership was launched during High-Level Political Forum on Sustainable Development at United Nations (UN) headquarters in New York.
• The aim of the partnership is to develop platform to enable governments, NGO’s and public to track specific environment-related development targets with user-friendly Google front-end.
• Its initial focus will be on freshwater ecosystems including mountains, forests, wetlands, rivers, aquifers and lakes.
• Freshwater ecosystems areas account for 0.01 percent of world’s water but provide habitat for almost 10 percent of world’s known species.
BBC World Service launches its first Gujarati language television news bulletin
• The BBC World Service launched its first Gujarati language television news bulletin as part of an ongoing expansion drive in India.
• ‘BBC Samachar’ will broadcast live five days a week from Delhi and will air on the broadcaster’s partner station GSTV at 8 pm local time.
• The launch is part of a wider BBC World Service expansion, which has seen 12 new language services launched around the world over the last 12 months.
• Four new language services have already been launched online in India, these are Gujarati, Marathi, Punjabi and Telugu.
• ‘BBC Samachar’ joins the Telugu TV bulletin ‘BBC Prapancham’ and the nightly Hindi TV news bulletin ‘BBC Duniya’.
Indo-US delegation meeting on Defence Cooperation
• As part of Indo-US Bilateral Defence Cooperation, the 7th Defence Technology and Trade Initiative (DTTI) meeting was held between India and the US delegation on July 18, 2018.
• The US has designated India as a ‘Major Defence Partner’ and defence relationship between the two countries needs to be strengthened further.
• DTTI is an important forum leading to the 2+2 dialogue between the two countries.
• A number of Joint Working Groups have been established under DTTI to progress mutually agreed projects for the benefit of the Armed Forces.
• The joint working group under the Air Force handling the surveillance platform has made considerable progress. The Indian Navy joint working group is constructively engaged with US Navy for aircraft carrier technology cooperation for the ongoing program.