As a part of its proposed manned space mission, India will launch the Indian Data Relay Satellite System(IDRSS) to improve data relay and communication links with its remote sensing/earth observation satellites.
- IDRSS satellites are of the 2,000 kg class and would be launched on the GSLV launcher to geostationary orbits about 36,000 km away. A satellite in GEO covers a third of the earth below and three of them can provide total coverage.
- The IDRSS is planned to track and be constantly in touch with Indian satellites, in particular those in low earth orbits which have limited coverage of earth.
- The proposed system will also reduce the dependence on the ground stations in tracking satellites.
- ISRO, whose roadmap is dotted with advanced LEO missions such as space docking, space station, as well as distant expeditions to moon, Mars and Venus. It will also be useful in monitoring launches.
- Older space majors such as the U.S. and Russia started their relay satellite systems in the late 1970s-80s and already have around 10 satellites each. They have used them to monitor their respective space stations Mir and the International Space Station, and trips that dock with them, as well as the Hubble Space Telescope.
- India has the largest remote sensing satellite system orbiting in the space.
- India is launching many satellites – nano, micro and small – in the low earth orbit. Their monitoring is now done by the ground stations in India and outside. But monitoring of satellites by ground station has gaps.
- Railways are working on an ambitious project to manufacture a 300 kW fuel cell based hybrid locomotive that can propel a passenger train on a suburban route by the end of 2021.
- Its energy source is hydrogen, it can be a totally zero-emissions locomotive.
- At present, based on real world utilization of the fuel-cell hybrid locomotive, use of PEM (proton exchange membrane) based hydrogen fuel-cells in the harsh rail environment has technically been proven.
- Fuel cell locomotives are expected to be slightly more energy efficient than diesel locomotives.
- The hybrid locomotive will be the heaviest and most powerful fuel cell locomotive manufactured yet. The manufacturing work shall be done by DMW/Patiala.
- A fuel cell combines hydrogen and oxygen to produce electricity, heat, and water.
- Fuel cells operate best on pure hydrogen. But fuels like natural gas, methanol, or even gasoline can be reformed to produce the hydrogen required for fuel cells. Some fuel cells even can be fuelled directly with methanol, without using a reformer.
- Fuel cells work like batteries, but they do not run down or need recharging and will produce electricity as long as fuel (hydrogen) is supplied.
- Direct emissions from a fuel cell vehicle are just water and a little heat.
- The Mizoram government will be organising ZoKutpui (festival) in at least 10 states across India and countries such as US, Myanmar and Bangladesh.
- The first edition of the festival will start on January 9 in Vanghmun in Tripura and will be held over three days.
- It is an attempt to unify and strengthen the brotherhood among various Mizo tribes living in different parts of the world.
- The event will witness various cultural programmes by different Mizo tribes, besides performance by various artistes belonging to Zo ethnic tribes of Mizoram and the Northeast.
IHS Markit India Services Business Activity Index
A monthly survey showed that India’s services sector activity gained momentum and touched a five-month high in December.
- The IHS Markit India Services Business Activity Index improved from 52.7 in November to 53.3 in December, it highlighting the second-strongest rate of increase in output.
- On the prices front, input costs increased further in December, with monitored firms citing higher charges for food, fuel, medical products and transport.
- The survey noted that inflationary pressures intensified, with the fastest rise in input costs for almost seven years pushing output charge inflation to a 22-month high.
About HIS Markit PMI:
- Purchasing Managers’ Index™ (PMI™) data are compiled by IHS Markit for more than 40 economies worldwide.
- The monthly data are derived from surveys of senior executives at private sector companies and are available only via subscription.
- The PMI dataset features a headline number, which indicates the overall health of an economy, and sub-indices, which provide insights into other key economic drivers such as GDP, inflation, exports, capacity utilization, employment and inventories.
- The PMI data are used by financial and corporate professionals to better understand where economies and markets are headed, and to uncover opportunities.
RBI tightens supervisory action framework for Urban Cooperative Banks.
- The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) revised the Supervisory Action Framework (SAF) for Urban Cooperative Banks (UCBs) on January 6, with triggers more stringent than before, in order to take corrective action against weak banks.
- It aim to prevent PMC Bank-like scams, caused by large exposure to one group.
- UCBs may be placed under PCA if net non-performing assets (NPAs) exceed 6 per cent of net advances, incurs losses for two consecutive financial years or has accumulated losses and capital adequacy falls below 9 per cent.
- The central bank can ask UCB to submit a board-approved action plan for reducing its net NPAs below 6%. RBI can also order curtailment of sanction or renewal of credit facilities to sectors having high proportion of defaults after threshold is breached.
- RBI can also put restrictions on declaration or payment of dividend without prior approval. The regulator also has option of putting restriction on fresh loans and advances carrying risk-weights more than 100% after net NPAs of UCB cross 6%.
- The supervisory action framework seeks an expeditious resolution of UCBs experiencing financial stress. Earlier on December 31, the regulator released final guidelines for setting up a board of management (BoM) for UCBs.
- According to the guidelines, UCBs, with deposits of Rs 100 crore and above, will constitute the BoM, which will be a mandatory requirement for opening new branches.
- The main functions of the Board of Management (BoM) include recommending action for recovery of NPAs, One Time Settlement and assisting the board in monitoring the same.
- PCA (Prompt Corrective Action) framework is supervisory tool of RBI, which involves monitoring of certain performance indicators of banks to check their financial health early warning exercise to ensure that banks do not go bust. Its objective is to facilitate banks to take corrective measures including those prescribed by RBI, in timely manner to restore their financial health.
- PCA framework is invoked on banks when they breach any of three key regulatory trigger points (or thresholds). They are capital to risk weighted asset ratio, net non-performing assets (NPA) and Return on Assets (RoA).
- Depending on risk thresholds set in PCA framework, banks are put under two type of restrictions, mandatory and discretionary depending upon their placement in PCA framework levels.
- The mandatory restrictions are on dividend, branch expansion, directors’ compensation.
- Discretionary restrictions include curbs on lending and deposit.