1. Bihar government bans electronic cigarettes in state
Bihar government has banned manufacture, distribution, sale, purchase, display, and advertisement of electronic cigarettes in the state. Anyone violating the ban will attract a jail term of up to 3 years, the government notification stated. E-cigarettes are smoked through electronic nicotine delivery system, which uses liquid nicotine, propylene glycol, glycerine, and water among other substances.
2. ISRO earned almost Rs 300 crore from foreign satellite launches in 2016-17
The Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) earned Rs 288.75 crore by launching satellites for other countries in the last financial year. Though this is less than what it earned between 2015-16 (Rs 420.9 cr), it is almost twice what it earned 2014-15.
India’s space agency launched satellites from Algeria, Canada, Germany, Indonesia, Israel, The Netherlands, Kazakhstan, the United Arab Emirates (UAE), and the United States last year. Till date, ISRO has launched over 200 foreign satellites, including 101 nanosatellites in its historic launch in February last year.
3. India retrieves 12th-century Brahma-Brahmani idol from London, others to follow soon
India has retrieved a 12th-century priceless marble idol of Brahma and his consort Brahmani, which was stolen from Gujarat’s Patan in 2001, from London after a wait of over 16 years. According to ASI officials, the Brahma-Brahmani idol was stolen from the UNESCO World Heritage Site at Rani-ki-Vav (bathing place of the queen) in Patan in November 2001 and smuggled out of the country. An 11th-century sandstone idol of Lord Ganesha from Open Sky Museum was also stolen at the same time.
4. National anthem not mandatory in cinema halls, says Supreme Court, modifies 2016 order
The Supreme Court on Tuesday said playing the national anthem before screening movies in cinema halls is not mandatory, a day after the government asked the top court to put on hold its November 2016 order.
A bench headed by chief justice Dipak Misra said a 12-member inter-ministerial committee, set up by the Centre, would take a final call on the playing of national anthem in the cinemas. The bench, also comprising justices AM Khanwilkar and DY Chandrachud, said the committee should comprehensively look into all the aspects relating to the playing of national anthem and allowed the petitioners to make representations before the panel.
The bench, while disposing of the petitions pending before it, made it clear that the exemption granted earlier to disabled persons from standing in the cinema halls when the national anthem is being played, will remain in force till the committee takes a decision.
5. UIDAI Withdraws Access of Aadhaar Portal From 5,000 Officers
The Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI) has taken action on a media report that Aadhaar data was being sold– it barred around 5,000 officials from accessing the Aadhaar portal.
The action came after a news report said that demographic details of Aadhaar holders was available for Rs 500. A top government official told ET that all the privileges to the officers were withdrawn after the revelation. Now, UIDAI has decided to give access only through biometrics of the person whose details were sought.
6. Tobacco products to carry 85% pictorial warning as court stays Karnataka HC order
Supreme Court on Monday stayed an order by the Karnataka high court which struck down a regulation that tobacco product packages must have a pictorial warning covering 85% of the space. As a result, tobacco companies will have to go back to carrying a pictorial warning covering 85% of cigarette and tobacco packaging. The court emphasised the importance of public health and the harmful effects of tobacco products, observing that the Karnataka high court could not have struck down a policy decision mandating 85% pictorial warning on tobacco products.
7. N Korea agrees to participate in Winter Olympics in S Korea
North Korea has agreed to send a delegation of high-ranking officials, athletes and cheerleaders to the 2018 Winter Olympics in South Korea next month. This comes as the two nations held their first official talks in more than two years. During the meeting, South Korea also proposed that the two Koreas march together during the Games' opening and closing ceremonies.
8. India's fastest supercomputer inaugurated in Pune
India's fastest supercomputer 'Pratyush' was unveiled at Indian Institute of Tropical Meteorology, Pune, on Monday. The system, which will be a national facility for improving weather and climate forecasts, will also help improve India's peak computing capacity from 1 petaflop to 6.8 petaflops. Petaflop is a measure of processing speed and equals a quadrillion floating point operations per second.
9. Dilip Asbe appointed MD & CEO of NPCI
National Payments Corporation of India (NPCI), an umbrella organisation for retail payment systems in India, has appointed Dilip Asbe as Managing Director and CEO of the organisation. Asbe was appointed CEO-in-charge in August last year. He had come in place of AP Hota, whose term as MD and CEO had ended on August 10 last year.
Asbe has been in the NPCI since its inception and has played a pivotal role in designing, building, operationalising and managing large-scale payment processing platforms like the Unified Payments Interface (UPI), Bharat Interface for Money (BHIM), Immediate Payment Service (IMPS), India’s home-grown card network RuPay, and several other initiatives.