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India`s first indigenously designed and developed long range sub-sonic cruise missile ‘Nirbhay’ was successfully flight tested.

About Nirbhay:

Nirbhay is an all-weather low-cost long-range cruise missile with stealth and high accuracy. The missile has a range of more than 1000 km. It weighs about one tonne and has a length of 6 metres. Its relatively slow flight speed, just 1,000 km per hour, allows it to navigate its way precisely to the target.

The Nirbhay cruise missile is an Indian version of the American Tomahawk, which became an icon of high-tech warfare in the 1991 Gulf War through televised CNN footage of Tomahawks flying through the streets of Baghdad and precisely entering target buildings through open windows.

It carries a ring laser gyroscope for high-accuracy navigation and a radio altimeter for the height determination. It is capable of being launched from multiple platforms on land, sea and air and shall be inducted into Indian Navy, Army, and Air Force. In particular, Nirbhay is being adapted for the Indo/Russian Su-30MKI. The missile is capable of carrying nuclear warheads.

The two-stage missile Nirbhay is able to pick out a target and attack it among multiple targets. The missile has a loitering capability, i.e., it can go round a target and perform several manoeuvres and then re-engage it. Flying at treetop level and navigating its way through heavily defended enemy airspace where a manned fighter would be quickly shot down by anti-aircraft missiles and guns, the Nirbhay is better equipped to survive the flight to its target.

The missile is capable of flying at different altitudes ranging from 500 m to 4 km above the ground and can also fly at low altitudes to avoid detection by enemy radar.

A key hurdle to developing a long-range cruise missile like the Nirbhay is the Missile Technology Control Regime (MTCR), which forbids signatory countries from assisting or providing technology to any other country developing a cruise missile with a range of 300 km or more. India and Russia legally collaborated in developing the Brahmos supersonic cruise missile because its range was pegged at 295 km, just below the MTCR limit. In building the Nirbhay, India has had to go it alone.

Sources: PIB, business-standard, wiki.



The National Air Quality Index

The National Air Quality Index which was inaugurated recently is ‘One Number- One Colour-One Description’ for the common man to judge the air quality within his vicinity. The formulation of the index was a continuation of the initiatives under Swachh Bharat Mission envisioned by the Hon’ble Prime Minister.

The index constituted part of the Government’s mission to introduce the culture of cleanliness. Institutional and infrastructural measures were being undertaken in order to ensure that the mandate of cleanliness was fulfilled across the country. As a part of the process, clean air would be a part of Peoples’ campaign to take up the issue in a mission mode.

Under the new measurement process, an effort has been made to include a comprehensive set of parameters. While the earlier measuring index was limited to three indicators, the current measurement index had been made quite comprehensive by the addition of five additional parameters. The initiatives aim at balancing environment and conservation and development.

Traditionally, air quality status has been reported through voluminous data. Thus, it was important that information on air quality is put up in public domain in simple linguistic terms that is easily understood by a common person. Air Quality Index (AQI) is one such tool for effective dissemination of air quality information to people. An Expert Group comprising medical professionals, air quality experts, academia, advocacy groups, and SPCBs was constituted and a technical study was awarded to IIT Kanpur. IIT Kanpur and the Expert Group recommended an AQI scheme.

There are six AQI categories, namely Good, Satisfactory, Moderately polluted, Poor, Very Poor, and Severe. The proposed AQI will consider eight pollutants (PM10, PM2.5, NO2, SO2, CO, O3, NH3, and Pb) for which short-term (up to 24-hourly averaging period) National Ambient Air Quality Standards are prescribed.

Based on the measured ambient concentrations, corresponding standards and likely health impact, a sub-index is calculated for each of these pollutants. The worst sub-index reflects overall AQI. Associated likely health impacts for different AQI categories and pollutants have been also been suggested, with primary inputs from the medical expert members of the group.
The AQI values and associated likely health impacts for the identified eight pollutants are as follows:


Associated Health Impacts



Minimal Impact



May cause minor breathing discomfort to sensitive people.

Moderately polluted


May cause breathing discomfort to people with lung disease such as asthma, and discomfort to people with heart disease, children and older adults.



May cause breathing discomfort to people on prolonged exposure, and discomfort to people with heart disease

Very Poor


May cause respiratory illness to the people on prolonged exposure. Effect may be more pronounced in people with lung and heart diseases.



May cause respiratory impact even on healthy people, and serious health impacts on people with lung/heart disease. The health impacts may be experienced even during light physical activity.


Sources: PIB, wiki.


Kachchh Mahotsav

As a first step towards promoting handloom and craft based textiles from the famous Kachchh region of Gujarat, `Kachchh Mahotsav’ was launched.

The exhibition focuses on Kachchh crafts such as Soof, Mirror work, Rabari, Ahir, Patchwork and other embroidered products, Ajrak, Tie & Dye, Batik and Block Printed Textile products, Hand woven Embroidered Shawls, Wooden Lacquerware, Wood Carving, Copper Coated Iron Bell, Embroidered Leather Accessories, Mud/ Clay Work, Rogan Painting.

In an endeavour to promote Indian handicrafts and handlooms, the Union Government had announced setting up of a Handicraft mega cluster in Kachchh. The mega cluster will focus on handcrafted items and craft based textiles from the region.

Kachchh is known for its distinctive traditional crafts, from embroidery to jewellery-making and carving. Using simple materials, the artisans create objects of great beauty. The Mahotsav includes Kachchi crafts range from Block printing on textiles, Bandhni of the Khatris, Patch work of Bhirandiyara, leather creations by Meghwal artisans, besides traditional wood and lacquer work and Rogan, the extremely fine lacquer work on cloth produced by the artisans of Chobari and Nirona villages, Ajrakh printing from Khavda village to the exquisite beadwork of Rabari women. The folk embroidery of Kachchh is an ongoing and dynamic tradition. Some of the villages and communities have specialised for generations in certain crafts and thereby create masterpieces that delight a connoisseur.

Sources: PIB.


Scheme to check blindness under review

With 30,000 fresh cases of blindness being reported in the country every year, Union Minister for Health and Family Welfare has announced a review of the National Programme for Control of Blindness (NPCB).

A Centrally-funded scheme, the NPCB was launched in 1976 to reduce the prevalence of blindness.

India has the largest burden of global blindness — about 3.5 million with 30,000 new cases being added each year.

National Programme for Control of Blindness:

National Programme for Control of Blindness was launched in the year 1976 as a 100% Centrally Sponsored scheme with the goal to reduce the prevalence of blindness from 1.4% to 0.3%. As per Survey in 2001-02, prevalence of blindness is estimated to be 1.1%. Rapid Survey on Avoidable Blindness conducted under NPCB during 2006-07 showed reduction in the prevalence of blindness from 1.1% (2001-02) to 1% (2006-07). Various activities/initiatives undertaken during the Five Year Plans under NPCB are targeted towards achieving the goal of reducing the prevalence of blindness to 0.3% by the year 2020.

Main causes of blindness are: – Cataract (62.6%) Refractive Error (19.70%) Corneal Blindness (0.90%), Glaucoma (5.80%), Surgical Complication (1.20%) Posterior Capsular Opacification (0.90%) Posterior Segment Disorder (4.70%), Others (4.19%) Estimated National Prevalence of Childhood Blindness /Low Vision is 0.80 per thousand.

Goals & Objectives of NPCB:


  • To reduce the backlog of blindness through identification and treatment of blind at primary, secondary and tertiary levels based on assessment of the overall burden of visual impairment in the country.
  • Develop and strengthen the strategy of NPCB for “Eye Health” and prevention of visual impairment; through provision of comprehensive eye care services and quality service delivery.
  • Strengthening and upgradation of RIOs to become centre of excellence in various sub-specialities of ophthalmology
  • Strengthening the existing and developing additional human resources and infrastructure facilities for providing high quality comprehensive Eye Care in all Districts of the country;
  • To enhance community awareness on eye care and lay stress on preventive measures;
  • Increase and expand research for prevention of blindness and visual impairment
  • To secure participation of Voluntary Organizations/Private Practitioners in eye Care.


p style=”text-align: right”>Sources: The Hindu,