Shane Warne’s second innings with Rajasthan Royals

Shane Warne is making a return to the Rajasthan Royals (RR) in the 2018 edition of the Indian Premier League (IPL). The former Australian captain who had led the team to victory in the inaugural season of the league is to set to take up the role of a mentor this time.

The RRs are returning to IPL after a period of two years during which they were banned from the game on allegations of betting and spot-fixing. In an attempt to recreate the old magic, the management has roped in the legendary spinner who had captained the team from 2008-11. During his stint with the RRs he had played 52 games and picked 56 wickets in total. Joining him will be another Royals old hand, Zubin Bharucha, a former Mumbai batsman, as Head of Cricket.

A statement released by the RRs said, “In his role as mentor, Warne will have a multitude of tasks to fulfil, both on and off the field. His main role will be to work closely with the senior leaders in the team, particularly the captain, to ensure all areas of strategy and tactics are covered.”

Having bagged top notch players like Ben Stokes and Jaydev Unadkat, the most expensive Indian player in this year’s auction, the team is expected to make a noteworthy comeback in this season.



Space X launches the world’s most powerful rocket, Falcon Heavy

Space X launches Falcon Heavy at Kennedy Space Center
Image Source: SpaceX

On 6th February, around 3.45 pm ET, Space X launched Falcon Heavy, believed to be the world’s most powerful rocket from Kennedy Space Center in Florida. It was made up of three core stages powered by nine engines each, which when fired up presented a dazzling sight for the onlookers.

“I’m still trying to absorb everything that happened because it’s still kind of surreal to me,” Elon Musk who helms the pioneering rocket firm told reporters after the launch.

Thousands of people gathered to witness the historic launch streamed live by the company that gained over 3 million views. Apart from the rocket’s smooth take off, what made the event truly spectacular was the sight of two of the three Falcon 9 core stages that had aided in propelling the rocket into lower atmosphere, land side by side on the launch pad almost 8 minutes after the launch.  This is part of Space X’s strategy to cut down the cost of launches by reusing recaptured boosters for future launches. The central core stage however crashed into the Atlantic as it ran out of propellant during its descent.

On board the spacecraft is Musk’s personal Tesla Roadster which he intends to launch into an orbit around the sun. In the live video streaming of the car on YouTube, a space-suited mannequin “Starman” could be seen in the driver’s seat with a “DON’T PANIC” sign on the dashboard.

Musk had earlier said that the car would play David Bowie’s “Space Oddity” on repeat. The Tesla is a substitute for the typical dummy payloads or mass simulators that new rockets carry on their maiden flights.

Provided Space X can establish Heavy’s reliability, it could prove to be a game changer for the company by drawing in a number of possible customers including NASA.

Sources: Money.CNN, CBS

Pune’s Shruti Shrikhande tops UPSC CDS exam

Shruti Shrikhande, a 22 year old from Pune, has emerged as the topper among girls in the Combined Defence Services (CDS) examination conducted by the Union Public Service Commission (UPSC). Shruti, daughter of Brigadier Vinod Shrikhande, is a final year law student at Indian Law Society (ILS) Law College, Pune.

In an interview with Hindustan Times, Shruti said that since her days in Army Public School, Pune, she has dreamt of being in the Armed Forces. The stories of her father’s career experience have always been a strong driving force that kept her motivated during the entire journey.

Talking about the preparation that went into topping the exam, Shruti says that apart from her daily academic regimen of about six hours, an hour was devoted for physical exercise including long-distance running and trekking with friends.

Overall 232 candidates in the country has qualified in the final exam for admission to the Officers Training Academy 107th Short Service Commission course (for men) and 21st Short Service Commission women (non-technical) course, commencing in April 2018. UPSC had released the results on its website, on Thursday, 1st February, 2018. Nipurn Datta has secured the top rank in the exam among boys.

Sources: Hindustan Times, The Indian Express

US Government goes into shutdown as Senate fails to pass new budget

As of 00:01 on 20th January 2018  the United States government has officially shut down after the Senate failed to pass a bill funding the government operations. On Friday night, the Republicans’ effort to keep the government open for one more month was rendered unsuccessful after the bill was rejected by a deficit of 60 votes. This happened amidst failure of the two houses to reach a consensus regarding the young illegal migrants known as dreamers.

Federal law requires agencies to shut down in the eventuality of the Congress failing to allocate money for its functioning, forcing hundreds of “non-essential” federal employees to go on a temporary unpaid leave.  Barring essential services such as national security, postal services, air traffic control, inpatient medical services, emergency outpatient medicine, disaster assistance, prisons, taxation and electricity generation, most of the federal agencies are no longer functional.

The shutdown coincides with the one-year anniversary of Donald Trump’s Presidency. While he took to Twitter accusing Democrats of putting politics above the interests of the American people, Chuck Schumer, the leading Senate Democrat, blamed the president of turning down two bipartisan compromise deals and added that “a Trump shutdown will serve as a perfect encapsulation for the chaos he has unleashed”.

This is the first shutdown to happen in the history of the country while both the White House and the Congress is under the control of the same party. The last one was in 2013 and lasted for 16 days.

Sources – The Guardian, BBC

Indian Navy’s first all-women crew crosses Cape Horn

Image Courtesy: Indian Navy
Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman had flagged off the 56-foot vessel from Goa on September 10.

Cape Horn (Chile), January 19:  On 19th January, 2018 the first all-women crew of Indian Navy successfully crossed the notoriously rough Drake Passage, and rounded Cape Horn off the Southern tip of South America, often called the Mount Everest of sailing.

Congratulating the team, the Prime Minister tweeted, “Wonderful news! Delighted that INSV Tarini has rounded Cape Horn in the last few hours. We are extremely proud of their accomplishments.”

The six-member crew of Indian Naval Sailing Vessel (INSV) Tarini, was flagged-off from Goa on 10th September last year by Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman. The team led by Lieutenant Commander Vartika Joshi, was trained in the Ocean Sailing Node at Goa. They are also involved in the collection of meteorological, ocean and wave data as well as monitoring marine pollution during the course of their journey.

The four scheduled stop points of the five-leg expedition are: Fremantle in Australia, Lyttelton, Port Stanley and Cape Town. The 56-foot vessel reached Lyttelton in New Zealand early last month after their first stop in Australia. Titled ‘Navika Sagar Parikrama’, the expedition is in line with the national policy to empower women to attain their full potential and aims to showcase ‘Nari Shakti’ on a global platform. They are expected to return to Goa in April, 2018.


Source: NDTV, DNA India


Kathputli demolition cause irreparable loss to Students

Image Courtesy: ANI
Delhi High Court reprimanded Delhi Development Authority and Raheja Developers for irresponsible handling of Kathputli Colony demolition.

New Delhi, January 19:  The Delhi High Court on 18th January reprimanded Delhi Development Authority (DDA) and Raheja Developers Limited for the irresponsible way in which the Kathputli Colony demolition was carried out.

It was during the hearing of a PIL filed against the demolition that the court noted that an irreparable loss had been caused to the students of class X and XII, who were forced to move to transit camps along with their families following the demolition.

The bench comprising Acting Chief Justice Gita Mittal and Justice C Hari Shankar warned the authorities of stringent action if in the future they were to conduct demolition drives at a crucial time when students’ exams are approaching. It further directed the AAP government and its transport department to ensure availability of facilities, including transportation to these children and asked it to take immediate steps on the matter.

The Delhi government’s standing counsel Satyakam assured the bench that these problems would be addressed immediately. Responding to the concern raised by the court observers regarding the provision of an adequate and efficient public transportation facility enabling those resettled in Narela to reach their work place on time, it said that a bus facility will be started to take them to Shadipur Depot. It also added that those displaced could access the Public Distribution System by changing their address through online facility.

Home to a large number of puppeteers, magicians, singers and musicians, the Kathputli Colony in West Delhi, spreads over an area of around 14 acres. Despite all resistance against the redevelopment project announced in 2009, DDA evicted the residents of the colony and flattened 400 houses during October – November in 2017.


Sources: The Quint, The Hindu

Whatsapp likely to start digital payment service by end of February

WhatsApp may launch its much awaited payment feature by the end of February this year – thus providing the biggest boost so far to digital payments in India. The Facebook-owned messaging company is currently integrating its Unified Payments Interface (UPI) with prominent banks in the country such as HDFC, State Bank of India, ICICI and Axis bank.

WhatApp had obtained the green signal from the government to integrate with the UPI in July 2017. According to Economic Times, the feature is already in beta (testing) stages with one of the partner banks; depending on its performance during the trials, the service will be made available to the users. In the face of frequent reports of Aadhaar data leaks, the feature is undergoing rigorous security checks to ensure safety of user’s bank data. One of the senior bankers involved in the integration process told ET, “To be able to send money as easily as a text message involves ensuring various levels of encryption to keep the data safe.”

Once functional, WhatsApp will join the likes of Google Tez, PhonePe, Paytm, and the government’s BHIM app (Bharat Interface for Money). Being the most widely used social messaging app in India, it is expected to bring a large section of the previously inaccessible population of the country under the digital payment ecosystem.

UPI emerged as one of the fastest growing interfaces for performing online transactions following the demonetisation drive in November 2016.

Sources: Times Now, Economic Times