Today's Headlines

Today's Headlines - 12 December 2022

Orion completes first flight around moon

GS Paper - 3 (Space Technology)

On 11 December 2022, the unmanned Orion spacecraft of NASA completed the first mission of the Artemis lunar programme, travelling around the moon and back 50 years to the day after the last Apollo moon landing. The gumdrop-shaped Orion spacecraft, which was carrying a dummy crew of three mannequins equipped with sensors, was scheduled to land close to Guadalupe Island, off the coast of Mexico's Baja California peninsula.

More about the programme

  1. On 16 November 2022, Orion launched from Cape Canaveral, Florida's Kennedy Space Center atop NASA's massive Space Launch System (SLS), the organisation's largest rocket since the Saturn V of the Apollo period and now the most potent rocket in the world.
  2. For Orion’s 25-day mission, it was less than a week after passing about 127 km above the moon in a lunar fly-by and about two weeks after reaching its farthest point in space, nearly 434,500 km from Earth.
  3. The spacecraft was planned to re-enter Earth's atmosphere at 39,400 kph, or more than 30 times the speed of sound, after ejecting the service module housing its primary rocket system, and drop to the ocean in a fiery 20-minute descent.
  4. The Artemis programme, which intends to send men back to the moon this decade and establish a workable base there as a stepping stone to further manned exploration of Mars, was initiated with the first SLS-Orion mission.


  1. The events surrounding Artemis I's return to Earth also took place on 11 December 1972, which marks the 50th anniversary of Gene Cernan and Harrison Schmitt's Apollo 17 lunar landing.
  2. They were the final of 12 NASA astronauts to set foot on the moon over the course of six separate Apollo missions beginning in 1969.
  3. In comparison to other spacecraft undertaking more routine descents from the International Space Station (ISS) or other trips from low-Earth orbit, Orion will experience more heat, speed, and forces during its return from the moon.


World Bank’s new toolkit for Indian women

GS Paper - 2 (Infrastructure)

The World Bank launched a “Toolkit on Enabling Gender Responsive Urban Mobility and Public Spaces in India” with the aim of suggesting ways to make public transport in Indian cities more inclusive of women’s travelling requirements. The toolkit brings together 50 case studies of best practices and efforts from across the world, along with a special inculcation of the Indian context.

What the case study said?

  1. Studies show that women, especially those from lower socio-economic groups, are among the biggest users of public transport in Indian cities. Their dependence on public transport stems from lower discretionary incomes.
  2. Women have unique mobility patterns, often travelling shorter distances, using multiple modes of transport, and travelling with dependents, during “off-peak hours”.
  3. Studies have shown that lack of safe, inexpensive and reliable public transport has a profound impact on women’s ability to access education and employment opportunities, in turn leading to poorer life outcomes for them.
  4. India’s female labour force participation rate is among the lowest in the world, standing at just 30% in 2019-20. Lack of viable urban transport is frequently cited as a major impediment for women to access better employment opportunities.

Why this toolkit?

  1. First, women have to stitch together various short commutes to fulfil the many responsibilities they have.
  2. For instance, a typical day for a working mother might involve commutes from home to school back to home, then to her place of work, then back to school and back to home. The World Bank recognises this as “trip chaining” and this increases travel costs.
  3. Second, women often also make decisions to use certain kinds of more expensive routes or forms of transport on account of them being perceived to be safer.
  4. For instance, women often take longer routes to travel which are perceived to be more safe, rather than travelling through “unsafe areas”.
  5. All these factors amount together as a “pink tax” that specifically burden women and impede them from making optimal decisions for themselves.

What does the World Bank toolkit suggest?

  1. The World Bank suggests a four-pillared approach to help address prevailing issues in urban transport for women.
  2. First, there has to be greater effort made to understand the on-ground situation with a gender lensGender blind planning and infrastructure development leaves major gaps that specifically impact women but are often not overtly visible.
  3. Second, once prevailing issues are identified, policies and development plans must reflect the concerns of women. For this to happen there must be more women in key institutions in charge of decision making.
  4. Third, the toolkit emphasises on building gender sensitivity and awareness among service providers through mandatory programmes and community action.
  5. Fourth, investment has to be made in better infrastructure and services with a focus on women-friendly design.


Classification of terrorists must end: India at UN

GS Paper -2 (International organization)

India in the U.N. Security Council says that the era of classifying terrorists as "bad" or "good" on the basis of "political convenience" must end immediately. It underline that categorising terror acts by intent as religious or ideologically motivated will dilute the shared global commitment to fighting terrorism.


  1. The terrorist attacks in New Yorkon September 11, 2001 were a turning point in the global approach to counter-terrorism. Since then, London, Mumbai, Paris, many parts of West Asia and Africa have also experienced terrorist attacks.
  2. The threat of terrorism is transnational. Terrorist actors and their supporters, facilitators and financiers collaborate while remaining in different jurisdictions to organise acts anywhere in the world.
  3. Terrorism in all its forms and manifestations must be condemned. There cannot be an exception or justification for any act of terrorism, regardless of its motivation and wherever, whenever and by whosoever committed.

On Afghanistan:

  1. The threat posed by the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant-Khorasan, Al-Qaida, Al-Qaida in the Indian Subcontinent and terrorist groups sheltering in Afghanistan has increased following the takeover of Kabul by the Taliban in August 2021.
  2. It added that the collective expectation of the Security Council, expressed in its resolution 2593 (2021) that was adopted under India’s August 2021 presidency of the Council, was that Afghan soil would not be used for terrorism, to threaten or attack any country, to shelter or train terrorists or to plan or finance terrorist acts.

On Africa:

  1. Africa’s home-grown terrorist groups have found ideological support from global terrorist groups such as Al-Qaida and ISIL.
  2. The terrorist threat was further complicated by pirates and organised criminal networks facilitating trafficking in arms, drugs, humans and finance for these terrorist groups.
  3. The threat continues to grow towards the coastal region of Western Africa.

Way forward to fight terrorism:

  1. It also aims to provide an opportunity for Council members to build on the recent deliberations of the Counter-Terrorism Committee meeting in Mumbai and Delhi.
  2. It share views on the current state of affairs and to aim to arrive at key principles of the global community’s collective fight against terrorism going forward.
  3. India, the current President of the 15-nation U.N. Security Council, will hold two signature events on reformed multilateralism and counter-terrorism to be chaired by External Affairs Minister.
  4. India proposes to organise a briefing of the Security Council on December 15 on ‘Global counter-terrorism approach – principles and the way forward” under the ‘Threats to international peace and security caused by terrorist acts’.


World returning to Ayurveda

GS Paper -2 (Social sector- Health)

The Prime Minister said the world tried various treatment styles and is returning to the ancient treatment methods of Ayurveda. Ayurveda not only talks about physical health but about overall wellness. It virtually inaugurated the Goa-based All India Institute of Ayurveda, Ghaziabad-based National Institute of Unani Medicine, and Delhi-based National Institute of Homeopathy from Goa.


  1. The PM said on the 9th World Ayurveda Congress (WAC) and Arogya Expo. Representatives from more than 50 countries took part in the Ayurveda Congress.
  2. It expressed happiness that more than 30 countries have accepted Ayurveda as a traditional medicine system.
  3. He also underlined the need for evidence-based generation of the database for Ayurveda which will fulfil the parameters of modern science.
  4. Modern science and treatment rely on the evidence-based database. The Ayurveda sectors need to generate such a database. The Union government’s Ayush Portal already has some 40,000 research studies uploaded.
  5. He announced the country will have a National AYUSH Research Consortium soon.
  6. He said Ayurveda and Yoga tourism is possible in a state like Goa and the inauguration of the All India Institute of Ayurveda could be one of the steps in that direction. Also, the global centre for traditional medicine is being set up in Gujarat.


  1. The Ministry of AYUSH is taking various initiatives for promoting Ayurveda, Siddha, Unani and Homeopathy systems across the country.
  2. Ministry of AYUSH is implementing Centrally Sponsored Scheme of National AYUSH Mission (NAM) through State / UT Governments and providing financial assistance to them for development and promotion of AYUSH System as per the proposals received in their State Annual Action Plans (SAAPs).
  3. The Ministry of AYUSH is implementing the Central Sector Scheme for Promotion of Information, Education, and Communication (IEC) in AYUSH.
  4. The Ministry of AYUSH is presently implementing Centrally Sponsored Scheme of National AYUSH Mission (NAM).  Under ‘Medicinal Plants component of the NAM scheme, the Ministry is supporting market driven cultivation of prioritized medicinal plants in identified clusters/zones within selected districts of States.

As per the scheme guidelines, the support is provided for:

  1. Cultivation of prioritized medicinal plants on farmer’s land.
  2. Establishment of nurseries with backward linkages for raising and supply of quality planting material.
  3. Post-harvest management with forward linkages.
  4. Primary processing, marketing infrastructure etc.