[Newsbits] 17-20.03.2024 – Vechur Cow, SOrTeD rocket, Grok Chatbot & More

newsbits mindmap notes
/ Animal Husbandry, Species
Vechur Cow mind map
Recent News
Sosamma Iype honored
Padma Shri for native cow breed conservation
Genome decoding
Indian Institute of Science Education and Research
Identified gene variations
Milk quality
Disease resistance
Promotion of native breeds
Importance of genetic diversity
Benefits of indigenous cattle
Named after
Vechoor village
Kottayam district
Kerala, India
Bos indicus species
Size and Characteristics
World's smallest cattle breed
Guinness World Records recognition
Average size
Length: 124 cm
Height: 87 cm
Around 130 kg
Varied, commonly light red or black
Small, backward-curved horns
Long, narrow face
Milk Production
Up to 3 liters/day
High medicinal value
Ayurveda and scientific studies support
Contains A2 beta casein
Beneficial over A1 variant
Conservation Efforts
Sosamma Iype's role
1989 conservation unit establishment
1998 Vechur Conservation Trust formation
FAO Critical-Maintained Breeds List in 2000
1997 Roslin Institute patent dispute
Alleged genetic code piracy
Claims found baseless
Significance and Uses
Medicinal properties
Milk and Ghee
High disease resistance
Cultural importance
Once given as wedding gifts
Current Status
Over 5,000 cows in India
Focused conservation and breeding programs
Partnerships with national and international organizations

The Vechur cow, originating from the village of Vechoor in Kerala, India, is renowned for being the world’s smallest cattle breed, a status confirmed by the Guinness World Records. This breed is characterized by its diminutive stature, with an average length of 124 cm and height of 87 cm, and a weight of around 130 kg. Despite their small size, Vechur cows are prolific milk producers, yielding up to 3 liters per day. This milk is noted for its medicinal properties, supported by both Ayurvedic tradition and scientific research, particularly due to its A2 beta casein content, which is associated with health benefits over the A1 variant found in most commercial dairy products.

Conservation efforts for the Vechur cow have been significant, led by Sosamma Iype and her team since 1989, culminating in the formation of the Vechur Conservation Trust in 1998. These efforts were recognized when the breed was listed on the FAO’s World Watch List of Domestic Animal Diversity in the ‘Critical-Maintained Breeds List’ in 2000, highlighting the breed’s risk of extinction and the urgent need for its preservation.

Controversy once surrounded the Vechur cow in 1997 when environmentalist Vandana Shiva accused The Roslin Institute in Scotland of attempting to patent the cow’s genetic code, a charge that was later found to be baseless. Today, the Vechur cow is celebrated not only for its unique size and the medicinal value of its milk but also as a symbol of successful conservation efforts, with more than 5,000 cows now found across India. These cows continue to be a focus of conservation and breeding programs, supported by partnerships with various national and international organizations​

Tiger Triumph-24 Exercise mind map
Recent News
Tiger Triumph-24 conducted
From 18 to 31 March 2024
On Eastern Seaboard
18 to 31 March 2024
Strengthen bilateral ties
Enhance disaster response capabilities
Bilateral tri-Service HADR Exercise
Indian Context
Navy ships with helicopters and landing crafts
Navy aircraft
Army personnel and vehicles
Air Force aircraft and helicopters
Rapid Action Medical Team (RAMT)
US Context
Navy Ships
Troops from US Marine Corps and US Army
Eastern Seaboard
India and US
Navy, Army, Air Force
Navy, Marine Corps, Army
Harbour Phase
18 to 25 March 2024
Training Visits
Subject Matter Expert Exchanges
Sports Events
Social interactions
Sea Phase
After Harbour Phase
HADR operations
Develop interoperability
Refine SOPs for HADR operations
Enhance readiness and coordination
Way Forward
Strengthen strategic partnership
Promote regional stability
Prepare for joint humanitarian missions

The Tiger Triumph-24 exercise is a bilateral tri-service Humanitarian Assistance and Disaster Relief (HADR) operation conducted between India and the United States from March 18 to 31, 2024, on the Eastern Seaboard. This exercise involves comprehensive participation from both nations’ armed forces, including the Navy, Army, and Air Force, with a focus on developing interoperability, refining Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs), and enhancing readiness for HADR operations. The exercise unfolds in two phases: the Harbour Phase, involving training, expert exchanges, and social interactions, and the Sea Phase, where maritime, amphibious, and HADR operations are conducted in simulated scenarios. Tiger Triumph-24 serves to strengthen the strategic partnership between India and the US, enhancing their disaster response capabilities and promoting regional stability ​​​​.

RBI State of the Economy Report March 2024 mind map
Recent News:
Key findings:
Predicts 8% economic growth for April-June
Global economic recovery slowing
Exports decreased by around 16% in July
Merchandise exports hit a nine-month low of $32.25 billion
Private consumption and investment may counterbalance export decline
E-way bill volumes showed robust growth
Report released in March 2024
To provide a snapshot of India's economic status
Guides RBI's decisions on interest rates and policies
Darkening Global Outlook:
Risks tilted towards a darker outlook for 2023
Emerging Market Economies:
Faced currency depreciations, capital outflows, slowing growth, and high inflation
Energy Prices:
Uncertainty over prices, potential disruptions due to oil price cap
Rising debt distress, surge in default rates
Indian Growth Outlook:
Inflation likely to moderate but remain above targets
Supported by domestic drivers
Private consumption and investment outlook improving
Headline inflation moderated by 90 basis points to 5.9% in November 2022
Equity markets touched new highs in November
Future Prospects:
India among the fastest growing economies within G20
India's G20 presidency seen as a significant moment
Through analysis of various economic indicators and global events
Provides guidance for economic policy and investment
Highlights India's robust economic resilience and growth prospects
Global economic uncertainties
High inflation and debt distress risks
Way Forward:
Leveraging domestic growth drivers
Navigating global economic challenges strategically

The RBI’s State of the Economy Report from March 2024 serves as an important indicator for India’s economic health and future direction. It predicts an 8% economic growth for the April-June quarter, despite global economic challenges and a slowdown in exports. The report highlights various economic indicators, including inflation rates, investment outlooks, and equity market performances, providing a comprehensive view of the potential challenges and opportunities facing India’s economy. The significance of this report lies in its ability to guide the RBI’s monetary policies and inform investors and the public about the economic landscape, ensuring informed decision-making at all levels​​​​.

ILO Report on Forced Labour Profits mind map
Recent News
Global launch
Profits and Poverty
The Economics of Forced Labour
Estimates profits generated from forced labour
Published in March 2024
Economic growth not beneficial for all
Increase in forced labour and trafficking
21 million in forced labour
Men, women and children
Trafficked, debt bondage, slave-like conditions
Builds on earlier ILO studies
Supply and demand sides of forced labour
Correlation between forced labour and poverty
Updated estimates of global profits
Socio-economic factors
Vulnerability to forced labour
Poverty, lack of education, illiteracy, gender, migration
Chapter overview
Chapter 1
Forced labour understanding and definition
Reviews global forced labour estimates
Chapter 2
Profits from forced labour
New and expanded methodology
Chapter 3
Analysis of socio-economic factors
Household vulnerability to income shocks
Risk factors increasing vulnerability
Global perspective
International Labour Organization (ILO)
Standardized data collection methods
Development of robust strategies
Strengthening of laws and policies
Expansion of preventive measures
Attention to private sector forced labour
Need for comprehensive measures
Involvement of governments, workers, employers, stakeholders
Socio-economic root causes
Difficulties in data collection and analysis
Way Forward
Address socio-economic causes
Eradicate forced labour
Collaborative efforts to end forced labour

The ILO Report on Forced Labour Profits, released in March 2024, reveals the staggering reality of 21 million individuals trapped in forced labour globally, generating substantial illegal profits. This comprehensive study builds on previous research, highlighting the intricate relationship between forced labour and poverty. It presents updated profit estimates and delves into the socio-economic factors that predispose individuals to such exploitation, including poverty, lack of education, and migration. The report underscores the urgent need for a multifaceted approach involving governments, businesses, and other stakeholders to address the root causes of forced labour and to implement effective prevention and eradication strategies.

Global Climate Report 2023 of WMO mind map
Recent News:
2023 warmest year on record
Above pre-industrial levels by 1.45°C
Publication date: 30 November 2023
Final report expected: First half of 2024
Inform COP28 negotiations
Showcase global warming trends
Greenhouse Gases:
Carbon dioxide, methane, nitrous oxide at record highs
Global Temperatures:
Mean near-surface temperature up by 1.40°C
June-October set record monthly temperatures
Sea surface temperatures:
April-September at record highs
Ocean heat content:
Highest level in 65-year observational record
Sea level rise:
Highest in satellite record since 1993
Antarctic sea-ice at record low
Arctic sea-ice below normal
Extreme glacier melt in western North America and European Alps
Extreme weather:
Death and devastation globally
Global impact with specific regions highlighted
Including East Africa, Pakistan, China, and Europe
WMO (World Meteorological Organization)
UN (United Nations)
IPCC (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change)
Data from National Meteorological and Hydrological Services
Regional climate centres, UN partners, climate scientists
Six leading international datasets
Renewable energy capacity grew nearly 10% in 2022
Transition to renewable energy cheaper and more accessible
Socio-economic impacts:
Food insecurity
Mass migration
Billions in loss and damage
Environmental impacts:
Shifts in nature's events
Threats to ecosystems
Way Forward:
Investing in climate monitoring
Early warning systems
Transition to renewable energy
Drastic reductions in greenhouse gas emissions

The Global Climate Report 2023 from the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) starkly underscores that 2023 was the warmest year on record, with global temperatures soaring to 1.45°C above pre-industrial levels. This alarming increase spotlights the critical need for concerted global action towards sustainable energy sources and drastic emissions reductions. The report, poised to influence discussions at COP28, aggregates data that paints a dire picture of rising sea levels, shrinking polar ice, and an escalation in extreme weather events, all contributing to significant environmental, economic, and human tolls. Amidst the challenges, the report identifies a silver lining in the growth of renewable energy capacities and the reduced costs of transitioning to such sustainable sources, emphasizing the potential for mitigative action against climate change’s worst effects​​​​​​​​.

Grok Chatbot mind map
Recent News:
December 2023 launch to Premium+ subscribers
Political Compass test responses left-wing and libertarian
Misinformation on news events noted by Vice
Two modes: fun and regular
Launched in December 2023
Grok-1 development over four months
Response to the rise of ChatGPT
Musk's desire for a politically neutral AI
Generative AI chatbot
Direct access to Twitter (X)
Progressive answers on social justice, climate change, transgender identities
Misinformation on news events
Fun mode vs regular mode
Available through X (Twitter) platform
Initially for X Premium+ subscribers
Developed by xAI
Initiative by Elon Musk
Comparisons to ChatGPT
Human-guided feedback, RLHF
Real-time access to Twitter (X)
Internet browsing capabilities
Planned Grok-1.5 improvements
Real-time info access
Handles taboo or harmful questions
Seamlessly integrates with X
Expected rapid improvements
Unique twist in AI interactions
Misinformation and false timelines
Relies on X's disinformation
Prone to hallucinating
Requires X Premium+ subscription
Way Forward:
Continued improvement and training
Expansion of user access
Incorporation of multimodal capabilities
Ethical and responsible AI development focus

Grok Chatbot, a creation of xAI initiated by Elon Musk, was introduced as a direct competitor to ChatGPT. It distinguishes itself by offering real-time access to Twitter (X), enabling it to discuss current events and display real posts from X as references. Unlike ChatGPT, Grok aims for minimal political correctness and has been characterized by its wit and edginess, including a “fun mode” for more colorful language. However, its reliance on X for real-time information has led to criticism over misinformation and a tendency to promote unverified claims. It’s available exclusively to X Premium+ subscribers, with future updates expected to enhance its capabilities and ethical framework

/ Space
Agnibaan SOrTeD Rocket mind map
Recent News
March 2024 launch
Satish Dhawan ALP
Mass simulator payload
Suborbital mission
First flight planned for September 2023
Launch on 22nd March
To showcase technologies
For upcoming Agnibaan orbital rocket
Agnibaan Rocket
Produced by Agnikul Cosmos
Chennai, India
Three stages
First stage
Engines 4/5/6/7 × Agnilet
Thrust 140 kN (sea level)
Burn time 285 sec
Propellant LOX/RP-1
Second stage
Engine 1 × Agnilet
Thrust 25 kN (sea level)
Burn time 355 sec
Propellant LOX/RP-1
Third stage
Engine 1 × Agnilet
Propellant LOX/RP-1
Capacity to LEO
Altitude 700 km
Mass 100 kg
Launch history
Status Under Development
SOrTeD (Sub-Orbital Tech Demonstrator)
Single-stage suborbital rocket
Fueled by Agnilet engine
Vertical launch
Unique takeoff mechanism
Without guide rails
Launch from Satish Dhawan Space Centre
Agnikul Cosmos
Co-founder and CEO Srinath Ravichandran
Pioneering advancements in rocketry
Department of Space
Technological assistance
Alaska Aerospace Corp.
Commercial launch pad agreement
Manufactured by 3D printing
Liquid oxygen and Kerosene (Kerolox)
India’s first Kerolox propellant rocket
Showcases key advancements
In rocket technology
Leap forward in propulsion technology
Developmental challenges
Under Development status
Way Forward
Validation of rocket systems
For more ambitious projects

The Agnibaan SOrTeD Rocket is an innovative project under development by Agnikul Cosmos, a space startup based in Chennai, India. The Agnibaan rocket, with its three stages, is designed to place satellites into low Earth orbit, showcasing India’s growing capabilities in space technology. The SOrTeD (Sub-Orbital Tech Demonstrator), specifically, is a single-stage suborbital rocket intended to demonstrate the technologies that will be used in the Agnibaan orbital rocket. A notable aspect of this initiative is the use of 3D printing technology for manufacturing the entire rocket, including its Agnilet engine, a single-piece, semi-cryogenic engine fueled by a mixture of liquid oxygen and kerosene. The planned launch from the Satish Dhawan Space Centre marks a significant milestone, not only as India’s first rocket to utilize Kerolox propellant but also for its innovative vertical launch mechanism that eschews traditional guide rails. This project represents a leap forward in propulsion technology and has the potential to significantly impact India’s capabilities in space exploration and satellite deployment​​​​​​.

LAMITIYE-2024 mind map
Joint Military Exercise
India and Seychelles
In Creole Language
Biennial Training Event
Since 2001
10th Edition
March 18-27, 2024
45 Personnel Each
Indian Gorkha Rifles
Seychelles Defence Forces (SDF)
Enhance Interdiction Operations
Peri-Urban Scenarios
Under Chapter VII of the UN Charter
Promote Cooperation and Interoperability
During Peacekeeping Operations
Build and Promote Bilateral Military Ties
Exchange of Skills, Experience, and Simulated Exercises
Showcasing Modern Equipment and Technology
Thwarting Possible Threats in Semi-Urban Environment
Joint Training, Planning, and Execution
Fully Fledged Tactical Exercises
Field Training Exercises
War Discussions, Lectures, and Demonstrations
Verification Exercise
Develops Mutual Understanding
Enhances Jointness Between the Armies
Promotes Collaborative Partnership
Facilitates Sharing of Best Practices
Capital: Victoria
Currency: Seychellois Rupee
President: Wavel Ramkalawan

LAMITIYE-2024 is a significant joint military exercise between India and Seychelles, symbolizing the deep friendship and cooperation between the two nations. This biennial training event, held since 2001, brings together 45 personnel each from the Indian Gorkha Rifles and the Seychelles Defence Forces (SDF) to enhance interdiction operations in peri-urban scenarios, promote interoperability during peacekeeping operations, and build bilateral military ties. The 10th edition of this exercise includes showcasing modern equipment, tactical exercises in a semi-urban environment, and a series of field training exercises, discussions, and demonstrations, culminating in a verification exercise. This collaboration not only strengthens military capabilities but also fosters mutual understanding and partnership between the two armies​​​​​​.

/ Physics, Space
Astrophysical Tau Neutrinos mind map
Recent News
IceCube identifies seven astrophysical tau neutrino candidates
First evidence of high-energy astrophysical neutrinos in 2013
Observations confirmed with a significance greater than five sigma
Observation period covers 9.7 years of IceCube data
To study astrophysical neutrinos from cosmic accelerators
Investigate neutrino oscillations over cosmological distances
Tiny, weakly interacting subatomic particles
Can travel astronomical distances
IceCube Neutrino Observatory
Cubic-kilometer-sized telescope
Located at the South Pole
Uses digital optical modules (DOMs) to detect neutrinos
Double Cascade Events
Signature of high-energy tau neutrino interactions
Convolutional Neural Networks (CNNs)
Trained to distinguish tau neutrinos from backgrounds
South Pole
IceCube Collaboration
Approximately 300 physicists
59 institutions
14 countries
Key Personnel
Doug Cowen, professor of physics at Penn State University
Neutrinos interact with molecules in ice, producing charged particles
Charged particles emit blue light, detected by DOMs
CNNs analyze images derived from simulations and real data
Enhances understanding of cosmic accelerators
Opens new era in astronomy with astrophysical neutrinos
Provides insights into neutrino oscillations
Difficulty in detecting tau neutrinos due to their elusive nature
No specific tool for determining energy and direction of tau neutrinos
Way Forward
Incorporate more IceCube strings in future analyses
Develop real-time detection algorithms for tau neutrinos
Explore the possibility of leveraging tau neutrinos to uncover new physics

Astrophysical tau neutrinos are subatomic particles that play a crucial role in understanding cosmic phenomena and the fundamental aspects of the universe. These neutrinos are challenging to detect due to their weak interaction with matter, but their observation can provide valuable insights into cosmic accelerators and the processes that generate high-energy particles in space. The IceCube Neutrino Observatory, located at the South Pole, has successfully identified several candidate events for astrophysical tau neutrinos, marking a significant advancement in the field of astrophysics. This discovery opens new avenues for research, including the study of neutrino oscillations over vast cosmological distances and the exploration of the underlying mechanisms of neutrino production from astrophysical sources.

Signals Technology Evaluation and Adaptation Group (STEAG) mind map
Recent News
Indian Army established STEAG
March 18, 2024
Develop technologies for future battlefield
Research and evaluation unit
Focuses on futuristic communication technologies
Technologies include
Artificial Intelligence
Machine Learning
Quantum Computing
Spectrum coverage
Complete spectrum of wired and wireless systems
Harness niche technology
Leverage cutting-edge solutions
Identify suitable cases for defence applications
Collaboration with academia and industry
Technology Domains
Electronic exchanges
Mobile communications
Software-defined radios
Electronic warfare systems
5G and 6G networks
Quantum technologies
AI and Machine Learning
Technical scouting
Management of core ICT solutions
Provide user interface support
Maintenance and upgradation of technologies
Indian Army
Army Chief
Gen Manoj Pande
Emphasized need for new technologies
Premier organization of its kind
Bridge divide between armed forces and academia/industry
Aligns with Atmanirbhar Bharat and Start-Up India
Promotes self-reliance in high-end communication technologies
Game changer in communication technologies for military
Addresses need for better communication in modern warfare
Bolsters capabilities in the digital domain

The Signals Technology Evaluation and Adaptation Group (STEAG), established by the Indian Army, is an elite unit focusing on the research and evaluation of futuristic communication technologies such as 6G, AI, machine learning, and quantum computing. Created to prepare for future battlefield scenarios, STEAG aims to harness niche technologies, work with academia and industry, and promote self-reliance in high-end communication tech. It will explore various technology domains, including mobile communications and electronic warfare, to enhance the Army’s capabilities in the digital domain.

/ Species
Inter-State Transportation of Captive Elephants mind map
Recent News:
Gazette notification issued:
Date: Thursday before 16 Mar 2024
Allows inter-state transportation
Supreme Court expands High-Powered Committee's scope:
Date: Friday following the Gazette notification
Scope: Across India
For: Advancement of elephant welfare
Address shortage for festivals:
Example: Thrissur Pooram needs close to 100 elephants
Welfare and rehabilitation:
Across India
Gazette notification:
Fitness examination required:
By veterinary expert
Application process:
Submit to Chief Wildlife Warden
Within seven days to deputy conservator of forest
Transfer conditions:
Owner's inability to maintain
Better upkeep available
Chief Wildlife Warden's approval
Elephant must be accompanied:
By mahout and assistant
With fitness and health certificates
Supreme Court ruling:
High-Powered Committee:
Jurisdiction: PAN India
For wild animals' welfare
Notable impact: Thrissur, Kerala
Committee's jurisdiction: Across India
Paramekkavu Devaswom:
Role: Festival organizer, amendment initiator
Supreme Court of India:
Empowered High-Powered Committee
Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change (MoEFCC):
Issued the Gazette notification
Gazette notification details:
Examination and certification process
Application and approval process
Accompaniment and health requirements
Quarantine protocol
Supreme Court decision:
Extended High-Powered Committee's scope
Addresses elephant shortage for festivals
Aims at better welfare and upkeep
Streamlines transportation process
Potential for misuse:
Concerns over trade disguise
Contrary to Elephant Task Force 2010 recommendations
Way Forward:
Monitoring and regulation:
To prevent misuse
Ensure welfare standards

The central government recently issued a Gazette notification that allows the inter-state transportation of captive elephants, a move that came ahead of the Lok Sabha elections and was welcomed by festival organizers in Kerala, notably for the Thrissur Pooram festival which requires close to 100 elephants. The Supreme Court has also expanded the scope of a High-Powered Committee, giving it jurisdiction across India to enhance the welfare, care, and rehabilitation of elephants and other wild animals. This committee is empowered to conduct necessary checks and recommend actions for the welfare of these animals across the country. The regulations require a fitness examination of the elephants before transportation, submission of an application by the owner to the Chief Wildlife Warden, and quarantine of the elephants post-transportation. While these moves have been welcomed for addressing the shortage of elephants for cultural festivals and their welfare, there have been criticisms and concerns over potential misuse for trade under the guise of transfer​​​​​​​​.

/ Awards & Honors
Sangita Kalanidhi Award mind map
Recent News:
Awarded Sangita Kalanidhi
By: Madras Music Academy
Date: March 17, 2024
Announced: March 17, 2024
To Preside Over: December 15, 2024 - January 1, 2025
Ceremony: January 1, 2025
Use of Music:
For Social Reform
To Carnatic Music
For Social Causes
Sangita Kalanidhi Award:
Highest in Carnatic Music
Gold Medal
Location: Chennai
Thodur Madabusi Krishna:
Carnatic Vocalist
Social Activist
Ramon Magsaysay, 2016
Semmangudi Srinivasa Iyer
Grand-nephew of TT Krishnamachari
Other Awardees:
Parassala Ravi
Geetha Raja
Thiruvaiyyaru Brothers
HK Narasimhamurthy
Margaret Bastin
Presiding Over:
98th Annual Conference
Other Awards:
Sangita Kala Acharya
TTK Award
Musicologist Award
For Musical Excellence
Social Engagement
Way Forward:
Of Musical Innovation
Social Advocacy

TM Krishna, a prominent Carnatic musician known for his efforts in using music as a medium for social reform, has been conferred the prestigious Sangita Kalanidhi Award by the Madras Music Academy. The award, considered the highest accolade in Carnatic music, recognizes Krishna’s contributions to the art form and his engagement in various social causes. Krishna is not only celebrated for his musical talent but also for his activism and writings that address and challenge societal issues. This acknowledgment comes as a testament to his impactful career that spans music, literature, and social activism. The ceremony is part of the Academy’s annual tradition, highlighting the deep-rooted cultural heritage and continuing evolution of Carnatic music.

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