India’s strategic leap in Central Asia: The Chabahar Port Agreement

In a move that marks a significant stride in India’s maritime and strategic endeavours, India has inked a 10-year deal with Iran to manage a part of the crucial Chabahar Port.

Located in Iran’s Sistan-Baluchistan province, Chabahar Port stands as a beacon of trade and strategy on the Arabian Sea. It offers India direct access to Afghanistan and Central Asia, bypassing the need to navigate through Pakistan’s territory. This port is a mere 550 nautical miles from Kandla port in Gujarat, making it an accessible and strategic point for India’s western coast.

KnowALLedge Plus:

>Located on the Gulf of Oman, it serves as Iran’s only oceanic port, and consists of two separate ports named Shahid Kalantari and Shahid Beheshti.

>Development of the port was first proposed in 1973 by the last Shah of Iran, though development was delayed by the 1979 Iranian Revolution.

>In October 2017, India’s first shipment of wheat to Afghanistan was sent through the Chabahar Port.

Northern Lights seen from faraway lands in May 2024

As the world slept, the night sky of May 2024 came alive with a celestial display of the aurora borealis, visible far beyond its usual confines. Triggered by the most powerful solar storm in over two decades, the northern lights painted the heavens with an otherworldly palette of colours. Usually seen closer to the Arctic Circle, this time, residents of mainland Europe, America’s East Coast and faraway land like Ladakh in India too had a glimpse of this magnificent spectacle.

KnowALLedge Plus:

>Auroras are natural light displays that occur when charged particles from the sun collide with atoms in Earth’s atmosphere. This collision causes the atoms to become excited, releasing photons, which we see as the colourful lights.

>The colours of the aurora depend on the type of gas molecules involved and the altitude at which the collisions occur. Oxygen molecules, for example, can produce green or red auroras, while nitrogen can create blue or purple hues.

>The phenomenon was studied by ancient astronomers too and was named for the Roman goddess of the dawn, Aurora, and the Greek god of the north wind, Boreas. In the southern hemisphere, this phenomenon is known as Aurora Australis, the southern lights.

Akshaya Tritiya signifies an auspicious occasion of unending prosperity

Akshaya Tritiya, also known as Akha Teej, is a highly revered Hindu and Jain festival that falls on the third lunar day of the bright half (Shukla Paksha) of the Baisakha month. The word ‘Akshaya‘ in Sanskrit means “never diminishing,” and it is believed that any venture started or valuables bought on this day will continue to grow and bring prosperity.

KnowALLedge Plus:

The mythology associated with Akshaya Tritiya is rich and varied, with several legends highlighting its significance:

>In the Mahabharata, during the Pandavas’ exile, Lord Krishna blessed them with the Akshaya Patra, a magical vessel that ensured an endless supply of food.

>Akshaya Tritiya is believed to be the birth anniversary of Lord Parasurama, the sixth incarnation of Lord Vishnu.

>The festival commemorates the day when the sacred Ganges River descended to earth from the heavens, a result of King Bhagiratha’s penance and Lord Shiva’s grace.

>A tale of devotion is tied to this day where Sudama, a childhood friend of Lord Krishna, offers poha (flattened rice) to the deity and is blessed with prosperity, emphasizing the value of friendship and devotion.

>For Jains, Akshaya Tritiya commemorates the first Tirthankara, Rishabhanatha, ending his yearlong fast by consuming sugarcane juice poured into his cupped hands.

Pulitzer Prizes 2024: Everything you need to know

Established in 1917 by publisher Joseph Pulitzer and administered by Columbia University, the Pulitzer Prizes represent the pinnacle of achievement in journalism, literature, and musical composition in the United States. The winners and nominated finalists of the 108th Pulitzer Prize ceremony were announced in the first week of May 2024, through a livestream event.

KnowALLedge Plus:

>Some notable winners of this year include journalists from The New Yorker, The New York Times, The Washington Post, photography staff from Reuters and Associated Press.

>The award for ‘Public Service‘ was handed to ProPublica for its work on the US Supreme Court. A nonprofit Chicago journalism production company dedicated to holding public institutions accountable won two Pulitzer Prizes for local and audio reporting. The Invisible Institute along with City Bureau, won a Pulitzer for a seven-part investigative series on missing Black girls and women in Chicago and how racism and the police response contributed to the problem.

>In arts and letters, the Biography award was given to two authors. Jonathan Eig’s King: A Life is a revelatory portrait of civil rights leader Martin Luther King, Jr. Ilyon Woo also won a Biography Pulitzer for Master Slave Husband Wife: An Epic Journey from Slavery to Freedom.

>The Fiction Pulitzer went to West Virginia writer Jayne Anne Phillips for her novel Night Watch, about a traumatized family in the aftermath of the Civil War. And the Nonfiction prize went to A Day in the Life of Abed Salama: Anatomy of a Jerusalem Tragedy, by Nathan Thrall.

Pakistan launches its first mission to the Moon, in collaboration with China

In a historic leap for Pakistan’s space ambitions, the country has successfully launched its first mission to the moon, named iCUBE Qamar. This groundbreaking endeavor was carried out in collaboration with China, marking a significant milestone in Pakistan’s space exploration journey.

The iCUBE Qamar satellite was launched aboard China’s Chang’E6 lunar probe from the Wenchang Space Launch Site in Hainan, China. The mission was designed and developed by the Institute of Space Technology (IST) in Islamabad, in partnership with Shanghai University and Pakistan’s national space agency, SUPARCO.

KnowALLedge Plus:

Before iCUBE Qamar, Pakistan had embarked on several notable space missions:

>Badr-1 (1985): Pakistan’s first domestically manufactured satellite, marking the beginning of its space journey.

>Badr-B (2001): A follow-up to the initial Badr mission, continuing Pakistan’s presence in space.

>Paksat-1R (2011): A communications satellite launched with the assistance of China, fulfilling a longstanding ambition of Pakistan.

>PRSS-1 & PAK TES-1A (2018): Advanced satellites launched to enhance Pakistan’s capabilities in remote sensing and Earth observation.

Venice introduces entry fee to combat overtourism

In April 2024, Venice started charging a €5 fee for day-trippers entering the city between 8.30 am and 4 pm on designated “black sticker” days, when overcrowding is at its peak.

The fee applies to visitors over the age of fourteen who are not staying overnight in the city. Exemptions are provided for residents, students, commuter workers, and children under 14. Those who fail to comply with the fee requirement face fines ranging from €50 to €300.

KnowALLedge Plus:

>The concept of an entry fee was approved by the Italian government in 2019, inspired by smaller Italian islands like Ponza that charge a disembarkation fee. However, the implementation was delayed due to the Covid-19 pandemic and other preparations.

>In 2023, Venice narrowly escaped being placed on UNESCO’s danger list because of the damage from overtourism on its delicate ecosystem Authorities have also banned big cruise ships from sailing past St Mark’s Square and through the Giudecca canal.

>2023 also saw canals run dry in February during a drought. The Italian city also came under threat of flooding in May.

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