Today's Headlines

Today's Headlines - 17 January 2023

Japan, India start first joint fighter jet drill

GS Paper - 2 (International Relations)

Japan and India began their first joint fighter jet exercise on 16 January 2023 near Tokyo as the countries upgraded defence and security ties with an eye on China's growing military might. The 11-day joint exercise will involve eight Japanese fighter jets, with India sending four fighters, two transport aircraft and an aerial refuelling tanker.

More about drill

  1. Around 150 Indian Air Force personnel are taking part in the exercise at the Hyakuri Air Base in Ibaraki prefecture, northeast of Tokyo.
  2. The drill was agreed by the two countries during talks between Japanese and Indian defence and foreign ministers in 2019, but was delayed by the pandemic.
  3. Japan and India -- along with Australia and the United States -- are part of the "Quad" alliance, a grouping of regional powers that is increasingly concerned about China's military and economic influence.
  4. Tokyo has held a string of joint military exercises in recent months, as well as overhauling its defence and security strategy and explicitly airing its concerns about China.
  5. In December, Prime Minister Fumio Kishida's government committed to doubling defence spending to two percent of GDP by 2027, and dubbed China the "greatest strategic challenge ever" to Japan's security.
  6. Last week, Japan inked a new defence deal with Britain and agreed to expand its mutual defence treaty with Washington to attacks in space.

Paytm bank gets RBI nod to operate as BBPOU

GS Paper - 3 (Economy)

Paytm Payments Bank on 16 January 2023 said it has received final approval from the Reserve Bank of India to operate as a Bharat Bill Payment Operating Unit (BBPOU). So far, Paytm Payments Bank Ltd (PPBL) has been undertaking this activity under in-principle authorisation from RBI.


  1. Under Bharat Bill Payment System (BBPS), a BBPOU is allowed to facilitate bill payment services of electricityphoneDTHwatergas insurance, loan repayments, FASTag recharge, education fees, credit card bill and municipal taxes.
  2. BBPS is owned by the National Payments Corporation of India.
  3. PPBL has got the final approval from RBI to operate as Bharat Bill Payment Operating Unit (BBPOU) under the Payment and Settlement Systems Act, 2007.
  4. As an entity under Bharat Bill Payment System (BBPS), PPBL has got the final authorization to conduct bill payment and aggregation business as a BBPOU. Under RBI's guidance, PPBL will display all agent institutions onboard on its website.


Naval exercise 'Varuna' starts

GS Paper - 2 (International Relations)

The 21st edition of the bilateral naval exercise between India and France commenced on the western seaboard on 16 November 2023, the Indian Navy said. Initiated in 1993, the exercise was christened 'Varuna’ in 2001 and has become "a hallmark of India–France strategic bilateral relationship".

More about the exercise

  1. This edition of the exercise will witness participation of indigenous guided missile stealth destroyer INS Chennai, guided missile frigate INS Teg, maritime patrol aircraft P-8I and Dornier, integral helicopters and MiG29K fighter aircraft.
  2. The French Navy will be represented by the aircraft carrier Charles De Gaulle, frigates FS Forbin and Provence, support vessel FS Marne and maritime patrol aircraft Atlantique, it said.
  3. The exercise will be conducted over five days from 16 to 20 January 2023 and will witness advanced air defence exercisestactical manoeuvressurface firingsunderway replenishment and other maritime operations, it said.
  4. Units of both navies will endeavour to hone their war-fighting skills in maritime theatre, enhance their interoperability to undertake multi-discipline operations in the maritime domain and demonstrate their ability as an integrated force to promote peace, security and stability in the region.
  5. Having grown in scope and complexity over the years, this exercise provides an opportunity to learn from each other’s best practices.
  6. The exercise facilitates operational level interaction between the two navies to foster mutual cooperation for good order at sea, underscoring the shared commitment of both nations to security, safety and freedom of the global maritime commons.


ISRO Venus mission ‘Shukrayaan’ by 2031

GS Paper -3 (Space Technology)

  1. Sreekumar, the Satish Dhawan Professor at the Indian Space Research Organisation(ISRO) and advisor to its space science programme, said that theorganisation is yet to receive approval from the Indian government for the Venus mission and that the mission could as a result be postponed to 2031.

More about the news

  1. ISRO’s Venus mission, called Shukrayaan I, was expected to be launched in December 2024.
  2. The idea was born in 2012five years later, ISRO commenced preliminary studies after the Department of Space received a 23% hike in the 2017-2018 budgets. The organisation sought payload proposals from research institutes in April 2017.
  3. Optimal launch windows from Earth to Venus occur once around every 19 months. This is why ISRO has ‘backup’ launch dates in 2026 and 2028 should it miss the 2024 opportunity.
  4. More optimal windows, which further reduce the amount of fuel required at lift-off, come around every eight years.
  5. According to him, both the U.S. and the European space agencies have Venus missions planned for 2031, referring to VERITAS and EnVision, respectively, while “China might go anytime in 2026, 2027.
  6. ISRO had originally hoped to launch Shukrayaan I in mid-2023 but cited the pandemic when it pushed the date to December 2024.
  7. Other ISRO missions, including Aditya L1 and Chandrayaan III, have also been affected by manufacturing delays and commercial launch commitments.

Shukrayaan I

  1. Shukrayaan I will be an orbiter mission. Its scientific payloads currently include high-resolution synthetic aperture radar and ground-penetrating radar.
  2. The mission is expected to study Venus’s geological and volcanic activity, emissions on the ground, wind speed, cloud cover, and other planetary characteristics from an elliptical orbit.


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