BrahMos: Successful Test Fire & History

BrahMos: History & Successful Test Fire

With the latest successful testing of BrahMos missilie amidst border conflict with China, India added another milestone to its missile collaboration, a process continuing for more than 30 years.

Crux of the Matter

Successful Testing
On 18 October 2020, India successfully test-fired its BrahMos supersonic cruise missile. It was launched from INS Chennai, which is a stealth destroyer ship made in India.
The missile has 3 variants: land, air, and naval.

The recent test occurred for the naval variant which has a range of 290 km. It struck the target “with pinpoint accuracy after performing high-level and extremely complex manoeuvres”. It has been developed jointly by India and Russia.

Tests On A Roll
India has successfully tested 11 missiles in the last 2 months. Following are the notable tests:

  • 30 September: Tested Brahmos (surface to surface) – target range of 400 km.
  • 1 October: Tested the Laser-Guided Anti Tank Guided Missile (ATGM).
  • 3 October: Tested Shaurya – hypersonic indigenous missile capable of carrying nuclear warheads
  • 10 October: Tested Rudram-1 – first “indigenous anti-radiation missile” of India.


  • It is a supersonic cruise missile developed by ‘BrahMos Aerospace’.
  • It is a joint venture between Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) of India and NPO Mashinostroyenia (NPOM) of Russia.
  • It was formed in 1988 after India and Russia signed an “Inter-Governmental” agreement, with Dr. A P J Abdul Kalam being the signatory from the Indian side.
  • The name is derived from the Brahmaputra and Moskva rivers of India and Russia respectively.
  • The first successful test launch occurred in 2001, when the missile was fired from a stationary launcher.
  • 2005: First BrahMos missile was inducted, being inducted in the Indian Navy with INS Rajput.
  • Land, submarine, warship variants of the missile have been successfully tested.
  • 2010: It also became the first cruise missile to be tested at supersonic speed in “steep-dive” mode in the world.
  • 2019: The Sukhoi-30 fighter jet variant was tested. In 2020, the Sukhoi 30-MKI fighter aircraft (equipped with BrahMos) was inducted in the Indian Air Force.

Make In India And Specifications
In 2008, BrahMos Aerospace acquired ‘Keltec’, which is a state-owned Indian firm. The aim of the move was to manufacture its components indigenously. Initially, 10-12% of missile components were made in India. This percentage has increased to 65% as of 2018.

  • The Philippines is set to become the first export customer of the supersonic BrahMos cruise missile. The country will acquire two batteries of the missile, with each battery including three mobile autonomous launchers with two to three missile tubes each.
  • BrahMos-NG (Next Generation) is a mini version based on the existing BrahMos, proposed to be inducted in 2024. It will have the same specifications as Brahmos but will weigh around 1.5 tons, 5 metres in length and 50 cm in diameter, making BrahMos-NG 50 percent lighter and three metres shorter than its predecessor.
  • Agni V is India’s first Inter Continental Ballistic Missile (ICBM) which can travel up to 5800km – roughly till the northern parts of China.

Nobel In Economics: What Is Auction Theory?

Nobel In Economics: What Is Auction Theory?

Paul R. Milgrom and Robert B. Wilson were awarded Nobel Prize in Economics for improving the auction theory. We see auctions all around us – from IPL player auctions, to selling antique items, to spectrum allocation. Let’s understand what ‘the auction theory’ is and how Milgrom and Wilson contributed to its improvement.

Crux of the Matter

Nobel In Economics
This year Paul R. Milgrom and Robert B. Wilson were awarded Nobel Prize in Economics for improving the auction theory. So far, 51 times the Nobel Prize in Economics has been awarded and 89 laureates have been honored. Last year Indian-American economist, Abhijit Vinayak Banerjee, his wife Esther Duflo, and Michael Kremer won Nobel Prize in Economics for “their experimental approach to alleviating global poverty”.

What Are Auctions?
Auctions are all around us. It won’t be an understatement to say IPL has acquainted most of us to auctions. It is a process where people bid to purchase any goods and services. In Economics, it is considered one of the efficient mechanisms for distributing resources. Moreover, internet platforms have made auctions very dynamic and the bidding process very easy.

In auction different terminologies are used such as common value, Dutch auctions, etc. Let’s understand what some of them mean.

Common Value: Common value is inferred as the true value of the product that is perceived to be the same for everyone. Therefore, the actual value of the product is the same for all bidders. Examples of this are spectrum auction, drilling auction, etc.

Private Value: It is referred to as the independent valuation of the product. Each bidder has a different ‘perceived value’ of the product.

English Auction: In an English auction, bidding starts with low prices and increases over time. IPL Auctions are an example of the English auction.

Dutch Auction: In a Dutch auction, bidding starts with a high price and descends over time. The price descends until someone is ready to buy the item or if it reaches a predetermined reserve price.

What Is The Auction Theory?
Auction Theory was first academically presented by William Vickrey, who developed the Vickrey Auction and even won the Nobel Prize in 1996 for advanced work in auction theory. The auction theory focuses on three main features of auctions:
– The first feature talks about the type of bidding, the number of times one can bid, and pricing
– The second feature talks about how bidders value auctioned objects, and
– The third feature talks about how the information a bidder has about the object affects the auction.

Vickrey’s auction was a closed-bid auction in which no bids were disclosed. In it, the highest bidder (winner) pays the second-highest price.

Winner’s curse is a phenomenon in which a person for whom the private value of a product is higher may end up paying much higher than the actual value. Wilson showed how bidders’ attempts to escape the winner’s curse may result in lower revenue for the seller or failure of the auction. Milgrom’s work showed that bidders get leverage when they have information.

Extension To Auction Theory
Milgrom and Wilson extended the English Auction format to more than one item, and multiple rounds and named it Simultaneous Multi-Round Format. In this format, bidders can bid for multiple items in each round. At the end of a round, the highest bid and the bidder on each item is declared. Sometimes all the bids are disclosed after a round, or sometimes only the highest bids are disclosed (like the closed-bid auction of Vickrey) – depends on the auction rules or activity rules. Auction ends when there is no one raising the bid. The highest bidders for each item then receive it for the bid price.

Robert Wilson and Paul Milgrom showed the application of Auction Theory. They designed an auction strategy for allocating radio spectrums to telecom operators in 1994 in US. It proved to be beneficial to all the three stakeholders i.e. government, telecom companies, and public. Between 1994-2014, US government earned $120 billion using Wilson and Milgrom’s auction model.

This strategy is widely used across countries and across sectors such as electricity and natural gas, which require efficient allocation due to their limited supply.

  • The word “auction” is derived from the Latin ‘auctum’ meaning, “I increase”. For most of history, auctions have been a relatively uncommon way to negotiate the exchange of goods and commodities. The practice picked up after the 17th Century.
  • A candle auction is a variation on the typical English auction that became popular in the 17th and 18th centuries. In a candle auction, the end of the auction is signaled by the expiration of a candle flame, which was intended to ensure that no one could know exactly when the auction would end and make a last-second bid.
  • In 2008, the US National Auctioneers Association reported that the gross revenue of the auction industry for that year was approximately $268.4 billion, with the fastest growing sectors being agricultural, machinery, and equipment auctions and residential real estate auctions.
  • Emma Bailey was the first American woman auctioneer, and the first woman admitted to the National Auctioneers Association. Bailey held her first auction in 1950 and continued her career for almost 20 years.

Nobel Prize: What Is It & Who Are The 2020 Winners

Nobel Prize: What Is It & Who Are The 2020 Winners

Whether you are a Science or Literature enthusiast or even a crusader for Peace, you must have definitely heard about the famous Nobel Prize. So what is the story of its origin? Who were bestowed with the honour of 2020 Nobel Prize, for being recognized for their positive contributions to the society?

Crux of the Matter

What Is The Nobel Prize?
It is set of prestigious, annual international awards, bestowed in recognition of academic, cultural, or scientific advances. The will of the Swedish chemist, engineer and industrialist Alfred Nobel established the 5 Nobel prizes in 1895

What Did He Write In His Will?
Alfred wrote how the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences was to take charge of the Physics and Chemistry prizes, the Karolinska Institute for the medicine prize, the Swedish Academy for the Literature prize and the Peace prize for the Parliament of Norway.

What About The Prize In Economic Sciences?
Established in 1968 by a donation from Sweden’s central bank Sveriges Riksbank to the Nobel Foundation to commemorate the bank’s 300th anniversary, this prize is not mentioned by Alfred in his will. So it is not a Nobel Prize technically. However, it is administered by the Nobel Foundation itself, in the same ceremony as the Nobel Prize. 

What Are The Rewards?
Apart from being recognized for their positive contributions to the betterment of society, Nobel Laureates are honoured with prize money of US$986,000 (2018), a medal, and a diploma. As of 2019, 597 prizes have been given to 950 laureates.

2020 Nobel Prize In Physiology Or Medicine

  • Laureates: Drs. Harvey J. Alter, Michael Houghton and Charles M. Rice.
  • Received for the discovery of the Hepatitis C virus. The committee said that they had “made possible blood tests and new medicines that have saved lives.”

What Is Hepatitis C?
It is a blood-borne pathogen affecting 71 million people worldwide and it can cause severe liver inflammation, or hepatitis. It is typically transmitted through shared or reused needles and syringes, infected blood transfusions and sexual practices that lead to blood exposure.

Read full story here: Discovery Of Hepatitis C By 2020 Medicine Nobel Laureates

2020 Nobel Prize in Physics

  • Laureates: Roger Penrose, Reinhard Genzel and Andrea Ghez.
  • Received for improving the understanding of the universe, including work on Black Holes and discovery of a supermassive compact object at the centre of our galaxy.

Read full story here: Nobel Feature: Understanding The 2020 Nobel Prize In Physics

2020 Nobel Prize in Chemistry

  • Laureates: Emmanuelle Charpentier and Jennifer A. Doudna.
  • Received for development of CRISPR-Cas9, a method for genome editing, that can help to cure sickle cell disease and congenital blindness.

What Is CRISPR Genome Editing?
CRISPR or ‘genetic scissors’ method, uses a family of genomes of prokaryotic organisms like bacteria, to detect and destroy similar bacteria during subsequent infections. Thus it can edit DNA in human cells via a petri dish.

Read full story here: Rewriting The Code Of Life With CRISPR-CAS9

2020 Nobel Prize in Literature

  • Laureate: Poet and Essayist, Louise Glück.
  • Received for “her unmistakable poetic voice”. She has already won the Pulitzer Prize and the National Book Award, for tackling themes like childhood and family life, often reworking Greek and Roman myths.

2020 Nobel Prize in Peace
The World Food Programme has been awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for 2020, for its impressive efforts to combat the food crisis in the Covid-19 pandemic. By honouring this program, the Nobel Committee has also sent a message to governments around the world, to not cut financial contributions to international humanitarian groups.

2020 Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Sciences
Paul R. Milgrom and Robert B. Wilson have been awarded the Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Sciences, for 2020, for inventing new auction formats for the sale of goods and services and improving the auction theory.

  • The Abel Prize is a Norwegian prize awarded annually by the King of Norway to one or more outstanding mathematicians. It is named after Norwegian mathematician Niels Henrik Abel and directly modeled after the Nobel Prizes.
  • John Nash was a mathematician who made fundamental contributions to game theory, differential geometry and the study of partial differential equations. His theories are widely used in economics. He is the only person to be awarded both the Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Sciences and the Abel Prize.
  • Marie Curie was a Polish and naturalized-French physicist and chemist who conducted pioneering research on radioactivity. She was the first woman to win a Nobel Prize, the first person and the only woman to win the Nobel Prize twice, and the only person to win the Nobel Prize in two scientific fields.
  • The Curie family is a Polish and French family with a number of illustrious scientists. Several members were awarded the Nobel Prize, including physics, chemistry, and the Nobel Peace Prize. Pierre and Marie Curie and their daughter Irène Joliot-Curie, are the most prominent members.

Harshad Mehta Scam & Market Manipulation Techniques

Harshad Mehta Scam & Market Manipulation Techniques

Harshad Mehta was responsible for one of India’s largest stock market scams and the new web series based on it ‘Scam 1992’ is gaining a lot of attention and popularity. Let’s understand how it was carried out and understand different techniques of market manipulation.

Crux of the Matter

What Was The Scam And How It Was Carried Out?
Harshad Mehta, in the 1990s, rattled India’s stock market, the banking system, and the stockholders by using the loopholes in the banking system. In one of the cases, he caused the stock of ACC to artificially rise by 45 times. The markets crashed the day he sold.

He fraudulently laundered over ₹24,000 crores within three years. He utilized the technique of Pump and Dump which surged the Sensex to rise from 1,000 to 4,500 points within a year. It caused the great bull run, which earned him the nickname the ‘Big Bull’.

What Is Market Manipulation?
Market manipulation refers to artificially inflating or deflating the price of a financial instrument or otherwise influencing the behavior of the market participant for personal gain and it is highly illegal.

What Is ‘Pump And Dump’?
Pump and Dump is a market manipulation technique in which the perpetrator attempts to boost the price of stock through false and exaggerated recommendation statements. The perpetrator already has with him significant amount of that company’s stock and later sells them after price increases due to his own artificially created hype.

Other Market Manipulation Techniques
When a trader places both buy and sell orders at the same price. The intent is to churn up the trade volume, making the stock look more interesting to other investors, and thereby increase the price.

Wash Trading
This is where large traders buy and sell securities back and forth either to each other or to themselves to increase the volume in a certain market. It often entails the same party selling shares through one broker and buying them through another.

This is an illegal practice as it is done to give a deceptive picture of volumes and inflate prices.

Bear Raiding
When a group of multiple investors conspires to push down the price of a stock through concerted short-selling and spreading of false rumors about the target company. It is an illegal practice but it is common with traders who have opened large short-positions in a bullish stock.

Market Cornering
It involves purchasing enough stock (stake) in a company in order to be able to manipulate and control prices. However, most attempts at cornering are unsuccessful because oppositional forces rise up against the perpetrator, weakening its position.

It is highly illegal as it provides an unfair advantage to the perpetrator, allowing them to manipulate prices in order to make a profit.

Change In Rules And Regulations
After the ‘Securities scam’ of 1992, The Securities Amendments Act was passed in 1995, which widened the jurisdiction of the Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI), and allowed it to regulate depositories, FIIs, venture capital funds, and credit rating agencies.

  • Bad Boy Billionaires is a 2020 Indian Netflix documentary which focuses on four prominent business magnates of India. The documentary chronicles major financial scams by Vijay Mallya, Nirav Modi, Subrata Roy and Ramalinga Raju. 
  • In finance, a dead cat bounce is a small, brief recovery in the price of a declining stock. Derived from the idea that “even a dead cat will bounce if it falls from a great height”, the phrase originated on Wall Street.
  • Jordan Ross Belfort is an American author, motivational speaker, former stockbroker, and convicted felon. In 1999, he pled guilty to fraud and related crimes in connection with stock-market manipulation and running a boiler room as part of a penny-stock scam. He published the memoir The Wolf of Wall Street in 2007, which was adapted into a film in 2013.

Who Is Jacinda Ardern Who Got Re-Elected As New Zealand PM?

Who Is Jacinda Ardern Who Got Re-Elected As New Zealand PM?

Let us take a look at the career of Jacinda Ardern, who recently got re-elected as the PM, as well as the voting structure in New Zealand.

Crux of the Matter

2020 Elections
The Labour Party of New Zealand (NZ) recently won in a landslide victory in the national elections, with Jacinda Ardern set to serve a second term as the Prime Minister. The party won 64 out of the 120 Parliamentary seats, showing its best result in more than 50 years.

Labour party achieved 49% vote, while the opposition group ‘National Party’ got 27% vote. No party has achieved a clear majority in NZ since adopting the MMP system in 1996.

What Is The MMP In New Zealand?
The Mixed Member Proportional representation (MMP) was adopted in NZ in 1996. In the system, citizens of NZ vote twice in the elections:

  • 1st time: To choose the preferred party.
  • 2nd time: To choose the preferred candidate who would become the electorate Member of Parliament (MP).

The remaining seats are filled from the ‘party lists’ of the Parties, and these candidates are known as ‘list MPs’. NZ Parliament also has some seats reserved for the Maori people, who are indigenous Polynesian people of NZ. The MMP has increased the diversity of candidates being elected in the country.

Who Is Jacinda Ardern?

  • Jacinda Ardern is popularly known as “anti-Trump” for her empathetic leadership.
  • Joined the Labour Party at the age of 18.
  • Elected as MP in 2008.
  • Elected as the PM in 2017 – became New Zealand’s third female Prime Minister and became the youngest PM of New Zealand in 150 years, and became youngest female leader in the world – replaced in 2019 by Sanna Marin, who became Finland’s PM at the age of 34.
  • Started the ‘Families Package’ in 2018 – provides $60/week to families having a child born on or after 1 July 2018 till the child turns 1.
  • 2018: Became the first leader to give birth ‘in office’ since Benazir Bhutto of Pakistan in 1990.
  • 2018: Became the first NZ PM to march in the ‘Gay pride parade’.
  • Gained international praise for her response to the Christchurch mosque attacks, where 51 people were killed. She met and consoled families of the victims, and announced a ban on the sale of semi-automatic weapons and assault rifles within 6 days of the attack.
  • June 2020: Announced free sanitary products for girls in schools

“Go Hard, Go Early”
Ardern has been praised for her Covid-19 strategy, which she herself described as “go hard, and go early”.

  • 15 March: Closed borders for foreigners and made quarantine compulsory for the returning citizens.
  • 23 March: Imposed a lockdown which was considered strict even by international standards.
  • Ensured mass testing in the early months of the pandemic.
  • Only 25 deaths due to Covid-19 in the total population of 5 million as of 19 October. ~5 deaths/million due to Covid – one of the lowest Covid deaths per million in the world.
  • NZ went 102 days without “local transmission” of Covid-19 cases between May and August 2020.

Ardern has mainly been criticized for the following issues:

  • Less than 500 homes built in the KiwiBuild affordable housing scheme (out of original 100,000).
  • Removed proposal of capital gains tax.
  • Child poverty still a concern.

Analysts have pointed to the economic challenge for Ardern, as NZ economy recently witnessed its worst recession due to the lockdown and the closing of its boundary.

  • The longest place name in the world is Taumatawhakatangihangakoauauotamateapokaiwhenuakitanatahu, a hill in Hawkes Bay in NZ
  • In 1893, New Zealand became the first country to give women the right to vote. Katherine Sheppard is probably the most famous suffragist of the country and appears on the 10 New Zealand dollars.
  • Since New Zealand is still a part of the commonwealth, Elizabeth II is still the queen of New Zealand and she even appears on the 20 New Zealand Dollar.