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Daily Current Affairs for Aug 15-19,2018 (English)

Tamil Nadu:
1.      International Conference on Recent Advances in Food Processing Technology (iCRAFPT) was held at Indian Institute of Food Processing Technology (IFPT), Thanjavur in Tamil Nadu. The theme of conference was “Doubling farmers’ income through food processing”. The conference provided strong platform for knowledge sharing and meaningful delegation among industry, academia, researchers and farmers which will potentially impact the food sector growth to a newer height.
National:
1.      Mahadayi Water Disputes Tribunal delivered its final verdict to ending 50-year-old dispute over sharing of Mahadayi or Mandovi River between Goa, Karnataka and Maharashtra. The tribunal was constituted in November 2010 under Interstate River Water Disputes Act, 1956 to resolve water sharing dispute between riparian states. Mahadayi River (also spelt Mahadeyi or Mhadei, and called Mandovi in Goa) rises in Bhimgad Wildlife Sanctuary in Western Ghats, in Khanapur taluk of Belagavi district in Karnataka.
2.      During his addresses to the nation on occasion of 72nd Independence Day from Red Fort Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced that permanent commission will be granted to serving women officers of armed forces. Henceforth, women officers who have been selected through Short Service Commission (SSC) in defence forces will now have option to take up permanent commission (PC). The announcement comes after Government had told Supreme Court (in May 2018) that it was considering granting PC to SSC women Army officers. Granting PC to women officers will change their career paths, besides provide full-length career opportunity for women aspirants in the future.
3.      India has released additional Rs. 470 million (Nepali) for Phase I of Postal Highway Project being constructed in Southern Plains of Nepal. The amount released will help to maintain fund liquidity for ongoing construction of 14 road packages under Postal Highway Project. Postal Highway is also called Hulaki Rajmarg which runs across Terai region of Nepal, from Bhadrapur in east to Dodhara in west, cutting across entire width of the country. With release of recent additional funds, India so far has released Rs 2.35 billion to Nepal out of total grant assistance of Rs. 8.00 billion committed to implement 14 packages under Packages 2-6 of Phase I of Postal Highway Project. The Package 1 of the Project comprising two road sections Dhangadhi-Bhajaniya-Satti road and Lamki-Tikapur-Khakraula have already been completed with help of India’s grant assistance worth Rs 1.02 billion. The two roads were opened for service in January 2017.
4.      An initiative to enable collection and conversion of used cooking oil to biodiesel,  the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) launched RUCO (Repurpose Used Cooking Oil). Under this initiative, 64 companies at 101 locations have been identified to enable collection of used cooking oil. According to FSSAI regulations, maximum permissible limits for Total Polar Compounds (TPC) have been set at 25%, beyond which the cooking oil is unsafe for consumption. Beside this, FSSAI is also working in partnership with Biodiesel Association of India (BAI) and food industry to ensure effective compliance of used cooking oil regulations.
5.      India (Union Ministry of Agriculture) has written to Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) of United Nations (UN) proposing declaration of year 2019 as “International Year of Millets”. It has requested inclusion of this proposal in agenda of 26th session of the Committee on Agriculture (COAG) meeting, scheduled to be held in October 2018 in Rome, Italy. India is celebrating 2018 as National Year of Millets. It is promoting cultivation of millets as part of this celebration by amending cropping pattern of areas which are especially susceptible to climate change.
6.      Supreme Court has accepted Ministry of Road Transport and Highways (MoRTH) proposal to use hologram-based coloured stickers on vehicles, plying in Delhi-National Capital Region (NCR) to indicate the nature of the fuel used. The apex court has asked government to implement use of coloured stickers on vehicles plying in Delhi-NCR by September 30, 2018. It also clarified that this colour-coding will only be applicable in Delhi and NCR. With this approval, Delhi will be first city in India to have hologram-based coloured stickers on according to fuel they run on. This move aims to counter air pollution in national capital. Under this colour scheme proposed by MoRTH, light-blue colour will be used for vehicles running petrol and CNG-run vehicles while orange colour sticker will be used for diesel-driven vehicles. These hologram-based stickers will also contain registration date of the vehicle. MoRTH is also considering to introduce green number plates for electric and hybrid vehicles.
7.      The import of petcoke for use as fuel has banned by the Directorate General of Foreign Trade (DGFT) under Ministry of Commerce and Industry. But it has allowed its import of only for use as feedstock in some select industries such as cement, lime kiln, calcium carbide and gasification industries. India is the world’s biggest consumer of petcoke. It gets over half its annual petcoke imports of around 27 million tonnes from United States. There are two kinds of pet coke produced viz. Fuel grade pet coke (80%) and calcined pet coke (20%) during oil refining.
8.      Union Home Ministry has agreed to relax conditions laid down in ‘four-corner agreement’ signed with Bru migrants for their repatriation from Tripura to Mizoram. The agreement was signed between Government of India, Governments of Mizoram and Tripura and Mizoram Bru Displaced People’s Forum (MBDPF) in July 2018. The agreement covers 5,407 Bru families (32876 persons) presently staying in temporary camps in Tripura to repatriate them to Mizoram before September 2018. Bru (or Reang) are tribals inhabit to some parts of Northeastern states. In Mizoram, they are largely restricted to Mamit and Kolasib districts.
9.      Aadhaar-issuing body UIDAI (Unique Identity Authority of India) has announced phased roll-out of face recognition for carrying out Aadhaar authenticaton from September 15, 2018 as additional security layer. It also has announced new feature ‘live face photo,’ which is live feed of person facial features whose 12-digit unique number Aadhaar is submitted. This move is aimed at curbing possibility of fingerprint cloning or spoofing and also seeks to tighten audit process and security around the issuance and activation of mobile SIMs.
International:
1.      United States has announced to grant $39 million as part its foreign military financing to Sri Lanka to boost maritime security. The US funding for Sri Lanka is part of its $300 million set aside for South and Southeast Asia to ensure free, open, and rules-based order in the Indo-Pacific region.
2.      The 24th World Congress of Philosophy (WCP) organized by the International Federation of Philosophical Societies, and Peking University was held in Beijing, China from August 13 to 17, 2018. Its theme was “Learning To Be Human”. This was first time that the quinquennial (once in five years) event was held in China.
3.      The creation of Iran Action Group (IAG) to execute President Donald Trump administration’s Iran strategy and pressure country to change its behaviors has announced by United States (US) State Department. IAG will be responsible for directing, reviewing, and coordinating all aspects of State Department’s Iran-related activity, and it will report directly to US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.
Science & Technology:
1.       Aerogel, a transparent heat-resistant super-insulating gel using beer waste have developed by Scientists. Aerogels defining feature is air, as it comprise at least 90% gas by weight. It looks like flattened plastic contact lens film (roughly 100 times lighter than glass). It may be used to build greenhouse-like habitats for human colonised on extraterrestrial habitats such as Mars or Moon. It could also be used on buildings on Earth to help make huge savings on energy costs.
2.      As a part of his 72nd Independence Day speech , PM Narendra Modi  vowed to put Indian in space by 2022 under manned space mission on board ‘Gaganyaan. The proposed human spaceflight programme (HSP) has been on table since 2004. ISRO is still long way away, despite advancements in some critical technologies in past decade. It is stilling building its capabilities and developing critical technologies required to send astronaut being into space. The mission will be completed at budget of Rs 10,000 crore and some of technology components required for it already has been developed. This includes heavy-lift launch vehicle (GLSV Mark-III), re-entry and recovery technology, crew module, Environmental Control and Life Support System (ECLSS) and astronaut training. If successful, India will become fourth nation in the world to send astronaut into space after US, Russia and China. Former Indian Air Force (IAF) pilot Rakesh Sharma was first Indian to travel to space. He was part of the Soviet Union’s Soyuz T-11 expedition, launched on April 2, 1984, as part of the Intercosmos programme.
3.      UPI 2.0, an upgraded and renewed version of Unified Payments Interface (UPI) by adding four new features to make it attractive and safer for users has launched by National Payments Corporation of India (NPCI). UPI is payments system that allows multiple bank accounts belonging to any participating bank to be controlled via single mobile app. It was launched by NPCI in April 2016 to allow easy, quick and hassle free money transfer between any two parties. These new features will allow users to link their overdraft account to UPI, creation of one-time mandates and pre-authorisation of transactions for payment at later date and checking the invoice sent by merchant prior to making payment.
4.      Team of international researchers including 18 Indian scientists for first time has decoded wheat genome. The research conducted by more than 200 scientists from 73 research institutions in 20 countries. The reference enome decoded covers 94% (14.5 Gb) of entire wheat genome. Team of 18 Indian scientists contributed in decoding of Chromosome 2A of wheat genome. This project was financially supported by Department of Biotechnology, Ministry of Science and Technology. The research shows that bread wheat has complex hexaploid genome which is 40 times larger than that of rice genome and 5 times larger than human genome. Information generated by decoded wheat genome will help to identify genes controlling complex agronomic traits such as yield, grain quality, resistance to diseases and pests as well as tolerance to drought, heat, water logging and salinity.
Defence:
1.      Israeli Navy has announced to procure multi-purpose Barak 8 missile defence system, jointly developed by India and Israel. Barak-8 (Lightning 8 in Hebrew), also known as also known as LR-SAM or as MR-SAM is an operational air and missile defense system used by Israeli Navy and air forces. The missile is about 4.5 meters long, 0.225 meters in diameter and weighs 275 kg including 60 kg warhead. It has maximum speed of Mach 2 with maximum operational range of 70 km (which has been increased to 100 km). It has dual pulse rocket motor as well as Thrust vector control and possesses high degrees of maneuverability at target interception range. It will be used by Israeli Navy’s Sa’ar-6 corvettes to expand its operational capabilities of Israeli navy, including defence of Israel’s territorial and exclusive economic zone (EEZ) and strategic facilities from diversified threats.
Economy:
1.      Indian rupee for first time in history plunged to record low of Rs. 70.07 against US dollar on 14 August 2018. However, it recovered later at around Rs. 69.84 after heavy intervention by Reserve Bank of India (RBI). This sudden deprecation of rupee is similar to fall of other currencies of emerging markets triggered by crash in Turkish currency lira.
2.      Recently hackers have stolen (illegally withdrawn) Rs .94 crore from Pune’s Cosmos Cooperative Bank via ATMs in 28 countries. It is possibly first of its kind coordinated digital attack on Indian bank.
3.      Pitch to MOVE-a mobility pitch competition to provide budding entrepreneurs of India unique opportunity to pitch their business ideas to distinguished jury has launched by NITI Aayog. It aims to identify and incentivize (also reward) startups offering innovative solutions to Government realize its vision of shared, connected, intermodal and environment friendly mobility for India. Its objective is to harness latest disruption for generating employment and growth in our country. 
4.      2018 Global Liveability Index released by Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU). Austrian capital Vienna was ranked as world’s most liveable city among 140 major cities. It is first time that European city has topped rankings of EIU annual survey. 10 most liveable cities’ list includes Vienna, Austria (rank: 1st, with total score of 99.1), Melbourne, Australia (2nd, 98.4); Osaka, Japan (3rd, 97.7); Calgary, Canada (4th, 97.5); Sydney, Australia (5th, 97.4); Vancouver, Canada (6th, 97.3); Toronto, Canada (7th, 97.2); Tokyo, Japan (8th, 97.2); Copenhagen, Denmark (9th, 96.8); and Adelaide, Australia (96.6). No Indian cities were ranked in the top ten or bottom ten of this edition of index. New Delhi had figured at 112th and Mumbai 117th position in list.
5.      India’s growth has revised down to 7.2% from its earlier projection of 7.4% for 2018-19 (FY19) in its Mid-Year FY19 Outlook by Rating agency India Ratings & Research (Ind-Ra). The downward revision comes as Indian economy to face headwinds from high crude oil prices, increase in minimum support prices (MSP) of kharif crops, rising trade protectionism, depreciating currency and no visible signs of abatement of the non-performing assets (NPA) of the banking sector. Ind-Ra is one of the India’s most respected credit rating agency that provides ratings, research and rigorous analytics of market in India. The headquarters of Ind-Ra is located in Mumbai and is belong to Fitch group.
6.      Banks Board Bureau (BBB) has appointed two firms Egon Zehnder International Pvt. Ltd and Hay Consultants Pvt. Ltd to assist in developing strategies for top bank management. Egon Zehnder was appointed as knowledge partner to design, implement and institutionalise a flagship leadership development strategy for state-run banks in India. Hay Consultants was appointed to assess leadership competencies and potential capabilities of people appearing for post of whole time directors in state-run banks.
7.      Union Government is expecting that public sector banks (PSBs) placed under RBI’s Prompt Corrective Action (PCA) framework will come out of it by the end of this year. As many as 11 out of 21 state-owned banks are currently under PCA framework. PCA framework is supervisory tool of RBI, which involves monitoring of certain performance indicators of banks to check their financial health as early warning exercise and to ensure that banks don’t go bust.
8.      According to National Bank for Agriculture & Rural Development’s (NABARD) All India Rural Financial Inclusion Survey 2016-17, agriculture (farming) generates only 23% of rural income i.e. not even quarter of rural household incomes in India. Even for so-called agricultural households, just over 43% of their average income comes from cultivation of crops and rearing of animals. The reference period of survey was 2015-16.
9.      Insurance Regulatory and Development Authority (IRDAI) has asked insurers to cover mental illness under medical insurance policy from immediate effect treating it at par with physical illness. At present, insurers exclude mental illness from ambit of medical insurance policies.
Schemes:
1.      Kanyashree Prakalpa scheme- It is conditional cash transfer scheme aimed at improving status and well-being of girl child by incentivising schooling of teenage girls and delaying their marriages until the age of 18. It was launched by Mamata Banerjee led West Bengal Government (Women Development and Social Welfare department) in October 2013. West Bengal Government has announced to remove annual family income ceiling in eligibility criteria to be beneficiary under state’s UN award winning Kanyashree Prakalpa scheme. This will help more girls to chase their dreams with Government support. Currently only girls belonging to families with annual family income not more than Rs 1.20 lakh were entitled to get the benefits of this scheme. State government is also planning to set up “Kanyashree University” under this scheme for girls soon. Targeted Beneficiaries:  All girl children within age of 13 to 19 in the state.
2.      The first project under Swadesh Darshan Scheme ‘North East Circuit: Imphal and Khongjom’ was inaugurated in Manipur. The project covers two sites i.e Kangla Fort and Khongjom in Manipur. Kangla Fort is one of the most important historic and archaeological site of Manipur located in the heart of the capital city Imphal. It had served as tradition seat of past Meetei rulers of Manipur till 1891. The old Govindajee Temple is the largest Hindu, Vaishnav temple in Imphal city in Manipur. Under this project, Union Tourism Ministry has carried out works such as restoration and improvement of outer and inner moat of old Govindajee Temple and rejuvenation of sacred ponds, reconstruction of old rampart, among others. 
Appointments/Resignations:
1.      IAS officer K S Srinivas has taken over as Chairman of Marine Products Export Development Authority (MPEDA). MPEDA is a nodal coordinating state owned agency engaged in fishery production and allied activities. It was established in 1972 under Marine Products Export Development Authority Act (MPEDA), 1972. It is headquartered in Kochi, Kerala.
2.      Bollywood actor Akshay Kumar  was appointed as brand ambassador of  Road Safety campaigns by Union Ministry of Road Transport and Highways. As part of this campaign, three short films featuring Akshay Kumar for generating public awareness towards road safety were also released. The subject of road safety is of supreme importance in India as approximately around 1,46,000 people had died in road accidents across the country in 2017.
3.      Madhya Pradesh Governor Anandiben Patel had given additional charge of Chhattisgarh by President Ram Nath Kovind. She was given additional charge following death of Chhattisgarh Governor Balramji Dass Tandon (in office from 25 July 2014 to 14 August 2018 till his death after suffering heart attack).
4.      Indian scientist-academician N Raghuram became first Indian and Asian to get elected as Chair of International Nitrogen Initiative (INI), a global policy making initiative. He will succeed Mark Sutton of the UK Centre for Ecology and Hydrology, Edinburgh. David Kanter of the New York University was elected as Vice-Chair. The new chairs will formally take up their roles on January 1, 2019.
5.      A three-member committee to look into draft food labelling and display regulations-Food Safety and Standards (Labelling and Display) Regulations 2018 has constituted by Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI).The committee will be headed by B Sesikeran, former director of National Institute of Nutrition (NIN)and comprises of current NIN director Hemalatha and AIIMS’ endocrinologist Nikhil Tandon. FSSAI  had proposed mandatory red-label marking on such packaged food products which are high in fat, sugar and salt contents. But, Union Health Ministry had put on hold on the draft regulations, after industry stakeholders had expressed concerns, citing that it may have an adverse impact on evolving packaged food industry. So address their concerns, FSSAI has decided to set up committee of experts with health and nutrition background to look into t draft regulations.
6.      Union Ministry of Human Resource Development (HRD) has proposed to set up five-member committee headed by IIT-Madras director Bhaskar Ramamurthy to suggest changes to JEE (Advanced) in the wake of an inadequate number of candidates qualifying entrance test this year. The mandate of committee is to develop robust and scientifically designed entrance exam system to test potential of candidates as well as to reduce their dependence on coaching institutes.
Awards:
1.      2018 Albany Medical Center Prize in Medicine and Biomedical Research (It is United States’ second highest value prize in medicine and biomedical research, awarded by the Albany Medical Center) will be given to three US scientists James Allison, Carl June and Steven Rosenberg. They were awarded in recognition of their research in immunology and translation of their ideas into effective therapies that have led to innovative treatments for cancer, HIV and other diseases. They will receive the award at ceremony to be held in September 2018 in Albany, New York. They will share this $500,000 medical prize.
2.      Indian Teen cyclist Esow Alben (17) created history by winning the country’s maiden medal in track cycling at the world level. He achieved this feat by winning silver medal in Men’s Keirin event of UCI Junior Track Cycling World Championships held in Aigle, Switzerland.In the final sprint of this event, Esow finished just 0.017 seconds behind gold medallist Jakub Stastny (Czech Republic). 
Sports:
1.      The 18th edition of Asian Games was inaugurated in Jakarta, Indonesia. This will be second time that Indonesia will be hosting Asian Games. For first it was held in Jakarta in 1962. Javelin Thrower Neeraj Chopra was India’s flag-bearer at the glittering opening ceremony. This edition of pan-continental mega sporting event will be held from August 18 to September 2, 2018 in two cities – Jakarta (capital of Indonesia) and Palembang (capital of Indonesia’s province of South Sumatra) to accommodate all branches of sports. This will be the first time that the Asian Games will be held in two cities.
2.      India won South Asian Football Federation (SAFF) Under-15 Women’s Championship by defeating Bangladesh in the final match held in Thimpu, Bhutan. SAFF U-15 Women’s Championship is association football tournament for women’s national teams under the age of 15 from seven south Asian countries (Bangladesh, India, Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan, Sri Lanka and Bhutan). This was second edition of SAFF Under-15 Women’s Championship.
Deaths:
1.      Veteran political leader, prolific writer and former Prime Minister of India Atal Bihari Vajpayee (93) passed away in New Delhi. He was born on 25th December 1924 in Gwalior, Madhya Pradesh. He was amongst founder members of erstwhile Bharatiya Jana Sangh (and was its president in 1968 upon death of Deendayal Upadhyaya) which later became known as Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). He is a parliamentarian for over 47 years elected to Lok Sabha for 10 times (elected for first time  in 1957 from Balrampur constituency in Uttar Pradesh) and 2 times to Rajya Sabha. During first non-Congress Government of Prime Minister Morarji Desai in Centre he had served as Minister of External Affairs. He served as PM of India between 1996 and 2004 in three non-consecutive terms viz. May 1996 (for 13 days), 1998–1999 (for 11 months) and 1999–2004(making him first non-Congress leader to have completed full term as Prime Minister). During his second term as PM, he had ordered thermonuclear tests in May 1998 which were seen as strategic masterstroke to blunt Pakistan’s nuclear ambitions. Some of his pet projects launched during his tenure as PM were National Highway Development Project (Golden Quadrilateral) and Pradhan Mantri Gram Sadak Yojana, Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan. In 2009, he had retired from active politics due to health concerns. His birthday is celebrated as Good Governance Day (GGD) by the Central Government since 2014 to foster awareness among the people of accountability in government. His poetry collection is released in his book Meri Ekyaavan Kavitayein (My 51 Poems). He was awarded the India’s highest civilian honour ‘Bharat Ratna’ in 2015.
2.  Former United Nations General Secretary and Nobel Peace Prize laureate Kofi Annan (80) passed away in Bern, Switzerland. He had served as seventh Secretary-General of UN for two terms reigning from 1997 till 2006. He was first black African to become Secretary-General of UN and also the first to be elected from UN staff itself. He was born on 8 April 1938 in Kumasi, Gold Coast (now Ghana). After completing his education, he had joined UN in 1962 as Budget officer for World Health Organization (WHO) in 1962. He went on to work in various capacities at UN, which included serving as Under-Secretary-General for UN Peacekeeping from 1992 to 96. Later he had served as UN Secretary-General for two terms reigning from 1997 till 2006 (He was succeeded by South Korean diplomat Ban Ki-moon in 2007). He was also founder and chairman of Kofi Annan Foundation and chairman of ‘The Elders’, an international organisation founded by Nelson Mandela. He was co-recipient of 2001 Nobel peace prize along with the United Nations. In September 2016, he was appointed to lead UN commission to investigate Rohingya crisis in Myanmar’s Rakhine province.




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