DAILY CURRENT AFFAIRS : December 17 & 18, 2019

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India donates solar-powered study lamps to marginalised Palestinian school children

  • As part of 150th Gandhi Jayanti programme, India has donated solar powered study lamps to Palestinian elementary school children from a marginalised Bedouin community.
  • The lamps were donated as part of Students Solar Ambassador Workshop to internationally spread the principles of self-sufficiency and to raise awareness towards the adverse effects of climate change.
  • The solar powered study lamps supplied by Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) Bombay as part of the initiative on Mahatma Gandhi’s 150th birth anniversary also aims at making the student beneficiaries the future propagators of renewable energy.


Decommissioned aircraft carrier Viraat’s e-auction today

  • The decommissioned aircraft carrier, ‘Viraat’, which was ordered to be scrapped six months ago by the government, will be e-auctioned in mumbai on Tuesday.
  • The e-auction – by Metals and Scrap Trading Corporation (MSTC) – will be conducted from 12.16 p.m. The magnificent ship holds a Guinness World Record for being the oldest serving warship in the world.

Lt Gen MM Naravane will be India’s next Army Chief

  • Lieutenant General Manoj Mukund Naravane will take over as the next army chief when General Bipin Rawat’s term ends on December 31.
  • Naravane, 59, is considered to be a China expert and also has vast experience in counter-insurgency operations in Jammu and Kashmir and India’s North-east.
  • He is currently the army’s vice chief and before that headed the Kolkata-based Eastern Command that responsible for guarding India’s border with China in the eastern sector.

Wabtec opens its largest design centre in India

  • Pittsburgh-based Wabtec Corporation, a recently merged entity between GE Transportation and Faiveley Transport, which manufactures locomotives, freight cars and passenger transit vehicles for governments and enterprises across 50 geographies, has opened its largest ever engineering and digital electronics design and development centre in Bengaluru.
  • The centre, set up at an investment of over $5 million, will host engineering teams spanning across the company’s digital electronics portfolio.
  • The centre comes with validation labs for distributed power, positive train control, trip optimiser electronic air brake, signalling systems and advanced train automation solutions.

IRDAI forms group to study loss prevention

  • A ten-member working group has been constituted by the Insurance Regulatory and Development Authority of India (IRDAI) to suggest segment-wise ways and means to improve loss prevention and loss minimisation in the general insurance industry.
  • IRDAI Member (Non-Life) T. L. Alamelu will chair the group whose members include National Insurance Academy Director G.Srinivasan; General Insurance Council Secretary General M.Nagaraja Sarma; Insurance Brokers Association of India Vice President S.K.Jain as well as representatives from both public and private general insurers.

BrahMos missile successfully test-fired from Chandipur

  • Supersonic cruise missile BrahMos was successfully test-fired from a base in Odisha’s Chandipur on Tuesday, Defence sources said.
  • The land-attack version of the missile was test-fired from a mobile autonomous launcher at Launch Complex-3 of the Integrated Test Range (ITR) at Chandipur near here at around 8.30 am, they said.
  • The trial of the surface-to-surface missile was successful, meeting all the parameters, a Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) source said. The BrahMos missile is a medium-range ramjet supersonic cruise missile capable of being launched from submarines, ships, fighter jets or land.


Vipin Sondhi named Ashok Leyland CEO

  • Commercial vehicle manufacturer Ashok Leyland Ltd. (ALL) has appointed Vipin Sondhi as the CEO and MD for five years. 
  • Mr. Sondhi succeeds Vinod Dasari, who stepped down on March 31, 2019 citing personal reasons.

Ankur Garg appointed as chief commercial officer at AirAsia India

  • The low-cost carrier AirAsia India has appointed Ankur Garg as its Chief Commercial Officer (CCO).
  • In his new role, he will be responsible for managing the day-to-day commercial operations of AirAsia India.
  • He will also be responsible for managing network and revenue management, marketing, sales, and cargo.


ArcelorMittal forms JV with Nippon Steel to run Essar Steel

  • ArcelorMittal SA said on it had formed a joint venture with Nippon Steel Corp to run Essar Steel, the bankrupt Indian steel company that ArcelorMittal has taken over.
  • Last month, India’s Supreme Court had cleared the way for ArcelorMittal to take over Essar Steel following a legal tussle that dragged through multiple courts for over two years. ArcelorMittal and Nippon Steel had bid jointly for Essar, which has a capacity of 10 million tonnes of steel per year.


India slips four places to rank 112th globally in gender pay gap: WEF survey

  • With dipping GDP growth and rising prices and unemployment another data has come where India has slipped four places to rank 112th globally in terms of gender gap amid widening disparity in terms of women’s health and survival, and economic participation, the two areas where the country is now ranked in the bottom-five, an annual survey by World Economic Forum shows.
  • While Iceland remains the world’s most gender-neutral country, India has moved down the ladder from its 108th position last year on the World Economic Forum’s Gender Gap Report to rank below countries like China (106th), Sri Lanka (102nd), Nepal (101st), Brazil (92nd), Indonesia (85th) and Bangladesh (50th). Yemen is ranked the worst (153rd), while Iraq is 152nd and Pakistan 151st.


Amitabha Bagchi wins 2019 DSC Prize

  • Amitabha Bagchi has won this year’s DSC Prize for South Asian Literature for his novel Half the Night is Gone.
  • The prestigious DSC Prize is worth US $25,000.
  • He was announced the winner on Monday at the IME Nepal Literature Festival.
  • Six books were shortlisted for the prize that included The Far Field by Madhuri Vijay, The City and the Sea by Raj Kamal Jha, There’s Gunpowder in the Air by Manoranjan Byapari (Translated by Arunava Sinha), The Empty Room by Sadia Abbas and 99 Nights in Logar by Jamil Jan Kochi.

Manushi Chillar, Sunil Chhetri PETA India’s Hottest Vegetarians of 2019

  • Manushi Chillar, Sunil Chhetri PETA India’s Hottest Vegetarians of 2019.
  • With the world getting more vocal about the problem and causes of pollution, quite a number of people are getting aware and accepting responsibility for protecting the environment by turning vegetarian.
  • Topping the list, Miss World 2017 Manushi Chillar and captain of the Indian national football team Sunil Chhetri have been chosen as India’s Hottest vegetarians of 2019 by People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA).


England off-spinner Laura March announces international retirement

  • Laura March made her debut as a pace bowler in 2006 before switching to spin and signs off with 217 international wickets, making her the most successful women’s spinner in English cricket history.
  • England off-spinner Laura Marsh has ended her international career in a 13-year span that included three World Cup wins, the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) has said.

Smriti Mandhana named in ICC women’s ODI, T20I teams of the year

  • Left-handed Indian opener Smriti Mandhana has grabbed a spot in both ICC Women’s ODI, T20I teams of the year.
  • Apart from Mandhana, Shikha Pandey, Jhulan Goswami and Poonam Yadav have also found a spot in ICC ODI team of the year while Deepti Sharma and Radha Yadav have made it to the ICC T20I team of the year.
  • The ICC announced that Australia all-rounder Ellyse Perry has been named the Women’s Cricketer of the Year for 2019 and walks away with the Rachael Heyhoe Flint Award. Perry has also been named as the ICC Women’s ODI Player of the Year. Chanida Sutthiruang of Thailand was named ICC Women’s Emerging Player of the Year.


Andhra Jyothi reporter dies in accident

  • A 45-year-old reporter of a Telugu daily, K Satyanarayana has been hacked to death by an unidentified gang in East Godavari district, police said.
  • K Satyanarayana, a reporter of Andhra Jyothy, died on the spot while the assailants fled after committing the crime at S Annavaram village on Tuesday night, they said.

Former West Indies batsman Basil Butcher passes away

  • Former West Indies batsman Basil Butcher has passed away after prolonged illness, Cricket West Indies confirmed on Tuesday. He was 86.
  • Butcher, who made his Test debut in 1958 against India, played 44 Tests for the West Indies, amassing 3104 runs with seven centuries and 16 fifties at an average of 43. He was the first person of Amerindian descent to represent the West Indies.


First in India: Bengaluru airport to integrate military, civil radars

  • The Indian Air Force has taken a major initiative to co-locate IAF radar controllers with Airport Authority of India (AAI) radar controllers at KIAB to facilitate simultaneous operations from Yelahanka air base and Kempegowda International Airport in Bengaluru (KIAB).
  • This would be the first time in the country that military and civil radar controllers are being co-located for providing radar control services within the respective airspaces, said a defence spokesperson in a press release.

Govt. aims to provide broadband access to all villages by 2022

  • The government on Tuesday announced a new ‘mission’ aimed at providing broadband access in all villages in the country by 2022, entailing investments of around Rs.7 lakh crore from various stakeholders.
  • Under the mission, the government plans to lay incremental 30 lakh route km of Optical Fiber Cable, while also increasing tower density from 0.42 to 1 tower per thousand of population by 2024.

IIT Kharagpur announces India’s very first joint doctoral programme with New Zealand

  • IIT Kharagpur has set up a joint PhD programme with the University of Auckland, New Zealand.
  • The Kiwi university called it a historic agreement, noting that this was the first engagement of its kind between the two countries. The joint PhD programme is aimed to strengthen the economic and research ties between New Zealand and India.
  • The programme, set to admit the first batch of students in Autumn 2020, will initially focus on Engineering but is open to all other subject areas.

India, ADB Sign $250 Million Loan To Expand Energy Efficiency Investments

  • India and the Asian Development Bank (ADB) have signed a 250 Mn dollar (about Rs 1,775 crore) loan to Energy Efficiency Services Ltd (EESL) to expand energy efficiency investments in India that will benefit agricultural, residential and institutional consumers.
  • The signatories to the loan agreement were Sameer Kumar Khare, Additional Secretary at the Department of Economic Affairs, and Kenichi Yokoyama, Country Director of ADB’s India Resident Mission.

Nepal, India conclude joint military exercise

  • A joint military training exercise “SURYA KIRAN-XIV” was held in Salijhandi, Rupendehi district of Nepal.
  • The exercise was conducted between the armies of India and Nepal.
  • Joint training exercise was based on counter insurgency operations in jungle and mountainous terrain and also practised response mechanism in the eventualities of natural and manmade disasters.


Bangladesh tops WEF Gender Gap Report in South Asia

  • Bangladesh is the only country to feature in the top 50 of the Global Gender Gap Report 2020 released by the World Economic Forum (WEF) on Tuesday. It is the best performing country in South Asia in reducing the gender gap for women.
  • Bangladesh retains its position at the 50th rank in the index that measures gender gap in political, economic and social spheres in a country. According to the Index, Bangladesh has marginally improved its score by 0.4 percentage points but falls two positions compared to its last status. Iceland is the most gender-equal country in the world for the 11th time in a row. It is followed by Norway, Finland and Sweden.


Haryana Police Became the First To Introduce ‘Trakea’ Software In FSL

  • Haryana police have introduced a unique barcoding software “Trakea” to enable fool proof security of the samples collected in Forensic reports. Haryana became the first state in the country to introduce this unique barcoding system. Manohar Lal Khattar, Chief Minister (CM) of Haryana inaugurated the TRAKEA barcoding system of Forensic Science Laboratory (FSL) at Madhuban, Haryana.
  • According to the police, Trakea ensures fool proof security of the samples collected from the scene of the crime, and the forensic analysis reports, and is different from traditional methods that the state police force has been following for decades. The software was developed by Amit Mishra, a software engineer who was in Bhondsi jail for 13 months imprisoned on the charge of killing his wife.


Archaeologist R.Nagaswamy honoured in Bangladesh

  • Noted archaeologist R.Nagaswamy was honoured at the Silver Jubilee International Conference of Art in Dhaka by Bangladesh Culture Minister K.M. Khalid for his contribution to art, archaeology, history and culture.
  • The Silver Jubilee volume of the Journal of Bengal Art, carrying articles by international scholars, was dedicated to Mr.Nagaswamy, a press release said.

UT of J&K selected for national award by Union Rural Development Ministry

  • Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir has been selected for national award by Union Rural Development Ministry for best performance in the implementation of Pradhan Mantri Gram Sadak Yojana (PMGSY).
  • The award distribution ceremony will be held at Pusa, New Delhi on Thursday. Union Rural Development Ministry has sanctioned 147 Road and Bridge projects under PMGSY-II covering a length of 783.88 kilometres at an estimated cost of 878.53 crore rupees for Jammu & Kashmir and Ladakh.


Infosys to pay California USD 8,00,000 over foreign workers’ visas, tax fraud

  • California has settled with an India-based technology company that it accuses of misclassifying foreign workers and related tax fraud.
  • Infosys Limited, a business consulting, information technology and outsourcing company, and its subsidiary, Infosys BPM Limited, will pay California USD 800,000.
  • The company brought in workers using the wrong visas to underpay them and avoid paying California payroll taxes such as unemployment insurance, disability insurance and employment training taxes, Attorney General Xavier Becerra said in a news release.

India`s Elgi acquires US compressor distributor for $6 mn

  • India’s compressor maker Elgi Equipments Ltd has bought Michigan Air Solutions (MAS) in the US for about $6 million.
  • Earlier, Elgi Equipments followed the strategy of acquiring a competitor.
  • The Coimbatore headquartered compressor major is planning growth in Europe where it is setting up its own office and related network.
  • Jairam Varadaraj, Managing Director said the six strategic overseas markets for Elgi Equipments are India, Europe, US, Australia, Indonesia and Thailand.

Facebook top downloaded app of the decade, Netflix the most paid app

  • Despite being a scandal-hit corporation in the past two-odd years, Facebook ends the decade on top when it comes to app status.
  • It is the decade’s most-downloaded app, revealed App Annie in a wrap-up report. Further, Facebook’s suite of apps — Messenger, WhatsApp, and Instagram — grabbed the second, third, and fourth spots in the list of most downloaded apps of the decade.
  • Netflix topped the category of most-downloaded paid apps, followed by Tinder, Pandora Music, Tencent Video, LINE, iQIYI, Spotify, YouTube, HBO Now, and Kwai. Tinder was the most successful dating app of the decade in terms of consumer spend, coming in second place in the overall ranking.

Top-rated tech workplaces in India: SAP, Adobe, VMware, Microsoft, ISRO

  • SAP has secured the highest rank in the top-rated technology workplaces list in India in 2019 as per employee ratings and reviews available on job site Indeed.
  • SAP is followed by Adobe, VMware and Microsoft as the leading technology organisations to work for in India.
  • The Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) is in fifth position, moving up from tenth spot last year.
  • E-commerce companies Myntra, PayTM and Flipkart, and IT service providers Tata Consultancy Services (TCS) and Mphasis, are some of the other Indian-origin organisations featured on the list. Cisco, IBM, Apple, Amdocs, and Genpact make up the rest of the top-rated 15 technology workplaces for 2019, an Indeed statement said.

Fiat Chrysler, Peugeot to merge into $46 billion automaker

  • PSA Group(Peugeot is the largest PSA brand) and Fiat Chrysler Automobiles NV agreed to combine in a deal that will create the world’s fourth-biggest auto manufacturer.
  • The French and Italo-American carmakers signed a binding accord for a 50-50 merger of their businesses. The combined company will be led by PSA Chief Executive Officer Carlos Tavares, with Fiat Chairman John Elkann holding the same role at the enlarged firm.
  • The merger would forge a regional powerhouse to rival Germany’s Volkswagen AG and have a stock-market value of about $47 billion, surpassing Ford Motor Co. The tie-up also brings together two carmaking dynasties — the billionaire Agnelli clan of Italy, led by Elkann, and the Peugeots of France.


IIT Hyderabad researchers develop environment-friendly device to detect globular protein

The Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) Hyderabad Researchers are developing a simple, affordable and environmentally-friendly device that can detect biomolecule such as bovine serum albumin.

Human serum albumin (HSA) has been of great interest, and assessment of its level in human blood and urine is important in the diagnosis of a range of conditions such as malnutrition, kidney diseases and liver abnormalities. However, due to the structural similarities of bovine serum albumin (BSA) with respect to HSA, BSA has been used as a model protein in the research fields.


Eminent theatre-film actor Shriram Lagoo passes away

  • Veteran actor Shriram Lagoo, a stalwart in Marathi theatre and cinema and a prolific character artiste in numerous Bollywood movies, passed away on Tuesday evening. He was 92. Lagoo died of cardiac arrest at his Pune residence around 8 pm.
  • Lagoo, born in Satara in 1927 and a trained as an ENT surgeon by profession, played an important role in the growth of theatre movement in Maharashtra in post-Independence era alongside Vijay Tendulkar, Vijaya Mehta and Arvind Deshpande.

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