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Current Affairs August 21 2019

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India holds 9th Session of India-Kenya Joint Trade Committee in New Delhi
The two day organised 9th session of India-Kenya Joint Trade Committee (JTC) was held on 19th – 20th August 2019 in New Delhi. Union Minister of Commerce & Industry and Railways, PiyushGoyal led the Indian delegation, whereas the Kenyan delegation was led by Peter Munya, Minister of Industry, Trade and Cooperatives, Government of the Republic of Kenya.
MoU(Memorandum of Understanding) between the Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs, the Government of the Republic of Kenya on cooperation in the field of National Housing Policy Development and Management signed on 11th July 2016 was expanded…………………Click here to Read more

National Conference of Tourism Ministers organised by the tourism ministry in New Delhi
On August 20,2019, The one-day National Conference of Tourism Ministers organised by the Union Ministry of Tourism  was held in New Delhi. It was inaugurated by Shri Prahlad Singh Patel,Union Minister of State for Tourism & Culture (Independent Charge).
i. Three new Memorandum of Understandings (MoUs) and five new Letters of Intent (LoIs) to the prospective ‘Monument Mitras’(private sector companies, public sector companies and individuals that adopt tourist sites become monument mitras) were handed over.
ii. Hindi version of the new Incredible India portal was launched. it was further announced that the Arabic, Chinese and Spanish versions of the new Incredible India website would be launched next month………………………Click here to Read more

Indian President launches plantation drive in New Delhi as part of Van Mahotsav celebrations
On August 20, 2019, the President of India, Shri Ram NathKovind planted Maulsari sapling in the Rashtrapati Bhavan Estate(New Delhi) and launched a plantation drive. It was done as part of the ‘Van Mahotsav’ celebrations.Indian President launches plantation drive in New Delhi Key points
i. The President’s Secretariat will be planting 3,252 trees and 2,962 shrubs for the next few weeks in the President’s Estate which is spread over 330 acres, as part of this Van Mahotsav drive. Many Ornamental and fruit trees will be planted in the upcoming weeks.
About Van Mahotsav
Van Mahotsav is an annual tree planting movement in India which began in the year 1950.

‘Housing for All’ will be achieved 2 years in advance by 2020: Hardeep Singh Puri
On August 20, 2019, Union Minister of Housing and Urban Affairs, Hardeep Singh Puri stated that the central government is committed to achieving its target of providing ‘Housing for all’ under Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana (PMAY) in two years before the deadline by 2020. He made this announcement during 15th “Housing for all 2022: NAREDCO 15th National Convention: Real Estate Reflection Point: Readying for the future” in New Delhi.
Key points:
i. A total of  48 lakh houses are currently constructed, but this number will rise to 75 lakh. 24 lakh houses have been sanctioned over to beneficiaries under Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana (Urban) till date & it will be increased to 50 lakh.
ii. The central government decided to build 1.12 crore houses by 2022, of these around 84 lakh houses have been sanctioned to date & the remaining will be sanctioned by the end of 2019.
iii. As per the estimation, about 600 million people would be residing in cities by 2030, the year in which India is expected to meet the sustainable development goals set by the UN (United Nations).
iv. Puri also pointed out that the enactment of RERA (Real Estate (Regulation and Development) Act, 2016) has removed many abnormalities in the real estate sector successfully.
♦ Formation: 1998
♦ Headquarters: New Delhi
♦ Chairman: Rajeev Talwar
♦ President:  Niranjan Hiranandani
About PMAY:
It is an initiative by the Government of India(GoI) in which affordable housing will be provided to the urban poor with a target of building 20 million affordable houses by 31 March 2022.  It has two components: Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana (Urban) (PMAY-U) for the urban poor and Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana (Gramin) (PMAY-G/ PMAY-R) for the rural poor.

Bangladesh PM Sheikh Hasina & Tennis Legend Sania Mirza will co-chair WEF’s India Economic Summit 2019 to be held in New Delhi
The World Economic Forum (WEF) in collaboration with Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) will organize 2-day India Economic Summit 2019 scheduled to be held in New Delhi from October 3 – 4, 2019 with the aim of promoting strong collaboration between South Asia and ASEAN (Association of Southeast Asian Nations ) nations. The theme of the event will be ‘Innovating for India: Strengthening South Asia, Impacting the World’.India Economic Summit 2019Key points:
i. Key leaders: Sheikh Hasina (Prime Minister of Bangladesh), Sania Mirza (Sportsperson and UN –United Nations Women Goodwill Ambassador for South Asia), Heng Swee Keat (Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Finance of Singapore), Shobana Kamineni (Executive Vice Chairperson, Apollo Hospitals Enterprise), and Shailendra Singh (Managing Director, Sequoia Capital India) will be the co-chairs for the Summit.
ii. Thematic pillars: The meet will resolve strategic issues of regional significance through 4 thematic pillars, which include the new geopolitical reality and new social, ecological and technological systems.
iii. Focus: The meet facilitates dialogue on policy tools, business models, industry standards, norms and guidelines for promoting the dynamism of India to meet its growth potential & accelerates the adoption of 4th Industrial Revolution technologies.
iv. Participants: Top leaders from government(Nitin Gadkari, Piyush Goyal, Smriti Irani, Dharmendra Pradhan, and Hardeep Singh Puri, Punjab Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh, Congress leader Shashi Tharoor, NITI Aayog Vice-Chairman Rajiv Kumar and NITI Aayog CEO Amitabh Kant), Industry leaders (Rahul Bajaj, Sanjiv Bajaj, Kumar Mangalam Birla, Arundhati Bhattacharya, Adi Godrej, Ajay Singh, Sunil Mittal and Nandan Nilekani)are expected to  attend the meet.
About WEF:
♦ Formation: January 1971
♦ Headquarters: Cologny, Geneva, Switzerland
♦ Founder: Klaus Schwab
♦ Motto: Committed to improving the state of the world

High-Level Meeting (HLM) between Indian and Srilankan coast guard held
On August 20, 2019, A High-Level Meeting (HLM) was held between India and Srilanka at the Indian Coast Guard (ICG) headquarters in New Delhi. The Indian delegation was led by Director General, Indian Coast Guard K Natarajan, and the Srilankan delegation was held by Rear Admiral Samantha Wimalathunge.
Key points
i. The meeting was held as part of the MoU(Memorandum of Understanding) signed between the two sides in establishing a collaborative relationship to combat illegal activities at sea like smuggling and developing regional cooperation.
ii. An official visit to India is paid by a 4-member delegation of Sri Lanka Coast Guard, led by Wimalathunge from August 19-23, 2019.
Various discussions held: The discussions held were regarding,

  • Continued capacity building of Sri Lanka Coast Guard by Indian Coast Guard.
  • Training of Sri Lanka Coast Guard personnel.
  • Mutual cooperation in multilateral forums on safety and security.

Important enabler for collaboration: The apprehension of 2 fishing boats by Sri Lanka involved in drug trafficking based on the information exchange undertaken by ICG that invoked the MoU was recognised as an important enabler for pursuing further collaborative response to emerging situations at sea.
About ICG
♦ Motto- “We protect”.
♦ Founded- 18 August 1978.
♦ Act- Coast Guard Act, 1978.
About Srilanka
♦ Capital- Colombo, Sri Jayawardenepura Kotte.
♦ Currency- Sri Lankan rupee.
♦ Prime minister-Ranil Wickremesinghe.
♦ President- Maithripala Sirisena.


Iceland commemorates first glacier lost due to climate change
Iceland has marked its first-ever loss of a glacier to climate change. The glacier lost was, Iceland’s Okjokull glacier. People commemorated this loss with a plaque (An ornamental tablet, typically of metal, porcelain, or wood, fixed to a wall or other surface in commemoration of a person or event).Iceland commemorates first glacier lost due to climate changeKey points
i. The plaque unveiling ceremony was attended by scientists and locals at the Okjokull glacier in west-central Iceland, as it failed to fulfill the criteria to be classified as a glacier after melting throughout the 20th century.
ii. The plaque bears the inscription “A letter to the future”.
iii. Glaciologists stripped Okjokull of its glacier status in 2014, a first for Iceland, as the glacier ice covered that 16 square kilometres but by 2012, measured just 0.7 square kilometres in 2017.
Key members in the event:

  • Iceland’s prime minister- Katrín Jakobsdóttir,
  • The former UN human rights commissioner- Mary Robinson.
  • Former Irish President- Mary Robinson.

Status for a glacier:To have the status of a glacier, the mass of ice and snow must be thick enough to move by its own weight. For that to happen the mass must be approximately 40 to 50 metres thick.
About Iceland
♦ Capital- Reykjavík.
♦ Currency- Icelandic króna.
♦ President- GuðniThorlaciusJóhannesson.
♦ Country also known as- Land of fire and ice.


Mahindra Finance to acquire up to 58.2% stake in Sri Lanka’s Ideal Finance for LKR 2 billion
On August 20, 2019, Rural NBFC (Non Banking Financial Company) Mahindra & Mahindra Financial Services Ltd has signed a joint venture (JV) with Ideal Finance Ltd (IFL), a subsidiary of the leading Sri Lankan conglomerate, Ideal Group, for the acquisition of up to 58.2 % stake in the Ideal Finance for LKR-(Sri Lankan Rupees) 2 billion (nearly Rs 80 crore).Mahindra Finance to acquire Sri Lanka's Ideal FinanceKey points:
i. Investment: Mahindra Finance will invest LKR 2 billion till March 2021 to acquire the stake.
ii. Benefits: The joint venture with Ideal Finance will create a market-leading financial services business in Sri Lanka for Mahindra.
iii. Mahindra Finance: It has over 6.2 million customers in over 3,70,000 villages in India and its assets under management (AUM) is recorded at over $10 billion. It will expand its business model in Sri Lanka with this joint venture.
iv. IFL: It is a non-banking financial Institution registered with Central Bank of Sri Lanka, caters financial services to the individual needs of its clients. Its assets base is recorded at LKR 4.4 billion and an equity base of LKR 1.1 billion and as many as 10 branches. The partnership will help IFL to emerge as a tier-1 category in a short period of time.
About Mahindra Finance:
Founded: 1991
♦ Headquarters: Mumbai
♦ Vice-Chairman & Managing Director: Ramesh Iyer
About IFL:
♦ Headquarters: Sri lanka
♦ Chairman: Nalin J. Welgama


IIT-D start-up bags 10th NCPEDP-Mphasis Universal Design Award 2019
On August 20, 2019, Ankita Gulati, founder of TouchVision which is an Indian Institute of Technology-Delhi (IIT-D) incubated startup, won the 10th edition of NCPEDP-Mphasis Universal Design Award 2019. The award was presented by Rama Devi, sitting Member of Parliament and Deputy Speaker of the Lok Sabha.
Key points:
i. The award was given for developing a multisensory kit for the visually impaired people which was developed at Assistive Technologies Lab of IIT-Delhi. She has received the award under category ‘B’ (for Working Professionals).
About the multi-sensory kit: The device explains about the content in a picture when a visually impaired person touches it.
NCPEDP stands for National Centre for Promotion of Employment for Disabled People.
♦ Founder- Sonia Gandhi.
♦ Established- 1996.


DRDO hands over MMR design to the Indian army
On August 20, 2019, The Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) chairman, and Secretary of the Department of Defence (Research & Development- R&D) G. Satheesh Reddy handed over the design of the Mobile Metallic Ramp (MMR) to the Indian army in an event held at the DRDO bhawan in New Delhi.Key points
i. The MMR with a load-bearing capacity of 70 metric tonne (MT), was handed over to Vice Chief of Army Staff, Lt Gen Devraj Anbu.
ii. It has been designed and developed by the Centre for Fire, Explosive and Environment Safety (CFEES), which is DRDO’s premier research laboratory.
MMR: The MMR is designed and developed for the Indian Army for reducing Strategic Mobility time of mobilising Armoured Fighting Vehicles (AFV). Portable modular design with easy assembling and disassembling are the features of MMR.
Other members at the event:

  • Lt Gen Nav K Khanduri- Director General Operational Logistics & Strategic Movement.
  • S Christopher-Director General of DRDO.
  • Rajiv Narang- Director of CFEES.

About DRDO
♦ Headquarters- New Delhi.
♦ Union minister responsible- Defence minister Rajnath Singh(constituency-bastion of Lucknow, Uttar Pradesh).
♦ Formed- 1958.
♦ Motto- “Strength’s Origin is in Science”.

US startup Cerebras Systems unveils World’s largest processor with 1.2 trillion transistors called Cerebras Wafer Scale Engine
New artificial intelligence (AI) company Cerebras Systems based in United States(US) has unveiled the world’s largest single silicon-based processor, the Cerebras Wafer Scale Engine (WSE) with 1.2 trillion transistors, the basic on-off electronic switches that are the building blocks of silicon chips.World's largest processor with 1.2 trillion transistorsKey points:
i. The rectangular shape chip measures around 8 inches by 9 inches, comes with 400,000 AI (Artificial Intelligence) cores and 18 gigabytes of on-chip memory.
ii. It is made by a team headed by Andrew Feldman with the aim to enhance the development work of AI. It is 56.7 times larger than Nvidia’s most powerful server GPU (graphics processing unit).
About Cerebras Systems:
♦ Formation:
♦ Headquarters
:  Los Altos, California, USA
♦ CEO, Co-Founder: Andrew Feldman

NASA’s  MMS Mission took 1st high-resolution measurements of an interplanetary shock
America’s space agency, NASA’s (National Aeronautics and Space Administration) Magnetospheric Multiscale mission (MMS) has obtained 1st high-resolution measurements of an interplanetary shock event. These shocks are launched from the Sun which continually releases streams of charged particles called the solar wind, which has 2 types, slow and fast. When a fast stream of solar wind overtakes a slower stream, it creates a shock wave.
Key points:
i. Advantage:  These shocks provide ideal testbeds for learning about larger universal phenomena.
ii. Measurement:  The MMS mission measured the shock with fast and high-resolution instruments including the Fast Plasma Investigation (FPI), which can measure ions and electrons around the spacecraft at up to 6 times per second.
iii. Interplanetary shocks events: It occurs when particles transfer energy through electromagnetic fields instead of directly bouncing into one another. These shocks are a phenomenon found every part of the Universe, including in supernovae, black holes, and distant stars.
iv. MMS : It is NASA’s robotic space mission launched in March 2015 to study Earth’s magnetosphere. It comprises of 4 identical spacecraft, which fly in a tight formation that allows for the 3D(3-Dimensional)mapping of space.
v. Journal: The findings have been published in the Journal of Geophysical Research: Space Physics.

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Indian para-swimming team crossed Catalina Channel of US in 11 hours 34 min
Indian para-swimming team of 6 members comprising Para swimmer Satendra Singh Lohia from Gwalior (Madhya Pradesh) has created history by becoming the 1st from Asia to cross the Catalina Channel (42 km )of US(United States) in just 11 hours 34 minutes. Rohan More was the coach of the team.
Key points:
i. The temperature of water in the channel was around 13 degrees Celsius.
ii. Satendra was the recipient of “ Vikram Award”(2014), the highest sports award from Chief Minister, Madhya Pradesh government in recognition of excellence in sports. He has crossed the English Channel in 12 hours 26 minutes in 2018 & entered Limca Book of Records with his best effort.
iii. Besides Satendra, others in the Indian team include, Rimo Saha (Bengal), Jagdish Chandra (Rajasthan), Chetan (Maharashtra), Anjani Patel (Chhattisgarh) and Gita Choudhary (Maharashtra) were involved to cross the channel.

Russell Domingo appointed as the new head coach of Bangladesh Cricket Team
On August 17, 2019 Russell Domingo was appointed as the head coach of Bangladesh Cricket Team (Men), replacing Steve Rhodes(English cricket coach and former cricketer) by the Bangladesh Cricket Board (BCB). Russel will remain as the head coach for the next two years.Russell DomingoKey points
i. The BCB replaced steve with Russel without an extension, following the team’s eighth-place finish at the recently concluded 2019 World Cup in England and Wales.
ii. It is expected that Domingo, who earlier served as the South Africa coach, will serve the team from August 21, beginning with the lone Test against Afghanistan from September 5, followed by an ODI tri-series involving Zimbabwe as well.
About Bangladesh.
♦ Capital- Dhaka
♦ Currency- Bangladeshi Taka.
♦ Prime Minister- Sheik Hasina.
♦ Official language- Bengali.


Former Chief Minister of Madhya Pradesh Babulal Gaur passed away
Former Chief Minister (CM)of Madhya Pradesh & and BJP(Bharatiya Janata Party) leader Babulal Gaur passed away in Bhopal, Madhya Pradesh after a prolonged illness. He was 89.Former Chief Minister of Madhya Pradesh Babulal Gauri. Gaur, born on June 2, 1930, at Naugeer village in Pratapgarh district of Uttar Pradesh, was served as the Chief Minister of Madhya Pradesh from August 2004 to November 2005.
ii. He was the only BJP leader who won 10 consecutive elections in the Madhya Pradesh Legislative Assembly.
iii. Before joining politics, Gaur worked as a laborer in Bhopal’s textile mill. He also participated in several national-level movements such as the agitation against the Emergency and for Goa Independence.


2nd International Day of Remembrance and Tribute to the Victims of Terrorism observed on 21 August 2019
On August 21, 2019, The 2nd International Day of Remembrance and Tribute to the Victims of Terrorism has observed with the aim to focus on the resilience of victims and their families.
UN Secretary-General, António Guterres informed General Assembly that Terrorism continues to pose a major threat to individuals, families, and communities. The UN has been working to provide resources, mobilize the international community and better address the needs of victims of terrorism by sensitizing the States.
Key point:
i.The General Assembly, in its resolution (A/RES/72/165) of 2017, established 21 August as the International Day of Remembrance of and Tribute to the Victims of Terrorism in order to honour and support the victims and survivors of terrorism and to promote and protect the full enjoyment of their human rights and fundamental freedoms.

World Senior Citizen Day observed on August 21, 2019
The World Senior Citizen Day was observed on August 21, 2019 across the world. The day is recognized to create awareness of the condition of elder people and support them through senescence.World Senior Citizen DayKey points:
i. This day is observed to thank and acknowledge elders for all that they have done for their children. They sacrifice their entire life in nurturing their relationships.
ii. The day was first announced on 14th of December in the year 1990, by the United Nations General Assembly(UNGA) & it was celebrated for the first time on October 1, 1991.
iii. The day originates from the time of 1988. It was formally settled by the former president of the United States of America i.e. Ronald Reagan. He had marked the 5847 declarations on August 19, 1988, which showed August 21 as the National Senior Citizens Day.
iv. As per the 2017 census, 47 million senior citizens from India live in the United States of America.
v. Several programs are held throughout the world where elders’ life studies, personal experiences are shared and solutions are offered to fight the factors that affect their well-being.


3 Committees formulated for Union Territory related issues of J-K
On August 20, 2019, The Jammu and Kashmir(J&K) administration has constituted  3 committees for devising modalities for the functioning of proposed UT(Union Territory) of J&K and Ladakh, dealing with financial matters and staff-related issues.
Key points:
i. Background: On August 5, 2019, The central government repealed the special status of Jammu and Kashmir and bifurcated the state into 2 Union territories as Jammu and Kashmir, and Ladakh.
ii. Here’s the list of three separate committees and its purpose:

S.NoCommittee Head & MembersPurpose of the committee
112-member committee

: K K Sharma (Advisor to J&K Governor)Members: Financial Commissioners with the Governor, Finance Department and Health and Medical Education Department, Principal Secretaries of Home Department, Planning, Development and Monitoring Department, and Commissioner Secretaries of Public Works (roads and buildings) Department, Ladakh Affairs Department and Secretaries of General Administration Department (GAD), Higher Education Department, Revenue Department and Department of Law, Justice and Parliamentary Affairs.
To take necessary steps for transition from a state to the proposed Union Territory of J&K by various departments and conduct of government business in the proposed UT.
25-member committee

Head: Shri Dr. Arun Kumar Mehta(Financial Commissioner, Finance Department)Members:  Principal Secretary, Home Department, Commissioner Secretary, Power Development Department, Secretary, GAD and Secretary, Department of Law, Justice and Parliamentary Affairs.
To deal with the financial matters related to the proposed Union Territories of J&K and Ladakh.
36-member committee

Head: Mr. Shaleen Kabra(Principal Secretary, Home Department)

Members: Commissioner Secretary, Ladakh Affairs Department, Secretary, General Administration Department, Secretary, Culture Department, Secretary, Department of Law, Justice and Parliamentary Affairs, and Representative of the Finance Department

To suggest measures to be taken for providing staff to the proposed UT of Ladakh and any other issue related to staff of proposed UT of Jammu and Kashmir.

About J&K:
♦ Governor: Satya Pal Malik
♦ National Parks: City Forest (Salim Ali) National Park , Dachigam National Park ,Hemis National Park ,Kishtwar National Park.

Himachal Pradesh breaks 70 years record of receiving highest ever rainfall in last 24 hours
On August 19, 2019, The local Indian Meteorological Department (IMD) announced that Himachal Pradesh recorded highest ever rainfall in the last 24 hours by breaking the last 70 years’ record. Extremely heavy rains were reported from Shimla, Bilaspur, and Hamirpur.
Key points
i. Himachal witnessed a 102 mm of rainfall in last 24 hours after which the IMD made an announcement.
ii. The highest rainfall was recorded at Naina Devi in Bilaspur district of Himachal at 360 mm whereas Shimla recorded 153 mm.
iii. Previously extremely heavy rainfall was reported in August 2011 with recorded 74 mm of rains.
About IMD
♦ Formed-1875
♦ Headquarters- MausamBhavan, New Delhi.
♦ Director General- Dr. MrutyunjayMohapatra.
♦ Union minister responsible- Dr. Harsh Vardhan(Union Minister of Earth Sciences & Union Minister of Science & Technology).

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