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Current Affairs May 8 2019

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The Ministry of New and Renewable Energy (MNRE) held ‘chintan baithak’ session for stakeholders in renewable energy industry
The Ministry of New and Renewable Energy (MNRE) held a session for stakeholders in the renewable energy industry termed as ‘chintan baithak’ in New Delhi, where CEOs (Chief Executive Officers) made presentations on subject matters, namely, regulatory hurdles, energy storage, transmission constraints and low cost, long term funding.
Key Points:
i. The meeting was headed by Secretary, MNRE, Shri Anand Kumar.
ii. Renewable Energy (RE) sector inclusive of the dignitaries of the major RE developers, equipment manufacturers, financiers, regulators, think-tanks, industry bodies, and skill developers attended the meeting.
iii. In the session, various major issues faced by the industry were examined and discussed upon, like the challenges related to the usage of the land, the issues faced in converting it from agriculture to other uses, and also the challenge of the land ceiling.
iv. Based on the inputs of the different dignitaries, MNRE will finalize its plan of action for the initial 100 days of the new government.


Finland held the 11th Arctic Council Ministerial Meeting in Rovaniemi and India was re-elected as an Observer to Arctic Council
On May 7, 2019, Finland held the 11th Arctic Council Ministerial Meeting in Lappi Areena, Rovaniemi, Finland. The dignitaries from the 8 Arctic States had approved the work completed under the 2-year Finnish Chairmanship to enhance sustainable development and environmental conservation in the Arctic region.

Arctic Council Ministerial MeetingKey Points:
i. The Arctic States were joined by delegates from the Arctic Council’s Permanent Participant organizations, the heads of the 6 Working Groups, and Observers.
ii. Arctic States concluded the Arctic Council Ministerial meeting by signing a joint agreement as the Arctic Council Ministers meet, passed the Chairmanship from Finland to Iceland.
iii. As stated in the Rovaniemi Joint Ministerial Statement, the Arctic States ensured the Council’s commitment to keeping Arctic peaceful, stable and a region for constructive cooperation.
iv. In the session, Finland’s Foreign Minister, Timo Soini stated the Council’s achievements and gave guidance for the upcoming 2 years.
v. In the meeting, the International Maritime Organization was authorized as a new Observer.
vi.The 1st executive meeting of Senior Arctic Officials in the Icelandic Chairmanship will be held in June in Reykjanesbær, Iceland.
vii. India was re-elected as an Observer to Arctic Council and India committed to contributing more to Arctic Council. India had received the Observer status in 2013 during the Kiruna Ministerial meeting in Sweden.
viii. Since the year 2008, India has its Arctic research station, termed as ‘Himadri’ in Svalbard, Norway.
Static GK:
i. The Members of the Arctic Council are: the United States, Canada, Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway, Russia, and Sweden.
ii. The Arctic Council has 6 Permanent Participants, stated as follows:

  • Aleut International Association
  • Arctic Athabaskan Council
  • Gwich’in Council International
  • Inuit Circumpolar Council
  • Russian Association of Indigenous Peoples of the North
  • Saami Council

iii. Till date, 13 Non-Arctic States have been authorized as Observers to the Arctic Council.


Max Life Insurance Co Ltd dedicated the 6th day of each month as ‘Protection Day’ to raise awareness on financial protection
Max Life Insurance Co Ltd has notified that it will commemorate the 6th day of each month as ‘Protection Day’. The objective of this initiative was to raise awareness on financial protection.

Max Life Insurance Co LtdKey Points:
i. Aalok Bhan, Director and Chief Marketing Officer, Max Life notified that this date of the calendar month was selected, because, generally, number 6 indicates love, harmony and is also a symbol of secured financial future.
ii. The decision came in line with the Company’s launch of Max Life India Protection Quotient survey conducted in collaboration with Kantar IMRB. It denoted that the extent to which the Indians feel protected from financial uncertainties is extremely low, and that level was as 35.
iii. Various other initiatives will start off across Max Life Insurance’s network of around 240 offices, as a part of this initiative.
iv. The Company will also start an initiative called the “Super Customer Week“, in which the customers will be taught about the different facets of financial protection


Commerce ministry, Indian High Commissions and 11 African nation-embassies organised interaction to improve India-Africa trade ties
The Commerce Ministry, Indian High Commissions and embassies of 11 African nations organized a 2-day, (that is on May 3rd and May 6th) long interaction to deepen the India-Africa trade relations.
This was arranged over Digital Video Conference (DVC) and was attended by more than 400 members of the Indian business community in Africa.
Key points:
i. The interactions with the Indian Diaspora were held in 11 African nations, namely, Tanzania, Uganda, Kenya, Zambia, and Mauritius, Nigeria, Mozambique, Ghana, South Africa, Botswana, and Madagascar, to construct an efficient engagement with the Indian Diaspora in Africa.
ii. This initiative gives more focus on the requirement for a multi-faceted strategy to enhance trade and investment between India and Africa.
iii. During the process of interaction, the Indian Business Community focussed on various issues, namely,

  • the need to improve the line of the credit system
  • the need to develop a facility for feasible, competitive funding
  • the requirement of setting up Indian banks and financial institutions in the continent of Africa
  • the need to review and liberalize visa-policies from both ends for smooth trade
  • the requirement for direct flights between India and the African nations

iv. The ministry of commerce stated that India’s trade with Africa during 2017-18 was 62.69 $ billion, which measured at 8.15% of India’s total trade with the world.

India, Japan’s ISE Foods inked MoU to improve poultry farms
India has inked Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with ISE Foods, Japan’s largest egg producer. The objective is to improve the quality of eggs, disease diagnosis and waste management in poultry farms across India.  ISE Foods will establish two poultry farms in India out of which first will be in Gujarat’s Surat city and second will be in Telangan’s Siddipet.
Key Highlights
i. The egg production process used by ISE Foods is fully automated, the chickens are totally antibiotic-free and ISE’s production process is considered the most hygienic in the world.
ii. ISE Foods also regulates “ISE Integration System” which supervise the production of feed, poultry farming, egg collection, packing and delivery production to control quality.
About Japan
♦ Capital: Tokyo
♦ Currency: Japanese Yen

Trade between India and US in goods and services registers 12.6% growth in 2018
The bilateral trade between India and the US in merchandise and services has grown by 12.6% from USD 126 billion in 2017 to USD 142 billion in 2018. This was welcomed by the two countries in the recently concluded India-US bilateral trade meeting in New Delhi. The meeting was co-chaired by Suresh Prabhu, Minister of Commerce & Industry and Civil Aviation, along with the Wilbur Ross, US Secretary of Commerce.
i. Both countries have started many initiatives to boost trade and deepen economic cooperation including the private sector led US-India SME (Small and Medium-sized Enterprise) Forum.
About US
♦ Capital: Washington D.C.
♦ Currency: United States Dollar

Standard Life will sell its 1.78% stake in HDFC Life Insurance
The Standard Life (Mauritius Holdings) will sell its stake of 1.78% in HDFC Life Insurance Company for Rs 1,404 crore. The sale process will happen in two slots, first for non-retail investors and second for retail investors. The reason behind this move is to achieve the minimum public shareholding in the company as per Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI) regulations.
Key Highlights
i. The Standard Life (Mauritius Holdings) proposed to sell up to 3,60,00,000 equity shares (1.78% stake) at a floor price of Rs 390 per equity share and DSP Merril Lynch will be the broker for the sale process on behalf of Standard Life (Mauritius Holdings).
ii. The sale process was done through offer for sale (OFS) route.
About HDFC Life Insurance
♦ Headquarter: Mumbai
♦ CEO: Vibha Padalkar


Discom debt to return to pre-UDAY level of Rs 2.6 lakh crore
According to CRISIL (formerly Credit Rating Information Services of India Limited) report, the external debt of state-owned electricity distribution companies (discoms) will return to pre-UDAY (Ujwal Discom Assurances Yojana) levels of Rs 2.6 lakh crore by the financial year 2020 (FY20). The CRISIL’s report is based on the analysis of 15 states which account for 85% of aggregate losses.
Key Highlights
i. After the implementation of the UDAY scheme by various states, aggregate discom debt had fallen from Rs 2.7 lakh crore in Sep. 2015 to Rs 1.9 lakh crore in FY16 and Rs 1.5 lakh crore in FY17. But now this downward trajectory is started to reverse and in FY19 aggregate losses will be Rs 2.28 lakh crore and in FY20 the aggregate losses will be Rs 2.64 lakh crore.
ii. According to CRISIL report, the total external debt of discoms in 9 out of 15 states are already in breach of the Fiscal Responsibility and Budget Management (FRBM) Act of 25% debt to gross state domestic product ratio.
♦ Headquarter: Mumbai
♦ MD & CEO: Ashu Suyash
About Ujwal Discom Assurance Yojana (UDAY)
This scheme was started by government of India in November 2015. The objective is to financially stabilize discoms by allowing them to take over 75% of their debt as of September 30, 2015 and pay back lenders by selling state government bonds. Jharkhand became the first state to join the UDAY scheme.

TAFE collaborates with Petroleum Conservation Research Association and signs MoU
Tractors and Farm Equipment (TAFE) Ltd. notified its signing of (MoU) memorandum of understanding with the Petroleum Conservation Research Association (PCRA), Ministry of Petroleum & Natural Gas, GOI to help in the preservation of resources. The MoU was signed by Petroleum association’s executive director Alok Tripathi and TAFE’s president and COO-product strategy and corporate relations (Chief Operating Officer)T R Kesavan.

TAFE collaborates with Petroleum Conservation Research AssociationKey Points:
i. Under the MoU, the Petroleum Conservation Research Association would collaboratively conduct the agricultural workshops by taking the aid of TAFE’s extended network of dealership.
ii. The main objective of this initiative is to spread awareness on the advantages of better maintenance of tractors, thus resulting in lower usage of fuel, minimum cost, and maximum productivity.
iii. This initiative will include collaborative outreach events and knowledge sharing modules for farmers made by PCRA via TAFE’s ‘JFarm Services’ App.


2 Indians among 115 UN personnel staff honoured for laying down their lives in UN peace-service
The Secretary of United Nations, General Antonio Guterres,  accompanied with top UN officials and Peacekeeping personnel paid homage to 115 peacekeepers  from 43 different countries who laid down their lives in the service of peace. Among the 115 peacekeepers, 2 Indians were also paid tribute. They were honoured for their sacrifice in the line of duty.

115 UN personnel staff honouredKey Points:
The 2 Indians were:
i. Jitender Kumar: He was an Indian police officer deployed to the UN Organisation Stabilisation Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (MONUSCO).
ii. Shikha Garg: She was a consultant who had worked in the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP). She was killed in the Nairobi-bound Ethiopian Airlines plane crash. They sacrificed their lives in peace-service between January 2018 and March 2019.


Sujatha V Kumar appointed as Head of Marketing for India and South Asia for Visa
Visa, the global leader in digital payments technology, announced the appointment of Sujatha V Kumar as Head of Marketing for India and South Asia. She will be driving overall marketing strategy and execution including consumer, retail and digital marketing initiatives for India and the emerging markets of Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Nepal, and the Maldives. She will succeed Manmeet Vohra.

Sujatha-V-KumarKey Points:
i. Prior to this, she worked with Google as Head in Brand & Reputation, Marketing and Strategy.
ii. She has 20 years of experience and extensive knowledge of consumer insights, brand development, go-to-market approaches, category management, retail strategy and promotions.
iii. She started her career at Procter & Gamble and later on gathered rich experience in sales and marketing across companies such as Gillette, Nokia, The Royal Bank of Scotland and Coca-Cola.
iv. Sujatha is a graduate in Psychology and holds MBA in Marketing.
About Visa:
Headquarters: Foster City, California, United States.
CEO: Alfred F Kelly Jr

India’s Jagjit Pavadia re-elected to the International Narcotics Control Board(INCB)
Jagjit Pavadia, an Indian, has been re-elected by the UN Economic and Social Council to a five year term on International Narcotics Control Board with the highest number of votes of 44 in the 54 member council.

Jagjit PavadiaKey Points:
i. She will begin her term on March 2, next year.
ii. A member of the Indian Revenue Service, Ms Pavadia is the former Narcotics Commissioner of India.
iii. She was elected to the INCB for her first five year term in 2014. She has also served as the First Vice-President of the Board in 2016 and Chair of the Standing Committee on Estimates in 2015 and 2017.
About International Narcotics Control Board:
Established: 1968
President: Viroj Sumyai

Rakesh Sharma, Bajaj Auto Executive Director has been elected as IMMA Vice-President
Rakesh Sharma, Bajaj Auto Executive Director and also a representative of SIAM (Society of Indian Automobile Manufactures) has been elected as VP (Vice President) of IMMA, International Motorcycle Manufactures Association (based in Geneva) during the annual general meeting of (IMMA) at Yogyakarta in Indonesia.

Rakesh Sharmai. Rakesh Sharma has a wide range of experience in 2 and 3-wheeler industry and he is expected to efficiently direct IMMA towards being the trusted motorcycle manufacturers worldwide.
ii. IMMA’s president is Johannes Loman.


Bharti Airtel, Hughes India merged broadband satellite business
Bharti Airtel and Hughes Communication India have agreed to merge their broadband satellite or VSAT (very small aperture terminal) business to improve operational efficiencies and target new customers in areas such as in-flight connectivity.

Bharti Airtel, Hughes India merged broadbandKey Highlights
i. After a merger, Hughes Communication will own 67% share of new entity and the remaining 33% will own by Bharti Airtel.
ii. If we talk about current market share, the Hughes Communication has 36% share of the market and Airtel Business – the enterprise and VSAT arm of Bharti Airtel has 27% share of the market.


Stress buster serotonin may help treat neurological decline 
Researchers at Tata Institute of Fundamental Research (TIFR), Mumbai have identified a new function for Serotonin, a monoamine neurotransmitter. The serotonin may help treat neurological diseases.The results of the study were published in the journal “Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS)”.
i. A research paper jointly led by Vidita A. Vaidya and UllasKolthur-Seetharam from TIFR, in collaboration with Ashok Vaidya from KHS (Kasturba Health Society), had found that stress buster Serotonin is involved in the generation of new mitochondria in neurons, increased cellular respiration and fuel (ATP- adenosine triphosphate) in the cell.
ii. The recent discovery establishes that serotonin signaling could be used to prevent mitochondrial abnormalities and neuronal loss.
About Serotonin:
i. Chemical name: 5-hydroxytryptamine (5-HT)
ii. It found in all bilateral animals including insects. Serotonin is also present in plants.
iii. This chemical act as a contributor to feelings of well-being and happiness.An increase in 5-HT may enhance individuals capacity to respond to stress.


Water found in samples taken from Asteroid Itokawa
Maitrayee Bose, Indian-origin cosmochemist along with Ziliang Jin, a postdoctoral scholar in Arizona State University’s School of Earth and Space Exploration, have found water in asteroid Itokawa samples collected by the Japanese space probe Hayabusa. The research paper detailing the analysis of five of the particles from the asteroid samples was published in the journal Science Advances on 8th May 2019.
i. Maitrayee Bose, isotope cosmochemist, is an assistant professor in the School of Earth and Space Exploration at  Arizona State University (ASU) in Tempe, US.
ii. Itokawa is a peanut-shaped S-type asteroid about 1,800 feet long and 700 to 1,000 feet wide. It circles the Sun every 18 months at an average distance of 1.3 times the Earth-Sun distance.
iii. The samples were collected from an area on Itokawa known as the Muses Sea, which is smooth and dusty.
iv. Each sample is only about half the thickness of a human hair, so a Nanoscale Secondary Ion Mass Spectrometer (NanoSIMS) was used to measure the tiny mineral grains.
v. In two of the five particles, Jin and Bose identified pyroxene, a mineral that is known to contain water.
vi. Itokawa is a dry asteroid but the study showed that the samples were rich in water.
About Itokawa:
♦ Named after: Hideo Itokawa
♦ Discovery date: 26 September 1998
♦ Discovered by: Lincoln Near-Earth Asteroid Research (LINEAR) program
♦ Discovery site: Lincoln Lab’s Experimental Test Site(ETS) near Socorro, New Mexico, US.

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NR Madhava Menon, father of modern legal education in India, passes away
On 7th May 2019, Renowned academician and father of modern Indian Legal Education, Dr. Neelakanta Ramakrishna Madhava Menon (NR Madhava Menon) died at a private hospital in Thiruvananthapuram at the age of 84. He was born on 4th May 1935 in Thiruvananthapuram, Kerala.

NR MadhavaMenoni. Madhava Menon founded the National Law School of India University (NLSIU) in Bengaluru, National Judicial Academy (NJA) in Bhopal and the National University of Judicial Sciences (NUJS) in Kolkata.
ii. The first national law school in India, National Law School of India, Bengaluru, was founded in 1986. The school was headed by him for 12 years.
iii. The National University of Judicial Sciences in Kolkata was founded in 1998, and the National Judicial Academy in Bhopal was founded in 2003.
iv. In 1953, he graduated in Zoology from SD College Alappuzha. He obtained his B.Sc. and B.L. degrees from Kerala University. He completed his LL.M. and Ph.D. from Aligarh Muslim University (AMU).
v. He served on deputation as Principal of Government Law College, Pondicherry and Secretary of the Bar Council of India Trust.
vi. Dr. Menon was bestowed with Padma Shri in 2003 for outstanding public services.
About National Law School of India University, Bengaluru
♦ Established: 1986
♦ Chancellor: Ranjan Gogoi, Chief Justice of India
♦ Vice-chancellor: R. Venkata Rao


Border Roads Organization (BRO) celebrated its 59th Raising Day on May 7th
The 59th Raising Day of Border Roads Organization (BRO) was celebrated on May 7, 2019. It is a nodal road construction agency under the Ministry of Defence.

Raising Day of Border Roads OrganizationKey Points:
i. It was formed on 7th May 1960, with the primary role of providing road connectivity in border areas.
ii. It executes road construction and maintenance works along the Northern and Western frontiers primarily to meet the strategic requirements of the Army and is responsible for over 53,000 km roads.
iii. An official release said, in 2018-19, BRO executed 991 km of formation cutting, 1965 km surfacing, Rs. 1518 Crores permanent works, 2817 meters of Bridge construction and undertook resurfacing of 1778 km roads along our Northern and Western Borders. The works done by BRO saw a jump of more than 12% in 2018-19 over the previous financial year.
About BRO:
Parent Organization: Ministry of Defence
Director General: Lt. Gen. Harpal Singh
Headquarters: New Delhi

World Red Cross Day or Red Crescent Day celebrated on 8th May
The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) celebrated the World Red Cross Day on May 8th. The theme of this year was “#Love”.
Key Points:
i. It is celebrated to commemorate the birthday of the founder of the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement, Henry Dunant, who was born on 8th May 1828.
ii. This year’s celebration also coincides with the centenary of the founding of IFRC on 5th May,1919 by the American, British, French, Italian and Japanese Red Cross Societies.
About IFRC:
President: Francesco Rocca
Headquarters: Geneva, Switzerland
About Indian Red Cross Society:
♦ Formed: 1920
♦ Headquarters: New Delhi

May 8 observes as a World Thalassaemia Day 2019
World Thalassaemia Day 2019 was celebrated on May 8 worldwide with a theme of “Universal Access to Quality Thalassaemia Healthcare Services: Building Bridges with and for Patients”. The purpose of this day is to honour all patients of thalassaemia and their wards who never gave up despite all odds and also to support researchers who are striving to create an improved quality of life for people with thalassaemia across the world.

World Thalassaemia Day 2019i. To celebrate this day, Thalassaemia International Federation (TIF) organised 3 online competitions worldwide with a certain theme. This online competition will include a video challenge, a photo contest, and a story competition.
About Thalassaemia
It is an autosomal recessive blood disorder, which transferred from parents to the children through genes. It causes weakening and destruction of the red blood cells, affects the formation of hemoglobin in the body and causes mild or severe anemia.


NIOS inked MoU with NHMPH to offer vocational programmes
The National Institute of Open Schooling (NIOS) under Ministry of Human Resource Development and National Health Mission of Public Health Department (NHMPH), Government of Maharashtra inked Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) which focussed on the offerings of vocational programmes to the Health Service Providers of National Health Mission (NHM) with the help of NIOS.
i. The objective of this move is to impart uniform structured and quality training to Multipurpose Health Workers and Community Health Workers with their work assessment and certification.
About NIOS
♦ Headquarter: Noida, U.P
♦ Chairman: Prof C B Sharma

Veteran Bengali actor Mrinal Mukherjee dead
On 7th May 2019, Veteran Bengali film and TV actor Mrinal Mukherjee died in Kolkata at the age of 74.He was suffering from cancer and liver problems.

Bengali actor Mrinal Mukherjeei. Mukherjee made his debut as a child actor with the 1955 film Dui Bon.
ii. He had worked for over five decades in the Bengali film industry.He had acted  in films like ‘Dui Bon’, ‘Chhuti’, ‘ShrimanPrithviraj’ and more recently ‘Byomkesh’ and ‘Chiriakhana’.
iii. He had also acted in the popular serial ‘Amlaki’.

Baidyanath Mishra, the renowned economist and educationist passed away due to age-related problems at the age of 99
99-year-old Baidyanath Mishra, a renowned economist, and educationist passed away due to age-related problems at his residence in Saheed Nagar, Bhubaneshwar.

Baidyanath Mishrai. Naveen Patnaik, Chief Minister of Odisha and Dharmendra Pradhan, the Union Minister had expressed condolences at his demise.
ii.  His career was started in 1949 as a lecturer in Ravenshaw University, Cuttack. He then worked at Odisha University of Agriculture and Technology (OUAT) and was the vice-chancellor of OUAT from 1981 to 1985. He was also the State Planning Board’s chairman from 1985 to 1990.

Basava Jayanti 2019 observed on May 7
On 7th May 2019, Basava Jayanthi was celebrated in Karnataka, Maharashtra and Andhra Pradesh to commemorate the birth of Basavanna, a Hindu Kannada poet of the 12th century. It was traditionally observed by the Lingayats. He is believed to be the founding saint of the Lingayat section.
i. Basavanna was born Karnataka’s Ingaleshwar, Bagewadi town on 20th March 1134, the third day of Vaisakha month of the Anandanama (Samvatsara) in the year 1134 A.D. According to believers, with the birth of the prophet Basavanna, a new era began.
ii. In the Panchangas, Basava Era count from Basava birth onwards in 2012 Basava Shake is 879.
iii. People refer to the year as ‘Basava Era‘ or ‘Basaveshwar Era’.
v. His father’s name was Madaras and mother’s name was Madalambe.
About Karnataka:
♦ Chief minister: H. D. Kumaraswamy
♦ Capital: Bengaluru
♦ Governor: Vajubhai Vala
♦ Rivers: Kaveri River, Krishna River‎, Palar River, Penner River
♦ Folk Dances: Yakshagana, Kunitha dance, Veeragase dance, Bayalata dance
♦ Festivals: Ganesha Chaturthi, Hampi Festival, Gowri Festival, Karaga, Pattadakal Dance Festival, Mahamastakabhisheka (Shravanabelagola), Kambala Festival

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