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Current Affairs October 20 2018

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Prime Minister Mr Narendra Modi visits Shirdi, in Maharashtra
On 19th October 2018, Prime Minister Mr Narendra Modi visited Shirdi, in Maharashtra.

Key Points: 
i. Mr Narendra Modi unveiled the plaque to mark the laying of foundation stone of several development works of Shri Saibaba Sansthan Trust.
ii. He also attended the valedictory function of centenary celebration of Shri Saibaba. He released a silver coin to commemorate the Centenary year of Shri Saibaba Samadhi.
iii. He handed over keys to mark the Grihapravesh of over 2 lakh Prime Minister Awas Yojana- Grameen (PMAY-G) beneficiaries in Maharashtra.
iv. He also interacted with beneficiaries from several districts of Maharashtra like Satara, Latur, Nandurbar, Amaravati, Thane, Solapur, Nagpur via video conference.
v. He announced that in line with the Government’s ‘Housing for All’ by 2022 initiative, more than 1.25 crore houses have been built in the last 4 years.
Some National Parks in Maharashtra:
♦ Gugamal National Park
♦ Sanjay Gandhi National Park

India imposes anti-dumping duty on certain steel products from China
India has imposed anti-dumping duties of up to 185.51 US dollars per tonne for 5 years on some varieties of Chinese steel to protect domestic players from cheap imports from China.
Key Points:
i. The revenue department has imposed the duty based on the recommendations of the Directorate General of Trade Remedies (DGTR).
ii. A joint application was filed by domestic steel industries like JSW Steel Ltd, Sunflag Iron & Steel Co, Usha Martin, Gerdau Steel India, Vardhman Special Steels and Jayaswal Neco Industries before DGTR to initiate investigation on this issue.
iii. The DGTR performed investigations and made recommendations on anti-dumping duties on some steel products.
iv. The goods have been exported to India from China below normal value and the domestic industry has been affected due to this.
v.  The anti-dumping duty has been imposed in the range of $ 44.89 to 185.51 per tonne on import of alloy bars and rods.
About China:
♦ Capital – Beijing
♦ Currency – Renminbi
♦ Official language – Standard Chinese
♦ President – Xi Jinping

Kerala the first smoke-free State; to have 100% LPG
On October 18, 2018, Kerala became the first state in the country to have 100% penetration of LPG in public sector oil companies.
To make the state smoke-free.
Key Points:
i. With three bottling plants at Kochi, Kozhikode, and Kollam, LPG is being brought to 49.79 lakh customers through 308 distributors.
ii. The Indian Oil is also prepared to provide with new generation fuels like CNG and other green fuels.
iii. Indian Oil has 50% of the market share with the remaining being shared by HPCL and BPCL.
i. Villages getting symbolic smoke-free certificates.
ii.  25 lakh trees has been saved with LPG consumption being 933.3 TMT (thousand tonnes) in the Kerala in 2017-18 with  Indian Oil selling 4.25 lakh tonnes of LPG the previous fiscal.
iii. Estimated 1 crore tonnes of emissions of poisonous gas have been contained.
LPG is being supplied through the Pradhan Mantri Ujjwala Yojana initiated by the Ministry of Petroleum.
♦ Capital: Thiruvananthapuram.
♦ Chief Minister: Pinarayi Vijayan.
♦ Governor: Palanisamy Sathasivam.
♦ National Parks: Periyar National Park, Silent Valley National Park, Pambadum Shola National Park, Mathikettan National Park, Eravikulam National Park, Anamudi Shola National Park.

Kati Bihu festival celebrated across Assam
On October 18, 2018, Assam celebrated its 3rd Bihu festival known as the ‘Kati Bihu’ festival across the state.
i. The name of the other 2 Bihu festivals are: Rongali and Bohagi Bihu.
ii. The festival derives its name from the Assamese month of Kati.
iii. The festival is held at this time of the year since the granaries of the farmers usually remain empty and therefore it is known as Kongali (poor) Bihu.
iv. On the occasion of Kati Bihu, women, both in urban and rural areas, try to ward off evil and pray for a rich harvest by lighting earthen lamps.
v. As a part of the festival, farmers also tie a special kind of lamp, known as Akash Bati, to poles and the poles are placed in the paddy fields
♦ Capital: Dispur.
♦ Chief Minister:  Sarbananda Sonowal.
♦ Governor: Jagdish Mukhi.
♦ National Parks: Kaziranga National Park, Manas National Park (UNESCO Natural World Herigate Site), Orang National Park, Dibru-Saikhowa National Park.
♦ Airports: Lokpriya Gopinath Bordoloi International Airport, Dibrugarh Airport, Jorhat Airport, Tezpur Airport, Silchar Airport.


8th European Congress on SMEs held in Kotawice, Poland
On October 19, 2018, the 3-day 8th European Congress on SMEs concluded in Kotawice, Poland.

i. The motto of the Congress was: “ Science- Business-Self Government TOGETHER FOR ECONOMY”.
ii. This would engage in the challenges and possibilities of development of SMEs as Small and Medium-size Entrepreneurship is the most important sector of Polish Economy.
iii. It would see participation from representatives of Science, Politics and Economy as well as various foreign delegates.
♦ Capital: Warsaw.
♦ Currency: Polish zloty.

Canada Becomes 2nd Country To Legalize Recreational Cannabis
On 17th October 2018, Canada became the second country after Uruguay to legalise possession and use of recreational cannabis.

Key Points:
i. Now, Canadians can grow up to 4 plants in their own home and carry up to 30 grams of dried cannabis for personal use.
ii. Cannabis possession became a crime in Canada in 1923. But the medical use of cannabis was legalised in 2001.
iii. Canadians can order marijuana (cannabis) products through websites of provinces or private retailers and it will be delivered to their homes.
iv.  Canada has become the second and largest country with a legal national cannabis marketplace.
About Canada:
♦ Capital – Ottawa
♦ Currency – Canadian dollar
♦ Official languages – English, French
♦ Prime Minister – Justin Trudeau

Global IT spending to grow 3.2% in 2019: Gartner
On October 19, 2018, market research firm Gartner announced that the global IT spending will rise to 3.2% , from expected spending of $3.7 trillion in 2018, in 2019.
i. Thus, worldwide IT spending is projected to total $3.8 trillion in 2019.
ii. IT services will be a key driver for IT spending in 2019 as the market is forecast to reach $1 trillion in 2019, an increase of 4.7 per cent from 2018.
iii. Global spending for devices — PCs, tablets and mobile phones — is forecast to grow 2.4 per cent in2019.
iv. It would reach $706 billion, up from $689 billion in 2018.
v. Enterprise Software spending will have the highest growth with an 8.3 per cent increase in 2019 due to excessive use of Software as a service (SaaS).
vi. In 2018, data centre systems will to grow six per cent from present 5.7%, declining by one per cent to three per cent every year for the next five years.
Gartner’s IT spending forecast methodology relies heavily on analysis of sales by thousands of vendors across the entire range of IT products and services.
About Gartner:
♦ Headquarters: Connecticut, USA.
♦ CEO: Eugene A. Hall.


RBI eases liquidity norms for banks
On 19th October 2018, Reserve Bank of India (RBI) increased lenders’ single borrower exposure limit for Non-Banking Financial Companies (NBFCs) which do not finance infrastructure, from 10% to 15% of capital funds, until 31st December 2018.
Key Points:
i. RBI also relaxed liquidity norms for banks, allowing them to calculate government securities held by them up to an amount equal to their incremental outstanding credit to NBFCs, and Housing Finance Companies (HFCs).
ii. This will be over and above the amount of credit to NBFCs and HFCs outstanding in their books as on October 19, 2018.
iii. RBI has made this move to meet liquidity coverage ratio requirements and increase credit flow to NBFCs.
iv. Liquidity coverage ratio refers to highly liquid assets that financial institutions have to hold in order to meet short-term obligations.
About Reserve Bank of India (RBI):
♦ Governor – Urjit Patel
♦ Headquarters – Mumbai

India’s 1st Cryptocurrency ATM Installed in Bengaluru: Unocoin
On October 19, 2018, virtual currency exchange Unocoin set up a first of its kind kiosk — Bitcoin ATM at Kemp Fort mall in Bengaluru.

i. This will be followed by 2 more kiosks in Mumbai and Delhi.
ii. According to Unocoin, users can withdraw Indian rupee obtained on selling the cryptocurrencies on its platform.
iii. Following this, a 12- digit reference number will be sent to the user to withdraw the INR.
iv. While, for deposits, the user id of the customer and OTP (one-time password) sent on registered mobile number would be required and the amount will get deposited upon confirmation of respective account details.
♦ CEO & Co-Founder: Sathvik Vishwanath.
♦ President & Co-founder: Sunny Ray.
♦ Headquarters: Bengaluru.


Air India gets equity infusion of Rs 1,000 crore from NSSF : Government
On October 19, 2018, the need for equity infusion for State-owned carrier Air India came to an end after the government guaranteed to raise Rs 3,500 crore  as loan.
i. Air India has raised Rs 3,000 crore so far which includes Rs 1,000 crore to the airline from the National Small Savings Fund (NSSF)  on behalf of the government.
ii. Another Rs 500 crore will be raised by the airline through a loan from the unused sovereign guarantee.
iii. It is a part of the Rs 4,200 crore debt of AI to oil companies.
iv. Out of this, AI had sought Rs 2,121-crore equity infusion from the government of which the government had sought Parliament nod for infusing Rs 980 crore into the airline this financial year.
About NSSF:
♦ NSSF pools the funds from small savings schemes such a Public Provident Fund, Sukanya Samriddhi Yojana and Kisan Vikas Patra.
♦ Money from NSSF is invested in government securities and loaned to public-sector units. The NSSF has a budget to invest Rs 1.3 trillion in public agencies in 2018-19.

TCS surpassed Accenture as largest IT firm servicing banks
On October 19, 2018, Tata Consultancy Services (TCS) Ltd,has became the world’s largest pure-play information technology (IT) and consulting firm servicing mega banks and insurers.
i. During the July-September period, TCS got $2.07 billion in business from banking, financial services and insurance, or the BFSI sector.
ii. Out of this, $1.63 billion from work across application development and maintenance and $445.9 million from its proprietary platforms such as TCS BaNCS.
iii. Due to this, TCS ended up with a revenue of $5.21 billion in the September quarter with 10% growth.
iv. Whereas, Accenture got $2.01 billion in business from banking and insurance customers in the June-August period.
v. TCS overtook Accenture largely on account of the two mega (over $1 billion multi-year IT) contracts, including:

  • $2 billion,10-year contract with Transamerica Life Insurance co.,
  • $1.36 billion, 10-year contract from a unit of British insurer Prudential Plc.

vi. Also the TCS BFSI vertical, is larger than the 3rd largest IT services firm, HCL Technologies Ltd, which ended with $2.05 billion in revenue in the April-June quarter.
♦ Headquarters: Mumbai.
♦ Founded: 1968.
♦ Chairman: Natarajan Chandrasekaran

IRDAI panel headed by S. Mathur to study feasibility of paying claims in instalments
On October 18, 2018, the Insurance Regulatory and Development Authority of India (IRDAI) formed a panel to examine claims in installments.
i. This panel is headed by Suresh Mathur, ED (Health), IRDAI.
ii. This will look in to the feasibility of the proposal of general and health insurance companies for payment of claims in installments as against lump sum payments.
iii. This will be in respect of personal accident policies and benefit-based health policies.
iv. This process will enable beneficiaries/claimants to receive payments in a series of pre-determined installments.


Kleinman Center for Energy Policy at the University of Pennsylvania awards 4th annual Carnot Prize 2018 to Union Minister Piyush Goyal
On 19th October 2018, Minister of Railways & Coal and former Minister of Power, Coal, New & Renewable Energy and Mines Piyush Goyal was awarded the 4th annual Carnot Prize 2018 by Kleinman Center for Energy Policy at the University of Pennsylvania School of Design, United States.

Key Points:
i. The award was presented to Piyush Goyal as a recognition to  the major transformations in India’s energy sector under the leadership of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, which aims to eliminate energy poverty with sustainable energy solutions.
ii. It also recognises India’s climate conscious and development driven energy governance.
About Carnot Prize:
♦ Awarded by – Kleinman Center for Energy Policy at the University of Pennsylvania School of Design, United States
♦ Awarded to – leading revolutions in energy policy through scholarship or practice
♦ Named after – French physicist Nicolas Sadi Carnot

Rajbhasha awards distributed by Prasar Bharti CEO Shashi Shekhar Vempati
On October 17, 2018, Prasar Bharti CEO Shashi Shekhar Vempati distributed Rajbhasha awards to Prasar Bharti employees in New Delhi.
i. The ceremony was held during Hindi Pakhwada organized by Prashar Bharti Secretariat. 
ii. It was aimed to promote the use of Hindi in day-to-day work.
Prasar Bharti:
♦ Founded: 1997.
♦ Headquarters: New Delhi.
♦ CEO: Shashi Shekhar Vempati.
♦ Chairman: Dr. A. Surya Prakash.

2019 Breakthrough Prize to be conferred to 9 scientists
On October 19, 2018, the Breakthrough Prize Foundation announced the 9 recipients of the 2019 Breakthrough Prize.
i. It will be held at the seventh annual Breakthrough Prize ceremony, known as the “Oscars of Science,” hosted by Pierce Brosnan on November 4, at NASA Ames Research Center in Mountain View, California.
ii. A Total of $22 Million will be awarded for Breakthroughs in Treatment for the Leading Genetic Cause of Infant Death, Super-Resolution Imaging, Discovery of a New Kind of Electronic Material, and Other Major Achievements.
iii. Each prize is $3 million and presented in the fields of Life Sciences (up to four per year), Fundamental Physics (one per year) and Mathematics(one per year).
iv. Following table shows the awardees:

Award Awardee Contribution
2019 Breakthrough Prize in Life Sciences  C. Frank Bennett and Adrian R. Krainer For the development of an effective antisense oligonucleotide therapy for children with the neurodegenerative disease spinal muscular atrophy.
Angelika Amon For determining the consequences of aneuploidy, an abnormal chromosome number resulting from chromosome mis-segregation
Xiaowei Zhuang For discovering hidden structures in cells by developing super-resolution imaging
Zhijian “James” Chen For elucidating how DNA triggers immune and autoimmune responses from the interior of a cell.
2019 Breakthrough Prize in Fundamental Physics Charles Kane and Eugene Mele For new ideas about topology and symmetry in physics, prediction of a new class of materials that conduct electricity only on their surface.
2019 Breakthrough Prize in Mathematics Vincent Lafforgue For ground breaking contributions to several areas of mathematics.
2019 Special Breakthrough Prize in Fundamental Physics Jocelyn Bell Burnell For fundamental contributions to the discovery of pulsars, and a lifetime of inspiring leadership in the scientific community.

The Breakthrough Prize Foundation:
♦ The Breakthrough Prizes honor important, primarily recent, achievements in the categories of Fundamental Physics, Life Sciences and Mathematics.
♦ The sponsors for the awards are– Sergey Brin, Priscilla Chan and Mark Zuckerberg, Ma Huateng, Yuri and Julia Milner and Anne Wojcicki.
♦ Chair: Cornelia I. Bargmann.

Arshdeep Singh wins 2018 Young Wildlife Photographer of the Year (Asia) Award
On 16th October 2018, Arshdeep Singh won the 2018 Young Wildlife Photographer of the Year (Asia) Award for his photograph ‘Pipe Owls’, at the Natural History Museum, London.

Key Points:
i. Arshdeep Singh is 10 years old. He hails from Jalandhar, Punjab. He was one among the winners of the 2018 Wildlife Photographer of the Year award in the 10-years-and-under category.
ii. The Wildlife Photographer of the Year competition is organised by the Britain’s Natural History Museum. This is the 53rd edition of the awards.
iii. Arshdeep Singh started taking photographs at the age of 6. Recently, he won the Junior Asian Wildlife Photographer of the Year award.
iv. His work has been published in national and international publications like Lonely Planet UK, Lonely Planet Germany, Lonely Planet India, BBC Wildlife UK etc.


‘NCR RASTA’ and ‘Yatri RASTA’ :  2 apps for its employees & passengers launched by North Central Railways
On October 18, 2018, the General Manager Rajiv Chaudhry of North Central Railways (NCR) launched two mobile apps, ‘NCR RASTA’ and ‘Yatri RASTA’.
About the Apps:
i. The 2 apps are:
NCR RASTA (Railway assets Summerised Tracking Application) and
Yatri RASTA (Railway Approach to Station Tracking Application).
ii.They were developed by: the IT department of the NCR, headed by Chief Manager(IT) Anshoo Pandey.
iii. The ‘NCR RASTA’ app is for the use of railway officers and staff and has exact mapping of all railway assets.
iv. In case of an emergency, the railway staff would be able to reach the desired asset via the use of Google Navigation.
v. The ‘Yatri RASTA’ app will allow general public to locate the railway stations easily.
Ministry of Railways:
♦ Union Minister: Piyush Goyal.
♦ Minister of State: Manoj Sinha and Rajen Gohain.

Roudram: app for women safety launched by Actor and politician Kamal Hassan
On October 18, 2018, Kamal Hassan inaugurated a mobile app called Roudram for women safety at the Sri Sairam Engineering College.
Aims at giving women assistance in times of emergency.
Key Points:
i. This has been developed by by a student named Sudha Reddy of Porur.
ii. The word ‘roudram’ means anger, and is aimed at channelising once anger in changing the society for a better tomorrow for women.
i. In times of emergency, the power button of the phone needs to be pressed thrice.
ii. Upon doing so, the emergency contacts, the call centre of the app and the nearby police station will be alerted via net and SMS.
iii. It also enables recording of video and audio and sends the GPS location.
iv. It allows to save 3 contact numbers upon registration.

BepiColombo: ESA spacecraft to Mercury in a first-of-its-kind mission
On October 19, 2018, The European Space Agency’s (ESA) BepiColombo mission will send two orbiters to explore Mercury.
i. The orbiters are: Esa’s Mercury Planet Orbiter (MPO) and the Japanese  space agency Jaxa’s Mercury Magnetospheric Orbiter (MMO).
ii.  MPO was built by Airbus in Stevenage, Hertfordshire, and MMO was constructed in Japan.
iii. The UK-built spacecraft will set off from the European Spaceport in Kourou, French Guiana, on October 20.
iv. It will take seven years to reach Mercury, arriving in 2025 to complete a 5.2 billion miles journey.
v. The Mission would:

  • Explore temperatures of Mercury,
  • Explore the existence of Water in the South Pole of the planet,
  • Learn more about Mercury’s magnetic field.

Only two spacecraft have been to Mercury up to now, Nasa’s Mariner 10 which flew past in 1974 and 1975 and Nasa’s Messenger which orbited the planet between 2011 and 2015.
European Space Agency:
♦ Headquarters: Paris, France.
♦ Founded: 30th May 1975.
♦ Member states: 22.


Canelo Alvarez Signs Richest Contract In Sports History, Worth $365 Million
Mexican boxer Canelo Álvarez has signed the richest contract in the history of sports, which is a 5-year deal worth $365 million (over Rs 2,680 crore) with streaming service DAZN.

Key Points:
i.  As per the deal, 28-year-old Canelo Álvarez will participate in 11 fights, from December 15, 2018.
ii.  The previous richest contract was a 13-year, $325-million deal signed by baseball player Giancarlo Stanton of New York Yankees’ team in 2014.


Former Uttarakhand Chief Minister ND Tiwari passed away at 93
On October 19, 2018, Former Uttar Pradesh and Uttarakhand chief minister Narayan Dutt Tiwari died of a cardiac arrest in Delhi.

i. He was 93 years old.
ii. He is the only politician to have served as chief minister of two states.
iii. He was Chief Minister of Uttar Pradesh from 1976-77, 1984-85 and 1988-89.
iv. He became the chief minister of Uttarakhand from 2002-2007.
v. He also became the governor of Andhra Pradesh from 2007-09.
vi. Mr.Tiwari had played important responsibilities like the country’s Finance Minister, Commerce Minister and External Affairs Minister during the period of 1986 and 1987.


World Osteoporosis Day – October 20
On 20th October 2018, World Osteoporosis Day was observed all over the world.

Key Points:
i. When: World Osteoporosis Day is observed every year on October 20. It is organized by the International Osteoporosis Foundation (IOF).
ii. Why: This day creates awareness about the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of osteoporosis and metabolic bone disease.
iii. Osteoporosis is a disease in which bones become weak and brittle and increases the risk of a broken bone.
iv. World Osteoporosis Day  2018 campaign calls for global action to improve bone health and prevent fractures due to osteoporosis, including vertebral (spine) fractures.
About International Osteoporosis Foundation (IOF):
♦ President – Cyrus Cooper
♦ Headquarters – Nyon, Switzerland

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