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Current Affairs Today August 24 2018

 INDIAN AFFAIRS

Government imposed standard environment clearing conditions for 25 sectors; Expert committee has been constituted
On August 24, 2018, to give proper general guidance to companies seeking environment clearance, the government has given standard environment clearing conditions for 25 sectors.
Objective:
This would ensure uniformity on stipulated terms and conditions across the projects and sectors.
Key Points:
i. The 25 sectors include: iron, steel, cement, coal, petroleum refineries industry, paper and pulp industries, hydro-electric projects, industrial estates, among others.
ii. The government has also constituted green panel called Expert Appraisal Committee (EAC) that would assess projects.
iii. The EAC can modify, delete and add conditions based on the project specific requirements.
iv. Their recommendations would enable the Environment Ministry to grant the final EC.

5 Thematic Reports on Sustainable Development in Indian Himalayan Region launched by NITI Aayog
On August 24, 2018, NITI Aayog released the 5 Thematic Reports on Sustainable Development in Indian Himalayan Region that had been prepared by the 5 Working Groups (WGs) in June 2017.

5 Thematic Reports on Sustainable Development in Indian Himalayan Region launched by NITI AayogObjective:
The reports from the five working groups discuss the significance, the challenges, the ongoing actions and a future roadmap in that region.
Key Points:
i. The 5 themes include:

  • Inventory and Revival of Springs in Himalayas for Water Security,
  • Sustainable Tourism in Indian Himalayan Region,
  • Transformative Approach to Shifting Cultivation,
  • Strengthening Skill & Entrepreneurship Landscape in Himalayas and
  • Data/Information for Informed Decision Making.

Challenges faced by the Himalayan Region:
i. 30% of springs crucial to water security of people are drying and 50% have reported reduced discharge.
ii. Due to growth in Himalayan Tourism by 6.8% annually, there are challenges related to solid waste, water, traffic, loss of bio-cultural diversity etc.
iii. Critical issues of waste management and water crisis.
iv. Continuation of practice of slash and burn (shifting cultivation) is having an impact on ecological, food and nutritional security.
v. Migration of youth due to huge unskilled workforce.
Key messages and roadmaps for the challenges:
i. Spring Mapping and Revival using 8 steps protocol be taken up across Himalayan States in phased manner.
ii. Application of carrying capacity concept to all major tourist destinations, implementation  and monitoring to be carried out in tourism sector by all the states and they will be given performance based incentives for that.
iii. Assessment of nature & extent of Shifting Cultivation area, improving policy coherence, & improved access to related programs/schemes are key recommendations to transform shifting cultivation.
iv. Strengthening of skill & entrepreneurship in priority sectors , investment in trainers, assessors and training centers in industry partnership.
v. Having a Central Data Management Agency for Himalayas to provide data for data sharing, access, authenticity and comparability issues.
Important recommendations:
i. Setting up of a Himalayan Authority for coordinated and holistic development of entire Himalayan region .
ii. Launching of “Himalaya Calling”: An Awareness to Action Campaign as people’smovement.
iii. Setting up of

  • Mission on Spring Water Management in Himalayas,
  • National Mission/Program  on Transforming Shifting Cultivation in North Eastern States,
  • Skill and entrepreneurship development Centers in Himalayan States,
  • Institutions of high learning for mountain specific research and technology,
  • Central Data Management Agencyfor Himalayan Database at GB Pant National Institute of Himalayan Environment and Development.

iv. Link with Hindukush Himalaya Monitoring and Assessment program (HIMAP).
Ministry for Development of North Eastern Region:
♦ Minister of State: Dr. Jitendra Singh.
♦ The North-Eastern Region of India comprises of eight states – Arunachal Pradesh, Assam, Manipur, Meghalaya, Mizoram, Nagaland, Sikkim and Tripura.

Committee of Secretaries approved setting up National Logistics Portal as a e-marketplace
On August 24, 2018, A committee of secretaries has approved a proposal by department of commerce (DoC) to setup a National Logistics Portal (NLP).
Objective:
To ease transportation of goods across the country  and export.
Key Points:
i. The portal is being planned in three phases-

  • development of a logistics e-marketplace whose test run is being planned by March,
  • single window certification by bringing in 81 authorities on board, and
  • integrating financial services on the platform.

ii. It will have a common online platform to integrate all transactions involved in their production and export.
iii. It will acts as a single window online marketplace, to link all the stakeholders.
iv. It will connect buyers with logistics service providers with all the government agencies such as customs, Port Community Systems, Sea and Air Port terminals, Shipping lines, Railways, among others.
v. Customs department Icegate will also get integrated with the portal.
vi. Global Consultancy KPMG would develop a mobile app for this purpose as well
Background:
♦ Logistics costs in India are pegged at 13-14% of the GDP, and the government aims to reduce it to 10% by 2022.
♦ The major challenges are multiple regulatory policy regimes, no seamless movement of goods and lack of single window clearance and coordination among various stakeholders.

Punjab Cabinet approves bill for price stabilisation fund
On August 24, 2018, he Punjab cabinet approved a bill for creation of a price stabilisation fund. This decision was taken by the cabinet meeting chaired by Chief Minister Amarinder Singh.
Objective:
This would ensure that state farmers get minimum support price (MSP).
Key Points:
i. It would protect the interests of farmers in the event of a sudden fall in prices of certain agricultural commodities.
ii. Amendments will be made to sections 25 (A), 26 and 28 of the Punjab Agricultural Produce Markets Act, 1961.
iii. It will ensure that a fraction of the commission charged by the arhtiyas (commission agents) are directed towards the agricultural produce price stabilisation fee.
iv. Additionally, the rules of the market development fund and market committee fund would also be amended by insertion of a new clause (XXII) after sections 26 & 28 of the Punjab Agricultural Produce Markets Act, 1961.
v. This will enable these funds to be used in the price stabilisation fund.
Background:
The step was taken in view of the pitiable condition of the farmers in the state, pushing many of them to suicide in the recent past.
Punjab:
♦ Capital: Chandigarh.
♦ Chief Minister: Amarinder Singh.
♦ Governor: V. P. Singh Badnore.
♦ National Parks: Abohar WLS, Bir Bhadson WLS, Jhajjar Bacholi WLS, Nangal WLS, Kathlaur Kushlian WLS, Harike Lake WLS, Bir Motibagh WLS.
♦ Nicknames of cities in Punjab :

PatialaRoyal City.
LudhianaManchester of Punjab
AmritsarHoly City

Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik inaugurated a few projects and announced the upcoming investor summit in November 2018.
On August 24, 2018, Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik inaugurated several projects through video conferencing.
Odisha government also announced its partnership with Japan for its mega investment summit named Make in Odisha Conclave, scheduled to be held in Odisha on November 11-15, 2018.
Key Points:
Important announcements:
i. Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik also inaugurated two industrial projects and laid the foundation stone of 13 manufacturing units.
ii. The cumulative cost of these projects are : Rs. 2,901.2 crore.
iii. Of that 15 projects will provide employment to nearly 3,091 people in the State.
iv. The first edition of investment summit ‘Make in Odisha Conclave’ was in 2016. It saw the State receive investment intent of more than Rs.2 lakh crore across 10 diversified sectors.
v. OCL India Ltd, the flagship company of Dalmia Cement (Bharat) Ltd, topped the list of investors with `1,994.98 crore
vi. It is followed by IFFCO, Jyoti Solar Solutions Pvt Ltd, Grasim Industries Ltd, Indo Nissin Foods Pvt Ltd and Hindustan Urban Infrastructure Limited.
v. For better investments the government has collaborated with IT majors like TCS and Infosys and networking giants such as Reliance Jio and Cisco.
vi. The second edition of the flagship investors’ meet will be held from November 11 to 15, 2018.
About 2nd edition of Make in Odisha Conclave 2018:
i. In this summit, Japan will be the ‘partner country’ and State Bank of India will be the banking partner.
ii. It will be the only country partner for Make in Odisha Conclave-2018.
iii. This would include investment opportunities in the state across six focus sectors including: food processing and seafood, chemicals, plastics and petrochemicals, ancillary and downstream industries in the metal sector, electronic manufacturing, textiles, apparel and tourism.
iv. The state has also earmarked 600 acres of land in Bhubaneswar for the Japanese investors.
v. It will be used to develop a multi-product park where companies from Japan can come and set up their units.
Odisha:
♦ Lakes : Chilika Lake, Kanjia Lake, Anshupa Lake, Balimela Reservoir.
♦ Dams: Rengali Dam, Kala dam, Pitamahal Dam, Kansbahal Dam, Tikhali Dam, Deras Dam, Salia Dam, Ghodahada Dam, Kuanria Dam.

India’s Largest Business Incubator “Bhamashah Techno Hub” launched in Jaipur by Rajasthan Chief Minister Vasundhara Raje
On August 24, 2018, Chief Minister of Rajasthan Vasundhara Raje launched India’s largest Business Incubator “Bhamashah Techno Hub” In Jaipur.

India’s Largest Business Incubator "Bhamashah Techno Hub" launched in Jaipur by Rajasthan Chief Minister Vasundhara RajeObjective:
It will provide free space, easier funding avenues and mentorship to startups.
Key Points:
i. The Rajasthan government announced setting up of a Rs 500-crore startup fund – Bhamashah Techno Fund. Out of the total amount, Rs 50 crore has been earmarked for green startups and Rs 100 crore for women startups.
ii. The hub has an 1.50 lakh square feet of incubation space and would be able to accommodate over 700 startup ventures.
iii. At the moment 180 startups have already set their base at the Bhamashah Techno Hub.
iv. The incubation centre would offer free space, connectivity, easier funding, mentorship and exposure to budding startups.
v. It also hosts a digital museum and a tinkering lab for development of products, adaptive learning, and computational thinking.
Background:
The startups is a part of the the iStart programme that also includes regular workshops, bootcamps, expert sessions, access to investors, pitching sessions, among others.
Rajasthan:
Lakes: Anandsagar lake, Anasagar Lake, Diablab Lake, Balsamand Lake, Doodh Talai Lake, Fateh Sagar Lake, Gadi sagar Lake, Gaibsagar Lake, Jaisamand Lake.

INTERNATIONAL AFFAIRS

SCO military drill in Russia from 22-29 August: Indian,Pakistani troops take part for the first time
On August 22, 2018, for the first time, the militaries of India and Pakistan are taking part in a mega anti-terror drill of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) named The Peace Mission 2018 in Russia.

SCO military drill in Russia from 22-29 August: Indian,Pakistani troops take part for the first timei. India is participating in the drill for the first time since becoming a full member of the SCO in June 2017.
Objective:
It is aimed at expanding cooperation among the member countries to deal with terrorism and extremism.
Key Points:
i. The joint exercise is being conducted by the Central Military Commission of Russia from August 22 to August 29 at Chebarkul, Russia.
ii. At least 3,000 soldiers from China, Russia, Kazakhstan, Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan, India and Pakistan are participating in the drill.
iii. The Indian contingent of 200 personnel is primarily composed of troops from infantry and affiliated arms and services along with the Indian Air Force.
iv. Ten representatives from Uzbekistan will serve as observers.
About SCO:
♦ The SCO was established in Shanghai in 2001, with China, Russia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan as founding members.
♦ It expanded to include India and Pakistan in 2017.

Indian Navy’s Biggest Ship, INS Vikramaditya will get an upgrade for Its Air Wing by Russian company
On August 24, 2018, India’s only aircraft carrier INS Vikramaditya will be upgraded and fitted with a marine hydraulic system to boost the air operations of the ship for the first time.

Indian Navy's Biggest Ship, INS Vikramaditya will get an upgrade for Its Air Wing by Russian companyi. This will be done by Technodinamika, a subsidiary of Russia’s Rostec State Corporation by May 2019.
ii. Hydraulics technology uses fluid pressure to power machines and the systems to be installed are named “GS-1MF” and “GS-3”.
iii. They will be used for refuelling, cleaning and pressurisation of hydraulic systems of aircraft and helicopters on board the INS Vikramaditya.
iv. More specifically, the GS-1MF hydraulic system is used in helicopters, while GS-3 is used in aircraft.
About Vikramaditya:
♦ It is currently the most powerful aircraft carrier of the Indian Navy.
♦ The $2.3 billion aircraft carrier came to India from Russia in January 2014. INS Vikramaditya, was commissioned into the Indian Navy in November 2013 at the Sevmash shipyard in north Russia’s Severodvinsk.
♦ It’s based at its home port at Karwar in Karnataka.
♦ It is is 284 metres long and 60 metres high and weighs 40,000 tonnes and is the biggest and heaviest ship in the Indian Navy. The air wing consists of 30 MiG 29K fighter jets and six Kamov helicopters.
About Technodinamika:
♦ It specialises in development, manufacturing and after-sale servicing for systems and equipment of civil and military aircraft.
♦ Headquarters: Moscow, Russia.

BUSINESS & ECONOMY

‘2gud’: Flipkart’s dedicated portal for Refurbished Goods has been launched
On August 24, 2018, Flipkart unveiled a dedicated portal ‘2Gud‘ for refurbished goods, including mobile phones, laptops and tablets.
i. It is aimed to bring affordability, accessibility and availability to the refurbished market.
ii. It would offer refurbished mobile phones, tablets, laptops and other electronic accessories along with a 3-12 month warranty.
iii. The platform would also allow customers to return their products
iv. It will soon be accessible through desktop browsers and a mobile application.
v. Every product that is sold on the platform will go through 47-step quality check and will be categorized in five grades based on their physical condition — ‘Like New’, ‘Superb’, ‘Very Good’, ‘Good’ and ‘Okay’.
vi. The company estimates the refurbished goods market in India to be worth $20 billion in the coming five to six years.
Flipkart:
♦ Headquarters: Bengaluru.
♦ 77% holding of Walmart.

Reliance Industries (RIL) became the first Indian company to cross Rs 8 lakh crore
On August 24, 2018, Reliance Industries (RIL) became the first Indian company to cross Rs 8 lakh crore market capitalization.

Reliance Industries (RIL) became the first Indian company to cross Rs 8 lakh crorei. The company’s market valuation soared to Rs 8,04,247.76 crore.
ii. M-cap of TCS’ Rs 7,77,870 crore m-cap.
Other announcements:
i. While RIL is the first homegrown major to achieve this feat, the aggregate market capitalisation of 15 Tata group companies comes to Rs 11.32 lakh crore.
ii. HDFC Group had recently crossed Rs 10 lakh crore.
Background:
On July 13, the market valuation of RIL surged past Rs 7 lakh crore mark, making it the second company after TCS to achieve this milestone.

Fortune’s 4th ‘Change the World’ list 2018 has been released; Reliance Jio tops the list
On August 24, 2018, Fortune released its 4th annual ‘Change the World’ List 2018.

Fortune's 4th 'Change the World' list 2018 has been released; Reliance Jio tops the listHighlights :
i. Reliance Jio tops the list followed by Merck and Bank of America.
ii. Due to its 215 million subscribers and its since its launch in 2016, Jio has provided the public with ‘digital oxygen'”. Internet services has been declared as a basic human right by the UN.
iii. Apart from Reliance Jio, another Indian Company that has ranked is Mahindra and Mahindra in 23rd position.
iv. The 57 companies chosen for this year’s Change the World list hail from 19 countries.
The top 10 companies in the list are:

RankCompanyIndustry
1Reliance JioTelecommunications
2MerckPharmaceuticals
3Bank of AmericaCommercial Bank
4InditexSpecialty Retailers
5Alibaba GroupInternet Services and retailing
6KrogerFood and Drug Store
7XylemIndustrial Machinery
8ABBIndustrial Machinery
9Weight Watchers InternationalBusiness Services
10Hughes Network SystemNetwork and other  communications
About Fortune Change the world list :
♦ The Change the World list recognizes companies that have had a positive social impact through activities that are part of their core business strategy.
♦ Considering only companies with annual revenues of $1 billion or more, the list measures social impact, business results (profitability), the degree of innovation and corporate integration.

Paytm Partners with Alibaba to launch “Paytm AI Cloud for India”
Paytm has launched “Paytm AI Cloud for India” for developers, start-ups, and enterprises in partnership with Alibaba, a global tech giant.

Paytm Partners with Alibaba to launch “Paytm AI Cloud for India”Paytm AI Cloud for India:
i. This is a made-in-India AI-powered cloud. It offers ready-to-use services to automate workflow, easy to integrate payments, messaging and customer engagement without the trouble of managing hardware and software, in-built CRM, Campaign Management.
ii. It also offers affordable, easy-to-access computing services, ready-to-use apps, pattern recognition technology, pre-trained models and predictive computation to businesses.
iii. The data centre and cloud service are provided in partnership with Alibaba. Processeing and storage of all consumer data will be done in servers located in India.
iv.Paytm will soon provide enterprise-messaging solutions in partnership with DingTalk.
About Paytm:
♦ CEO – Vijay Shekhar Sharma
♦ Headquarters – Noida, Uttar Pradesh

APPOINTMENTS & RESIGNS

Anil Kumar Pathak takes over as Member (Planning) at Airports Authority of India (AAI)
On 21st August 2018, Anil Kumar Pathak took charge as Member (Planning) at the Airports Authority of India (AAI).
Anil Kumar Pathak – Member (Planning) at AAI:
i. Earlier, Anil Kumar Pathak was Executive Director of Planning and Engineering at the headquarters.
ii. He had also worked in Corporate Planning, Traffic Forecasting, and Airport Infrastructure Planning. AAI manages over 120 airports in various parts of India.
About Airports Authority of India (AAI):
♦ Chairman – Guruprasad Mohapatra
♦ Headquarters – New Delhi
♦ Ownership – state-owned

U K Varma appointed as the new Assocham Secretary General
On August 23, 2018, Industry chamber Assocham appointed former bureaucrat Uday Kumar Varma as its new Secretary General.
i.  He will succeed DS Rawat.
ii.Mr.Varma was a former Secretary, Ministry of Information and Broadcasting, Government of India.
iii. He has served administrative role in the state government of Madhya Pradesh as well.
Assocham President: Sandeep Jajodia.

SCIENCE & TECHNOLOGY

NASA’s 2 virtual reality apps: NASA Selfies app and NASA’s Exoplanet Excursions, lets you click selfies with galaxies
NASA (National Aeronautics and Space Administration) has designed 2 virtual reality applications named: NASA Selfies appand NASA’s Exoplanet Excursions, to celebrate the 15th anniversary of the Spitzer Space Telescope.
i. Through the NASA Selfies app users can take selfies in a virtual spacesuit and can pose in front of various cosmic locations.
ii. The NASA’s Exoplanet Excursions takes the users on a virtual guided tour of the TRAPPIST-1 planetary system.
iii. Users are taken around 5 planets. Spitzer telescope detects these planets and provides information about the planets.

New antibiotic candidate identified in human body
Scientists have identified a new antibiotic candidate in the human body that would help in developing new drugs that can be used against drug-resistant bacteria.
Key Points:
i. Researchers from the MIT and the University of Naples Federico II in Italy have found that fragments of the protein pepsinogen used to digest food in the stomach, can kill bacteria like Salmonella and E. coli.
ii. Pepsinogen breaks down proteins in food. Hydrochloric acid is secreted by the cells lining the stomach.
iii. Hydrochloric acid mixes with pepsinogen and converts it into pepsin A that digests proteins, and into various other small fragments.
iv. Earlier the functions of these fragments were unknown. Now, it has been found that these fragments work as antimicrobial candidates.
v. A study regarding this has been published in the journal ACS Synthetic Biology.
vi. Three pepsinogen fragments were tested against a skin infection in mice. It was found that the peptides reduced the infections.
vii. Researchers have planned to modify these peptides to use them as antibiotics.

ENVIRONMENT

The Oldest, Thickest Arctic Sea Ice Is Breaking For the First Time on Record
Some of the oldest and thickest sea ice in the Arctic Sea has broken down for the first time in recorded history.
Key Points:
i. The ice has broken twice in 2018.  This has opened waters north of Greenland that are usually frozen even in summer.
ii. This has happened partially due to the result of heat waves caused by climate change and warm winds. This could threaten the survival of Arctic seals and polar bears.
iii. As per satellite images of NASA Worldview, the ice has become brittle and mobile. It is retreating back from the Northern coast of Greenland, due to the winds in February and early August 2018.
iv. As per Norwegian Ice Service data, ice cover in the Arctic is 40 % below the average for this time of the year.
v. The melted portion will freeze again. But it will take longer than usual. In March 2018, the extent of the sea ice was the second-lowest on record for winter.
vi. As per NASA data, September Arctic sea ice, which is usually its lowest, is reducing at a rate of 13.2 % per decade.
About National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA):
♦ Administrator – Jim Bridenstine
♦ Headquarters – Washington, D.C., U.S.

SPORTS

FIFA takes control of Uruguayan football association (AUF)
FIFA (International Federation of Association Football) has taken temporary control over the Uruguayan Football Association (AUF) due to governance issues.
Key Points:
i. AUF’s president Wilmar Valdez resigned from his position in July 2018, just before a day he was to stand for re-election. The election was put on hold.
ii. FIFA will look over a transparent election for a new president for AUF. A normalization committee will be formed to run AUF till 28th February 2019.
iii. Uruguay campaigns with Argentina and Paraguay to host the 2030 Football World Cup.
About FIFA (International Federation of Association Football):
♦ President – Gianni Infantino
♦ Headquarters – Zurich, Switzerland

Veteran pacer Jhulan Goswami retires from T20Is
Indian cricketer Jhulan Goswami has announced her retirement from Twenty-20 Internationals (T20Is). She will only play ODIs hereafter.
Veteran pacer Jhulan Goswami retires from T20IsRetirement of Jhulan Goswami:
i. Jhulan Goswami is 35 years old. She represented India in 68 T20Is and has taken 56 wickets at an economy rate of 5.45.
ii. She played her first T20I in August 2006. She has played 10 Tests and 169 ODIs so far.
iii. At present, she is the leading wicket-taker in the women’s ODI format. She is also the first woman cricketer to take 200 ODI wickets.

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