Current Affairs Today – August 8 2015

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Indian Affairs 

 NIDM signs MoU with JNU to set up Centre for Excellence in Disaster Research

  • Santosh Kumar, Executive Director,National Institute of Disaster Management (NIDM) signed the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with Prof. S.K. Sopory, Vice Chancellor of the Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) for establishing a Centre for Excellence in Disaster Research and Resilience Building at the JNU.
  • The main objective of this MoUis to initiate research, teaching, capacity and manpower development within a trans-disciplinary framework which brings science to communities in a manner that it is made usable and understandable to communities in fragile ecosystems.
  • Through MoU, NIDM will be providing financial assistanceamounting to Rupees 4.14 crores to JNU over a three year period to start M.Phil and Ph.D. programmes in Disaster Management for the first time in India.
  • The activities under this MoUwould be to build community resilience through better preparedness, legal and governance reforms, enhanced capacity for early detection and warning systems, absorption of indigenous wisdom in administrative systems, resonating vulnerabilities of various kinds, remote sensing and GIS based mitigation efforts and environmental capacity enhancement of local governance.

Maharashtra govt declares Thane creek area as ‘Flamingo Sanctuary’

Thane Creek, located on the western bank, between the Airoli and Vashi bridges that connect Mumbai with Navi Mumbai, is declared as “Flamingo Sanctuary” as over 25,000 flamingo turned up at the stretch of 17 sq km of Thane creek by the Maharashtra Government.

  • N Vasudevan, Chief Conservator of Forests said that Thane creek is declared as Wildlife Sanctuary under Sec. 18 of theWildlife Protection Act, 1972.
  • Thane Creek spreads over an area of 1,690 hectares, including 896 hectares of mangroves and 794 hectares of adjacent water body.
  • This will be the state’s second marine sanctuary after Malvan.
  • The Mumbai Mangrove Conservation Unitunder the Mangrove Cell will be responsible for the management of the Sanctuary.

DRDO developed poly-herbal medicine to treat Leucoderm

Defence Research and Development Organisation(DRDO) developed a poly-herbal medicine for the treatment of leucoderma(white patches on skin),this medicine has been introduced in market by a private company.

  • Minister Manohar parrikar said that the poly-herbal formulation comprises of ointment and oral dose.
  • The ointment has seven ingredients of plants having properties such as skin photo sensitizer, anti-blister, anti-irritation, anti-septic, wound healing and copper supplementing properties.
  • The technology of this  herbal product has been transferred to AIMIL Pharmaceutical Private Limited for commercial production and marketing.
  • This product has been launched by the company by the trade name of “Lukoskin”.

Govt approved to set up SPV to clean Yamuna

  • Center Government (Bharatiya Janta Party)and Delhi Government (Aam Aadmi Party) keeping aside political differences, agreed to setup a Special Purpose Vehicle (SPV) to clean and rejuvenate river Yamuna.
  • Water Resources ministry said that they also agreed to prepare a blueprint of the SPV during the next 45 days.
  • The Chief Minister said that such a meeting was important since all the concerned Ministries/Departments would have to work together for cleaning the historic river and reviving its past glory.
  • The Yamuna, venerated by Hindus, originates from the Yamunotri Glacier, at 6,387 meters above sea level in the Himalayas.
  • The Yamuna is considered largely clean from Yamunotri until Wazirabad in Delhi when the polluted stretch starts.

BHEL commissioned 500 MW unit of Vindhyachal Super Thermal Power Station

  • Bharat Heavy Electricals Limited (BHEL) commissioned one more coal-based power plant of 500 MW Unit-l3 of Vindhyachal Super Thermal Power Station (STPS), Stage-V of NTPC.
  • With the commissioning of this unit, BHEL has now commissioned 7 sets of 500 MW aggregating to 3,500 MW, the highest by BHEL in a power project.
  • The project is located in Vindhyanagar in Singrauli district of Madhya Pradesh.
  • Equipments for the project were manufactured at BHEL’s Trichy, Ranipet, Haridwar, Hyderabad, Bangalore and Bhopal plants.
  • BHEL has a network of 17 manufacturing units, 2 repair units, 4 regional offices, 8 service centers, 8 overseas offices, 15 regional centers, 7 joint ventures, and infrastructure allowing it to execute more than 150 projects at sites across India and abroad.
  • BHELhas already established its engineering prowess by successfully delivering higher rated units such as 600 MW, 660 MW, 700 MW and 800 MW thermal sets with a high degree of indigenization.

International Affairs

Bank & Finance

Government to impose 10 per cent import duty on wheat

  • The Government of India has imposed 10 percent of import duty on wheat till March 31 2016 .
  • This is suggested by the Food Ministry to get the premium quality Australian wheat shipments in order to liquidate the stocks having with the Food Corportion of India(FCI).
  • The government is estimated to gain revenue of about Rs 90 crore in the remaining part of the year
  • India is the world’s second largest wheat producer and consumer after China, and its warehouses often hold double the target amount as farmers get more incentives to produce grains than oilseeds and pulses.
  • Wheat output is estimated at 90.78 mt in 2014-15 against a record production of 95.85 mt the year before.

Business

BHU signs MoU with Kyoto

BHU

  • Institute of Environment and Sustainable Development (IESD), Banaras Hindu University(BHU) signed 5 years of Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with Graduate School of Global Environmental studies (GSGES), Kyoto University to strengthen research activities and to facilitate student and faculty exchange programmes.
  • This MoU will allow exchange of faculty and research fellows, exchange of students and exchange of academic materials and publications and focus on science and technology.
  • As a part of five-year MoU, a student of town planning of Kyoto University, Neha Sahoo will pursue PhD from BHU and while former MPhil student, BHU, Pramit Verma will take up a complimentary research and an interim report.
  • Both the universities had earlier undertaken a joint study on Climate and Disaster Resilience of Varanasi: City, Zone and Ward profile in close partnership with Varanasi Municipal Corporation.

Thomas Cook Ltd acquires Kuoni’s travel business

  • Travel services provider Thomas Cook (India)Ltd backed by billionaire investor Prem Watsa’s Fairfax Financial Holdings has acquired Swiss tourism major Kuoni’s travel business in India and Hong Kong for Rs 535 crore.
  • Thomas Cook will take on the approximately 1,800 employeesof Kuoni’s business units in India and Hong Kong and will continue to run the business as an independent company.
  • Thomas Cook India has its branches in 232 locations in 95 citiesacross India, Mauritius and Sri Lanka.
  • Kuoni had entered India in 1996 by acquiring SOTC Tours, and in 2000, it bought SITA World Travels.
  • For Thomas Cook,it is a Third acquisition,
  1. In 2013, it had acquired Bangalore-based HR and IT services company Quess Corp.
  2. In 2014, it acquired leisure hospitality company Sterling Holiday Resorts (India) for Rs 870 crore.
  3. In 2015, it acquired Kuoni’s travel business in India and Hong Kong for Rs 535 crore.

DRDO transfers Technology to L&T to develop Lakshya

Ministry of Defence (MoD) made a path breaking decision by approving a proposal by the Defence Research and Development Organization (DRDO) for Transfer of Technology (ToT) for commercial production of its LAKSHYA pilotless target aircraft (PTA) to private sector defence manufacturer Larsen and Toubro (L&T).

  • Larsen and Toubro (L&T) is the first Indian private firm to receive license for technology of full-scale system to make Lakshya from Defence Research and Development Organization (DRDO).
  • L&T will get the technology for the digital version of Lakhsya, an unmanned dronethat is used by pilots to target practice from the fighter planes.
  • The drone is designed by Aeronautical Development Agency, a DRDO unit in Bangalore.
  • Digital version of Lakshya is advanced version of Lakshya-1 whose flight path can be pre-programmed and has advanced digitally controlled engine.
  • Lakshya is powered by a gas turbine engine and launched either from land or ship, it carries two towed targets to realistically simulate enemy aircraft threat.

Foxconn to invest $5 billion in Maharashtra

  • Taiwan-based global electronic manufacturing company Foxconnsigned a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the Maharashtra Government to invest $5 billion over next five years in a new manufacturing facility in Maharashtra.
  • The Foxconn has a roster of clients including Apple, BlackBerry, Motorola, Amazon Cisco and Xiaomi. The company makes iPhones for Apple.
  • Maharashtra government allotted 1,500 acres of land for the new facility at Taloja in Pune district which will create direct employment of 50,000 people.
  • The company said it would partner with local companies for its Maharashtra unit.
  • Foxconn itself shut down its manufacturing facility near Chennai in 2014 after Nokia, to which it was supplying components, decided to move out of India.

Science & Technology

Microsoft introduces translator app

       Microsoft Translator is a new app designed in which users can type or speak the word or phrase they want translated. In response, the app will show the translated text on the screen and then speaks it out loud has been launched by Technology Giant MICROSOFT.

  • Microsoft Translator supports 50 different languages, including English, Chinese, French, Hebrew, Italian, Japanese, Spanish and Russian but the Google’s Translate app, supports only 27 languages for text and voice conversion.
  • Microsoft Translator is available for iOS and Android platforms.
  • This app supports phones and tablets as well as the Apple Watch and smart watches that run Android Wear.

Awards

Indian professor conferred with Germany’s highest civilian honor

Raghavendra Gadagkar

 Indian Sociobiologist Raghavendra Gadagkar, a professor at the Centre for Ecological Sciences, Indian Institute of Science (IISc) was awarded Germany’s highest civilian honor “The Cross of Order of the Merit”

  • He was bestowed with the honor for contribution in the field of behavioral ecology and sociobiology.
  • Gadagkar is the president of the Indian National Science Academy,published more than 270 research papers and two books.
  • Prof Gadagkar is one of the leading experts in the field of insect sociobiology.
  • He is active in the Indo-German scientific cooperation with the Max-Plank-Institute for Chemical Ecology in Jena, the German Zoological Society in Halle and the universities of Freiburg and Offenburg.

Kashmir Valley flood coverage nominated for Emmy Awards

  • The Buck stops here-Srinagar floods coverage” has been announced as one of the eight international nominees for the 2015 news and current affairs categories of the 2015 International Emmy Awards.
  • Barkha dutt ,who has covered Jammu and Kashmir region for 20 years and brought reports and interviews from the scenes of the tragedy.
  • This is the first time India has been nominated in this category.
  • Barkha dutt team reported from some of the most inaccessible areas that could only be reached by boat, wading through water and jumping over walls and debris to bring the stories of horror and heroism in the worst floods to hit Jammu and Kashmir.
  • It shows the courage of local Kashmiri volunteers and highlighted the role of the military in the relief and rescue operations in a state which has witnessed a two decade-old insurgency in the Kashmir valley.

Appointments

Ram Nath Kovind, Acharya Dev Vrat appointed Bihar, HP Governors

         The President of India, Pranab Mukherjee has appointed Senior Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader Ram Nath Kovind and Acharya Dev Vrat as Governors of Bihar and Himachal Pradesh.

  •  Ram Nath Kovind will overtake Keshri Nath Tripathi, West Bengal Governor who was holding additional charge of Bihar.
  • He was elected to the Rajya Sabha from Uttar Pradesh in two separate terms, 1994-2000 and 2000-2006.
  • Acharya Dev Vrat will overtake Kalyan Singh, Rajasthan Governor who was holding the additional charge of Himachal Pradesh.
  • Vrat has been a principal in the Gurukul since 1981. Vrat imparts modern and traditional education through a “Gurukul” in Haryana’s Kurukshetra.

Amrit Lugun appointed as Ambassador of Republic of the Sudan

  • Amrit lugun presently Ambassador of India,sanaa has been appointed as the next Ambassador of India of the Republic of the sudan.

About Amrit Lugun:

  • Amrit lugun,born on 28t May 1974 in Ranchi,Jharkand served as a senior IFS officer and he joined foreign Service in 1989.
  • Before joining Sanaa was Director in the SAARC Secretariat, Kathmandu, Nepal. Served as number two officer in the Indian Embassy, Manila (March 2009 – September 2010). Prior to that served as Director handling territories of Eurasia and Latin America in the Ministry of External Affairs from September 2004 till December 2008.
  • In 2006, he successfully attended the 46th National Defence College course, Delhi.
  • He is first Secretary, Embassy of India, Algiers, Algeria (January 2002 – August 2004).First Secretary, Embassy of India, Paris, France(October 1998 – December 2001)  and Desk Officer for India Technical and Economic Cooperation Programme in the Ministry of External Affairs from July 1993 to June 1995.

Sports

Australia captain Michael Clarke retires after Ashes series

Michael Clarke

  • Australia captain Michael Clarke has confirmed that he will retire from  International cricket after completion of Ashes series, concluding the 12-year international career as a player who will be counted among the best Australian batsmen in a generation.
  • He has scored 117 runs in eight innings ashes series, and passed 50 just twice in 20 months in test cricket.

About Michael Clarke

  • Under his captaincy Australia defeated New Zealand in the final of the recent ICC Cricket World cup at the MCG. He was also the Australian ODI cricket captain until his retirement from ODI cricket after the 2015 Cricket World Cup. His ODI shirt number of 23 was passed on to him by Shane Warne after his international retirement.
  • Nicknamed as “Pup”, he is a right-handed middle-order batsman, an occasional left-arm orthodox spin bowler and also a slip catcher. He represents New South Wales at a domestic level.
  • Clarke was chosen to make his Test debut against India at Bangalore, in October 2004, despite having a first-class average below 40.

India static at 156th in FIFA

The Indian football team continued to be at 156th in the latest FIFA rankings, as world champions Germany dropped to number three, with beaten finalist Argentina still holding on to the number one spot.

  • India shares the position with another Asian nation Kyrgyzstan.
  • India dropped a whopping 15 placesin the rankings issued last month, following reverses against Oman and lowly Guam in the 2018 World Cup qualifiers.
  • Belgiumtoppled Germany to climb to the number two spot. The top three is followed by Colombia, Brazil, Portugal and Romania.
  • The FIFA World Rankingis a ranking system for men’s national teams in association football, currently led by Argentina.

BCCI announced Ad-Hoc Committee for Cricket Administration in Bihar and Uttarakhand

  • The Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) formed an ad-hoc five-member committee for cricket administration in Bihar and Uttarakhand.
  • Cricket in Bihar has been in a shambles due to the absence of a representative body when the state was divided into Bihar and Jharkhand. Similarly Uttarakhand state was bifurcated from Uttar Pradesh in November 2009.
  • The five-member committee for Uttarakhand will be chaired by MP Pandoveand Bihar will be spearheaded by its chairman Niranjan Shah.
  • To ensure cricket grows in these states, the BCCI has decided to form an ad-hoc Committee for these states, which will function to ensure participation of budding cricketers from these states in the BCCI Associate and Affiliate members tournament.

Obituary

Anti-thalidomide hero Frances Oldham Kelsey dies

  • Frances Oldham Kelsey age 101, the Canadian doctor and thalidomide hero died in London, Ontario, with her daughter by her side on AUGUST 7, 2015.
  • Kelsey was a reviewer for the U.S. Food and Drug Administration who raised serious concerns about the safety of the drug Kevadon. She declined to approve the drug Kevadon, its key ingredient was thalidomide.
  • Thalidomide was prescribed to pregnant women in the 1960s, it was discovered that it caused serious birth defects such as missing limbs, internal organ damage, deafness and blindness.
  • She was given the award for distinguished federal civilian service by President John F Kennedy.

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