Current Affairs Daily Digest – February 19 and 20 2017


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1. Two Indians die every minute due to air pollution: Study

  • The air Indians breathe is turning more toxic by the day and an average of two deaths take place daily due to air pollution.
  • According to medical journal The Lancet, over a million Indians die every year due to air pollution and some of the worst polluted cities of the world are in India. The smog over northern India is extracting a heavy toll.
  • Recently, 48 leading scientists released the study and they find that Patna and New Delhi the worst polluted cities of the world for PM 2.5 levels or the fine particulate matter that hurts the heart most.
  • The World Bank estimated that 5.5 million lives were lost in 2013 to diseases associated with outdoor and household air pollution, causing human suffering and reducing economic development.

2. UAE seals deal with China’s CNPC for onshore oil project

  • The United Arab Emirates’ main state oil company has signed a deal giving China National Petroleum Company an 8 per cent stake in a major onshore oil project.
  • The Abu Dhabi National Oil Company says CNPC will pay an initial $1.77 billion for the concession operated by the Abu Dhabi Company for Onshore Petroleum Operations, also known as ADCO.
  • ADCO is aiming to boost daily production from about 1.6 million barrels currently to 1.8 million barrels this year.

3. SpaceX successfully launches Dragon spacecraft for NASA

  • Elon Musk-led space exploration startup SpaceX has successfully launched its Dragon spacecraft which will deliver nearly 2,500 kg of cargo to International Space Station for NASA.
  • Dragon spacecraft is also carrying strains of the MRSA superbug to study its behaviour in microgravity.
  • The launch was conducted from the same pad used for NASA’s first manned mission to the moon.

4. Nagaland CM TR Zeliang announces resignation

  • Ending more than two weeks of standoff with Nagaland Tribes Action Committee (NTAC), Nagaland chief minister TR Zeliang resigned from his post.
  • The 64-year-old met Governor PB Acharya at the Raj Bhawan in Kohima and submitted his resignation, hours after he reached the state capital from Delhi.
  • Zeliang had been under intense pressure to quit following an ultimatum given by the NTAC.

5. There is an ‘underground river’ beneath the Amazon

  • Brazilian scientists announced the discovery of a 6,000-kilometre river about four kilometres under the Amazon River in South America in 2011.
  • The river is called Rio Hamza, after the head of the team of researchers who found the underground river.
  • While the Amazon ranges from 1-100 kilometre in width, the Hamza spans between 200-400 kilometres.

6. HUL to counter Patanjali with new ayurvedic shampoos

  • Hindustan Unilever has launched three ‘ayurvedic’ shampoos, as India’s largest consumer goods maker looks to counter Baba Ramdev-promoted Patanjali Ayurved.
  • By launching an ayurvedic range under an existing brand it will be easier for HUL to gain customers’ trust.

7. Former Chief Justice of India Altamas Kabir passes away

  • Former Chief Justice of India Altamas Kabir has passed away due to kidney ailment and related complications.
  • Kabir was appointed as the Chief Justice of India on 29 September 2012. He retired on 19 July 2013.
  • Born on 19 July 1948, Kabir was enrolled as an advocate in 1973 and practised in the district court and the Calcutta high court in civil and criminal sides.

8. Govt launches its own QR code BharatQR for cashless payments

  • BharatQR, another e-payment medium which has been termed the world’s first interoperable and low cost acceptance solution, was launched by the National Payments Corporation of India, MasterCard and Visa.
  • This is another step in the direction of making India a less-cash economy, said a joint press release by the companies.
  • BharatQR is based on the RBI’s Payments Vision 2018, which outlines innovation, interoperability and security as the three pillars to transition the country into cashless economy.

9. India wins I’ntl Fashion Showcase at London Fashion Week

  • India beat 25 other countries to win ‘The International Fashion Showcase Country Award’ at the London Fashion Week for its exhibition ‘The Indian Pastoralists’.
  • India’s exhibit consisted of garments showcased by the Indian labels p.e.l.l.a, Kaleekal, Ka-Sha, ikai and Antar-Agni.
  • Notably, this was the first time that India participated in the competition.

10. Kohli 1st Indian athlete to sign a ₹100 cr deal with a brand

  • Virat Kohli has become the first Indian athlete to sign a deal worth over ₹100 crore with a brand, after signing up with Puma.
  • With the reportedly eight-year-long deal, Kohli will join Usain Bolt, Asafa Powell and Thierry Henry as Puma’s global ambassador.
  • Puma will launch a signature line of sports lifestyle products with a special logo and brand identity.

11. Drilling begins for India’s 1st undersea bullet train line

  • Test drills for the construction of India’s first undersea bullet train route has commenced.
  • Stretching over 7km, this route will be a part of India’s first bullet train project, the Mumbai-Ahmedabad high-speed rail corridor. The construction of the corridor is expected to begin in 2018.
  • Once built, the underwater passage will considerably reduce the distance between Mumbai and Ahmedabad, and will give passengers the thrill of riding under the sea at a speed of 350km per hour.

12. Mohammad Nabi becomes first Afghan cricketer to join IPL

  • All-rounder Mohammad Nabi has became the first Afghanistan player in the Indian Premier League when he was sold to Sunrisers Hyderabad for a base price of Rs. 30 lakh in the IPL Auction at the Ritz-Carlton hotel in Bengaluru.
  • After an aggressive bidding between Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR) and Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB), England’s fast bowling sensation Tymal Mills was eventually sold to RCB for a whopping Rs. 12 crore.
  • Mill becomes the second expensive recruit in the IPL 2017 auction after Ben Stokes, who was sold to Rising Pune Supergiants for whopping 14.5 crores.

13. Shurhozelie Liezietsu elected as next Nagaland CM

  • The Democratic Alliance of Nagaland (DAN) Legislature Party has elected veteran leader and party president Shurhozelie Liezeitsu as its new leader.
  • Shurhozelie would be sworn in as chief minister.
  • Zeliang had to resign after a series of incidents rocked the state when his government wanted to hold municipal elections with 33 per cent reservation for women.
  • Born on November 20, 1936, Shurhozelie Liezietsu is not a typical politician, but an eminent scholar, author and linguist who has, over the decades, redefined school education in Nagaland by introducing an entire new set of textbooks and and a new system of school building across the state.

14. Savings account weekly withdrawal limit increased to ₹50,000

  • The maximum cash withdrawal limit from savings account has been increased to ₹50,000 a week from ₹24,000.
  • The relaxation is followed by an RBI notification issued on January 30, announcing the changes in the weekly withdrawal limits effective from February 20.
  • The limits on cash withdrawals from savings bank account will be withdrawn completely from March 13.

15. India is world’s largest arms importer: SIPRI

  • India is the world’s largest importer of major arms in the last five years and its overseas procurement is far greater than that of China and Pakistan.
  • As per latest report of the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI), India accounted for 13% of the total global arms import between 2012–16 which is highest among all the countries.
  • Saudi Arabia was the second largest arms importer in 2012-16, with an increase of 212% compared with 2007–11. Arms imports by Qatar went up by 245%.
  • According to the report, Russia accounted for a 23% share of global exports in the period 2012–16 and 70% of its arms exports went to India, Vietnam, China and Algeria.

16. Afridi announces international retirement

  • One of the most flamboyant and controversial cricketers of his generation, former Pakistan captain Shahid Afridi has finally called time on his international career.
  • The decision, announced after the Pakistan Super League (PSL) final here on Sunday night, put an end to an illustrious and colour 21-year career.
  • The 36-year-old however, will continue to play in the PSL for the next two years.

17. Indian Coast Guard Ship ICGS AYUSH commissioned

  • Vice admiral A R Karve, flag officer commanding-in-chief, Southern Naval Command, commissioned CGS Ayush, the final vessel in the series of twenty fast patrol vessels (FPVs) designed and built by the Cochin Shipyard Ltd (CSL).
  • The 50-m-long ship having a maximum speed of 33 knots.
  • ICGS AYUSH is fitted with state-of- the-art navigational and communication equipment including Integrated Bridge System (IBS) and Machinery Control System (MCS).
  • FPVs are intended to help secure Indian waters by patrolling within the Exclusive Economic Zone and help in fisheries protection.

18. ISRO successfully tests largest cryogenic engine for GSLV Mark III rocket

  • Indian Space Research Organisation or ISRO has successful tested the country’s largest cryogenic engine for a full 10 minutes.
  • The engine will power its mammoth Geosynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle (GSLV) Mark III rocket capable of propelling a 4-ton class satellites into geo-synchronous orbit – the altitude where satellites revolve in sync with the Earth’s rotation.
  • With this final hurdle crossed at an ISRO facility in Tamil Nadu’s Mahendragiri, India is all set to test the GSLV Mark III rocket which is almost 50 meters high and weighs 414 tons.
  • This engine has been developed after two decades of hard work as the technology was denied to India by Russia under pressure from the US.

The rocket engine uses liquid hydrogen and liquid oxygen as fuel that are stored at minus 253 degrees centigrade and then ignited to burn at plus hundreds of degrees centigrade just a few centimetres down engine. A very complex technology, the cryogenic engine has been mastered only by Russia, USA, France, China, Japan and India.

19. Indian Navy’s INSV Tarini inducted

  • The Indian Navy’s second ocean-going sailboat INSV Tarini was inducted into the Indian Navy.
  • Built by Goa-based M/s Aquarius Shipyard Pvt Ltd, INSV Tarini is a sloop, which is slated to be the platform for first Indian all-women circumnavigation of the globe expedition of the Indian Navy.
  • The Indian Navy is operating four sailing vessels — Tarangini, Sudarshini, Mhadei and Tarini — capable of open ocean deployments and all the four have been built in shipyards at Goa.

20. Maharashtra Government approves cloud seeding project for 2017 monsoon

  • Maharashtra Government has approved Rs. 250 crore Cloud Seeding Programme during 2017 monsoon season to produce sufficient rain.
  • Under this programme, weather scientists using aircrafts will spray chemicals (silver iodide) over clouds clouds hovering above Solapur district, a rain shadow region of Western Ghats in the state.

21. India ranks 143rd in 2017 Economic Freedom Index

  • India was ranked 143rd out of 186 economies in the annual Index of Economic Freedom 2017 that measures the degree of economic freedom in the countries of the world.
  • The index was released by top US based Think Tank, The Heritage Foundation.
  • In this edition, India’s overall score was 52.6 points, 3.6 points less than scored in 2016 when it was ranked 123rd.

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