Daily Current Affairs - 20th Feb 2017

Former CJI Altamas Kabir passed away

  • Former Chief Justice of India Altamas Kabir died.
  • Kabir was appointed as the Chief Justice of India on September 29, 2012. He retired on July 19, 2013.
  • Jagdish Singh Khehar is the current Chief Justice of India.
  • Khehar is the first CJI from the Sikh community.
  • The Supreme Court of India (in New Delhi) came into existence on 26th January, 1950.
  • The Supreme Court of India comprises the Chief Justice and 30 other Judges appointed by the President of India.
  • Supreme Court Judges retire upon attaining the age of 65 years.
  • In order to be appointed as a Judge of the Supreme Court, a person must be a citizen of India and must have been, for atleast five years, a Judge of a High Court.
  • According to convention, the senior most judge of the Supreme Court is appointed as the Chief Justice of India.

'Tarini' inducted into Indian Navy

  • The Indian Navy's second sailboat 'Tarini' was inducted into service.
  • The induction ceremony, at Goa, took place in the presence of Navy Chief Admiral Sunil Lanba.
  • 'Tarini' 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 capable of open ocean deployments - Tarangini, Sudarshini, Mhadei and Tarini, all four of which have been built in shipyards at Goa.
  • In order to promote ocean sailing activities and to encourage women empowerment, the Indian Navy conceptualized the idea of the First Indian All Women Circumnavigation of the Globe. A team of six women Officers led by Lieutenant Commander Vartika Joshi was selected for this project.

Vodafone, Idea may merge this month

  • The U.K.’s Vodafone and Aditya Birla group firm Idea Cellular are likely to finalise within a month the mega merger deal that will create India’s largest telecom firm.
  • If the deal is successful, the combined entity will create India’s largest telecom firm with a revenue share of around 40% and a subscriber base of over 380 million.
  • The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) is the regulator of the telecommunications sector in India.
  • The Competition Commission of India (CCI) is the regulatory body that approves the merger of the two entities.
  • CCI prevents activities that have an appreciable adverse effect on competition in India.

Farah sets new European record

  • Four-time Olympic champion Mo Farah marked his final race indoors by winning the 5,000m at the Birmingham Grand Prix in a new European record time of 13 minutes 9.16 seconds
  • Sir Mohamed Muktar Jama "Mo" Farah is a British distance runner.
  • On the track, he mostly competes over 5000 metres and 10,000 metres.
  • He won gold in the 5,000m and 10,000m at both the London 2012 and Rio 2016 Games.
  • Long-distance running, or endurance running, is a form of continuous running over distances of at least three kilometres.

Indian women bag rugby silver

  • The India women’s team won the silver medal in the 2017 Asian Rugby Sevens Trophy at Laos.
  • Playing in the round-robin league at the Chaoanuvong Stadium, the side won five out of six matches to finish behind South Korea (18 points), with 16 points.
  • Malaysia bagged the third place (14) in the seven-nation event.
  • India’s Hupi Majhi was fifth overall and was among the top-three Try Scorers.
  • A try is a way of scoring points in rugby union and rugby league football.
  • Laos (officially the Lao People's Democratic Republic) Capital: Vientiane.
  • Laos Currency: Lao kip.
  • Laos is a Southeast Asian country bordering Myanmar and Thailand.

Kashmir to observe 2017 as the 'Year of Apple'

  • Chief Minister of Jammu and Kashmir Mehbooba Mufti declared 2017 as 'Year of Apple' in a major bid to promote the famed Kashmiri apples in domestic and foreign markets.
  • The Chief Minister launched the High Density Apple Plantation Scheme in Srinagar.
  • The high density plants have a yield of 50-70 metric tonnes per hectare against 10-12 tonnes in case of conventional plants.
  • The government is setting up mega mandies and high-tech cold storage to promote apple industry besides establishment of e-markets for the online sale of the produce.
  • Jammu and Kashmir is the largest apple producing State in India at 11.2 metric tonnes, which accounts for 71% of national production.
  • Ambri Kashmir, American Trel, Delicious (Red Delicious), Maharaji Apple, Golden delicious apple, and Hazaratbali Apple (Benoni) are some of the apple varieties grown on a commercial scale in Kashmir.

World’s first transgender doll to be unveiled soon

  • The world’s first transgender doll is being unveiled at the New York toy fair, modelled on the U.S. teenager and LGBTQ campaigner Jazz Jennings.
  • Sixteen-year-old Jennings was propelled to fame as one of the youngest people ever officially documented as transgender.
  • The doll is being made by the Tonner Doll Company, based in Kingston, New York, USA.
  • LGBTQ stands for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Queer, and is used to designate a community of people whose sexual or gender identities can create shared political and social concerns.

'Smart drugs' a step closer

  • Scientists at Eindhoven University of Technology in the Netherlands have developed the first DNA computer capable of detecting several antibodies in the blood, paving the way for smart drugs for better delivery of medication for conditions such as rheumatism and Crohn’s disease, with fewer side-effects and at lower cost.
  • DNA (Deoxyribonucleic acid) is a carrier of genetic information, but DNA molecules are also highly suitable for performing molecular calculations.
  • The sequence within a DNA molecule determines with which other DNA molecules it can react, which allows a researcher to programme desired reaction circuits (DNA computer).
  • In the current case, scientists have succeeded for the first time in linking the presence of antibodies (proteins) to a DNA computer.
  • An antibody (Ab), also known as an immunoglobulin (Ig), is a large, Y-shaped protein produced mainly by plasma cells that is used by the immune system to neutralize pathogens such as bacteria and viruses.
  • Leonard Adleman is often called the inventor of DNA computers.

Hindi novelist Ved Prakash Sharma passed away

  • Popular Hindi novelist Ved Prakash Sharma, counted among the highest-selling Hindi writers in the country, died.
  • He is famous for novels like Vardi Wala Gunda (Goon in Uniform), Dahej Mein Revolver (Revolver as Dowry), Widhva Ka Pati (Husband of a Widow) and Dulhan Maange Dahej (Bride Asks For Dowry).
  • He penned 176 novels over 44 years.
  • Some of his books were adapted into successful films like "Bahu Maange Insaaf" and "Sabse Bada Khiladi".

Dhanush and ATAGS in advanced stage of trials

  • Two indigenously developed towed artillery are now in advanced stages of trials to replace the Howitzers of Bofors Company (Swedish arms manufacturing company).
  • The Dhanush was developed by the Ordnance Factory Board (OFB).
  • Dhanush is a 155 mm/45 caibre gun, which has a range of 40 km, with higher accuracy than Bofors.
  • ATAGS, which stands for Advanced Towed Artillery Gun System, is a 155mm/52 calibre gun.
  • The ATAGS project was started by DRDO to supplement Dhanush and is expected to undergo trials in deserts and high altitude range.
  • Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) is headquartered in New Delhi.
  • Ordnance Factory Board is headquartered in Kolkata.

Poor connectivity hits border trade

  • India-Bangladesh trade ties are troubled by poor rail- and river-connectivity at the region bordering Assam as well as a delay in the operationalisation of four new 'border haats' (or border markets) at the area bordering Meghalaya.
  • Bangladesh was India’s largest South Asian trading partner in 2015-16 — with bilateral trade worth $6.8 billion that fiscal.
  • The trade balance was heavily in favour of India with its exports of $6.03 billion to Bangladesh in FY’16.
  • India’s imports amounted to $5.3 billion from that country.
  • India and Bangladesh have opened their first border ‘haat,' or a common marketplace in 2011, reviving the traditional border trade after nearly 40 years.
  • The trade at border haats is allowed in Indian Rupees/Bangladesh Taka and on a barter basis.
  • Bangladesh Capital: Dhaka.

China building floating nuclear reactors

  • China is prioritising the development of a floating nuclear power platform in the coming five years, in an effort to provide stable power to offshore projects and promote exploration of oil and gas in the ocean.
  • According to Chinese experts, floating power stations (nuclear reactors built on ships) are less susceptible to natural disasters.
  • In an emergency, the station could pump seawater into a boat to prevent core melting.
  • Besides, the platform is small and can be dragged to a suitable place for maintenance.
  • The floating nuclear power plants are aimed at improving power supply to the island areas in the South China Sea despite the maritime dispute.
  • China claims almost all of the South China Sea. Vietnam, the Philippines, Malaysia, Brunei and Taiwan have counter claims over the islands.
  • China currently has 23 nuclear power generating units in operation and 27 under construction, about one-third of the world's unfinished nuclear units.
  • China Currency: Renminbi.
  • China Capital: Beijing.

ICAI's Accounting Research Foundation signs pact with Railways

  • The CA Institute’s Accounting Research Foundation (ARF) has signed an agreement with Indian Railways for the national rollout of accrual accounting in Railways.
  • According to the agreement, accrual accounting will be introduced at 17 Railway zones and 8 production units across the country.
  • Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley had in this year’s budget speech announced that as part of accounting reforms, accrual based financial statements will be rolled out in Railways by March 2019.
  • Accrual based financial statement will support Indian Railways in better utilisation of available resources, estimation of future liabilities and prioritisation of spending.
  • It will also pave way for best financial management practices to be introduced in Indian Railways.
  • This agreement follows implementation of the pilot project for introduction of the Accrual based Financial Statement as an additional set of Accounts at North Western Railway at Jaipur and Rail Coach Factory at Kapurthala by ICAI ARF.
  • The accrual based financial statements will serve as an additional set of accounts to existing cash based accounting.
  • Institute of Chartered Accountants of India (ICAI) is headquartered in New Delhi.
  • Indian Railways is the second largest railway operator in the world by passenger volume.

India commits $340 million soft loans to Nepal

  • India has committed soft loans amounting to USD 340 million to Nepal for infrastructure projects. Indian Railways Minister Suresh Prabhu, who arrived in Nepal to attend the 'Nepal Infrastructure Summit 2017', signed a letter of exchange with Nepalese Minister for Physical Infrastructure and Planning Ramesh Lekhak in which India committed a bridge project (Mahakali) and 15 road projects totalling USD 340 million soft loans to Nepal.
  • Nepal Capital: Kathmandu.Nepal Currency: Nepalese rupee.Nepal Prime minister: Pushpa Kamal Dahal.

Oriental Bank launches mobile wallet 'Batuaa'

  • On the occasion of its 75th Foundation Day, Oriental Bank of Commerce (OBC) has come up with several digital offerings including launch of mobile wallet 'Oriental Batuaa'.
  • It has also launched two MSME schemes, 'Oriental Sanjeevani' and 'Oriental Budget Hotels and Restaurants'.
  • 'Oriental Sanjeevani' is a specialised scheme for doctors for setting up new hospitals and clinics.
  • 'Oriental Budget Hotels and Restaurants' scheme is for individuals, proprietors, companies etc for setting up new hotels, restaurants, lodges, motels etc.
  • OBC is an Indian public sector bank.
  • OBC Corporate Office: Gurgaon, Haryana.
  • OBC Tag line: "Where every individual is committed."
  • OBC MD & CEO: Animesh Chauhan.

GST Council approves law for compensating states’ revenue loss

  • The GST Council has approved a law to compensate states for any loss of revenue from implementation of the new national sales tax.
  • The next meeting of the council will be held on March 4-5, 2017 at New Delhi and will aim to approve the draft laws on Central GST, Inter State GST as well as State GST.
  • After laws are approved, the Council will get down to fixing rates of taxes for different goods and services by fitting them into the four approved slabs of 5, 12, 18 and 28 percent.
  • The Goods and Services Tax, which will replace a plethora of central and state taxes, is a consumption based tax levied on sale, manufacture and consumption on goods and services at a national level.
  • Under it, Central GST will be levied by the Centre, State GST by states and Inter State GST on inter-state supply of goods and services.
  • Different indirect taxes of central excise duty, central sales tax (CST) and service tax are to be merged with Central GST while State GST will subsume state sales tax, Value Added Tax (VAT), luxury tax and entertainment tax.
  • The GST Council aims to develop a harmonized national market of goods and services.
  • The Council is composed of the Union Finance Minister (as Chairman), the Union Minister of State in charge of Revenue or Finance, and the Minister in charge of Finance or Taxation or any other Minister, nominated by each state government.

Indian movie Newton wins top honour at Berlin Film Festival

  • 'Newton' directed by Amit Masurkar and starring Raj Kummar Rao has won the International Federation of Art Cinemas award at the 67th Berlin International Film Festival, also known as Berlinale.
  • Berlinale, is one of the world's leading film festivals and most reputable media events.
  • Awards given in the festival: Golden and Silver Bear statues.
  • German Chancellor: Angela Merkel.
  • Germany Capital: Berlin.
  • Germany Currency: Euro.