Daily Current Affairs - 03rd Jun 2017

Ananya Vinay wins National Spelling Bee

  • Ananya Vinay of Fresno, California won the Scripps National Spelling Bee taking home a $40,000 cash prize after 12 hours of picking her way along a precarious lifeline of consonants and vowels.
  • She correctly spelled the word marocain, a dress fabric made of warp of silk or rayon and a filling of other yarns, to win the 25-word championship round of the spelling bee held at the Gaylord National Resort and Convention Center in suburban Washington.
  • Ananya is the 13th consecutive Indian-American to win the bee and the 18th of the past 22 winners with Indian heritage, a run that began in 1999 with Nupur Lala’s victory, which was featured in the documentary Spellbound.

Bitcoin GrowthFund raises Rs. 95 cr via initial coin offering

  • BitcoinGrowthFund (BGF), the world’s first block chain-based start-up fund for the venture capital industry, has raised $14.5 million ( Rs. 95 crore) in its first round from retail investors through an Initial Coin Offering (ICO).
  • About 50 per cent of the retail investment came from India, followed by China at 35 per cent and South Korea at 15 per cent. The minimum amount for retail investors was $5, the company said in a statement.
  • Dubai-based BGF was earlier looking to raise about $32 million ( Rs. 225 crore) through an ICO, which opened in Bangkok. But following positive reaction from investors, the company increased its total fund corpus.

Fitch lowers RCom to ‘junk’ grade

  • Fitch downgraded telecom operator Reliance Communications to junk grade, saying loan default is a “real possibility” and red-flagged its poor liquidity and excessive refinancing risk.
  • The latest action by the credit rating agency comes on the heels of a downgrade by other rating agencies such as Moody’s Investors Services, ICRA and CARE, and is expected to add to financial woes of the Anil Ambani-owned telecom firm that is straddled with Rs. 44,000 crore net debt.

French Open: Indian pair of Raja-Sharan in pre-quarters

  • In Tennis, the Indian pair of Purav Raja and Divij Sharan upstaged the 15th-seeded Austrian-Croat combo of Oliver Marach and Mate Pavic to enter the men's doubles pre-quarterfinals of French Open.
  • In Men's double second round events, the pair of Bopanna and his Uruguayan parter Pablo Cuevas will take on American-Uzbek pair of Treat Huey and Denis Istomin.
  • In mixed double, Leander Paes and his swiss partner Martina Hingis will clash with Slovenian- South African pair Katarina Srebotnik and Raven Klaasen in second round.

Gujarat’s Mithivirdi nuclear plant to be shifted to AP

  • The National Green Tribunal (NGT) has said that the nuclear power plant project at Mithivirdi—the first after India and the US signed the civil nuclear agreement in 2008—is being shifted to Kavvada, Andhra Pradesh.
  • The change in stance was due to delay in land acquisition at Chhaya-Mithivirdi site. The 6,000 mega-watt nuclear power plant project, proposed to be built by Nuclear Power Corp. of India (NPCIL), has been facing protests from locals who refused to give up their land for the project.
  • The plant was to be set up by state-owned Nuclear Power Corporation of India Ltd (NPCIL) with technical support from Toshiba Corp’s Westinghouse Electric Company (WEC), which will build six nuclear reactors at the new site.

NASA to launch first-ever mission to study neutron stars

  • NASA is set to launch the world's first mission devoted to studying rapidly spinning neutron stars, the densest objects in the universe.
  • The US space agency plans to launch the Neutron Star Interior Composition Explorer, or NICER, aboard SpaceX CRS-11, a cargo resupply mission to the International Space Station, now rescheduled to be launched aboard a Falcon 9 rocket.
  • Neutron stars and pulsars are the remnants of massive stars that, after exhausting their nuclear fuel, exploded and collapsed into super-dense spheres.

NASA's orbiter discovers signs of frozen water on Moon's south pole

  • NASA has discovered signs of frozen water on the lunar surface by using data from its Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter.
  • Scientists have identified that the bright areas in craters near the Moon's south pole are cold enough to have frost present on the surface.
  • The evidence comes from an analysis that combined surface temperatures with information about how much light is reflected off the Moon's surface.

Only Rs 5,000 crore of income declared under PMGKY: Government

  • The much-publicised Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Yojana, India’s second black money disclosure programme announced during the demoentisation, garnered only Rs 5,000 crore in declarations.
  • The programme, launched in December 2016, gave one last chance to come clean to those who deposited unaccounted cash in banks after the demonetisation of high value currency notes on November 8.
  • Those availing the scheme were required to pay 50% in tax and penalty, and also park another 25% of the amount declared in a non-interestbearing deposit for four years.

Prithvi-II missile successfully test-fired

  • India successfully test-fired its indigenously developed nuclear-capable Prithvi-II missile from a test range in Odisha as part of a user trial by the Army.
  • The trial of the surface-to-surface missile, which has a strike range of 350 km, was carried out from a mobile launcher from launch complex-3 of the Integrated Test Range (ITR) at Chandipur.
  • The Prithvi-II missile is capable of carrying 500 kg to 1,000 kg of warheads and is thrusted by liquid propulsion twin engines. It uses advanced inertial guidance system with manoeuvring trajectory to hit its target with precision and accuracy.

Russia Readying To Supply S-400 Anti-Aircraft Missile Systems To India

  • Russia said it was preparing to supply S-400 Triumf anti-aircraft missile systems to India and both governments were "simply discussing" the terms. Pre-contract preparations underway on the supplies of the S-400 anti-aircraft missile complexes to India
  • The S-400 Triumf long-range air defense missile system has the capability to destroy incoming hostile aircraft, missiles and even drones at ranges of up to 400 km.
  • India and Russia have been in talks for over a year for the purchase of at least five systems of S-400 that will be a game changer in the region.It is capable of firing three types of missiles, creating a layered defence, and simultaneously engaging 36 targets.

SBI wants DoT to help protect banking sector’s Rs. 4-lakh cr exposure to telecom

  • Worried about the banking sector’s huge exposure to the telecom industry, State Bank of India has asked the Department of Telecom to work out a bailout package for the operators, including deferred payment for spectrum and rationalising spectrum fee.
  • Lenders have an exposure of nearly Rs. 4 lakh crore to the sector, which could come under stress due to declining telecom revenues.
  • In a letter to the DoT, SBI Chairman Arundhati Bhattacharya has proposed a six-point action plan to address the sector’s problems.

US’ new visa screening: social media info, emails may be needed

  • The Trump administration has enforced a new extreme visa screening process for foreign nationals including those from India under which applicants might be asked to share information regarding their social media accounts, emails and telephone numbers.
  • The State Department, which issues visas to foreign nationals through its diplomatic missions across the world, said that it started implementing this new change from May 25.
  • But these additional questions would be asked only in extreme circumstances, the State Department said.

West Indies cricket team’s official name changed to WINDIES

  • The cricket board for West Indies, on its 91st anniversary, has re-branded themselves as Cricket West Indies from the former West Indies Cricket board. The board also announced in a media release on their official website that the cricket team from now on will be officially known as ‘WINDIES.’
  • The release also quoted the board’s CEO Johnny Graves as saying that the name Cricket West Indies “better reflects how the organisation operates.”
  • The name ‘Windies’ has been associated with the cricket teams that have representing the Carribean islands in a more colloquial way.