Daily Current Affairs - 27th Jul 2017

Aboriginal music icon Gurrumul Yunupingu dead

  • World-renowned indigenous singer Gurrumul Yunupingu has died after a long battle with illness aged 46. Born blind, the reluctant star never gave any interviews and was painfully shy, but his music drew worldwide acclaim, despite the fact that he performed in his Gumatj dialect.
  • Yunupingu collaborated with musicians across the world, including producer Quincy Jones and British giants Elton John and Sting who performed or recorded with him.
  • He also performed for audiences including Queen Elizabeth II and former U.S. President Barack Obama.
  • Aborigines, whose cultures stretch back tens of thousands of years, remain the most disadvantaged Australians.

Axis Bank set to buy Freecharge from Snapdeal for up to Rs400 crore

  • Axis Bank Ltd is planning to buy digital payments platform Freecharge for Rs350-400 crore in cash, giving much-needed breathing space to the it's parent company Snapdeal, which is separately in talks to sell itself to larger rival Flipkart.
  • By buying Freecharge, Axis Bank will get a popular digital payments brand as well as access to high-quality technology that traditional companies typically struggle to build compared with internet start-ups. Axis Bank and Freecharge are likely to announce the deal this week.
  • Earlier, Snapdeal bought Freecharge for $400 million in April 2015 in what was then the largest start-up deal in India.

Boost for India on easier visa norms in RCEP talks

  • India’s push for easier norms on movement of professionals across borders for short-term work in 16 Asia-Pacific nations, including itself, under a proposed mega Free Trade Agreement (FTA) — is learnt to have found favour with some ASEAN-bloc members.
  • The proposed FTA, officially known as the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP), is being negotiated by these countries in the Asia-Pacific region. The RCEP technical level talks are currently going on in Hyderabad.
  • India, which has a vast pool of services professionals, including from IT/ITeS, sector, had been leading the talks on easing restrictions on temporary movement of professionals.
  • The Association of Southeast Asian Nations(ASEAN) is a regional intergovernmental organization comprising ten South East Asian states which promotes PAN-Asianism, intergovernmental cooperation and facilitates economic, political, military, educational and cultural integration amongst its members and Asian States.

CAC adopts Codex norms for three spices

  • The Codex Alimentarius Commission (CAC), which is the central part of the joint FAO(Food and Agricultural Organization of the United Nations)/WHO (World Health Organisation) Food Standards Programme, has adopted three Codex standards for black, white and green pepper, cumin and thyme paving the way for an universal agreement on identifying quality spices in various countries
  • The Codex Alimentarius or “Food Code” is a collection of standards, guidelines and codes of practice adopted by the Codex Alimentarius Commission.
  • With the adoption of Codex standards, member-nations would now have reference points and benchmarks to align their national standards for spices with Codex.

Deaflympics: Virender bags gold

  • India got on to the medals table on the ninth day of the Deaflympics. Virender Singh clinched gold in the men’s 74kg freestyle wrestling, beating Shakro Chakvetadze of Georgia 18-9 in the final. Two bronzes were won in wrestling by Ajay Kumar (65kg) and Sumit Dahiya (97kg).
  • In golf, Diksha Dagar missed the gold in the final round against Kaylin Yost (USA).

FabHotels raises $25 mn, eyes pan India expansion

  • Budget hotel franchise FabHotels has raised $25 million in a Series B investment led by Goldman Sachs Investment Partners. The funds will be used to accelerate the nationwide expansion of FabHotels.
  • FabHotels’ franchise model focusses on partnering with budget hotels having capacity of 20 to 40 rooms. It currently operates over 5,000 rooms across more than 225 franchise hotels including Mumbai, the National Capital Region and Bengaluru.
  • Co-founder and CEO, FabHotels: Vaibhav Aggarwal,

Glow-in-the-dark shark discovered in the Pacific

  • Scientists have identified a new species of glow-in-the-dark shark that has an unusually large nose, weighs a little less than a kilo and measures less than a foot. The new species, a member of the lanternshark family, has been named Etmopterus lailae. It lives 1,000 feet below the Pacific Ocean off the coast of the northwestern Hawaiian islands.
  • The unique features and characteristics of this new species really sets it apart from the other lanternsharks. Like other lanternsharks, the Etmopterus lailae is bio-luminescent and the flanks on the bottom of its belly glow in the dark. The markings on its belly and tail also were specific to this new species.
  • It has a strange head shape and an unusually large and bulgy snout where its nostrils and olfactory organs are located. These creatures are living in a deep sea environment with almost no light so they need to have a big sniffer to find food.

Human antibodies produced in lab for first time

  • Scientists for the first time have produced human antibodies in the laboratory. They have developed a revolutionary technique which can help in rapid development of new vaccines to treat a wide range of infectious diseases.
  • Researchers had replicated the process of natural production of antibodies from B cells isolated from patient blood samples in the laboratory to produce specific antibodies. They had found that B cells need a second signal to start proliferating and developing into plasma cells apart encountering a specific antigen at first instance.
  • For the second signal they used short DNA fragments called CpG oligonucleotides, which activate a protein named TLR9 inside B cells. But they found that treating patient-derived B cells with CpG oligonucleotides stimulates every B cell, not just the tiny fraction capable of producing a particular antibody.

In a first ever, Nifty closes above 10,000

  • The 50-share benchmark Nifty crossed the mark of 10,000 for the first time ever owing to overall positive trends in global markets and gains in select index heavyweights pushing equity indices to a new high.
  • The Nifty of the National Stock Exchange (NSE) gained 56.1 points to close at 10,020.65. Meanwhile the 30-share Sensex gained 154.19 points to close at a new high of 32,382.46.
  • Gains in the global market also acted as a catalyst in lifting investor sentiments. While Asian indices like Nikkei(Japan) and Hang Seng(Hong Konlg) gained ground, most European indices were also trading in the green.

Israel removes security installations from entrance to sensitive Jerusalem holy site

  • Israel has removed more security installations from the entrance to a sensitive Jerusalem holy site after protests and deadly unrest in recent days.
  • Newly installed railings and scaffolding where cameras were previously mounted have now also been removed from at least one main entrance to the Haram al-Sharif compound, known to Jews as the Temple Mount.
  • Palestinians view the move as Israel asserting further control over the site.

Lilly King smashes the 100m breaststroke world record

  • Olympic gold medalist Lilly King broke the world record for the women's 100m breaststroke, crushing Russian Yulia Efimova in a mounting rivalry that first captivated the world during the Rio Games last year.
  • King clocked 1 minute 4.13 seconds in the World Championship final in Budapest, Hungary beating Lithuanian swimmer Ruta Meilutyte's 2013 record of 1 minute 4.35 seconds.
  • Earlier Canada’s Kylie Masse produced a world-best time to win the women’s 100m backstroke gold medal.

Microsoft unveils Kaizala app in India

  • Microsoft officially unveiled Kaizala, a mobile-only productivity application to simplify large group communication for Indian organisations.
  • The new product would make it possible for organisations to interact with everyone seamlessly. The application had been optimised for 2G networks to enable connectivity in remote locations and offered features with offline support.
  • While basic version would be free for Android and iOS users, Microsoft would also make available a ‘Pro’ version for Rs. 130 per user per month.

NASA jets to chase solar eclipse

  • In a first of its kind, scientists are planning to chase the shadow of the moon using NASA’s research jets during the upcoming total solar eclipse in the U.S., in order to capture the clearest ever images of the Sun’s outer atmosphere.
  • Amir Caspi of the Southwest Research Institute in the U.S. and his team will use two of NASA’s WB-57F research jets to follow the darkness across the U.S. on August 21.
  • The two planes, launching from Ellington Field near NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston, will observe the total eclipse for about three and a half minutes each. By flying high in the stratosphere, observations taken with telescopes on board will avoid looking through the majority of Earth’s atmosphere, greatly improving image quality.
  • Taking observations from twin telescopes mounted on the noses of the planes, they will capture the clearest images of the Sun’s corona to date and the first-ever thermal images of Mercury, revealing how temperature varies across the planet’s surface.
  • The total solar eclipse provides a rare opportunity for scientists to study the sun, particularly its atmosphere. As the moon completely covers the sun and perfectly blocks its light during an eclipse, the typically faint corona is easily seen against the dark sky.

Nitish Kumar resigns as Bihar CM

  • Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar resigned from his post by submitting his resignation to the Governor. The Governor has accepted his resignation and asked him to continue as caretaker CM.
  • Nitish Kumar's recent irreconcilable differences with ally Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) on the issue of corruption charges against his deputy CM Tejashwi Prasad Yadav led to collapse of the coalition.
  • It also has big blow to the ruling Bihar Mahagathbandhan comprising JD(U), RJD and Congress.
  • The sudden development throws the politics of Bihar into chaos with no party having a majority in the 243-member Assembly. JD(U) has 71 seats, while RJD headed by Lalu Prasad Yadav has 80. The opposition BJP has 53.

No transgenders in military: Trump

  • The United States will not accept or allow transgender individuals in the military, President Donald Trump declared, reversing a decision taken by the Barack Obama administration last year. Last week, Defense Secretary ordered pausing of fresh induction of transgender individuals into military.
  • About 2,450 of the approximately 1.3 million active-duty service members are estimated to be transgenders. Their future now remains unclear after the President’s announcement.

Parliament passes Collection of Statistics (Amendment) Bill, 2017

  • The Indian parliament has passed The Collection of Statistics (Amendment) Bill, 2017 after it was approved by the Rajya Sabha.
  • The bill aims at amending the Collection of Statistics Bill, 2008, which facilitates the collection of statistics related to social, economic, demographic, scientific and environmental aspects, by central, state and local governments. It also allows the appointment of statistics officers to collect information and contains provisions to ensure security of information.
  • The Bill extends jurisdiction of the parent act to the state Jammu and Kashmir for the collection of statistics pertaining to subjects under the Union (List-I) or the Concurrent list (List-II) of the Constitution. These subjects include citizenship, banking, education, labour and forests as applicable to J&K.
  • The bill was already passed in Lok Sabha.

Petrol, diesel cars face ban in U.K.

  • Britain will join other European nations in plans to ban diesel and petrol-fuelled cars in the coming decades, as the government seeks to deal with high levels of air pollution and climate change.
  • New diesel and petrol cars will be banned by 2040, as part of a package of measures designed to improve air quality in Britain, and meet tough EU rules on emissions, particularly around nitrogen dioxide emissions.
  • Britain’s high levels of air pollution, estimated to cause 40,000 deaths a year, has come under close scrutiny in recent years, with London breaching its annual air pollution limits under EU rules.
  • Last year, Norway announced plans to phase out new petrol and diesel vehicles by 2025, via a green tax system, while France will end the sales of these vehicles by 2040. Germany’s Bundesrat called for petrol vehicles to be phased out by 2030.

US Senate reaches deal for new sanctions bill that affect Russia, Iran and North Korea

  • The US Senate reached a deal to pass a new sanctions bill that affect Russia, Iran and North Korea.
  • Earlier, the House of Representatives overwhelmingly approved a new version of a bill that would impose sweeping sanctions on Russia, Iran and North Korea and limit US President Donald Trump’s ability to lift the restrictions on Moscow.
  • Meanwhile the European Union hit out at the United States over new sanctions on Russia as it would have an adverse impact on its business relations with Russia.