Daily Current Affairs - 07th Aug 2017

400 senior officials opt for Cognizant’s VSP

  • About 400 senior executives of Cognizant have accepted the company’s voluntary separation package (VSP), a move that the U.S.-based company said will help it save about $60 million annually. In May, the company had initiated a voluntary separation programme, offering up to nine months of salary to some of its top-level executives in the U.S. and India.
  • Cognizant has a significant chunk of its total 2.56 lakh workforce in India and it is estimated that of the 400 people who opted for the separation, a large number could be from India.

After Arab states, Israel seeks to ban Al-Jazeera news channel

  • Israel seeks to ban Qatar’s flagship Al-Jazeera news network from operating in the country, joining regional Arab states that already shut the station after accusing the broadcaster of inciting violence.
  • Israel has asked cable and satellite networks to block their transmissions and is seeking legislation to ban them altogether. Jordan and Saudi Arabia have recently closed Al-Jazeera’s local offices, while the channel and its affiliate sites have been blocked in Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, Egypt and Bahrain.

Ankur Mittal wins gold in Asian Shotgun Championship

  • Indian shooter Ankur Mittal clinched the individual as well as the team gold medal in men's double trap at the 7th Asian Shotgun Championship. Mittal shot 71 in the six-man final to finish at the top of the podium. With scores of Sangram Dahiya and Mohammad Asab added to Mittal's final total, India managed to bag the top prize in the team event also.

ATM expansion slows due to note ban

  • According to the RBI's latest data, a combination of factors, including cash crunch following demonetization of high value notes announced in November last year, have led to commercial banks cutting down on the number of automated teller machines (ATMs) particularly those not located in branches (off-site ATMs).
  • According to bankers, demonetisation, which led to cash crunch, was one of the factors that impacted ATM expansion. The Centre’s push for digital transactions discouraging the use of cash is also having an impact, with banks going slow on ATM expansion
  • There were 98,092 off-site ATMs in June 2017 against 99,989 in the same month last year. However, on-site (located within a branch) ATMs rose to 110,385 from 101,346 in the same period. Large retail-focussed banks like ICICI Bank and HDFC Bank’s off-site ATM numbers show a declining trend over the last one year. SBI’s ATM numbers saw a sharp increase as it merged five of its associate banks and Bharatiya Mahila Bank on April 1, 2017.
  • The total number of ATMs in the country in June 2017 was 2,08,477 as compared with 2,01,335 a year ago.

China sets terms for talks on sea feud code

  • China said that the talks for a non-aggression pact aimed at preventing clashes from erupting in the disputed South China Sea may start this year. A code of conduct in the disputed waters may be announced by the heads of state of China and the 10-member Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), when they meet at an annual summit in the Philippines in November if it's conditions are met.
  • Those conditions include non-interference by outside parties, apparently referring to the United States, which Beijing has frequently accused of meddling in what it says is an Asian dispute that should be resolved only by the countries involved.
  • China’s territorial disputes in the strategic and potentially oil-and gas-rich waterway with five other governments intensified after it built islands in disputed waters and reportedly started to install a missile defence system on them.

Colombo Test: India beat Sri Lanka for series win

  • India defeated Sri Lanka by an innings and 53 runs in the second cricket Test in Colombo to take an unassailable 2-0 lead in the three-match series. The hosts, who put up their best batting show in the series so far were all-out for 386 in the second innings despite twin centuries from Dimuth Karunaratne (141)and Kusal Mendis (110). For India Ravindra Jadeja took five- wickets giving 152 runs.
  • India have now won back-to-back away Test series in the island nation having clinched the previous edition in 2015 by 2-1 margin. Kohli is the only India captain to have won two Test series in Sri Lanka.
  • India 1st innings: 622 for nine declared
  • Sri Lanka: 183 and 386 all out in 116.5 overs

Fight for mammoth meat may have wiped out Neanderthals

  • Neanderthals may have been wiped out due a direct competition with early humans for meat, say scientists who found that for both species, mammoths were the primary source of meat.
  • Scientists studied the diet of anatomically modern humans and were able to refute the theory that the diet of early representatives of Homo sapiens was more flexible than that of Neanderthals.
  • Just like the Neanderthals, our ancestors had mainly mammoth and plants on their plates — the researchers were unable to document fish as part of their diet.
  • The first representatives of Homo sapiens colonised Europe around 43,000 years ago, replacing the Neanderthals there approximately 3,000 years later.

Halimah Yacob announces bid to be Singapore's next President

  • Singapore's Parliament Speaker Halimah Yacob will contest for the Presidential election in September this year, becoming the first woman to run for the highest office. Sixty-two year old Halimah will step down as the Speaker, a post she has held since 2013, and as an Member of Parliament.
  • The upcoming election is reserved for Malay candidates, following changes to the law last year to ensure the Presidency reflects Singapore's multiracial society.
  • Chinese, Malay and Indian are three major ethnic groups.
  • Prime Minister: Lee Hsien Loong
  • Current President: Tony Tan Keng Yam
  • Capital: Singapore
  • Currency: Singapore dollar

Indian man wins dirham 5 mn in mega Abhu Dhabi draw

  • An Indian man in the U.A.E. hit a jackpot by winning a whopping dirham 5 million ($1.3 million) in a mega raffle draw in Abu Dhabi.
  • Krishnam Raju Thokachichu, who works as a detailing checker in the construction industry, won the huge sum in the latest edition of ‘Big 5 Ticket Draw’.The event held at the Abu Dhabi International Airport was attended by all the big 10 millionaires from series 181.

Japan marks 72 years since Hiroshima atomic bomb

  • Japan on Sunday marked 72 years since the world’s first nuclear attack on Hiroshima, with the nation’s traditional contradictions over atomic weapons again coming into focus. Japan is the only country to have suffered atomic attacks, in 1945.
  • Japan suffered two nuclear attacks at the end of the Second World War by the United States — in Hiroshima on August 6, 1945 and in Nagasaki three days later. The bombings claimed the lives of 1,40,000 people in Hiroshima and 74,000 people in Nagasaki.
  • Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, speaking at the annual ceremony at Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park, said Japan hoped to push for a world without nuclear weapons in a way that all countries can agree.
  • The anniversary came after Japan sided last month with nuclear powers Britain, France and the U.S. to dismiss a UN treaty banning atomic weapons, which was rejected by critics for ignoring the reality of security threats such as North Korea.

MobiKwik to raise over $100 million

  • Mobile wallet company MobiKwik is looking at raising over $100 million from investors this year to fuel its expansion. MobiKwik recently inked an agreement with Bajaj Finance, under which the latter invested Rs. 225 crore (about $35 million) in the digital payments company for a 10.83% stake.
  • The deal with Bajaj Finance values the company at over $300 million. MobiKwik has so far raised over $85 million from investors.

Silk mats can help treat arthritis

  • Scientists from IIT Guwahati have synthesized mats made of silk-proteins and bioactive glass fibres that they believe can assist the growth of bone cells and repair worn-out joints in arthritis patients.
  • To develop a suitable tissue substitute, scientists looked into the natural bone-cartilage interface and tried to mimic it synthetically in lab conditions.The researchers adopted a green fabrication approach for the developing the silk composite mats — electrospinning.
  • The disease most commonly affects joints in the knees, hips, hands, feet, and spine and is marked by the breakdown of joint cartilage and underlying bones. Left untreated, it can cause severe pain, swelling, and eventually limited range of movement. Knee osteoarthritis is the most common bone and joint disease in India.
  • Current clinical treatment methods are limited by lack of viable tissue substitutes to aid the repair process.

Swimmer Ryan Lochte back after ban

  • Ryan Lochte, the World and Olympic champion swimmer whose false story about being robbed at the Rio Olympics brought a 10-month ban, returned to the pool at the US Open meet. Lochte finished fifth in the men’s 100m backstroke, clocking 55.16sec in a final won by two-time Olympic medallist Arkady Vyatchanin of Serbia in 53.91.
  • Ryan Lochte, a 12-time Olympic medalist (six gold, three silver, three bronze), which ranks him second in swimming behind Michael Phelps. His seven individual Olympic medals rank near the top in men's swimming.

Switzerland happy with India’s data security

  • Switzerland found India’s data security and confidentiality laws adequate for entering into an automatic exchange of information pact, which will open a continuous access to details about alleged black money hoarders in once secret Swiss banks.
  • The Swiss Federal Council, the top governing body, in June ratified automatic exchange of financial account information with India and 40 other jurisdictions to facilitate immediate sharing of details about suspected black money even as it sought strict adherence to confidentiality and data security.
  • The issue of black money has been a matter of big debate in India, and Switzerland has been long perceived as one of the safest havens for the illicit wealth allegedly stashed abroad by Indians
  • Switzerland is also looking to explore greater access to the Indian market, including the reinsurance sector and other financial services.

Usain Bolt finishes 3rd in 100 meters Final at World Athletics C'ship

  • Usain Bolt has been stunned as he finished third in the 100 meters Final of World Athletics Championship at London. In his farewell 100 meters, Bolt clocked a time of 9.95 seconds but was left behind by veteran American sprinter Justin Gatlin who clocked 9.92 seconds to claim Gold, his compatriot Christian Coleman came second with 9.94 seconds.
  • Bolt had a dreadful start from the blocks. Since 2008, when Bolt set his first world record, he had not lost a championship race, and collected 19 gold medals in 100, 200 and 4x100 meters.

Vijender beats Zulpikar to win WBO Oriental Super Middleweight title

  • Indian professional boxer Vijender Singh outclassed his Chinese opponent Zulpikar Maimaitiali to retain the WBO Asia Pacific Super Middleweight title and win the WBO Oriental Super Middleweight title. Vijender recorded a unanimous decision win over his Chinese opponent and continued his undefeated streak. It was his ninth successive win in his professional career.

World junior wrestling championship: Three bronze for India

  • India claimed three bronze medals in the World junior wrestling championship, which ended at Tampere, Finland. All the three including Manju Kumari (59kg women), Veer Dev Gulia (74kg freestyle) and Sajan, bagged bronze.
  • Sajan bagged a bronze medal in 74kg Greco Roman class and became the first Indian to win a World junior medal in Greco Roman style.
  • For the first time, Indians won medals in all three styles in the World junior championship.

Yuki Bhambri bows out of Citi Open in Washington DC

  • Yuki Bhambri has bowed out of the ATP Citi Open tennis tournament at Washington DC. The Indian qualifier lost in three sets 4-6 6-4 3-6 against 15th seed Kevin Anderson of South Africa in the quarter-finals played last night.
  • Rohan Bopanna and his American partner Brian Braker also lost their quarterfinal to fourth seeded American legends Mike and Bob Bryan in straight sets 5-7, 4-6.