Daily Current Affairs - 23rd Mar 2018

World Cup qualifiers: UAE stuns Zimbabwe

  • Zimbabwe lost a World Cup qualifying thriller by three runs to the United Arab Emirates allowing Afghanistan and Ireland to clash in a winner-takes-all tie for a place in the 2019 edition in England.
  • The UAE, which had no chance of qualifying, made 235 for seven off 47.5 overs with Rameez Shazhad hitting 59.
  • Chasing a target of 230 off 40 overs, Zimbabwe needed six off the last ball to win the Super Six match but it could not chase the target.
  • Afghanistan and Ireland will meet at the same venue with the winner guaranteed a place in the 2019 World Cup in England and Wales.

ABFL's merger with Allahabad Bank gets nod

  • State-run Allahabad Bank stated that the Ministry of Corporate Affairs has allowed the amalgamation of its wholly own subsidiary - All Bank Finance Ltd (ABFL)-with the lender.
  • The ABFL offers a basket of fee based financial services such as trusteeship services (debenture trustee/security trustee), investment advisory and portfolio management services, distribution of Mutual Funds schemes and other corporate services including valuation of security and so on.
  • The Board of the company had decided to surrender its NBFC (non banking finance company) licence in 2005. It had also surrendered its merchant banking licence to market regulator Sebi.
  • MD & CEO of Allahabad Bank: Usha Ananthasubramanian
  • Headquarters: Kolkata

Ayushman Bharat to provide cashless medical treatment to nearly 40% of population:

  • Union Health Minister has said Ayushman Bharat-National Health Protection Mission will provide insurance cover to nearly 40 per cent of the population in the country. Over 10 crore poor and vulnerable families are the target beneficiaries under the scheme. Families, belonging to poor and vulnerable section based on Socio-Economic Caste Census database, will be benefited through the scheme.
  • A beneficiary of the scheme will be allowed to enjoy cashless benefits from any public and private empanelled hospitals across the country. The Scheme has the benefit cover of 5 lakh rupees per family per year, irrespective of its size and age.
  • It will subsume the on-going centrally sponsored scheme Rashtriya Swasthya Bima Yojana and Senior Citizen Health Insurance Scheme.
  • Union Health Minister J P Nadda

BrahMos supersonic cruise missile successfully test-fired from Pokhran

  • The BrahMos supersonic cruise missile was successfully test fired from Rajasthan’s Pokhran test range. Developers of the missile say the BrahMos has a strike accuracy rate of 99.99 per cent and it follows a variety of trajectories like high, high-low, low, surface-skim etc.
  • BrahMos is a supersonic cruise missile developed in a joint-venture between India and Russia. It is a self-propelled guided missile that sustains flight through aerodynamic lift. Cruise missiles fly within the earth’s atmosphere and use a variety of propulsion methods.The missile has been named after two rivers– the Brahmaputra and the Moskva. The latter is a river in western Russia. It is a two-stage missile.
  • The armed forces have already inducted the 290-km range land and warship-based versions of the BrahMos missiles over the last decade.

EU leaders to push for privacy protection

  • European Union leaders will press tech giants to protect personal data in the wake of the scandal over information misused from Facebook. The Brussels summit is tackling the row over the misuse of Facebook data by British firm Cambridge Analytica, which played a role in U.S. President Donald Trump’s election campaign.
  • Social networks and digital platforms need to guarantee transparent practices and full protection of citizens’ privacy and personal data, said the draft statement obtained.

HS Prannoy regains world no 12 in latest badminton rankings

  • Indian shuttler HS Prannoy jumped four places to regain his world number 12 spot.
  • Second-ranked Kidambi Srikanth narrowed his gap with world no 1 Viktor Axelsen. P V Sindhu was static at the third sport. Saina Nehwal remains static at the 12th spot.
  • Sai Praneeth slips to 15th spot
  • Indian men's doubles combo of Satwiksairaj Rankireddy and Chirag Shetty has now moved into the top 20 in the latest ranking.

Idea, Vodafone announces new leadership for merged entity Balesh Sharma to be CEO of the merged entity

  • Kumar Mangalam Birla led Idea Cellular and Vodafone Group Plc. announced the proposed leadership team of the combined business, which will come into effect after the merger has been completed. Mr. Kumar Mangalam Birla would be the non-executive chairman of the board of directors of the merged company.
  • Balesh Sharma, currently chief operating officer of Vodafone India, has been appointed as the chief executive officer of the merged entity.

India, China agree to explore strengthening cooperation through exchange of visits and institutionalized dialogue mechanisms

  • India and China have agreed to explore the possibility of strengthening cooperation through exchange of visits and institutionalized dialogue mechanisms in order to promote better understanding and cooperation between the two defense forces.
  • During the meeting of 11th round of the Working Mechanism on Consultation and Coordination for India-China Border Affairs in New Delhi, both sides exchanged views on ways to improve border management.
  • Various confidence building measures aimed at further enhancing the level of mutual trust and understanding between border personnel were discussed.
  • The Working Mechanism on Consultation and Coordination, was established in 2012 as an institutional mechanism for consultation and coordination for the maintenance of peace and tranquility in the India-China border areas.
  • It also aims at exchanging views on strengthening communication and cooperation, including between their border security personnel.

ISSF Junior World Cup: India's Elavenil Valarivan wins gold

  • Indian shooter Elavenil Valarivan shattered the world record and claimed the gold medal in 10m women's air rifle event of the season's first junior ISSF World Cup. She shot 249.8 in the women's final to claim the top individual honours. Her 631.4 in the qualification was a new world record.
  • She had also won a bronze medal at the FISU World Shooting Sport Championship
  • India's other finalists in the event Shreya and Zeena finished sixth and seventh, respectively
  • Arjun Babuta bagged his second junior world cup medal, claiming a bronze in men's 10m air rifle event.

Jackfruit declared as Kerala's official fruit

  • Kerala government elevated jack fruit as the State’s official fruit. The aim is to promote the 'Kerala jackfruit' as a brand in markets across the country and abroad, showcasing its organic and nutritious qualities This would also help in giving a boost to the fruit's production and sale, besides increasing its value-added products. Jackfruit is the largest tree borne fruit that is known for its distinctive taste and aroma the pride of place
  • Each year around 320 million jackfruit is produced in the state, of which 30 per cent goes waste, according to available statistics. Their produce was entirely organic and pesticide-free.
  • A total revenue of Rs 15,000 crore is expected through the sale of jackfruit and its related products through branding of the fruit
  • Elephant is the state animal of Kerala, while 'great hornbill' the bird and 'kanikkonna' the official flower.

John R Bolton to be new National Security Adviser to President Trump

  • Former US Ambassador to the United Nations John R Bolton will be the new National Security Adviser to President Donald Trump, from April 9. He will replace Lt Gen H R McMaster.
  • Trump and McMaster mutually agreed that the latter will resign as the National Security Adviser. He will retire from the US Army after 34 years of distinguished service.

Maldives President lifts state of emergency

  • Maldives President Abdulla Yameen lifted a 45-day state of emergency, a day after the government charged senior political dissidents of trying to topple the President. President Yameen imposed the state of emergency on February 5 for 15 days following a Supreme Court ruling that overturned convictions against nine opposition leaders, including exiled former President Mohamed Nasheed. He extended it by 30 more days with Parliament’s approval.
  • During the emergency rule, the administration arrested former President Maumoon Abdul Gayoom, the Chief Justice, another Supreme Court judge and a Supreme Court administrator for attempting to overthrow the government.
  • The move drew severe criticism from the opposition and from countries including India and the U.S.

MCX launches futures trading in brass for the first time globally

  • Multi Commodity Exchange of India (MCX) has launched futures trading in brass for the first time globally, that will facilitate brass stakeholders to hedge their price risk. It will commence futures trading in brass on March 26 and will offer three contracts ending in April, May and June for trading, with a lot size of one tonne.MCX Brass futures is the first non-ferrous contract with compulsory delivery option.
  • The estimated annual production of brass in India is approximately between 100,000-150,000 tonne, which includes production through primary metal and recycled brass.
  • Out of the 5,000 small and medium units producing brass in the country, about 3,000 are located at Jamnagar, accounting for 80 per cent of the brass produced in India.
  • Brass is an alloy, which primarily contains around 55-60 per cent copper and the rest is zinc, with small amounts of lead and iron. It is used in industries like electrical appliance, marine engines, pump parts, switch gears, sanitary ware, automobiles and defence.
  • Managing director and chief executive officer, MCX: Mrugank Paranjape

Pakistan gets powerful missile tracking system from China

  • China has sold Pakistan a powerful tracking system that could speed up the development of multi-warhead missiles by its partner. China was the first country to export such sensitive equipment to Pakistan. The current sale of the equipment to Pakistan can be attributed to India testing the most advanced nuclear-ready intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) Agni-V with a range long enough to hit Beijing or Shanghai.
  • An optical system is a critical component in missile testing. It usually comes with a pair of high-performance telescopes equipped with a laser ranger, high-speed camera, infrared detector and a centralised computer system that automatically captures and follows moving targets. Chinese authorities declassified information about the sale of the tracking system

Pankaj Advani qualifies for knockouts at Asian Billiards Championship

  • All four Indian cueists, including multiple-time world champion Pankaj Advani, qualified for the knockout stage at the Asian Billiards Championship in Myanmar . Advani will be up against home favourite Aung Htay, while Dhvaj Haria faces Singapore's Peter Gilchrist in the quarterfinals.
  • In the other half of the draw, B Bhaskar meets another local Nay Thway Oo while Rupesh Shah will lock horns with Thawat Sujaritthurakarn of Thailand in the final quarter.

Parliament passes payment of gratuity bill

  • Parliament passed payment of gratuity bill that will empower the government to fix the amount of tax-free gratuity and the period of maternity leave with an executive order. The legislation will enable the government to enhance the ceiling of tax-free gratuity to 20 lakh rupees from the existing 10 lakh rupees for employees falling under the Payment of Gratuity Act. It also allows the government to fix the period of maternity leave for female employees as deemed to be in continuous service in place of the existing 12 weeks.
  • The amendment to the payment of gratuity law comes in the backdrop of Maternity Benefit (Amendment) Act, 2017 enhancing the maximum maternity leave period to 26 weeks.

US announces 60 billion dollar tariffs on China for its alleged unfair trade practices

  • US government has announced 60 billion US dollar tariffs on China for its alleged unfair trade practices. The actions were necessiated to counter unfair competition from China's state-led economy.
  • Mr Trump directed US Trade Representative to announce within 15 days a proposed list of products to be hit with tariff increases. USTR has already identified potential targets 1,300 product lines worth about 48 billion dollars.
  • The move is seen as a direct shot in a increasing trade war between the world's two biggest economies.
  • The US currently has about 500 billion dollars of trade deficit with China. China has forcefully denounced President Trump's decision to impose tariffs on Chinese goods and accused him of putting the two economies on course for a trade war.

World Water Day 2018, observed on March 22

  • World Water Day is an annual observance day on 22 March to highlight the importance of freshwater. It is also used to advocate for the sustainable management of freshwater resources.
  • The theme of this year's World Water Day - is "Nature for Water"
  • The UN reports that, 2.1 billion people currently lack access to safely managed drinking water services,
  • while an estimated 1.8 billion use an unimproved source of drinking water with no protection against contamination from human faeces.
  • The UN advises planting more trees, restoring wetlands, and reconnecting rivers to floodplains.
  • India's case:The Central Pollution Control Board has doubled the number of 'polluted' rivers from 121 to 275 in the last five years, blaming the huge quantities of untreated sewage being dumped into our rivers for this state of affairs.
  • The report found that while Maharashtra had 49 polluted river stretches, including Mithi, Godavari, Bhima, Krishna, Ulhas, Tapi, Kundalika, Panchganga, Mula-Mutha, Pelhar, Penganga and Vaitarna, among others, Assam ranked second at 28, Madhya Pradesh third with 21, Gujarat 20, and West Bengal 17.

World’s longest sandstone cave discovered in Meghalaya

  • The world’s longest sandstone cave at 24,583 metres in length has been discovered in Meghalaya. The sandstone cave named Krem Puri, near the village of Laitsohum in the Mawsynram, is 6,000m longer than the current listed sandstone cave in the world, Cueva El Samán, (18,200m) in Venezuela. This sandstone cave has also become India’s second longest cave in the general category after the limestone Krem Liat Prah-Umim-Labit system measuring a little over 31km in Jaintia Hills in Meghalaya.
  • The cave system has fossils of dinosaurs, especially the Mosasaurus, a giant reptile that lived 66-76 million years ago.
  • Meghalaya state known for its complex cave systems hidden under its undulating hills. Currently, the explored caves account for only 5 percent of the total number in the state.