Daily Current Affairs - 08th May 2018

3rd edition of UNPCAP inaugurated in New Delhi

  • The third edition of the United Nations Peacekeeping Course for African Partners (UNPCAP) was inaugurated in New Delhi today to build and enhance the capacity of the African Troop Contributing Countries to the UN.The UNPCAP sessions will be held from May 7-25.
  • The course is conducted by the Centre for United Nations Peacekeeping in India (CUNPK) in partnership with the US. It is aimed to build and enhance the capacity of the African Troop Contributing Countries to the UN and to further train the trainers from these countries.
  • The first and second editions of the course were held in New Delhi in 2016 and 2017.

74.2% H-1B visas were given to Indians

  • United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) said in its report that India accounted for 74.2 per cent of the total number of H-1B visas issued by the US to technology professionals. In 2016, the figure was 75.6 per cent.
  • China comes a distant second with a little over nine per cent, after India in terms of number of H-1B visas. The figures for China were 9.3 and 9.4 per cent respectively for 2016 and 2017.
  • In 2016, as many as 70,737 Indians received initial H-1B visas, which dropped to 67,815 in 2017. In all there were 256,226 Indians on H1B visas in 2016 and 276,423 in 2017.

Fiji's Mahendra Chaudhry chosen for Krishna Menon Award

  • Mahendra Chaudhry, Fiji's Indian-origin former prime minister, has been chosen to receive the V K Krishna Menon Award in recognition of his contribution to the Indian diaspora.
  • Chaudhry is the leader of the Fiji Labour Party and he became Fiji's first Indo-Fijian Prime Minister on May 19, 1999, but exactly one year later he was ousted in a coup.
  • The award was announced by the director of V K Krishna Menon Institute Cyriac Maprayil as the institute celebrated the 122nd birth anniversary at the Nehru Centre recently
  • V K Krishna Menon is former defence minister and India's first high commissioner to the UK.

ICICI Bank rolls out new strategy to lessen NPA burden

  • ICICI Bank has laid out a course correction plan and set specific targets for improving the health of the balance sheet by 2020, as bad loans zoomed during the last quarter of 2017-18. In the fourth quarter, bad loans soared by Rs. 15,737 crore, which led to a 49% decline in net profit to Rs. 1,020 crore. Gross NPAs are now at 8.84%, compared with 7.89% a year earlier.
  • The bank’s net interest income was Rs. 6,022 crore in the quartercompared with Rs. 5,962 crore, while net interest margin was 3.24%.
  • The course correction plan aims to reduce net NPAs to 1.5% by March 2020. The provision coverage ratio for NPAs was 60.5% compared with 53.6% a year earlier. The target is to improve it to more than 70% by March 2020.
  • CEO Chanda Kochhar

India and Guatemala sign an agreement to boost cooperation in education sector

  • A pact has been signed between India and Guatemala for strengthening diplomatic cooperation through Respective Foreign Service Institutes in the educational field. The agreement was inked after a meeting between Vice President M Venkaiah Naidu and his Guatemala counterpart.
  • Both countries will also focus on core sectors such as; pharmaceutical, cooperation in education, technology, conservation of wildlife, Yoga, Tourism and Automobiles.
  • The Indian Vice President also urged Guatemala to be a part of International Solar Alliance and assured all kinds support for solar energy and renewable energy.
  • President: Jimmy Morales
  • Capital: Guatemala City
  • Currency: Guatemalan quetzal

India signs 200 million US Dollar Loan Deal with World Bank for National Nutrition Mission

  • India signed an agreement with the World Bank for a USD 200-million loan for the National Nutrition Mission (POSHAN Abhiyaan) to achieve its goal of reducing stunting in children aged 0-6 years from 38.4 per cent to 25 per cent by 2022. The loan will support the first phase of scaling up of interventions in 315 districts across all states and union territories.
  • With a focus on improving the coverage and quality of ICDS nutrition services to pregnant and lactating women and children under three years of age.
  • The project will additionally ensure convergence of all nutrition-related schemes and provide performance-based incentives to states and community nutrition and health workers, facilitating a focus on results.
  • POSHAN Abhiyaan was launched by Prime Minister Narendra Modi on March 8 in Jhunjhunu in Rajasthan.

India will not play day-night test in Australia: BCCI to Cricket Australia

  • Board of Control for Cricket in India, BCCI, has officially informed Cricket Australia that India will not play any Day-Night Test match on their tour Down Under at the end of this year. Cricket Australia was insistent on having a pink ball Test, Indian board has made it clear that they will not deviate from the traditional red-ball matches. Cricket Australia wanted the opening Test at Adelaide from 6th to 10th December to be a pink ball Test match.

Indian American professor gets USD 1.6M grant to protect kidneys from obesity

  • Tahir Hussain, an Indian-American professor of Pharmacology, at the University of Houston, has received a grant of 1.6 million dollars from the National Institutes of Health to examine a kidney cell that could prevent damage from inflammation caused by obesity.
  • The targeted cells express a protein called the angiotensin type 2 receptor, which recently has been indicated to have anti-inflammatory and renoprotective actions. He will study the impact of inflammation in kidneys with active AT2R as well as those with no AT2R.

Israel pulls out of race for UN Security Council seat

  • Israel dropped out of a race for a Security Council seat in 2019 and 2020 following a campaign by Arab states at the United Nations to block the bid. The decision clears the path for Belgium and Germany to take the two seats allocated on a regional basis when the General Assembly holds the elections next month. It was Israel’s first attempt to win a seat at the 15-member council.
  • South Africa and the Dominican Republic are set to win two of the five seats up for election. Indonesia and the Maldives will be competing for one seat representing the Asia-Pacific group of countries
  • The Security Council is made up of five permanent members – Britain, China, France, Russia and the United States – while the 10 other seats are filled by elected members that serve two-year stints.

ISRO develops atomic clock for the indigenous navigation satellites

  • The Indian Space Research Organization(ISRO) has developed an atomic clock to be used in navigational satellites.At present the atomic clock is undergoing a series of qualification tests and will be used in an experimental navigation satellite to test its accuracy and durability in space. With the development of indigenous atomic clocks, the space agency sure gets a mark of technological advancement.
  • At present, ISRO imports atomic clocks from European aerospace manufacturer Astrium for its navigation satellites.

Lunar rock points to hidden water reserves on Moon

  • A team of Scientists from the Tohoku University in Japan have found a mineral in a lunar meteorite that points to the presence of abundant hidden reserves of water ice under the surface of the Moon, which could be potentially useful for future human exploration.
  • The mineral called moganite, in a lunar meteorite discovered in a desert in northwest Africa. Moganite, a crystal of silicon dioxide, is known to form on Earth in specific circumstances in sedimentary settings from alkaline fluids. It has never before been detected in samples of lunar rock. 

Nokia acquires US Internet of Things start-up SpaceTime Insight

  • Nokia has acquired California-based start-up SpaceTime Insight to expand its Internet of Things (IoT) portfolio and IoT analytics capabilities.
  • SpaceTime Insight provides machine learning-powered analytics and IoT applications for some of the world's largest transportation, energy and utilities organisations, including Entergy, FedEx, NextEra Energy, Singapore Power and Union Pacific Railroad.
  • The machine learning models and other advanced analytics of SpaceTime Insight predict asset health with a high degree of accuracy and optimise related operations, thereby helping its customers cut cost and risk, while increasing operational efficiencies and reducing service outages.
  • CEO of Nokia: Rajeev Suri
  • CEO of SpaceTime: Rob Schilling

Putin sworn in for fourth term as Russian president

  • Vladimir Putin was sworn in as Russia's president for a fourth term extending his almost two-decade rule by another six years at a time of high tension with his Western rivals. Putin is in power since 1999, is on course to become the longest-serving Russian leader since Joseph Stalin.
  • Putin won nearly 77 per cent of the vote in polls in which his opponent, Alexei Navalny, was banned from running.
  • Russia's ties with the West have been strained by Putin's annexation of Crimea from Ukraine and his military campaign in Syria in support of longtime Russian ally President Bashar al-Assad.

R-Infra, Italy’s Astaldi bag Rs. 6,994-cr. project

  • Reliance Infrastructure and Astaldi S.p.A (Italy), a leading construction group, have bagged engineering, procurement and construction (EPC) contract worth Rs. 6993.99 crore for constructing the 17.17-kilometre Versova-Bandra Sea Link Project in Mumbai.
  • Astaldi S.p.A, the third biggest construction player in the world in bridges with an order backlog of over Rs. 2-lakh crore,
  • Reliance Infrastructure company is valued at Rs. 11,792.47 crore.

SC censures IT department for delay in filing appeal

  • The Supreme Court of India has come down heavily on the Income Tax Department for delayed filing of appeals in High courts and in the apex court. The court bench took strong note of the usual delay in filing appeals by the IT department in cases related to income tax assessment. The bench said in every case there is a delay of 200 days.
  • Almost 90 percent of the appeals of the IT department was getting dismissed by the courts
  • Attorney General of India: K K Venugopal

Union Cabinet Secretary P.K. Sinha gets extension

  • The Union government has granted a one-year extension to Cabinet Secretary P.K. Sinha, whose tenure was to end on June 12, 2018. He will now be Cabinet Secretary till mid-June 2019. This is the second extension given to him by the government, which had appointed him for a tenure of two years in 2015.
  • Mr. Sinha is a 1977 batch IAS officer of the Uttar Pradesh cadre.

US urges Organization of American States to suspend Venezuela's membership in 35-nation group

  • U S Vice President Mike Pence has urged the Organization of American States (OAS) to suspend Venezuela's membership in the 35-nation group. He further announced new U.S. sanctions targeting drug kingpins alleged to be linked to the Venezuelan government.
  • He also urged Venezuela's neighbors in the continent to step up their own measures against Caracas, imposing visa restrictions for leaders and taking other action to hold Maduro accountable.
  • The Organization of American States or the OAS or OEA, is a continental organization that was founded on 30 April 1948, for the purposes of regional solidarity and cooperation among its member states. The OAS's members are the 35 independent states of the Americas.
  • Secretary General of OAS: Luis Leonardo Almagro
  • Headquarters: United States capital Washington, D.C.,