Daily Current Affairs - 20th Oct 2018

10-year-old Indian Arshdeep Singh wins 2018 Wildlife Photographer of the Year award

  • Arshdeep Singh is among the winners of the 2018 Wildlife Photographer of the Year award in the 10-years-and-under category for his photograph ‘Pipe Owls’, which is of two spotted owlets nested inside a pipe.
  • Arshdeep recently won the Junior Asian Wildlife Photographer of the Year award. His work has previously been published in national and international publications such as Lonely Planet UK, Lonely Planet Germany, Lonely Planet India, BBC Wildlife UK etc.
  • The Wildlife Photographer of the Year competition is organised by the Britain’s Natural History Museum.

3 parties fail to submit donation list

  • Three of the seven national parties, including the Bharatiya Janata Party, have not submitted contribution reports for 2017-18 to the Election Commission till the scheduled deadline of September 30. The due date has now been extended to October 31.
  • The Congress declared receipt of a little above Rs. 26.65 crore, while the Nationalist Congress Party showed contributions of Rs. 2.08 crore. The Communist Party of India got Rs. 1.14 crore in donations. The All India Trinamool Congress and the Communist Party of India (Marxist) have also not filed their reports for the previous financial year. The Bahujan Samaj Party reported nil contribution.
  • The union government has recently introduced the concept of “electoral” bonds, which allows corporations to make donations without disclosing their identities. After the notification in January, the bonds have been issued in five phases so far.
  • In the first three phases, the 9 specified State Bank of India (SBI) branches had issued more than 900 bonds worth about Rs. 400 crore. They are valid for 15 days, before which parties are required to encash them. The Election Commission is examining the data on electoral bonds to determine its stand on the issue.

50,000 Indians took U.S. citizenship in 2017

  • The Department of Homeland Security, in its latest annual immigration report, 2017 stated that as many as 50,802 Indians took citizenship of the United States which is about four thousand more than 2016’s figure of 46,188 cases, and eight thousand more than 2015’s figure of 42,213 cases.
  • In all, 7,07,265 foreign nationals took the oath of American citizenship in 2017, as against 7,53,060 in 2016 and 7,30,259 in 2015. Mexico, with 1,18,559 citizenships topped the list among all foreign nationals.
  • Followed by India at a distant second, then China (37,674); the Philippines (36,828); Dominican Republic (29,734) and Cuba (25,961).
  • The report indicated that more females (3,96,234) took American citizenship than males (3,10,987). A As many as 12,000 newly naturalised American citizens from India settled in California, followed by New Jersey (5,900), and Texas (3,700).

9 scientists win 2019 Breakthrough Prize

  • The winners of the 2019 Breakthrough Prize (also known as "Oscars of Science") were announced. Nine researchers will be awarded a collective total of $22 million for their innovations in mathematics, fundamental physics and the life sciences.
  • The 2019 Breakthrough Prize in Mathematics recipient is Vincent Lafforgue of the CNRS and Institut Fourier, Université Grenoble Alpes in France.
  • The Breakthrough Prize in Fundamental Physics went to Charles Kane and Eugene Mele from University of Pennsylvania for their new ideas about topology and symmetry in physics
  • Five scientists won the Breakthrough Prize in Life Sciences for their contributions to finding significant solutions to curing human diseases.
  • Sponsors of the Breakthrough Prize Foundation include Google co-founder Sergey Brin, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, Ma Huateng, founder of China's internet giant Tencent, Israeli-Russian entrepreneur and venture capitalist Yuri Milner and Anne Wojcicki, an American entrepreneur and the co-founder of the personal genomics company 23andMe.

China and ASEAN to hold joint naval exercises

  • China and Southeast Asian Nations will hold their first joint maritime exercises next week in a move aimed at easing tensions in the region. The navies of China and the 10-member Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) will hold ASEAN-China Maritime Exercise in the South China Sea near the city of Zhanjiang. The decision was made at a gathering of ASEAN defense ministers in Singapore.
  • China's expansive claims to the South China Sea have long been a source of friction in Southeast Asia, as well as USA, which has traditionally been the dominant naval power in the area.

Divij & Sitak pair in semifinals

  • Divij Sharan and Artem Sitak of New Zealand made the doubles semifinals of the €686,080 ATP tennis tournament defeating Mackenzie Mcdonald of USA and Cameron Norrie of Britain for the loss of three games. In the semifinals, the Indo-Kiwi combination will challenge the second seeds Nicolas Mahut and Edouard Roger-Vasselin of France.

Druk Nyamrup Tshogpa to form new govt in Bhutan

  • The Druk Nyamrup Tshogpa (DNT) party will form a new government in Bhutan. The party has won 30 seats in 47 member National Assembly, the lower house of the parliament. The Druk Phuensum Tshogpa (DPT) party has got remaining 17 seats.
  • This is the first time in Bhutan’s decade old parliamentary democracy that a new party has been chosen to form the government. In last two elections the Bhutanese electorates had stuck with the two old parties DPT and People's Democratic Party (PDP).

Gold imports rise 4% to $17.63 billion

  • According to the Union Commerce Ministry data, gold imports increased by about 4% to $17.63 billion in the first half of 2018-19, inflating the country’s trade deficit and fuelling worries about the current account deficit.
  • Increase in gold imports pushed the country’s trade deficit to $94.32 billion in April-September 2018-19 as against $76.66 billion in the same period last year. The CAD widened to 2.4% of the GDP in the first quarter of 2018-19.
  • Current account deficit(CAD) is the difference between outflow and inflow of foreign exchange.

India, Japan, U.S. plan joint air exercise

  • India, Japan and the U.S. are set to elevate the bilateral ‘Cope India’ air exercise to a trilateral format. The three countries have already conducted naval war games under the expanded Malabar naval exercise.
  • The proposed one will be a small-level exercise involving transport aircraft in the trilateral format and then it will be scaled up in subsequent editions.
  • The level of interoperability in the exercises, both bilateral and trilateral, is expected to go up with India recently signing the Communications Compatibility and Security Agreement with the U.S.

New skin gel protects from some pesticides

  • Indian researchers have developed a gel which, when applied on the skin, can inhibit some pesticides from getting absorbed into the body, thus averting serious adverse effects and even death.
  • Organophosphate-based pesticides, which are commonly used by farmers in India, are toxic to the nervous system and heart, and can cause cognitive dysfunction.
  • Esters present in organophosphate-based pesticides enter the body they bind and inhibit an enzyme (acetylcholinesterase or AChE) critical for nerve and muscle function. This causes neurological disorders, suffocation, paralysis, and even death. These pesticides further causes neurological disorders, suffocation, paralysis, and even death.
  • Scientists used a chemical reaction to convert the ester into acid by using a catalyst to make the pesticide inactive.

Pakistan defeat Australia by 373 runs in 2nd Cricket Test

  • Pakistan defeated Australia by 373 runs in the second Cricket Test in Abu Dhabi and recorded their biggest win over Australia. Pakistan's pacer Mohammad Abbas took his maiden ten-wicket haul. Abbas claimed five wickets giving 33 runs in the first innings and five for 62 in the second innings.
  • The victory gave Pakistan a 1-0 win in the two-match series after Australia fought back to draw the first Test in Dubai last week.

RBI opposes move for independent Payments Regulatory Board

  • The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) has opposed the move to have an independent Payments Regulatory Board (PRB) as envisaged by the draft proposal for amendments to the Payment & Settlement Systems Act, 2007. It further stated that there is no case of having a regulator for payment systems outside the RBI.
  • The Watal Committee had earlier recommended the establishment of the Payments Regulatory Board (PRB) within the overall structure of the RBI. Since banks are regulated by the RBI, it recommended a holistic regulation by RBI will be more effective and not result in increased compliance costs.

RBI steps in to ease NBFC woes

  • The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) has decided to increase the single-borrower exposure limit of banks for non-banking finance companies (NBFCs) which do not finance infrastructure, to 15% from the existing 10% of their capital funds. This would be effective till December 31, 2018.
  • Earlier the Reserve Bank has also permitted banks to use government securities, equal to their incremental outstanding credit to NBFCs, over and above their outstanding credit to them as on October 19, to meet the liquidity coverage ratio requirement.
  • The move was taken in the context of the IL&FS imbroglio-induced liquidity crisis in the system.

Reserves fall by $5.14 bn as rupee slides

  • According to the recently released RBI data, the Indian foreign exchange reserves has plunged by $5.143 billion to $394.465 billion during the week to October 12 on account of decline in foreign currency assets. The continuing fall of the rupee has had its impact on the reserves.
  • The rupee had lost more than 16% since January and plunged to 74.43 last week to the dollar, making it the worst emerging market currency.
  • As the rupee has been plummeting, the RBI has sold over $40 billion of its reserves to prop it up since the beginning of the current fiscal.

Rwanda follows Ethiopia and unveils gender-balanced cabinet with 50 percent women

  • Rwanda has become the second African nation in a week to announce a gender-balanced Cabinet with 50 per cent of its members women. The government announced that women now make up half of the slimmed-down, 26-seat Cabinet.
  • Rwand now joins a handful of countries, mostly European, where women make up 50 percent or more of ministerial positions.
  • The country has received international recognition for female representation in government, with women making up 61 percent of parliament members.
  • Rwanda
  • President: Paul Kagame
  • Prime Minister: Anastase Murekezi
  • Capital: Kigali
  • Currency: Rwandan franc

Textile production picks up

  • The monthly Index of Industrial Production for textiles increased 7.8% in August this year compared with the same month last year. The cumulative index for textiles from April to August this year has also gone up marginally by 1.1% from a year earlier.
  • Production has risen mainly because of domestic market demand. The textile industry is now expected to attract fresh investments, having seen a slowdown on this front for two years.

Turkey to host four-nation summit on Syria crisis

  • A summit between the leaders of Turkey, France, Germany and Russia will be held in Istanbul this month to discuss the conflict in Syria and efforts for a lasting solution to the war in the Arab country.
  • Russia and Turkey reached an agreement last month to set up a demilitarized zone around the northwestern Syrian province of Idlib preventing a government offensive on the last rebel stronghold in the country.
  • Russia is a main backer of Syrian President Bashar Assad's government while Turkey has been helping insurgents trying to remove him from power.
  • Turkey
  • President: Recep Tayyip Erdogan
  • Capital: Ankara
  • Currency: Turkish lira

VP Venkaiah Naidu calls for global response to global challenges of terrorism, economic offences & climate change

  • Vice President M. Venkaiah Naidu has urged international community to work towards early adoption of the United Nations Comprehensive Convention on International Terrorism which will deny terrorists and their supporters' access to arms, funds and safe havens.
  • Speaking at the 1st Plenary Session of the 12th Asia Europe Meeting (ASEM) Summit in Brussels, Mr Naidu called for global response to the global challenges of terrorism, economic offences and climate change.
  • He called for strengthening international cooperation within G-20 and other forums to deny shelter to economic offenders.

Wimbledon to have final set tie-breaks

  • The All England Lawn Tennis Club has announced that Wimbledon will introduce tie-breaks in the final set of all events for the first time next year, but only once the score in the deciding set reaches 12-12. A tie-break is normally played to decide the set when the score reaches 6-6.

World Wrestling C'ship to begin in Budapest

  • World Wrestling Championship will begin in Budapest, Hungary tomorrow. Asian Games gold medallist Bajrang Punia will be India's best bet for a medal as a 30-member team seeks a strong performance in the flagship event. He established himself as a force to reckon with in the 65 kilogram category.