Daily Current Affairs - 16th Jul 2019

12 Indian beaches in the race to crest the ‘Blue Flag’ challenge

  • The Union Environment Ministry has selected 12 beaches in India to vie for a ‘Blue Flag’ certification, an international recognition conferred on beaches that meet certain criteria of cleanliness and environmental propriety.
  • These beaches are at Shivrajpur (Gujarat), Bhogave (Maharashtra), Ghoghla (Diu), Miramar (Goa), Kasaragod and Padubidri (Karnataka), Kappad (Kerala), Eden (Puducherry), Mahabalipuram (Tamil Nadu), Rushikonda (Andhra Pradesh), Golden (Odisha), and Radhanagar (Andaman & Nicobar Islands).
  • There are nearly 33 criteria factors that must be met to qualify for a Blue Flag certification.
  • The Blue Flag Programme for beaches and marinas is run by the international, non-governmental, non-profit organisation FEE (the Foundation for Environmental Education).
  • Japan and South Korea are the only countries in South and southeastern Asia to have Blue Flag beaches.
  • Spain tops the list with 566 such beaches; Greece and France follow with 515 and 395,

20 million children missed out on potentially life-saving vaccinations in 2018: UN

  • The United Nations has said almost 20 million children missed out on potentially life-saving vaccinations last year. This comes as surging measles cases highlighted dangerous gaps in efforts to shield kids from preventable illness.
  • The World Health Organization and the UNICEF said last year, that a total of 19.4 million children were not fully vaccinated, up from 18.7 million in 2017 and about 18.5 million in 2016.
  • UNICEF Chief Henrietta Fore said some 350,000 measles cases were reported globally last year which is more than double the 2017 number.
  • Measles cases in the first quarter 300 times higher than the same period in 2018.

Amended Motor Vehicles Bill reintroduced

  • Amendments to the Motor Vehicle (MV) Act was re-introduced by Prime Minister Narendra Modi-led government in the Lok Sabha. These bills had lapsed since they had not been passed by the Rajya Sabha.
  • The proposed amendments to the MV Act seeks to provide a compensation of Rs.5 lakh for death and Rs.2.5 lakh for grievous injury in a motor vehicle accident case.
  • The Bill also proposes to raise the time limit for renewal of driving licence from one month to one year before and after the expiry date.
  • Among other provisions, the bill seeks to increase penalties for violations, facilitate grant of online learning licence, simplified provisions for insurance to provide expeditious help to accident victims and their families, and protection of good samaritans.

China GDP growth slows to 6.2 pc, weakest in 27 years

  • China's economic growth slowed to a record low of 6.2 per cent in the second quarter of this year. This is the weakest growth rate in nearly three decades for the world's second-largest economy, in the midst of a trade war with the United States and weakening global demand.
  • Government data showed that Gross Domestic Product (GDP) growth slid from 6.4 per cent in the first quarter to 6.2 per cent.
  • China's GDP expanded 6.3 per cent year-on-year in the first half of 2019 to about 6.56 trillion US Dollars.

Computer password inventor Fernando Corbato dies at 93

  • Computer pioneer Fernando Corbato, who first used passwords to protect user accounts, has died aged 93.
  • He devised the concept of password-protected user accounts when establishing his Compatible Time-Sharing System, which let multiple people use a computer at the same time.
  • He was also the impetus behind "Corbato's Law," which claims that programmers will write the same amount of code regardless of the language they're using.

Djokovic remains at world number one in ATP rankings

  • Novak Djokovic's successful defence of his Wimbledon crown ensured that he remained at world number one in the latest ATP rankings. He is now 4,500 points clear of second-ranked Rafael Nadal who is just 485 points ahead of Federer.
  • Djokovic' collected his fifth Wimbledon title and 16th major with a thrilling five-set win over Roger Federer, a match that last three minutes short of five hours.

Extinction of Great Indian Bustard, Lesser Florican: SC forms panel to frame emergency plan

  • Taking serious note of the alarming extinction of two Indian birds, Great Indian Bustard and the Lesser Florican (also known as the likh or kharmore), the Supreme Court of India has constituted a high powered committee to urgently frame and implement an emergency response plan for the protection of these species.
  • The court also sought responses from the Centre and state governments, where these two species of birds are prominently found, on a plea of wildlife activists.
  • Over the last 50 years the population of the Great Indian Bustard has recorded a decline of over 82 per cent. Whereas the population of the Lesser Florican has seen a sharp decline of 80 per cent over the past few decades.
  • The plea blamed various reasons for the threats faced by the two endangered birds including mortality by collision with infrastructure, particularly powerlines and wind turbines, depletion of grasslands and hunting.

ICMR tests vaccine to check spread of TB in households

  • The Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) has started a vaccine trial to prevent tuberculosis (TB) among those living close to patients suffering from the disease. The clinical trial is aimed at preventing and decreasing the burden of TB in the country.
  • The trial has commenced at the National Institute of TB and Respiratory Diseases (NITRD), New Delhi.
  • Two potential vaccine candidates VPM 1002, produced by Serum Institute of India, Pune, and MIP (Mycrobacterium Indicus Pranii), were shortlisted for phase III vaccine trials.
  • According to the Global TB Report 2017 issued by the World Health Organization (WHO), India has the highest number of TB cases in the world.
  • In India, an estimated 2.79 million patients were suffering from the disease in 2016, while 423,000 patients were estimated to have died during the year.

India bags 2 Gold medals at ISSF Junior World Cup in Germany

  • India bagged two Gold and one Silver medal in the Women's 10-metre Air Rifle event at the International Shooting Sport Federation (ISSF) Junior World Cup in Suhl, Germany.
  • Elavenil Valarivan claimed the top honours with a total score of 251.6, while another Indian Mehuli Ghosh settled for a Silver with 250.2 points.
  • India also clinched a Gold in the team section by creating a junior world record.
  • India remain at the top of the medals tally with 14 medals, six Gold, six Silver and two Bronze. China is second with two Gold and a total of six medals.

India is home to 1,256 species of orchid, says first comprehensive survey

  • The Botanical Survey of India has come up with the first comprehensive census of orchids of India putting the total number of orchid species or taxa to 1,256. The 1,256 species or taxa of orchids belong to 155 genera and 388 species are endemic to India.
  • Orchids can be broadly categorised into three life forms: epiphytic (plants growing on another plants including those growing on rock boulders and often termed lithophyte), terrestrial (plants growing on land and climbers) and mycoheterotrophic (plants which derive nutrients from mycorrhizal fungi that are attached to the roots of a vascular plant).
  • About 60% of all orchids found in the country, which is 757 species, are epiphytic, 447 are terrestrial and 43 are mycoheterotrophic.
  • The Himalayas, North-East parts of the country and Western Ghats are the hot-spots of the beautiful plant species.
  • The highest number of orchid species is recorded from Arunachal Pradesh with 612 species, followed by Sikkim 560 species and West Bengal; Darjeeling Himalayas have also high species concentration, with 479 species.
  • While north-east India rank at the top in species concentration, the Western Ghats have high endemism of orchids.

Indian youth boxers clinch 4 silver medals at Serbian Tourney

  • Indian youth boxers clinched four Silver and a bronze medal at the 37th Golden Glove of Vojvodina International Tournament held in Serbia.
  • Seloy Soy, Bilotson L Singh, Ajay Kumar and Vijaydeep fetched silver medals after going down in their respective final bouts.

International drug dealers behind Easter Sunday attacks: Sri Lankan President

  • Sri Lankan President Maithripala Sirisena has asserted that international drug dealers were behind the Easter Sunday attacks as he continued with his anti-drug drive.
  • These comments came as the President has taken a tough stand against drug traffickers and ordered death penalty be implemented for four accused but the matter has been stayed by court amidst opposition by some political parties and international organizations.
  • However, investigations so far have revealed that the Easter Sunday attacks were carried out by local fundamentalist groups though ISIS had claimed responsibility for it.

ISRO calls off Chandrayaan 2 launch due to technical glitch

  • India’s ambitious second lunar mission, Chandrayaan 2, suffered a temporary setback in the early hours of Monday, with the launch of the rocket being aborted 56 minutes before the scheduled lift-off.
  • The mission was aimed at putting a rover on the moon’s South Pole, where no country has gone before.

Kalraj Mishra appointed Himachal Pradesh Governor, Acharya Devvrat shifted to Gujarat

  • Senior BJP leader Kalraj Mishra has been appointed as the Governor of Himachal Pradesh, replacing Acharya Devvrat, who has been transferred and appointed as the Governor of Gujarat.
  • Mr. Devvrat will replace Governor of Gujarat O.P. Kohli,
  • Mr. Mishra had resigned from the Narendra Modi-led government as Minister for Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises in 2017 after he crossed the age of 75, the BJP’s unofficial age limit for holding an elected post.

Kohli, Bumrah retain top spots in ICC ODI rankings

  • Indian skipper Virat Kohli and Jasprit Bumrah have retained their number one position in the ICC batsmen and bowlers' rankings for the One-Day Internationals, following the conclusion of the World Cup.
  • In the team Rankings, England have increased their lead over India to three points after their maiden World Cup triumph.

PV Sindhu to spearhead Indian campaign at Indonesia Open Badminton

  • Indian shuttler PV Sindhu will spearhead the Indian campaign at the Indonesia Open Badminton tournament beginning in Jakarta.
  • Sindhu will play her opening game against Japan's Aya Ohori. Saina Nehwal is not taking part in the tournament.
  • Kidambi Srikanth, B. Sai Praneeth and HS Prannoy are the other Indians who will be seen in action in the Singles.
  • Ashwini Ponnappa, N. Sikki Reddy, Satwiksairaj Rankireddy and Chirag Shetty are among those who will figure in the Doubles.

RBI fines Union Bank, SBI for flouting norms

  • The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) has penalised State Bank of India and Union Bank of India for violating certain regulatory guidelines.
  • SBI was fined Rs.7 crore for non-compliance with the directions issued by the RBI on Income Recognition and Asset Classification (IRAC) norms.
  • It also imposed a Rs.10-lakh fine on Union Bank for non-compliance with the directions on the cybersecurity framework in banks issued by the RBI.

SC commences exercise to collect nation-wide data on child rape

  • The Supreme Court has commenced a 10-day nation-wide exercise to collect data on sexual assault on children for effective and expeditious prosecution of offenders. The court has taken note of the alarming rise in the number of rape incidents against children and said it will pass directions to ensure a concerted and clear national response.
  • A bench, headed by Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi, has sought an extensive report on the number of pending cases under the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act, in each district.
  • The court said, the exercise should be completed within ten days and fixed the case for deliberations on the 25th of this month.

Trade deficit shrinks 8% in June

  • According to the the Commerce Ministry data, India’s trade deficit narrowed by nearly 8% to $15.28 billion during the last month, as against $16.6 billion in June 2018,
  • In June 2019, merchandise exports fell nearly 10% to $25.01 billion as against $27.70 billion in the year-ago month.
  • In rupee terms, exports stood at Rs.1,73,682.55 crore, down 7.52% from Rs.1,87,800.20 crore in June 2018.
  • Merchandise imports too declined during the month under review from $44.30 billion to $40.29 billion, a fall of 9.06%.

World Youth Skills Day observed on July 15

  • World Youth Skills Day is observed on July 15 every year to raise awareness about the importance of youth skills development.
  • The United Nations, at its General Assembly in November 2014, declared 15 July as World Youth Skills Day
  • Some 73 million young people are currently unemployed, with 40 million joining the labour market each year. To tackle the problem, at least 475 million new jobs need to be created over the next decade.

WPI inflation eases to 2% in June

  • Wholesale inflation cooled to a 23-month low of 2.02% in June from 2.45% in May as prices rose at a slower pace for vegetables and manufactured products, and dropped for fuel and power.
  • Inflation in vegetables softened to 24.76% in the past month from 33.15% in May and in manufactured items to 0.94% from 1.28%
  • Fuel and power wholesale prices shrank 2.2% in June from a year ago from an expansion of 0.98% the previous month.
  • The government revised the wholesale inflation for April to 3.24% from the provisional rate of 3.07% announced earlier.

Zimbabwe annual inflation rate hits 175 pc in June

  • Zimbabwe's annual inflation rate hit 175 per cent in June, stoking fears of a return of the hyperinflation that wiped out savings ten years ago when the economy collapsed.
  • The Zimbabwe National Statistical Agency said the year-on-year inflation rate for the month of June as measured by the all items consumer price index stood at 175.66 per cent while that of May was 97.85 per cent.
  • Supplies of essentials such as bread, medicine and petrol are regularly running short in the country.
  • The US dollar has been the national currency since 2009.