Daily Current Affairs - 22nd Aug 2019

Ajay Kumar appointed as Defence Secretary

  • The Union government has appointed Ajay Kumar as Defence Secretary. Ajay Kumar, is a 1985 batch IAS officer of Kerala cadre and is currently serving as Secretary, Department of Defence Production.
  • He will succeed Sanjay Mitra, upon completion of his term.
  • Meanwhile Brij Kumar Agarwal has been appointed as Secretary to the Lokpal and Subash Chandra as Secretary of Department of Defence Production.

Amazon opens its largest office building globally in Hyderabad

  • E-commerce giant Amazon formally opened its largest campus building anywhere globally in Hyderabad, a facility spread over 9.5 acres and comprising three million square feet of built up area.
  • The new campus is Amazon’s first owned office building outside the U.S. and is the single largest building globally. The office space of 1.8 million sq ft can seat 15,000 people.

Babulal Gaur, Former Madhya Pradesh CM and Veteran BJP Leader, Dies After Cardiac Arrest

  • Former Madhya Pradesh chief minister and senior BJP leader Babulal Gaur passed away at a private hospital here after prolonged illness. The veteran BJP leader served as Madhya Pradesh chief minister from 2004-2005 and represented his traditional Govindpura Vidhan Sabha seat 10 times.

Dairy co-ops asked to halve plastic use

  • The Central government has asked all milk cooperatives and private dairies to halve plastic usage by October 2, by subsidising one litre packs to discourage the use of 500 ml packs and by offering a rebate to customers who return the plastic pouches which can then be recycled.
  • The milk industry is one of the largest users of single use plastics, with the growing use of disposable pouches replacing milk vendors and vending machines in many areas. Milk cooperatives generates about 2.8 crore plastic packets per day.

Fifth Meeting of India-Nepal Joint Commission concludes successfully in Kathmandu

  • The Fifth Meeting of India-Nepal Joint Commission was successfully concluded in Kathmandu. The meeting was co-chaired by Indian External Affairs Minister Dr. S. Jaishankar and Nepal's Minister for Foreign Affairs Pradeep Kumar Gyawali.
  • The Joint Commission reviewed the entire gamut of bilateral relations especially connectivity and economic partnership; trade and transit; power and water resources and culture and education.
  • A Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) on Food Safety and Standards between Food Safety and Standards Authority of India(FSSAI) and Department of Food Technology and Quality Control (DFTQC) of Nepal was signed and exchanged in the presence of the two Ministers.

Government launches programme to train teachers

  • The Human Resource Development Ministry kicked off the National Initiative for School Heads' and Teachers' Holistic Advancement (NISHTHA), calling it the world’s largest teacher training programme.
  • More than 42 lakh teachers and principals of primary and elementary-age government schools across the country will undergo a five-day training programme over the next few months to learn innovative teaching methods, the use of art and technology in the classroom and basic counselling techniques.

Govt to make FASTag mandatory for all vehicles from Dec 2019

  • Road Transport and Highways Minister Nitin Gadkari has announced that FASTags will become mandatory for all vehicles from December this year. FASTag enabled vehicles can cruise through the dedicated FASTag lane without stopping at toll plazas on National Highways.
  • FASTags are being issued by 22 certified banks through various channels such as Point-of-Sale at NH toll plazas and selected bank branches.

IMF executive board recommends scrapping age limit for Georgieva

  • The International Monetary Fund said that its executive board recommended the removal of the age limit for its managing director, a move needed for European nominee Kristalina Georgieva to be approved for the job.
  • The IMF said its 24-member executive board recommended that the change be approved by the IMF board of governors, which includes representatives from all 189 member countries. It would bring the IMF in line with the World Bank Group, which has no leadership age limit.
  • IMF rules currently require that managing directors be under 65 at the time they take office and cannot serve past their 70th birthdays. Georgieva, who has taken a leave of absence as the World Bank’s chief executive officer, turned 66 last week.
  • Georgieva was nominated by European Union countries in early August as a compromise candidate after deep disagreements over other candidates and multiple rounds of voting.
  • The IMF has been run by a European since its founding at the end of World War Two. Departing Managing Director Christine Lagarde, a former French finance minister, is due to take over as European Central Bank governor in November.

India to take on West Indies in opening match of World Test C'ship

  • India will take on West Indies in their inaugural World Test Championship opener at North Sound in Antigua. The match will be played at Sir Vivian Richards Stadium in Antigua which is known as Pacer Freindly where Kohli and his men will be facing the Windies first Test.

Indian men's and women's hockey teams win Olympic Test event at Tokyo

  • Both the Indian Women's and Men's hockey teams have won the Olympic Test event in Tokyo. Women's team defeated Japan 2-1 in the finals.
  • Indian men's hockey team also won the Olympic Test event beating New Zealand 5-0.

Madhya Pradesh para swimmer Satendra Singh Lohia crosses America's Catalina Channel

  • Divyang Satendra Singh Lohia from Madhya Pradesh has become the first Asian swimmer to cross the Catalina Channel of America. Satendra holds the Asian record of crossing both the English and Catalina channels.
  • Satendra led the Indian Para Relay team along with five team mates and crossed the Catalina Channel in 11 hours 34 minutes. At that time, the water temperature was around 13 degrees Celsius.

Meet Cerebras Wafer Scale Engine, the world’s largest processor

  • Cerebras Systems, a startup dedicated to accelerating Artificial intelligence (AI) compute, has unveiled the largest chip ever built, Cerebras Wafer Scale Engine (WSE).
  • The Cerebras Wafer Scale Engine (WSE) is a single chip that contains more than 1.2 trillion transistors and is 46,225 square millimeters. The WSE is 56.7 times larger than the largest graphics processing unit which measures 815 square millimeters and 21.1 billion transistors.
  • The WSE also contains 3,000 times more high speed, on-chip memory, and has 10,000 times more memory bandwidth.

New health warnings on tobacco products packs from Sep 1

  • The Centre has notified new sets of health warnings for all tobacco products by making an amendment in the Cigarettes and other Tobacco Products (Packaging and Labeling) Rules, 2008.
  • The Union Health Ministry said, the new warnings will come into effect from 1st of next month. The text messages that will be printed on the packs are - tobacco causes painful death.
  • A national toll-free number - 1800-11-2356 will also be printed on packs to assist the users to quit.

P V Sindhu advances to second round at BWF World Championships

  • P V Sindhu outsmarted Chinese Taipei's Pai Yu Po 21-14 21-14 in her opening match at the BWF World Championships at Basel in Switzerland. She is likely to face USA's Beiwen Zhang, seeded ninth, in the pre-quarterfinals.

Panel to study corporatisation of Ordnance Factory Board

  • The Government is set to form a high level committee to examine the aspects of corporatisation of the Ordnance Factory Board (OFB) and work out the modalities. The Kolkata-headquartered OFB with 41 factories spread across the country functions under the Department of Defence Production.

Paytm retains BCCI title sponsorship rights till 2023 for Rs 326.8 crore

  • Paytm, the e-commerce payment system and digital wallet company, will continue as the title sponsor of the Indian cricket board’s domestic and international matches for the next five years.
  • The Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) announced that the bid from One 97 Communications, holding company of Paytm, of Rs 326.80 crore was the winning bid.
  • At Rs 3.80 crore per match, Paytm’s bid was at 58% incremental value in comparison to the previous per match value of Rs 2.4 crore.
  • The new deal will be effective September 15, when the South African team will visit India.
  • Founder & CEO, Paytm: Vijay Shekhar Sharma.

Rafat Habib stuns reigning champion Alok, enters semis in Snooker Championship

  • Rafat Habib of Railways defeated defending champion Alok Kumar of ONGC recording a stunning 4-2 victory in the best-of-7 frame quarter-final match of the Third Masters National Snooker Championship in Mumbai.
  • Habib will meet Maharashtra's Cherag Ramakrishnan in the semi-final.

Railways directed all its units to enforce ban on single use plastic from October 2

  • Ministry of Railways has directed all its units to enforce ban on single use plastic material, with less than 50 micron thickness from October 2nd this year. This move came in the wake of Prime Minister Narendra Modi's clarion call to eliminate single use plastic in the country.
  • All vendors and staff across will be encouraged to use reusable bags to reduce plastic footprint.

Rajiv Gauba appointed new Cabinet Secretary

  • Union Home Secretary Rajiv Gauba will be the new Cabinet Secretary. Mr Gauba who is a 1982 batch IAS officer of Jharkhand cadre will replace P.K. Sinha.
  • The Appointments Committee of the Cabinet has approved the appointment of Mr Gauba as the Cabinet Secretary with a tenure of two years from 30th of this month.

RBI allows e-mandate for cards

  • The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) has decided to permit processing of e-mandate on cards for recurring transactions with additional factor authentication (AFA) during registration.
  • This will be applicable for transactions done using all types of cards — debit and credit cards and Prepaid Payment Instruments, including wallets. The maximum limit for such a transaction will be ?2,000.
  • While processing the first transaction in e-mandate-based recurring transaction series, AFA validation shall be performed.
  • The banking regulator further said that subsequent recurring transactions will be performed only for those cards which have been successfully registered and for which the first transaction was successfully authenticated and authorised.

SEBI simplifies norms for foreign investors

  • The Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI) has simplified the compliance and operational requirements for foreign portfolio investors (FPIs), to make the regulatory framework more investor friendly.
  • SEBI decided to do away with the requirement that every FPI should have at least 20 investors — known as broad-based in regulatory parlance, while simplifying the KYC (or Know-Your-Customer) document requirement for overseas investors.

Sheikh Hasina, Sania Mirza to co-chair WEF's India Economic Summit

  • Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina and tennis star Sania Mirza will be among co-chairs for India Economic Summit to be held in India in October by the World Economic Forum, where hundreds of Indian and global leaders would discuss India's role in South Asia and on the world stage.
  • Hasina and Mirza will be joined by Singapore's Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister Heng Swee Keat, Apollo Hospitals Enterprise's Executive Vice-Chairperson Shobana Kamineni and Sequoia Capital India's Managing Director Shailendra Singh as other co-chairs.
  • The two-day summit, scheduled for October 3-4, will be held by Geneva-based WEF in collaboration with industry body CII (Confederation of Indian Industry) under the theme of 'Innovating for India: Strengthening South Asia, Impacting the World'.

US approves possible 8 billion Dollar sale of F-16 fighter jets to Taiwan

  • The U.S. State Department has approved a possible 8 billion Dollar sale of F-16 fighter jets to Taiwan. The US Defence Security Cooperation Agency said the potential deal is for 66 aircraft, 75 General Electric Co engines, as well as other systems.
  • The sale would serve the interests of the United States and help Taiwan to maintain a credible defence.