Current Affairs: 20 May 2017

Important Days

World Metrology Day - 20 May

  • World Metrology Day is an annual celebration of the signature of the Metre Convention on 20 May 1875 by representatives of seventeen nations. 
  • The Convention set the framework for global collaboration in the science of measurement and in its industrial, commercial and societal applications. 
  • The original aim of the Metre Convention - the world-wide uniformity of measurement - remains as important today as it was in 1875.
  • The theme for World Metrology Day 2017 is Measurements for transport. 
  • This theme was chosen because transport plays such a key role in the modern world.

National Events

GST rates announced; milk, cereals to be exempted

  • The Goods and Services (GST) Council agreed on the fitment of almost all commodities in the various tax slabs under the new indirect regime to be rolled out on July 1.
  • Rates of GST
  • Milk, cereals (unpackaged and unbranded), and jaggery- Exempted 
  • sugar, tea, coffee (except instant), and edible oil - 5%
  • Common use items such as soap, toothpaste, and hair oil- 18%
  • Coal- 5%
  • Consumer durables- 28%
  • Capital goods and industrial intermediaries- 18%
  • Capital goods and industrial intermediaries- 28% with small petrol cars attracting a cess of 1% and small diesel cars 3%. Luxury cars will attract a 15% cess in addition to 28% GST. 

Srinagar Gets First Semi-Mechanised Car Parking Facility

  • Coming as a relief to the commuters and vehicle owners moving through the busy Lal Chowk area of Srinagar city, Chief Minister, Mehbooba Mufti inaugurated a semi-mechanized car parking facility at the old KMD stand on the M. A. Road
  • The car parking facility would be first of its kind in the State, given the technology used in the project.
  • This car parking facility would be first of its kind in the State as most of the operations done during car parking would be automatic, including collection of fee and receipts. 
  • The drivers will have to just place their vehicles over the automated pellet and it would be automatically placed in the available vacant slot. 
  • The vehicle would similarly be retrieved back in the same manner on the automated pellet. 
  • The whole process would take around two minutes and would be undertaken with the help of an imported Logic Control Unit.

Hyderabad’s Turbo Megha Airways first private airline to get UDAN licence

  • Turbo Megha Airways has become the first private airline to get a licence to fly under UDAN, the government scheme for subsidized regional flights.
  • The Hyderabad-based airline, which flies as TruJet, last month said it will launch flights on Hyderabad-Cuddapah, Hyderabad-Nanded and Nanded-Mumbai routes.
  • TruJet is one of the five operators who have been awarded a total of 128 routes under the UDAN scheme. 
  • The airline will use three ATR-72 aircraft, and will add more planes later.

Green Court NGT Bans Open Defecation, Waste Dumping On Yamuna Floodplains

  • The National Green Tribunal or NGT has banned open defecation and dumping of waste on the floodplains of the Yamuna river and announced an environment compensation or penalty of Rs. 5,000 for those who violated the rule.
  • A bench headed by NGT Chairperson Justice Swatanter Kumar also constituted a committee headed by Delhi Jal Board CEO to oversee the execution of work pertaining to the cleaning of the river and asked it to submit reports at regular intervals.
  • The green panel noted that almost 67 per cent of the pollution reaching the Yamuna would be treated by the two sewage treatment plants (STP) located at Delhi Gate and Najafgarh under Phase 1 of the 'Maili se Nirmal (Dirty to Pure) Yamuna Revitalisation Project 2017'.

International Events

India ranks at 154, below SriLanka and Bangladesh, on healthcare index

  • According to the Global Burden of Disease Study published in the Lancet, India continues to be a poor performer in terms of access to healthcare. Ranking below countries like China, Sri Lanka, and even Bangaldesh, the study points at India’s failure in achieving healthcare goals.
  • However, the country’s score has increased by 14.1 points in the healthcare index , from 30.7 in 1990 to 44.8 in 2015. Diseases like tuberculosis, diabetes, rheumatic heart diseases, and chronic kidney diseases, and the lack of access to proper means to treat them were causes of concern.
  • India ranks above Pakistan, which has scored 43. This reports also targets the growing inequality between countries, 
  • The average growth in expenditure on total healthcare is not only lower than the average annual GDP growth rate, but the expenditure is also still lower (as a percentage of GDP) than the expenditure of many developing and low-income countries.

China, ASEAN agree on framework for South China Sea code of conduct

  • China and South-east Asian countries agreed to a framework for a long-mooted code of conduct for the disputed the South China Sea
  • China and the members of the Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN) had been hoping to agree on the framework this year, 15 years after committing to draft it.
  • After a meeting between Chinese and ASEAN officials in the Chinese city of Guiyang, China's foreign ministry said the framework had been agreed upon, but gave no details of its contents.
  • Some ASEAN diplomats have expressed concern about whether China is being sincere, or whether ASEAN has enough leverage to get China to commit to a set of rules.
  • Some South-east Asian countries, including Vietnam and the Philippines, as well as the United States, have expressed concern at what they see as China's militarization of the South China Sea, including building air strips on man-made islands.

Business & Finance

Tata most valuable brand, Airtel at number 2

  • The House of Tatas has retained its position as India’s leading brand in valuation firm Brand Finance’s annual study of the country’s top 100 names. 
  • Among the other brands in the top 10 list for 2017 are 
  • Airtel : (brand value: $7.7 billion), 
  • LIC : brand value: $6.8 billion), 
  • Infosys: Brand Value $6.2 billion, 
  • SBI: Brand Value $5.5 billion, 
  • Reliance: Brand Value $4.8 billion 
  • L&T Brand Value $4.6 billion), 
  • Indian Oil Brand Value $4.5 billio, 
  • HCL Brand Value $4.4 billion 
  • Mahindra: Brand Value $3.5 billion

Flipkart, Paytm, Ola among India’s top employers: LinkedIn study

  • For all the negative news flow around the sector, home-grown consumer internet ventures like Flipkart, Paytm, Ola and OYO Rooms remain the most sought-after Indian employers, according to a study by professional networking site LinkedIn.
  • Called Top Attractors 2016, the list features India’s best employers based on exclusive LinkedIn data, including job-seeker reach, engagement and retention.

Top 5

1. Flipkart
2. Amazon
3. One97 Communications Ltd
4.  Paytm
5. Ola
  • Of the 25 companies in the list, as many as 13 are Indian, including tech multinationals and startups, which hints at a paradigm shift in job-seekers’ preferences.

Science & Technology

First human antibodies to work against all ebolaviruses

  • After analysing the blood of a survivor of the 2013-16 Ebola outbreak, a team of scientists from academia, industry and the government has discovered the first natural human antibodies that can neutralize and protect animals against all three major disease-causing ebolaviruses. 
  • The findings could lead to the first broadly effective ebolavirus therapies and vaccines.
  • Ebolaviruses infections are usually severe, and often fatal. 
  • There are no vaccines or treatments approved by the Food and Drug Administration for treating these viruses
  • Monoclonal antibodies, which bind to and neutralize specific pathogens and toxins, have emerged as one of the most promising treatments for Ebola patients. 
  • A critical problem, however, is that most antibody therapies target just one specific ebolavirus. 
  • For example, the most advanced therapy -- ZMappTM, a cocktail of three monoclonal antibodies -- is specific for Ebola virus (formerly known as "Ebola Zaire"), but doesn't work against two related ebolaviruses (Sudan virus and Bundibugyo virus) that have also caused major outbreaks.

Awards & Honours

Prestigious Whitley Award for Sanjay Gubbi

  • Sanjay Gubbi of Karnataka and Purnima Barman of Assam have won the prestigious Whitley Award, popularly known as Green Oscars, for their efforts in wildlife conservation.
  • The awards are instituted by the U.K.-registered charity Whitley Fund for Nature, which supports nature conservationists in their endeavour to conserve wildlife and nature. 
  • While Mr. Gubbi has been awarded for his work to protect tiger corridors in Karnataka, Ms. Barman has won the award for her work in conservation of Assam’s Greater Adjutant Stork and its habitat. 

ISRO conferred 2014 Indira Gandhi Peace Prize for historic Mars mission

  • The Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) was presented with the Indira Gandhi Prize for Peace, Disarmament and Development for 2014 at a function in New Delhi.
  • In recognition of its path-breaking achievements, culminating in the Mars Orbiter Mission (MOM), also loving called 'Mangalyaan', ISRO was awarded the Prize, which was announced in the year 2014, for its significant contributions in strengthening international cooperation in the peaceful use of outer space etc.
  • The award consists of a trophy made of banded Haematite Jasper, with a portrait of the late Prime Minister in the tradition of Jaipur miniature paintings, a cash award of Rs 1 Crore and a Citation.
  • Mangalyaan, India's first interplanetary mission, has been orbiting Mars since its arrival at the Red Planet's orbit on September 24, 2014.
  • ISRO created history in space after Mangalyaan successfully entered the Martian orbit in its first attempt, becoming the first space agency in the world to do so.

Sanjeev Gupta bags prestigious 'CEO of the Year' award in UK

  • Britain's Indian-origin steel tycoon Sanjeev Gupta has bagged a top global award for his successful acquisitions and his drive to transform the steel industry in the UK, India and beyond.
  • Gupta, the executive chairman of the Liberty House Group who has been behind a series of acquisitions in the British steel industry of former Tata Steel and Caparo assets, received the title "CEO of the Year" at the prestigious Platts Global Metals Awards in London

Books & Authors

President of India Receives First Copy of Book ‘Metaphysics, Morals and Politics’

  • The President of India, Shri Pranab Mukherjee received the first copy of book ‘Metaphysics, Morals and Politics’ from Prof. Amal Kumar Mukhopadhya In 1965, on the basis of his thesis, Prof. Mukhopadhyay was awarded Ph.D. degree by London University. 
  • His thesis was published in a book titled ‘The Ethics of Obedience’. Later, he decided to bring out his original thesis contradicting and elaborating some of his earlier arguments. 
  • Now, the book has come with a new title ‘Metaphysics, Morals and Politics’. 

PM Modi releases book written by Dr. MS Swaminathan

  • The Prime Minister, Shri Narendra Modi, today released a two-part book series on the eminent agricultural scientist Dr. M.S. Swaminathan. 
  • The series is titled - M.S. Swaminathan: The Quest for a world without hunger. Several Union Ministers and other dignitaries were present on the occasion.
  • Mankombu Sambasivan Swaminathan (born on 7 August 1925) is an Indian geneticist and international administrator, renowned for his leading role in India's Green Revolution a program under which high-yield varieties of wheat and rice seedlings were planted in the fields of poor farmers. 
  • Swaminathan is known as "Indian Father of Green Revolution" for his leadership and success in introducing and further developing high-yielding varieties of wheat in India. He is the founder and chairman of the MS Swaminathan Research Foundation.
  • His stated vision is to rid the world of hunger and poverty.
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