Current Affairs: 8 August 2017

National Events

Second phase of measles-rubella vaccination drive launched in eight states

  • Aiming to eliminate measles and curb instances of rubella by 2020, the Centre has rolled out the second phase of its measles-rubella (MR) vaccination campaign in the country.
  • Nearly 3.4 crore children across eight states and union territories — Andhra Pradesh, Chandigarh, Himachal Pradesh, Kerala, Telangana, Uttarakhand, Dadra and Nagar Haveli and Daman and Diu — will be covered in this stage.
  • While measles is a viral infection that can be fatal, congenital rubella syndrome is responsible for irreversible birth defects. The Union health ministry’s campaign against the two diseases intends to cover approximately 41 crore children in a phased manner, making it the largest-ever worldwide.
  • The first phase of the campaign was launched across five states — Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, Goa, Lakshadweep and Puducherry — in February this year.

Govt declares entire Assam as ‘disturbed’ area under AFSPA for another month


  • The Centre has declared entire Assam as a “disturbed” area under the controversial Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act (AFSPA) for one more month, citing various violent activities by insurgent groups ULFA, NDFB, and others.
  • The Union home ministry also declared Meghalaya’s border areas adjoining Assam, and three districts in Arunachal Pradesh as “disturbed” under the AFSPA for two more months with effect from August 3.
  • In separate gazette notifications, the home ministry said the entire Assam, has been declared “disturbed” under the AFSPA with effect from August 3 till August 31.
  • The ministry said the 20 km belt in Meghalaya bordering Assam will also continue to be a “disturbed area” under the AFSPA with effect from August 3 to September 30.

NCRB merged with bureau of police research

  • In a debatable move, the government merged the National Crimes Records Bureau (NCRB) - which, over the years, has been the principal source of reference by policy makers, police, criminologists, researchers and media - both in India and abroad, with the Bureau of Police Research and Development(BPR&D).
  • The ministry of home affairs issued an order on Friday evening placing NCRB's functions under the Director General of BPR&D, who will now oversee all the data collection related to Crime in India, Accidental Deaths and Suicides, Prison Statistics and Fingerprints.
  • Sources say that BPR&D has been given charge of NCRB so that there is more research based and methodological data collection in future as data collection by NCRB as of now was that of taken from states and sometimes inaccurate.
  • It was felt that if the researchers of BPR&D, which conducts its own researches and commissions many to private institutes/bodies to study the crime patterns, policing and other related aspects, and statisticians of NCRB work together, there will be more accurate and research based data collection

Luxury cars, SUVs to cost more as GST Council approves cess hike

  • Sports utility vehicles (SUVs) and luxury cars, which became cheaper after the 1 July rollout of the goods and services tax (GST), may cost more with the GST Council, federal indirect tax body, planning to raise cess on them from 15% now to up to 25%.
  • The proposal to raise the ceiling of cess covers large motor vehicles with capacity for 10-13 persons, mid segment and large cars, sports utility vehicles, mid segment hybrid cars and other hybrid vehicles, all of which at present attract 15% cess. However, it is not clear if cess will be raised on small petrol cars which at present attract 1% cess and and diesel cars bearing 3% cess, although they fall under the same heading in the tax manual as the other cars.

August 15 to be celebrated as ‘Sankalp Parva’: Govt

  • The Centre has decided to observe this Independence Day as ‘Sankalp Parva’ and asked the people to dedicate themselves to social causes and share their ideas to make a new India.
  • Terming ‘Quit India Movement’ as an important milestone, the government has asked people to take a pledge to create a new India that is strong, prosperous and inclusive.
  • The Quit India Movement or ‘August Kranti’ began on August 9, 1942. “Under the leadership of Mahatma Gandhi, people across India, in every village, city, transcending all barriers came together with a common mission to uproot imperialism,

Sports

Ankur Mittal wins gold in Asian Shotgun Championship

  • Indian shooter Ankur Mittal clinched the individual as well as the team gold medal in men's double trap at the 7th Asian Shotgun Championship in Astana, Kazakhstan on Saturday.
  • Mittal shot 71 in the six-man final to finish at the top of the podium.
  • With scores of Sangram Dahiya (43) and Mohammad Asab (34) added to Mittal's final total, India managed to bag the top prize in the team event too.
  • In the individual event, Dahiya finished fourth, while Asab had to contend with the fifth position.

Banking & Finance

Mastercard, PayPal expand partnership into Asia Pacific

  • Mastercard and PayPal have extended their partnership into Asia Pacific to enhance the consumer experience and make Mastercard a clear payment option with PayPal.
  • The deal will expand PayPal's presence at the point of sale and enable Masterpass for Braintree merchants in the region. Additionally, both companies will collaborate to create opportunities to leverage Mastercard's new payment flow technologies, providing increased value to Mastercard cardholders, financial institutions, and PayPal customers.
  • PayPal will also have the opportunity to give consumers and small businesses across Asia Pacific the ability to cash out funds held in their PayPal accounts to a Mastercard debit card.

Awards & Achievements

Indian philanthropist honoured by UAE govt

  • An Indian businessman in the UAE, who has spent over USD 4 million to help free prisoners languishing in jails due to non-payment of debts, has been honoured with the country’s prestigious Community Service Medal.
  • Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Interior of the UAE, Lt General HH Sheikh Saif bin Zayed Al Nahyan, honoured Indian businessman and philanthropist Firoz Merchant with the Community Service Medal 
  • This is the first time any expatriate community member has been given this prestigious award.
  • Since 2008, Merchant, founder and chairman of Pure Gold Jewellers, has spent Dh 15 million (USD 4.08 million) in paying off the debts of 10,940 prisoners languishing in the country’s jails due to non-payment of debts.

Science & Technology

Hubble detects Exoplanet with glowing water atmosphere

  • An international team of researchers, led by the University of Exeter, made the new discovery by observing glowing water molecules in the atmosphere of the exoplanet WASP-121b with NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope.
  • In order to study the gas giant’s stratosphere - a layer of atmosphere where temperature increases with higher altitudes - scientists used spectroscopy to analyse how the planet’s brightness changed at different wavelengths of light.
  • Water vapour in the planet's atmosphere, for example, behaves in predictable ways in response to different wavelengths of light, depending on the temperature of the water. At cooler temperatures, water vapour in the planet’s upper atmosphere blocks light of specific wavelengths radiating from deeper layers towards space. But at higher temperatures, the water molecules in the upper atmosphere glow at these wavelengths instead.
  • WASP-121b, located approximately 900 light years from Earth, is a gas giant exoplanet commonly referred to as a ‘hot Jupiter’, although with a greater mass and radius than Jupiter, making it much puffier. The exoplanet orbits its host star every 1.3 days, and is around the closest distance it could be before the star's gravity would start ripping it apart.
  • This close proximity also means that the top of the atmosphere is heated to a blazing hot 2,500 degrees Celsius – the temperature at which iron exists in gas rather than solid form.

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