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Current Affairs Today – 23rd July 2020

NEWS AT A GLANCE

  1. In India, the “National Broadcasting Day” is observed on July 23 every year, to celebrate the radio, which has been an important part in people’s life in India, both as an easy medium of entertainment along with news.
  2. The Indian economy is expected to contract by 6.1 percent in the current fiscal (2020-21), as per the Japanese financial services firm Nomura.
  3. The subscriber base for Employees’ Provident Fund Organization- EPFO has grown by 3.18 lakh new net members during May 2020. It has registered 218 per cent month on month growth.
  4. Union Home Minister Amit Shah is to launch Vriksharopan Abhiyan in New Delhi on 23 July.
  5. Environment Minister Prakash Javadekar today virtually launched piloting of the National Transit Pass System at Indira Paryavaran Bhawan in Delhi.
  6. South Korea launched its first-ever military communications satellite “ANASIS-II” by private operator SpaceX on 21 July 2020.
  7. A Dubai-based Indian girl has broken the world record for performing 100 yoga poses within minutes in a confined space.
  8. China successfully launched a rover to Mars on 23 July 2020, which is another milestone for its space programme
  9. Ministry of Chemicals and Fertilizers stated that HIL (India) Limited, a PSU under the Ministry, has supplied 20.60 Metric tonnes (MT) of DDT (dichloro-diphenyl-trichloroethane) 75% WP to South Africa for their Malaria control program on 22 July 2020.
  10. The 75th United Nations General Assembly is to be conducted virtually in 2020 for the first time in its history.
  11. The Punjab government has signed an agreement with the Indian Institute of Technology, Ropar, in the area of skill development.
  12. Flipkart announced the acquisition of Walmart India.
  13. Indian Council of Forestry Research and Education (ICFRE) awarded Kannan C S Warrier, Senior principal of Institute of Forest Genetics and Tree Breeding (IFGTB) scientist, the National Award of Excellence for Outstanding Research in Forestry for the year 2019.
  14. Sumit Deb has been appointed as the Chairman and Managing Director (CMD) of National Mineral Development Corporation (NMDC). Deb is presently serving as Director (Personnel) in the NMDC.
  15. Prakash Chandra Kandpal has been appointed as the managing director and chief executive officer of the Non-life insurer SBI General Insurance.
  16. The Director General of Railway Protection Force (RPF), Arun Kumar has been nominated as the Vice-Chairman of UIC
  17. India’s High Commissioner to Bangladesh, Riva Ganguly Das is appointed by the Government as the Secretary East, in the Ministry of External Affairs.
  18. The Deputy Commissioner of Mumbai Customs Sahil Seth was appointed as the honorary adviser of steering committee for BRICS Chamber of Commerce and Industry (CCI).
  19. The Indian armed forces successfully test-fired the helicopter-launched Nag Missile Dhruvastra anti-tank guided missile, erstwhile called Helina, indirect and top attack mode.
  20. The Ministry of Defence has signed Rs 557 crore contract with Bharat Earth Movers Limited (BEML) for procurement of 1,512 mine plough (MP) for the Indian Army.
  21. N. Bose National Centre For Basic Sciences (SNBNCBS), Kolkata, has developed an active respirator mask with attached exhalation valve and suspended particulate matter filter for comfortable and hygienic breathing while wearing masks.
  22. The human trial of COVID-19 vaccine candidate developed by the University of Oxford and backed by AstraZeneca Plc has shown a positive result.
  23. Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) has established a COVID-19 testing facility at the Leh based laboratory Defence Institute of High Altitude Research (DIHAR).
  24. The researchers of Dalhousie University have come up with a new app that can detect mental conditions like anxiety and depression based on how you use your phone.
  25. Actor Sonu Sood launched “Pravasi Rojgar App”. The application provides all necessary information to find jobs and offer specific job training programmes.
  26. In Odisha’s Balasore district, a farmer Basudev Mahapatra has spotted a turtle which is yellow in colour and according to the experts, it is the product of albinism.

NEWS IN DETAILS

IMPORTANT DAYS AND THEMES

National Broadcasting Day Observed on 23 July

  • In India, the “National Broadcasting Day” is observed on July 23 every year, to celebrate the radio, which has been an important part in people’s life in India, both as an easy medium of entertainment along with news.
  • On this day in 1927, the first ever radio broadcast in the country went on the air from the Bombay Station under the Indian Broadcasting Company.
  • On 8th of June, 1936, the Indian State Broadcasting Service became All India Radio.

BUSINESS & ECONOMY

Nomura estimates India’s GDP to contract by 6.1% in FY21

  • The Indian economy is expected to contract by 6.1 percent in the current fiscal (2020-21), as per the Japanese financial services firm Nomura.
  • The contraction in the GDP is due to the Covid-19 pandemic, which has impacted both supply and demand forces in the economy since March 2020.

Extra Shots:

Nomura:

  • CEO: Koji Nagai
  • Headquarters: Tokyo, Japan
  • Founder: Tokushichi Nomura II
  • Founded: 25 December 1925, Osaka, Osaka, Japan

EPFO registers 3.18 lakh new subscribers in May 2020

  • The subscriber base for Employees’ Provident Fund Organization- EPFO has grown by 3.18 lakh new net members during May 2020. It has registered 218 per cent month on month growth.
  • The subscriber base growth is on account of increased number of new subscribers, lower exits and higher rejoining by exited members.
  • The new subscriber joining increased by 66 per cent from 1.67 lakh in April to 2.79 lakh in May 2020.

Extra Shots:

EPFO:

  • Founded: 4 March 1952, New Delhi
  • Headquarters: New Delhi
  • Jurisdiction: India
  • Type of business: Central-Owned

NATIONAL CURRENT AFFAIRS

Union Home Minister Amit Shah to launch Vriksharopan Abhiyan

  • Union Home Minister Amit Shah is to launch Vriksharopan Abhiyan in New Delhi on 23 July.
  • The Union Home Minister will also inaugurate and lay the Foundation stone of 6 Eco parks/ Tourism sites.
  • The inauguration event will take place through Video Conferencing across more than 130 locations spread in 38 Districts of 10 coal and lignite bearing States.
  • Large scale plantation to be carried out by Coal/Lignite PSUs under Coal Ministry.

Vriksharopan Abhiyan:

  • Vriksharopan Abhiyan is organized by the Ministry of Coal.
  • It will involve all Coal/Lignite Public sector undertakings (PSUs) during which large
  • Areas of Coal/Lignite PSUs.
  • The seedlings will be distributed in nearby areas for promoting plantation by society.
  • The eco-parks/tourism sites will provide avenues for recreation, adventure, water sport, bird watching, etc. for the people residing in nearby areas.
  • The sites will be integrated to form part of the tourism circuit.
  • These sites are aimed to generate revenue for self-sustenance and create employment potential for local people.
  • The key thrust area of the coal sector is Going Green. It involves maximization of green cover through ecological reclamation of mined-out areas and overburden dumps, a plantation in and around mines, and avenue plantation suitable places.

Prakash Javadekar virtually launches piloting of National Transit Pass System

  • Environment Minister Prakash Javadekar today virtually launched piloting of the National Transit Pass System at Indira Paryavaran Bhawan in Delhi.
  • The National Pass System enhances seamless movement of forest produce. The Minister said Prime Minister Narendra Modi has laid a lot of stress on the Ease of Movement.
  • People can apply for Passes from their mobile phones as well as receive e passes in their mobile phones.

INTERNATIONAL CURRENT AFFAIRS

South Korea launched its first-ever military communications satellite

  • South Korea launched its first-ever military communications satellite “ANASIS-II” by private operator SpaceX on 21 July 2020.
  • The information was passed by Seoul’s Defense Acquisition Program Administration (DAPA). The move by the country aims to build up its defence capabilities.

ANASIS-II:

  • ANASIS-II is aimed to enhance the South’s defence against the nuclear-armed North Korea, which invaded in 1950.
  • The satellite was carried by Falcon 9 rocket from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida.
  • ANASIS-II will reach its orbit of 36,000 kilometres and South Korea’s military will take over the system in October after testing.
  • South Korea and the United States are security allies. The US has stationed 28,500 troops in the country.

Extra Shots:

South Korea (Capital/Currency): Seoul/ South Korean won

  • President: Moon Jae-in

Dubai-based Indian girl Samridhi Kalia breaks world record in performing yoga poses

  • A Dubai-based Indian girl has broken the world record for performing 100 yoga poses within minutes in a confined space.
  • This is 11-year-old Samridhi Kalia’s third world record entry and the second one in the last one month

China successfully launched a rover to Mars

  • China successfully launched a rover to Mars on 23 July 2020, which is another milestone for its space programme.

Highlights:

  • China’s Mars probe was launched from the southern island of Hainan, China.
  • The Mars mission was named Tianwen-1 meaning “Questions to Heaven” in a nod to a classical Chinese poem that has verses about the cosmos.
  • Under the mission, the probe aims to go enter into Martian orbit. It will land on the planet Mars and release a small rover to conduct research on its surface.
  • It is expected to reach the planet in February 2021.
  • The spacecraft will travel at least 55 million kilometres to reach its destination.
  • In its earlier attempt in 2011, China’s partnership with Russia failed because the Russian launcher was unable to get the craft into a transfer orbit to slingshot towards Mars

HIL India supplied 20.60 MT of DDT to South Africa for Malaria control program

  • Ministry of Chemicals and Fertilizers stated that HIL (India) Limited, a PSU under the Ministry, has supplied 20.60 Metric tonnes (MT) of DDT (dichloro-diphenyl-trichloroethane) 75% WP to South Africa for their Malaria control program on 22 July 2020.

Extra Shots:

South Africa (Capital/Currency): Cape Town, Pretoria, Bloemfontein/ South African rand

  • President: Cyril Ramaphosa

SUMMITS AND CONFERENCES

United Nations General Assembly to go virtual for the first time

  • The 75th United Nations General Assembly is to be conducted virtually in 2020 for the first time in its history.
  • The 2020 session is to begin on September 15.

The main highlights of the 2020 UNGA are as follows

  • Biodiversity Summit
  • A high-level meeting to celebrate 25th anniversary of fourth world conference on women Climate Week

Extra Shots:

United Nations General Assembly

  • President: Tijjani Muhammad-Bande
  • Headquarters: New York, United States
  • Founder: United Nations
  • Founded: 1945, New York, United States

AGREEMENTS AND MOU SIGNED

Punjab Govt tie-up with IIT-Ropar for skill development

  • The Punjab government has signed an agreement with the Indian Institute of Technology, Ropar, in the area of skill development.
  • The institute will help the state in developing a model ITI and a model polytechnic.
  • The IIT to help the state in the manufacture of small devices for controlling water wastage in irrigation.
  • Punjab Government helps to resolve the IIT’s land acquisition-related issues, while urging the institute to develop its campus as a green campus, with extensive landscaping and afforestation.

ACQUISITION & MERGER

Flipkart acquires Walmart India’s wholesale business

  • Flipkart announced the acquisition of Walmart India.
  • It will launch ‘Flipkart Wholesale’ next month, as the homegrown e-commerce major looks to tap into the USD 650 billion B2B retail market in India.
  • Walmart India runs 28 Best Price wholesale stores in the country. Flipkart Wholesale is a new digital marketplace focusing on addressing the business-to-business (B2B) segment in India.
  • The acquisition will help strengthen the capabilities to address the requirements of kirana and MSMEs.

Extra Shots:

Flipkart

  • Founded: October 2007
  • CEO: Kalyan Krishnamurthy
  • Founders: Sachin Bansal, Binny Bansal
  • Parent organization: Walmart

NATIONAL & INTERNATIONAL AWARDS

Kannan C S Warrier received 2019 National Award of Excellence for Outstanding Research in Forestry Award

  • Indian Council of Forestry Research and Education (ICFRE) awarded Kannan C S Warrier, Senior principal of Institute of Forest Genetics and Tree Breeding (IFGTB) scientist, the National Award of Excellence for Outstanding Research in Forestry for the year 2019.

Highlights:

  • Kannan C S Warrier was awarded for releasing three productive clones of casuarina, known as kattadi and savukku.
  • The clones were found suitable for salt-affected soils for the first time in the country. It should be noted that around 6.73 million hectares are salt-affected land in India.
  • Warrier has 27 years of forestry research experience and has published 232 research articles.
  • The clones are expected to boost ICFRE’s agro forestry initiatives.
  • Warrier holds a doctoral degree in forest genetics. He is a first rank holder in BSc and MSc forestry at Kerala Agricultural University.

APPOINTMENTS IN NEWS

Sumit Deb appointed as new CMD of NMDC

  • Sumit Deb has been appointed as the Chairman and Managing Director (CMD) of National Mineral Development Corporation (NMDC). Deb is presently serving as Director (Personnel) in the NMDC.
  • His tenure as the CMD of NMDC would be applicable till 28 February, 2023.
  • He will succeed N Baijendra Kumar as the CMD of NMDC who will retire as CMD on 31st July 2020.

Extra Shots:

National Mineral Development Corporation (NMDC)

  • Headquarters: Hyderabad
  • Founded: 15 November 1958

PC Kandpal appointed as MD & CEO of SBI General Insurance

  • Prakash Chandra Kandpal has been appointed as the managing director and chief executive officer of the Non-life insurer SBI General Insurance.
  • He is serving as the deputy CEO of SBI General Insurance since June 2019. He will replace Pushan Mahapatra who has been appointed as director (strategic investments & digital initiatives).
  • Prakash Chandra Kandpal has more than 33 years of banking experience with State Bank of India (SBI) in various aspects such as retail and international banking, human resource, technology, and learning and development.
  • He has also served as the chief operating officer of the SBI Mutual Fund.

Extra Shots:

SBI General Insurance

  • Headquarters: Mumbai
  • Founded: 2009
  • Parent organization: State Bank of India

Arun Kumar nominated as Vice-Chairman of UIC

  • The Director General of Railway Protection Force (RPF), Arun Kumar has been nominated as the Vice-Chairman of UIC (Union Internationale Des Chemins/International Union of Railways), Security Platform from July 2020 to July 2022.
  • He will take over as Chairman of the Security Platform from July 2022 to July 2024.
  • The decision to nominate Arun Kumar was taken during the 96th UIC General Assembly.

Extra Shots:

International Union of Railways (UIC)

  • Headquarters location: Paris, France
  • Founded: 17 October 1922
  • Chairperson: Gianluigi Vittorio Castelli
  • Location: Tunis
  • Membership: 194

Riva Ganguly Das appointed as Secretary East in MEA

  • India’s High Commissioner to Bangladesh, Riva Ganguly Das is appointed by the Government as the Secretary East, in the Ministry of External Affairs.
  • Das will succeed Ms. Vijay Thakur Singh after her retirement on 30th September this year.

Extra Shots:

Ministry of External Affairs

  • Headquarters: New Delhi
  • Founded: 2 September 1946
  • Officeholders: V. Muraleedharan (Minister of State), Subrahmanyam Jaishankar (Minister)
  • Awards: National Film Award for Best Non-Feature Film, National Film Award for Best Promotional Film

Sahil Seth appointed as advisery for BRICS CCI

  • The Deputy Commissioner of Mumbai Customs Sahil Seth was appointed as the honorary adviser of steering committee for BRICS Chamber of Commerce and Industry (CCI).
  • The role is on voluntary basis.
  • There is no remuneration involved for the post. Also, there are no financials involved.
  • The BRICS CCI mainly aims to reach out young entrepreneurs. It proposes to champion their business and act as voice of young entrepreneurs.

BRICS CCI

  • The BRICS Chamber of Commerce and Industry is a parent organization that promotes commerce and industry in BRICS. It was founded in 2012.
  • The main objective of the BRICS CCI is to create support system to MSME segment.

DEFENCE CURRENT AFFAIRS

India successfully test fires Dhruvastra anti-guided missiles

  • The Indian armed forces successfully test-fired the helicopter-launched Nag Missile Dhruvastra anti-tank guided missile, erstwhile called Helina, indirect and top attack mode.
  • The flight test trials were done without a helicopter on 15th and 16th July at ITR Balasore, Odisha.

HELINA:

  • HELINA is a third-generation fire and forget class anti-tank guided missile (ATGM) system. It is mounted on the Advanced Light Helicopter (ALH).
  • The missile has all-weather day and night capability and can defeat battle tanks with a conventional armour and explosive reactive armour. The HELINA missile can engage targets both in direct hit mode as well as top attack mode.
  • HELINA Weapon Systems is being inducted into the Indian Army.

Dhruvastra:

  • A variant of HELINA Weapon System called Dhruvastra.
  • The Dhruvastra missile system is being inducted into the Indian Air Force (IAF).
  • The missile has a maximum range capability of 7 km in Lock On Before Launch (LOBL) mode. 8 such missiles can be attached to the Helicopter with the help of 4 twin launchers.
  • It can be fired in two modes namely Direct and Top attack.
  • It has a warhead penetration capability of 800 mm, the missile can defeat futuristic armour and inflict maximum damage to the tank and crippling its crew.
  • The fire and forget capability has been imparted by an indigenously developed Imaging Infra-Red seeker.

Defence Ministry signs Rs 557 crore contract with BEML to procure 1512 mine ploughs for T-90 tanks

  • The Ministry of Defence has signed Rs 557 crore contract with Bharat Earth Movers Limited (BEML) for procurement of 1,512 mine plough (MP) for the Indian Army.
  • These Mine ploughs will be fitted on main battle Tank T-90 S/SK of Indian Armoured Corps.
  • Mine ploughs help tanks to clear minefields and minimize risks to men and machines.
  • The Mobility of Tank Fleet will enhance manifold, and would enable the Armoured Formation to reach deep into enemy territory without becoming mine causality.
  • These 1,512 mine ploughs project is planned to be completed by 2027.

Extra Shots:

BEML:

  • Headquarters: Bengaluru
  • Founded: May 1964, Bengaluru
  • Subsidiaries: Vignyan Industries Limited, BEML (Malaysia) Sdn Bhd

SCIENCE & TECHNOLOGY CURRENT AFFAIRS

SNBNCBS has developed an active respirator mask and Nano-sanitizer to fight COVID-19 spread

  • N. Bose National Centre For Basic Sciences (SNBNCBS), Kolkata, has developed an active respirator mask with attached exhalation valve and suspended particulate matter filter for comfortable and hygienic breathing while wearing masks.

Active Respirator mask:

  • The Active Respirator mask which was developed by SNBNCBS is an innovative solution to the rebreathing of carbon dioxide to solve exhaled moisture and sweaty and hot environment inside the mask.
  • The respirator will also improve the clarity of speech of a person with a face mask and assures comfortable, hygienic breathing to protect the wearer from exposure to airborne contaminants.

Nano-sanitizer:

  • The Institute has also developed Nano-sanitizer has a Dispensing Antimicrobial Layer.
  • The Long-Lasting Nano-sanitiser innovation is a solution to the problems caused by the use of the general sanitizers like dehydration of skin due to frequent use, and nature of instantaneous antimicrobial action of common sanitizers without protective role.
  • This innovative sanitizer technology assures comfortable and hygienic hand sanitization for a longer duration.

Oxford Covid-19 vaccine’s human trial shows positive result

  • The human trial of COVID-19 vaccine candidate developed by the University of Oxford and backed by AstraZeneca Plc has shown a positive result.
  • The researchers found their experimental COVID-19 vaccine produced a dual immune response in people aged 18 to 55.
  • Oxford’s vaccine is designed to reduce disease and transmission. Director at the Jenner Institute of Oxford University, Dr Adrian Hill, explains the mechanism of this vaccine “this vaccine triggers both arms of the immune system”.
  • The vaccine was officially known as AZD1222, prompted a protective immune response in hundreds of people who got the shot and did not prompt any serious side effects.

DRDO established COVID-19 Testing Facility at DIHAR, Leh

  • Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) has established a COVID-19 testing facility at the Leh based laboratory Defence Institute of High Altitude Research (DIHAR).
  • The centre was inaugurated by Lieutenant Governor of Ladakh, RK Mathur on 22 July 2020.
  • The aim is to enhance the rate of testing to identify the COVID-19 cases in the Union Territory of Ladakh.

Highlights:

  • COVID-19 testing facility will help in keeping close watch of the infected persons.
  • The facility has been established in a way that it meets the safety standards and guidelines of the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR).
  • The testing facility at DIHAR is capable of screening 50 samples per day.
  • The facility can be utilized for training manpower for COVID-19 testing and will be of great help to address future bio-threats and carrying out R&D activities pertinent to agro-animals diseases.
  • The new facility at DIHAR will help in the treatment of COVID-19 infected persons.

Extra Shots:

DRDO:

  • Headquarters location: New Delhi
  • Motto: बलस्य मूलं विज्ञानम्; “Strength’s Origin is in Science” (Sanskrit)
  • Founded: 1958
  • Minister responsible: Rajnath Singh, Minister of Defence
  • Subsidiaries: Gas Turbine Research Establishment, Defence Scientific Information & Documentation centre

Researchers develop PROSIT app that tracks mental health by studying phone usage

  • The researchers of Dalhousie University have come up with a new app that can detect mental conditions like anxiety and depression based on how you use your phone.
  • The app is called PROSIT and includes tracking features like exercise, sleep, call frequency, message histories and music tastes
  • Also, the app will ask the users to record a 90-second audio clip to talk about their best and exciting part of the week and they will be asked to self-report their feelings on a five-point scale.

Actor Sonu Sood launches “Pravasi Rojgar App”

  • Actor Sonu Sood launched “Pravasi Rojgar App”.
  • The application provides all necessary information to find jobs and offer specific job training programmes.

Highlights:

  • The actor has been helping migrant workers reach their homes during lock down.
  • The application “Pravasi Rojgar” will act as a platform for the workers to find right job opportunities.
  • It will provide all the necessary linkages and information to find jobs.
  • The application is to be supported by community outreach in the villages to find right employment opportunities for migrant workers.
  • The online platform has more than 500 companies that are related to apparel, construction, heath care, BPOs, engineering, automobile, logistics, e-commerce, etc.
  • A Toll-free number was also launched that is to be operated 24/7.

MISCELLANEOUS

Rare yellow turtle discovered in India

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