Gyaankosh – Current Affairs for April 2019 – Set 1

  • India and Bolivia have signed an agreement for development and industrial use of lithium during the state visit of President Ram Nath Kovind to Bolivia. As per this agreement Bolivia will facilitate supply of lithium carbonate to India and foster joint ventures for lithium battery/cell production plants in India. Bolivia is known to have one-fourth of the world’s lithium reserve.  This move will make Bolivia one of the major provider of metal for India’s e-mobility and e-storage needs.
  • Indian Oil Corporation has stated that supply of ultra clean BS-VI grade petrol and diesel has begun in Delhi and adjoining cities. In 2015, India had decided to switch to BS-VI emission norm compliant petrol and diesel from April 2020. The deadline for rest of the country remains the same but for Delhi it was brought forward due to thick smog problem.
  • President of the UAE Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan honoured Prime Minister Narendra Modi with the prestigious Zayed Medal for boosting relations between the Emirates and India. The ‘Order of Zayed’ is the highest civil decoration instituted by the UAE. It consists of a collar cantered by a medallion bearing the name ‘Zayed’ – the founding father of the United Arab Emirates (UAE).
  • The US has approved the sale of 24 multi-role MH-60 ‘Romeo’ Seahawk helicopters to India at an estimated cost of $2.6 billion. The Lockheed Martin-built helicopters are designed for hunting submarines, targeting ships, and conducting search-and-rescue operations at sea. It is considered the world’s most advanced maritime helicopter. These helicopters would replenish India’s aging fleet of British-made Sea King helicopters.
  • As per the World Bank Report, India retained its position as the world’s top recipient of remittances with its diaspora sending a whopping USD 79 billion back home in 2018. India was followed by China (USD 67 billion) and Mexico (USD 36 billion).
  • As per the World Bank, India’s GDP growth is expected to accelerate moderately to 7.5% in Fiscal Year 19-20, driven by continued investment strengthening, particularly private-improved export performance and resilient consumption.
  • The Guwahati Railway Station has become the first ever railway station in the Indian Railways to get an ISO certification from the National Green Tribunal (NGT) for providing passenger amenities in a clean and green environment.
  • Indian Army’s Combat Engineers of ‘Sahas aur Yogyata’ Regiment of ‘Fire and Fury Corps’ have built the longest cable suspension bridge named ‘Maitri’ over Indus river in Leh in a record 40 days. The 260-foot-long bridge is dedicated to Indians to commemorate 20th year of Kargil Vijay Diwas.
  • Military forces of India and Singapore got together to participate in a joint exercise in Babina Cantonment in Jhansi. The three-day exercise, ‘Bold Kurukshetra–2019’, is being conducted to develop military technology, boost maritime security and bolster the nations’ fight against terrorism.
  • IIT Madras has been ranked as the ‘Best Educational Institution’ in the country in the latest edition of National Institutional Rankings Framework (NIRF) 2019. The rankings were released by the Ministry of Human Resource Development (MHRD), Government of India. IIT Madras also emerged as the ‘Top innovative Institution’ in the country in the maiden edition of the Atal Ranking of Institutions on Innovation Achievements (ARIIA), launched by the Innovation Cell of MHRD in 2018, bagging the Rank number 1 in Government Institutions category.
  • The US designated Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) a foreign terrorist organisation. This move is considered as an unprecedented declaration against a foreign government that may prompt retaliation and make it harder for American diplomats and military officers to work with allies in the region. It is the first time that the US has designated an entity of another government as a terrorist organization, placing a group with vast economic resources that answer only to Iran’s supreme leader in the same category as Al-Qaida and the Islamic State.
  • Algeria’s long-serving president Abdelaziz Bouteflika announced his resignation, after mass protests demanding an end to his rule, and after a call from the army for him to be declared unfit to hold office. Bouteflika came to the presidency after its darkest period, the 1990s Islamic insurgency. After taking power in 1999, he managed to bring back stability to a country devastated by killings and distrust. Mr. Bouteflika has not publicly spoken and has been wheelchair-bound since a stroke in 2013. Bouteflika is accused of failing to create an economy that could offer enough jobs, despite the nation’s vast oil and gas wealth. Abdelkader Bensalah took charge as interim leader for a maximum of 90 days as elections are organised.
  • South Korean car maker Hyundai is to roll out the ‘BlueLink’ connectivity feature in India that will allow users to interact with their cars using voice, while enabling them to remotely switch on/off the car or its AC.  This feature will be first introduced in its upcoming compact SUV Venue. BlueLink is Hyundai’s global technology which will be introduced in the Indian market with 33 features, of which 10 would be India-specific features such as a panic button, for most practical and holistic connectivity.  The feature is powered by an “inbuilt and tamper-proof device” with a Vodafone-Idea eSim and a cloud-based voice recognition platform. The ‘interactive voice recognition’ has been developed specifically for customers from different regions in India. It currently supports Indian English language.
  • Eicher Motors Ltd. has appointed Vinod K. Dasari as the Chief Executive Officer of Royal Enfield. He will also join the board of Eicher Motors as executive director with immediate effect. He stepped down as MD and CEO of Ashok Leyland on March 31. He takes over from Siddhartha Lal, who will continue as the MD of Eicher Motors.
  • Liberal lawyer Zuzana Čaputová won Slovakia’s Presidential election, becoming the country’s first female head of state. A member of the Progressive Slovakia party, Čaputová won by 58.3% votes. Čaputová defeated European Commission Vice President, Maroš Šefčovič, who was backed by the ruling party, SMER-SD. She is due to be sworn in on 15 of June. Caputova will now become Slovakia’s fifth president since its independence in the 1993 split of Czechoslovakia. Slovakia becomes the eighth country in the European Union to currently have a woman in power.
  • David Malpass has been appointed as the President of the World Bank. He is currently US Treasury Department’s Under Secretary for International Affairs. He has replaced Former World Bank President Jim Yong Kim who left in January 2019.
  • IT major HCL Technologies stated that its acquisition of US-based Strong-Bridge Envision has been completed. HCL had recently agreed to acquire the Seattle-based company to enhance its digital transformation consulting capabilities. The deal is worth $45 million.
  • IT industry body Nasscom has appointed WNS Global Services Group CEO Keshav Murugesh as its chairman for 2019-20. He takes over from his previous role as vice-chairman of Nasscom. He succeeds Rishad Premji (Wipro chief strategy officer and board member). Nasscom has appointed Infosys COO U.B. Pravin Rao as its vice-chairman for 2019-20.
  • World Autism Awareness Day is an internationally recognized day observed on 2nd April every year. The aim is to encourage member states of the United Nations to take measures to raise awareness about people with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) throughout the world. The theme for 2019 is “Assistive Technologies, Active Participation”.
  • The RBI cut its repo rate by 25 basis points to 6% in its first bi-monthly policy review of 2019-20. The decision comes a week before the election starts on April 11. The central bank had reduced the benchmark lending rate by 25 basis points in February after an 18-month gap. The reverse repo rate, too, was lowered from 6% to 5.75%.
  • From 1-April-2019 all branches of public sector lenders Vijaya Bank and Dena Bank will function as branches of Bank of Baroda.  After the merger of these banks, Bank of Baroda will become third largest bank in India after SBI and HDFC Bank. The consolidated bank will have 9500 branches, 13400 ATMs, 85000 employees to serve 12 crore customers.
  • The board of Lakshmi Vilas Bank (LVB) approved the merger of the private sector lender with Indiabulls Housing Finance (IBH) through a share swap deal. The merger will help Indiabulls get access to low-cost stable funds and entry into banking.
  • Vipin Anand has taken charge as Managing Director of Life Insurance Corporation of India. Prior to this, he was in charge of LIC’s Western Zone, headquartered at Mumbai. During his service of more than 35 years, Anand has handled several important assignments in various capacities and departments. He was instrumental in setting up LIC’s operations in Singapore and Bangladesh.
  • Kotak Mahindra Bank (Kotak) stated that it will charge customers for UPI transactions starting 1st of May 2019.  For each Kotak Bank account, the first 30 UPI fund transfers will be free, after which a charge will be levied on all fund transfers from the bank account. This will be applicable across all platforms, including Paytm, PhonePe, Google Pay or Truecaller Pay among others. 
  • Praful Patel, president of All India Football Federation (AIFF), has become the first Indian to be elected as a member of FIFA Executive Council. Patel got 38 votes out of the total 46 votes, which only shows how highly he is regarded by the fellow Asian nations.
  • Manu Sawhney took over as the International Cricket Council (ICC) Chief Executive Officer (CEO). Sawhney has been working alongside the outgoing CEO David Richardson for the last six weeks to ensure a smooth transition within the organisation.  Richardson will remain with the International Cricket Council (ICC) until July to oversee the delivery of the ICC Men’s Cricket World Cup 2019.
  • Indian Badminton Tournament 2019 was held in New Delhi from 26th March to 31st March 2019. Winners of these tournament were as follows:
    • Singles Men: Viktor Axelsen (Denmark)
    • Singles Women: Ratchanok Intanon (Thailand)
  • South Korea defeated India in the penalty shootout in the final of Sultan Azlan Shah Cup 2019. 17th Ranked South Korea defeated World number 5, India to win the Sultan Azlan Shah Hockey Cup which was held at Azlan Shah Stadium in Ipoh, Malaysia. 
  • Switzerland’s Roger Federer defeated USA’s John Isner in straight sets to lift his 101st career title at the Miami Open 2019. Federer has lifted his fourth title at the Miami Open. It is Swiss player’s 28th Masters’ title and the 101st overall for a player who has won 20 Grand Slam singles titles.
  • Saurav Ghosal became the first Indian male squash player to enter the top 10 in the PSA (Professional Squash Association) world rankings. He has moved up two places to a career-high ranking of tenth and is currently the only Asian in the top-10. Ghosal made it to the quarter-finals of the 2018-2019 PSA World Championships in Chicago, USA for the first time in his career. He was also a quarter-finalist at the prestigious Grasshopper Cup in Zurich, Switzerland.
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