Gyaankosh – Current Affairs for the Month of August 2019 – Set 2

  • The Inter-State Council has been reconstituted with Prime Minister as its chairman and 6 Union ministers and all chief ministers as its members. Home Minister Amit Shah will chair the standing committee of the Inter-State Council. The Inter-State Council is mandated to investigate and advise on disputes between states. It is also tasked with giving recommendations on any such dispute and recommendations for the better coordination of policy and action.
  • The Aadi Mahotsav, a nine-day tribal festival and the Centre’s first official function in Ladakh after the government decided to make it a Union Territory, started in Leh on the evening of 17th August, 2019. This is the first time that the Aadi Mahotsav is being held in Ladakh as in earlier times, the Tribal Ministry never got a response from the J&K administration. Aadi Mahotsav is a national tribal festival and a joint initiative of Ministry of Tribal Affairs, Government of India & Tribal Cooperative Marketing Development Federation of India (TRIFED).
  • The United Arab Emirates will honour the Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi with the “Order of Zayed”, the highest civilian award of the country. Prime Minister Narendra Modi will receive the award during his visit to the UAE.
  • India is the world’s largest emitter of anthropogenic sulphur dioxide (SO2), which is produced from coal burning, and greatly contributes to air pollution. According to an analysis of a National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) data released by environmental NGO Greenpeace, India has more than 15 percent of all anthropogenic sulphur dioxide (SO2) hotspots in the world detected by the OMI (Ozone Monitoring Instrument) satellite.
  • India’s first Central Institute of Chemical Engineering & Technology will be set up in Gujarat. It will be set up either in Ahmedabad or Surat. It will be built on the lines of Central Institute of Plastic Engineering and Technology. The aim of setting up the institute is to facilitate the chemical industry with research and innovations.
  • The Ministry of New and Renewable Energy has declared Ocean Energy as renewable energy status. It has clarified to all stakeholders that energy produced using various forms of ocean energy such as tidal, wave and ocean thermal energy conversion and shall be eligible for meeting the non-solar Renewable Purchase Obligations (RPO).
  • Union Government is planning to launch an e-commerce portal named “Bharat Craft” for MSME’s. The portal is based on other e-commerce portals like ‘Alibaba’ and ‘Amazon’. The portal will provide a platform for MSMEs to market and sell their products and in turn boost the sector.
  • Prime Minister of India Narendra Modi has launched the RuPay card, making the UAE the first country in the Middle East to initiate the Indian indigenous system of electronic payment. RuPay card scheme was launched in 2012 to fulfill the Reserve Bank of India’s vision to have a domestic, open and multilateral system of payments. RuPay facilitates electronic payment at all Indian banks and financial institutions. India has already launched the RuPay card in Singapore and Bhutan.
  • The Reserve Bank of India has approved the transfer of record Rs 1.76 lakh crore dividend and surplus reserves to the government. The receipts from the RBI will give a stimulus to the government’s efforts to boost the economy from a five-year low. It is the highest-ever surplus amount transferred by the RBI to government.
  • Microsoft India launched a program under which it will train 5000 government employees over the next year on AI (artificial intelligence) and cloud computing skills. This program was inaugurated by Amitabh Kant, chief executive of NITI Aayog. The program, called ‘Digital Governance Tech Tour’, will comprise of physical and virtual workshops. The program will be open for technocrats and IT professionals across the government, including employees of Public Sector Undertakings (PSUs).
  • The Tamil Nadu government launched its exclusive education TV channel, aimed at benefiting students of classes I to XII. An initiative of the School Education Department, ‘Kalvi Tholaikkatchi’ (Education TV) was launched by Chief Minister K Palaniswami. The channel’s content will include shows aimed at school children, besides those on jobs and related issues.
  • Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman has announced a big consolidation of public sector banks. Under the scheme of amalgamation, 10 public sector banks are to be merged into four banks. After the amalgamation, the total number of Public Sector Banks in the country will come down to 12 from 27 banks in 2017. The amalgamation of banks will be in the following manner:
    • Punjab National Bank, Oriental Bank of Commerce and United Bank of India to be merged into one single bank, with business of Rs 7.95 trillion to make India’s 2nd largest bank.
    • Canara Bank and Syndicate Bank are to be merged to become the 4th largest public sector bank with business of Rs 15.2 lakh crore.
    • Union Bank of India, Andhra Bank and Corporation Bank are to be merged to become the 5th largest public sector bank with business of Rs 14.6 lakh crore.
    • Indian Bank will be merged with Allahabad Bank to become the 7th largest public sector bank with business of Rs 8.08 lakh crore.
  • Ajay Kumar Bhalla was appointed as the new Union Home Secretary. He is currently serving as an officer on special duty in the home ministry. He replaces Rajiv Gauba, who was appointed as the new cabinet secretary.
  • Ravinder Takkar has been appointed as the MD and CEO of Idea-Vodafone. He will replace Balesh Sharma after his resignation as the chief executive officer of Vodafone Idea.
  • The 597-ft tall ‘Statue of Unity’ in Gujarat and Mumbai’s Soho House have been featured by the Time magazine in its second annual list of the 2019 World’s greatest places, in a compilation of 100 new and newly “noteworthy destinations. The ‘Statue of Unity’, the world’s tallest statue bat 182 meters, is a tribute to Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel, independent India’s first home minister as well as deputy prime minister. The Soho House is located in a breezy, 11 storey building which overlooks the Arabian Sea. It houses a library, cinema with 34 seats, rooftop bar and pool. The Soho House boasts block-printed fabrics from the traditional Rajasthani culture, handwoven cane furniture, sari-coated lampshades.
  • The Group of 7 or G7 Summit has begun in Biarritz, France. It is an informal meeting between France, the United States, the United Kingdom, Germany, Japan, Italy and Canada as well as the European Union. These world powers, which represent 50% of the global economy, also share the values of freedom and democracy, as well as a collective ambition to deal with the world’s major issues.
  • Chinese telecom giant Huawei unveiled its own operating system will be called the Hongmeng OS, known in English as the Harmony OS. The operating system will be released as an open-source platform worldwide to encourage adoption. Harmony OS is future-oriented and designed to be more smooth and secure, and is completely different from Android and iOS.
  • Intel Corp launched its latest processor, it’s first using artificial intelligence (AI), designed for large computing centres. The chip developed at its development facility in Haifa, Israel. The name of the chip is Nervana NNP-I or Springhill and it is based on a 10 nanometre Ice Lake processor that will allow it to cope with high workloads using minimal amounts of energy.
  • Indian ride hailing giant Ola announced acquihiring of Pikup.ai, an Artificial Intelligence start-up based in Bengaluru. Pickup.ai is co-founded by Inder Singh and Ritwik Saikia. The start-up uses autonomous technologies like artificial intelligence, computer vision and sensor fusion to provide seamless AI-powered solutions for businesses.
  • Amazon has opened its largest campus in the world in Hyderabad. The campus covers 1.8 million square feet and can accommodate 15,000 employees. This is Amazon’s first owned-building outside of the US and is also its largest tech base outside the Seattle headquarters, which has about 155,000 contract employees.
  • Russia launched the world’s first floating nuclear reactor on 23-Aug-2019 send it on an epic journey across the Arctic despite environmentalists warning of serious risks to the region. Loaded with nuclear fuel, the Akademik Lomonosov will leave the Arctic port of Murmansk to begin its 5,000 kilometre voyage to northeastern Siberia. The vessel weighs 21,000 tons and has two reactors with a capacity of 35 megawatts each.
  • Former Union finance minister and senior BJP leader Arun Jaitley passed away. He was a lawyer by profession. He held the portfolios of Finance Ministry, Corporate Affairs Ministry, Defence Ministry, and Minister of Information and Broadcasting.
  • Wing Commander Abhinandan Varthaman was honoured with the Vir Chakra on Independence Day. Abhinandan became the face of a tense military confrontation between India and Pakistan when his MiG-21 was shot down during the aerial combat between Indian and Pakistani air forces on February 27 after the February 26 Balakot airstrike. Before his jet was hit, he downed an F-16 fighter of Pakistan.
  • Tamil Nadu government has awarded K. Sivan with its Dr. A.P.J. Abdul Kalam Award. K. Sivan is currently serving as the chairman of Indian Space Research Organisation.
  • A biographical documentary “100 Years of Chrysostum” will receive Guinness Award in the category of longest documentary. The film is about the life of the 102-year-old Padma Bhushan Philipose Mar Chrysostom Mar Thoma Valiya Metropolitan. The film is 2880 minutes long and is directed by Blessy.
  • The book, titled ‘Sridevi: Girl Woman Superstar’ will be launched on Sridevi’s 56th birth anniversary. The book is written by author-screenwriter Satyarth Nayak. The book will be published under the Ebury Press imprint of Penguin Random House in October 2019.
  • Mobil India has announced its association with wrestling champion Bajrang Punia as the new brand ambassador for its commercial vehicle lubricants’ segment.
  • Chocolate maker Mondelez India announced the appointment of Bollywood actor Kartik Aaryan as the new brand ambassador of its premium chocolate brand Cadbury Dairy Milk Silk.
  • Former all-rounder Ravi Shastri has been appointed as the head coach of Indian cricket team for another two years. Former Indian opener Vikram Rathour appointed as team India’s new batting coach. He will replace Sanjay Bangar. While Bharath Arun and R. Sridhar were retained as bowling and fielding coaches.
  • Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna Award is the highest sporting award in India. The winner of this award gets reward of 7.5 lac rupees. This award is given annually to those sport persons who make country proud at the international events. Bajrang Punia (wrestling) and Deepa Malik (para athletics) are awarded this award in 2019.
  • Ace Indian shuttler PV Sindhu has won the World Championships title defeating Japan’s Nozomi Okuhara in the final at Basel, Switzerland. Sindhu defeated her Japanese opponent Nozomi Okuhara to 21-7, 21-7. This was Sindhu’s third straight World Championships final. With this victory, the 24-year-old shuttler has become the first Indian to book a gold medal at the World Championships.
  • The Delhi and District Cricket Association (DDCA) decided to rename Feroz Shah Kotla Stadium as Arun Jaitley Stadium in the memory of its former president of DDCA. Jaitley was the president of DDCA from 1999 to 2013. The renaming of the stadium will take place in September.
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