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Important Current Affairs 2nd February 2019

National news

New Long Range Missile by Iran 
•    Iran unveiled a new cruise missile with a range of 1,300 km (800 miles).
•    Reason behind choosing the day: the Middle Eastern country displays its achievements during celebrations marking the 40th anniversary of the 1979 Islamic Revolution.
•    Specifications of missile:
1.    Need short time for preparedness
2.    Can fly at low altitude
•    1979 Islamic revolution :
Iran is marking the 40th anniversary of the 1979 Islamic Revolution that toppled the shah and ended centuries of monarchy in the country.


Indian embassy in US opens 24/7 hotline to assist Indian students arrested by American authorities 
•    The Indian embassy in the US has opened a 24/7 hotline to assist Indian students arrested by the American authorities for alleged immigration rules violation. As many as 129 Indians are among the 130 foreign students arrested for allegedly enroling at a fake university to remain in the US.
•    India said it is monitoring the situation arising out of detention of Indian students closely and have impressed upon the US Government the need to address the situation at the earliest.
•    Indian ambassador to US: Harsh Vardhan Shringla (He is a career diplomat and a member of the Indian Foreign Service since 1984.)


Kumbh Mela to take place on Mauni Amavasya on 4th Feb 
•    The third main holy bath Shahi Snan Parv of Mauni Amavasya at on-going Kumbh Mela in Prayagraj will be observed on Monday,4th February at Sangam.
•    Kumbh Mela: 
is a mass Hindu pilgrimage of faith madhav singh kunwargather to bathe in a sacred Kumbh Melas: the Prayagraj Kumbh Mela, Haridwar Kumbh Mela, the Nashik-Trimbakeshwar Simhastha, and Ujjain Simhastha. These four fairs are held periodically at one of the following places by rotation: Allahabad (Prayagraj), Haridwar, Nashik district (Nashik and Trimbak), and Ujjain. The main festival site is located on the banks of a river: the Ganges (Ganga) at Haridwar; the confluence (Sangam) of the Ganges and the Yamuna and the invisible Sarasvati at Allahabad; the Godavari at Nashik; and the Shipra at Ujjain.

PM Narendra Modi to launch two Railway projects at Durgapur in West Bengal
•    Mr Modi  will dedicate to the nation, the Railway electrification of 294 kilometre long Andal- Sainthia-Pakur-Malda  and Khana- Sainthia Sections.
•    Advantages : 
1.    Ease of transportation of coal, 
2.    Stone chips and ballast to North and North East India
•    Durgapur:
Durgapur is the 3rd largest urban agglomeration after Kolkata and Asansol in West Bengal and happens to be the 2nd planned city in India after Chandigarh. It is the only city in Eastern India to have an operational dry dock.

National Road Safety Week to be Launched on Monday
•    Union Home Minister will inaugurate the 30th National Road Safety Week, 2019 in New Delhi on Monday, the 4th of February.
•    It will be attended by a host of school children, NGOs, and stakeholders in road safety from Government and industry.
•    A Motorcar Rally will also be flagged off on the occasion to commemorate the 150th Birth Anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi.
 

Environment

India has wealth of wetland ecosystems : NITI Aayog
•    2nd February is marked as World’s Wetlands day.
•    The day marks adoption of the Convention on Wetlands on 2nd February 1971, in the Iranian city of Ramsar on shores of the Caspian Sea.
•    The theme of this year is “Wetlands and Climate Change”.
•    The theme highlights the importance of healthy and intact wetlands to one of the most pressing challenges of climate change.
•    Speaking at an event organized to mark the occasion, NITI Aayog Vice Chairman Dr Rajiv Kumar stressed on convergence between various Ministries and also between Centre and States to save wetlands in the country.
 

National Income

To provide an assured income support to small and marginal farmers Govt. is launching Pradhan Mantri Kisan Samman 
•    To provide an assured income support to the small and marginal farmers, Government is launching a historic programme namely “Pradhan Mantri Kisan Samman Nidhi (PM-KISAN)”.
•    Specifications of Scheme:
Under this programme, vulnerable landholding farmer families, having cultivable land upto 2 hectares, will be provided direct income support at the rate of Rs 6,000 per year. This income support will be transferred directly into the bank accounts of beneficiary farmers, in three equal installments of Rs 2,000 each. This programme will be funded by Government of India. Around 12 crore small and marginal farmer families are expected to benefit from this.
•    Need of the scheme:
1.    Reduced income from farming
2.    Small and fragmented land holding on account of repeated divisions has also contributed in decline in the income of the farmer family.
3.    Declining prices of agricultural commodities in the international market.
 

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Important Current Affairs 16th December 2018

(National news)

Bhupesh Baghel named Chattisgarh CM

Five days after the Congress party swept the Chhattisgarh polls, State Congress chief Bhupesh Baghel has been named as the next Chief Minister.

He will take oath at 5 PM on Monday.

(Environment news)

Climate talks deliver ‘rule book’

Nations on Sunday struck a deal to breathe life into the landmark 2015 Paris climate treaty after marathon UN talks that failed to match the ambition the most vulnerable countries need to avert dangerous global warming.

Delegates from nearly 200 states finalised a common rule book designed to deliver on the Paris goals of limiting global temperature rises to well below 2°Celsius.

At their heart, negotiations were about how each nation funds action to mitigate and adapt to climate change, as well as how those actions are reported.

Developing nations had wanted more clarity from richer ones over how the future climate fight will be funded and pushed for so-called “loss and damage” measures. This would see richer countries giving money now to help deal with the effects of climate change many vulnerable states are already experiencing.

The final statement from the Polish COP24 presidency welcomed “the timely conclusion” of the report and invited “parties to make use of it” — hardly the ringing endorsement many nations had called for.

(Sports news)

Hockey World Cup

It took the team an extra shot, a nerve-racking 60 minutes and some tense moments but in the end, maiden finalist Belgium proved more than equal match for three-time winner the Netherlands, being crowned the new champion of world hockey at the Kalinga Stadium here on Sunday with a 3-2 win in shootouts.

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Important Current Affairs 6th December 2018 English

Awards

Sahitya Akademi awards announced
Seven books of poetry, six novels, six short stories, three of literary criticism and two of essays have won the Sahitya Akademi Awards, 2018.
Those who have won the award for their collection of poetry include Sananta Tanti in Assamese, Paresh Narendra Kamat in Konkani, S Ramesan Nair in Malayalam and Dr Rama Kant Shukla in Sanskrit.
Writers who won the awards for short stories include Sanjib Chattopadhyay in Bengali, Mushtaq Ahmed Mushtaq in Kashmiri and Prof Bina Thakur in Maithili.Inderjeet Kesar in Dogri, Anees Salim in English, Chitra Mudgal in Hindi are among the awardees in the novel category.
Akademi.An eminent short-story writer, Mushtaq Ahmad Mushtaq, bagged the Award for his collection of short stories “AAKH’’. 

National news


Mumbai startup first Indian private firm to have satellite in space
ExseedSAT 1 was launched into space by Space X along with 63 other satellites from 17 countries.
Exseed Space has become the first Indian privately-funded startup to successfully send a satellite into space.
About Exceed SAT 1
1.    Its an open radio transponder.
2.    Built by Santacruz based startup Exceed Space.
3.    People can receive signals at 145.90 Mhz with help of TV tuner .


Kandhamal Haldi likely to get GI tag
Famous for its healing properties, is a few steps away from receiving GI tag as the Geographical Indications Journal has advertised its application seeking objections.
About GI Tag
A GI is primarily an agricultural, natural or a manufactured product (handicrafts and industrial goods) originating from a definite geographical territory.


Government notifies dual fuel usage for agriculture, construction vehicles
The Ministry Road Transport & Highways has notified dual-fuel usage for agricultural and construction equipment vehicles. "These include tractors, power tillers, construction equipment vehicles and combine harvesters which have originally been manufactured as dual- fuel with diesel as primary fuel and CNG, Bio CNG as secondary, or have been converted as such from in-use diesel vehicles.

Sports news

Luka Modric wins Ballon d’Or 2018
Real Madrid and Croatia midfielder Luka Modric won Ballon d’Or 2018 in Paris
The last player to win the award outside of Ronaldo and Messi was Brazilian great Kaka in 2007.
Real Madrid midfielder Modric overtook former teammate Ronaldo and Antoine Griezmann to win the award for the first time.
The 33-year old Croatian was awarded the FIFA’s World Cup 2018 MVP, UEFA’s Player of the Year 2018, Best FIFA Footballer of the Year and the number one player by International Federation of Football History and Statistics.

Environment news


India third largest contributor to carbon emission.
India, the third-highest contributor, is projected to see emissions rise by 6.3% from 2017. The 2.7% projected global rise in 2018 has been driven by appreciable growth in coal use for the second year in a row, and sustained growth in oil and gas use, according to the study that was published simultaneously Wednesday in several leading scientific journals.
The 10 biggest emitters in 2018 are China, U.S., India, Russia, Japan, Germany, Iran, Saudi Arabia, South Korea, and Canada. The EU as a region of countries ranks third.

Economy news

Govt forms panel to look at selling of OIL, ONGC fields to private companies
The government has constituted a six-member committee to look at selling as many as 149 small and marginal oil and gas fields of state-owned ONGC and OIL to private and foreign companies to boost domestic output.
The panel is headed by NITI Aayog Vice Chairman Rajiv Kumar.

International news


Patents granted by India up by 50% in 2017: UN
The number of patents granted by India shot up by 50 % in 2017.
Last year’s number was more than double the 6,022 patents granted in 2015, according to WIPO statistics. 
While India ranked 10th in the number of patents given last year, no Indian company or university figures in last year’s global list of the top 50 patent applicants.
About WIPO
The World Intellectual Property Organization is one of the 15 specialized agencies of the United Nations.
Headquarters: Geneva, Switzerland
CEO: Francis Gurry

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2016 was India’s warmest year ever

India Meteorological Department (IMD) in the third week of January 2017 announced that 2016 was India’s warmest year ever recorded since the documenting of meteorological records began in 1901.
●    The announcement was made in IMD’s Statement on Climate of India during 2016.
●    During 2016, the average annual mean surface temperature in India was +0.91 degree Celsius above the average recorded between 1961 and 1990.
●    During the year, the weather conditions in India were in line with warmer than normal climate observed globally.
●    Before 2016, the warmest year on record was recorded in 2009 when annual mean temperature was +0.77 degree Celsius above average.
●    2016 was warmer than 2015 by 0.240 Celsius.
●    The 2016 annual rainfall over the country as a whole was 91 per cent of Long Period Average (LPA) value for the period 1951-2000.
●    The annual rainfall deficiency was mainly due to the significantly below average rainfall during the winter and northeast monsoon seasons.
 

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Paris Climate agreement to take effect from Nov 4

The landmark Paris agreement on climate change will enter into force on Nov. 4.
●    President Barack Obama hailed the news as "a turning point for our planet," and U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon called the agreement's strong international support a "testament for the urgency of action." 
●    The deal takes effect 30 days after 55 countries, accounting for at least 55 percent of global emissions, have adopted it. 
●    Sixty-two countries had done so as of Tuesday but they accounted only for about 52 percent of emissions.
●    The Paris agreement commits rich and poor countries to take action to curb the rise in global temperatures that is melting glaciers, rising sea levels and shifting rainfall patterns. 
●    It requires governments to present national plans to reduce emissions to limit global temperature rise to well below 2 degrees Celsius 

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White House bans oil, gas drilling in Arctic, Atlantic oceans

The White House in the fourth week of December 2016 permanently banned all new oil and gas drilling in the US-owned waters of the Arctic and Atlantic Oceans.
●    This ban is being termed as a final effort to lock in environmental protections before current President Barack Obama hands over his office to president-elect Donald Trump.
●    To implement the ban on the two Oceans, an area that is roughly equal to the size of Thailand or Spain on Arctic and 31 sea canyons in the Arctic, Obama used a law of 1953 under which a president can block the mining and sale of new offshore drilling rights. The law makes it difficult for his/her successors to reverse the decision.
●    The ban was jointly announced by Obama and Justin Trudeau, the Canadian Prime Minister.
●    Outgoing President Obama’s decision comes at a time of his departure from his office holds its ground. 
●    It holds ground because of his difference, in relation to policies related to the environment, between him and the president-elect Trump.

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Scientists discover 163 new species in the Greater Mekong region

The World Wildlife Fund reports that a group of researchers discovered 163 new species in the Greater Mekong region.
●    A rainbow-headed snake, a dragon-like lizard and a newt that looks like a Klingon from Star Trek were among the 163 new species that were found in the region. In all, 9 amphibians, 11 fish, 14 reptiles, 126 plants and 3 mammals were described for the first time. Scientists also discovered a rare banana species from Thailand.
●    Between 1997 and 2015, there have been 2409 new species discovered in the Greater Mekong. This adds to the over 430 mammal species, 800 reptiles and amphibians, 1200 birds, 1100 fish and 20000 plant species already known to science.
●    About Greater Mekong region
●    The Greater Mekong is an international region of the Mekong River basin in Southeast Asia.
●    It holds irreplaceable natural and cultural riches and is considered one of the world's most significant biodiversity hotspot.
●    The region has a diverse geographic landscape including massifs, plateaus, limestone karsts, lowlands, fertile floodplains and deltas, forests and grasslands.
●    It encapsulates 16 of the WWF Global 200 ecoregions and habitats for an estimated 20000 plant species, 1300 fish species, 1200 bird species, 800 reptile and amphibian species, and 430 mammal species.
●    The region's biodiversity is ranked as a top-five most threatened hotspot by Conservation International. The WWF also states that the region is particularly vulnerable to global climate change.

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Cyclone Vardah to make landfall near Chennai tomorrow noon

Cyclone Vardah is expected to cross Andhra Pradesh coast between Chennai and Ongole. This may bring good rainfall over north coastal districts, including Chennai.
●    According to Meteorological Department, the weather system has now intensified into very severe cyclonic storm.
●    The weather system now lies about 300 km east of Chennai and 350 km east-southeast of Nellore. It is very likely to move nearly westwards and weaken gradually while moving towards north Tamil Nadu and adjoining south Andhra Pradesh coasts.
●    It is very likely to cross north Tamil Nadu and south Andhra Pradesh coasts, close to Chennai, with a wind speed of up to 100 kmph on Monday afternoon.
●    Tidal waves likely to inundate the low lying areas of Chennai, Tiruvallur and Kanchipuram districts of Tamil Nadu; and Nellore district of Andhra Pradesh.
●    The IMD has predicted isolated heavy to very heavy falls over south coastal Andhra Pradesh, north coastal Tamil Nadu and Puducherry during the next 36 hours.
 

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Sharks and stingrays face extinction

A staggering percentage of the world's sharks and rays are now "alarmingly" close to the brink of extinction, according to the a new study spearheaded by the Shark Specialist Group of the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN). 
●    A collaborative project that involved more than 300 experts from 64 countries, the study also found that chondrichthyes -- the class of cartilaginous fish that includes sharks, rays and chimaeras -- are at a "substantially higher risk than most other groups of animals and have the lowest percentage of species considered safe -- with only 23 percent categorized as 'Least Concern.'"
●    Researchers say they were also troubled to find that rays are generally even more threatened than sharks are. Rays like sawfish, wedgefish, guitarfish and stingray, for instance, are among the top 10 most-threatened families of chondrichthyes.
●    According to the IUCN, sharks, rays and chimaeras are "one of the world’s oldest and most ecologically-diverse groups of animals."
 

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Great Barrier Reef sees largest coral die-off ever

A mass bleaching event on the Great Barrier Reef this year killed more corals than ever before, scientists said on Tuesday.
●    The 2,300-kilometre long reef — the world’s biggest — suffered its most severe bleaching in recorded history, due to warming sea temperatures during March and April.
●    Further south over the vast central and southern regions, including major tourist areas around Cairns and the Whitsunday Islands, there was a much lower toll.
●    Bleaching occurs when abnormal environmental conditions, such as warmer sea temperatures, cause corals to expel tiny photosynthetic algae, draining them of their colour.
●    Algae are vital to the coral, which uses the organic products of photosynthesis to help it grow.
●    The loss of algae makes the host vulnerable to disease and means it will eventually die.
●    However, coral can recover if the water temperature drops and the algae are able to recolonise them.
●    Environmentalists blame the burning of fossil fuels for global warming and repeated calls for Australia to abandon coal mining to help prevent further bleaching disasters.

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