Current Affairs – May 2019

CA May

India

INS Ranjit decommissioned after 36 years of service

INS Ranjit decommissioned after 36 years of service

The Indian Navy’s frontline missile destroyer, INS Ranjit, was decommissioned (removed from service) at the Naval Dockyard, Visakhapatnam, on 6 May 2019, after serving the navy for 36 years. Besides carrying out several naval operations including Operation Talwar, the ship was also at the forefront of relief operations after the 2004 Tsunami and Cyclone Hudhud in 2014.
According to a press release, the ship sailed for 2,190 days covering a distance of over 7,43,000 nautical miles, which is almost equal to navigating the world 35 times.
At the time of decommissioning of the ship, the national flag, the naval ensign (flag showing the country the ship belongs to) and the commissioning pennant (a streamer indicating the country the ship belongs to) were lowered. The solemn ceremony took place in the presence of the Lieutenant Governor of the Andaman and Nicobar Islands, Admiral (Retd.) Devendra Kumar Joshi, and officers and sailors from the commissioning crew and erstwhile commanding officers.
For more details, visit https://www.firstpost.com

Indian Navy launches fourth Scorpene-class submarine, INS Vela

Indian navy

The Indian Navy launched its fourth Scorpene-class submarine, INS Vela on 6 May 2019. It is a diesel-electric attack submarine equipped with modern machinery and technology. Scorpene-class submarines can undertake different types of missions, including anti-surface warfare, anti-submarine warfare, intelligence gathering, mine-laying and area surveillance.
For more details, visit http://pib.nic.in

IAF gets first Apache attack helicopter

IAF gets first Apache attack helicopter

The Indian Air Force (IAF) received its first-ever Apache Guardian attack helicopter manufactured by Boeing on 10 May 2019 in a ceremony held at the chopper production facility in Arizona, USA. India had signed a billion dollar deal for 22 Apache Guardian choppers in September 2015.
According to the IAF, these helicopters have the capability to carry out precision attacks at standoff ranges (ranges that enable the attacker to engage the target while being distant) and operate in hostile airspaces with threats from the ground. The most important feature of these helicopters is their ability to transmit and receive battlefield pictures from weapon systems using sophisticated technology.
The first batch of these helicopters is expected to be shipped to India by July.
For more details, visit https://www.business-standard.com

India joins global initiative to combat online extremism

India joined a global initiative, ‘Christchurch call to action’, during the Online Extremism Summit in Paris to combat terrorism and extremism online. The initiative was launched after a gunman killed 51 people in a terrorist attack on mosques in New Zealand while broadcasting it live on Facebook via a head-mounted camera.
Other countries that were a part of this initiative are France, New Zealand, Canada, the European Union and other countries. Social media giants, such as Twitter, Facebook, Google and Microsoft, supported the initiative with an intent to make the Internet a safe and secure place to be.
India was represented by Ajay Prakash Sawhney, Secretary to the Government of India, at the Paris Summit.
For more details, visit https://economictimes.indiatimes.com

Lok Sabha Elections 2019 results declared

After the declaration of the Lok Sabha results on 23 May 2019, Narendra Modi took oath as the Prime Minister of India for the second time, along with 57 other ministers occupying various portfolios at a ceremony in Rashtrapati Bhawan on 30 May 2019.
The cabinet of ministers saw several changes. Ministers in the previous government such as Arun Jaitley and Sushma Swaraj have not been given any responsibility in the new government due to their poor health. In addition, Maneka Gandhi, Jayant Sinha, Suresh Prabhu, Rajyavardhan Singh Rathore, and many more have been removed from the cabinet.
On the other hand, several new faces have been introduced in the 17th Lok Sabha cabinet. These include Amit Shah, S Jaishankar, Ramesh Pokhriyal Nishank, Arjun Munda, Pralhad Joshi and Arvind Sawant.
Nirmala Sitharaman became the first full-time woman finance minister of India. Other women ministers in the new Modi cabinet include Smriti Irani, Harsimrat Kaur Badal, Sadhvi Niranjan Jyoti, Renuka Singh and Debasree Chaudhuri.
The Union Cabinet comprises 24 cabinet ministers, 9 ministers of state with independent charge and 24 Ministers of State (MoS).
For more details, visit https://www.business-standard.com

Sports

Tennis legend Andy Murray receives Knighthood

Tennis legend Andy Murray receives Knighthood

Tennis champion Andy Murray received his knighthood at an investiture ceremony in Buckingham Palace, almost two years after he was awarded the honour.
Murray was announced as a knight in the Queen’s New Year’s Honours in 2016, a year in which he won his second Wimbledon title, second Olympic gold medal, and was selected the BBC Sports Personality of the Year for the third time.
The only tennis player to have won two Olympic singles gold medals, the singles titles at both the 2012 London Games as well as the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Games, Sir Andy plans to retire after Wimbledon this year following a hip injury.
For more details, visit https://www.bbc.com

Bajrang Punia bags gold in Ali Aliyev wrestling tournament

Haryana wrestler Bajrang Punia bagged a gold medal in men’s 65kg freestyle in the Ali Aliyev wrestling tournament on 2 May 2019 by defeating Russian wrestler Viktor Rassadin in Kaspiysk in the final round. It was his second title in two weeks. Earlier, in April, he won the gold medal by defeating Sayatbek Okassov in the final of the Asian Wrestling Championships in Xi’an, China.
Expressing happiness, Bajrang said, ‘I think the fact that I am competing in three different continents in three weeks is itself an incredible feat and I am thankful for all the support I have received through this period. I did have the belief that I could do well in these competitions and am pleased with my performances so far.’
With this feat, he is currently the highest ranked freestyle Asian wrestler in the world. Punia began wrestling at the age of seven on being encouraged by his father.
For more details, visit https://www.thequint.com

ICC appoints first female match referee

ICC appoints first female match referee

Former Indian cricketer G.S.Lakshmi scripted history by becoming the first ever female match referee in the world on 14 May 2019. Besides being a right-handed batswoman and a right-arm fast-medium outswing bowler, she has also served as a coach of the South Central Railways team after her retirement.
On battling all odds to become a referee, the 51-year-old said, ‘I would like to take this opportunity to thank the ICC, officials at the BCCI, my seniors in the cricketing circuit, my family and colleagues who have supported me over the years. I hope to live up to their expectations by doing my job to the best of my ability.’
Last month, Claire Polosak became the first woman to umpire a men’s one-day international. However, this wasn’t the first time that she stood in a men’s match. In 2017, she had become the first on-field female umpire to officiate a men’s domestic match in Australia.
For more details, visit https://www.icc-cricket.com

Virat Kohli, Jasprit Bumrah top ICC ODI Player Rankings 2019

The International Cricket Council published the player rankings on their official website on 22 May 2019. As per the data, Indian player Virat Kohli tops the Men’s ODI player rankings chart with 890 points, followed by Rohit Sharma (India) with 839 points and Ross Taylor (New Zealand) with 831 points. Indian player Jasprit Bumrah tops the ODI bowling rankings chart with 774 points, followed by Trent Boult (New Zealand) with 753 points and Rashid Khan (Afghanistan) with 713 points.
Men’s ODI team rankings chart has been topped by England with a rating of 125, followed by India with a rating of 121 and South Africa with a rating of 115 .
For more details, visit https://www.firstpost.com

ICC World Cup 2019 begins

The 2019 ICC Cricket World Cup began on 30 May with the first match played between England and South Africa at the Kennington Oval, London. This tournament is the international championship of One Day International (ODI) cricket and is played every four years. This is the 12th edition of the cricket World Cup and is being hosted by England and Wales. The ten participating teams are England, South Africa, West Indies, Pakistan, New Zealand, Sri Lanka, Afghanistan, Australia, Bangladesh and India. The final match is scheduled to be played on 14 July 2019 at the Lord’s Cricket Ground in London.
The 11th edition of the World Cup was jointly hosted by Australia and New Zealand between 14 February and 29 March 2015. Australia emerged the winner defeating New Zealand by 7 wickets in the final. It was Australia’s fifth World Cup trophy.
India has won the World Cup twice so far – in 1983 and in 2011.
For more details, visit https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com

Literature

Indian writer Annie Zaidi wins Nine Dots Prize 2019-20

Indian writer Annie Zaidi wins Nine Dots Prize 2019-20

Indian writer Annie Zaidi has been declared the 2019 winner of the Nine Dots Prize for her entry titled, ‘Bread, Cement, Cactus’, a memoir and reportage exploring concepts of home and belonging.
The 40-year-old Mumbai-based freelancer is currently working on fiction, scripts and columns for various magazines and newspapers. Her work includes reportage, essays, short stories, poetry and plays.
The entrants of this award are required to respond to a question in 3,000 words and the winner receives $100,000 to write a short book expanding on their ideas. The prize cycle lasts for a period of two years and a new question is announced every alternate October. The entrants should be at least 18 years old to be eligible to participate. Moreover, the entries and the book must be published in English.
This prize is awarded to promote, encourage and engage innovative thinking to address problems facing the modern world.
For more details, visit https://ninedotsprize.org

Celestial Bodies wins Man Booker International Prize 2019

Omani author Jokha Al-harthi became the first Arabic-language writer to win the Man Booker International prize for her novel Celestial Bodies on 21 May 2019. The book is set in the village of al-Awafi in Oman and revolves around the story of three sisters.
Jokha is also the first female Omani writer to have her work translated into English. She shared the £50,000 prize equally with the book’s translator, American academic Marilyn Booth.
The other five finalists in the list were Annie Ernaux (The Years), Marion Poschmann (The Pine Islands), Olga Tokarczuk (Drive Your Plow Over The Bones Of The Dead), Juan Gabriel Vasquez (The Shape of the Ruins), Alia Trabucco Zeran (The Remainder).
The Man Booker International Prize is the world’s most significant award for translated fiction. It is given for the best book translated into English and published in Britain. It is a counterpart of the Booker Prize, which is given for the best original novel written in the English language and published in the United Kingdom.
For more details, visit https://thebookerprizes.com

Environment

26 Maharashtra reservoirs hit zero water storage level

Maharashtra is in the throes of a severe water scarcity with a quarter of the dams in the state becoming dry. According to the statistics provided by the Soil and Water Conservation Department on 18 May 2019, 26 reservoirs in the state have zero water storage. It also added that water storage in the state’s 103 large, medium and small reservoirs stands at 11.84%, as opposed to 23.73% last year.
The dams include Paithan, Manjara, Majalgaon, Yeldari, Siddeshwar, Lower Terna, Sina Kolegaon, Lower Dhudna, Kadakpurna, Pentakli, Gosikhurd, Dina, Nand, Upper Tapi Hathnur, Waki, Bham, Bhavli, Punegaon, Dibhe, Ghod, Pimpalgaon Joge, Wadaj, Temghar, Bhima, Kundali Tata and Lonavala Tata.
For more details, visit https://www.business-standard.com

Fully recyclable plastic created

A team of researchers at the U.S. Department of Energy said that it has created a kind of plastic that is 100% recyclable. The discovery made by them was published in the journal, Nature Chemistry.The new material is a plastic polymer called polydiketoenamine, or PDK. It can be broken down into parts at the molecular level and then assembled again to form plastics of different shapes, textures, colours and more.
The research team, comprising Peter Christensen, Kathryn Loeffler and Brett Helms, is also planning to develop PDK plastics with thermal and mechanical properties. Moreover, they are planning to include plant-based materials in the process as well.
For more details, visit https://www.business-standard.com

Extinct white-throated bird evolves twice

Extinct white-throated bird evolves twice

Researchers from the University of Portsmouth and London’s Natural History Museum discovered that a species of white-throated rail bird that became extinct in fact evolved twice over a period of two thousand years. These birds first colonised an isolated atoll called Aldabra in the Indian Ocean around 240,000 years ago. Over a period of time, they lost their ability to fly as plenty was food was available on the atoll and there were no predators. However, 136,000 years ago, the atoll was flooded killing all life including these birds. The researchers found that nearly 20,000 years later, a new population of white-throated rails arrived on the atoll, and over time they too lost their ability to fly.
According to the researchers, the birds evolved through a process called iterative evolution. Iterative evolution happens when same or similar structures evolve from a common ancestor, but at different times. These flightless birds are still found in the Indian Ocean region.
For more details, visit https://www.bbc.co.uk

India’s last Orangutan Binny dies

India’s only orangutan, Binny, died in the Nandankanan Zoological Park, Odisha, on 29 May 2019 following a prolonged illness. 41-year-old Binny was suffering from cold and old age-related respiratory tract issues and was being treated by experts from the College of Veterinary Science and Animal Husbandry, Odisha for almost a year.
She came all the way from Singapore to Pune and then was brought to Odisha on 20 November 2003 when she was 25 years old. She had been living alone all these years as the zoo authorities failed to get a male orangutan.
For more details, visit https://www.indiatoday.in

New snake species discovered in India

Taxonomists have discovered a non-venomous species of snake, Smithophis atemporalis, in Mizoram. The snake has been named after British herpetologist, Malcom A Smith, for his contribution to Indian herpetology (scientific study of reptiles and amphibians). This extremely rare snake is approximately 655 mm in length and does not have any temporal scales. The findings were published in the New Zealand-based journal Zootaxa.
In addition, a new vine snake species has also been discovered in the eastern part of Odisha. The researchers have named it Ahaetulla laudankia or Laudankia. Laudankia has an ochre brown dorsal body, narrow head, pointed snouts and an orangish belly. With this discovery, Odisha is now home to three rare species of snakes, the other two being the common Indian vine snake and the variable-coloured vine snake.
For more details, visit https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com

World

Britain and Ireland declare climate emergency

The U.K. Parliament declared an environment and climate emergency on 1 May 2019. The state of emergency was one of the key concerns raised by the environmentalist group, Extinction Rebellion, which led to several protests in London in April. Celebrities like Emma Thompson and Greta Thunberg participated in the protests and urged localites to join them.
The aim of the climate emergency is to reduce carbon emissions by 80% by 2050.
Following Britain’s example, the Republic of Ireland became the second country to declare a climate and biodiversity emergency. Talking about the decision, the Climate Action Minister Richard Bruton said, ‘We’re reaching a tipping point in respect of climate deterioration.’ He further added, ‘Things will deteriorate very rapidly unless we move very swiftly and the window of opportunity to do that is fast closing.’
For more details, visit https://www.independent.co.uk

Retired SC judge made non-resident judge of Fiji Supreme Court

Retired Supreme Court judge Justice Madan Lokur has been appointed a non-resident judge of the Supreme Court of Fiji for a period of three years. Justice Lokur will join his new role on 15 August this year. The Supreme Court of Fiji conducts two sessions in a year, divided across four weeks.
Fiji has previously invited judges from Australia, New Zealand, Sri Lanka, Singapore, South Africa and Malaysia to be a part of its non-resident panel.
Prior to serving a term of over six years as the senior-most Supreme Court judge, Justice Lokur was the Chief Justice of Gauhati High Court and the Andhra Pradesh High Court. He was also the Acting Chief Justice of the Delhi High Court.
For more details, visit https://www.business-standard.com

Singapore reports first case of rare monkeypox virus

Singapore has reported its first ever case of monkeypox virus. In a statement, the Singapore’s Ministry of Health said that the virus was detected in a 38-year-old Nigerian patient who might have been infected by bushmeat he ate at a wedding.
The monkeypox virus is similar to the human smallpox virus. Although smallpox was eradicated in 1980, monkeypox is endemic to the villages of Central and West Africa. According to the US-based Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, it has been reported only three times outside Africa; in the US, the UK and Israel.
The symptoms include fever, headache, muscle ache, backache, swollen lymph nodes, a general feeling of discomfort and exhaustion. Humans contract the disease through the bite of an infected animal or through direct contact with the animal’s lesions or bodily fluids. Monkeypox usually lasts for a period of two to four weeks.
For more details, visit https://www.reuters.com

Science & Technology

Japan’s first private rocket, ‘Momo-3’ launched

Japan’s first private rocket, ‘Momo-3’ launched

Interstellar Technology Inc., a Japanese aerospace startup, launched the country’s first private rocket ‘Momo-3’ on 5 May 2019. The rocket, which barely weighs one tonne, lifted off from the test site in Hokkaido. The unmanned rocket flew up to an altitude of 110 kilometers (68 miles) before diving into the Pacific Ocean ten minutes after it took off. The rocket is 10 metres in length and 50 centimetres in diameter.
Founded in 2013, Interstellar Technology aims to develop low-cost commercial rockets to carry satellites into space. The company had made two unsuccessful attempts to launch a rocket in 2017 and 2018.
For more details, visit https://www.business-standard.com

Department of Biotechnology launches human atlas initiative

The Department of Biotechnology (DBT) under the Ministry of Science and Technology launched ‘MANAV’, a human atlas initiative, in New Delhi on 10 May 2019. The aim of this programme is to gain biological insights into the human body through physiological and molecular mapping of tissues and developing disease models through predictive computing. Moreover, it aims to understand and capture human physiology in two stages – normal stage and disease stage.
DBT has allotted ₹13 crores to the Indian Institute of Science, Education and Research (IISER), Pune and the National Centre for Cell Science (NCCS), Pune for research purposes. In addition, Persistent Systems has co-funded the project with ₹7 crores for developing the platform.
For more details, visit https://indianexpress.com

Moon is shrinking: NASA

According to a study published by NASA on 13 May 2019, the moon is shrinking like a raisin. This means that just as a grape wrinkles when it shrinks down to a raisin, the moon also gets wrinkles when it shrinks. However, unlike the grape, the moon’s surface is brittle and thus, it ends up breaking.
The study goes on to mention that this breaking down of the moon’s crust forms ‘thrust faults’. The evidence, therefore, confirms that these faults are still active and most likely causing moonquakes as the moon continues to gradually cool and shrink.
The moon has apparently got about 150 feet thinner over the last few hundred million years.
For more details, visit https://www.nasa.gov

ABHYAS drone successfully flight-tested in India

ABHYAS drone successfully flight-tested in India

The Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) successfully flight-tested the Abhyas High-speed Expendable Aerial Target (HEAT) drone on 13 May 2019 from the Integrated Test Range (ITR) at Chandipur in Balasore, Odisha. The trial was tracked by multiple radars and electro-optic systems.
This pilotless aircraft has been designed to serve as a target in live-fire weapons tests. In addition, it features sensors, including acoustic missile distance indicators, to enable engineers to gather information on live-fire tests.
For more details, visit https://thediplomat.com

NASA researchers find evidence of water on Ultima Thule surface

A team of researchers from NASA’s New Horizons mission have found evidence of a unique mixture of methanol, water ice, and organic molecules on the surface of Ultima Thule — the farthest cosmic body explored by mankind. Ultima Thule is located four billion miles away from Earth, beyond the orbit of Neptune. It is made of two reddish globes joined by a narrow neck. The team published the first peer-reviewed scientific results and interpretations in the May 17 issue of the journal Science. New Horizons is an interplanetary space probe that was launched on 19 January 2016 as part of NASA’s New Frontiers Program.
According to the report, researchers are also investigating surface features on Ultima Thule, such as bright spots and patches, hills and troughs, and craters and pits.

For more details, visit https://www.nasa.gov

ISRO successfully launches RISAT-2B

The Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) successfully launched the RISAT-2B satellite from Satish Dhawan Space Centre (SDSC) SHAR, Sriharikota in Andhra Pradesh on 22 May 2019. This radar imaging earth observation satellite weighs around 615 kgs.
The satellite, which was launched into an orbit of 556 km above the Earth, is intended to provide services in the fields of agriculture, forestry and disaster management. The satellite is equipped with a synthetic aperture radar that is capable of capturing pictures of Earth during the day and night. It can take pictures even during cloudy conditions.
For more details, visit http://pib.nic.in

Miscellaneous

Chhaya Sharma gets McCain Institute award

Chhaya Sharma, Deputy Inspector General (DIG) at the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) of India, was awarded the McCain Institute’s 2019 Award for Courage and Leadership on 8 May 2019. Although she has led teams in detection and investigation of several sensitive criminal cases and protection of human rights, it was her role in the investigation of the Nirbhaya gang-rape and murder case that took place in Delhi in December 2012 that brought her into the limelight.
The McCain Institute for International Leadership’s Award for Courage and Leadership is presented to an individual who has stood unwaveringly for fundamental values and has inspired the world through acts of selfless courage.
For more details, visit https://www.mccaininstitute.org

Victor Vescovo sets new world record with deepest dive

53-year-old American businessman Victor Vescovo created a world record by going 35,853 feet down in a submersible into the deepest part of the Earth —Mariana Trench’s Challenger Deep. It is a 1,500 mile long trench in the Pacific sea floor with a 6.8-mile-long opening, which has been visited only twice before by humans.
’It’s almost indescribable how excited all of us are about achieving what we just did,’ said the ocean explorer from Dallas, Texas.
Moreover, with this feat, he set a new record by being the only person to visit the top (Mt.Everest) and bottom of the world.
For more details, visit https://www.forbes.com


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