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Evening News Digest: 17 Aug 2018

Centre proposes FAO to declare 2019 as International Year of Millets

  • India has proposed to the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization to declare the year 2019 as international year of millets.
  • This will promote cultivation by amending cropping patterns of areas which are especially susceptible to climate change.
  • India has designated year 2018 as the National Year of Millets.
  • Millet is a common term to categorize small-seeded grasses that are often termed nutri-cereals or dryland-cereals.
  • Themillets commonly grown in India include: 
    • bajra (pearl millet), 
    • jowar (sorghum), 
    • ragi (finger  millet),  
    • barri(proso/common millet),  
    • jhangora (barnyard  millet),  
    • kangni (foxtail/ Italian  millet),  
    • kodra (kodo  millet) etc. 

India, Singapore to commemorate 25th anniversary of maritime bilateral exercise

  • The Indian and Singapore navies will conduct 25th joint exercises next month to commemorate completing 25 years of maritime exercises between these two countries.
  • Singapore’s importance for India:
    • Singapore is a leading source of investment in India and a key financial market for Indian companies.
    • The country is the gateway to the Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN) and a broader East.
    • Singapore is a leading destination for outbound Indian investments, which accounts for about 20 per cent.
    • Approximately 8,000 Indian companies are registered in Singapore.
    • With US$17.6billion, Singapore was the second largest trading partner of India in 2017-18.

Paraguay: Mario Abdo Benítez sworn in as new President

  • Colorado Party’s Mario Abdo Benitez was sworn in on August 15, 2018 as the new President of Paraguay for a five-year term.
  • Benitez clinched the top spot after defeating his closest rival, Efrain Alegre from the liberal opposition alliance, by four percentage points in the nation’s elections, which were held in April 2018. 
  • Economy-wise, Paraguay has enjoyed strong economic growth in recent years.

Qatar to invest 15bn in Turkey's financial markets and banks

  • Qatar’s Emir Shiekh Tamim Bin Hamad Al-Thani made a short visit to the Turkish capital on August 15 for talks with President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.
  • Sheikh Tamim will provide $15bn in aid to Turkey via support for a host of economic projects, investments and deposits.
  • What has gone wrong in Turkey?
    • Turkey’s currency and its economy have been battered as a result of a dispute with the U.S. over the jailing in Turkey of evangelical pastor Andrew Brunson.
    • The U.S. has imposed sanctions and both sides have been raising tariffs on each other’s goods.
    • Turkish Lira has deteriorated by more than 40% in the last 2 weeks after the announcement of tariff on Turkish goods by the USA.
    • Foreign companies are on the run from Turkey and investments are drying up and it is feared that it can force Turkey into economic crisis.
  • Impact on other Countries?
    • Dollar has strengthen in the world currency market.
    • Developing countries’ currencies including India are weakening.
    • The main problem is that higher interest rates in the US are attracting the investors to the US market. Emerging markets are still vulnerable and when investors withdraw their money the currency weakens.

US imposes Sanctions on Chinese, Russian companies over North Korea

  • The United States imposed sanctions on a Russian port service agency and Chinese firms for aiding North Korean ships and selling alcohol and tobacco to Pyongyang in breach of U.S. sanctions.
  • The United States has been pressuring North Korea via sanctions to give up its nuclear weapons program.
  • UN Sanctions on North Korea:
    • The fifteen-member UN Security Council has passed nine rounds of sanctions, all unanimously, against North Korea since its first nuclear test.
    • Ban on trade of arms and military equipment, dual-use technology, transport vehicles, and industrial machinery and metals.
    • Cap on North Korean labor exports
    • Cap on oil and all refined petroleum products and ban on natural gas imports
    • Restrictions on fishing rights
    • US Sanctions on North Koreas:
    • In September 2017, President Trump authorized the Treasury Department to block from the U.S. financial system any foreign business or individual that facilitates trade with North Korea.

Indian Classic Junior Open Squash: Unseeded Fadte, Sanya clinch junior titles

  • Yash Fadte defeated Chaitanya Shah in four games to clinch the 3rd Indian Classic Junior Open squash tournament title.
  • In the girls’ U-19 final, Sanya Vats defeated top-seed Amita Gondi.

Ang Lee to be honoured by Directors Guild of America

  • Oscar-winning director Ang Lee will be one of the recipients of the annual Directors Guild of America (DGA) honours at its ceremony.
  • The event will be held at the DGA Theatre in New York City on October 18.
  • The DGA Honours recognises individuals and institutions that have made distinguished contributions to American culture through the world of film and television, and recognises the diversity of achievement.
  • Ang Lee had received Oscar for the best director for the movie Life of Pi in 2013.

Reduce water level in Mullaperiyar to 139 ft, orders SC

  • The Supreme Court on 16 Aug has asked the Tamil Nadu and Kerala government to make an effort towards reducing the water level in the Mullaperiya dam.
  • The water level should be reduced from 142 to 139 feet.
  • Mullaperiyar dam is situated in Idukki district of Kerala.
  • Torrential rains continue to batter Kerala for the seventh day in a row, causing widespread flooding and landslides that have led to the deaths of more than 100 people.
  • For the first time ever, the state government opened 35 of its 39 dams that had dangerously breached their water levels, adding to the flooding.

Environment Ministry allows scientists to test land for LIGO

  • The Environment Ministry has allowed scientists to test the suitability of land in Maharashtra’s Hingoli district to host the LIGO project.
  • LIGO – Laser Interferometer Gravitational Wave Observatory.
  • It will be first of its kind astronomical observatory.
  • LIGO Project – It involves constructing a network of L-shaped arms, each 4 KM long, which can detect the ripples from cosmic explosion.
  • In 2017, three US scientists received Nobel for physics for their discovery of gravitational waves.
  • However, the construction of a LIGO site requires a flat surface for almost 100 KM.
  • There are only three LIGO sites in the world and all three are situated in the US.
  • Benefits:
    • LIGO-India will add to the existing network of detectors that identify sources of measurable gravitational waves such as black holes, neutron stars and supernovae.
    • LIGO-India will also bring considerable opportunities in cutting edge technology for the Indian industry, which may have many military applications.
    • Scientists have long believed that measurement of gravitational waves can help us better understand the structure of neutron stars, the location and distribution of black holes in space and the physical processes that occurred during the Big Bang.

'Queen of Soul' Aretha Franklin dies at home in Detroit aged 76

  • Aretha Franklin, whose powerful voice made her the long-reigning “Queen of Soul” with such hit songs as “Respect” and “Chain of Fools,” died at the age of 76.
  • She had won 18 Grammy Awards and had some 25 gold records.

 Watch Current Affairs Video: 17 August 2018

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