Current Affairs- 18th June

Science and Technology

'Lambda', the New COVID-19 Variant Found in 29 Countries

'Lambda', the New COVID-19 Variant Found in 29 Countries
  • The World Health Organization has named a new COVID-19 virus strain in its ‘variant of interest’ list. This new addition to the list is astrain named ‘Lambda’ that was first detected in August 2020 in Peru. Since then, the variant has been reported in over 29 countries across the globe. On June 14, the WHO classified it as a global variant due to an elevated prevalence in South America.
  • According to the limited data available so far, WHO reported that the ‘Lambda’ variant carries mutations that might increase transmissibility or strengthen the virus’s resistance to antibodies. However, the evidence isn’t enough to draw any conclusion and the WHO plans to conduct new studies to understand more about the new virus strain.

National

Indian Navy pilots awarded prestigious "Wings" at passing out parade

Indian Navy pilots awarded prestigious "Wings" at passing out parade
  • In Tamilnadu, Seven Indian Navy pilots were awarded the prestigious “Wings” by Vice Admiral Ajendra Bahadur Singh, Flag officer, Commanding in Chief Eastern Naval Command at the passing out parade today. The graduation of the 96th Helicopter Conversion Course was held at the INS Rajali Air Base Arakkonam.
  • The pilots were given rigorous training for 22 weeks at the Helicopter training Schools under strict compliance of COVID protocols. The newly qualified pilots will be appointed to various frontline operational units of the Indian Navy such as reconnaissance, Surveillance, SAR and anti piracy patrols.

Plan to restructure OFB into seven entities gets approval

Plan to restructure OFB into seven entities gets approval
  • The government has approved the proposal to restructure the nearly 200-year-old Ordnance Factory Board that operates 41 ammunition and military equipment production facilities into seven state-owned corporate entities to improve its accountability, efficiency and competitiveness.
  • The decision to corporatize the OFB on the lines of defence public sector undertakings was taken at a meeting of the union cabinet chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, nearly two decades after the reform measure was first mooted to bring professionalism and significantly enhance its productivity, officials said.

International

IN-EUNAVFOR Joint Naval Exercise in Gulf of Aden

IN-EUNAVFOR Joint Naval Exercise in Gulf of Aden
  • Indian Naval Ship Trikand, a mission deployed for Anti-Piracy Operations, is participating in the maiden IN-EUNAVFOR Joint Naval Exercise in the Gulf of Aden. A total of five warships from four navies are participating in the two day exercise which commenced today. Other warships include Italian Navy Ship ITS Carabiniere, Spanish Navy Ship ESPS Navarra, and two French Navy Ships FS Tonnerre and FS Surcouf.
  • The two-day exercise will see high tempo-naval operations at sea, including advanced air defence and anti-submarine exercises, cross deck helicopter operations, tactical manoeuvres, boarding operations, underway replenishment, Search and Rescue

Nestle and Cargill win child slavery case at Supreme Court (US)

Nestle and Cargill win child slavery case at Supreme Court (US)
  • The US Supreme Court has ruled food giants Nestlé USA and Cargill can’t be sued for child slavery on African farms from where they buy their cocoa.
  • Six African men alleged that they were trafficked from Mali and forced to work on cocoa farms in Ivory Coast. The group say both companies perpetuated that slave trade to keep cocoa prices low.
  • The court ruled 8-1 that the group had no standing because the abuse happened outside the US.
  • While decrying child slavery, the companies argued the case should instead be made against the traffickers and the farmers who kept them in such conditions.

IMD World Competitive Index 2021

IMD World Competitive Index 2021
  • India maintained 43rd rank on an annual World Competitiveness Index compiled by the Institute for Management Development (IMD) that examined the impact of COVID-19 on economies around the world this year.
  • The 64-nation list was led by Switzerland, while Sweden has moved up to the second position (from sixth last year), Denmark has lost one place to rank third, the Netherlands has retained its fourth place and Singapore has slipped to the fifth place (from first in 2020).
  • Among the BRICS nations, India is ranked second after China (16), followed by Russia (45th), Brazil (57th) and South Africa (62th).

Montek Ahluwalia named member of World Bank-IMF High-Level Advisory Group

  • Montek Singh Ahluwalia, former Deputy Chairman of the Planning Commission and distinguished fellow at the Centre for Social and Economic Progress (CSEP), was named as a member of a High-Level Advisory Group (HLAG) formed by the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) in the face of the dual crisis posed by the Covid-19 pandemic and climate change.
  • Speaking on the immediate priorities for the HLAG, Montek said, “Climate change is at the top of the agenda this year in both developed and emerging market countries and the CoP 26 in November is expected to spell out what the international community needs to do.

British lawyer Karim Khan sworn in as ICC's chief prosecutor

British lawyer Karim Khan sworn in as ICC's chief prosecutor
  • British barrister Karim Khan took over as the International Criminal Court’s top prosecutor with a pledge to improve its track record by taking only its strongest cases to trial.
  • Khan, who is only the third person to hold the role, faces many challenges at a time of fierce political pressure on the world’s permanent war crimes tribunal.
  • He takes over from Fatou Bensouda of Gambia, whose nine-year term ended Tuesday.
  • Khan, 51, took an oath to serve his nine-year term honourably and impartially during a ceremony in The Hague. He said one of his main tasks would be improving the performance of the prosecutor’s office.

Sports

PUMA signs Yuvraj Singh as brand ambassador of PUMA Motorsport in India

PUMA signs Yuvraj Singh as brand ambassador of PUMA Motorsport in India
  • PUMA announces the extension of its partnership with former Indian Cricketer Yuvraj Singh. Moving from cricket to the fast lane, Yuvraj will now be seen in a new avatar as the face of PUMA Motorsport in India, showcasing his passion for fast cars and sports-inspired fashion. With this, Yuvraj also joins the brand’s global league of legends like Thierry Henry, Boris Becker, and Usain Bolt.
  • Commenting on his association with PUMA, Yuvraj Singh says,“I share a long and fruitful relationship with PUMA, it’s like family. They have supported me through every point of my career—highs as well as lows. I am excited to continue working with the brand, blending my love for fast cars and style through PUMA’s motorsport-inspired collection.”

Days and Dates

Sustainable Gastronomy Day: 18th June

Sustainable Gastronomy Day: 18th June
  • Sustainable Gastronomy Day emphasizes the need to focus the world’s attention on the role that sustainable gastronomy can play. It also reaffirms that all cultures and civilizations are contributors and crucial enablers of sustainable development.
  • Sustainable gastronomy can play a role due to its interlinkages with the three dimensions of sustainable development, in achieving the Sustainable Development Goals by promoting- agricultural development, food security, nutrition, sustainable food production, and conservation of biodiversity.

Other Important Affairs

  • Minister for Road Transport and Highways Nitin Gadkari said, Government’s target is to reduce road accident deaths by 50 percent by 2024.
  • Indian Embassy in Beijing will organize International Day of Yoga celebrations on Sunday. Around 500 people will participate in the event.
  • The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) was second only to Turkey in terms of reserves transferred to the government as a percentage of gross domestic product (GDP) for the fiscal year 2020-21.