Current Affairs- 19th July
Science and Technology
Google Cloud announces second 'Cloud Region' in India
- Google Cloud India announced the launch of its new cloud region in Delhi NCR to further serve customers and the public sector in India and across Asia-Pacific. Designed to enable both Indian and global companies alike to build highly accessible applications for their customers, the Delhi NCR region is the second Google Cloud region in India and 10th in the Asia Pacific.
- With this new region, Google Cloud customers operating in India will benefit from low latency and high performance of their cloud-based workloads and data.
Pegasus phone tapping
- The government has dismissed the allegations regarding its surveillance on specific people saying that the allegation has no concrete basis or truth associated with it whatsoever. The government has clarified that India is a robust democracy that is committed to ensuring the right to privacy to all its citizens as a fundamental right.
- The government’s statement came in response to inquiries on the Pegasus Project media report. In the statement, the government said that in the past, similar claims were made regarding the use of Pegasus on WhatsApp by Indian State. It said, those reports also had no factual basis and were categorically denied by all parties, including WhatsApp in the Supreme Court.
Zurich Airport signs shareholder agreement with NIAL for upcoming Noida Airport
- Zurich Airport International has signed a shareholder agreement with Noida International Airport Limited or NIAL, an entity under the Uttar Pradesh government, for the development of the Noida International Airport. The agreement was signed by NIAL CEO Arun Vir Singh and Zurich Airport International’s 100% subsidiary Yamuna International Airport Pvt Ltd (YIAPL) CEO Christoph Schnellmann, while UP CM Yogi Adityanath was present. The YIAPL has been incorporated for the development of the Noida International Airport in Jewar.
- The agreement entitles NIAL to hold a golden share in YIAPL, along with the right to nominate to the board two directors.
Two dams collapse in China
- In China, two dams have collapsed in Hulun Buir, in northwestern region of Inner Mongolia after heavy rainfall. The dams, collapsed on Sunday afternoon the water ministry said on Monday, highlighting the safety risks posed by ageing infrastructure during the summer flood season. They had formed reservoirs with a combined water storage capacity of 46 million cubic metres, the Ministry of Water Resources said.
- People living downstream were evacuated, with no casualties reported, it said. According to Hulunbuir’s city government, 16,660 people were affected, 21,708 hectares of farmlands flooded, and 22 bridges destroyed. Other transport infrastructure had also been destroyed.
WHO plan for next phase of research in COVID origin excludes role of cold chain, frozen foods
- The World Health Organization has announced a plan for the next phase of research to further explore all possible pathways of introduction of SARS CoV-2 virus into the human population. The plan includes five areas of further inquiry, including in China. However, WHO proposal for the second phase of study did not include study of role of cold chains and frozen foods which China resorted to many times as an excuse to stop the shipments from India and other countries.
- It includes research into humans, animals and environments involved in wildlife farming and trade; animal markets in and around Wuhan; areas with the earliest signs of circulation of the virus or where related viruses have been found in animals; and additional genetic tracing and analysis.
US, Afghanistan, Pakistan and Uzbekistan to form new quad group
- Amid violence escalating in Afghanistan due to the pull out of troops by the United States, a new quadrilateral grouping is on the cards with the US, Afghanistan, Pakistan and Uzbekistan agreeing in principle to establish a new diplomatic platform.
- According to the Biden administration, the new grouping will focus on enhancing regional connectivity with a key focus on Afghanistan. “The parties consider long-term peace and stability in Afghanistan critical to regional connectivity and agree that peace and regional connectivity are mutually reinforcing,”.
Lewis Hamilton roars back to win British Grand Prix
- In Formula One, Lewis Hamilton roared back from a first-lap incident that sent championship leader Max Verstappen to the hospital and overcame a 10-second penalty to win the British Grand Prix and reignite his title defence. The seven-time champion won at his home track to snap a run of five races without a victory.
- He had dropped from second to fifth after he served his penalty, picked up two spots when he returned to the track and then Mercedes teammate Valtteri Bottas was ordered to move out of Hamilton’s way. It gave him 11 laps to chase down leader Charles Leclerc in a Ferrari.
- Hamilton made the pass for the win with just two laps to go and on the same corner where he had tangled with Verstappen.
Viswanathan Anand wins Sparkassen Trophy
- In a fascinating battle between two former World champions fought over four games in a brand new format of chess, Viswanathan Anand defeated Vladimir Kramnik to win the Sparkassen Trophy at Dortmund on Sunday.
- Anand needed only a draw in the final game of the No-Castling Chess event, and he got it in 40 moves.
- Anand had returned to over the board action at the Croatia Grand Chess Tour tournament in Zagreb last week and took overall second place (Rapid and Blitz sections combined).
Awards and Honours
Govt announces launch of National Logistics Excellence Awards
- Government on Monday announced the launch of National Logistics Excellence Awards to turn the spotlight on the logistics sector. The Awards will give due recognition to various players involved in the logistics supply chain. The awards are in two categories, the first group includes logistics infrastructure and service providers and second one is for various user industries.
- There was wide scale appreciation from user industries for giving the due recognition to various players involved in the logistics supply chain. The awards will highlight best practices including consolidation, process standardization, technological upgrade, digital transformations, and sustainable practices
Two communities from India bag the prestigious Equator Prize 2021
- Two communities from India bag this year’s prestigious UNDP Equator Prize, for their exceptional achievement in showcasing local, innovative, nature-based solutions for tackling biodiversity loss and climate change and achieving their local development goals.
- The two winning organizations from India out of the ten winners globally are— Aadhimalai Pazhangudiyinar Producer Company Limited and Snehakunja Trust.
- They will each receive a prize of US$10,000 and the opportunity to join a series of special virtual events associated with the UN General Assembly, the Nature for Life Hub and the UN Food Systems Summit later this year. They will join a network of 255 communities from over 80 countries that have received the Equator Prize since its inception in 2002.
Book and Author
The Indian Story by Bimal Jalan
- Former RBI governor Bimal Jalan’s new book ‘The India Story’ focuses on India’s economic history and aims to provide lessons for the future of India’s political economy.
- Referencing the post-2014 political moment and BJP-led majority government, Jalan introduces the concept of putting in place long-standing political and economic reforms nationwide.
- With that in mind, he traces India’s economic policies from 1991 to 2019 to offer insights on learning from the past, before moving ‘Beyond the Metrics of Economy’ to talk about the role of governance in implementing these policies.
Other Important Affairs
- The International Cricket Council inducted Mongolia, Tajikistan and Switzerland as the newest member countries at its 78th Annual General Meeting.
- Golf events will be played for the fourth time at the Tokyo Olympics. Before this, Golf has been included in the Summer Games only three times —in the 1900, 1904 and 2016 Rio.
- Youth Affairs and Sports Minister Anurag Thakur on Monday said Indian sportspersons and teams will be participating in the events of Tokyo Olympics across the 18 sports disciplines.
- India has emerged as the fifth-largest foreign exchange reserves holder in the world after China, Japan, Switzerland and Russia.
- An intact offering pot was found throughout the excavation at Mayiladumparai, a megalithic site, in Krishnagiri district.