Current Affairs- 8th July

National

Defence Ministry implements SPARSH

Defence Ministry implements SPARSH
  • The Defence Ministry has implemented SPARSH, an integrated system for automation of sanction and disbursement of defence pension. This web-based system processes pension claims and credits pension directly into the bank accounts of defence pensioners without relying on any external intermediary.
  • SPARSH envisages establishment of Service Centres to provide last mile connectivity to pensioners who may be unable to directly access the SPARSH portal for any reason. In addition to several offices of the Defence Accounts Department, which are already functioning as Service Centres for pensioners, the two largest banks dealing with defence pensioners – State Bank of India and Punjab National Bank have been co-opted as Service Centres.

‘Books at Doorstep’ a hit among school children in Ernakulam

‘Books at Doorstep’ a hit among school children in Ernakulam
  • The Ernakulam District Library Council’s initiative, ‘Books at Doorstep’, to revive reading habits among school children, has evoked enthusiastic response and is on course to exceed the target. The project, launched this month, aims at reaching out to 25,000 families spread across 500 libraries under the district library council.
  • The idea was to lend one lakh books a month by giving four books to a child and cover at least 50 households within every library limits. “We expected to lend 12 lakh books a year, but are now very likely to exceed that going by the great response to the project. In fact, some libraries have taken it with such zeal that they have already covered over a hundred households,” said M.R. Surendran, secretary, Ernakulam District Library Council.

PM Modi Cabinet reshuffle

  • The Delhi Metro Rail Corporation (DMRC) launched India’s first FASTag or Unified Payments Interface (UPI)-based parking facility to reduce the time for entry and payment. The facility was launched at Kashmere Gate metro station.
  • As part of the Multi-Model Integration (MMI) initiative, dedicated Intermediate Public Transport (IPT) lanes for autos, taxis and r-Rickshaws were also inaugurated at the station.
  • The facility can accommodate 55 four-wheelers and 174 two-wheelers. The entry and exit and payment of 4-wheelers can be done through the FASTag. The parking fee will be deducted through FASTag, which will reduce the time for entry and payment. Only the vehicles with FASTag will be allowed to park in this facility.

International

World’s biggest sandcastle constructed in Denmark

  • At a height of 21.16 metres, and standing 3.5m higher than the previous record holder, the world’s tallest sandcastle was unveiled in Denmark.
  • The sandcastle built in Blokhus in northwest Denmark broke the Guinness World record previously held by a sandcastle constructed in Germany in 2019, which was 17.66m tall.
  • Dutch designer Wilfred Stijger said his creation was inspired by the coronavirus pandemic.
  • He said he put a coronavirus bacteria as a crown atop the castle to illustrate how the virus is ruling our world, and not allowing us to do what we want to do.

India-Gambia sign MoU to strengthen cooperation in governance reforms

India-Gambia sign MoU to strengthen cooperation in governance reforms
  • The Department of Administrative Reforms and Public Grievances, India and Public Service Commission, Gambia have signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) today on Refurbishing Personnel Administration and Governance Reforms.
  • The MoU aims at strengthening and promoting bilateral cooperation between India and Gambia in Personnel Administration and Governance Reforms. Areas such as Improving Performance Management System in Government, Implementation of contributory Pension Scheme and e-Recruitment in Government would be covered.

Japan declares state of emergency 2 weeks ahead of Tokyo Olympics

Japan declares state of emergency 2 weeks ahead of Tokyo Olympics
  • Japan has declared a state of emergency in Tokyo which will run throughout the Olympic Games, to combat COVID-19.
  • Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga informed the media that it would remain in place until 22nd August.
  • One of the minister announced bars and restaurants will not be allowed to serve alcohol and must close by 20:00 local time.
  • Coronavirus infections are rising in Tokyo as the 23rd July opening ceremony edges closer.

China bans super skyscrapers over 500 metres, citing safety concerns

China bans super skyscrapers over 500 metres, citing safety concerns
  • China has issued a circular banning the new construction of skyscrapers above 500 meters amid fears that the race to push skyward over the past three decades may have compromised building safety and led to a glut of office space.
  • As reported by the state news agency, a circular issued by the National Development and Reform Commission said, buildings above 250 meters are strictly restricted, and if they do need to be built, the construction plans should be reviewed over a slew of aspects including fire safety and filed with the Ministry of Housing and Urban-Rural Development

INS Tabar conducts maritime partnership exercise with Italian Navy

INS Tabar conducts maritime partnership exercise with Italian Navy
  • Indian Naval Ship Tabar this week participated in military exercises with a frontline frigate of the Italian Navy after it entered the Port of Naples as part of an ongoing deployment to the Mediterranean.
  • During the stay in port commanding officer Captain Mahesh Mangipudi called on senior officers of the Prefect of Naples Authority, the regional Italian navy headquarters and the coast guard headquarters.
  • “On departure from port, the ship also undertook a Maritime Partnership Exercise with ITS Antonio Marceglia, a frontline frigate of the Italian Navy, on 4- 5 July in the Tyrrhenian Sea.

Sports

England beat Denmark 2-1 to set up final clash against Italy

England beat Denmark 2-1 to set up final clash against Italy
  • In Euro Cup Football, England will clash Italy in the final at the Wembley Stadium, London on Sunday.
  • England beat Denmark 2-1 to set up final clash against Italy. England reached its first major international tournament final after a gap of 55 years as the three lions registered a win against Denmark in the second semi-final of Euro 2020 at the Wembley Stadium, London.
  • Harry Kane converted the rebound after his initial penalty was saved in the 104th minute to give England a come-from-behind 2-1 win over Denmark in extra time in the semifinals.
  • In the first semifinal, Italy beat Spain on penalties to reach the final of the tournament.

Awards and Honours

Economist Kaushik Basu gets Humboldt award

Economist Kaushik Basu gets Humboldt award
  • Indian economist Kaushik Basu has been awarded the Humboldt Research Award for Economics. The award was conferred on him by Professor Dr Hans-Bernd Schäfer of Bucerius Law School in Hamburg, Germany.
  • A former chief economist of the World Bank, Basu is currently a professor of Economics at Cornell University. He also served as the Government of India’s chief economic advisor from 2009 to 2012. Basu is also a recipient of the Padma Bhushan, the third-highest civilian award in India.
  • A graduate of the London School of Economics, Kaushik Basu is also the sitting president of the International Economic Association.

Other Important Affairs

  • The Union Cabinet has approved the Memorandum on Cooperation (MoC) between Competition Commission of India (CCI) and Japan Fair Trade Commission (JFTC) to promote and strengthen cooperation in the matter of Competition Law and Policy.
  • The Olympic torch relay has been cancelled on the streets of Tokyo in Japan, as fears over the spread of COVID-19 continue to plague the Games. Starting Friday, public relay events in the city will be replaced with flame-lighting ceremonies streamed online.
  • The Indian Army has named one of its firing ranges after Bollywood actress Vidya Balan, situated at Gulmarg in the Baramulla district of Jammu & Kashmir.
  • The government has merged the Department of Public Enterprises (DPE) with the finance ministry to give it a better control over state-owned firms and facilitate its ambitious privatisation programme.