Current Affairs of 17th December 2019

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Brazil to promote ethanol in President of Brazil Jair Bolsonaro’s visit to India

Ethanol will be one of the main items on the agenda of Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro‘s official visit to India in January, Sugar, And Ethanol Industry Group Unica said on Tuesday.

According to Unica’s head, Evandro Gussi, the Brazilian government will discuss ways to assist India in boosting its ethanol program, such as increasing production and blending it with gasoline, which could help reduce sugar stocks in the Asian country and boost global prices for the sweetener.

An increase in production and blending of ethanol in India would reduce the need for the government to subsidize the sugar sector and also reduce its oil and gasoline import bills.

Larger ethanol blending in gasoline could as well help reduce pollution in large cities, a critical problem in India. Unica estimates that ethanol use in Brazil in 2019 will lead to total emissions reductions of 80 million tonnes of carbon. Brazil blends gasoline with 27% of ethanol, and 90% of the car fleet can run on 100% hydrous ethanol due to flex engines.

ADB issues $250 million loan to India to expand energy efficiency investments

The Asian Development Bank (ADB)

The Asian Development Bank (ADB) and the Government of India on December 16, 2019, signed a USD 250 million loans to Energy Efficiency Services Limited (EESL) to expand energy efficiency investments in India that will benefit agricultural, residential and institutional consumers.

In addition to this, USD 46 million financings will be provided from the Clean Technology Fund (CTF) that will be administered by the ADB.

The ADB previously approved a USD 200 million loan to public sector company EESL in 2016 for demand-side energy efficiency sector projects that focused on efficient lighting and appliances.

EESL will also explore business models to generate greater public demand for e-vehicles to support India’s current push for electric vehicles. Besides the loan amount, technical assistance (TA) of USD 2 million will be provided to support EESL in implementing the project, including a gender action plan, mobilizing private sector participation in energy efficiency services, identifying new business opportunities, and transferring knowledge about successful models.

A star and its planet gets Indian names

A white-yellow star in Sextans constellation and its Jupiter like exo-planets, which were hitherto named HD 86081 and 86081b, will now have Indian names.

The International Astronomical Union announced that while the star will be called Bibha, the planet will be called Santamasa.

The star has been named in honour of a pioneering Indian woman scientist Dr. Bibha Choudhury, who discovered subatomic particle, pi-meson, Bhibha also means “a bright beam of light” in Bengali.  The planet has been named Santamasa to reflect the cloudy nature of its atmosphere. Santamasa is the Sanskrit term for “clouded”.

Wealth Expectancy Report 2019: Average wealth expectancy of affluent Indians is Rs 3.6 crore

The average wealth expectancy of those in India with enough disposable income to save and invest is just Rs 3.6 crore and this would give them Rs 93,000 per month to live during retirement, a report said on 18th December 2019.

According to Standard Chartered’s new Wealth Expectancy Report 2019, the average wealth expectancy with enough disposable income to save and invest is Rs 3.6 crore, or Rs 1.3 crore for the emerging affluent, Rs 2.6 crore for the affluent and Rs 6.9 crore for high-net-worth individuals (HNWIs).

The report used a proprietary economic model that considered other macroeconomic factors such as GDP growth and interest rates to calculate how much the wealth creators are set to be worth at the age of 60.

On average, this would give the affluent class Rs 93,000 to live on per month during retirement, which is less than both their current income and wealth aspirations. The report further noted that already, almost one-third (32 percent) are on track to achieving more than half of their wealth goal at age 60. 

DRDO test-fires two versions of Brahmos supersonic cruise missile

DRDO test fires two versions of Brahmos supersonic cruise missile

India on Tuesday successfully conducted separate trials of two variants of supersonic cruise missile BrahMos to check its capability to hit targets with precision and accuracy.

A land-attack version of the missile was test-launched from a mobile autonomous launcher at Launch Pad-3 of the Integrated Test Range (ITR) at Chandipur.

Its air force variant was fired in the afternoon when a fighter jet of the IAF flew from Kalaikunda airbase and launched the missile towards an air-borne target over the Bay of Bengal. The trials, carried out to check the capability of the missile to hit targets with pinpoint accuracy, were successful, meeting all the parameters, a Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO).

Previous Tests of BrahMos missile

The first extended version of the missile with a strike range of 450 km was successfully tested on March 11, 2017.

A shorter range land-attack version of the BrahMos was earlier successfully test-fired from the ITR at Chandipur on September 30, 2019.

Similarly, the IAF had conducted successful trials of BrahMos missiles from Trak Island in Andaman and Nicobar Islands on October 22 this year.

About BrahMos missile

The BrahMos missile is a medium-range ramjet supersonic cruise missile capable of being launched from submarines, warships, fighter jets or land. The 2.5-tonne missile has a strike range of nearly 300 kilometers.

BrahMos is a joint venture of the DRDO of India and the NPOM of Russia. The missile is operational with the Indian Army, Navy and Air Force. The BrahMos is regarded as the fastest supersonic cruise missile in the world, the sources said adding that it has established itself as a major force multiplier in modern warfare with its land-attack and anti-ship capabilities with multi-role and multi-platform abilities.

Digital States of India ranking: Chhattisgarh tops

Chhattisgarh has topped the digital states of India ranking as per a research report, which ranked Maharashtra, Haryana, Andhra Pradesh, and Madhya Pradesh among the top five states.

The report by Coeus Age, titled ‘Digital States of India 2019 – A Comparative Analysis’ is an outcome of an assessment of the 37 states and Union Territories of the country on two broad constructs – Policy and Infrastructure Readiness (PIR) and Mission Mode Projects (MMPs) Performance. The assessment uses 128 parameters across PIR and MMPs. 15 state-specific MMPs were considered for the study.

The report in 2019 is the second in series, the first one released in October 2017. Madhya Pradesh topped the list in 2017 but is at rank 5 in 2019. Chhattisgarh has moved 3 ranks up, from 4 in 2017 to 1 in 2019. The biggest jump has been made by Haryana that has moved 7 ranks up, from 10in 2017 to 3 in 2019.

CSIR & France Centre for Scientific Research (CNRS) ink MoU to promote science, tech research

A Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) was signed between the Council of Scientific & Industrial Research (CSIR), India, and the National Centre for Scientific Research (CNRS), France, to establish a framework for cooperation between the two towards promotion and support of scientific and technological research.


In view of the potentially beneficial and synergistic cooperation possibilities for translating science into technology, CSIR and CNRS may explore strengthening their cooperation to foster joint innovation and transfer of technologies applicable to India and France and to other nations. This cooperation could include sharing good practices, promoting technology transfer, and enhancing industry-academia cooperation.

The broad research areas of mutual interest include biotechnology including plant and marine biotechnology; health research; environment and climate change studies; engineering science and technology; material science and technology; energy science and technology; and water research.

CSIR has previously signed MoUs with various organisations for the fostering of science and technology. There is an ongoing agreement with Consiglio Nazionale Delle Ricerche (CNR), Italy; it is an ongoing joint project for the organization of bilateral scientific and technical seminars and the exchange of scientific and technical information and documentation. For building and infrastructure, materials and chemistry and technology and society CSIR has inked one agreement with SINTEF Foundation, Trondheim, Norway.

GEM launches national outreach program ‘GeM Samvaad’

Government e-commerce portal GeM has launched a national outreach programme, GeM Samvaad, to bring on-board more local sellers. The outreach programme will take place with stakeholders across the country and with local sellers to facilitate the on-boarding of local sellers on the marketplace.

The programme was launched by Commerce Secretary Anup Wadhawan in New Delhi. GeM has more than 15 lakh products and around 20,000 services, more than 3 lakh registered sellers and service providers and more than 40 thousand government buyer organizations.

LVMH CEO Bernard Arnault briefly replaces Jeff Bezos as the richest man

Bernard Arnault

Bernard Arnault, Chief Executive Officer of French luxury conglomerate LVMH, claimed the title of the Richest Man on Earth with a net worth of $109.6 billion, for a brief period.

According to Forbes’ Real-Time Billionaire rankings, on Monday by 4 p.m. market close, Amazon stock had risen 0.7 percent. Arnault finished the day with $109.3 billion to his name, compared with Bezos’ $110.1 billion.

Last month, Bill Gates once officially surpassed Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos as the richest person on Earth with a net worth of $110 billion. The Microsoft co-founder had briefly topped Bezos as the richest man last month after Amazon’s lackluster third-quarter results had Bezos losing nearly $7 billion in stock value.

TRAI extends six paise per min IUC charge to other networks till Dec 2020

Telecom operators will continue to pay 6 paise per minute for every outgoing call made to their competitors’ network till December 31, 2020, following the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India’s (Trai’s) decision announced on 17th December 2019.

These charges were proposed to become zero from January 1, 2021.

Telecom industry body Cellular Operators Association of India (COAI) sees it as a relief for the debt-ridden sector and expects that continuing with 6 paise mobile call termination charges will not have any impact on consumers as operators have already absorbed this charge in their recently increased mobile call and data rates. For wireless to wireless domestic calls, termination charge would continue to remain as Rs 0.06 (paise six only) per minute up to December 31, 2020.

ICC Annual Awards: Ellyse Perry Wins Rachael Heyhoe-Flint Award

Ellyse Perry

Ellyse Perry has been crowned the International Women’s Cricketer of The Year, as Australia scooped the pool at the ICC awards. Perry claimed the Rachael Heyhoe-Flint Award for the second time in three years and was also named the ODI player of the year.

ICC awards

Women’s Cricketer of the Year: Ellyse Perry (Australia)

ODI Player of the Year: Ellyse Perry (Australia)

T20I Player of the Year: Alyssa Healy (Australia)

Emerging Player of the Year: Chanida Sutthiruang (Thailand)

ODI Team of the Year: Alyssa Healy (wk, Australia), Smriti Mandhana (India), Tamsin Beaumont (England), Meg Lanning (capt, Australia), Stafanie Taylor (West Indies), Ellyse Perry (Australia), Jess Jonassen (Australia), Shikha Pandey (India), Jhulan Goswami (India), Megan Schutt (Australia), Poonam Yadav (India).

T20I Team of the Year: Alyssa Healy (wk, Australia), Danielle Wyatt (England), Meg Lanning (capt, Australia), Smriti Mandhana (India), Lizelle Lee (South Africa), Ellyse Perry (Australia), Deepti Sharma (India), Nida Dar (Pakistan), Megan Schutt (Australia), Shabnim Ismail (South Africa), Radha Yadav (India).

India among top nations attacked by latest ransomware in 2019: Report

Description: Image result for ransomware attack

 Ransomware which has become a headache for the corporate sector worldwide affected India badly in 2019, with three prominent ransomware targeting Indian businesses, a new report.

According to Global cybersecurity firm Kaspersky Security, 2019 has been the “year of ransomware attacks on municipalities”. Kaspersky Security identified three families as the most notorious – Ryuk, Purga, and Stop.

India was attacked by all three groups of ransomware — 5.84 percent by Ryuk, 0.80 percent by Purga and 10.10 percent by Stop.

About Ransomware

Ransomware is a form of malware that encrypts a victim’s files. The attacker then demands a ransom from the victim to restore access to the data upon payment.

Users are shown instructions on how to pay a fee to get the decryption key. The costs can range from a few hundred dollars to thousands, payable to cybercriminals in Bitcoin.

About three groups of ransomware

Ryuk appeared on the threat landscape more than a year ago and has since been active all over the world, both in public and in the private sector. Its distribution model usually involves delivery via backdoor malware which, in turn, spreads by the means of phishing with a malicious attachment disguised as a financial document.

Purga malware has been known since 2016, yet only recently municipalities have been discovered to fall victims to this trojan, having various attack vectors – from phishing to brute force attacks.

Stop malware is only one year old. It propagates by hiding inside software installers. This malware has been popular, number seven in the top 10 most popular cryptos ranking of Q3 2019.

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