14 July 2017 Current Affairs

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14 Jul, 2017

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1) The National Green Tribunal (NGT) on 13 July 2017 passed a slew of directions to rejuvenate the Ganga. This includes declaring as ‘No-Development Zone’ an area of 100 metres from the edge of the river between Haridwar and Unnao. These directions were given in an old PIL filed by which noted environment activist? – M. C. Mehta

Explanation: Noted environment activist and advocate M. C. Mehta had filed a public interest litigation (PIL) on the issue of conserving and rejuvenating Ganga river in 1985 in the Supreme Court. This PIL was later transferred from Supreme Court to the NGT in 2014.

A bench headed by NGT Chairperson Justice Swatanter Kumar on 13 July 2017 passed numerous directions on this PIL. It declared as ‘No-Development Zone’ an area of 100 metres from the edge of the river between Haridwar (Uttarakhand) and Unnao (Uttar Pradesh) and prohibited the dumping of waste within 500 metres from the river.

NGT also declared that a penalty of Rs. 50,000 as environment compensation charge would be imposed on anyone who dumped waste in the river. It directed the Uttar Pradesh and Uttarakhand governments to formulate guidelines for religious activities on the ghats of the Ganga or its tributaries.

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2) On 12 July 2017 China dispatched troops to which African country where it is establishing its first overseas naval base? – Djibouti

Explanation: China is establishing its first-ever overseas military base in Djibouti, the tiny East African country located in the strategic Horn of Africa. Two naval warships carrying Chinese military personnel departed from the port of Zhanjiang in southern China’s Guangdong Province on 12 July 2017.

According to Chinese defence ministry, the base in Djibouti will ensure China’s performance of missions, such as escorting, peace-keeping and humanitarian aid in Africa and West Asia. It will also be conducive to overseas tasks, including military cooperation, joint exercises, evacuating and protecting overseas Chinese and emergency rescue, as well as jointly maintaining security of international strategic seaways.

China had already signed an initial 10-year lease for the base and will pay $20 million per year to Djibouti in rent. This base will be stationed just a few miles from Camp Lemonnier, the only permanent US base in Africa since 2002. The US pays $63 million a year to lease this base. Djibouti also hosts troops from France and Japan.

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3) An iceberg weighing more than a trillion tons and spread around 5,800 square km size broke-off from the Antarctica ice shelf during July 2017. This incident, which is the largest iceberg break-off recorded ever, took place in which region of Antarctica? – Larsen C Ice Shelf

Explanation: The massive iceberg breakoff took place between 10 and 11 July 2017 when a 5,800 square km section of Larsen C broke away. This iceberg was spread around 5,800 square km size and weighed more than a trillion tons.

The calving of this iceberg leaves the Larsen C Ice Shelf reduced in area by more than 12%, and the landscape of the Antarctic Peninsula changed forever. It is the largest recorded incident of iceberg breakage.

According to Project MIDAS, a UK-based Antarctic research project, the breakaway was detected and confirmed by US space agency NASA’s satellites.

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4) China’s Nobel laureate Liu Xiaobo died on 13 July 2017 in custody following a battle with cancer. He thus became the first Nobel Peace Prize winner to die in custody since 1938. He was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in which year? – 2010

Explanation: Liu Xiaobo was a prominent democracy advocate of China. He was arrested in 2008 after co-writing “Charter 08”, a petition that called for the protection of basic human rights and reform of China’s political system. He was sentenced to 11 years in prison in December 2009 for “subversion”.

He was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for 2010 but at the prize ceremony in Oslo he was represented by an empty chair. He died at the First Hospital of China Medical University on 13 July 2017 while still in custody. Je was suffering from liver cancer. Chinese officials had ignored international pleas to let him spend his final days free and abroad.

Liu’s death puts China in dubious company as he became the first Nobel Peace Prize laureate to die in custody since German pacifist Carl von Ossietzky, who passed away in a hospital while held by the Nazis in 1938.

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5) According to an international m-cap analysis released during July 2017, which country has emerged as the best-performing major market globally in 2017 (till now)? – India

Explanation: India has emerged as the best-performing major market globally in 2017. The market capitalisation (m-cap) of all domestically listed firms of India has risen 30% (in dollar terms) so far this year. Second-biggest growth in m-cap has been reported by France at 20.7%.

Another important fact is – India, ranked ninth in global m-cap, is closing gap with Canada and Germany. Germany ranked seventh, while Canada came eighth. At $2.02 trillion, India’s m-cap is just 4.2% less than Canada’s ($2.11 trillion) and 7.5% less than Germany ($2.19 trillion).

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6) What is the name of the 4-month old Bengaluru-based start-up which was acquired by Google during July 2017 thus marking its first-ever acquisition in India? – Halli Labs

Explanation: Halli Labs is the name of the 4-month old Bengaluru-based start-up that is developing artificial intelligence and machine learning solutions. It came to news as it was acquired by global Internet giant Google recently. This acquisition marked Google’s first-ever acquisition in India.

Halli Labs was started in April 2017 by Pankaj Gupta, an Indian Institute of Technology, Delhi, and Stanford University alumnus.

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