Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Current Affairs 26 February 2014

Heinz Awards

  • Two Indian-origin persons are among the five recipients of this year’s prestigious Heinz Awards. They were honoured for their contribution in the areas of arts, environment, public policy and technology.
  • The five recipients of the 19th Heinz awards will be honoured at a ceremony in April. They will receive a cash award of $250,000 each as well as a medallion inscribed with the image of U.S. Senator John Heinz on one side and a rendering of a globe passing between two hands on the other.
  • Abraham Verghese of Stanford has been honoured as a critically acclaimed best-selling author and Sanjeev Arora of Albuquerque recognised for revolutionising community health care using video conferencing technology. Mr Verghese’s memoir, My Own Country, about treating patients with AIDS in rural Tennessee, was a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award and was made into a film.

Highest infant mortality rate in India

  • The National Capital had the worst Infant Mortality Rate (IMR) among the four metropolitan cities between 2010 and 2012 with 30 newborns dying for every 1,000 live births, a new report has said. A substantial 64 per cent die within the first 28 days of their birth.
  • Though the IMR has come down to 25 per 1,000 live births in the past months, the progress in reduction of neo-natal mortality rate (NMR) has been slower, according to ‘Save the Children’ global report ‘Ending newborn deaths, ensuring every baby survives’ .
  • In 2012, three million babies died within the first 28 days of their birth and a million babies died within the first 24 hours of their birth, it says. Comparatively, Chennai recorded the lowest IMR of 15 per 1,000 live births and in Mumbai and Kolkata it was 20 per 1,000 live births.
  • However, there has been significant progress on ensuring child survival in India, the fact that nearly 40 per cent of neo-natal deaths occur on the 1st day of birth in India is stalling progress on achieving Millennium Development Goal- 4 (reducing IMR).
  • India accounts for an astounding 29 per cent of the global deaths of newborns on their very first day of birth. About half the first-day deaths around the world could be prevented if every mother and baby had access to free and quality health care and skilled birth attendants.

Ennore Port is now Kamarajar Port Ltd

  • The youngest, third major port in Tamil Nadu at Ennore has been renamed Kamarajar Port Ltd.
  • The decision, which came a few days ago in the form of Union Cabinet approval, was formalised with Union Shipping Minister unveiling a plaque at a function organised by the port in the city.
  • With this Tamil Nadu has an airport and seaport named after Kamarajar.
  • Speaking on the occasion, Mr. Vasan said the ruling UPA government was carrying forward various schemes conceived by the legendary Congress leader and former chief minister Kamarajar. These include the significant allocations for employment, education and mid-day meal scheme.
  • The port, hitherto known as Ennore Port Ltd, is in the forefront of such facilities in the country and has the potential to become the first in terms of cargo handling. It has six cargo handling berths with a total capacity of 30 million tonne per annum.

PIL against Sachin

The Madras High Court Bench dismissed a public interest litigation (PIL) petition filed by a lawyer challenging the nomination of cricketer Sachin Tendulkar as a member of the Rajya Sabha.
The petitioner had accused the cricketer of having dishonoured the national flag by cutting a cake containing the imprint of the tricolour in Jamaica in 2011.
A Division Bench of Justices R. Sudhakar and V.M. Velumani held that it did not find any reason to issue a writ of quo warranto directing the Deputy Chairman as well as the Secretary General of the Rajya Sabha to show cause on what authority they accepted the nomination of Mr. Tendulkar.
The judges said the petitioner had not submitted authenticated materials to substantiate his accusations.

UN call for probe

  • Sri Lanka has rejected U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay’s call for an international inquiry into the allegations of rights abuse and war crimes in the country, saying it has a “preconceived, politicised and prejudicial agenda.”
  • In what seemed an indication of Colombo’s strong resistance to international intervention — a U.S.-sponsored resolution, to be tabled in Geneva soon, is likely to call for an international probe — the government criticised her remarks as having scant or no regard for the country’s domestic processes. Ms. Pillay’s report reflected bias and was tantamount to an unwarranted interference in the internal affairs of a sovereign state.
  • Ms. Pillay’s report — now made public — gets into details of allegations of war crimes, rights abuse, state repression of the media and attack on religious freedom, citing emerging evidence. The government has termed them baseless.

VIX futures

  • The National Stock Exchange has launched trading of futures tied to its VIX volatility index, known as the "fear gauge," providing a key hedging tool against uncertainty ahead of general elections and weaker global market sentiment.
  • The futures are tied to VIX, which is modelled on the Chicago Board Options Exchange's popular index and measures expected near-term volatility for shares based on prices of options.
  • Traders expect strong demand for VIX futures, including for speculative trading, even though recent launches by India's largest exchange of other products, such as a listing platform for small and medium-sized companies, failed to gain much traction.
  • India's broader VIX index, which was launched in April 2008 under license, has become a popular barometer of sentiment for domestic investors.

International Premier Tennis League

  • World number one Rafael Nadal is reportedly being offered 1.1 million dollars per night to play in three of the eight matches of the inaugural International Premier Tennis League (IPTL), which has borrowed its format from the lucrative Twenty20 tournament Indian Premier League ( IPL).
  • If all goes to plan, five teams - based in Hong Kong, Mumbai, Singapore, Bangkok and Kuala Lumpur- will send their officials to India armed with minimum budgets of 4.4 million dollars each, to sign up a handful of players - men, women, and champions of yesteryear - for the off-season event, scheduled to take place in December.
  • According to the Sydney Morning Herald, Indian tennis star and ITPL`s creator Mahesh Bhupathi may have offered the Spaniard 1.1 million dollars per night for three of the event`s matches, adding that Nadal is understood to be the keenest member of the `Big Four`- which also includes Novak Djokovic, Andy Murray and Roger Federer.


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