Daily Current Affairs - 08th Mar 2017

CAG to undertake audit of demonetisation fallout

  • The Comptroller and Auditor General of India Shashi Kant Sharma will soon begin an audit of fiscal impact of demonetisation announced by Prime Minister Narendra Modi on November 8 last year.
  • He pointed out that there are other linkages of demonetisation with the public exchequer that will also be covered by the audit.
  • They are expenditure on printing of notes, RBI dividend to the Consolidated Fund, the huge amount of data generated by banks, banking transaction data and the follow-up by the Revenue Department.
  • The Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) of India is an authority established by the Constitution of India.
  • CAG audits all receipts and expenditure of the Government of India and the state governments, including those of bodies and authorities substantially financed by the government.
  • The CAG is also the external auditor of Government-owned corporations and conducts supplementary audit of government companies, i.e., any non-banking/ non-insurance company in which Union Government has an equity share of at least 51 per cent or subsidiary companies of existing government companies.
  • The reports of the CAG are taken into consideration by the Public Accounts Committees (PACs) and Committees on Public Undertakings, which are special committees in the Parliament of India and the state legislatures.

Commonwealth card mooted

  • Commonwealth nations could consider a scheme similar to the Business Travel Card scheme, used across the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) forum, as a means of promoting intra-Commonwealth trade and investment.
  • The inaugural Meeting of Commonwealth Trade Ministers will be hosted in London on March 9-10, convened by the CWEIC, and the Commonwealth Secretariat.
  • The lack of formal mechanisms to promote trade and investment has been a challenge for trade expansion among the Commonwealth Nations.
  • Under the APEC scheme, which includes 19 fully participating countries, including Australia, Hong Kong, Russia and Singapore, business travellers are able to apply for five-year-long, short-term, multiple-entry permits to other member states, freeing them from the need to apply for visas every time they travel.
  • Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) is a forum for 21 Pacific Rim member economies that promotes free trade throughout the Asia-Pacific region.
  • APEC is headquartered in Singapore.

Commonwealth unveils initiative to stamp out domestic violence

  • The Commonwealth is launching an initiative on International Women's Day on March 08 to help member states tackle domestic violence.
  • The “Peace in the home” programme will include toolkits to help governments across the Commonwealth involve multiple agencies — such as schools, doctors and hospitals, as well as government — and law enforcement agencies to work together effectively, and will help countries highlight and share details of initiatives that had been particularly successful at dealing with domestic violence.
  • The Commonwealth of Nations (formerly the British Commonwealth), also known as simply The Commonwealth, is an intergovernmental organisation of 52 member states that are mostly former territories of the British Empire.
  • The Commonwealth of Nations is headquartered in London, UK.

Cricket - new laws in the offing

  • With batsmen ruling the roost, the Marylebone Cricket Club (MCC) – the game’s law-enacting body - has proposed a slew of changes to the existing rules, including specific limitations on the size of cricket bats.
  • After the new Code of Laws comes into effect from October 1, 2017, the maximum dimensions of a cricket bat will be 108mm in width, 67mm in depth and with edges of 40mm.
  • This comes following consultations with bat manufacturers, the International Cricket Council (ICC) and the Federation of International Cricketers’ Associations (FICA).
  • This is the first time since 2000 that the new Code of Laws is being issued.
  • The new rules will also be gender neutral for the first time in that they will be equally applicable to both men and women.
  • Marylebone Cricket Club (MCC) is a cricket club in London, founded in 1787.
  • MCC was formerly the governing body of cricket both in England and Wales as well as worldwide. In 1993 many of its global functions were transferred to the ICC.
  • MCC revised the Laws of Cricket in 1788 and continues to reissue them (from time to time), and remains the copyright holder.

ESA launches new Copernicus satellite

  • The ESA-developed Sentinel-2B satellite was launched yesterday, doubling the coverage of high-resolution optical imaging in the Sentinel-2 mission for the European Union Copernicus environmental monitoring system.
  • The 1.1 tonne satellite was carried into orbit on a Vega rocket from Europe's Spaceport in Kourou, French Guiana.
  • The Copernicus programme is the most sophisticated Earth observation system in the world.
  • Every five days, the satellites of the Sentinel-2 mission jointly cover all land surfaces, large islands, and inland and coastal waters.
  • Information from this mission helps to improve agricultural practices, monitor the world's forests, detect pollution in lakes and coastal waters, and contribute to disaster mapping.
  • The European Space Agency is an intergovernmental organisation dedicated to the exploration of space. It is headquartered in Paris, France.

Global fund to help solve India’s HIV drug crisis

  • After running out of the child-friendly HIV syrup, Lopinavir, India is likely to procure the drug from a rapid supply facility routed through the Global Fund for AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria (GFATM), a multilateral donor agency.
  • Cipla Pharmaceuticals is the sole manufacturer of the drug.
  • Cipla has stopped production of this drug due to non payment of bills by the government.
  • Founded in 2002, the Global Fund for AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria is a partnership between governments, civil society, the private sector and people affected by the diseases.
  • The Global Fund raises and invests nearly US$4 billion a year to support programs run by local experts in countries and communities most in need.
  • The Global Fund is headquartered in Geneva, Switzerland.
  • Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) causes Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (AIDS).

India won the second Test against Australia

  • India's 75-run win at M. Chinnaswamy Stadium in Bengaluru to level the Border-Gavaskar Trophy on Tuesday was one of the most engrossing Test matches of recent time.
  • Ashwin finished with 6 for 41 and it marked the first time in history that four different bowlers - Lyon, Ashwin, Hazlewood and Ravindra Jadeja - had taken six-wicket hauls in the same Test.
  • Meanwhile, India's captain Virat Kohli has said that Australia crossed the line in the case of DRS protocols.
  • Kohli accused Australia of taking help from the dressing room (which is prohibited as part of the DRS protocols) on at least three occasions before making their mind up on reviews in the Bengaluru Test.
  • The Umpire Decision Review System (abbreviated as UDRS or DRS) is a technology-based system used in the sport of cricket.
  • The system was first introduced in Test cricket, for the sole purpose of reviewing controversial decisions made by the on-field umpires as to whether or not a batsman had been dismissed.
  • Australia Cricket Captain: Steve Smith.
  • Australia Capital: Canberra.
  • Australia Currency: Australian Dollar.

N. Korea, Malaysia ban each other’s citizens from leaving

  • North Korea has closed its borders to Malaysians who want to leave the country, spurring Malaysia to issue a retaliatory order and drawing hundreds of ordinary people into an increasingly bitter diplomatic battle over the killing of an exiled member of North Korea’s ruling family.
  • The sudden diplomatic escalation came more than two weeks after Kim Jong-nam, the long-exiled half brother of North Korea’s ruler, was killed in a poison attack at the Kuala Lumpur airport.
  • Malaysia Capital: Kuala Lumpur.
  • Malaysia Currency: Malaysian ringgit.
  • Malaysian Prime Minister: Najib Razak.
  • North Korea Capital: Pyongyang.
  • North Korea Currency: North Korean won.
  • North Korea Supreme Leader: Kim Jong-un.

Oppo gets Indian team’s sponsorship

  • The Indian cricket team’s sponsorship rights, for the next five years, have been sold for a record high of Rs. 1,079 crore.
  • Oppo Mobiles India Pvt. Ltd. outbid its counterpart Vivo to bag the prized spot on the front of the Indian team’s jersey from April 2017 to March 2022.
  • Oppo will replace Star India Pvt. Ltd., which decided not to bid, after buying the tender document, citing vulnerability in the governance of the game.
  • Oppo is a Chinese electronics manufacturer which is a subsidiary of BBK Electronics (of China).
  • The Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) is the national governing body for cricket in India.
  • BCCI is headquartered in Mumbai.

PAU develops country’s first BT cotton varieties

  • Punjab Agricultural University, Ludhiana has successfully developed the country’s first Bt cotton varieties.
  • The ICAR has identified three varieties, namely PAU Bt 1, F1861 and RS 2013, for cultivation in Punjab, Haryana, Rajasthan.
  • It is a cheaper alternative to Bt cotton hybrid seed.
  • The Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR) is an autonomous organisation under the Department of Agricultural Research and Education (DARE), Ministry of Agriculture and Farmers Welfare , Government of India.
  • The ICAR has its headquarters at New Delhi.
  • ICAR is the apex body for co-ordinating, guiding and managing research and education in agriculture including horticulture, fisheries and animal sciences in the entire country.
  • Bt cotton is a genetically modified organism (GMO) cotton variety, which produces an insecticide to bollworm. It is produced by Monsanto Company.
  • A gene from a bacterium called Bacillus thuringiensis coding for Bt toxin has been inserted into cotton as a transgene, causing it to produce this natural insecticide in its (cotton's) tissues.

RCap sells 1% Paytm stake to Alibaba

  • Anil Ambani-led group firm Reliance Capital has sold about 1% of its stake in digital payments firm Paytm to China’s Alibaba Group for Rs. 275 crore.
  • Paytm is an Indian payment and commerce company based out of Delhi NCR, India.
  • Launched in August 2010, Paytm is the consumer brand of parent One97 Communications.
  • Paytm name is an acronym for "Pay Through Mobile."
  • The Alibaba Group was the biggest stakeholder in Paytm parent company One97 Communications.
  • One97 Communications has three units — Paytm E-Commerce, Paytm Payments Bank (payments bank and mobile wallet service) and Paytm Mobile Solutions.
  • Alibaba Group Holding Limited is a Chinese-American e-commerce company headquartered in China. Its founder is Jack Ma.

Tata Motors unveils concept car Racemo

  • Tata Motors has unveiled TAMO Racemo, a two-seater sports coupe at the 87th Geneva International Motor Show in Switzerland.
  • The car was unveiled in the presence of former Tata Sons chairman Ratan Tata and newly-appointed Tata Sons chairman N. Chandrasekaran.
  • TAMO, a new sub-brand of Tata Motors, is an incubating centre of innovation working towards new technologies, business models and partnerships to define future mobility solutions.
  • Tata Motors also showcased the special editions of its Tigor, a compact sedan and Nexon, a compact SUV at the premier motor show.
  • Switzerland Capital: Bern.
  • Switzerland Currency: Swiss franc.

U.S. moves parts of defence system

  • U.S. missile launchers and other equipment needed to set up a controversial missile defence system have arrived in South Korea, a day after North Korea test-launched four ballistic missiles into the ocean near Japan.
  • The plans to deploy the Terminal High-Altitude Area Defence system, or THAAD, within this year have angered not only North Korea, but also China and Russia, which see the system’s powerful radars as a security threat.
  • South Korean retail giant, Lotte, has agreed to provide one of its golf courses in southern South Korea as the site of THAAD.
  • The Pentagon is the headquarters of the United States Department of Defense.
  • South Korea Capital: Seoul.
  • South Korea Currency: South Korean won.
  • South Korean President: Park Geun-hye.

WikiLeaks publishes new CIA files

  • WikiLeaks has published thousands of documents purportedly taken from the Central Intelligence Agency’s ‘Center for Cyber Intelligence’, a dramatic release that appears to provide an eye-opening look at the intimate details of America’s cyberespionage toolkit.
  • The Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) is a civilian foreign intelligence service of the United States federal government.
  • WikiLeaks has a long track record of releasing top secret government documents.
  • WikiLeaks is an international non-profit organisation that publishes secret information, and classified media from anonymous sources.
  • Its website, initiated in 2006 in Iceland by the organisation Sunshine Press, claims a database of 10 million documents in 10 years since its launch.
  • Julian Assange, an Australian Internet activist, is generally described as its founder, editor-in-chief, and director.

You can switch from EPF to NPS

  • More than eight crore members of the Employees’ Provident Fund, can now opt to move their retirement savings to the National Pension System overseen by the Pension Fund Regulatory and Development Authority (PFRDA) – over two years after Finance Minister Arun Jaitley had promised such an alternative for employees in the Budget for 2015-16.
  • The PFRDA has notified the procedure for EPF members to transfer their investments to the National Pension System or NPS.
  • The members of EPF and Employees’ State Insurance Corporation (which provides medical care to organised sector workers) suffer due to high statutory deductions towards EPF and ESIC.
  • In all, 24% of an employee’s salary is diverted to the EPF as a mandatory retirement saving scheme.
  • While the return on EPF savings this year is expected to be 8.65%, the NPS offers multiple asset allocation options and fund managers for its members to choose from, with varying rates of returns.
  • The NPS scheme helps individuals make decisions with regards to where they should invest their pension wealth.
  • The NPS' main objective is to lower the liabilities of the Government of India with regards to total pension as well as to ensure that the country’s citizens would earn a stable income following their retirement along with helping them earn decent returns on their investment.