Daily Current Affairs - 24th Mar 2017

Abel Prize 2017: Yves Meyer wins 'maths Nobel' for work on wavelets

  • French mathematician Yves Meyer was awarded the 2017 Abel Prize for his work on wavelets, a mathematical theory with applications in data compression, medical imaging and the detection of gravitational waves.
  • Meyer, 77, will receive 6 million Norwegian krone (about £600,000) for the prize, which recognises outstanding contributions to mathematics and is awarded by the Norwegian Academy of Science and Letters.
  • The Abel Prize has been awarded annually since 2003. It is considered by many to be a maths equivalent of the Nobel Prize, which has no prize for mathematics.

Airtel to buy Tikona’s 4G vertical for '1,600 cr.

  • Bharti Airtel has entered into a definitive agreement to acquire Tikona Digital Networks’ 4G business for `1,600 crore, including spectrum and 350 sites in five telecom circles.
  • Tikona has 20 MHz spectrum in the 2300 MHz band in Gujarat, U.P. (East), U.P. (West), Rajasthan and Himachal Pradesh circles.
  • With this acquisition, Bharti Airtel will have spectrum in 2300 MHz band across all circles. Airtel plans to roll out high-speed 4G services on the newly acquired spectrum in the five circles immediately after the closure of the transaction.

Bankers to meet Finance Minister on excess liquidity

  • The Finance Ministry will meet select bankers to discuss a new facility to drain surplus liquidity from the banking system arising out of the Centre’s demonetization move.
  • The new Standing Deposit Facility allows banks to park their excess funds with the RBI at a rate which is lower than the repo rate but without any collateral, a letter from the Department of Economic Affairs, which called the meeting, indicated.
  • The repo rate is 6.25%. Currently, banks can get funds through the repo window from the RBI by using government securities as collateral.

Cap on Corporate donations to political parties to be removed

  • In a significant change to electoral funding norms, corporate donations to political parties will no longer face any ceiling linked to firms’ profitability and companies will no longer be obliged to inform their shareholders which party’s coffers they contribute to.
  • These changes were introduced by the government in the amendments to the Finance Bill of 2017 and cleared by the Lok Sabha.
  • As of now, companies can only contribute up to 7.5% of their average net profits in the past three financial years to political parties. Moreover, they are required to disclose the amount of contributions made and the names of the political parties to which they were made, in their profit and loss accounts.

Current account deficit widens in Q3

  • India’s current account deficit (CAD) jumped to a four quarter high of 1.4% of gross domestic product (GDP) in the December quarter from 0.6% of GDP in the September quarter as trade deficit widened.
  • In the same quarter (October-December) a year ago, India posted a CAD of $7.1 billion, or 1.4% of GDP.
  • The RBI said the CAD widened primarily on account of a decline in net invisibles receipts despite a slightly lower trade deficit on a year-on-year basis.
  • Net services receipts moderated on a y-o-y basis, primarily owing to the fall in earnings from software, financial services and charges for intellectual property rights. Private transfer receipts, mainly representing remittances by Indians employed overseas, amounted to $15.2 billion, having declined by 3.8% from a year ago.

In Asia's infrastructure race, Vietnam is among the leaders

  • Vietnam’s public and private sector infrastructure investment averaged 5.7 per cent of gross domestic product in recent years, the highest in Southeast Asia and compares with 6.8 per cent in China, according to the Asian Development Bank (ADB).
  • Indonesia and the Philippines spend less than 3 per cent, while Malaysia and Thailand spend even less at under 2 per cent.
  • Vietnam, among the fastest-growing nations in the world, is boosting infrastructure to lure more foreign investors as it positions itself as Asia’s next tiger economy. Foreign direct investment surged to a record $15.8 billion in 2016, and the economy is forecast by the World Bank to expand more than 6 per cent until 2019, among the top performers this decade.

MeitY, Google join hands

  • The Ministry of Electronics and IT and Google announced a partnership to make digital payments safer as well as impart digital skill training to artisans and Android training to developers.
  • Google India and MeitY will support the launch of a ‘Digital Payments Security Alliance’ in collaboration with the Data Security Council of India.

NASA to use laser communications technology for high-speed space internet

  • NASA is working on a laser communications technology that could become the high-speed 'internet' of the sky by enabling much higher data rates for connections between spacecraft and Earth.
  • The Laser Communications Relay Demonstration (LCRD) will help NASA understand the best ways to operate laser communications systems.
  • They could enable much higher data rates for connections between spacecraft and earth, such as scientific data down-link and astronaut communications.
  • Such capability will become critically important as humans embark on long journeys to the Moon, Mars and beyond.

NCLT gives nod for Cairn-Vedanta merger

  • The National Company Law Tribunal (NCLT) approved the metals and mining firm Vedanta’s merger with its cash-rich oil subsidiary Cairn India, paving the way for the formation of the fourth-largest resource company in the world after BHP Billiton, RioTinto and Glencore Plc.
  • Following the merger, Vedanta Plc.’s ownership in Vedanta Limited is expected to fall to 50.1% from its current 62.9%.
  • Cairn India minority shareholders will own 20.2% and Vedanta Limited minority shareholders will own a 29.7% stake in the enlarged entity.

New Delhi among the 4 Indian cities that feature in TripAdvisor’s top 25 Asia list

  • Four Indian destinations including Goa and New Delhi, have featured in the top 25 Asia list of TripAdvisor's Travellers' Choice awards.
  • India takes the second spot in the Asia list with four winning destinations. Thailand leads with five wins. The four Indian cities that featured in the top 25 list in Asia are Goa (11), New Delhi (13), Jaipur (18) in Rajasthan and Agra (19) in Uttar Pradesh, according to the Travellers' Choice Awards Asia list.
  • Bali in Indonesia ranked number one in the Asia list followed by Siem Reap in Cambodia, Phuket in Thailand, Hoi An in Vietnam, Kathmandu in Nepal, Hanoi in Vietnam, Ko Samui in Thailand, Bangkok in Thailand, Lombok in Indonesia and Tokyo in Japan.
  • Trip Advisor is a global travel site offering advice from millions of travellers, with 465 million reviews and opinions covering 7 million accommodations, restaurants and attractions.

Radha Mohan Singh launches Coffee Table Book titled "50 Years – The Great Indian Milk Revolution"

  • Union Minister of Agriculture Radha Mohan Singh launched Coffee Table Book titled “50 Years – The Great Indian Milk Revolution” commemorating National Dairy Development Board’s (NDDB) Golden Jubilee year.
  • This book encapsulates NDDB's remarkable 50-year journey and the value it has created for millions of dairy farmers in this country.
  • The book highlights NDDB’s belief that cooperative principles are as relevant today as they were in the past and the institutions which follow these will form the structural framework for the growth of the dairy sector in the future.
  • It also highlights the Dairy Board's efforts towards bringing about socio-economic change in rural India.

Rare 'night parrot' sighted in Western Australia

  • A night parrot has been photographed in Western Australia, adding another twist to the mysterious history of the species that was presumed extinct until it was rediscovered in Queensland four years ago.
  • It is the first verified sighting of the bird in WA for almost 100 years and follows a history of unverified sightings, disbelieved reports and futile ecological surveys that rivals the hunt for the (presumably still) extinct Thylacine in Tasmania.

RBI puts 4 PSBs under watch

  • The Reserve Bank of India has put four public sector lenders, including IDBI Bank and Indian Overseas Bank, under watch and advised them to stay off risky assets so that their financial health is not stressed further.
  • While UCO Bank also figured in the list, the name of the fourth lender could not be immediately ascertained. Sources said these lenders were on the RBI’s radar as their financial health may not improve after the central bank’s asset quality review ends on March 31.
  • These banks have been advised by both the Finance Ministry and the RBI to improve their financials, look for avenues for capital infusion and create a self-sustaining model by selling assets.

Sea ice hits record winter low

  • The sea ice cover in the Arctic and the Antarctic hit new record lows for this time of year, marking the smallest polar ice caps in the 38-year satellite record--- as stated by the US scientists.
  • This year’s Arctic maximum spanned 14.42 million sq.km. That is 95,829 sq.km. below the previous record low in 2015. In the Antarctic, this year’s record low annual sea ice minimum was 21,10,840 sq.km. That was 1,83,889 sq.km. below the previous lowest minimum extent in the satellite record, which occurred in 1997, said NASA.
  • The ice floating in the Arctic Ocean grows and shrinks on a seasonal cycle, reaching its largest size in March and its smallest at the end of the summer melt in September. The ice in the Antarctic also follows a seasonal cycle but its maximum comes in September and its minimum around February.

Singapore DTAA: India notifies Third Protocol

  • India notified the Third Protocol amending the existing India-Singapore double taxation avoidance agreement (DTAA). With this, the provisions of the Third Protocol — signed in December 2016 — has become law in India.
  • The India-Singapore DTAA at present provides for residence-based taxation of capital gains of shares in a company. The Third Protocol amends this DTAA with effect from April 1, 2017 to provide for source-based taxation of capital gains arising on sale of shares in a company.
  • Singapore was the largest foreign direct investor into India for the period April 2015 to March 2016, and one of the biggest portfolio investors in Indian markets.

World Meterological Day – March 23

  • Understanding Clouds is the theme of World Meteorological Day 2017 to highlight the enormous importance of clouds for weather climate and water. It was observed globally on 23rd march.
  • World Meteorological Day 2017 marks the launch of a new edition of the International Cloud Atlas after the most thorough and far-reaching revision in its long and distinguished history.
  • For the first time, the Atlas has been produced in a digital format and is accessible via both computers and mobile devices.