Daily Current Affairs - 07th Apr 2017

ADB pegs growth at 7.4% this fiscal year

  • The economy is expected to grow by 7.4 per cent in 2017-18 and 7.6 per cent in the next fiscal, according to the latest report by the Asian Development Bank (ADB).
  • The impact of the demonetisation of high value banknotes is dissipating as the replacement banknotes enter circulation,” said the ADB in its Asian Development Outlook, 2017.
  • The economy is estimated to have grown by 7.1 per cent last fiscal and the Economic Survey has forecast GDP growth between 6.75 per cent and 7.5 per cent in 2017-18.

Asian Development Bank extends $175-million loan to Power Grid Corporation

  • The Asian Development Bank has extended a $175-million loan to public-sector undertaking Power Grid Corporation of India Limited (PGCIL).
  • This is for developing the power evacuation infrastructure for 2,500 MW of power from solar parks in Bhadla, Rajasthan, and 700 MW from Banaskantha, Gujarat. In addition to this, PGCIL will also include two additional sub-projects that will increase solar-power generation by 4.2 GW through this loan.
  • In addition to the ADB loan, the project includes $50-million co-finance from the Clean Technology Fund (CTF) — a $5.8-billion component of the Climate Investment Funds aimed at providing developing countries with resources to expand efforts in utilizing low-carbon technologies and transitioning to clean, renewable energy sources.

Bezos selling Amazon stake to fund race to space

  • Jeff Bezos revealed was selling about $1 billion in Amazon stock a year to finance his Blue Origin rocket company.
  • Mr. Bezos, the billionaire founder of Amazon, showed off the reusable rocket booster and the mock-up of the capsule that will take people up for panoramic views back down at Earth.
  • Mr. Bezos, hopes to build Blue Origin into a commercial and tourist venture, also disclosed that it would cost about $2.5 billion to develop an even bigger rocket, New Glenn, capable of lifting satellites and, eventually, people into orbit.

Centre kicks off programme on cyber physical systems

  • With autonomous vehicles and robot-executed surgeries becoming commonplace around the world, the Department of Science and Technology (DST) has initiated a Cyber Physical Systems (CPS) programme.
  • An initial budget of ` 100 crore has been earmarked for the project in the current financial year.
  • CPS is an interdisciplinary field that deals with the deployment of computer-based systems that do things in the physical world, such as, for instance, the self-driven cars produced by Google and Tesla.
  • However, even smart grids (where electricity is optimally distributed on the basis of calculations in real time by micro-processors) as well as autonomous unmanned vehicles and aircraft navigation systems qualify as ‘cyber physical systems.

Centre may seek legislative nod for RDA

  • The Centre will likely attempt to secure legislative backing for the Rail Development Authority (RDA) next year to give more teeth to the country’s first rail regulator that will initially be set up through an executive order.
  • The Union Cabinet approved setting up the rail regulator responsible for recommending passenger fares, setting performance standards for rail operations and creating a level playing policy for private sector participation through an executive order.
  • It can only recommend changes to passenger and goods fares to the Railway Ministry which will take a final call on fixing the tariff.

Farm loan waiver will ‘impact credit discipline’

  • The Reserve Bank of India Governor Urjit Patel said there is a need to create a consensus so that farm loan waiver promises are avoided. This comment comes in the context of political parties promising loan waivers to farmers to win elections.
  • Patel observed that farm loan waivers undermine honest credit culture. He also cautioned that such waivers could lead to State Governments borrowing more, which in turn may crowd out private sector borrowers.

FMCG is the highest-paying sector in India: Randstad

  • Employees of the fast moving consumer goods (FMCG) industry receive the highest salaries in India at Rs. 11.3 lakh a year as the average annual cost-to-company (CTC) across all levels and functions, according to a survey by human resources service provider Randstad.
  • The FMCG sector is followed by power and information technology, where employees earn average annual salaries of Rs. 9.8 lakh and Rs. 9.3 lakh respectively, according to Randstad 2017 Salary Trends Study findings.
  • Pharma and healthcare, offering an average annual CTC of Rs. 8.8 lakh, and telecom at Rs. 8.7 lakh take the fourth and fifth positions in the list as India's most lucrative industries.

Government downgrades 26 PSUs from ‘excellent’ rating

  • The performance rating of 26 Central Public Sector Enterprises (CPSEs) has been downgraded in 2015-16 from the ‘Excellent’ in 2014-15, as per a government evaluation.
  • The rankings reflect the performance of CPSEs against the targets fixed in their memorandum of understanding with the Centre for a financial year.
  • In all, 63 out of 220 CPSEs were ranked ‘Excellent’ in financial year 2016, as against 74 ranked ‘Excellent’ in financial year 2015.
  • Airports Authority of India, Ircon Infrastructure & Services Ltd and HSCC India went from being ranked ‘Very Good’ in financial year 2015 to ‘Excellent’ in financial year 2016.

India takes over control of Kudankulam Unit 1

  • India has taken over full operational control of Unit 1 of the Kudankulam Nuclear Power Plant (KKNPP).
  • India signed a joint statement with Russia on the final takeover of the unit, formally marking the full transition. The agreement was signed between representatives of Nuclear Power Corporation of India Ltd. and the ASE Group of Companies, a subsidiary of ROSATOM State Atomic Energy Corporation of Russia.
  • With the deal, the Russian and the Indian sides have confirmed fulfilment of all warranty terms and obligations of the contractor (ASE Group of Companies) for the construction of Unit 1, Rosatom.

Kirti Chakra for Gorkha martyr

  • Kirti Chakra, the second highest peacetime gallantry award, was posthumously conferred on Lance Havildar Prem Bahadur Resmi Magar of Gorkha Rifles by President Pranab Mukherjee at the defence investiture ceremony in New Delhi.
  • Mr. Mukherjee also presented 13 Shaurya Chakras, of which four were posthumous, and 45 Distinguished Service medals.
  • These include 15 Param Vishisht Seva Medals, two Uttam Yudh Seva Medals and 28 Ati Vishisht Seva Medals.

Over 62% customers face call drops, says government survey

  • The Centre said more than 62% of the 2.2 lakh subscribers that it surveyed complained of call drops.
  • The survey was conducted using the Integrated Voice Response System (IVRS) that the Department of Telecommunications (DoT) had rolled out last December in Delhi, Mumbai, U.P., Uttarakhand, Maharashtra and Goa. By March, all States were covered under the system.
  • As per feedback received, the problem of call drops “is more severe” indoors, according to the statement.The feedback is then shared with the telecom service providers on a weekly basis to take action in a time-bound manner.

RBI holds policy rate, raises reverse repo rate

  • The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) kept the key policy rate, the repo rate, unchanged in the first bimonthly policy review of 2017-18 but narrowed the policy corridor by 25 bps by raising the reverse repo rate to 6%, from 5.75%.
  • The central bank said the policy decision was consistent with the neutral policy stance with the objective of achieving the medium-term target for retail inflation, which is 4%.

Sindhu reaches career-best No. 2 ranking

  • P.V. Sindhu jumped three places to achieve a career-best World No. 2 ranking in the latest Badminton World Federation rankings. The shuttler became only the second Indian woman after Saina Nehwal to break into the top-five of the World rankings by earning 75,759 points. She superseded Japan’s Akane Yamugachi to make the No. 2 spot.
  • Saina, who also lost in the first round of the Malaysia Open, however, lost a place to be ninth with 64,279 points.

Smoking causes one in 10 deaths worldwide: study

  • A study has found that smoking caused one in ten deaths worldwide in 2015, half of them in just four countries: China, India, the United States and Russia.
  • About 6.4 million deaths worldwide was caused by smoking in 2015 and 52.2% of them took place in China, India, U.S. and Russia, according to the latest estimates in the Global Burden of Disease (GBD) report published in medical journal The Lancet .
  • The 10 countries with the largest number of smokers in 2015 were China, India, Indonesia, U.S., Russia, Bangladesh, Japan, Brazil, Germany and the Philippines.

Thai king endorses new military-backed constitution

  • Thailand’s King Vajiralongkorn Bodindradebayavarangkun signed the country’s new military-backed Constitution on Thursday. The charter could allow fresh elections but limit the authority of politicians taking office.
  • The constitution is the nation's 20th since the absolute monarchy was abolished in 1932, but critics say it will still give the military a powerful say over Thai politics.
  • The new charter was approved by voters in a public referendum last year. However, campaigns against the document were outlawed by the military government, which still restricts freedoms of speech and assembly in the Southeast Asian country.

Twitter unveils ‘Lite’ version

  • Twitter rolled out a “data friendly” version of the platform called Twitter Lite in India. The product will use up to 70% less data while loading 30% faster, according to the company.
  • The new service, dubbed Twitter Lite, is not a native mobile app but instead works on mobile browsers.
  • The new version also takes up less than 1 MB of space on a device, a feature designed to appeal to users who don’t have a lot of onboard file storage space on their devices.