Daily Current Affairs - 12th Apr 2017

42 PSUs do not have a regular chief

  • As many as 42 central public sector enterprises in the country are at present functioning without a regular chairman or managing director or CMD.
  • Some of the firms having vacant board level posts include Andrew Yule & Company, Bharat Coking Coal, Cotton Corporation of India, HLL Lifecare Ltd, ITI Ltd, HMT, India Tourism and Development Corporation and Rashtriya Chemicals and Fertilisers.
  • Minister of State in the Department of Heavy Industries and Public Enterprises: Babul Supriyo

Align bank pay to that in CPSEs: Bank Board Bureau

  • The Bank Board Bureau (BBB) has recommended that the government bring in reforms in the compensation process in public sector banks on the lines of Central Public Sector Enterprises (CPSEs).
  • BBB, set up in April 2016 to select board members including MD & CEO in PSBs, put out the list of recommendations that it had submitted to the government on its website.
  • It has suggested compensation reforms in PSBs so that best practices can be introduced on the lines already prevalent in Central Public Sector Enterprises.
  • To attract high-quality talent for non-executive directors and chairmen, BBB suggested a level-playing field with the private sector with respect to role, responsibility and remuneration.
  • Banks Board Bureau is an autonomous body of the Union Government of India tasked to improve the governance of Public Sector Banks, recommend selection of chiefs of government owned banks and financial institutions and to help banks in developing strategies and capital raising plans.
  • Chairman of Banks Board Bureau:Vinod Rai

Bangladesh PM invites India Inc. to Bangladesh, promises SEZs

  • Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina invited Indian companies to invest in the country’s infrastructure sector that requires investments of about $20 billion a year till 2030, promising to exclusively dedicate at least three of the 100 proposed special economic zones in the country for Indian investors. It is also offering packages that allow 100% repatriation of profits and invested capital by foreign investors.
  • With a per-capita income of $1,446 and a growth rate of 6% to 7% in the last eight years, Bangladesh offers a fast-growing domestic market of 160 million consumers as well as special duty-free access to various global markets.
  • As many as thirteen pacts were signed between Indian and Bangladeshi firms at the summit, entailing investments of about $9 billion.

Cash usage rebounds as digital modes slide

  • According to the data from the Reserve Bank of India (RBI), cash withdrawals from automated teller machines (ATMs) have further increased in February 2017 to Rs 1.93 lakh crore from Rs. 1.52 lakh crore in January and is on track to reach the pre-demonetisation levels.
  • With the remonetisation process well underway, use of debit cards at point-of-sale terminals have also come down in February, while cash withdrawal is going up, RBI data shows.
  • Total cash and currency circulation in the system was Rs. 13.32 lakh crore as on March 31 2017, which is 76% of the Rs. 17.97 lakh crore that was in circulation before November 8.
  • Digital modes of payment such as prepaid payments instruments (including mobile wallets) and mobile banking which also gained momentum post-note ban as transaction values surged, also declined in January and further fell in February,

Centre to curb wastage of food in hotels

  • Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s pitch against wastage of food has prompted the government to consider asking high-end restaurants and hotels to specify the portion size of a meal to enable customers order the right amount.
  • The hospitality industry would be asked whether it can do it “voluntarily” or or needed the government to make legal provisions for it.
  • As PM Modi expressed concern over large-scale wastage of food.

Cisco wants to make India a global hub for exports

  • Networking major Cisco, which recently started manufacturing its products locally, plans to make India a global hub for exports.
  • The company is expected to complete 50 digitisation projects across the country — part of the $100 million investment announced last year, by December 2017.
  • These 50 projects include T- hub in Telangana, Fetri village in Rajasthan, a wi-fi project in Rajasthan and iCreate in Gujarat.
  • Cisco's first intention was to start with 5 or 6 products to be made in India for the domestic market such as access points, routers etc. The second stage is to make that centre (Pune) a global export hub.
  • In the next phase of the digitisation initiatives, the company was collaborating with State governments for projects, including the addition of six new innovation labs and six centres of excellence.

G7 countries stands united on Syria

  • Foreign Ministers of the Group of Seven (G7) countries and several other West Asian countries spoke with one voice condemning last week’s chemical attack in Syria that left 89 people dead. The U.S. and its allies hold Syrian President Bhashar al-Assad responsible for the attacks.
  • The G7 also lent support to the U.S. for its attack on the Syrian government-controlled Shayrat airfield in Homs province last week.
  • While the G7 united to isolate Mr. Assad diplomatically and urged Russia to do the same, no agreement was reached on sanctions against Russia.
  • G7 Group: Group of 7 (G7) is a group consisting of Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the United Kingdom and the United States. According to the IMF, the G7 countries represent more than 64% of the net global wealth ($263 trillion).
  • They also represent 46% of the global GDP evaluated at market exchange rates and 32% of the global purchasing power parity GDP.

Global collaboration project Belle-II moves a step forward

  • The High Energy Accelerator Research Organisation (KEK) completed the much-awaited rolling-in of the Belle-II experiment in Tsukuba, Japan. This experiment is designed to study violations of the Standard Model of particle physics.
  • It is a grand collaboration of 700 scientists from 23 countries and has a significant Indian participation both on experimental and theoretical sides.
  • The fourth layer of the six-layer, highly sensitive particle detector, which is at the heart of Belle-II, has been built by Indian scientists, led by Tariq Aziz and Gagan Mohanty, who are with the Tata Institute of Fundamental Research (TIFR), Mumbai.
  • The Belle experiment is a particle physics experiment conducted by the Belle Collaboration, an international collaboration of more than 400 physicists and engineers investigating CP-violation effects at the High Energy Accelerator Research Organisation (KEK) in Tsukuba, Ibaraki Prefecture, Japan.
  • CP-violation: In particle physics, CP violation is a violation of CP-symmetry. CP-symmetry states that the laws of physics should be the same if a particle is interchanged with its antiparticle (C symmetry) while its spatial coordinates are inverted.

Goods and Services Tax Network (GSTN) data will be totally secure

  • Goods and Services Tax Network (GSTN), a company set up to provide IT infrastructure and services to the Central and State Governments, tax payers and other stakeholders for implementation of the GST, will have a completely foolproof data security protection and tax-related information, according to the firm’s CEO.
  • The tax payer and concerned assessing officer would have access to information submitted to GSTN portal by tax payers post GST. The system will have total stability and a backup facility.
  • Even functionaries of GSTN would not have any access to tax-related information of tax payers after GST is enforced and that tax payers should rest assured on the front of data protection.
  • CEO of GSTN: Prakash Kumar.

India to play Canada in Davis Cup World Group play-off match

  • India drew eighth seed Canada in the Davis Cup World Group play-off match to be played in Canada, from September 15 to 17.
  • Since the two teams had not met before in Davis Cup, the International Tennis Federation (ITF), which made the draw in London.
  • India would be playing a relatively less powerful tennis nation, after having fought the giants like Serbia, Czech Republic and Spain over the last three years in the play-off stage.

Indian sailors do well

  • Indian sailors swept the medals in the Laser 4.7 class at the Asian Sailing Federation’s Youth Sailing Cup 2016-17 held at Ras Al Khaimah, UAE.
  • Aniketh Rajaram, Mahesh Balachander and Naveen Kumanan of Tamil Nadu claimed the gold, silver and bronze medals respectively in the final leg of Laser 4.7 class event.
  • A total of 21 sailors from India took part in the event across various classes.

Islamic State has lost most of the land it seized in Iraq

  • The Islamic State has lost more than three-fourths of the territory it seized when it swept across Iraq in the summer of 2014, according to the Iraqi military sources.
  • The extremist group currently controls less than 30,000 sq. km., down from more than 40% at its height.
  • Iraq PM: Haider al-Abadi
  • Currency: Iraqi dinar
  • Capital: Baghdad

Mahindra partners Zoomcar for electric car sharing

  • Mahindra Electric announced a partnership with Zoomcar, a self—driven car—rental firm to promote shared mobility of electric cars in India. This partnership will enable individuals to buy new all-electric Mahindra e2oPlus on ZAP, Zoomcar’s fractional car ownership programme
  • The programme allows individuals to purchase e2oPlus on Zoomcar’s self-drive platform, list the vehicle on a dynamic basis whenever idle, get bookings from Zoomcar’s customer base.
  • Mahindra Electric is the electric vehicles manufacturers of the diversified $ 17.8 billion Mahindra Group.

Malala Yousafzai made youngest UN Messenger of Peace

  • The United Nations has bestowed the highest honour UN Messenger of Peace upon Nobel Peace Prize laureate Malala Yousafzai.
  • She was described as a symbol of the most important thing in the world-education for all. With this, she became the youngest ever UN Messenger of Peace.
  • At the age of 11 she had caught international attention as female education activist after writing for the BBC about life under the Taliban in Pakistan under pseudonym Gul Makai.
  • Her campaign had led to a Taliban assassination attempt that left her severely wounded after she was shot in head in 2012. In 2014, at the age of 17 she was awarded Nobel peace prize, becoming youngest Nobel Laureate in the history of Nobel award. Other awards and honors include: National Youth Peace Prize (2011), Mother Teresa Awards for Social Justice (2012), Simon de Beauvoir Prize (2013), Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought (2013), Anna Politkovskaya Award (2013).
  • The UN has declared 12 July as ‘Malala Day’ in her honour.
  • UN Messenger of Peace : It is given by the UN upon distinguished individuals, carefully selected from the fields of art, literature, music and sports or other fields of public life.

Malayalam made mandatory in all Kerala schools

  • The Kerala government has promulgated an Ordinance to make teaching of Malayalam mandatory up to the Std. X in all schools. The new law would come into effect this academic year and be applicable to government, aided, unaided and self-financing institutions following the State, CBSE and ICSE syllabi.
  • Schools violating the new law would attract hefty fines and such CBSE and ICSE schools would be denied NOC or face cancellation of NOC.
  • Chief Minister of Kerala: Pinarayi Vijayan; Governor: P.Sathasivam

Nepal tables new Bill amending Constitution

  • The Nepal government tabled a new Constitution amendment Bill in Parliament to address the demands of the agitating Madhesi parties which are demanding more representation and re-demarcation of state boundaries ahead of next month’s local elections.
  • According to the new Bill, the government may form a federal commission to recommend it on the issues relating to the number of provinces and their boundaries. The draft law aims to address some of the key demands raised by United Democratic Madhesi Front. The Madhesi parties have been demanding more representation in all state mechanism.
  • Madhesis, mostly of Indian-origin, launched a prolonged agitation between September 2015 and February last year 2016 against the implementation of the new Constitution, which they felt marginalised the Terai community.
  • Nepal PM: Pushpa Kamal Dahal
  • Currency: Nepalese rupee
  • Capital: Kathmandu

New firms to get PAN, TAN in a day

  • The Central Board of Direct Taxes (CBDT) has tied up with Ministry of Corporate Affairs (MCA) to issue Permanent Account Number (PAN) and Tax Deduction Account Number (TAN) in a day, to improve the Ease of Doing Business for newly incorporated corporates.
  • Applicant companies should submit a common application form SPICe (INC 32) on MCA portal, and once the data of incorporation is sent to CBDT by MCA, the PAN and TAN are issued immediately without any further intervention of the applicant.
  • The Certificate of Incorporation (COI) of newly incorporated companies includes the PAN in addition to the Corporate Identity Number (CIN). TAN is also allotted simultaneously.

Neymar banned for Clasico

  • Barcelona star Neymar will miss the Clasico (the name given in football to any match between fierce rivals Real Madrid and FC Barcelona) after receiving a three-match ban following his red card against Malaga, dealing a big blow to the Catalans who lie three points behind Real Madrid having played a game more than their rivals.
  • The Brazilian forward was dismissed for two yellow cards against the Andalusians, earning an automatic one match suspension. It was the first red card of Neymar’s career at Barcelona and the teams first dismissal of the season in any competition.

Parliament Passes HIV/AIDS Bill

  • Parliament passed the Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) and Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (AIDS) (Prevention and Control) Bill, 2017, which provides for the prevention and control of the disease and protection of human rights of those affected by it. The law provides a broad legislative framework for the response to HIV in India and is the first national HIV law in South Asia.
  • The bill prohibits any kind of discrimination against such people on ground of treatment, employment and workplace.
  • People living with HIV and AIDS are guaranteed equal rights in medical treatment, admission to educational institutions and jobs.
  • The Bill lists various grounds on which discrimination against HIV-positive persons and those living with them is prohibited.
  • It prohibits discrimination against people living with, and affected by, HIV in a range of settings, including employment, education, housing and health care, as well as with regard to the holding of public or private office, access to insurance and freedom of movement.
  • It also bans unfair treatment of people living with and affected by HIV with regard to accessing public facilities, such as shops, restaurants, hotels, public entertainment venues, public facilities and burial grounds.
  • The Bill also prohibits any individual from publishing information or advocating feelings of hatred against HIV positive persons and those living with them.
  • The total number of people living with HIV in India is estimated at 21.17 lakhs, whereas around 86000 new HIV infections were reported in 2015, showing 66% decline in new infections from 2000. In 2015 around 68000 people died of AIDS related causes nationally.

Passenger vehicle sales race to 6-year high

  • Passenger vehicles sales grew at the fastest pace in six years in 2016-17, crossing the 30 lakh-mark for the first time in India, according to data released by the Society of Indian Automobile Manufacturers (SIAM).
  • Sales of passenger vehicles in the domestic market grew 9.2% to 30.46 lakh units in 2016-17, compared with 27.89 lakh units sold in 2015-16.
  • The growth in passenger vehicle sales is driven largely by demand for utility vehicles ahead of sedans and hatchbacks.
  • The sales of sports utility vehicles (SUVs) grew at a four-year high of 29.9% to 7.61 lakh units in 2016-17. However, growth in the passenger cars segment slowed to a three-year low of 3.8% at 21.02 lakh units.
  • Maruti Suzuki, with 47% market share, retained the top spot in terms of passenger vehicle sales followed by Hyundai Motors (17%) and Mahindra and Mahindra (8%).
  • For the current financial year, SIAM expects overall passenger vehicles sales to grow 7-9%, two-wheelers 9-11%, commercial vehicles 4-6% and three-wheelers 4-6%.

SC non-committal on exchange of old notes

  • The Supreme Court said that it will first decide whether there is a need at all to open a window for the public to exchange or deposit their demonetised currency notes post the cut-off date of December 31, 2016 prescribed under the Specified Bank Notes (Cessation of Liabilities) Act.
  • The possession of demonetised notes is now an offence under the Act. The petitions have claimed that the government went back on its word to offer a grace period to deposit and exchange demonetised currency.
  • In its latest affidavit, the Centre had told the Supreme Court that it owed no legal duty to citizens to extend a grace period for deposit of their demonetised Rs. 500 and Rs. 1,000 bank notes after December 31, 2016.
  • Chief Justice of India: J.S. Khehar

Seven juniors get a call-up for Azlan Shah Cup

  • Seven players from the junior ranks found a place in India’s squad for the 26th Sultan Azlan Shah Cup. Four — goalkeeper Sumit Karkera, defender Gurinder Singh, and midfielders Sumit and Manpreet (Jr) — are in line to debut, while Surender Kumar, Harmanpreet Singh and Harjeet Singh have already earned senior caps. The event to be held in Ipoh, Malaysia, from April 29 to May 6. P.R. Sreejesh will be leading the Indian contingent.

Shareholders approve Grasim, ABNL merger

  • The shareholders of Grasim Industries Limited, Aditya Birla Nuvo Limited (ABNL) and Aditya Birla Financial Services Limited (ABFSL) have approved the merger of ABNL with Grasim followed by the demerger and listing of the financial services business.
  • The move is in line with the National Company Law Tribunal order and the SEBI requirements and the merged entity will now span from manufacturing to services businesses with leadership positions in cement, financial services and textiles.
  • The merged entity, Grasim, will have a consolidated turnover of Rs. 59,766 crore, EBITDA of Rs. 11,961 crore and a net profit of Rs. 4,245 crore for the year ended March 31, 2016.