Daily Current Affairs - 03rd May 2017

Amazon India to ramp up storage capacity

  • E-commerce player Amazon India will add 14 fulfilment centres this year that will give a boost to its storage capacity as well as create about 5,000 jobs. Seven of them, to be set up in Telangana, Haryana, Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh and Andhra Pradesh will support its regular business while the rest will be specialised facilities for large appliances and furniture.
  • All the 14 facilities will be fully operational by the end of this quarter to support the remarkable high double-digit growth the company continues to see.
  • Post their commissioning, the company will have a total of 41 fulfilment centres and a cumulative storage capacity of over 13 million cubic feet. As of 2016, the capacity was 7.5 million cubic feet.

Chhetri, Jamil get top awards

  • Bengaluru FC striker Sunil Chhetri was named as the best player of the I-League while Khalid Jamil, who guided Aizawl FC to a historic title win, was expectedly chosen as the coach of the year.
  • Other awards: Best Goalkeeper: Debjit Majumder; Best Defender: Anas Edathodika; Best Midfielder: Alfred Kemah Jaryan; Best Emerging Player: Jerry Lalrinzuala.

China backs offer of dialogue

  • China backed U.S. President Donald Trump’s openness for talks with North Korean leader Kim LJong-un. China has always believed using peaceful means via dialogue and consultation to resolve the peninsula’s nuclear issue is the only realistic, feasible means to achieve denuclearisation of the peninsula and maintain peace and stability there.

CoA thwarts BCCI move

  • The Committee of Administrators (CoA) interrupted a BCCI move that could have led to a damaging confrontation with the International Cricket Council (ICC). The Indian Board wanted to ascertain the views of its members on serving a notice on the ICC. This was in response to the decisions taken at the ICC Board meeting in Dubai, where, in effect, the Big Three model was cast aside and India’s influence on the world game reduced.
  • The BCCI plan, had it gone ahead, could have culminated in India’s absence from all ICC events between 2017 and 2023.

Eclectic FPI mix drives Indian equities

  • According to SEBI data, there are nearly 8,000 registered FPIs in India coming from almost 60 different countries across the world. The U.S. leads the pack with more than 2,700 registered FPIs, followed by Luxembourg (946), Canada (622) and Mauritius (572).
  • In all, there are 14 countries from where more than 100 FPIs have registered in India.
  • An increasing number of foreign investors are attracted to India because of the higher returns when compared with some of the other leading markets, including the emerging markets pack.
  • Indian markets have generated good returns consistently and that attracts the large number of foreign investors.
  • As the Indian equity market has been quite consistent in generating returns even when viewed over a longer time frame. In the last 17 years since 2000, the Sensex has ended with losses only on five occasions (2000, 2001, 2008, 2011 and 2015).
  • SEBI data shows that there are investors from countries like Bahamas, Liechtenstein, Republic of Slovenia, Brunei, Bermuda, Guernsey and Jersey.
  • Data from National Securities Depository Ltd. (NSDL) shows that FPIs have been net buyers of Indian equity at Rs. 40,911 crore or more than $6 billion.
  • Foreign Portfolio Investment (FPI) is investment by non-residents in Indian securities including shares, government bonds, corporate bonds, convertible securities, infrastructure securities etc. The class of investors who make investment in these securities are known as Foreign Portfolio Investors.

Fitch keeps India ratings at lowest tier

  • The U.S.-based rating agency Fitch kept India’s sovereign rating unchanged at ‘BBB–’, the lowest investment grade with stable outlook assigned to the country more than a decade ago. The lower rating is attributed to India's weak fiscal position.
  • It expects India’s growth rate to accelerate to 7.7% in fiscals 2017 and 2018, from 7.1% in fiscal 2016.
  • The government and some commentators in India have been questioning ratings assigned by global agencies arguing the country’s fundamentals have improved significantly over the last few years, but this had not been taken into account by the rating firms.

India to launch new IIP series

  • India will soon launch a new series of Index of Industrial Production with a base year 2011-12 on May 9 with an aim to map economic activities more accurately. Currently, the IIP is calculated on base year of 2004-05. The new series for Index of Industrial Production (IIP) captures industrial activities on a monthly basis.
  • A high-level panel had firmed up the methodology for the IIP with new base year of 2011-12.
  • The change in baseline for the IIP is expected to bring in more accuracy in mapping the level of economic activity and calculating other numbers like national accounts.

India's manufacturing activity expands

  • The country’s manufacturing activity improved for the fourth straight month in April on stronger growth of new orders and buoyant domestic demand. The headline Nikkei India Manufacturing Purchasing Managers’ Index — an indicator of the sector’s performance — showed that the performance in April matched March’s reading of 52.5.
  • An index reading above 50 indicates an overall increase (or expansion), below 50 an overall decrease (or contraction).
  • Manufacturing jobs rose for the second consecutive month in April, owing to a combination of greater production needs and expectations of a pick-up in demand. The pace of employment growth remained slight overall.
  • Consumer goods producers registered the steepest expansion.

India-Turkey ink Three Agreements

  • India and Turkey have signed three agreements following delegation-level talks between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.
  • In total three agreements were signed by both the sides in the fields of ICT, training and culture:
  • An agreement for a cultural exchange programme for the years 2017-2020 was signed.
  • An MoU was signed between the Foreign Services Institute (FSI) of India and the Diplomacy Academy of Turkey.
  • An MoU was signed for cooperation in the area of information and communication technologies (ICT).
  • Turkish President had also assured India of Turkey’s full support in the fight against terrorism and for India’s bid for a permanent seat on the UN Security Council.
  • Bilateral trade between both the countries stands at $6.5 billion. As of 2016, Turkey’s exports to India stood at $652 million, while its imports were $5.75 billion
  • Both the countries have set a target of increasing the volume of bilateral trade to $10 billion by 2020.

India’s Second Tallest Flag Pole inaugurated in Kolhapur

  • India’s second tallest flag pole has been Inaugurated in Kolhapur, Maharashtra. The pole which is 303 feet high has been constructed in the Police training academy garden as a part of the Kolhapur beautification project. The poll is 90 metres tall and 60 metres wide and weighs 24 tonne.
  • The country’s tallest flag pole is located at the Indo-Pak Attari Border and is 360 feet high.

Infosys plans to hire 10,000 Americans

  • India’s second largest software company Infosys is planning to hire 10,000 American workers over the next two years. As part of the initiative, Infosys will open four technology and innovation hubs across the country. These hubs would focus on cutting-edge technology areas such as artificial intelligence, cloud computing and big data.
  • The move assumes significance in the wake of an increasingly loud anti-offshoring campaign in the U.S. that has sought preference for locals in jobs than for immigrants.
  • According to the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), H-1B applications for 2017 fell below 200,000 for the first time in five years. The USCIS received 1,99,000 applications in 2017, compared with 2,36,000 in 2016.
  • Chief Executive Officer of Infosys: Vishal Sikka

Madhya Pradesh becomes first Indian state to shift to January-December fiscal format

  • Madhya Pradesh became the first state in India to announce shifting of its financial year format to January-December from the present April-March cycle. A decision to this effect was taken during the state cabinet meeting chaired by Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan.
  • The decision comes close on the heels of Prime Minister Narendra Modi's pitch to shift the fiscal year to the January-December period during NITI Aayog's Governing Council meet.
  • Changing the financial year format to January-December would mean shifting the tax assessment year, changes in infrastructure, especially at the company level.

Mark Selby retains World snooker championship title

  • England’s Mark Selby produced a magnificent comeback to beat John Higgins 18-15 in the final of the World snooker championship at Crucible Theatre and win the global crown for the third time. Selby became only the fourth player after Steve Davis, Stephen Hendry and Ronnie O’Sullivan to win back-to-back titles since the event was first held at The Crucible in 1977.
  • He collected a record £375,000 cheque for his stupendous effort.

Renjith for Diamond League opener

  • Renjith Maheswary, who stunningly broke the triple jump National record in Bengaluru last July, will be the lone Indian in the IAAF Diamond League’s opening leg in Doha, Qatar. Renjith’s effort of 17.30m, which helped the Kerala-born Railway athlete to qualify for the Rio Olympics last year, made him the fourth best jumper in the IAAF World list last year behind Americans Christian Taylor, Will Claye and China’s Bin Dong, the three Olympic medalists.
  • The Diamond League, virtually the world series in athletics, will have 14 stops this time including Shanghai, Paris and London and will wind up in Brussels in September.

Start-up firms may get idle land from PSUs

  • The Heavy Industries Ministry is thinking on a proposal to use large tracts of unutilised land owned by central public sector companies, which government plans to divest or sell, as ready-to-move-in industrial space for start-up companies.
  • The Ministry said that the idea is to create a landscape for ready-to-move-in businesses so that start-up companies do not have to face hurdles for setting up business and they can start work immediately on the business opportunity without lag.
  • Ministry of Heavy Industries & Public Enterprises: Anant G Geete

Survey of India to re-measure Mount Everest

  • The Survey of India is planning to re-measure the Mount Everest to record a possible change in its heights following the 2015 earthquake in Nepal. As per the measurement done in the year 1856, the height of the Mount Everest is 29,028 feet.

The most heavyweight museum in India

  • The first museum of weights and measures in the country is located in the Chamarajpeth market area of Davangere, Karnataka. Called Tula Bhavan, its exhibits include more than 3,000 varieties of weighing and measuring devices, some dating back at least three centuries.
  • The bulk of the collection, though, originates in India, and includes devices from almost every part of the country, including from the times of the Nizams of Hyderabad, the Mysore Wadiyars, the Adil Shahis, and the Keladis. Among the prize pieces are wooden beam scales from Mysore, and weighing stones used during the Adil Shah period.
  • The museum entered the Limca Book of Records in 2016, and in January this year, the Department of Posts declared it the ‘first of its kind’ in the country in its in-house magazine.

U.S. anti-missile system goes live

  • A U.S. missile-defence system deployed to counter growing threats from North Korea has gone into operation in South Korea. The United States and South Korea began installing the radar and other key components of the system, known as THAAD(Terminal High Altitude Area Defence) in Seongju, 135 miles southeast of Seoul, after reaching an agreement to deploy it last July.
  • The system is operational and has the ability to intercept North Korean missiles and defend South Korea.
  • THAAD: It is a United States Army anti-ballistic missile system designed to shoot down short, medium, and intermediate range ballistic missiles in their terminal phase using a hit-to-kill approach.
  • The missile carries no warhead, but relies on the kinetic energy of impact to destroy the incoming missile. A kinetic energy hit minimizes the risk of exploding conventional warhead ballistic missiles
  • 38th Parallel is the parallel of latitude which separates North Korea and South Korea.

UN marks first World Tuna Day with calls to conserve it

  • The United Nations marked the first World Tuna Day on May 2 with calls to conserve one of the globe's most popular fish to be caught and eaten. Tuna species, which are highly migratory, account for 20 percent of the value of all fish caught and over 8 percent of all internationally traded seafood.
  • Nearly two-thirds of the tuna found in restaurants and supermarkets around the world comes from the Pacific Ocean.
  • The decline in the health of the oceans, resulting from human activities, such as over fishing, and the impacts of climate change and ocean acidification impact the conservation and sustainable use of tuna stocks. The UN General Assembly established May 2 as World Tuna Day to reinforce its importance to nations around the globe.

Venezuela's president seeks new Constitution

  • Venezuela’s embattled President Nicolas Maduro issued a decree for writing a new Constitution, ratcheting up a political crisis that has drawn hundreds of thousands of anti-government protesters into the streets.
  • Opposition leaders immediately objected, charging that writing a new Constitution would give Maduro an excuse to put off regional elections scheduled for this year and a presidential election that was to be held in 2018.
  • Polling has suggested the present government would lose both those elections badly amid widespread anger over Venezuela’s economic woes.
  • Capital: Caracas
  • Currency: bolívar fuerte