Daily Current Affairs - 04th May 2017

4,000-year-old garden found outside Egypt tomb

  • Archaeologists have discovered the remains of a nearly 4,000 year old model garden outside a tomb in the ancient Egyptian capital of Thebes. The discovery was made by a Spanish team in the Draa Abul Nagaa necropolis across the Nile from the modern-day city of Luxor.
  • The three metre by two metre garden consists of equally divided square plots, each about 30 centimetres (a foot) across. It was found in an open courtyard outside a Middle Kingdom (2050 to 1800 BC) tomb. The tiny square plots seem to have each contained different species of plants and flowers.

Apple’s cash reserve soars over $250 billion

  • Global technology major Apple has reported over $256 billion in cash and marketable securities. In the previous year, Apple’s earnings report for the January-March quarter was $233 billion. According to the rating agencies, the cash reserve possessed by the company is more than Google, Microsoft and Amazon’s total cash.
  • Compared to Apple’s $256 billion, Microsoft has $126 billion, Alphabet has $92 billion, Amazon has $22 billion.
  • Apple has cash reserve worth two-thirds of India’s foreign exchange reserve. As on April 28, India’s Foreign Exchange Reserves is equivalent to $371.13 billion.

BrahMos missile achieves rare feat

  • The Indian Army carried out a successful test of the advanced BrahMos Block III Land Attack Cruise Missile (LACM) in the Andaman and Nicobar Islands. This is the second consecutive test of the missile in two days. These tests were carried out in full operational land-to-land configurations from Mobile Autonomous Launchers (MAL) at full-range.
  • This is the fifth consecutive time when the Block-III version of BrahMos LACM has been successfully launched and hit the land-based target in top-attack mode. The range of the supersonic missile was initially capped at 290 km as per the obligations of the Missile Technology Control Regime (MTCR). Since India’s entry into the club, the range has been extended to 450 km and the plan is to increase it to 600km.
  • BrahMos is a product of joint collaboration between India and Russia and is capable of being launched from land, sea, sub-sea and air against surface and sea-based targets. The name BrahMos is formed from the names of two rivers, the Brahmaputra of India and the Moskva of Russia.

Cabinet approves Vijayawada Airport as International Airport

  • The Union Cabinet chaired by the Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi has given its approval for the declaration of Vijayawada Airport as International Airport, as per the provisions of Andhra Pradesh Reorganisation Act, 2014.
  • The proposal will add to improved connectivity to the State capital. It will provide wider choice of services at competitive costs to the air-travelers and give a boost to domestic/international tourism and socio-economic development of Andhra Pradesh by bringing in international passengers and cargo traffic. Declaration of an airport as International Airport depends upon traffic potential and demand from airlines for operation of international flights

Captain Chand Roop passes away

  • Dronacharya award winning wrestling coach Captain Chand Roop passed away in Delhi. He was 87 . Chand Roop took up wrestling after joining the Indian Army in 1948. He was a former National champion who became a coach to train the Army wrestlers. He produced Asian Games bronze medallist and former Bharat Kesari title winner Netrapal and anther prominent wrestler Vijay Kumar.
  • Under him many international wrestlers shined which include- several Olympians and five Arjuna award winners — Ombeer, Ashok Garg, Rohtash Dahiya, Ramesh Kumar and Dharmender Dalal.

Centre notifies Seventh Pay Commission for military

  • The Central government has notified the Seventh Pay Commission for serving military personnel. While some core anomalies were addressed, some are yet to be resolved and that is likely to be done separately by the anomalies committee which is looking into the issue.
  • Three issues raised by the services were approved which include increasing the pay matrix from 24 to 40 years, index of rationalisation for Lieutenant Colonels and Colonels from 2.57 to 2.67, and pay protection for those promoted above Brigadier upwards because they lose the Military Service Pay.

Centre to setup panel to study debt in telcos

  • The government has decided to set up inter-ministerial panel to examine the financial woes of telcom and power companies and recommend solutions. While intense competition in the telcom sector has squeezed margins of some companies and raised fears of defaults on bank loans.
  • The power segment faces a situation where distribution companies are unable to pay electricity producers.
  • Formed inter-ministerial group will examine systemic issues of viability and repayment capacity and furnish recommendation for resolution of stressed assets at the earliest.

China tightens rules for online news providers

  • China has issued new internet regulations increasing the government control over online news providers, the latest step in the country’s push to tighten its policing of the web. New regulations released by the Cyberspace Administration of China (CAC) will increase party control over who can publish what online, taking effect from June 1.
  • The ruling Communist party has the power to censor online content deemed politically sensitive, maintaining that such measures are necessary for the protection of national security.
  • All websites, apps, forums, blogs, microblogs, social media accounts, instant messaging and live streaming platforms and other entities that select or edit news will need a license to post reports or commentary about the government. Sites such as Facebook and Twitter, cannot be accessed in China without special software that allows users to bypass the strict controls.
  • China plans to launch its own online encyclopedia next year, hoping to build a cultural Great Wall that can rival Wikipedia as a go-to information source for Chinese internet users.

Coal India production target cut

  • Coal India Ltd.’s (CIL) production target for the current fiscal FY18 has been fixed at 600 million tonnes against 660 million tonnes envisaged earlier. This would require the company to grow at about 10% over the 550 million tonnes it touched in 2016-17.
  • Coal India Limited (CIL) is an Indian state controlled Maharatna company. It is the largest coal producer company in the world and contributes around 82% of the coal production in India.
  • Chairman: Suthirtha Bhattacharya

Exim Bank to provide $15 bn credit to Asian countries

  • Export-Import Bank of India (Exim Bank) will be providing lines of credit worth more than $15 billion to Asian countries over the next three to four years. The countries getting credit support include Bangladesh ($9.5 billion), Sri Lanka ($3 billion), Nepal ($1.5 billion) and Myanmar ($1.5 billion).
  • For the current year, Exim Bank is targeting a growth of 8-9% as key markets have started to recover and plans to raise $2.5 billion from overseas markets.
  • Export–Import Bank of India is the premier export finance institution in India. Exim Bank of India has been both a catalyst and a key player in the promotion of cross border trade and investment.
  • Exim Bank MD: David Rasquinha,

Government mulls changes to UDAN scheme to attract more players

  • The Centre may introduce changes to its regional connectivity scheme or UDAN(Ude Desh ka Aam Naagrik) to attract more players in the second round of bidding. Allowing single-engine aircraft to fly under the scheme, increasing route exclusivity for airlines and higher subsidy for helicopters among others are some of the proposals which may be considered.
  • Airlines had asked the Civil Aviation Ministry to increase the exclusive flying rights on UDAN routes from three to five years.
  • The UDAN scheme aims to stimulate regional connectivity with flights covering distances up to 800 km through a market-based mechanism.

ICICI Bank net rises almost 3 times

  • ICICI Bank, the largest private sector lender of the country reported a growth of 189% in its net profit to Rs. 2,025 crore in the fourth quarter of 2016-17 as compared with Rs. 702 crore in the same quarter of the previous year.
  • Retail loans continue to drive business, growing 19% while overall loan growth was 14%. Retail loans now constitute 52% of the total loan portfolio. The bank expects 15-16% credit growth in the current financial year, in which consumer loans are expected to rise 18-20%.
  • ICICI Bank wrote-off a whopping Rs. 5,386 crore of bad loans in Q4 as compared with Rs. 148 crore during the year-earlier period.
  • The gross NPA ratio of the bank was at 7.89% as compared with 7.2% a year ago while provision coverage ratio declined to 53.5% from 61% a year earlier.

NASA’s inflatable greenhouse could feed astronauts on Mars

  • NASA scientists have designed an inflatable greenhouse that astronauts could one day use to grow fresh food and produce oxygen on Mars or Moon. The prototype involves an inflatable, deployable greenhouse to support plant and crop production for nutrition, air revitalization, water recycling and waste recycling.
  • The new approach uses plants to scrub carbon dioxide, while providing food and oxygen. While the astronauts exhale carbon dioxide, which is then introduced into the greenhouse, and the plants then generate oxygen through photosynthesis.
  • The water cycle begins with water that is brought along or found at the lunar or Martian landing site. Water is oxygenated, given nutrient salts, and it continuously flows across the root zone of the plants and returned to the storage system.
  • Astronauts have already successfully grown plants and vegetables aboard the International Space Station (ISS).

Package to resolve NPAs gets Cabinet nod

  • The Union government cleared a package to resolve the persistent rise in non-performing assets that is plaguing public sector banks and denting credit growth. The package, which includes an ordinance to amend the Banking Regulation Act of 1949 to empower the Reserve Bank of India to take more actions to check bad loans. Bad loans in the Indian banking system have gone up sharply in the last one year.
  • According to Reserve Bank of India data, gross NPA, as a percentage of gross advances went up to 9.1% in September 2016 from 5.1% in September 2015. During the same period, stressed assets (which is gross NPA plus standard restructured advances and write-offs), moved up from 11.3% to 12.3%.
  • Some estimates suggest the total stress in the Indian banking system is about Rs. 14 lakh crore.
  • The economic survey of 2016-17 has pointed out the twin balance sheet problem — that is, stressed companies on one hand and NPA-laden banks on the other — and advocates that a centralised Public Sector Asset Rehabilitation Agency (PARA) be established to deal with the problem of bad loans.

Scientists find enzyme that drives midlife obesity

  • U.S. researchers have identified an enzyme that may play a central role in the development of obesity in midlife. In two groups of mice being fed high-fat foods, those who received an inhibitor that blocked the enzyme had a 40% decrease in weight gain compared with those that did not get it.

Three book medals and Worlds slots in boxing

  • Fourth seed Shiva Thapa (60kg), Sumit Sangwan (91kg) and Amit Phangal (49kg) have qualified for the boxing World Championship and assured themselves of medals by advancing to the semifinals of the Asian Championships.
  • Sumit stunned third-seeded Chinese Fengkai Yu 4-1 while Amit got the better of fourth seed Cornelis Kwangu Langu of Indonesia 4-1. Shiva assured himself of a third successive medal by sailing past Chinese Taipei’s Chu-En Lai.

U.S. warns of Venezuela sanctions

  • The Trump administration is warning that it might impose more sanctions on Venezuelan officials over President Nicolas Maduro’s push to rewrite the Constitution amid an escalating political crisis with near-daily demonstrations calling for his ouster.
  • Opposition leaders were gearing up for a major march in Caracas, seeking to keep the heat on Mr. Maduro after a month of unrelenting protests.
  • The deaths bring to 32 the number of people who have died in the unrest over the past month.

US lawmakers to vote today to replace Obamacare

  • In US, lawmakers will vote this week to repeal and replace Obama-care which makes quality health insurance more affordable and available to the Americans. The announcement comes after a new health care reform bill gained momentum when two key Republican representatives, who previously objected to the bill said they could now support it.
  • The Republican bill is known as the American Health Care Act. It would repeal most Obama-care taxes, including a penalty for not buying health insurance. The bill would slash funding for Medicaid, a program that provides insurance for the poor.

World's highest rail bridge on Chenab to be completed in two years

  • The Chenab river in Jammu and Kashmir will be having the world’s highest railway bridge that is expected to be 35 metres taller than Paris’ Eiffel Tower. The massive arch-shaped structure, being constructed at a cost of around Rs. 1,100 crore, will use over 24,000 tonnes of steel and will rise 359 m above the river bed.
  • Designed to withstand wind speeds of up to 260 km per hour, the 1.315-km- long engineering marvel will connect Bakkal (Katra) and Kauri (Srinagar).
  • The bridge forms a crucial link in the 111-km stretch between Katra and Banihal, which is part of the Udhampur-Srinagar-Baramulla rail link project.
  • Slated to be completed by 2019, it is expected to become a tourist attraction.