Daily Current Affairs - 20th May 2017

4,039 villages to be electrified

  • Of the 18,452 unelectrified villages in the country, 13,469 have been electrified up to May 18 this year and the remaining 4,039 will be electrified by May 2018, as stated by Power minister Piyush Goyal.
  • Every state has joined ‘Power for All’ agreement,” he told reporters on the Deen Dayal Upadhyaya Gram Jyoti Yojana (DDUGJY) scheme. “All the states have pledged to boost holistic development of entire village electrification process to provide 24x7 affordable and quality power to all' which is planned under DDUGJY.”
  • During 2016-17, 6105 un-electrified villages were electrified — as against 1,197 such villages in 2013-14, or five times more.

Australian scientists create world’s thinnest hologram

  • Scientists have created the world’s thinnest hologram that can be seen without 3D goggles and may be integrated into everyday electronics such as smart phones, computers and TVs.
  • Interactive 3D holograms are a staple of science fiction but the challenge for scientists trying to turn them into reality is developing holograms that are thin enough to work with modern electronics.
  • Now, researchers led by RMIT University in Australia have designed a nano-hologram that is simple to make, can be seen without 3D goggles and is 1,000 times thinner than a human hair.

Big win for Indian women

  • The Indian women’s team registered an emphatic 10-wicket win over Zimbabwe in the quadrangular series.
  • Zimbabwe women, who elected to bat, were all out for 98 in 42.3 overs. Chipo Mugeri was the top-scorer with 34 runs. Deepti Sharma and Poonam Yadav scalped four each.
  • In reply, the Indian women scored the required runs in 16 overs without losing a wicket. Veda Krishnamurthy (50 not out) and Harmanpreet Kaur (39 not out) were at the crease.

DoCoMo effect: Tata Power posts Rs. 247 cr loss in Q4

  • Private power producer Tata Power reported a consolidated net loss of Rs 246.90 crore for the March quarter against a profit of Rs 82.95 crore reported in the same period a year back largely due to a one-time impact related to regulatory obligations over Tata Docomo.
  • According to a filing with the BSE, the company has deposited Rs. 790 crore with Tata Sons after the Delhi High Court directed the holding company to pay the arbitration award to Docomo.
  • Consequently, Tata Power has written off “other advances” of Rs. 651.4 crore, being the difference between the fair value of equity share of Tata Teleservices Limited (TTSL) and the consideration payable to DoCoMo deposited with Tata Sons.

Ecological concerns over combustible ice

  • Commercial development of the globe’s huge reserves of a frozen fossil fuel known as “combustible ice” has moved closer to reality after Japan and China successfully extracted the material from the sea floor off their coastlines.
  • But experts said that large-scale production remains many years away and if not done properly could flood the atmosphere with climate-changing greenhouse gases. Combustible ice is a frozen mixture of water and concentrated natural gas. Technically known as methane hydrate, it can be lit on fire in its frozen state and is believed to comprise one of the world’s most abundant fossil fuels.
  • Methane hydrate has been found beneath seafloors and buried inside Arctic permafrost and beneath Antarctic ice.

GST Council finalises rates for services

  • Education and healthcare will continue to be exempt from taxation in the upcoming GST regime that will tax services at four different rates with transport, including economy class air travel, being taxed at 5 per cent.
  • The GST Council finalized four tax rates of 5, 12, 18 and 28 per cent to apply on services including telecom, insurance, hotels and restaurants under the biggest tax reform since Independence.
  • Transport services will be taxed at 5 per cent. This rate will apply to cab aggregators like Ola and Uber as well as those who currently pay 6 per cent tax.
  • Non-AC train travel will be exempt and the 5 per cent will be levied on AC travel tickets. Travelling on metro, local train and religious travel including Haj yatra will all continue to be exempt from GST.
  • The GST Council also decided to tax e-commerce sellers at 1 per cent. The Centre and the States would each levy a tax at the rate of 0.5 per cent at source on online sellers.

Japan approves Bill allowing Emperor’s abdication

  • The Japanese government approved a one-off Bill allowing ageing Emperor Akihito to step down from the Chrysanthemum Throne, in the first such abdication in two centuries.
  • The Bill will now be sent to Parliament for debate and likely receive swift final approval. Abdication must take place within three years of the Bill becoming law.
  • In August 2016 Emperor Akihito publicly cited age and declining health, which was interpreted as his wish to hand the crown to his eldest son.
  • Japan Capital : Tokyo
  • Prime Minister : Shinzo Abe

Lahm and Alonso set to hang up their boots

  • Bayern Munich will bid farewell to two giants of the game when the Bundesliga season winds up.
  • It will be the final Bayern appearance for Germany’s World Cup winning captain Philipp Lahm, 33, and Spain’s Xabi Alonso, 35, who are both hanging up their boots.
  • Facing his farewell after a 22-year playing career, Lahm admitted the last game is going to be one of the most emotional moments of his life. With World Cup, Champions League, and eight national trophies, the defender and midfielder can look back more than two decades of incredible success as one of the greatest footballers in German history.
  • Lahm has collected more titles than yellow cards and has never received a red card.

PM calls for ‘evergreen revolution’ in country

  • Prime Minister Narendra Modi called for an “evergreen revolution” to enable the country to meet the challenge faced by the agriculture sector.
  • He emphasised the need for moving from the concept of ‘food security’ to ‘nutrition security’, for which he favoured scientific and technological intervention.
  • He said the government is working in this direction as part of its “dream” to ensure that the farmers’ income doubles by 2022, when the country celebrates its 75th Independence day.

RCEP trade ministers to meet

  • Trade ministers of 16 countries, including India and China, will meet on May 21 and 22 in Vietnam to discuss progress in the ongoing negotiations of proposed trade deal, RCEP.
  • So far, negotiators of the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) have held 18 rounds of negotiations.
  • This will be a crucial meeting in Hanoi as ministers would deliberate on the single—tier system of duty relaxations, besides issues related to services and investments.

SBI Q4 net profit more than doubles

  • State Bank of India’s net profit rose 123% to Rs. 2,815 crore for the quarter ended March 31, driven by a healthy increase in the bank’s net interest income.
  • The country’s largest lender posted a net profit of Rs. 1,264 crore in January-March period of the fiscal 2015-16 — a quarter in which most banks were hit due to the Reserve Bank of India’s asset quality review.
  • For the current financial year, SBI has Rs. 32,000 crore of loans under its watch list. Gross NPA increased on a sequential basis to Rs. 1.12 lakh core but the ratio declined to 6.90% as on end-March as compared to 7.23% in December. Gross NPA ratio was 6.50% in March 2016.

Sri Lanka to study debt levels among N-E Tamils

  • Sri Lanka’s central bank will study the growing indebtedness in Tamil-majority north and east, its Governor Indrajit Coomaraswamy said.
  • After Sri Lanka’s civil war ended in May 2009, scores of displaced families who returned to their hometowns are struggling to piece their lives together. While the community suffered enormous losses for three decades, those resettling are grappling with few jobs, means to livelihood and often resort to heavy borrowing.
  • A recent report of the central bank pointed to high levels of poverty in the Northern and Eastern provinces. Also, Sri Lanka is experiencing a drought that has badly hit the agriculture sector, a key economic driver in the north.

Survival of newborns: India ranks lower than Somalia

  • Newborns in India have a lesser chance of survival than babies born in Afghanistan and Somalia, according to the latest Global Burden of Disease (GBD) study published in the medical journalThe Lancet.
  • In the GBD rankings for health-care access and quality (HAQ), India has fallen 11 places, and now ranks 154 out of 195 countries. Further, India’s health-care index of 44.8 is the lowest among the sub-continental countries, as Sri Lanka (72.8), Bangladesh (51.7), Bhutan (52.7), and Nepal (50.8) all fared better. The top-ranked nation was Andorra with an overall score of 95 and the lowest-ranked nation was Central African Republic at 29.
  • India’s downward slide in the rankings indicates that it has failed to achieve health care targets, especially those concerning neonatal disorders, maternal health, tuberculosis, and rheumatic heart disease. Last year, India was ranked 143 among 188 countries.

Telephone user base grows 0.51% to 1.19 billion in March

  • The number of telephone subscribers in India rose from 1,188.55 million at the end of February 2017 to 1,194.58 million at the end of March 2017, a monthly growth rate of 0.51 per cent,as per the data published by the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI).
  • Urban subscription increased from 692.15 million to 692.97 million and rural subscription from 496.39 million to 501.61 million during the same period.
  • The monthly growth rates of urban and rural subscription were 0.12 per cent and 1.05 per cent respectively. The overall tele-density in India went up from 92.59 to 92.98.

Thiem finally gets Nadal

  • After suffering defeats to the ‘King of Clay’ in the finals at the Barcelona Open and at the Madrid Masters, Dominic Thiem outplayed Rafael Nadal, beating him 6-4, 6-3 in the quarterfinals of the Rome Masters.
  • In the women’s tournament, Anett Kontaveit’s brilliant run ended with a 6-2, 6-4 quarterfinal defeat at the hands of sixth seed Simona Halep.
  • In doubles action, Sania Mirza and Yaroslava Shvedova advanced to the semifinals with a 6-4, 6-1 win over Sara Wrrani and Martina Trevisan.