Daily Current Affairs - 06th Jun 2017

ACT lines up Rs. 1,200 cr. Capital expenditure

  • Internet broadband service provider provider Atria Convergence Technologies has earmarked between Rs. 1,200 crore and Rs. 1,500 crore towards capital expenditure over the next two years. About 60% of this would be spent in building underground networks to reach customer homes.
  • It currently has 1.2 million subscribers across 11 cities, with 6,500 employees, and provides the highest traffic of broadband per customer.
  • The company saw 40% growth in revenues to Rs. 1,300 crore for the year ended March 2017.
  • It plans to ally with content providers and offer content access to the subscribers through its platform. The firm currently provides free content as part of trial offers to subscribers, from Hook, Hungama, Yupp TV and Alt Balaji.
  • CEO: Bala Malladi

Afghan officials ready for Kabul Process

  • The Afghan government says it's ready to host the so-called Kabul Process in which peace and security issues will be discussed among Afghans and officials from the region and around the world.
  • Ambassadors from participating countries and international organizations have assured the Afghan government of the participation of high-level delegation
  • Afghan President: Ashraf Ghani
  • Chief Executive: Abdullah Abdullah

Andy Murray in French Open quarters

  • Andy Murray racked up his 650th career win to reach the French Open quarterfinals.The World No.1, brushed aside Karen Khachanov of Russia 6-3, 6-4, 6-4. Murray will face Japanese eighth seed Kei Nishikori who defeated 33-year-old Fernando Verdasco of Spain 0-6, 6-4, 6-4, 6-0.

Centre to implement India’s first Rural LED Street Lighting Project in Andhra Pradesh

  • The Union government of India, through the Energy Efficiency Services Limited (EESL) would be retrofitting 10 lakh conventional street lights with LED lights in Gram Panchayats of 7 districts in Andhra Pradesh.
  • This is the first project for rural LED street lighting in the country under the Government of India’s Street Lighting National Project (SLNP).
  • In the first phase, the replacement will be undertaken in gram panchayats of the districts of Guntur, Prakasham, Nellore, Kurnool, Kadapa, Ananthapur and Chittoor.
  • The entire upfront capital cost of this project is being funded by French Development Agency Agence Française de Développement (AFD).
  • Nationally, over 23 lakh conventional street lights have been replaced by LED street lights in 21 States of India.

Four nations cut diplomatic ties with Qatar as Gulf rift deepens

  • Saudi Arabia, Egypt, the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain severed their ties with Qatar, accusing it of supporting terrorism and opening up the worst rift in years among some of the most powerful states in the Arab world.
  • Gulf Arab states and Egypt have already long protested Qatar's support for Islamists, especially the Muslim Brotherhood which they regard as a dangerous political enemy.
  • Qatar has long had an independent streak in its foreign policy that’s led to resentment from its neighbors.
  • Qatar is a peninsular Arab country whose terrain comprises arid desert and a long Persian (Arab) Gulf shoreline of beaches and dunes.
  • Capital: Doha
  • Currency: Qatari riyal

France, India bet big on drug discovery

  • France and India are expanding their partnership in areas of research pertaining to chemical technology and medicinal chemistry. Scientists from both sides are only now forging ahead in areas of research pertaining to medicine and drug development from natural products. Cancer and disorders of the central nervous system, chiefly Alzheimer’s, are on top of the list.
  • The collaboration’s base at Indian Institute of Chemical Technology (IICT), the Indo-French Joint Laboratory for Sustainable Chemistry at Interfaces, is expected to be rechristened later this year to reflect the changing scope of the collaboration.
  • The cooperation rides heavily on the molecular bank that IICT boasts. The country’s one-of-its-kind facility, the bank has over 40,000 molecules.

ICICI Lombard to tap capital market

  • ICICI Lombard — the general insurance joint venture between ICICI Bank and Canadian investor Prem Watsa’s Fairfax Financial Holdings —could well be the first such company to tap the capital markets through an initial public offering (IPO). This IPO venturing will dilute the foreign partner’s stake. ICICI Lombard could well be the first general insurance company to list on the exchanges.
  • The deal valued the general insurance company at Rs. 20,300 crore. After the the transaction is completed, ICICI Bank will own 63.31% in Lombard and Fairfax 22.13%.
  • Fairfax had started to the process of reducing its stake in ICICI Lombard as it eyes a new venture in the sector with former Allianz executive Kamesh Goyal.
  • State-run general insurer New India Assurance and re-insurer General Insurance Company of India are also planning to take the IPO route.
  • Initial public offering (IPO) or stock market launch is a type of public offering in which shares of a company usually are sold to institutional investors that in turn, sell to the general public, on a securities exchange, for the first time.

India overtakes China to top global retail index: GRDI

  • India climbs 13 positions from 2015 to rank 2nd on the Global Retail Development (GRDI) Index 2016, which ranks top 30 developing countries based on ease of doing business.
  • The 2017 Global Retail Development Index (GRDI), now in its 16th edition, ranks the top 30 developing countries for retail investment worldwide and analyzes 25 macroeconomic and retail-specific variables.
  • India’s retail sector has been growing at an annual rate of 20 per cent. Total sales surpassed the USD 1 trillion-mark last year and the sector is expected to double in size by 2020.
  • Rapid urbanisation and a growing middle class with higher income levels is driving up consumption across the country.
  • The government’s continued support to relax FDI regulations in key areas of the retail sector have provided further boost to its growth as it has allowed 100 per cent foreign ownership in B2B e-commerce businesses and for retailers that sell food products.

India rejects Trump’s allegations on Paris pact

  • India rejected U.S. President Donald Trump’s allegation that it had joined the Paris climate agreement for a large financial incentive. The External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj described the allegation as unreal and said India did not join the agreement for financial greed.
  • India has signed into the Paris agreement not because of pressure from any country nor or fear of any country. It had signed the agreement for our commitment to protection of climate.

Indian Economy to Grow 7.2 Percent in 2017: World Bank

  • The World Bank in its latest Global Economic Prospects has projected a strong 7.2% growth rate for India this year against 6.8% growth in 2016. It stated that India is recovering from the temporary adverse effects of demonetisation.
  • According to it, India remains the fastest growing major economy in the world. India's growth rate is expected to reach 7.7% by 2019.
  • It stated that India's domestic demand is expected to remain strong, supported by ongoing policy reforms, especially the introduction of the nationwide Goods and Services Tax (GST).
  • The growth projections for China remain unchanged at 6.5% for 2017 and then 6.3% for the next two years 2018 and 2019.
  • World Bank President: Jim Kong Yim
  • Headquarters: Washington, D.C, USA

India’s biodiversity riches grow by 499 species

  • According to the new findings brought out by the Zoological Survey of India and Botanical Survey of India, 499 new species were added to India's biodiversity, which were discovered from various areas of the country last year. It include 313 species of animal and 186 of plants.
  • The new species were from the four biological hotspots of the country — the Himalayas, the northeast, the Western Ghats and the Andaman and Nicobar Islands.
  • Of the new animal species, 258 are invertebrates and 55 vertebrates. As many as 97 species of insects, 27 of fish, 12 species of amphibians, 10 of Platyhelminthes, 9 of Crustacea and 6 of reptiles have been discovered. There are 61 species of moths and butterflies (order Lepidoptera) and 38 of beetles (Coloeptera).
  • For the first time, the number of animal species in the country, including protozoa, has crossed one lakh — 1,00,693 is the exact count.
  • The geographical distribution of the new plant species reveals that most discoveries were made in the Western Ghats (17%), followed by the Eastern Himalayas (15%), the Western Himalayas (13%), the Eastern Ghats (12%) and the west coast (8%).

India’s first private railway station Habibganj to come up near Bhopal

  • Habibganj railway station in the suburbs of Bhopal will become country’s first railway station to be redeveloped in a public-private partnership (PPP) mode. The idea is to develop the railway station as a world-class transit hub equipped with all amenities.
  • The operation and maintenance responsibilities for the station have been given to Bhopal-based Bansal Group for a period of eight years.
  • Bansal Group will invest Rs100 crore to overhaul the station which was opened in 1979, and around Rs350 crore to develop four commercial land parcels adding up to 17,245 sq. m.
  • The Habibganj railway station will be designed as a world-class transit hub, with a central concourse equipped with amenities for waiting passengers; arriving and departing passengers will be segregated. The environment-friendly station will be powered by solar energy and has facilities for the differently-abled.
  • Union Railway Minister: Suresh Prabhu

India’s heaviest rocket GSLV Mk3 puts GSAT-19 satellite in space

  • Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) launched the country’s heaviest rocket – Geosynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle-Mark III (GSLV-Mk III) – along with a communications satellite GSAT-19.
  • The rocket, weighing 640 tonnes and standing 43.43 metres tall, blasted off from the second launch pad at India’s rocket port at Satish Dhawan Space Centre in Sriharikota in Andhra Pradesh.
  • The GSLV Mk.3 is designed to lift satellites as heavy as 8,800 pounds (4 metric tons) into geostationary transfer orbit, the drop-off point for most large communications and broadcasting satellites.
  • The GSLV Mk.3 can place nearly 18,000 pounds, or 8 metric tons, into a low-altitude orbit almost 400 miles, or 600 kilometers, above Earth, according to ISRO.
  • ISRO Chairman: A.S. Kiran Kumar

Montenegro defies Russia, joins NATO

  • Montenegro formally joined the NATO in a historic turn that has made Russia furious. It became the 29th member of the Western military alliance at a ceremony in Washington.
  • Montenegro has stood up against its former ally Russia, which has sought to maintain strong historic, political and cultural influence in the Slavic country it considers a special zone of interest.
  • Bringing Montenegro into the NATO further diminishes Russia’s influence in southeast Europe.
  • Russia has threatened economic and political retaliation, including a campaign to undermine the Montenegrin tourism industry, which relies heavily on Russian visitors.
  • President: Filip Vujanovic
  • Prime Minister: Dusko Markovic
  • Capital: Podgorcia
  • Currency: Euro

Nepal, China ink mega hydropower agreement

  • Nepal has signed an agreement with a Chinese company to build the largest hydroelectric plant in the impoverished landlocked country, which suffers from a chronic energy shortage. The agreement for the China Gezhouba Group Corporation to build the long-mooted 1,200 megawatt Budhi-Gandaki hydroelectric project. Estimates put the project cost at $2.5 billion and a financing agreement will be signed later.
  • Demand for electricity has long outstripped supply in Nepal due to chronic under-investment and inefficiencies in the power network.
  • Water-rich Nepal has a mountain river system that could make it an energy-producing powerhouse, but instead it imports much of its electricity from neighbouring India. Experts say it could be generating 83,000 megawatts, but its total installed generation capacity currently stands at less than 2% of that.

PCA only a supervision tool, says RBI

  • The RBI said its prompt corrective action (PCA), initiated in the case of some public sector banks with high NPAs, is a supervision tool and does not constrain normal banking operations for the public.
  • The Reserve Bank has put Dena Bank, IDBI Bank, Indian Overseas Bank and UCO Bank, under the PCA in view of their mounting non-performing assets.

SBI begins qualified placement issue

  • State Bank of India (SBI), the country’s largest lender, initiated a qualified placement issue (QIP) aiming to raise Rs. 11,000 crore to support growth and to meet regulatory requirements. It has opened qualified institutional placement of equity shares of face value of Rs. 1 to qualified institutional buyers.
  • The floor price in respect of the issue, based on the pricing formula of SEBI, is Rs. 287.58 per equity share of the bank and the relevant date for this purpose is June 5, 2017.
  • The fund raising is a part of SBI’s overall plan to raise Rs. 15,000 crore from the markets for which it has received its board approval in March. The fund raising will dilute the government’s stake in the bank which was 62.22% as of March.
  • SBI’s capital adequacy ratio, at 13.11%, which includes 10.35% of tier-I capital, is higher than the regulatory requirement of 9%. It has received Rs. 5,681 crore of capital from the government in FY17.
  • Qualified institutional placement (QIP) is a capital-raising tool, primarily used in India and other parts of southern Asia, whereby a listed company can issue equity shares, fully and partly convertible debentures, or any securities other than warrants which are convertible to equity shares to a Qualified Institutional Buyer (QIB).

Services sector gains momentum in May

  • Business activity in the services sector picked up pace in May, driven mainly by an increase in new business and an easing of input costs, according to a survey. The Nikkei India Services Purchasing Managers’ Index (PMI) rose to 52.2 in May from 50.2 in April.
  • Service providers hired additional staff in May to cope with the greater workload and that the rate of jobs growth accelerated to the fastest in almost four years in that month.
  • As the evidence indicated that the increase in new work was a reflection of better underlying demand.

Sundaram Finance to foster start-up ecosystem

  • Sundaram Finance Group, part of the TVS conglomerate, has decided to foster the start-up ecosystem in the area of financial services and technology. The investments will be made through Sundaram Finance Holdings, a subsidiary of Sundaram Finance. The group has decided to put in an undisclosed sum in the form of equity investment in a Delhi-based start-up GyanDhan.
  • Sundaram Finance Group will be looking at investments with ticket sizes of $1 million or less.

Textile Ministry finalizing draft guidelines of National Textiles Policy

  • Ministry of Textiles is in the process of finalizing draft guidelines of National Textiles Policy and same will be sent to the union cabinet for approval next month.The policy aims to achieve $300 billion (over Rs 20 lakh crore) worth of textile exports by 2024-25 and create an additional 35 million jobs.
  • There was 7 per cent growth in the textile and garment exports from India between July 2016 and April 2017 (over previous year) on the back of some schemes announced by the Centre.
  • The total exports stood at $40 billion while, the Ministry is targeting $45 billion this year.