Daily Current Affairs - 14th Jun 2017

40,000 train coaches to be retrofitted

  • The Indian Railways has begun refurbishing 40,000 rail coaches with modular toilets, LED lights, fire and smoke detection systems among other luxuries. This is one of the largest retrofitment projects in the world with a time line of five years.
  • The new coaches will have more mobile and laptop charging points, Braille signage and ergonomic designs among other features.
  • While 25,000 coaches will be upgraded this financial year, 15,000 new coaches will be manufactured between 2018-19 and 2022-23. The cost of upgrading each railway coach will be around Rs. 30 lakh.
  • The Railways also plans to replace the ICF coaches with German Linke Hoffman Busch (LHB) coaches from April 2018. The German coaches are considered safer in case of an accident as it has anti-climbing features unlike ICF coaches that capsize during accidents.
  • Out of total 56,000 rail coaches, around 40,000 are ICF-make and the rest are LHB coaches.
  • Union Railway Minister: Suresh Prabhu

70% smartphone apps share your data with third party services

  • According to a study by IMDEA Networks Institute, Spain about 70% of smartphone apps send personal data to third-party trackers like Google Analytics, Facebook Graph API or Crashlytics.
  • The findings showed atleast seventy per cent of the apps were connected to at least one tracker, and 15% to five or more trackers.

CSIR inks deal with Ethiopian institute

  • The Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) has signed a $7 million (Rs. 45 crore approx.) agreement with the Metal Industries Development Institute (MIDI), Ethiopia. According to CSIR sources, this is the largest, international deal it has ever signed.
  • This is a three-year contract and personnel from both organisations are expected to begin technical collaboration from next month. Apart from training and management consultancy, both institutes are also looking at transferring technology.

Drug that cuts risk of kidney, heart disease

  • An anti-diabetic drug named canagliflozin that lowers blood sugar levels for Type 2 diabetes sufferers also significantly cuts the risk of cardiovascular and kidney disease, according to a study. The findings came in a clinical trial of more than 10,000 patients in 30 countries, using canagliflozin.
  • It found the drug reduced the overall risk of cardiovascular disease by 14% and reduced the risk of heart failure hospitalisation by 33%. It was also shown to have a significant impact — 40% less — on the progression of a serious kidney decline.
  • Type 2 diabetes affects around 450 million people worldwide.

Finland's government crisis over: PM

  • Finland's government averted a collapse when the nationalist Finns Party split into two groups, leaving newly-elected hardline anti-immigrant leaders in the cold.
  • Juha Sipila, who has headed a coalition made up of his Centre Party, the conservative National Coalition and the Finns Party since May 2015, ousted the Finns Party after it elected a hardliner convicted of hate speech as party leader.
  • Mr. Sipila had planned to submit his government’s resignation to the President in order to get a mandate to seek out a new coalition partner. But in a surprise move, 20 of the Finns Party’s 37 members of Parliament announced they were breaking away to form a more moderate faction, called New Alternative, which was willing to govern in Mr. Sipila’s coalition.
  • Finland is a Northern European nation bordering Sweden, Norway and Russia.
  • President: Sauli Niinisto
  • Prime Minister: Juha Sipila
  • Capital:Helsinki
  • Currency: Euro

France, UK announce Anti- terror action plan to crack down on radicalisation through social media

  • The leaders of France and Britain have announced an anti-terror action plan to crack down on radicalisation through social media. Both countries agreed that social networking sites were not doing enough to stamp out terror propaganda.
  • The British Prime Minister and French President agreed that more should be done to tackle the terrorist threat online. The campaign was aimed to ensure the internet cannot be used to host the radicalising material that leads to so much harm.
  • British Prime Minister: Theresa May
  • French President: Emmanuel Macron

GST may push up electrical goods prices by 10% to 15%

  • According to trading community, the selling prices of electrical goods may increase by 10-15% after the implementation of Goods and Services Tax (GST) affecting traders and customers. Under the GST, electrical goods will be taxed at 28% as they have been classified as luxury items.
  • They feel that taxing electrical goods at 28% will make it difficult for traders to survive and sustain. While the electrical raw materials are taxed at 18%, the finished goods is placed in the highest tax bracket of 28%.
  • The increase in operating cost and selling price is likely to have a cascading effect affecting both the small and medium traders.

India has 14.4 mn children with obesity

  • India has the second highest number of obese children in the world after China, according to a study that found that 14.4 million children in the country have excess weight. China had 15.3 million children with obesity.
  • Among adults, the U.S. topped the list with 79.4 million people with obesity and China came second with 57.3 million people.
  • In 2015, obesity affected 2.2 billion children and adults worldwide, or almost 1 in three of all people. This includes nearly 108 million children and more than 600 million adults with BMI exceeding 30, the threshold for obesity.
  • Globally, over two billion children and adults suffer from health problems related to being overweight or obese, and an increasing percentage of people die from these health conditions which include
  • risk of cardiovascular disease, diabetes, cancer, and other life-threatening conditions.
  • Of the four million deaths attributed to excess body weight in 2015, nearly 40% occurred among people whose body mass index (BMI) fell below the threshold considered obese.

India ratifies ILO pacts on child labour

  • India ratified International Labour Organisation (ILO) conventions 138 and 182 on Child Labour to fight against the menace and achieve the objective of child labour-free nation. Convention 138 regarding admission of age to employment, and Convention 182 regarding worst forms of Child Labour.
  • With ratification of these two core ILO conventions, India has ratified 6 out of 8 core ILO conventions. The other four core ILO ratified conventions by India relates to abolition of forced labour, equal remuneration, no discrimination between men and women in employment and occupation.
  • The worst forms of child labour prohibited under Convention 182 are all forms of slavery or practices similar to slavery, such as the sale and trafficking of children, debt bondage and serfdom and forced or compulsory labour, including forced or compulsory recruitment of children for use in armed conflict.
  • ILO Convention 138 prescribes the minimum age of employment for children, which is set as 14 years or such age as may be specified in the Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education Act, 2009.
  • Union Labour Minister: Bandaru Dattatreya

Kohli reclaims top spot in ODI rankings

  • India captain Virat Kohli reclaimed the top spot in the ICC ODI rankings for batsmen following the conclusion of the league matches in the Champions Trophy.
  • Kohli had entered the tourney 22 points behind top-ranked A.B. de Villiers of South Africa, who had been No.1 since February 25 this year, and 19 behind Australia’s David Warner. Shikhar Dhawan has vaulted five places to 10th.

Landslides, floods kill 74 people in Bangladesh

  • At least 74 people, including Four army men, have been killed in massive landslides in Chittagong early on Tuesday, followed by Monday’s day-long downpour that has paralysed most of Bangladesh.
  • At least 50 people died in Rangamati district of Chittagong Hill Tracts, while Chittagong and Bandarban districts saw 18 and 6 deaths
  • Heavy rains in the districts caused by the low pressure system in the Bay of Bengal led to the landslides, said officials. Roads and power lines have also been cut off in several areas.

Myanmar city seeks heritage status

  • Myanmar is striving to enlist Bagan, a famous ancient city with thousands of religious edifices and pagodas, as a World Cultural Heritage site. Geographically, Bagan comprises two areas — Upper Bagan and Lower Bagan. The city was established by descendants of Pyu and attained rapid development after Buddhism had flourished.
  • With over 3,000 Buddhist temples, monasteries, stupas and monuments compacted into one area, Bagan is a home to Buddhist architectures signifying the unique morals adorning interior walls of the religious edifices.
  • President: Htin Kyaw
  • Capital: Naypyidaw; Currency: Burmese kyat

Nag missile test-fired

  • The Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) successfully test-fired the third generation Nag Anti-Tank Guided Missile (ATGM). The successful flight test of 3rd generation ATGM Nag further strengthens the country’s defence capabilities, the DRDO said.
  • The fire and forget ATGM incorporates imaging infrared radar seeker with integrated avionics.
  • Scientific Adviser to Defence Minister: Sateesh Reddy

NBA Finals: The Golden State Warriors beat the Cleveland Cavaliers to win title

  • The Golden State Warriors earned their second NBA title in three years with a 129 to 120 win over the Cleveland Cavaliers in Oakland, led by All-Star forward Kevin Durant's 39 points and strong bench scoring. This is their second title in three seasons and cap a near-perfect run through the play-offs. For the third year in succession the two teams met in the Finals,
  • Warriors forward Kevin Durant, 28, was named the Most Valuable Player of the Finals.

New labour survey to generate quarterly and annual data

  • The Ministry of Statistics and Programme Implementation has started a Periodic Labour Force Survey, which will provide quarterly labour and employment data for urban India and annual data for rural India. The Periodic Labour Force Survey will also incorporate a Computer Assisted Personal Interviewing (CAPI) method, with field operators using tablets to enter the data. This would generate more accurate and timely information
  • Introduced in April 2017, this survey will supersede the earlier system where such data was available only every five years.
  • The Statistics Ministry is also preparing to revise the base year of national accounts to 2017-18 from 2011-12, following the completion of the household consumer expenditure survey and the labour force survey at the end of 2018.
  • It is also developing a fact sheet on the Indian economy, incorporating inputs from all important ministries on 100 indicators. It is also considering an Annual Survey of Services, along the lines of the Annual Survey of Industries already being carried out.
  • Minister for Statistics and Programme Implementation: D.V. Sadananda Gowda

No change in GST rollout date: Centre

  • The Centre sought to end all speculation about a possible deferment of the rollout of the Goods and Services Tax (GST) from July 1, despite industry players, tax experts, and even some State governments asking for a later rollout date. The government has emphasized that Goods and Services Tax is scheduled to roll-out on July 1, 2017.
  • The Central Board of Excise and Customs (CBEC) in coordination with the State governments have increased their outreach programmes with regard to GST so as to reach the last trader. The GST formations are being notified shortly.

RBI issues new Rs. 500 notes

  • The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) said a new batch of Rs. 500 banknotes with the inset letter ‘A’ in both the number panels of the current Mahatma Gandhi (new) series were being issued. The note will bear the signature of RBI Governor Urjit Patel and the year of printing is 2017.
  • The design of the 'A' notes is similar to earlier notes issued post the ban of old Rs. 500 and Rs. 1000 notes in November 2016.

RBI refers 12 accounts to insolvency process

  • The Reserve Bank of India identified 12 borrowers’ non-performing assets, amounting to more than Rs. 5,000 crore each, for triggering proceedings under the Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code in a bid to pare banks’ bad debts. The unnamed accounts constitute 25% of total bad loans in the banking system.
  • The RBI's Internal Advisory Committee (IAC) which undertook a detailed review of the situation and recommended 12 accounts totalling about 25% of the current gross NPAs of the banking system would qualify for immediate reference under IBC.
  • Banks would get six months to finalise a viable resolution plan for all the other stressed accounts, failing which the lenders would be required to file for insolvency proceedings.
  • The Reserve Bank will accordingly be issuing directions to banks to file for insolvency proceedings under the IBC in respect of the identified accounts. Such cases will be accorded priority by the National Company Law Tribunal.

Satyendra Singh finishes eighth

  • Satyendra Singh shot 1173 to make the final in the men’s rifle 3-position event but finished eighth in the shooting World Cup. After shooting a career-best score in qualification, the 32-year-old had a bad performance in both the kneeling and standing positions.
  • The results: 50m rifle 3-position: Men: 1. Istvan Peni (Hun) 458.4 (1182); 2. Hui Zicheng (Chn) 457.4 (1173); 3. Tomasz Bartnik (Pol) 444.4 (1175); 8. Satyendra Singh 396.7 (1173); 45. Sanjeev Rajput 1157.

SEBI sets trading rules for commodity options

  • The Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI) has allowed commodity exchanges to introduce options trading while ensuring that such contracts are introduced only on such commodities that currently register high volume in the futures segment.
  • The options can be launched only on such underlying futures contracts that are among the top five contracts in terms of total trading turnover value of previous twelve months.
  • Further, the average daily turnover of underlying futures contracts qualifying for options has been pegged at Rs. 200 crore for agricultural & agri-processed commodities and Rs. 1,000 crore for other commodities in the previous twelve months.
  • The introduction of options will boost overall market participation and also complement the existing futures and make the commodities market more robust and efficient.
  • The regulatory framework comes nearly two months after the SEBI board approved the launch of commodity options.
  • On a pilot basis, each exchange will be allowed to start such options trading only on one commodity initially. SEBI took over the regulation of the commodity markets in 2015.

Shahrukh, Salman, Akshay part of Forbes' highest-earning celeb list

  • Indian superstars Shahrukh Khan, Salman Khan and Akshay Kumar are among Forbes' annual list of the highest-earning entertainers in the world. The Forbes list of the 'World's Highest-Paid Celebrities of 2017' has been topped by American rapper and entrepreneur Sean Combs, known by his more famous stage name 'Diddy', with earnings of 130 million dollars.
  • American singer and icon Beyonce on the second spot with earnings of USD 105 million. Author J K Rowling, with USD 95 million, is at number three. R&B musician Drake is at the number four spot with USD 94 million. Football star Cristiano Ronaldo (USD 93 million) rounded out the top five.
  • Shah Rukh Khan ranks 65th on the list, with earnings of USD 38 million, Salman is on the 71st spot with USD 37 million in earnings. Akshay Kumar is ranked 80th on the list with earnings of USD 35.5 million

Uber CEO to take leave, leadership team to run company

  • Uber CEO Travis Kalanick will take a leave of absence for an unspecified period and let his leadership team run the troubled ride-hailing company while he’s gone. Mr. Kalanick told employees about his decision in a memo.
  • Uber Technologies Inc, is a technology company headquartered in San Francisco, California, United States, operating in 570 cities worldwide. It develops, markets and operates the Uber car transportation and food delivery mobile apps.

US considers sanctions on countries that do illegal business with N Korea

  • US is considering sanctions on countries that do illegal business with North Korea. It is considering sanctioning companies from third countries who deal with the regime of Kim Jong-un in violation of UN resolutions.
  • The Trump administration has sought to increase pressure on North Korea over its nuclear and missile activities. North Korea is believed to be making progress toward developing a ballistic missile capable of reaching the US.