Daily Current Affairs - 06th Jul 2017

22nd Asian Athletics Championships kicks off with gala opening ceremony

  • The 22nd Asian Athletics Championships was inaugurated at Kalinga Stadium in Odisha capital Bhubaneswar. Athlete Tintu Luka was the flag bearer for the Indian contingent which received a rousing welcome from the crowd. Around 42 track and field events will be held in the championship.
  • India is hosting this event for the third time. While, Delhi had hosted the event in 1989, Pune had the opportunity to organise the tournament in 2013.

Citi India FY17 net rises 12%

  • Foreign bank lender Citibank India has announced a net profit of Rs. 3,233 crore for the financial year ended March 2017, representing a 12.15% growth over the previous year.
  • The growth was driven by a 13.4% increase in loan disbursement in FY17, which includes those booked in offshore locations, to Rs. 2.34 lakh crore.
  • Profit before tax for the lender was up 7% to Rs. 6,185 crore.

EPFO adds banks to network

  • The Employees’ Provident Fund Organisation (EPFO) signed an agreement with four private banks and Bank of Baroda for collection of provident fund dues from employers and payments to its subscribers.
  • This is the first time that the EPFO has tied up with private banks – namely, ICICI Bank, HDFC Bank, Axis Bank and Kotak Mahindra Bank. Earlier, only State Bank of India was authorized to collect contributions from employers and make payment to employees.
  • The move will help the EPFO save about Rs. 300 crore annually as the five banks have agreed to zero transaction charges. The EPFO is in talks with seven more banks to sign a similar agreement.
  • In December, the EPFO had tied up with five other banks, Punjab National Bank, Allahabad Bank, Indian Bank and Union Bank of India, for online collection of dues.
  • EPFO settles around 1.16 crore claims every year and collects Rs. 75,000 crore annually from establishments under the EPF Act.

Finance Ministry clarifies definition of 'branded' items for GST

  • The Ministry of Finance clarified that for the purposes of Goods and Services Tax (GST) applicability, an item will be deemed to be ‘branded’ if it carries a brand name or trade name that is registered under the Trade Marks Act, 1999.
  • The Ministry was trying to resolve the confusion around the definition of a branded product, since several unbranded food items are exempt from GST while their branded variants fall in the 5% tax bracket.
  • In this regard, Section 2 (w) read with section 2 (t) of the Trade Marks Act, 1999 provide that a registered trade mark means a trade mark which is actually on the Register of Trade Marks and remaining in force.

Flooding forces 5 lakh out of their homes in Japan

  • In Japan, at least 10 people were missing and more than five lakh were forced from their homes after record rains battered southwestern Japan for a second day.
  • Rescue crews in southwest Japan are trying to reach stranded residents and locate missing people as torrential rain has triggered serious flooding and landslides
  • About 7,500 rescuers, including police, firefighters and soldiers from Japan's Self Defence Forces, were mobilized to help with evacuations and search for the missing.

Goyal unveils app on power data

  • Minister of State for Power, Coal, New & Renewable Energy and Mines Piyush Goyal unveiled an app that provides consumers with more transparent data on the sourcing of electricity, and a portal aimed at providing e-bidding solutions to States to select independent power producers for procurement of electricity.
  • The app and the web portal would result in optimum utilisation of coal, which would save the consumer close to Rs. 20,000 crore five years down the line.

ICC Women’s World Cup: Indian Women makes it four in a row

  • Deepti Sharma and skipper Mithali Raj scored fine half-centuries to help India score 232 for eight against Sri Lanka in its fourth match of the ICC Women’s World Cup. Deepti made 78 off 110 balls while Mithali (53 off 78 balls) continued her good form.
  • After opting to bat first on a fresh pitch, India struggled to reach 232 for 8. In response, Sri Lanka failed to read Poonam Yadav’s leg-spin and was restricted to 216 for 7. India won its fourth league match by 16-runs.

India clinches Asian Team Snooker Championship

  • India’s leading cueist Pankaj Advani teamed up with Laxman Rawat to demolish Pakistan in the final of the Asian Team Snooker championship. Advani drew first blood by putting on a sterling performance against Mohammad Bilal.
  • Final: India bt Pakistan 3-0 [Pankaj Advani bt Mohammad Bilal 87(83)-5, Laxman Rawat bt Babar Masih 133(73)-0, Advani- & Rawat bt Bilal & Masih 70-55] .

India-Israel sign seven MoUs on space, water conservation, agriculture & R&D fund

  • India and Israel have signed seven agreements to increase cooperation in the fields of technological research and development, space, water conservation and agriculture after Prime Minister Narendra Modi held talks with his Israeli counterpart Benjamin Netanyahu.
  • Modi, who became the first Indian prime minister to visit Israel. His visit is being seen as a step to towards new strategic ties between the two nations.
  • One of the key highlights of the agreements signed included the proposal to setting up $40 million worth India-Israel Industrial Research and Development (R&D) and Technical Innovation Fund.
  • In the water sector, two agreements were signed to increase cooperation on water conservation and state water utility reform in India.
  • In the agriculture sector, the two countries have agreed for India-Israel Development Cooperation — a three-year work programme in agriculture from 2018 to 2020.
  • The Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) and Israel Space Agency (ISA) also agreed for cooperation in atomic clocks.
  • The two space agencies also signed MoUs on cooperation in GEO-LEO optical link and cooperation in Electric Propulsion for small satellites.

ISB to study Aadhaar, its implications

  • The Indian School of Business announced a Digital Identity Research Initiative under which it will partner with researchers and academic institutions to study Aadhaar and its implications. The initiative has received support from Omidyar Network through a grant of $2 million for a period of two years.
  • In the initial phase, the research will cover the impact of Aadhaar in various areas.
  • Aadhaar is a 12 digit unique-identity number issued to all Indian residents based on their biometric and demographic data. The data is collected by the Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI), a statutory authority established on 12 July 2016 by the Government of India.
  • CEO at UIDAI: Ajay Bhushan Pandey

Italy lawmakers pass bill making torture crime under national law

  • Italian lawmakers have passed a bill making torture a crime under national law. They passed a bill that makes torture punishable by 4 to 10 years in prison, 12 for members of the security forces.
  • Torture is defined under the law as intense physical suffering or psychological trauma verifiably caused by violence, grave threats or cruel actions.
  • Italy signed the UN Convention Against Torture in 1984 but had never transferred it into national legislation.
  • President: Sergio Mattarella
  • Prime Minister: Paolo Gentiloni Silveri
  • Currency: Euro
  • Capital: Rome

Mercedes India aims for double-digit growth in 2017

  • Mercedes-Benz India is targeting double-digit growth in the current year on the back of its flagship E-class model unveiled earlier this year apart from a slew of new product introductions. The main driver for growth this year will be the E-class that was launched in March.
  • The carmaker unveiled four variants of its GLA compact SUV. Prices were 4-5% lower as a result of GST.

Milky Ways fastest stars came from another galaxy

  • Astronomers have shown that the fastest-moving stars in the Milky Way, known as hypervelocity stars, are in fact runaways from a much smaller galaxy in orbit around our own.
  • The stars escaped their original home when the explosion of one star in a binary system caused the other to fly off with such speed that it was able to escape gravity.

Pakistan tests short-range ballistic missile Nasr

  • Pakistan test-fired short-range surface-to-surface ballistic missile, ‘Nasr' with enhanced range from 60 km to 70 km and flight manoeuvrability. This new weapon system will strengthen credible deterrence against prevailing threat spectrum more effectively, including anti-missile defences.

Services PMI at 8-month high: Nikkei

  • According to the Nikkei India Services Purchasing Managers’ Index (PMI), services sector activity accelerated to an eight-month high of 53.1 in June due to a sharp rise in new orders. The index reading was 52.2 in May.
  • Business conditions in India’s service sector continued to improve in June as a solid and accelerated upturn in new work resulted in a faster increase in activity.
  • The strong performance in June also suggests that GDP growth is likely to rebound from the poor showing in the fourth quarter of financial year 2016-17.
  • The strong performance in the services sector came at a time when the manufacturing sector slipped to a four-month low in June.

Spain PM urges calm over Catalonia tensions

  • Spain’s PM Mariano Rajoy has called for calm in Catalonia region, as tensions between Madrid and separatists in the northeastern region surged over an independence drive.
  • His comments came a day after the separatist coalition that governs Catalonia, a wealthy region of 7.5 million inhabitants with its own language and customs, unveiled a bill aimed at ensuring an independence referendum takes place despite Spain's refusal.
  • The bill aims to extract the region from Spain's legal system - a step aimed at preventing the central authorities from throwing up any legal and practical challenges to organising a referendum.
  • But spain has remained steadfast in its opposition to such a vote, considering it a threat to Spain's unity.
  • The Constitutional Court has already quashed a resolution approved by Catalonia's parliament calling for the referendum to take place.
  • It has also warned Catalonia's elected officials that they would face legal consequences if they took any steps towards holding such a vote.
  • Currency: Euro
  • Capital: Madrid

Sri Lanka vows Tamil autonomy despite Buddhist resistance

  • Sri Lankan government vowed to grant greater autonomy to its Tamil minority in a new Constitution after an influential Buddhist monk said the clergy opposed the plan.
  • According to the President of Sri Lanka, the new Constitution will grant extensive autonomy to Tamils concentrated in the island’s northern and eastern regions. He has said he wants to prevent a repeat of a separatist conflict that claimed 1,00,000 lives between 1972 and 2009.
  • Nearly 70% of the Sri Lanka's population is Buddhist and the monks, who hold huge sway, have generally opposed any political concessions to the mostly Hindu Tamils community.
  • The island’s Tamil minority took up arms in 1972 claiming they faced discrimination in education and employment.
  • President: Maithripala Sirisena
  • Prime Minister: Ranil Wickremesinghe
  • Currency: Sri Lankan rupee
  • Capital: Colombo

Sutirtha-Pooja duo assured of bronze

  • The Indian women’s doubles team of Sutirtha Mukherjee and Pooja Sahasrabudhe assured itself of a bronze despite losing in the semifinals of the Seamaster 2017 Australian Open table tennis tournament. The Indians lost to the top-seeded Chinese combine of Chen Meng and Zhu Ling 11-4, 11-6, 11-2.
  • In men’s singles, Sanil Shetty and G. Sathiyan’s campaign came to an end in the pre-quarterfinals.

US increases pressure on North Korea after missile test

  • The US has increased up pressure on North Korea after its successful intercontinental ballistic missile test(ICMB), making a show of force off the Korean peninsula and calling for a broad international effort to stop the secretive nation’s nuclear weapons programme.
  • Donald Trump attacked China over its trade ties with North Korea, after his top diplomat warned that any country providing economic or military aid, or hosting Nort Korean workers, was abetting Kim Jong-un’s regime. According to sources, trade between China and North Korea grew almost 40% in the first quarter.
  • The United States stated that it is prepared to use the full range of their capabilities to defend themselves and their allies against North Korea.

Wipro allies with IAI to make aerostructures

  • Wipro Infrastructure Engineering (WIN), part of Wipro Enterprises (P) Ltd. and Israel’s State-owned Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI) announced a strategic alliance for manufacturing composite aerostructure parts and assemblies. The announcement coincides with Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to Israel.
  • Wipro would set up a manufacturing facility in India in partnership with IAI to meet the requirements of global aircraft original equipment manufacturers and tier-1 suppliers. The facility will make composite structures in India for global markets.
  • In 2016, Wipro subsidary had acquired H.R Givon, an Israel-based maker of metallic parts and assemblies for the aerospace industry.