Daily Current Affairs - 27th Aug 2017

Amit gives winning start to India at World Boxing Championship

  • Asian bronze-medallist Amit Phanga (49kg) gave India's campaign a fine start at the 19th World Boxing Championship, advancing to the pre-quarterfinals. Amit defeated Italy's Federico Serra in a split verdict to enter the second round, where he will be up against seventh seed Carlos Quipo of Ecuador.

Cabinet considering hike in GST cess on cars

  • The Union Cabinet may consider issuing an ordinance to increase the cess on mid-size, large cars and SUVs to 25% from 15% under the GST regime at present. Raising the cess requires an amendment to the Schedule of section 8 of the GST (Compensation to a State) Act, 2017. The ordinance has to be replaced with a proper legislation with the approval of Parliament within six months of its issuance.
  • Under GST, a cess was levied on demerit goods like cars, tobacco, and coal, to create a corpus for compensating states for any loss of revenue from their taxes like VAT being unified with central levies like excise duty and service tax in the GST.
  • Cars attract the top tax rate of 28%. On top of this, a cess of upto 15% is levied for the creation of the state compensation corpus.

Centre eases norms to attract more airlines for UDAN scheme

  • The Union government has eased several norms for its flagship regional flying scheme UDAN (Ude Desh Ka Aam Nagrik) to attract more airlines and helicopter operators to participate in the regional connectivity scheme (RCS). It initiated the process for second round of bidding for the inexpensive regional connectivity scheme.
  • The relaxations include dilution of exclusivity clause which mandated that only one airline flies on one route in the first three years. Now, selected airline operator of a particular route may issue no-objection certificate to other airlines who want to operate on the selected RCS route.
  • It also diluted norms that restricted two airports in close proximity with each other to participate in the bidding. The government also increased viability gap funding for helicopter operators and smaller aircrafts.
  • Civil Aviation Minister: Ashok Gajpathi Raju

Centre restricts import of gold, silver items from South Korea

  • The Union government has restricted the imports of gold and silver items from South Korea in a bid to check surge in inbound shipments of these metals from that country. These restrictions are being imposed against the backdrop of sudden surge in imports of precious metal from South Korea, with which India has a free trade agreement since January 2010.
  • Gold imports from South Korea has jumped to USD 338.6 million between July 1 and August 3 this year. The import in 2016-17 stood at USD 70.46 million.
  • The importers will now have to obtain a license from the Directorate General of Foreign Trade (DGFT) for importing gold and silver from South Korea.

China Demands Internet Platforms Verify Users' True Identity

  • China has ordered the country's internet platforms to verify users' true identity before letting them post online content. The new regulation was adopted as part of a cybersecurity law that took effect in June, which bans internet users from publishing a wide variety of information.
  • The law also requires online platforms to get a licence to post news reports or commentary about the government, economy, military, foreign affairs, and social issues.
  • China already tightly controls the internet aggressively blocking sites of which it disapproves and curbing politically sensitive online commentary, such as on criticism of the government.
  • Since 2013, China has imposed prison sentences on users whose messages are deemed defamatory.

France to loan 430 million euros to Iraq

  • France is to grant a 430-million euro loan to Iraq whose economy has been weakened by low oil prices and its fight against jihadists. The loan is aimed at helping the war-torn country implement reforms, improve public services and boost the performance of its state enterprises.
  • France, which refused to take part in the 2003 American-led invasion that brought down dictator Saddam Hussein, is keen to participate in the reconstruction of Iraq. The cost of reconstruction has been estimated at between USD 700 billion and USD 1 trillion.
  • Iraq’s Prime Minister: Haider al-Abadi
  • French President: Emmanuel Macron

GM crops only after biosafety, socio-economic evaluation: Parliamentary Panel

  • The Parliamentary panel has recommended that no genetically modified (GM) crop should be introduced in India unless the biosafety and socio-economic desirability is evaluated in a transparent process and an accountability regime is put in place.
  • The committee has also recommended that the environment ministry should examine the impact of GM crops on environment thoroughly, in consultation with all stakeholders.
  • The remarks come after India’s GM crop regulator Genetic Engineering Appraisal Committee (GEAC) recently recommended the commercial use of genetically modified mustard in a submission to the environment ministry.

GST intelligence arm to be regulator for gems & jewellery sector under PMLA

  • The newly created GST intelligence arm, Directorate General of Goods and Service Tax Intelligence, has been named the regulator for dealing with money laundering cases in the gems and jewellery sector.
  • The regulator under PMLA issues guidelines and prescribes measures to establish client identity in different transactions. It may prescribe enhanced or simplified measures to verify the client’s identity taking into consideration the type of client, business relationship, nature and value of transactions based on the overall money laundering and terrorist financing risks involved.
  • Under PMLA, every reporting entity is required to maintain a record of all transactions of value exceeding Rs.10 lakh, all cross border wire transfers of more than Rs.5 lakh and all purchase and sale of immovable property of Rs.50 lakh or more.
  • The DG GSTI is the new name given to the Directorate General of Central Excise Intelligence (DGCEI), which was mandated to check service tax and central excise duty evasion.

India, Qatar discuss citizens welfare issues

  • India discussed with Qatar the welfare of its citizens in the wake of its ongoing disputes with Saudi Arabia, Egypt, the UAE and Bahrain.
  • Both nations discussed bilateral issues, including welfare of the more than 6 lakh Indian workers. Expansion and co-operation in energy, trade and investment were also discussed. India’s ties with Qatar have intensified in the last few years.
  • India had earlier expressed keenness in investing in hydrocarbon projects in the Gulf nation.
  • Qatari Prime Minister: Sheikh Abdullah bin Nasser bin Khalifa Al-Thani

Labour backs Britain staying in E.U. single market after Brexit

  • Britain’s main opposition party (Labour) has announced that it backs the U.K. staying in the European Union single market and customs union during a transition period after Brexit.
  • It wants Britain to continue to abide by the terms of its current E.U. membership during an unspecified transition period, before a final shift to a new Britain-E.U. relationship, as leaving the bloc at this juncture would be unnecessary and highly risky.

Mobile phone displays to overtake TV screens in 2017

  • According to financial services company IHS Markit, the worldwide market for mobile phone displays is expected to overtake that of TV screens for the first time ever this year, brought on by the change in consumer demand.
  • Growth of mobile panels averaged 17 per cent annually in the past seven years, effectively bridging the gap with TV screens that have traditionally led the market. As the sales of TV screens contracted roughly 8 per cent per year during that same 2010-2016 period.
  • The latest predictions showed sales of mobile phone displays will hit $46.56 billion compared to $41.25 billion for TV screens that include both light-emitting diode (LED) and organic light-emitting diode (OLED).
  • The rise in mobile phone displays is directly linked to the emergence of smartphones and the advances being made in ultra-high definition panels that have appeared on mobile devices since then.

National squash championship: Joshna and Saurav claims National titles

  • Joshna Chinappa and Saurav Ghosal emerged champions in the finals of the HCL 74th National squash championship. Joshna won against the first-time finalist Lakshaya Ragavendran with the score board 11-6, 8-11, 11-2, 11-4 fetched the former her 15th National title.
  • Ghosal overcame Mahesh Mangaonkar 11-6, 11-13, 11-9, 11-6 in an entertaining contest.

NITI for multi-year outlook on expenditure

  • Government think tank NITI Aayog suggested the Centre to adopt a multi-year expenditure outlook while preparing the budget. It opined that most modern economies employ a multi-year horizon when preparing the budget.
  • Multi-year approach is essential for better realignment of expenditures to priorities since the space for realignment in one year is limited and the temptation in a one-year-horizon budget is to expand all expenditures more or less radially.

RIL, BP to use floating system in deepest gas discovery in D6 block

  • Reliance Industries and its partner BP(British Petroleum) plc of the UK plan to use a floating production system at high-sea in the Bay of Bengal to bring to production the deepest gas discovery in the flagging KG-D6 block.
  • KG-D6 block is estimated to hold a minimum of 0.988 Trillion cubic feet (Tcf) of contingent resource. RIL is the operator of the block with 60% interest while BP has 30%stake. Niko has the remaining 10% shares.
  • RIL has so far made 19 gas discoveries in the KG-D6 block. Of these, D-1 and D-3 — the largest among the lot — were brought into production from April 2009.
  • Other discoveries have either been surrendered or taken away by the government for not meeting timelines for beginning production.

Strong FDI inflows to support rupee against US dollar

  • According to a research report by global financial services major UBS, FDI inflows to India is expected to rise significantly over the next few years and this will support the rupee against US dollar. The rupee has been among the better performing currencies in emerging markets and has appreciated 6% against the US dollar so far this calender year.
  • Foreign direct investment (FDI) inflows to India have nearly doubled over the past decade to $42 billion (1.9%of GDP) as of 2016-17 and expected to strengthen to 2.5% of GDP over the next five years. The factors responsible for strong FDI inflows include policy efforts to kick—start the investment cycle and implementation of structural reforms in labour, land, capital and business.

World badminton championships: Bronze for Saina

  • Saina Nehwal settled for the bronze as her impressive run at the World badminton championships came to an end after a heart-breaking loss to Rio Olympics bronze medallist Nozomi Okuhara of Japan in the women’s semifinals.
  • Okuhara managed to eke out a come-from-behind 12-21, 21-17, 21-10 win over the Indian to become the first shuttler from her country to reach the finals of worlds.

World No. 2 Andy Murray pulls out of US Open 2017

  • Britain's Andy Murray pulled out of the US Open tournament after failing to recover from his hip injury. Murray won the US Open in 2012 and was seeded second this year. He now joins the list of high profile absentees at the US Open this year - Novak Djokovic, Stanislas Wawrinka, Kei Nishikori and Milos Raonic.
  • Murray has not played since losing to Sam Querrey at the Wimbledon quarterfinals, pulling out of various pre-US Open hard court tournaments.