Daily Current Affairs - 29th Sep 2017

ADB plans to increase annual lending up to $4 bn to India

  • The Asian Development Bank ADB) said it plans to raise its annual lending to India to a maximum of $4 billion to support the country to accelerate inclusive economic transformation. ADB's programme in India will focus on three main pillars of activity during a five-year period -- boosting economic competitiveness to create more and well-paid jobs, improved access to infrastructure and services, and addressing climate change and improving climate resilience.
  • About 85 per cent of lending will be focused on transport, energy and urban infrastructure and services. Other finance will be aimed at public sector management, agriculture, natural resources and rural development as well as skills development and urban health.
  • ADB will also explore co-financing opportunities, including climate funds for relevant projects.

Australia beat India by 21 runs in 4th ODI match

  • Australia beat India by 21 runs in the fourth One-day International match at Bengaluru. Electing to bat, Australia produced a challenging total of 334 for five in the stipulated 50 overs. In reply, India could only manage 313 losing 8 wickets. David Warner scored a hundred in his 100th ODI.
  • After this defeat, India have relinquished their number one position in the latest ICC ODI rankings.

Banks may risk losing Rs. 3,800 cr. from cards

  • The Centre’s digital payments push, mainly card payments through PoS machines, may leave already capital starved banks bleeding by Rs. 3,800 crore annually, warns a report by the SBI. After November’s note-ban, the government has pushed banks into deploying millions of point-of-sale (PoS) machines to encourage online payments.
  • This has resulted in increase in debit plus credit cards transactions at PoS from Rs. 51,900 crore in October 2016 to Rs. 68,500 crore in July 2017.
  • The report estimate that for OFF-US transactions, the aggregate annual loss for card transactions at PoS terminals is around Rs. 4,700 crore. However, the net revenue gain per annum from ON-US transactions at PoS would be around Rs. 900 crore only. Therefore, the total annual loss to the industry is around Rs. 3,800 crore.

Centre pegs second-half borrowing at Rs. 2.08 lakh cr.

  • The Union government plans to borrow Rs. 2.08 lakh crore from the market in the second half of 2017-18, reiterating its commitment to meet the fiscal deficit target of 3.2% cent of GDP. To finance the fiscal deficit for the current financial year, the Budget has pegged gross borrowing at Rs. 5.8 lakh crore and net borrowing at Rs. 4.25 lakh crore.
  • The government had earlier borrowed Rs. 3.72 lakh crore in the first half and has pegged gross borrowings at Rs. 2.08 lakh crore in the remaining six months of the financial year ending March 31.
  • Economic Affairs Secretary: Subhash Chandra Garg

Centre to review flexi-fares on select trains

  • The Union government will review the flexi-fare system introduced in premium trains last year. They are holding discussions to review the system in a way that passengers do not face inconvenience and the Railways are also able to meet its revenues. The Railways were also planning to reset its timetable by reducing the travel time for 600-700 trains through rescheduling and increasing speed.
  • The Railways introduced the flexi-fare scheme in September last year in Rajdhani, Duronto and Shatabdi trains, under which 10% of the seats were sold at normal fare. The fare was increased thereafter by 10% for every 10% of the berths sold. The highest fare was 50% more than the normal price of the ticket.

Chess: Jishitha wins World crown, silver for Arjun, Sakshi

  • D. Jishitha maintained her winning spree to claim the gold medal in the girls (Under-14) section of the World Youth Chess Championship in Montevideo, Uruguay. The final day of the championship also saw two silver medals coming India’s way, with Arjun Erifaisi (in open U-14) and Sakshi Chitlange (girls’ U-18) making the podium.

Dipika Pallikal enters semifinals of San Francisco Open

  • India's Dipika Pallikal beat USA's Olivia Blatchford 13-11, 11-6, 11-9 to enter the women's semifinals of the San Francisco Open squash tournament. She has won two matches over seeded players after having beaten fourth-seed Emily Whitlock in round one.
  • She will now play Malaysia's eight-time world champion and No.2 seed Nicol David in the semifinal tomorrow.

Government studying report on online abuse

  • The Home Ministry has said it is examining an expert committee report that has recommended measures to contain the growing menace of online abuse, particularly against women. The report also deliberates on hate speeches and vitriolic messages on online platforms.
  • The panel was set up after the Supreme Court struck down Section 66A of the Information Technology Act in 2014. The committee headed by T.K. Viswanathan, former Secretary General of the Lok Sabha, submitted its report to the Home Ministry recently.
  • The panel has recommended amending Section 78 of the Information Technology Act, which mandates an officer not below the rank of an Inspector to investigate such cases of online misuse.

India signs MoU to train Afghan police

  • India and Afghanistan exchanged a memorandum of understanding which will see Afghan police forces trained in India for the first time. PM Modi reiterated India's commitment to extend full support to Afghanistan's efforts for building a peaceful, united, prosperous, inclusive and democratic Afghanistan.
  • Afghanistan Chief Executive Dr. Abdullah, who is in India met with External Affairs Minister and President and discussed deals under the Strategic Partnership Council, which included an Indian commitment to 116 “New Development Projects” as well as enhanced security cooperation.

India, Norway extend bilateral cooperation in health sector

  • India and Norway have extended bilateral cooperation in health sector through the Norway-India Partnership Initiative for a period of three years starting 2018. A letter of Intent was signed to this effect in New Delhi after officials on both sides met. The Partnership Initiative through its work in the last ten years has resulted in newer initiatives.
  • The cooperation will focus on global health issues of common interest which includes areas related to reproductive, maternal, new-born, child, adolescent health and strengthening of health system.
  • The cooperation between the two countries will continue to be aligned with the development goals of India as outlined in its National Health Policy 2017 for achievement of Sustainable Development Goals.

Isle of Man chess tournament: Sethuraman stuns Gelfand

  • S.P. Sethuraman stunned Boris Gelfand and 12-year-old R. Praggnanandhaa shocked England No. 2 David Howell in the fifth round of the Isle of Man chess tournament. Sethuraman, Vidit Gujrathi and Harsha Bharathakoti became part of the nine-player group sharing the third spot.
  • Praggnanandhaa scored one of the biggest victories of his budding career in outsmarting Howell.

Lakshmanan completes double at National Open Athletics C'ship

  • G Lakshmanan of Services completed a double by cruising to victory in the men's 10,000 metres on the final day of the 57th National Open Athletics Championship. Lakshmanan had won the 5,000 metres gold. Railways with 296 points won the overall team championship with Services a distant second with 182 points in their kitty.
  • Railways topped the women's team standings while Services reigned supreme in the men's section.
  • Tamil Nadu athlete Santhosh Kumar, who set a new meet record in the 400 metres hurdles and Chintha Yadav of Railways, the steeplechase winner, were named the 'best male and female athlete.

Madhya Pradesh bags ‘Best Tourism State’ award for third time in a row

  • Madhya Pradesh has won the ‘Best Tourism State’ national award for the third consecutive year. The state bagged total 10 awards in this programme, organised on the occasion of World Tourism Day. The state bagged the Most Innovative Tourist Product award for ‘Hanuwantia Jal Mahotsav’ and Best State for Adventure Tourism. While Chanderi was adjudged as the Best Heritage City, the Best Tourist-Friendly Railway Station award was given to Ujjain Railway Station.
  • Meanwhile, Kerala Tourism bagged nine wards in various segments of the travel, tourism, and hospitality industry.

P-notes investment hits over 7-year low of Rs 1.25 lakh cr

  • Investments in the domestic capital market through participatory notes, P-notes, plunged to a seven-and-a-half year low of 1.25 lakh crore rupees at August-end this year. This was because of stringent norms put in place by capital market regulator, SEBI.
  • The total value of P-notes investments in the Indian markets--equity, debt and derivatives--had hit a five-year low of 1.35 lakh crore rupees at the end of July.
  • Of the total investments in August, P-note holdings in equities stood at 88,911 crore rupees, while the rest were in debt and derivatives markets.
  • P-notes are issued by registered foreign portfolio investors to overseas players who wish to invest in the Indian markets without registering themselves directly.

Railways working with ISRO to devise safety mechanisms to make travel more safer

  • The Indian Railways is working with the Indian Space Research Organisation to devise safety mechanisms to make travel by trains more safer. Indian Railways along with RailTel are working together to explore use of space technology for safety in the rail network.
  • Union Railways Minister: Piyush Goyal

Scientists detect fourth gravitational wave

  • Scientists have made the fourth detection of gravitational waves or ripples in the fabric of space and time – formed by the collision of two massive black holes located about 1.8 billion light-years away. The signal was recorded on August 14 by the Virgo detector located in Italy, and the two Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory (LIGO) detectors located in the US.
  • It is the first joint detection of gravitational waves with the Virgo and LIGO collaborations.
  • The detected gravitational waves were emitted during the final moments of the merger of two black holes with masses about 31 and 25 times the mass of the Sun and located about 1.8 billion light-years away.

Turkey and Russia Agree on Need for De-escalation Zone in Syria

  • Russian President Vladimir Putin and his Turkish counterpart Recep Tayyip Erdogan agreed to push for the creation of a "de-escalation" zone in Syria's key northern province of Idlib to help end the civil war.
  • The pair agreed to pursue more intensely the implementation of a de-escalation zone in Idlib, which currently is under jihadist control.
  • The agreement is seen as a key step toward ending the civil war and ushering in the start of a peace process.