Daily Current Affairs - 18th Nov 2017

Canada Has Been Declared The World's Best Travel Destination For 2017

  • Major travel publication Travel+Leisure has named Canada'the destination of the year' in their recent feature. The selection was based on data from polls conducted on travel agents, arrival statistics and cultural relevance.
  • Canada's comparable safety and stability have been cited as big contributing factors to why the maple syrup capital of the world has won the prestigious title.
  • Colombia, Chile and Croatia all feature in the top lists too, as well as oft overlooked but bountiful Scandinavian countries Finland, Sweden and Norway.

Chakravarthi appointed as ambassador of World Packaging Organisation (WPO)

  • Chakravarthi AVPS has been appointed global ambassador of the World Packaging Organisation. He is the first Asian to be appointed ambassador. The honorary appointment was made in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, at the 99th board meeting of WPO.
  • He has the distinction of working for several companies, including Ballarpur Industries, Akerlund & Rausing, Huhtamaki, Pragati among others.
  • He has won Worldstar award for packaging excellence for five consecutive years. He is currently Managing Director of Ecobliss India.

Decks cleared for first mega coastal economic zone

  • The Union government has given the go-ahead for setting up India’s first mega coastal economic zone (CEZ) at the Jawaharlal Nehru Port in Maharashtra as part of a plan to develop 14 such industrial clusters to spur manufacturing and generate jobs.
  • The idea is to attract large firms interested in serving the export markets as they would bring with them technology, capital, good management and links to the world markets.
  • About 45 companies across telecom, auto and IT sectors will soon bid for 200 hectares of land to set up manufacturing units in the zone. The plan envisages a total investment of Rs 15,000 crore in the first phase and creation of more than 1.5 lakh jobs
  • The Union Cabinet had last year approved setting up of 14 mega CEZs under the National Perspective Plan of the Sagarmala Programme, with an aim to promote development of industrial clusters around ports, encourage portled development, reduce logistics cost and time for movement of cargo, enhance global competitiveness of India’s manufacturing sector and create hubs of job creation.

EU hands British PM Theresa May new Brexit ultimatum

  • European Union President, Donald Tusk after his meeting with British Prime Minister, Teresa May, on the sidelines of an EU summit, has stated that EU has been demanding for months that Britain make sufficient progress on its divorce bill, citizens' rights and the Irish border in order to move on to talks about a future trade deal and transition period.
  • He also said that the Brexit progress needs to happen at the beginning of December at the latest to allow time to prepare official guidelines for a summit in Brussels on December 14 when leaders will discuss Brexit.

Highways to be rated on safety features

  • In a bid to make Indian roads safer and curb fatalities, a global charity unveiled an India Road Assessment Programme (IndiaRAP) that will rate highways’ safety levels, and seek to eliminate the most unsafe roads.
  • The ratings are assigned on the basis of the level of safety which is ‘built-in’ to a road for vehicle occupants, motorcyclists, bicyclists and pedestrians. Five-star roads are the safest while one-star roads are the least safe.
  • The IndiaRAP programme is being supported by FedEx Express and will be hosted by the Asian Institute of Transport Development, and will work with government agencies as well as investors, researchers and NGOs to assess existing highways and promote the use of better design to make roads safer.
  • As India invests in large-scale road upgrades across the country, maximising the safety of this investment will deliver strong transport, health and economic benefits.

India, France to boost ties in counter-terror, trade

  • India and France decided to strengthen counter-terror cooperation, and asked the international community to oppose countries which are financing, sheltering and providing safe havens to terrorists.
  • Both countries also decided to strengthen cooperation in the Indian Ocean Region (IOR), a development which comes barely days after India held quadrilateral talks with Japan, Australia and the U.S. in Manila on the sidelines of India-ASEAN Summit.
  • As part of the 2008 nuclear cooperation agreement between India and France, Paris is to help build atomic power reactors for New Delhi.

Maharashtra government likely to ban plastic bottles in its offices and hotels

  • The Maharashtra state government is considering banning the use of plastic water bottles in government offices and in star hotels. The government earlier banned plastic bags below 50 microns after the 2005 deluge that claimed several lives in Mumbai and its suburbs.
  • The Phase 1 includes a ban on the use of plastic bottles in residential hotels and government offices across the state. An amendment to accommodate the ban will be introduced in the winter session of the state Assembly in December.

Moody upgrades India's sovereign rating for first time in 14 years

  • International rating agency Moody’s Investors Service has upgraded India’s sovereign bond rating for the first time in nearly 14 years, endorsing structural reforms undertaken by the Narendra Modi government that it said will boost growth and reduce the debt burden.
  • The agency lifted the country’s rating to Baa2 from Baa3, the latter being the lowest investment grade rating, and changed its rating outlook to stable from positive as “risks to its credit profile were broadly balanced”.
  • Meanwhile, Standard & Poor’s has kept India at the lowest investment grade just above junk status for a decade and Fitch Ratings for one year longer.

National Wrestling Championship: Sushil Kumar wins gold medal in 74 kg freestyle

  • Two-time Olympic medallist Sushil Kumar won a gold medal in men's 74 kilogram freestyle competition of National Wrestling championship in Indore.
  • Back in action after three-long years, Kumar fought for just two minutes and 33 seconds in total on the mat as he battled only two of his initial round bouts before three of his challengers in the quarterfinal, semifinal and final.
  • Meanwhile, Sakshi Malik and wrestler Geeta Phogat also achieved a gold medal each 62kg and 59 kg categories respectively of women's wrestling.
  • The 62nd Senior National Wrestling Championship, organised by the Madhya Pradesh Wrestling Association, was a three-day-long event.
  • Around 800 wrestlers, 100 coaches and 50 technical officials from all over India participated in the mega event.

Nicaragua's Sergio Ramirez wins Spain's Cervantes prize

  • Nicaraguan author and former politician Sergio Ramirez Mercado has won the 2017 Cervantes Prize, the Spanish-speaking world's highest literary honor. Ramirez has written more than 20 novels, including "Margarita, esta linda la mar" (Margarita, How Beautiful the Sea), which won Spain's prestigious Alfaguara award in 1998.
  • An active journalist, Ramirez was deputy vice president of Nicaragua between 1985 and 1990.
  • Cervantes Prize: The 125,000-euro ($148,000) award generally alternates between Spanish and Latin American writers. Spanish novelist Eduardo Mendoza won the prize in 2016.
  • The prizes are presented each April 23 on the anniversary of the death of Miguel de Cervantes, author of "Don Quixote."

PSLV built by domestic industry by 2020

  • The Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) is preparing to hand over the entire gamut of launch vehicle manufacture to domestic industry by 2020. Until now, public and private industries have only supplied devices, components and sub-systems for ISRO’s launch vehicles, including the PSLV and the GSLV.
  • ISRO already has a partnership with private industry to produce satellites which includes about 500 domestic industries for the supply of various components and devices. About 80% of the cost of launch vehicles and 40% of satellites are handled by these industries.

RBI cancels OMO sales

  • The Reserve Bank of India has canceled the open market operation of bond sales of Rs. 10,000 crore scheduled on November 23 citing the ‘evolving liquidity condition’.
  • In view of the recent market developments and based on a fresh review of the current and evolving liquidity conditions, the RBI has been decided to withdraw the Open Market Sale Operations.
  • Surplus liquidity in the system is about Rs. 1 lakh crore now, compared with more than Rs. 2 lakh crore in early October.
  • Liquidity could further tighten as lending activity typically gains pace in the second half of the fiscal.
  • Open market operations(OMO) refers to the buying and selling of government securities in the open market in order to expand or contract the amount of money in the banking system.

RBI panel proposes list for hedging commodities in global markets

  • A Working Group of RBI formed under Chandan Sinha (former Executive Director of RBI) has recommended for a positive list of commodities comprising metals, energy and agro products which can be hedged in the overseas markets by domestic traders.
  • The proposed list includes gold, silver, zinc, tin, crude oil and its derivatives, coal, natural gas, tea, coffee, sugar and cocoa. One of the 10 recommendations of the Group also pertains to banks in the hedging activities.
  • The Group also recommended hedging in the overseas markets by all residents i.e by both domestic users and exporters/importers alike.
  • It has also made a case that domestic banks and/or their subsidiaries active in capital markets be allowed to offer commodity hedging facility to their constituents, initially on a back-to-back basis, on both OTC and exchanges, including on domestic exchanges.
  • As of now, most hedging activity is in base metals though a reasonably wide variety of products are hedged offshore by Indian corporates.

Shoumick clinches bronze in Asian meet

  • India’s Shoumick Datta clinched a bronze medal at the 18th Asian schools tenpin bowling championships. He was third in the Masters round, finishing with a total pinfall of 3632 from 16 games. He lost to Tun Hakim of Malaysia (237-279) in the step-ladder round and had to settle for the third spot.

Toyota teams with Suzuki to bring EVs to India by 2020

  • Japanese automakers Toyota Motor Corp. and Suzuki Motor Corp. had agreed to ally to introduce electric vehicles (EVs) in India by around 2020. As per the pact, Suzuki would produce EVs for the Indian market and would supply some to Toyota, while the latter would provide technical support.
  • Suzuki had earlier said it would invest $180 million (about Rs. 1,150 crore), along with partners Toshiba and Denso, for a separate unit to manufacture lithium-ion batteries at its Gujarat plant.