Daily Current Affairs - 23rd Nov 2017

2030 WC bid: Argentina, Paraguay, Uruguay sign MoU

  • The governments and football federations of Argentina, Paraguay and Uruguay have signed a memorandum of understanding to file a joint bid to host the 2030 World Cup. The three governments were responding to the "vision of their people" in organizing a World Cup in the region, 100 years after the first one, Uruguay 1930.

AIBA women boxing: Five more Indians enter semi final

  • Five more Indian boxers have entered into semi final of the AIBA women youth boxing championship in Guwahati. Jyoti Gulia (51kg category), Shashi Chopra (57kg), Ankushita Boro (64kg), Nitu (48kg) and Sakshi Choudhary (54kg) entered the semifinals after winning their respective quarterfinal bouts.
  • They joined the league of Neha Yadav (+81kg) and Anupama (81 kg). Now, at least 7 bronze medals have been assured at the meet.
  • Over 150 boxers from 38 countries are competing in the event, being held in India for the first time.

Brics Bank approves $400 million loans for India, Russia

  • Brics New Development Bank (NDB) has approved two infrastructure and sustainable development projects in India and Russia with loans of $400 million. The loans will be used to rehabilitate the Indira Gandhi canal system in India and to build a toll transport corridor connecting Ufa city centre to the M-5 federal highway in Russia.
  • NDB had so far approved seven projects in 2016 with a total worth of $1.5 billion. The bank said sustainable infrastructure development will be the primary emphasis of its operations in the next five years.
  • The NDB was established to mobilize resources for infrastructure and sustainable development in Brics and other emerging economies and developing countries.
  • The NDB was set up with an initial authorized capital of $100 billion after leaders of Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa (Brics) agreed on its establishment during the 6th Brics Summit in Fortaleza, Brazil, in 2014.
  • NDB president K.V. Kamath; Headquarters: Shanghai, China

Cabinet Approves India's Membership Of European Development Bank

  • The Union Cabinet has approved India's Membership of European Bank for Reconstruction & Development (EBRD). As the membership of European Development Bank would enhance India's international profile and promote its economic interests. India's investment opportunities would also get a boost.
  • It would also enhance the competitive strength of the Indian firms, and provide an enhanced access to international markets in terms of business opportunities, procurement activities, consultancy assignments etc.
  • The membership would increase the scope of cooperation between India and European Development Bank through co-financing opportunities in manufacturing, services, information technology and energy sectors.
  • The minimum initial investment towards the membership of EBRD will be approximately one million euros.

Cabinet approves wage revision for CPSEs

  • The Union Cabinet has approved wage revision for central public sector enterprises (CPSEs). The Finance Ministry said that every CPSE has flexibility for negotiating wage revision. It also said that CPSEs will have to ensure negotiated scales of pay don't exceed existing scales.
  • Wage revision in respect of unionised workmen is decided by trade unions and managements of CPSEs in terms of guidelines issued by the Department of Public Enterprises (DPE) for wage negotiations. At present there are 320 CPSEs currently with 9.35 lakh unionised employees.
  • The management of CPSEs would be free to negotiate wage revision for workmen where the periodicity of wage settlement for 5 years or 10 years expired generally on December 31, 2016, keeping in view the affordability and financial sustainability of such wage revision for the CPSEs concerned.

Emmerson Mnangagwa to be sworn in as Zimbabwe's new President

  • Zimbabwe's former Vice President Emmerson Mnangagwa will be sworn in as the President of the country. The ruling ZANU-PF party has nominated him to fill the vacancy left by Mr Robert Mugabe. Mr Mugabe stepped down after 37 years ruling the country.
  • Mnangagwa's dismissal from the Vice President post led the ruling party and the military to intervene and forced Mr Mugabe to resign.

First supersonic parachute test for Mars 2020 mission by NASA

  • The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) successfully tested supersonic landing parachute that will be deployed in its Mars rover mission set to launch in 2020. It was the first test of its Mars 2020 mission's parachute-testing series, the Advanced Supersonic Parachute Inflation Research Experiment (ASPIRE).
  • The mission relies on special parachute to slow spacecraft down as it enters Martian atmosphere at over 5.4 kilometres per second. The test parachute is almost identical to the one used to land NASA's Curiosity rover on the surface of the red planet in 2012.

Government sets up a panel to draft new direct tax law

  • The Union government has constituted a task force for redrafting the 50-year old income tax law in sync with the economic needs of the country. The six-member task force will have Arbind Modi, CBDT Member (Legislation) as the Convener and other members, including Girish Ahuja (chartered accountant), Rajiv Memani (Chairman and Regional Managing Partner of EY) and Mansi Kedia (Consultant, ICRIER).
  • The panel has been tasked to draft a direct tax legislation keeping in view the tax system prevalent in various countries, the international best practices and economic needs of the country. The task force will submit its report to the government within 6 months.
  • Chief Economic Adviser Arvind Subramanian will be a permanent special invitee in the task force.

IITs, IISc find place in QS BRICS rankings

  • Four Indian institutions -IIT Bombay, Indian Institute of Science, Bengaluru, IIT Delhi, and IIT Kanpur feature in the top 20 in the QS University rankings: BRICS 2018.
  • The top three slots are with Chinese universities are Tsinghua University, Peking University and Fudan University of China are at the top of the rankings.
  • IIT Roorkee is ranked 51, IIT Gauhati 52 and Calcutta University 64.

In a first, air-launched BrahMos missile test-fired

  • In a first, India successfully test-fired the air-launched version of the BrahMos supersonic cruise missile from an IAF Su-30MKI aircraft. The air-launched BrahMos missile is a 2.5 ton supersonic air-to-surface cruise missile with ranges of more than 400 km.
  • The IAF is the first Air Force in the world to have successfully fired an air-launched 2.8 Mach surface attack missile of this category,
  • BrahMos is multi-platform, multi-mission missile, is now capable of being launched from land, sea and air and completes the tactical cruise missile triad.
  • BrahMos is a joint venture with Russia and named after the Brahmaputra and Moskva rivers. The development trials of an anti-shipping variant began in 2003 and combat trials in 2005.

India Becomes Second Largest Fish Producing Country in the World

  • This year, India became the second largest fish producing country in the world. The overall fish production registers an increase of approximately 18.86% in comparison to the last three years & inland fisheries sector registers a growth of 26%.
  • Combining the production of all types of fisheries (capture and culture), the total fish production in the country reached about 11.41 million tonnes in 2016-17.
  • India has a fleet of 2.48 lakh fishing vessels, and the country has exported fish products amounting to US$ 5.78 billion (Rs 37,871 crore) during 2016-17, which is the highest export from the country so far.
  • To push the sector, the Centre has taken steps and proposed a long-term plan "Blue Revolution Mission-2016" for the period from 2015-16 to 2019-20. The main aim of Blue Revolution Scheme is to increase the fish production and productivity to up to 8% annual growth rate and to produce 15 million tonnes of fish by 2020.
  • More than 25% of the world’s protein diet is obtained by fish, and that the human population consumes more than 100 million metric tonnes of fish per year in the form of food.
  • November 21 is celebrated as a World of Fisheries Day worldwide every year. In India, the theme of this year is aligned with doubling farmers’ income by 2022.

India slips in OECD ratings on exchange of tax info

  • According to a report released by the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development, India has slipped from a rating of 'compliant' to an overall rating of 'largely compliant' as regards its meeting international standards for exchange of tax information, according to a peer review.
  • A peer review of a country is periodically conducted by officials representing other countries to check the implementation of the OECD-stipulated standards of transparency and exchange of information, which helps combat offshore tax evasion. The current peer review covers the period July 1, 2013 to June 30, 2016.
  • Exchange of information requests made by India's tax authorities to its counterparts worldwide have resulted in India detecting over Rs 1,900 crore in undisclosed bank accounts and 171 prosecutions in 123 cases.
  • India has legal and regulatory norms in place for disclosure of beneficial ownership in e-tax returns and under anti-money laundering regulations.

India’s first mission to study the Sun scheduled for 2019: ISRO

  • The Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) now has its vision set on the Sun. With probes currently circling Mars and the moon, ISRO Satellite Centre recently revealed it's plans to launch 'Aditya-L1', the first Indian mission to study the Sun, by the year 2020.
  • The Aditya-1 mission was conceived as a 400kg class satellite carrying one payload, the Visible Emission Line Coronagraph (VELC) and was planned to launch in a 800 km low earth orbit.
  • A Satellite placed in the halo orbit around the Lagrangian point 1 (L1 which is 1.5 million km from the Earth) of the Sun-Earth system has the major advantage of continuously viewing the Sun without any occultation/ eclipses.
  • ISRO is planning to launch four more important satellites in the next three months and is working to launch 70 satellites in the next three years.

Safe city’ plan for women in eight cities

  • A comprehensive ‘safe city’ plan for women will soon be kicked off in eight cities where a robust emergency response system and police-verified public transport will come into place. The Union Home Ministry reviewed the plans which will be implemented in Delhi, Mumbai, Kolkata, Chennai, Ahmedabad, Bengaluru, Lucknow and Hyderabad.
  • The plan of action to be submitted by these cities within a month will be assessed by the Steering Committee headed by the Union Home Secretary, which will make suitable recommendations.

Trilateral meeting between leaders of Russia, Turkey, Iran held in Sochi

  • A trilateral meeting between leaders of Russia, Turkey and Iran was held in Russian city of Sochi, to discuss ways to advance a political settlement in Syria. The three leaders emphasized the need for all parties in the Syrian conflict to release all prisoners and hostages and creating conditions for lasting cease-fire. After the trilateral meeting, Russian President said, Syria’s leadership is committed to the peace process, constitutional reform and free elections.
  • Russian President: Valadmir Putin, Iranian President: Hassan Rouhani and Turkish President: Recep Tayyip Erdogan

Union Cabinet approves setting up of 15th Finance Commission

  • The Union cabinet approved the setting up of the 15th Finance Commission, which will decide on the distribution of tax proceeds among centre, states and local bodies in the post-goods and services tax (GST) era. A finance commission is set up every five years.
  • The terms of reference of the 15th Finance Commission will be notified in due course and the next step will be to finalize the members and chairperson of the finance commission after which it will start functioning.
  • The recommendations of the 15th Finance Commission will be implemented in the period 1 April 2020 to 31 March 2025.
  • The recommendations of the 14th Finance Commission, chaired by former Reserve Bank of India (RBI) governor Y.V. Reddy, are valid from 2015 to 2020.