Daily Current Affairs - 20th Dec 2017

21-year-old Shree Saini crowned Miss India USA 2017

  • Shree Saini, a resident of Washington state, was crowned Miss India USA 2017. Prachi Singh, a 22-year-old medical student from Connecticut was declared the first runner-up, while North Carolinas Fareena became the second runner-up at Miss India USA 2017 pageant.
  • Swapna Mannam, 17, from New Jersey was crowned with Miss Teen India USA 2017. While Kavita Malhotra Pattani from Florida was declared Mrs India USA 2017.
  • More than 50 contestants from over two dozen states participated in the three different pageants - Miss India USA, Miss Teen India USA and Mrs India USA.
  • Started by New York-based eminent Indian Americans Dharmatma Saran and Neelam Saran, under the banner of India Festival Committee around 36 years ago, Miss India USA is the longest running Indian pageant outside India.
  • The Indian Diaspora in the United States is comprised of over 3.5 million individuals.

230% increase in ceasefire violations

  • There was a 230% increase in ceasefire violations along the Line of Control (LoC) this year compared with the 2016 figure. In 2017, Pakistan violated ceasefire 771 times along the LoC while the figure stood at 228 last year.
  • There were 341 terror incidents in Jammu and Kashmir from November 1, 2016, to October 31, 2017 in comparison to 311 in the corresponding period the previous year,
  • The 740-km LoC is under the operational control of the Army and 192 km of the International Border in Jammu is manned by the Border Security Force.
  • The truce between India and Pakistan along the International Border, the Line of Control and the Actual Ground Position Line in Jammu and Kashmir came into force in November 2003.

9 Mega Food Parks get functional, 12 more to be functional by next financial year

  • The Union government has approved setting up of a total 42 Mega Food Parks in the country to create modern infrastructure for food processing. So far nine Mega Food Parks have become functional so far and the Ministry has targeted to make six more Mega Food Parks functional in this financial year and 12 by the next financial year
  • Mega Food Park has helped in creating demand for farmers’ produce, better remuneration, increasing level of processing and value addition, reducing wastage and creating opportunities, directly and indirectly, befitting thousands of farmers and youths.
  • Union Minister for Food Processing Industries: Harsimrat Kaur Badal

Amendments to Companies Act passed to ease compliance

  • The Rajya Sabha passed the Companies (Amendment) Bill, 2017 by a voice vote. It was adopted by the Lok Sabha in July this year during the Monsoon Session. The amendment to the companies law will strengthen corporate governance standards, initiate strict action against defaulting companies, and help improve the ease of doing business in the country.
  • The Bill provides for more than 40 amendments to the Companies Act, 2013, which was passed during the previous UPA regime.

Axelsen defeats Chong Wei in Dubai

  • World champion Viktor Axelsen of Denmark beat Lee Chong Wei in the men’s singles final of the World Super Series Finals in Dubai. The 35-year-old Malaysian lost 21-19, 19-21, 21-15 to World No 1 Axelsen in 94 minutes.
  • Chong Wei, the World No 2, had won the tournament in 2008, 2009, 2010 and 2013.

Bharti to buy Millicom’s operations in Rwanda

  • Telecom operator Bharti Airtel had signed an agreement with Millicom International Cellular S.A. to acquire 100% stake in its Rwanda operation which operates under the brand name of Tigo Rwanda.
  • Under this deal, Tigo’s 370 million customers will join the network of Airtel Rwanda. The acquisition will make Airtel Rwanda the second largest operator in the country with a revenue market share of more than 40%. At present, Bharti Airtel operates in 15 African countries, apart from India and South Asia.

CAG pulls up FSSAI over issuing licences to food business operators

  • Government auditor CAG has pulled up food regulator FSSAI for issuing licences to food business operators without complete documents. the CAG questioned the FSSAI on the quality of testing with 65 out of 72 state labs not being NABL accredited.
  • The report said the FSSAI also failed to ensure that unsafe foods are not imported to the country.
  • The CAG said its audit found systemic inefficiencies, delays and deficiencies in the framing of various regulations and standards, amendments to regulations in violation of the Act and the specific direction of the Supreme Court.
  • Comptroller and Auditor General of India: Rajiv Mehrishi

Ensure access for disabled in higher education: SC

  • The Supreme Court warned that higher educational institutions, both government ones and those which take government aid, should ensure a level-playing field for disabled persons or face action for discrimination. It further said that appropriate legal action would be initiated against defaulting educational institutions.
  • A Bench of Justices A.K. Sikri and Ashok Bhushan cautioned the government that the Rights of Persons with Disabilities Act provides for not less than 5% reservation in seats during admissions and this law has not so far been complied with.
  • It directed the University Grants Commission to constitute a committee to come up with possible guidelines for facilitating access for students with disabilities in universities and colleges.
  • It also wanted the panel to consider an in-house body in each educational institution for taking care of the day-to-day needs of disabled persons.

French sailor slashes around the world solo record

  • A French sailor named François Gabart has set a new world record for the fastest solo round-the-world navigation, beating the previous time by more than six days. He finished his circuit of the globe early in a time of 42 days, 16 hours, 40 minutes and 35 seconds.
  • Gabart broke the record set by his countryman Thomas Coville last year.

HDFC plans to raise Rs. 13,000 crore

  • Housing Development Finance Corp (HDFC) has planned out its next phase of growth which includes buying stressed real estate assets, foraying into health insurance and acquiring home financiers.To support its growth plan, its board has approved equity capital raising of Rs. 13,000 crore — of which Rs. 8,500 crore will be infused in HDFC Bank.
  • HDFC saw opportunity in unsold real estate assets which can be taken over for completion. The home finance business, particularly affordable housing, is also seen as a big opportunity in the coming years. HDFC said it wanted to grow both organically and inorganically.
  • Funds raised would also be used to invest in subsidiaries like HDFC Credila, the educational loan subsidiary and HDFC Ergo, the general insurance JV,
  • Vice chairman and CEO, HDFC: Keki Mistry

Honduras President Declared Winner

  • Honduran President Juan Orlando Hernandez has been declared the winner of the country's disputed election. Hernandez had defeated candidate Salvador Nasralla. According to the election court’s official count, Hernandez won with 42.95 percent to 41.42 for Nasralla.
  • Supporters of challenger Salvador Nasralla blocked streets and highways around the country protesting the election results.
  • Honduras
  • Capital: Tegucigalpa
  • Currency: Honduran lempira

India, Sri Lanka completes 2nd phase of joint oceanographic survey

  • Indian Navy in collaboration with its Sri Lankan counterpart has successfully completed the second phase of the joint oceanographic survey conducted off the South Western Coast of Sri Lanka. The survey commenced on 26 October with the arrival of Indian Naval Ship Sutlej in Sri Lanka.
  • The aim of the joint survey was to update all the navigational charts covering the southern Sri Lankan waters with the latest hydrographic data.
  • The survey extended to a depth contour of 200 m from the coastline, ranging from Colombo to Galle.
  • The move is expected to benefit the international shipping traffic passing the southern coast of Sri Lanka and will pave the way for the blue economy.
  • The Blue Economy is sustainable use of ocean resources for economic growth, improved livelihoods and jobs, while preserving the health of marine and coastal ecosystem.

Indian Railways plans to make all stations 100% LED lit by March 31, 2018

  • The Indian Railways said it planned to make all stations cent per cent LED lit by March 31, 2018.
  • The railways said it was actively working to provide 100 per cent LED lighting for energy needs in railway staff colonies, stations and platforms.
  • Till November 2017, about 3,500 railway stations had already been provided with cent per cent LED lights. About 20 lakh such lights were installed.
  • The initiative will reduce consumption by about 10 per cent of the total energy being utilised for its non-traction uses, conserving about 240 million units of electricity, which will save the Railways about Rs 180 crore annually.
  • LED or light-emitting diode bulbs are more energy efficient and have a longer lifespan than traditional lamps.

L&T wins bid for expo centre project phase 1

  • Construction major L&T (Larsen & Toubro) has won the bid for the first phase of Exhibition-cum-Convention Centre (ECC) that is to come up in the national capital at a total estimated cost of Rs. 25,703 crore. The centre is billed as the largest such facility in Asia when completed by 2025.
  • The ECC, which is part of the $100 billion Delhi Mumbai Industrial Corridor project, is expected to generate 5 lakh jobs. L&Tproposed to complete the first phase of the project at Dwarka in the national capital at 2% less than the estimated cost of Rs. 2,791 crore.
  • L&T was chosen over others including Shapoorji Pallonji Group, Nagarjuna Construction Company, Tata Project, Reliance Infrastructure, China Construction and Samsung Construction.

NGT chairperson Justice Swatanter Kumar retires

  • National Green Tribunal (NGT) Chairperson Justice Swatanter Kumar retired from the post after completing his five-year tenure. His successor is yet to be appointed.
  • During his tenure as NGT chief, he passed several landmark orders and judgements that include the ban on 10-year-old diesel and 15-year-old petrol vehicles, the slew of directions for rejuvenation of the Ganga and Yamuna, the demolition of illegal hotels in Himachal Pradesh and the ban on plastic items in Delhi, Haridwar and Punjab.
  • His recent order capping the number of pilgrims at Vaishno Devi to 50,000 per day and his direction to maintain silence at Amarnath invited ire from various quarters.
  • Justice Kumar resigned as Supreme Court judge after he was appointed NGT chairperson on December 20, 2012.
  • The NGT was established on October 18, 2010 under the National Green Tribunal Act 2010 for effective and expeditious disposal of cases relating to environmental protection and conservation of forests and other natural resources.

Ola buys Foodpanda’s India business

  • Ola, a cab-hailing app provider backed by SoftBank announced a deal to buy Foodpanda’s Indian business from its Germany-based parent firm, Delivery Hero Group, in an all-stock deal for an undisclosed amount. The SoftBank-backed company Ola has committed investments to the tune of USD 200 million in the Foodpanda India business, which is the largest such funds infusion in an Indian online food ordering and delivery company till now.
  • Ola is looking to get back into the food delivery business, one year and a half after shutting down Ola Cafe.It shut down Ola Cafe after it faced stiff competition from other food delivery companies such as Swiggy, Tinyowl (now part of Runnr) and Zomato.
  • Foodpanda has over 15,000 restaurants across 100 Indian cities on its platform.Its revenue stood at Rs 62.16 crore in 2016-17 compared to Rs 37.81 crore in the previous fiscal, on the back of strong growth in orders in key markets.
  • Ola, co-founder Bhavish Aggarwal

Panel formed for return of Rohingya

  • Bangladesh and Myanmar have formed a 30-member Joint Working Group (JWG) which will oversee the repatriation of Rohingya refugees. The formation of the JWG, a follow-up to an agreement signed on November 23, was announced after Foreign Secretary-level talks between the two countries in Dhaka.
  • The JWG is likely to take assistance from UN agencies. It will develop appropriate arrangements for the refugees’ return. As per the November 23 deal, the repatriation was to start from January 21 but it is likely to begin in February.

Parliament gives nod to IIM Bill

  • Indian Parliament unanimously passed a Bill to grant the Indian Institutes of Management the power to grant degrees instead of post-graduate diplomas. It also allows students to acquire doctoral degrees from the IIMs.
  • Earlier, fellowships of the IIMs were not regarded as Ph.D.s, which led students to complete their diplomas and go abroad if they wanted to earn a doctoral degree.
  • The Bill also confers on the 20 IIMs the status of institutions of national importance, granting them greater functional autonomy by restricting the role of the government in them.
  • As per the IIM Bill, 2017, a Board of Governors will appoint the Director of each IIM. Till now, the Centre had a role in the appointment of the chairpersons and directors to their Boards and also fixing the pay of the directors.

Pujara moves to third spot in ICC Test Player rankings

  • India’s middle-order batsman Cheteshwar Pujara improved a place to grab the third spot in the latest ICC Test Player Rankings. Pujara, who has scored 4,396 runs at an average of 52.96 in 54 Tests, currently has 873 points in the list of Test batsmen, headed by Australia captain Steve Smith, who continued to top the rankings for almost two years. In the bowlers’ list, Ravindra Jadeja and Ravichandran Ashwin continued to hold the third and fourth place.

Received about 1.3 lakh complaints in financial year 2016-17: Reserve Bank to Banking Ombudsmen

  • RBI’s Annual Report of the Banking Ombudsman Scheme for the year 2016-17 says that its Banking Ombudsmen received about 1.3 lakh complaints in the financial year. The complaints increased by 27 percent as compared to the previous year.
  • The Report informs that maximum number of complaints, amounting to almost 34 percent were regarding failure to observe fair practices and banking codes. Second on the list were complaints regarding ATM/Debit card which comprised 12.5 percent of the total complaints while credit card complaints accounted for 6.4 percent.
  • RBI has informed that it maintained a complaint disposal rate of 92 percent with the average cost of handling one complaint being 3780 rupees.
  • Banking Ombudsman Scheme is applicable to Scheduled Commercial Banks, Scheduled Primary Urban Co-operative Banks and the Regional Rural Banks. There are 20 Banking Ombudsmen offices covering all states and union territories.

Sebastian Pinera Wins Chile’s Presidential Election

  • A conservative billionaire and former president, Sebastian Pinera, has won Chile's presidential election run-off. With nearly all votes counted, Mr Piñera polled more than 54%. Left-winger Alejandro Guillier conceded defeat. Latin America is poised to hold six elections next year - in Costa Rica, Paraguay, Colombia, Venezuela, Mexico and Brazil.
  • Chile:
  • Capital:Santiago
  • Currency: Chilean peso

Top polluter China unveils nationwide carbon market

  • China, the world's biggest polluter, unveiled plans for a national carbon market likely to become the world's largest exchange for emissions credits. The purpose of this programme is to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
  • China burns more coal than any other country, giving it the title of top greenhouse gas emitter.
  • The long-delayed emissions exchange scheme will initially cover just the power generation sector and it is expected to surpass the European Union's carbon market, currently the world's biggest.
  • China is seen as a potential leader in the fight against climate change after the US retreated from the Paris accord.

Yes Bank-EIB invest $400 million in wind and solar projects

  • European Investment Bank and private sector lender Yes Bank Ltd have floated a $400 million (Rs 2,562 crore) co-financing programme for construction of solar power plants and wind farms across India.
  • Yes Bank will manage the programme. It will be supported by 15-year $200 million loan (Rs 1,281 crore) by European Investment Bank (EIB), alongside financing from Yes Bank.
  • The programme will streamline financing for a range of renewable energy projects being built and operated by Indian corporations and private sector developer.
  • The solar projects to be developed under the programme have already been identified in Rajasthan, Telangana, Maharashtra and Karnataka.
  • EIB is the lending institution of the European Union and is owned by EU’s 28 member states.
  • YES Bank, MD: Rana Kapoor