Daily Current Affairs - 11th Jan 2018

12-member inter-ministerial panel to take a call on playing of national anthem in cinema halls

  • The Union Home Ministry has appointed a 12-member inter-ministerial committee to take a call on the playing of the national anthem in cinema halls and public places. The committee will be led by Additional Secretary B.R. Sharma.
  • The committee would make recommendations on the regulations for playing/singing of the national anthem and suggest changes in the Acts and orders relating to the Prevention of Insults to National Honour Act, 1971.
  • The committee will have representations from the Ministries of Home Affairs, Defence, External Affairs, Women and Child Development, Human Resource Development, Culture, Parliamentary Affairs, Law, Minority Affairs and Information and Broadcasting, and the Department of Empowerment of Persons with Disabilities.

7 years jail for benami transactions

  • The Income-Tax Department warned people to keep away from benami transactions, cautioning that violations under the newly enacted law invites criminal prosecution and rigorous imprisonment up to seven years.
  • Benamidar in whose name benami property is standing, beneficiary who actually paid consideration and persons who abet and induce benami transactions are prosecutable and may face rigorous imprisonment up to 7 years, besides being liable to pay fine up to 25% of fair market value of benami property. The department put out its alert in an advertisement published in leading national dailies.

Aanchal Thakur wins India's first-ever international medal in skiing

  • Aanchal Thakur made history by winning India's first-ever international medal in skiing in Turkey. She clinched bronze in the coveted Alpine Ejder 3200 Cup organised by Federation International Ski Race. She won the medal in the slalom race category.

BSE, NSE to launch new IRF contracts offering 7.17% yield on govt bonds

  • Leading stock exchanges BSE and NSE will launch new interest rate futures (IRF) contracts offering 7.17 per cent yield on government bonds. The 10-year-benchmark bonds will mature on January 8, 2028.
  • An IRF is a contract between a buyer and a seller agreeing to the future delivery of any interest-bearing asset such as government bonds. Banks, primary dealers, mutual funds, insurers, FIIs, corporates and brokers, as well as retail investors trade in this product.

Centre approves 100% FDI in single-brand retail & construction

  • The Narendra Modi-led government has allowed 100 percent FDI under automatic route for single brand retail trading and construction development. Currently, for single brand retail, FDI up to 49 percent is allowed under automatic route.
  • The Centre also eased sourcing norms in single brand retail by permitting companies to set off their incremental sourcing of goods from India for global operations in the initial five years beginning April 1 of the year of the opening of the firm’s first store against the mandatory sourcing requirement of 30% of purchases from India.
  • After the completion of the five-year period, SBRT entities would be required to meet the 30% sourcing norms directly towards its India’s operation, on an annual basis.
  • Similarly, foreign airlines can now invest up to 49 percent via government approved route in Air India. In addition, foreign institutional investors (FIIs) can now invest in power exchanges through primary market and definition of ‘medical devices’ has been amended in the FDI policy.

Centre to help retiring employees find future avenues

  • The Narendra Modi government has decided to help its retiring employees in finding future avenues in order to keep themselves gainfully engaged after superannuation. Senior individuals can be engaged to carry forward some of the revolutionary flagship programmes introduced in recent years by the government.
  • Over 40 NGOs of proven credibility interacted with the retiring employees so as to offer them varied alternatives to keep themselves gainfully engaged afters superannuation in the programme.

China to fund base in Afghanistan

  • China will fund the construction of an Afghan counter-terrorism base in Badakhshan province to block cross-border infiltration of ethnic Uyghur militants. The Chinese side would cover all material and technical expenses for this base weaponry, uniforms for soldiers, military equipment and everything else necessary for its functioning.
  • The largest group of Uyghur militants already resides in Badakhshan, from where they can rapidly shift to China.

Coal India new pricing policy to be linked with quality

  • Coal India Ltd, the country's largest miner, is set to introduce a new pricing policy for coal by April this year, which will be linked strictly to quality. The new mechanism will compute prices on every unit of gross calorific value (GCV) of coal, doing away with the grade policy at present. So far CIL has 17 grades from 2000 to 7000 GCV.
  • CIL hopes that the new pricing policy will also have a positive impact on coal production.
  • CIL Chairman: Gopal Singh

Government restricts use of national flag made of plastic

  • The central government urged everyone not to use a national flag made of plastic and asked the states and Union territories to ensure strict compliance of the Flag Code in view of the Republic Day celebration ahead.
  • The advisory said that on important national, cultural and sports events, flags made of paper only are to be used by public in terms of the provisions of the Flag Code of India, 2002 and such paper flags are not to be discarded or thrown on the ground after the event. Such flags are to be disposed of, in private, consistent with the dignity of the flag.
  • State governments, UT administrations, secretaries of all ministries/departments of the central government were told to ensure strict compliance of the provisions contained in the Flag Code of India and The Prevention of Insults to National Honour Act, 1971.

Gujarat Chamber of Commerce and Industry, South Korea sign MoU for business cooperation

  • An official delegation from South Korea and the Gujarat Chamber of Commerce and Industry (GCCI) signed a memorandum of understanding for co-operation between industries in Gujarat and the East Asian country, with a focus on automobile, defence and textiles sectors.
  • The main objective of the MoU is to help Gujarat-based small and medium enterprises (SMEs) to explore opportunities through joint ventures with South Korean firms, especially in areas of automobile, defence and textiles.

India, Indonesia hold 1st security dialogue, vow to combat terror

  • India and Indonesia held their first security dialogue during which they agreed on operational cooperation in security and counter-terrorism. The dialogue was led by India's National Security Adviser and Indonesia's Coordinating Minister for Political, Legal and Security Affairs.
  • National Security Adviser of India: Ajit Doval

Indian-origin businessman Sunny Verghese appointed World Business Council for Sustainable Development Chairman

  • Singapore-based Indian-origin businessman Sunny Verghese has been appointed as the Chairman of the Geneva-based World Business Council for Sustainable Development.
  • Sunny Verghese Co-Founder and the CEO of Singapore's agri-business group Olam International Limited. He succeeded Paul Polman, the CEO of Unilever, on January 1 and will serve a two-year term.
  • WBCSD is a global network of more than 200 CEOs who are responsible for a combined revenue of more than $8.5 trillion and 19 million employees. The leading businesses in the CEO-led organisation work together to accelerate the transition to a sustainable world.

Jeff Bezos surpasses Bill Gates’ net worth, becomes richest person ever

  • Amazon founder Jeff Bezos worth is now more than that of Microsoft CEO Bill Gates. His net worth reached $105.1 billion on the Bloomberg Billionaires Index. The majority of his net worth comes from the 78.9 million shares of Amazon stock he owns. Shares of Amazon have risen by almost seven per cent this year after rising 56 per cent in 2017.
  • Gates is now worth $91.9 billion according to Forbes, and $93.3 billion by Bloomberg.

PM sets targets for 115 backward districts

  • Prime Minister Narendra Modi told all Ministries to report on the initiatives taken up by them for 115 backward districts and also to come up with an action plan for these districts. Among the 115 districts, 35 are affected by Left-wing violence.
  • Jharkhand tops the list, with 19 backward districts, followed by Bihar with 13 districts; Chhattisgarh is at the third spot with 10 districts.
  • The districts were identified on the basis of indicators of education, health, nutrition, basic infrastructure, rural household electrification, and access to potable water and individual toilets.
  • Last November, the NITI Aayog had appointed officials of the ranks of Additional Secretary and Joint Secretary as prabhari or in-charge to coordinate the efforts of the Centre and the States.

President Kovind to inaugurate three-day 4th International Dharma Dhamma conference

  • President Ram Nath Kovind will inaugurate a three-day International Dharma-Dhamma conference at Rajgir in Bihar today. The conference has been jointly organized by India Foundation, Nalanda University, Ministry of External Affairs, Asean-India and Vietnamese Buddhist Sangha.
  • The inaugural session will be chaired by Mr Kovind, will include the participation of Sri Lanka's foreign Minister Tilak Marapana, Bihar Governor Satya Pal Malik, Chief Minister Nitish Kumar and Secretary East in External Affairs Ministry Preeti Saran.
  • Vice Chancellor of Nalanda University: Sunaina Singh

Satyam case: SEBI bans Price Waterhouse entities from issuing audit certificates for 2 yrs

  • The Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI) has barred auditor major Price Waterhouse's network entities from issuing audit certificates to any listed company in India for two years after finding it guilty in the multi-crore Satyam scam. This is also one of the most stringent orders passed by any regulator against a Big Four audit majors.
  • It also ordered disgorgement of over 13 crore rupees wrongful gains from the audit major and it's two erstwhile partners who worked on the IT major's accounts.
  • SEBI's order comes nearly nine years after the scam at Satyam Computer Services surfaced and after two failed attempts by Price Waterhouse to settle the case through consent mechanism.
  • Disgorgement is the act of giving up something such as the profits obtained by illegal or unethical acts on demand or by legal compulsion.

Supreme Court stays High Court verdict against 85 per cent pictorial warning on tobacco

  • In a setback to the cigarette and tobacco industry, the Supreme Court of India stayed a Karnataka High Court order quashing 85% pictorial warnings on packs containing such products. As a result, tobacco companies will have to go back to carrying a pictorial warning covering 85% of cigarette and tobacco packaging.
  • The court emphasised the importance of public health and the harmful effects of tobacco products, observing that the Karnataka high court could not have struck down a policy decision mandating 85% pictorial warning on tobacco products.
  • Attorney general of India KK Venugopal cited the latest WHO reports to claim that the health benefits of making the vast majority of illiterate consumers aware through such pictorial warnings were much more compelling than any other interest.

Turkey warns Iran, Russia over Syria

  • Turkey warned Iran and Russia to hold back the Syrian regime in bombing the rebel-held northern Idlib province, as tensions increased ahead of proposed peace talks later this month. Turkey has been working closely with Russia and Iran to end the Syrian conflict over the last months but has stepped up pressure on Moscow and Tehran as the bombardments on Idlib intensified.
  • Russia wants to bring all stakeholders together for a conference in Sochi but the tensions with Ankara are proving a major obstacle.

UIDAI introduces 'Virtual ID' to address privacy concerns

  • In a bid to address privacy concerns the UIDAI has introduced a new concept of 'Virtual ID' which Aadhaar-card holder can generate from its website and give for various purposes, including SIM verification, instead of sharing the actual 12-digit biometric ID. This will give the users the option of not sharing their Aadhaar number at the time of authentication.
  • The Virtual ID would be a random 16-digit number, together with biometrics of the user would give any authorised agency like a mobile company, limited details like name, address and photograph, which are enough for any verification.
  • The Virtual ID will be a temporary and revocable random number mapped to a person's Aadhaar number and the Aadhaar-issuing body will start accepting it from March 1, 2018
  • A user can generate as many Virtual IDs as he or she wants. The older ID gets automatically cancelled once a fresh one is generated.
  • From June 1, 2018 it will be compulsory for all agencies that undertake authentication to accept the Virtual ID from their users.
  • UIDAI has also introduced the concept of 'limited KYC' under which it will only provide need-based or limited details of a user to an authorised agency that is providing a particular service.

Vengsarkar unveils Manjrekar’s autobiography Imperfect

  • Former India captain Dilip Vengsarkar unveiled Sanjay Manjrekar’s autobiography Imperfect at a South Mumbai fine dining restaurant. Manjrekar played 37 Test matches, scored 2043 runs with four centuries and nine half centuries.

Winter Olympics: Harjinder Singh appointed Chef de Mission

  • The Indian Olympic Association (IOA) appointed Harjinder Singh as the Chef De Mission for the 23rd Winter Olympic Games to be held in Pyeongchang next month. Singh currently holds the post of General Secretary in the Ice Hockey Association of India.
  • IOA President: Narinder Dhruv Batra

Work related to 2021 census to begin this year: MHA

  • The Union Home Ministry has said that the work related to 2021 census, covering the country's entire 1.30 billion population, will begin this year. The issue and the roadmap for undertaking the census in 2021 were discussed at a high-level meeting chaired by Home Minister Rajnath Singh in New Delhi.
  • The activities required to be undertaken this year, with regard to the census 2021, were discussed at the meeting that include firming up the design, stakeholders meeting and pilot exercise in selected states.
  • The Home Minister also discussed the progress in updating National Register of Citizens, completion of the activities relating to National Population Register and measures to improve and strengthen the civil registration system.

World Bank projects India's growth rate at 7.3 per cent in 2018

  • The World Bank in its 2018 Global Economics Prospect report has projected India's growth rate at 7.3 per cent in 2018 and 7.5 for the next two years. India's growth potential will be around 7 per cent for the next 10 years. It also said that India has enormous growth potential compared to other emerging economies as an ambitious government undertakes comprehensive reforms.
  • In comparison with China, which is slowing, the World Bank is expecting India to gradually accelerate. Despite initial setbacks from demonetization and Goods and Services Tax (GST), India's economy is estimated to have grown at 6.7 per cent in 2017.
  • For global economy, World Bank's outlook, for the first time in many years, is better than expected with all regions seeing improved growth.

Yuki, Ramkumar advance in Australian Open qualifiers

  • India's top singles players Yuki Bhambri and Ramkumar Ramanathan won their respective matches at the Australian Open qualifiers. Bhambri, ranked 15th, will now take on Spain's Carlos Taberner, while the 28th ranked Ramkumar will clash against French man Gleb Sakharov in the second round.
  • Other Indian contenders Prajnesh lost to Germany's Tobias Kamke and Nagal went down fighting to Italy's Alessandro Giannessi.