Daily Current Affairs - 27th Feb 2018

ACC, Ambuja call off merger proposal

  • Cement majors ACC Ltd. and Ambuja Cements Ltd. have called off their proposed merger plan announced in May last year. As both contended that there are certain constraints to implementing the merger at present. On May 5, 2017, the firms had set up a special committee of directors to study the merger proposal.
  • Both ACC and Ambuja Cements are owned by LafargeHolcim Ltd., one of the world’s largest manufacturers of building materials.

Airtel joins Seamless Alliance to provide in-flight connectivity

  • Bharti Airtel has joined ‘Seamless Alliance’ to provide in-flight connectivity to customers. The alliance aims to use satellite technology to offer data connectivity to mobile users when they’re in a flight. The formation of the alliance was announced in Barcelona. OneWeb, Airbus, Delta and Sprint are the other founding members of the alliance.
  • Over 370 million mobile customers across Airtel’s global network will be able to enjoy uninterrupted access to high speed data services even while they are in-flight

Badminton: Tiafoe claims maiden tour title

  • Wild-card Frances Tiafoe captured his first ATP Tour title, defeating Peter Gojowczyk in the Delray Beach Open final to become the youngest American to win an ATP Tour title in 15 years.
  • Tiafoe toppled the German 6-1, 6-4 as he continued his successful start to the 2018 season which has seen him beat the likes of Juan Martin Del Potro, Chung Hyeon and Denis Shapovalov.
  • His win marks the youngest by an American since Andy Roddick won the 2002 Houston tournament at age 19.

Center releases financial assistance to several flood affected states

  • The High-Level Committee for Central Assistance Chaired by Home Minister Rajnath Singh has approved assistance of 1711 crore rupees for Bihar which was affected by floods last year.
  • The committee also approved assistance of 1055 crore rupees for Gujarat which was also affected by floods.
  • 838 crore rupees have been sanctioned for West Bengal and 420 crore rupees each have been sanctioned for Rajasthan and Uttar Pradesh which were also affected by floods.
  • Tamil Nadu will receive 133 crore rupees and Kerala will receive 169 crore rupees which were affected by cyclone Ockhi. Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh will get 836 crore and 396 crore rupees. The two states were affected by Kharif drought last year

Centre ropes in IIFT, ICAI to improve ease of doing business ranking

  • The Union Commerce and industry ministry has appointed four institutes to interact with stakeholders and suggest measures to push India’s ranking in World Bank’s ease of doing business index
  • The National Institute of Construction Management and Research (NICMAR), the Indian Institute of Foreign Trade (IIFT), the Institute of Company Secretaries of India (ICSI) and the Institute of Chartered Accountants of India (ICAI) are the four institutes that have been roped in for the exercise.
  • They would take views of respondents on the parameters which are taken into in the ranking process. The parameters include - starting a business, dealing with construction permits, getting electricity, registering property, getting credit, protecting minority investors, paying taxes, trading across borders, enforcing contracts and resolving insolvency.
  • While ICAI would look into the paying taxes parameter, ICSI and IIFT would work on starting a business and trading across borders respectively. Similarly, NICMAR would collate feedback on dealing with construction permits. The move would help further push India’s ranking.
  • As per the latest World bank’s Doing Business ranking, India’s position improved by 30 places to 100th. The government wants India to figure within top 50 in the coming years.

China becomes vice chair of Financial Action Task Force

  • China was elected as vice chair of Financial Action Task Force (FATF), a global body mandated to combat terror financing and money laundering.
  • It is an inter-governmental policy making body that aims to establish international standards for combating money laundering and terrorist financing.
  • It was established in 1989 during the G7 Summit in Paris (France) to combat the growing problem of money laundering. It comprises over 39 member countries including India. FATF Secretariat is housed at the headquarters of the OECD in Paris.
  • FATF set standards and promote effective implementation of legal, regulatory and operational measures for combating money laundering, terrorist financing and other related threats to integrity of international financial system.

DRDO successfully carries out test flight of indigenous Rustom-2 drone

  • The Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) successfully flew its Rustom 2 at its Aeronautical Test Range at Chalakere in Chitradurga district of Karnataka. A medium-altitude long-endurance unmanned aerial vehicle,Rustom 2 or TAPAS-BH-201 has been developed by India on the lines of the American Predator drones.
  • Rustom 2, the combat aerial vehicle having the capability to fly for 24 hours at stretch and can conduct sustained surveillance and can carry weapons along with surveillance equipment.
  • Chairman DRDO: S. Christopher

Former Cabinet Secretary Subramanian passes away

  • Former Cabinet Secretary T.S.R. Subramanian died of natural causes. He was 79. Subramanian was a 1961 batch officer of the Uttar Pradesh cadre. He served as Cabinet Secretary from August 1996 to March 1998. As the Cabinet Secretary, he was the senior-most government servant.
  • Subramanian was part of a group of bureaucrats and diplomats on whose petition the Supreme Court in 2013, rolled out key Civil Services reforms. He worked hard to protect the bureaucracy from political interference.

Free viral load testing for people with HIV

  • The Union Health Ministry launched ‘Viral load testing for all People Living with HIV/AIDS (PLHIV)’. Viral load kits are used to determine the severity of an infection before deciding on the treatment regimen that is appropriate for HIV patients. This initiative was started to ensure that treatment is started early and virus transmission is curtailed both at the individual and the community level.
  • India is home to the world’s third largest HIV population, with 25 lakh patients. Only 12 lakh of the diagnosed HIV patients are on treatment and the newly-launched scheme will provide viral load testing free of cost.
  • Union Health Minister: J.P. Nadda.

Government Slaps Anti-Dumping Duty On Ceramicware From China

  • India has imposed anti-dumping duty on import of ceramic tableware and kitchenware from China in a bid to protect domestic producers. From now on Ceramic tableware and kitchenware shipped in from China will attract an anti-dumping duty of $1.04 per kg, making the imports expensive.
  • All India Pottery Manufacturers’ Association (AIPMA) and the Indian Ceramic Society had approached the Directorate General of Anti-Dumping and Allied Duties (DGAD) for imposition of the levy on the items.They had alleged that the goods were being dumped into India and consequently causing injury to the domestic industry.
  • Countries initiate anti-dumping probes to determine if the domestic industry has been hurt by a surge in below-cost imports. As a counter measure, they impose duties under the multilateral WTO regime.

ICAI favours existing audit mechanism

  • The Institute of Charted Accountants of India (ICAI) has said that it supports efforts to strengthen its existing disciplinary and oversight mechanism through amendments to the CA Act. This comes in the backdrop of allegations about the role of Chartered Accountants (CAs) in the Punjab National Bank (PNB) scam and Finance Minister pointing fingers at auditors and regulators for failing to detect such frauds.
  • ICAI has indirectly opposed the setting up of a super regulator National Financial Reporting Authority (NFRA) to regulate the CA profession.
  • ICAI constituted an internal group to review the disciplinary mechanism and submitted its suggestions to the Centre for suitable amendments in the CA Act.

IITs to get 25 per cent of govt loans for higher education institutes under RISE scheme

  • The Indian Institutes of Technology (IITs) will get the largest chunk of loans on offer under the new funding model — Revitalising Infrastructure and Systems in Education (RISE) — for all centrally-run institutes, announced in the Union Budget this month.
  • Under RISE, all centrally-funded institutes (CFIs), including central universities, IITs, IIMs, NITs and IISERs, can borrow from a Rs 1,00,000 crore corpus over the next four years to expand and build new infrastructure. However, an amount of Rs 25,000 crore will be set aside exclusively for the 23 IITs.
  • The second largest share, Rs 20,000 crore, will be earmarked for central universities. While the National Institutes of Technology (NITs) can borrow up to Rs 11,300 crore, the new IIMs will get Rs 4,500 crore, and five IISERs Rs 5,000 crore.
  • In addition to loans for infrastructure development, about Rs 9,000 crore will be available for building robust research ecosystems, like world-class laboratories, in CFIs.
  • With the introduction of RISE, all financing for infrastructure development at centrally-funded institutes CFIs will be done through the Higher Education Funding Agency (HEFA), which was set up by the government last year to mobilize funds from the market and offer 10-year loans to centrally-run institutes.

King of Jordan Abdullah-II bin Al-Hussein to be in India on 3-day visit

  • The King of Jordan Abdullah-II bin Al-Hussein will be arriving in India on a three day visit. The King will be accompanied by a business delegation. India and Jordan will discuss the entire range of bilateral relations as well as regional and international issues of mutual interest. The Jordan King will hold talks with Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
  • The King will visit IIT Delhi to explore collaboration with Jordan technical institutes. He will also participate in a CEO Round-table followed by India-Jordan Business Forum.
  • Jordan:
  • Capital: Amman
  • Currency: Jordanian dinar

Morne Morkel announces retirement

  • South African pacer Morne Morkel has decided to bid adieu to international cricket after the home Test series against Australia next month. He has a combined 529 international wickets across all three formats. In Tests he had taken 294 wickets so far at an average of 28.08 in 83 matches. Morne Morkel has been a key player for South Africa for more than a decade.

Ramkumar Ramanathan achieves career-best rank

  • Ramkumar Ramanathan achieved his career-best ranking of 133rd position after jumping seven places. He had earned 12 points for qualifying into the main draw of the ATP Delray Beach Open.
  • India's top-ranked tennis player Yuki Bhambri, however, dropped four places to 105. Young Sumit Nagal lost four places to be 220. The next best Indian on the ATP singles chart was left-handed Prajnesh Gunneswaran, who gained 10 places to reach 232.
  • In the doubles, Rohan Bopanna continues to be India's top-ranked player at number 20. He was followed by Leander Paes at the 52nd spot and Divij Sharan in the 54th position.
  • In the women's ranking, Ankita Raina has got back to top-250 by gaining five places. She was in the 250th position,
  • In the doubles, injured Sania Mirza moved up a spot to number 13.

Sailing: Chitresh bags silver

  • India’s Chitresh Tatha won the silver medal in the Laser 4.7 class of the Hong Kong Race Week recently. Chitresh finished first in three races (race 4, 7 & 10) and second in race 3. Roger Wardojo of Indonesia finished first overall while Hong Kong’s Emily Wong emerged third.
  • Hong Kong Race Week is a constituent event of the Asian Sailing Federation (ASAF) Youth Cup and is co-organised by Hong Kong Sailing Federation and Royal Hong Kong Yacht Club.
  • Forty sailors took part in the races which had 10 rounds.

SC seeks details of jails having over 150 pc occupancy

  • The Supreme Court has asked the National Legal Services Authority, NALSA to look into the issue of overcrowding of prisons and furnish figures before it regarding the population in the jails where occupancy was over 150 per cent as on 31st December last year.
  • A three-judge bench headed by Justice Madan B Lokur also asked an advocate to look into the issue of rehabilitation and welfare of women prisoners as well as their children, including the aspect of the education of such kids.
  • The bench asked NALSA Director to ascertain through the member secretaries of the state legal services authorities, the number of vacant posts lying in major prisons in all states and union territories.
  • The apex court said it will deal in its next hearing on next month, the issues related to standard operating procedure for Under Trial Review Committees (UTRCs) and responses received from states and union territories on open jails.
  • A UTRC, set up in every district, deliberates and recommends the release of undertrial prisoners and convicts who have undergone their sentences or are entitled to be released from jail due to bail or remission granted to them.
  • NALSA Director Surinder S Rathi

Strandja Memorial Boxing Tournament: Vikas Krishan wins gold, adjudged Best Boxer

  • Indian boxer Vikas Krishan defeated world championships bronze-medallist Troy Isley of the USA in the middle-weight (75kg) finals to claim his first medal at the Strandja Memorial Tournament, Bulgaria. Furthermore he was also adjudged the best boxer of the event which is first for an Indian. Another Gold medal was clinched by Amit Panghal. In the 49 kg division final, defeating Morocco's Said Mordaji.
  • Overall India ended with a whopping 11 medals - five from men and six from women boxers. Overall, the contingent clinched two gold, three silver and six bronze medals.

Study reveals Moon’s water may be widely distributed

  • A new analysis of data from India’s Chandrayaan-1 mission and NASA’s Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter suggests that Moon’s water may be widely distributed across the surface, not confined to a particular region or type of terrain. The water appears to be present day and night, though it was not necessarily easily accessible.
  • The new finding of widespread water suggests that it may be present primarily as OH, a more reactive relative of H2O that is made of one oxygen atom and one hydrogen atom.
  • The findings could help researchers understand the origin of the Moon’s water and how easy it would be to use as a resource
  • The results contradict some earlier studies, which had suggested that more water was detected at the Moon’s polar latitudes and that the strength of the water signal waxes and wanes according to the lunar day.