Daily Current Affairs - 28th Feb 2018

Chilika lake becomes largest habitat of Irrawaddy dolphins globally

  • The Chilika lake in Odisha has emerged as the single largest habitat of Irrawaddy dolphins in the world with the spotting of 155 such animals. The finding is based on the preliminary report of the first ever ‘Annual Monitoring’ of the lake held recently. The number is more compared to the last year’s figure of around 100 dolphins during the annual census,
  • The monitoring also revealed that the lake houses around 0.9 million birds which is similar to the trend of the population over the years.

CSIR inks MoU with IORA-RCSTT

  • The Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) has signed an MoU with the Indian Ocean Rim Associations Regional Center for Science and Technology Transfer for designating Central Institute of Medicinal and Aromatic Plants in Lucknow as the coordinating centre on medicinal plants.
  • The IORA Center at CSIR-CIMAP will establish a database on the important medicinal plants, their value added products, related experts and industries of the IORA member states and organise meetings and training programmes to promote trade, commerce and scientific exchanges to complement the strength and limitation of the member states.
  • The IORA is an association of 21 countries and 7 dialogue partners which have identified 6 areas of cooperation including medicinal plants.
  • It is based on the principles of Open Regionalism for strengthening Economic Cooperation particularly on Trade Facilitation and Investment, Promotion as well as Social Development of the region
  • The Coordinating Secretariat of IORA is located at Ebene, Mauritius.

CSIR-NIO Goa announces discovery of methane gas flares and active cold seeps in Krishna Godavari basin in Bay of Bengal

  • CSIR-National Institute of Oceanography (NIO), Goa announced the discovery of methane gas flares and active cold seeps from the seabed in the Krishna Godavari basin in the Bay of Bengal. The seep sites are distributed over a water depth of 900 metres to 1,900 metres. These sites are characterized by high concentrations of hydrogen sulfide, calcium carbonate, unique faunal groups and shallow presence of methane hydrates.
  • For the first time in India, the use of modern technology developed by CSIR-NIO facilitated the discovery of bubbling methane gas from active cold seeps coming up to a water depth of 700 metres. The discovery has put India on the global map of cold seeps and is a landmark finding in the history of gas hydrates in the country.
  • Gas hydrates are a potential source of alternate energy and research is underway to establish the economic feasibility of commercial gas extraction from cold seeps.
  • CSIR-NIO, Director: Sunil Kumar Singh

Google, Bharti ally for Smartphone

  • Bharti Airtel and Google announced a partnership to bring low-cost smartphones powered by Android Oreo (Go edition) to the Indian market. With this, India will become one of the first countries to commercially roll out smartphones running on Android Oreo (Go edition).
  • Bharti Airtel said its entry-level 4G smartphones will be shipped with Android Oreo (Go edition) as standard OS starting March 2018, adding that Lava and Micromax would introduce the first set of 4G smartphones.
  • Android Oreo (Go edition) is a version of Google’s Android operating system that has been optimised to run smoothly on low-end devices with 1GB of RAM or less.

GST revenue slips in January to Rs. 86,318 cr., from December

  • The Centre collected Rs. 86,318 crore in revenue from the Goods and Services Tax in January, according to official data released. The government had collected Rs. 86,703 crore in December from GST. Of the total collected, Rs. 14,233 crore came as as Central GST, Rs. 19,961 crore as State GST, Rs. 43,794 crore as Integrated GST and Rs. 8,331 crore as compensation cess.
  • The last date for filing of GSTR 3B return for the month of January 2018 was February 20, 2018. About 1.03 crore taxpayers have been registered under GST so far till February 25, 2018
  • While the GST revenues and number of return filers are gradually increasing or are same as compared to the last month, the tax base and revenue numbers have certainly not reached expected level.
  • 17.65 lakh dealers have so far been registered under the Composition Scheme, 1.23 lakh of these have opted out of the Scheme and have become regular taxpayers.

ISRO working on 'igloos' for future outposts on moon

  • ISRO has started work on building igloos on the Moon which would likely to become India's biggest science programme in the next few years. These lunar habitats will be built by sending robots and 3D printers to the Moon, and by using lunar soil and other material.
  • The project has seen progress with a working model - created using a 3D printer - sitting in the space agency's lunar terrain test facility. Scientists have drawn up five designs of the lunar habitats, and hope their work could contribute to plans of creating outposts on the Moon. 
  • Many countries, including the US, are considering building more permanent structures on the Moon and working out of there.

Karnataka claims Vijay Hazare Trophy

  • Karnataka defeated Saurashtra to claim the Vijay Hazare Trophy. Chasing Karnataka’s 253 on Ferozeshah Kotla pitch, Saurashtra remained behind the asking rate, lost six wickets in the space of 58 runs and eventually folded at 212.
  • The 41-run victory earned Karnataka its first title of the season and third in the National limited-over championship. It also gave Karnataka a place in the three-team Deodhar Trophy to be played at Dharamshala early next month.

Kochi could host Indian Open snooker

  • Kochi is a strong contender to host the fifth Indian Open world-ranking snooker tournament in September. The Secretary of the Billiards and Snooker Federation of India, had a look at the venue and appeared very satisfied. The dates are fixed and it will be from September 18 to 22. The event will carry a total prize fund of Rs. 3 crore.

Korean investments will be protected: Prime Minister Narendra Modi

  • Assuring Korean firms that their investments in India would be protected, Prime Minister Narendra Modi has called upon Korean companies to invest more in India. Speaking at the India Korea Business Summit, organised by the DIPP and CII, Mr. Modi said, India offers a lot of potential for the Korean investors with its huge market and enabling policy environment.
  • Korea ranks 16th in terms of FDI equity inflows to India with investments of $2.26 billion between March 2000 and April 2017.
  • The bilateral trade between India and Korea crossed $20 billion last year – for the first time in six years. More than 500 Korean companies, including Samsung, LG and Hyundai, have operations in India.

MEA to set up India corner in educational institutes abroad

  • The external affairs ministry is planning to set up "India corners" at educational institutes abroad that will provide reference material about India to students. The India corner will comprise a set of books on different aspects of India which will be presented to that library and it will be displayed there. The idea behind this initiative is to provide the students good reference material to know more about India.

Moody’s upgrades IDBI Bank outlook

  • Moody’s Investor Service revised government-run lender IDBI Bank’s outlook to ‘positive’ from ‘stable’. It has affirmed the long-term local and foreign currency bank deposit rating of IDBI Bank Ltd. at B1, and changed the outlook to positive from stable.
  • The positive outlook reflects the upward pressure that could develop on the bank’s long-term rating, if its credit fundamentals namely the capital position continues to improve over the next 12-18 months due to capital infusions from the Indian government.
  • Meanwhile, the central government has decided to infuse Rs. 7,881 crore capital in the public sector lender.
  • The rating agency said this capital infusion would raise the common equity tier 1 (CET1) ratio for IDBI to about 9.8% based on the risk-weighted assets as of December 31.
  • Moody’s expects that the CET1 [common equity tier-I] ratio as of March 31, 2019 will meet the minimum Basel III capital requirements.
  • IDBI Bank
  • CEO: Mahesh Kumar Jain
  • Headquarters: Mumbai

Mountaineer Samina Baig appointed as UNDP National Goodwill Ambassador for Pakistan

  • Samina Baig, the first Pakistani woman to have climbed Mount Everest, has been appointed as the national goodwill ambassador by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP).
  • Baig will lead efforts to build national awareness and partnerships around Sustainable Development Goals, particularly those related to climate change, environmental protection and women empowerment.
  • At the age of 22, she became the first Pakistani woman to climb Mount Everest. By the time she turned 23, she had climbed the highest mountain on each of the world’s seven continents.
  • The United Nations Development Programme is the United Nations' global development network. Headquartered in New York City

Peaceful, democratic Afghanistan is focus of 4th trilateral meet

  • A peaceful and democratic Afghanistan was in focus during the fourth India-US-Afghanistan trilateral, aimed at bringing stability to the war-ravaged country. Diplomats of the three countries agreed to continue work together toward a safe, peaceful, democratic, pluralistic and prosperous Afghanistan that is free from terrorism.
  • During the trilateral meeting, held on the margins of the Kabul Process Conference in Kabul, welcomed discussions on political, economic, educational and developmental goals and agreed that trilateral cooperation will strengthen the economic and regional stability across many sectors in Afghanistan.
  • Afghanistan:
  • President: Ashraf Ghani
  • Capital: Kabul
  • Currency: Afghan afghani

PNB market cap slides 40% in 10 sessions

  • Investors of fraud hit Punjab National Bank have lost close to Rs. 15,400 crore since the Nirav Modi scam broke on February 14, as 40% of the bank’s market capitalisation has eroded during the period.
  • The bank’s shares fell 12.11% to Rs. 98.35 after it said losses due to the scam could increase by another Rs. 1,330 crore, taking the total amount to Rs. 12,800 crore. PNB shares fell for the fourth successive day and touched a new 52-week low of Rs. 96.10 during the day.
  • PNB’s market cap is currently pegged at Rs. 23,855.65 crore.
  • Punjab National Bank
  • CEO: Sunil Mehta
  • Headquarters: New Delhi

RBI raises currency derivative trade limit to USD 100 mn

  • The Reserve Bank of India raised the exposure limit under exchange traded currency derivatives (ETCD) trading for residents and foreign portfolio investors (FPIs) to USD 100 million across all currency pairs involving the Indian rupee.
  • The RBI's decision to raise the limit will help entities engaged in forex transactions to maintain their currency risks in a better manner.
  • Earlier, the RBI had imposed a limit of USD 15 million for USD-INR and USD 5 million for other currency pairs of Indian rupee with Euro, Japanese Yen and British Pound.
  • It has now been decided to permit persons resident in India and FPIs to take positions (long or short), without having to establish existence of underlying exposure, up to a single limit of USD 100 million equivalent across all currency pairs involving INR, put together, and combined across all exchanges.

Shipping Ministry to set up technology centre at IIT-M

  • Indian Institute of Technology-Madras (IIT-M) has signed a memorandum of agreement (MoA) with the Union Shipping Ministry for establishing the National Technology Centre for Ports, Waterways and Coasts (NTCPWC). NTCPWC will work to modernise Indian ports and fast-track waterways under the Centre’s Sagarmala project, an initiative for port-led infrastructure. The eight major port projects handled by the Ocean Engineering department of IITM will be moved to NTCPWC by March 2019
  • The Centre has invested close to Rs.70 crore in the technology centre, which will come up on IIT-M’s second campus in Thaiyur. Major components of the technology centre are technology development, modelling and software products, bridge simulator and testing facilities with the focus on three areas – research and development, manpower training and technical training.
  • Of Rs.15 lakh crore investments allocated for port-led infrastructure development,?4 lakh crore have been allocated for port, road and rail connectivity and port modernisation. There are also plans for establishing industrial clusters in ports, for which innovation and technology are the key. There are 12 major ports and 200 minor ports in India with waterway networks of about 20,000 km.

UN chief calls for new push to rid the world of nuclear weapons

  • UN Secretary-General, Antonio Guterres called for a new global effort to get rid of nuclear weapons. Speaking to the Conference on Disarmament at the UN complex in Geneva, he said, many nations still wrongly thought that nuclear weapons made the world safer. He also mentions that there is great and justified anxiety around the world about the threat of nuclear war and the countries must work towards forging a new momentum on eliminating nuclear weapons.
  • The Conference on Disarmament is the world’s main forum for nuclear disarmament, but since 1996 it has been deadlocked by disagreements and distrust between rival nuclear powers.