Daily Current Affairs - 08th Mar 2018

Banks face Rs. 20,000 cr. bond losses: report

  • With yields on sovereign bonds climbing, Indian banks are staring at Rs. 20,000 crore losses in the bond portfolio in the January-March quarter, which is three times more than the losses incurred in the Oct.-Dec. Quarter.
  • The report said banks were having huge liquidity post the demonetisation exercise of November-December 2016 and since there was no credit demand, banks invested heavily in government papers. As a result, banks hold 10% more bonds than what is mandated, which is the highest in last 12 years.
  • Banks are required to hold 19.5% of their deposits in government papers. During the January-March quarter, yield on the 10-year benchmark government paper has risen by about 48 basis points.

Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation announces USD 170 mn for women's empowerment

  • On the eve of International Women's Day, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation has announced a USD 170 million project aimed at advancing women's economic empowerment in four countries, including in India.
  • The investments focused in India, Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda will target four key priorities - advancing gender equality, spreading digital financial inclusion, increasing job opportunities, and supporting the agricultural sector and women's support groups.
  • The investments will build on the foundation's previous financial commitments to advance progress on gender equality, including USD 80 million for gender data, advocacy and accountability, of which USD 20 million was dedicated to supporting women's movements.
  • International Women's Day is celebrated on March 8 every year. It commemorates the movement for women's rights.

Cabinet approves easing spectrum cap

  • The Union Cabinet, headed by Prime Minister Narendra Modi approved relaxing the cap on spectrum holding by telcos, a move that is expected to aid mergers and acquisitions in the sector. The Cabinet has also given telcos the option to extend the time period for payment of spectrum bought in auction to 16 years from the present 10 years. The cap on overall spectrum that can be held by an operator in a circle has been raised to 35% from the current 25%
  • The telecom operators will now be able to trade in excess as well as the current spectrum held by them with other telecom operators depending upon their current spectrum holdings.
  • The relief measures, based on the recommendations by the Inter Ministerial Group on stressed assets in the telecom sector, will facilitate investments, consolidation and enhance ease of doing business.

Cabinet approves for promotion of Agricultural Mechanization for in-situ Management of Crop Residue

  • The Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs has given its approval for promotion of Agricultural Mechanization for in-situ Management of Crop Residue in the States of Punjab, Haryana and Uttar Pradesh and Delhi.
  • The total outgo from the Central funds in this regard would be around 1152 crore rupees. Of the total funds, over 591 crore rupees have been earmarked for in 2018-19 and 560 crore rupees for 2019-20. The component of the scheme includes establishing farm machinery Banks for Custom Hiring of in -situ crop residue management machinery.

Canada, Mexico will be temporarily exempted from US metals tariffs

  • US President Donald Trump plans to offer Canada and Mexico a temporary exemption from new tariffs on steel and aluminium imports. The exemptions could be extended based on progress on renegotiating the North American Free Trade Agreement.The proposal which is expected to be unveiled today, would give Canada and Mexico a 30-day exemption from the tariffs.

Centre sanctions Rs 1,000 crore for research and innovation

  • The Union Government has announced a grant of Rs 1,000 crore for the second phase of the Impacting Research Innovation and Technology (IMPRINT) India programme. Under the IMPRINT-II, a fund is being created by the Department of Science and Technology and Ministry of Human Resource Development together, in which participation will come from industry and other interested Ministries.
  • These projects will cover crucial domains like security and defence, information technology, energy, sustainable habitat, advance materials, health care, nano technology, climate change, etc. All these projects are expected to result in publications and also patents.
  • Under the IMPRINT-I Programme, 142 projects at a cost of Rs. 318.71 crore are already under implementation.
  • Union Minister for Human Resources and Development Prakash Javadekar

Delhi govt approves for delivery of ration at doorsteps of PDS beneficiaries

  • The Delhi government approved a proposal for delivering rations in sealed packets at he doorstep to PDS beneficiaries. The proposal of the Department of Food, Supply and Consumer Affairs for providing doorstep delivery of wheat/flour, rice and sugar for eligible beneficiaries was passed at a Cabinet meeting and will be now be sent to the Lt Governor for final nod.
  • Theft of ration, poor quality of supplies and shops remaining closed were the major issues that residents were facing and the implementation of this new scheme would put an end to these harassments.
  • According to a government official, there are around 72 lakh PDS beneficiaries in the city.

EESL tender for 10,000 more Evs

  • Energy Efficiency Services Limited (EESL), a joint venture company under the Ministry of Power, will soon issue a tender for 10,000 more electric vehicles, following up on the completion of its previous order of 10,000 such vehicles. The demand for e-vehicles is constantly rising across various departments of the Union and state governments.

ICC Test Rankings: Virat Kohli retains 2nd spot, R Ashwin slips

  • India captain Virat Kohli and senior batsman Cheteshwar Pujara held their second and sixth positions respectively on the batsmen's list while off-spinner Ravichandran Ashwin slipped a notch to be at sixth among bowlers in the latest ICC Test rankings.

Incumbent Bhandari, NC leader Laxmi Rai in race for presidency in Nepal

  • Nepali President Bidya Devi Bhandari and Nepali Congress leader Kumari Laxmi Rai filed nomination papers for the March 13 presidential election. Ms. Bhandari, Nepal’s first woman President, is likely to get re-elected as she has the support of ruling parties Communist Party of Nepal-Unified Marxist Leninist and CPN-Maoist.

India-China bilateral trade hits historic high of USD 84.44 billion in 2017

  • The India-China bilateral trade has reached 84.44 billion US dollar last year, an historic high. The Chinese exports was about 40 per cent increase of Indian exports to China in 2017 totalling to 16.34 billion dollar. The bilateral trade in 2017 rose by 18.63 per cent year-on-year to reach 84.44 billion dollar well above the USD 71.18 billion registered last year.
  • Trade touched a historic high despite bilateral tensions over a number of issues including the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor, China blocking India’s efforts to bring about a UN ban on J-e-M leader Masood Azhar, Beijing blocking India’s entry into the Nuclear Suppliers Group as well as the Doklam standoff.

Indian architect Balkrishna Doshi wins 2018 Pritzker Prize

  • Indian architect Balkrishna Doshi has been awarded this year's Pritzker Prize for being able to interpret architecture and transform it into buildings that respect Eastern culture. Doshi is widely known for designing extensive low-cost housing projects, public administrations and utilities, educational and cultural institutions, and residences for private clients, among others.
  • His solutions take into account the social, environmental and economic dimensions, and therefore his architecture is totally engaged with sustainability.
  • The Pritzker Prize is regarded as architecture's equivalent to the Nobel Prize.

Indira Gandhi International Airport adjudged world best in ACI survey

  • Delhi's Indira Gandhi International Airport has been rated as the world number one among airports handling more than 40 million passengers per annum in a survey by the Airports Council International (ACI). The airport also recently joined the 60-million club and recorded 63.5 million passengers in 2017. As part of its survey on Airport Service Quality, views of passengers on 34 key performance indicators are measured.
  • Mumbai's Chhatrapati Shivaji International Airport has been ranked as the World’s Best Airport for customer experience.
  • ACI is a trade association of 1,953 member airports across 176 countries.

Iran signs deal with China to connect key port to rail network

  • China will build a train line connecting the Iranian port of Bushehr to the rest of the country's railway network under a 700 million USW dollar deal. The group will build a 400-kilometre railway line between the Gulf port and the southern city of Shiraz. This would complete the North-South Railway Corridor in line with Iran's goal of becoming a transport hub for goods between the Gulf, the Indian subcontinent, Russia and Central Asia.
  • China is Iran's biggest economic and trading partner.

Maharashtra govt to make sale of gutka a non-bailable offence

  • Maharashtra Government is planning to make sale of gutka a non-bailable offence. Maharashtra Food and Drug Administration Minister had informed the state Legislative Council that the punishment for trying to sell the banned product will also be enhanced to three years in prison.

Maneka Gandhi launches #YesIBleed menstrual hygiene campaign

  • Union Minister for Women and Child Development Maneka Gandhi launched a menstrual hygiene campaign. The objective of the campaign called "#Yes I Bleed" is to create a holistic approach to the issue of menstruation, which is an experience that transcends culture, class, and caste. The campaign called "#Yes I Bleed" will be initiated formally across all multi-media platforms, including Facebook and YouTube.
  • The United Nations has recognized menstrual hygiene as a global public health and a human rights issue yet across the globe.
  • In India, approximately 35 crore women menstruate and it is estimated that only 12 percent use proper menstrual hygiene practices and menstrual products

RBI slaps Rs 40 lakh penalty on SBI for flouting fake note norms

  • The Reserve Bank of India has imposed a monetary penalty of Rs 40 lakh on State Bank of India for non-compliance of its directions on detection and impounding of counterfeit notes. The action is based on deficiencies in regulatory compliance found at two of the bank’s currency chests.
  • Earlier this week, RBI had imposed monetary penalties on Axis Bank for violation of non-performing asset classification norms and Indian Overseas Bank for not complying with the KYC regulations.

Savitri Jindal richest of 8 Indian women:Forbes

  • According to Forbes’ 2018 ‘World’s Billionaires’ list, eight Indian women have featured in Forbes list of the world’s richest. Among the Indian women, Savitri Jindal and family is the richest with a fortune of $8.8 billion. She is ranked 176th globally. Biocon chief Kiran Mazumdar-Shaw is the second richest. She is India’s richest self-made woman with a fortune of $3.6 billion.
  • Others include Smita Crishna-Godrej and Leena Tewari, who chairs the privately held drugmaker USV India. Anu Aga of Thermax returns to the list and is the sixth richest with a net worth of $1.4 billion.
  • Forbes’ 2018 ‘World’s Billionaires’ list includes a total of 256 women which is an all time high and their collective net worth topped $1 trillion, up 20% since last year.

Sidbi, CSC partner to offer MSMEs better credit access

  • The Small Industries Development Bank of India (SIDBI) signed a memorandum of understanding with CSC e-governance Services (CSCeGS) to take Udyami Mitra portal to the unserved and the underserved MSMEs. Udyamimitra.In is a portal to improve accessibility of credit for the MSMEs. It allows entrepreneurs to apply for a loan without physically visiting bank branches.
  • CSCeGS is a special purpose vehicle (SPV) set up by ministry of electronics and IT ( MeitY) which acts as connect point for various digitally aligned services to villages in the country. CSCs (Common Service Centres), one of the crucial enablers of the Digital India programme, are the access points for delivery of various e-governance and business services to citizens in rural and remote areas of the country.
  • The MoU is aimed to facilitate financial support to the upcoming CSCs through bank financing.
  • SIDBI, Chairman & MD: Dr. Kshatrapati Shivaji
  • CSCeGS CEO: Dinesh Tyagi.

Sultan Azlan Shah Cup: India crush hosts Malaysia 5-1

  • Indian hockey team registered their first win of the tournament as it crushed hosts Malaysia 5-1 in their fourth match of the Sultan Azlan Shah Cup hockey at Ipoh. Shilanand Lakra opened the scoring for India in the 10th minute before Malaysia’s Faizal Saari equalised in the 33rd minute.
  • Gurjant Singh then scored twice and was supported by Sumit Kumar and Ramandeep Singh.

Threat of new malware looms over cyberspace

  • Cybersecurity agencies have detected a new malware called Saposhi, which is capable of taking over electronic devices and turning them into ‘bots’, which can be then used for any purpose, including a Distributed Denial Of Service attack which, with enough firepower, can cripple entire industries.
  • Saposhi was detected around 15 days ago and is currently being watched and studied.
  • Saposhi is similar in its intensity to Reaper, which was taking over millions of devices at the rate of 10,000 devices per day. Various cyber security agencies are currently keeping tabs on it to get a better idea of what it is capable of.
  • Reaper, a highly evolved malware capable of not only hacking devices like WiFi routers and security cameras, but also able to hide its own presence in the bot — a device taken over by a malware.
  • Malwares like Saposhi, Reaper and Mirai are primarily aimed at DDoS attacks, in which the malware first creates a network of bots — called a botnet — and then uses the botnet to ping a single server at the same time. As the number of pings are far beyond the server’s capacity, the server crashes and denies service to its consumers.

Virat Kohli, Shikhar Dhawan in top-bracket of BCCI contracts

  • The Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) introduced an A plus category in the central contracts for which only five players were picked. Skipper Virat Kohli, Rohit Sharma, and Shikhar Dhawan along with pacers Bhuvneshwar Kumar and Jasprit Bumrah. This will ensure them annual contracts worth seven crore rupees each.
  • Former India captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni and senior off-spinner R Ashwin were relegated from the top-paid bracket to the A category along with Ravindra Jadeja, Murali Vijay, Cheteshwar Pujara, Ajinkya Rahane and Wridhhiman Saha. These seven players would be eligible for a contract of five crore rupees each.
  • The B category features KL Rahul, Umesh Yadav, Kuldeep Yadav, Yuzvendra Chahal, Hardik Pandya, Ishant Sharma and Dinesh Karthik. They will be entitled to contracts worth three crore rupees each. In Grade C will be Kedar Jadhav, Manish Pandey, Axar Patel, Karun Nair, Suresh Raina, Parthiv Patel and Jayant Yadav. They will be eligible for contracts worth one crore rupees each.
  • The new Annual Player Contracts will be operative from October 2017 to September 2018.

Vision for Future event marks 70 yrs of Indo-Russia ties

  • Commemorating 70 years of the Indo-Russia ties, the Ministry of External Affairs (Eurasia Division) in collaboration with the International Federation of Indo-Russian Youth Clubs and BRICS International Forum organized an event called "Vision for Future" in New Delhi.
  • The event sought to expose the youth to the dynamic opportunities of cooperation between the two countries.
  • A Russian delegation is also visiting India as part of the 70th year celebrations, and some of them interacted with media this evening.