Daily Current Affairs - 27th Mar 2018

Centre to borrow Rs. 2.88 lakh cr

  • The Centre would borrow Rs. 2.88 lakh crore in the April-September period of next fiscal, which is 47.56% of the budgeted gross borrowing. In April-September of the current fiscal, gross borrowing was Rs. 3.72 lakh crore. The 47.56% figure in the first half is lower than the average of 60-65% in the last five years.
  • The budgeted gross borrowing through bonds for fiscal 2018-19 was Rs. 6.05 lakh crore which would be used to fund the fiscal deficit of 3.3% of GDP.
  • The government would issue inflation-indexed bonds linked to the CPI or retail inflation.
  • Economic Affairs Secretary Subhash Chandra Garg

Chhattisgarh bags 'Water Digest Award' for best water conservation and irrigation facility

  • Chhattisgarh bagged the National 'Water Digest Award' for Water Conservation-Diversion and for increasing the irrigation capacity in the State. This is the first time that Chhattisgarh Water Resources Department had been given national Award during the past 17 years.
  • Chhattisgarh State bagged the award for increasing the irrigation capacity, community participation, water management -water diversion, water conservation, efforts towards inter-linking of rivers, better techniques utilized in irrigation facilities.
  • The Award is presented every year by the globally renowned magazine 'Water Digest'-which focuses mainly on water resources.

German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier lauds economic ties with India

  • Visiting German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier has held talks with Indian officials, including Narendra Modi, on the third day of his India tour. He underlined the importance of Germany's economic and political ties with India.
  • Some 1,800 German firms employ more than 400,000 people in India. Germany is India's largest trading partner in the European Union and sixth largest overall. Bilateral trade between the two countries totaled some $19 billion (€15.4 billion) in 2016-17.

Global efforts needed to solve Syria, Yemen crisis: Nobel Laureates, human rights activists

  • Nobel Laureates and human rights activists have called for an immediate global effort to solve the crisis faced by millions of children in conflict-hit Syria and Yemen.
  • The summit, which was held under the patronage of Jordan King Abdullah, aims to ensure that every child, especially children in the most vulnerable sections of the world, are free, safe, educated and healthy.
  • Nobel Laureate Kailash Satyarthi, has established the Laureates and Leaders for Children organisation in in 2016. He said that each and every life is important and efforts should be done to secure the childhood of the children.
  • The summit is meant to lay the foundation for a more sustainable and forward-thinking leadership to safeguard the future of the world's children, particularly in the face of global challenges and chronic social challenges impacting communities worldwide.
  • More than 5.6 million Syrians have fled the country as refugees, according to the UNHCR.

Govt. gives Rs. 5,000-cr. guarantee for Railways

  • The Ministry of Finance has approved a proposal to provide government guarantee worth Rs. 5,000 crore in the current financial year to enable the Life Insurance Corporation of India (LIC) subscribe to the bonds issued by the Indian Railway Finance Corporation ( IRFC).
  • The Ministry of Railways had entered into memorandum of understanding (MoU) with the LIC on March 11, 2015 under which the insurer would provide financial assistance worth Rs. 1.50 lakh crore for identified railway projects from 2015 to 2019.
  • The IRFC had been raising funds from the LIC via issue of bonds having a tenor of 30 years and remitting the funds to the Ministry of Railways.
  • The funds from LIC are available to the Ministry of Railways at 30 basis points above the 10-year benchmark yield.

Govt. to sell enemy properties

  • The union government has started the process of monetisation of more than 9,400 enemy properties by issuing guidelines and directing the office of the custodian to submit a list of all such movable and immovable assets within three months. The sale will fetch to the union government to its coffers by about Rs. 1 lakh crore
  • The Ministry of Home Affairs has also constituted a valuation committee at the district level and an inter-ministerial disposal committee, so that the process could be completed in a time-bound manner.
  • The enemy properties were those left behind by the people who took citizenship of Pakistan and China. There are 9,280 properties left behind by Pakistani nationals and 126 properties left behind by Chinese nationals.

Historic agreement signed to protect the world’s largest tropical peatland

  • To protect the Cuvette Centrale region in the Congo Basin, the world’s largest tropical peatlands, from unregulated land use and prevent its drainage and degradation, the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), the Republic of Congo and Indonesia jointly signed the Brazzaville declaration that promotes better management and conservation of this globally important carbon store.
  • There is a lot at stake in the protection of these peatlands which is equivalent of three years of global greenhouse gas emissions are stored in the Congo Basin, emissions that could be released if the peatlands are degraded or the natural wetlands drained.
  • Peatlands are wetlands that contain a mixture of decomposed organic material, partially submerged in a layer of water, lacking oxygen. The complex biodiversity of the peatlands means they are home to a variety of species, but their high carbon content makes them uniquely vulnerable to incineration if they are drained.
  • Peatlands have grown over the course of 10.000 years, and they can be destroyed in a matter of days if the land use is not sensitive to the nature of the peatlands.
  • Head of UN Environment: Erik Solheim
  • Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC)
  • President: Joseph Kabila Kabange
  • Prime Minister: Bruno Tshibala Nzenze
  • Capital: Kinshasa
  • Currency: Congolese franc, Zairean zaire

India pips Germany, ranks 4th largest auto market now

  • According to latest global data report, India has overtaken Germany to become the fourth largest automobile market in the world. Automobile sales, including passenger and commercial vehicles, in India grew 9.5%, the fastest among major global markets, last year to more than 4 million units, outpacing Germany’s 3.8-million vehicle sales, which rose by a modest 2.8% in the same period.
  • The Union government’s thrust on infrastructure, stricter tabs overloading ban, macroeconomic environment buoyancy expected to keep the momentum strong in 2018.
  • Maruti Suzuki India consolidated its lead in passenger vehicles, which make up 80% of the market.
  • China has been the world's largest market since 2009.

India, China plan FTA breakthrough

  • Indian Commerce Minister Suresh Prabhu and his Chinese counterpart met for the first high-level contact between both sides that decided to “reset” their ties this year. The two sides are also considering positively launching in due course negotiations on a regional trade arrangement or free trade agreement between China and India.
  • In 2017, the bilateral trade reached $84.4 billion, registering a growth of 20.3% from the year before and a record high. In particular, China’s import from India soared by 40%, helping ease the bilateral trade imbalance.
  • China remained India’s largest trading partner. India had become one of the most important overseas investment destinations for Chinese companies.

ISA and India sign the Host Country Agreement

  • The International Solar Alliance (ISA) and the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) of India, signed the Host Country Agreement. The Agreement will give ISA a juridical personality and gives it power to contract, to acquire and dispose off movable and immovable properties, to institute and defend legal proceedings.
  • Under this agreement, ISA shall enjoy such privileges, applicable tax concessions and immunities as are necessary for ISA's Headquarter to independently discharge its function and programmes.
  • The International Solar Alliance is an initiative jointly launched by the Prime Minister of India and President of France on 30th November 2015 at Paris.
  • ISA has presently four ongoing programmes: Scaling Solar Applications for Agricultural Use, Affordable Finance at Scale, Scaling Solar Mini Grids and Scaling Solar Rooftop catering to the needs of solar energy in specific areas.
  • The ISA became the first international intergovernmental treaty based organization to be headquartered in India. ISA celebrated its founding day on 11th March, 2018.

ISSF Junior World Cup: Anish Bhanwala wins India's 3rd individual gold

  • Shooter Anish Bhanwala secured India a third individual gold medal at the ISSF Junior World Cup in Sydney when the 15-year-old finished atop the podium in men's 25-meter rapid fire pistol. Bhanwala prevailed over two of his India teammates - Anhad Jawanda and Rajkanwar Singh Sandhu - and three Chinese participants in the medal round
  • India are now placed second in the overall standings with 15 medals, comprising six gold, three silver and six bronze.
  • India are behind China but ahead of top shooting nations such as Italy and hosts Australia.

Microsoft opens the Garage in Hyderabad

  • Microsoft announced the formal opening of the 'Garage' in Hyderabad. The 8,000 sq ft Garage India has been built to support teams from across the company for their various projects.
  • The Garage is a platform for Microsoft employees that supports and encourages a culture of experimentation, working together across organisations and technology to explore ideas and build prototypes, adding value to existing products.
  • It has three dedicated lab sections - A Hub for hackathons and workshops, a Makerspace and an Advanced Makerspace with electronic workbench, 3D printers, laser cutter, PCB milling machine for creating prototypes; a reality room dedicated to working in the space of augmented reality (AR) virtual reality (VR), and mixed reality applications and dedicated space and equipment for doing work on Deep Learning.

New Principal Scientific Adviser to Govt. of India

  • K. Vijay Raghavan, Outgoing Secretary, Department of Biotechnology, has been appointed Principal Scientific Adviser to the Government of India for three years on a contract basis. Mr. Raghavan’s appointment order was issued by the Personnel Department after the Appointments Committee of the Cabinet cleared his name.

Surat becomes first district to have 100% solar powered health centres

  • Surat has become the first district in the country to have 100 percent solar powered Primary Health Centers (PHC). There are a total of 52 PHCs in the district and all of them are now powered by solar system. This initiative will not only bring down the electricity bill by 40 percent but also help fight global warming. There are 572 gram panchayats in the Surat District, out of which 150 are solar powered gram panchayats and soon the other 422 panchayats will too be solar powered.

SWIFT introduces universal real-time payment tracking

  • The Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunication (SWIFT) has announced the extension of its GPI Tracker to cover all payment instructions sent across the network, enabling GPI banks to track all their SWIFT payment instructions at all times, and giving them full visibility over all their payments activity.
  • TheTracker has been available since May 2017, enables banks that have signed up to the service to track their GPI payments in real-time. From November a unique end-to-end transaction reference will be included in all payment instructions, giving gpi customers full tracking capabilities across the payment chain.
  • The Tracker facilitates more accurate reconciliation of payments and invoices, optimises liquidity and reduces exposure to risk, with same-day processing of funds in beneficiaries’ time zones.
  • GPI already accounts for 10% of SWIFT cross-border payment traffic and is enabling more than a hundred billion dollars to be transferred across the world rapidly and securely every day.
  • SWIFT provides a network that enables financial institutions worldwide to send and receive information about financial transactions in a secure, standardized and reliable environment
  • CEO of SWIFT: Gottfried Leibbrandt
  • Headquarters: Belgium.

Tata Power to sell Tata Comm. stake

  • The board of Tata Power has approved the sale of its holding in Tata Communications and Panatone Finvest to Tata Sons and its affiliates for Rs. 2,150 crore. Tata Power holds 4.71% and Panatone Finvest 30.1% in Tata Communications.
  • The move is a part of the company’s plan to monetise its non-core assets and improve the balance sheet to set the stage for next phase of growth. The estimated realisation will be about Rs. 2,150 crores and is subject to shareholders approval,

Universal Robots focuses on SMEs in India

  • Universal Robots, the world’s largest manufacturer and supplier of collaborative robot, or cobot, arms, is focusing on small and medium enterprises (SMEs) to grow its business in India. Over two years, the robotics firm has supplied 400 cobots to companies in India, of which 10% have been sold to SMEs. he company global revenue for 2017 soared 72% to $170 million.
  • Universal Robot president: Jürgen von Hollen

US, Canada and several European countries expell Russian diplomats over Spy poisoning

  • The United States and its European allies are expelling dozens of Russian diplomats in a co-ordinated response to the poisoning of a former Russian spy in the UK. Over 100 Russian diplomats have been expelled by the Western countries so far. They took this action in solidarity with Britain, as it has already expelled 23 Russian diplomats. This is the biggest Western expulsion of Russian diplomats since the height of Cold War.
  • United States expelled 60 Russian diplomats, describing them as intelligence officers and ordered closure of the Russian consulate in Seattle.

Women's T-20 Tri-Series: Australia beat India by 36 runs in fourth match

  • Australia have defeated India by 36 runs in the fourth match of the T-20 Tri-Series tournament in Mumbai. Chasing, a target of 187, India scored 150, losing five wickets in 20 overs. The Aussies The Aussies had scored 186 for 5. Earlier, India won the toss and invited Aussies to bat.
  • scored 186 for 5. Earlier, India won the toss and invited Aussies to bat.