Daily Current Affairs - 03rd May 2018

Cabinet approves WHO protocol to eliminate illicit trade in tobacco products

  • The Union Cabinet has approved acceptance of a WHO protocol to eliminate the illicit trade in tobacco products. The protocol spells out supply chain control measures that must be adopted by the parties, namely licensing of manufacture of tobacco products and machinery for manufacturing of tobacco products.
  • Due diligence by those engaged in production, tracking and tracing regime, record keeping, and security; and measures to be taken by those engaged in e-commerce, manufacturing in free-trade zones and duty-free sales.
  • The protocol also lists out offences, enforcement measures such as seizures and disposal of seized products.

Cambridge Analytica says it is shutting down all its operations following data-harvesting scandal

  • UK marketing analytics firm Cambridge Analytica, which has been at the heart of the Facebook data scandal, has announced to cease all its operations immediately and filing for insolvency in Britain and the United States. The company said that the siege of media coverage driven away virtually all its customers and suppliers.
  • This decision comes less than two months after the firm and Facebook became embroiled in a data-harvesting scandal that compromised the personal information of up to 87 million Facebook users.
  • The same firm was hired by President Donald Trump’s 2016 US election campaign.

Centre unveils draft telecom policy: 5G, robotics, AI, 4 million jobs on agenda

  • The Union government came out with a new draft for telecom policy ‘National Digital Communications Policy 2018’, which aims to create a roadmap for emerging technologies such as 5G, artificial intelligence, robotics, internet of things, cloud computing and machine to machine communications.
  • The draft was released by the Department of Telecommunications or DoT and has also laid out plans to create 4 million jobs, attract $100 billion foreign investment by 2022. Providing broadband access for all with 50 mbps speed.
  • Policy Goals
  • increasing India's contribution to global value chains, creation of innovation led start-ups in digital communications sector
  • stresses on the need for a comprehensive data protection regime for digital communications to safeguard privacy, autonomy and choice for individuals.
  • creation of globally recognized IPRs in India
  • development of standard essential patents in the field of digital communication technologies, train/re-skill 1 million manpower for building new age skills
  • expanding IoT ecosystem to 5 billion connected devices and accelerate transition to industry 4.0.

First India-South Africa Business Summit concludes

  • Indian Minister of Commerce and Industry and Civil Aviation, Suresh Prabhu, attended India- South Africa business summit in Johannesburg, South Africa. The visit began with a series of bilateral meetings.
  • The summit began with a meeting of the “India-South Africa CEOs Forum” wherein key issues concerning trade, investment and promotion of business, were identified and discussed by chief executives of both countries in co-ordination with the Confederation of Indian Industries and BUSA/DTI/BBC.
  • The summit was also marked by the presence of trade and industry ministers from SADC countries and top CEOs and industry specialists from India, South Africa and SADC countries.

French President Macron wants strategic Paris-Delhi-Canberra axis amid Pacific tension

  • French President Emmanuel Macron has called for the creation of a new strategic alliance among France, India and Australia to respond to challenges in the Asia-Pacific region and the growing assertiveness of China. He further said this new Paris-Delhi-Canberra axis is absolutely key for the region and our joint objectives in the Indian-Pacific region.
  • He warned China that its new Silk Road initiative should not be one-way.

India Joins World's Top Five Defense Spenders, Surpassing France

  • According to a report by the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute, India has joined the U.S. and China as one of the world’s five biggest military spenders, reflecting geopolitical tensions as well as the country’s heavy reliance on imported weapons.
  • India's defense spending rose by 5.5 percent to $63.9 billion in 2017 and has now passed France. The rise in defense spending mostly goes toward salaries and pensions for roughly 1.4 million serving personnel and more than 2 million veterans. Only 14 percent goes toward military modernization compared to 63 percent for salaries.
  • Most of military spending is clearly shifting toward Asia, Oceania and the Middle East, driven largely by spending increases in China, India and Saudi Arabia.
  • World’s biggest military spenders has remained consistent in recent years, dominated by the U.S. and China, which spent $610 billion and $228 billion respectively.
  • Worldwide military spending rose marginally last year to $1.73 trillion, or roughly 2.2 percent of global gross domestic product.

India slip to second position in ICC ODI Team Rankings

  • India has lost the top spot in the ICC ODI team rankings to England following the annual update. England have thus gained eight points and moved to 125 points. India have lost a solitary point and are in second place with a total of 122 points.
  • South Africa have dropped down to third place after losing four points, from 117 to 113.
  • The current top-10 ranked sides are the ones who will be playing in the 2019 World Cup.

Indian team for World Race Walk

  • A nine-member Indian team will take part in the IAAF World Race Walk team championship to be held in Taicang, China, on May 5 and 6.
  • K.T. Irfan, Vikash Singh and Neeraj Kumar will compete in the 20km section, while Sandeep Kumar and Jitendra Singh will compete in the 50km category.
  • In women’s 20km walk, Khushbir Kaur, B. Soumya, Ravina and Shanti Kumari will represent the country.

Investment limit hiked for elderly

  • The Union Cabinet has approved increasing the investment limit from Rs. 7.5 lakh to Rs. 15 lakh under the Pradhan Mantri Vaya Vandana Yojana (PMVVY), aimed at senior citizens. It also extended the time limit for subscription from May 4, 2018 to March 31, 2020.
  • According to the government, 2.23 lakh senior citizens are availing of benefits under the PMVVY as of March 2018.
  • Pradhan Mantri Vaya Vandana Yojana (PMVVY)’ provides social security during old age and to protect elderly persons aged 60 and above against a future fall in their interest income due to uncertain market conditions. The scheme enables old age income security for senior citizens through provision of assured pension/return linked to the subscription amount based on government guarantee to Life Insurance Corporation of India (LIC).
  • The scheme provides an assured return of 8% per annum for 10 years

Kisan Kalyan workshops being held at block level across country

  • The Union government has organised Kisan Kalyan Karyashala at the block level across the country today. The workshops are part of Gram Swaraj Abhiyan, a rural-centric campaign that started on the 14th of last month, the birth anniversary of Dr BR Ambedkar.
  • During workshops, farmers from each block will be interacting with agriculture officers and scientists to discuss ways to increase their income through adoption of new technology. Awareness campaigns and training programmes will disseminate information about steps for doubling the farmers’ income by 2022 and other measures taken by the NDA government for their welfare.
  • Union Agriculture Minister Radha Mohan Singh

Maharashtra became the first state to provide digitally-signed land record receipts

  • Maharashtra became the first state to provide digitally-signed land record receipts (also known as 7/12 receipts), that would check irregularities and bring in transparency. This will reduce the crowding in major government offices, as the farmers need not have to run from pillar to post to get things done.
  • The 7/12 receipt is the most important document which establishes the ownership of the land, and is primarily used by farmers while applying for loans. It is also used by the government during crop surveys and to extend various facilities.
  • Presently, eight lakh 7/12 receipts come with digital sign, and the aim is to complete the digitization of all 2.5 crore receipts by August 1.
  • The farmers will now have to inform only the gat (group) number or survey number to bank or a government department, and the respective agency can ensure the 7/12 receipt online.

Pradhan Mantri Swasthya Suraksha Yojana (PMSSY) approved beyond 12th Five Year Plan

  • The Union Cabinet approved the continuation of the Pradhan Mantri Swasthya Suraksha Yojana (PMSSY) beyond 12th Five Year Plan to 2019-20.
  • The PMSSY is a central sector scheme, aims at correcting the imbalances in the availability of affordable tertiary health care facilities in different parts of the country in general, and expanding facilities for quality medical education in the under-served states in particular.
  • Under this scheme. the financial outlay for this purpose is Rs 14,832 crore, where new All India Institute of Medical Science are established and the government medical colleges are upgraded.
  • Setting up new AIIMS in various states will also lead to employment generation for nearly 3,000 people in various faculty and non-faculty posts in each of the institutes.
  • Union Health minister J P Nadda

President Kovind to preside over PM-headed panel on Gandhi 150th birth Anniversary

  • President Ram Nath Kovind will preside over the first meeting of the national committee set up for commemoration of 150th birth anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi next year. The 114-member committee, comprising Vice President M. Venkaiah Naidu, Prime Minister Narendra Modi, former Prime Ministers and Chief Justice of India, will discuss the policies, plans and preparatory activities for commemoration of the birth anniversary.
  • The birth anniversary of the Father of the Nation will be commemorated from 2nd October, 2019 to 2nd October, 2020.
  • Many events will be organized at both national and international level to propagate the message of the Mahatma. In his budget proposals this year, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley had earmarked 150 crore rupees for the celebrations.

Rs. 1 lakh cr. of bank frauds in 5 years

  • According to the Reserve Bank of India (RBI), more than 23,000 cases of fraud involving a whopping Rs. 1 lakh crore have been reported in the past five years in various banks. A total of 5,152 cases of fraud, up from 5,076 cases in 2016-17, were reported in banks from April, 2017, to March 1, 2018.
  • The highest ever amount of Rs. 28,459 crore is said to have been involved in these cases of fraud reported from April, 2017, to March 1, 2018,

SC questions passage of Aadhaar Act as Money Bill

  • The Supreme Court questioned the union government’s justification for passing the Aadhaar Act as a Money Bill. The Centre stated that the sole intent of the Aadhaar Act is to act as a weapon for delivering subsidies to targeted beneficiaries. But the Supreme court countered the centre's view the use of Aadhaar card as an identification document not only by the government but also by “any body corporate or person.”
  • On March 11, the Aadhaar Bill was passed by the Lok Sabha after the Speaker ruled it as a ‘Money Bill’. It was then transferred to the Rajya Sabha.
  • Attorney-General of India: K.K. Venugopal

SEBI tightens KYC norms for foreign portfolio investors, suspects round-tripping of funds

  • SEBI recently came out with a detailed framework for risk based Know Your Client (KYC) documentation of foreign portfolio investors (FPIs). This will help SEBI to crackdown on money laundering and round-tripping.
  • It also made it clear that non-resident Indians (NRIs), overseas citizens of India (OCI) and resident Indians cannot be beneficial owners of FPIs. It further sought a comprehensive list of beneficial owners from the existing FPIs within six months.
  • Most of these FPIs funds belong to jurisdictions such as Mauritius, Cayman Islands, and Luxembourg, which are known for light domestic laws and minimum compliance. Several Indians have been misusing the FPI route even though the regulations have been clear from the beginning.
  • NRIs and OCIs can only obtain an FPI licence on condition that they limit their roles to investment advisors and do not invest their money.