Daily Current Affairs - 09th May 2018

Amazon pumps in Rs. 2,600 cr. in India unit

  • US based online retailer giant Amazon has infused fresh capital to the tune of Rs 2,600 crore into its India unit, Amazon Seller Services, to strengthen the war-chest of the company against domestic rival Flipkart. Amazon Seller Services Pvt. Ltd., which runs a marketplace that assists sellers to sell their products online in India and globally. In January this year, Amazon Seller Services had received a fund infusion of Rs 1,950 crore from the parent company.
  • Amazon founder Jeff Bezos has committed investments to the tune of USD 5 billion for the Indian market.

April inflows in MFs at Rs. 1.4 lakh cr.

  • Investors have pumped Rs. 1.4 lakh crore into mutual funds in April, driving the industry asset base to a staggering Rs. 23.25 lakh crore, a surge of 9% from the preceding month. Assets under management (AUM) of the MF industry were at Rs. 21.36 lakh crore in March-end.
  • Experts attributed the surge to aggressive investor awareness campaign at the individual and industry level. In addition, investors are moving towards financial asset classes for investment instead of buying real estate and gold.

Commission approves modern animal-free testing for drugs

  • The Indian Pharmacopoeia Commission has approved modern, animal-free tests for drug manufacturers. In the 2018 edition of Indian Pharmacopoeia, that provides guidelines on tests for drugs manufactured and marketed in India, the IPC has replaced the pyrogen test carried out on rabbits and the abnormal toxicity test carried out on guinea pigs and mice with tests that can be done in test tubes.
  • The guidelines in the edition will come into effect from July 1.
  • The pyrogen test is carried out to check impurity or substance that can can cause adverse side-effects. For the test, the drug is injected into a rabbit and the animal is closely observed for feverish symptoms. The pyrogen test will be replaced by a bacterial endotoxin test or a monocyte activation test which can be carried out in test tubes. V
  • The abnormal toxicity test is carried out to check potential hazardous biological contamination in vaccine formulations.

First conference of Smart Cities CEOs begins in Bhopal

  • The two-day first apex conference for the CEOs of Smart Cities has begun in Bhopal. This is the first such conference after the launch of Smart Cities Mission on June 25, 2015. The conference has been organised for providing a platform for cross learning and knowledge sharing among the Smart City CEOs.
  • The slow progress in Smart Cities Mission (SCM) projects in the country has prompted the Union Urban Affairs Ministry to call for a meeting withthe CEOs of the smart cities.
  • The smart city mission is aimed at urban transformation and it comprise key projects such as digitally integrated smart city centres, street re-design, installation of solar rooftop on buildings, etc.,
  • As reported by cities, 3,012 projects worth Rs 1,38,984 crore have been identified for implementation under the Modi government’s flagship programme. Out of which, over 750 projects of more than Rs 25,000 crore have been completed or are being implemented. As many as 99 cities have been selected for development as Smart Cities.

Google officially launches Things, its IoT platform

  • Android Things, Google IoT platform for developers who want to build connected devices, is now out of beta version(Test). Google's version of Android for IoT devices aims to solve a problem that affects most of the current IoT devices on the market, developers routinely fail to update their devices.
  • With Android Things, each connected device that uses the platform will receive three years of OS updates directly from Google and all of these updates will be free.
  • Android Things provides hardware and software developers with all the necessary SDKs(a software development kit) to build all kinds of IoT devices. The company has partnered with a number of hardware manufacturers to offer developer kits and also offers a developer console that allows for managing devices and pushing over-the-air updates to both prototype and production devices.
  • Developers will be able to manage their own Android Things devices using a cloud-based Android Things Console which will allow them to manage OS and app updates, view analytics and issue test builds of their software.

Government to set up additional 100 One Stop Centres for women safety

  • The Union Ministry of Women and Child Development has approved setting up of one hundred additional One Stop Centres in nine states to help violence affected women. These States are Haryana, Himachal Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Mizoram, Nagaland, Odisha, Tamil Nadu and Uttar Pradesh.
  • The purpose of these centres is to facilitate integrated services for violence-affected women like police assistance, medical aid, psycho-social counselling, legal aid/counselling and temporary stay for five days under one roof.
  • The Ministry has so far set up 182 Centres under the scheme since April, 2015. Over one lakh 30 thousand women affected by violence have been assisted at these centres in 33 States/union territories.
  • Also, the scheme of Universalization of Women's Helpline (181) is now operational and every OSC is integrated to this helpline, which has helped more than 16.5 lakh women so far.

India ranks 4th in Asia-Pacific on power index

  • According to the Lowy Institute (an Australian think tank), India has ranked fourth out of 25 nations in the Asia-Pacific region on an index that measures their overall power. It stated that India being pegged as a "giant of the future" but trails behind in indicators of defence networks and economic relationships.
  • Among the key findings from the inaugural 2018 index are, the US remains the pre-eminent power in Asia, while China, the emerging superpower, is rapidly closing in on the United States.
  • A country's overall power is its weighted average across eight measures of power - economic resources, military capability, resilience, future trends, diplomatic influence, economic relationships, defence networks and cultural influence.

India slips to 6th spot in biz optimism index: Thornton

  • As per Grant Thornton's quarterly global business survey, India slipped to the 6th position globally with a score of 89, in the business optimism index for the first quarter of this year. It said that the business sentiment in India has been the weakest since 2014 in the first quarter. The reasons it attributed to the downfall are weakening currency and a surge in oil prices.
  • The top five nations are Austria, Finland, Indonesia, the Netherlands and the US.
  • The conclusions are based on a quarterly global business survey of 2,500 businesses in 37 economies.

Nikol Pashinyan elected new prime minister of Armenia

  • Armenia's parliament has elected opposition leader Nikol Pashinyan as the new prime minister, two weeks after Serzh Sargsyan resigned following widespread anti-government demonstrations. In a vote in parliament, 59 MPs backed Pashinyan's candidacy, including some from the ruling Republican Party, with 42 voting against.
  • Pashinyan spearheaded a protest movement that first forced veteran leader Sarksyan to step down as prime minister, then pressured the ruling party to abandon attempts to block his election as prime minister, the country's most powerful post.
  • Armenia:
  • President: Armen Sarkissian
  • Capital: Yerevan
  • Currency: Armenian dram

Panel for time-bound release of MPLADS funds

  • The parliamentary panel on Member of Parliament Local Area Development Scheme (MPLADS) funds has recommended that amounts donated by lawmakers for rehabilitation work after natural disasters be disbursed within two weeks.
  • Currently, the actual transfer takes anything from six months to over a year because of red tape. Funds are to be released by the nodal district of the lawmaker concerned to the district authority of the affected district.
  • The panel, headed by Deputy Speaker of Lok Sabha M. Thambidurai,observed that funds allocated for the purpose by the MPs often reach the affected people too late to help.
  • An Member of Parliament gets Rs. 5 crore a year to spend on local area development. Member of Parliaments were allowed to spend the money outside their constituency and their State in case of Rajya Sabha MPs.

Russian Parliament approves Medvedev as PM

  • Russia’s parliament Duma approved Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev for another term at the post, a day after President Vladimir Putin nominated him to continue as prime minister. A total of 374 lawmakers backed Medvedev's candidacy while 56 voted against.
  • President Vladimir Putin stuck with his long-serving prime minister in his first act after being sworn in for a new term. Medvedev, a loyal Putin lieutenant, has held the job since 2012.
  • The State Duma is dominated by the Putin-backed United Russia party, of which Medvedev is the chairman.

Tea output rises 5.9% to 1,325 million kg in 2017-18

  • According to figures released by the Tea Board of India, Indian tea output touched 1,325.1 million kg in 2017-18, rising by 5.9 %. Exports too hit a high of 256.6 million kg, rising by 12.7% during this year. Much of this increased output comes from the small tea growers segment.
  • In 2017-18 exports increased by 12.7% at 256.6 million kg. Egypt, China Pakistan and Russia were among the countries buying more Indian tea.
  • Tea Board Chairman P.K. Bezboruah

TRAI seeks to amend interconnect norms

  • Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) on Tuesday issued a draft document that proposes to amend certain norms of the interconnection regulations that were released in January this year. It proposes that the time frame for provisioning of ports for initial interconnection and augmentation be increased to a maximum of 42 working days.
  • It also proposed that each service provider shall provide its forecast of busy hour outgoing traffic for each POI (point of interconnection), at intervals of every six months to the interconnecting service provider.
  • Additionally, a service provider can ask another operator for additional ports, if the projected utilisation of the capacity is likely to exceed 85% over a 60-day period.

UN report for social inclusion

  • A UN report called The UN Economic and Social Survey of Asia and the Pacific 2018, has urged the regional powers to invest in inclusive and sustainable growth. It also asked countries in the region to take advantage of the currently favorable economic conditions in order to address vulnerabilities and enhance the resilience, inclusiveness and sustainability of their economies.
  • The report described South and Southwest Asia as the fastest growing sub-region of the Asia-Pacific region and urged the countries to increase social spending.

US President announces US withdrawal from 2015 landmark nuclear deal with Iran

  • US President Donald Trump has announced that the United States is effectively withdrawing from the 2015 landmark nuclear deal with Iran. Trump then signed fresh set of sanctions against Iran and warned countries against any cooperation with Tehran on its controversial nuclear weapons programme. He alleged that the deal gave Iran millions in cash and did not prevent it from acquiring nuclear weapons.
  • Meanwhile, United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said that he was deeply concerned regarding withdrawal of US from the deal and urged the remaining parties of the deal to abide by their commitments.
  • In response, Iran said it is preparing to restart uranium enrichment, key for making both nuclear energy and weapons.
  • The historic nuclear deal was reached in Vienna in July 2015 between Iran and the P5 (the five permanent members of the UN Security Council) along with Germany and the European Union.

Vijay Mallya loses $1.55-bn case, banks can seize UK assets

  • In a major blow to business tycoon Vijay Mallya, a UK high court ruled in favour of Indian banks seeking to collect more than $1.55 billion from him. The court refused to overturn an Indian court's worldwide order for freezing of Mallya's assets.
  • Mallya and his now defunct Kingfisher Airlines are embroiled in several court cases ranging from money laundering to tax evasion and loan defaults. The tycoon has been on an self-imposed exile in the UK since he left India on March 2, 2016.
  • He is also waging another fight in a different court to block his extradition to India over financial irregularities and money laundering cases.

World Red Cross Day 2018, celebrated on 8th May

  • World Red Cross Day also known as World Red Cross and Red Crescent Day is observed every year on May 8 by paying tribute to the volunteers for their unprecedented contribution to the people in need.
  • This day is used to celebrate the birthday of the Dunant Henri, who made the Red Cross Committee of the International which is called as the (ICRI) IN 1863 in the Country of Switzerland of Geneva.
  • This day is celebrated by all the sections of the Red Cross organisations to help people suffering from flood, earthquakes i.e. natural disasters and protect their life from emergencies.
  • The theme of World Red Cross Day 2018 is “Memorable smiles from around the world”.

World Snooker Championship: Mark Williams beats John Higgins to win third title

  • Mark Williams won his third World Championship - 15 years after his last - by holding off John Higgins' stunning fightback in a classic Crucible final. Williams won 18-16 to become the oldest champion since fellow Welshman Ray Reardon, who was 45 in 1978.
  • The final was the closest since 2005 when Shaun Murphy beat Matthew Stevens by the same scoreline.