Daily Current Affairs - 31st May 2018

2nd phase of special fortnightly drive to clear refund claims under GST to be launched

  • The Centre will launch a second special refund drive to clear refund claims under the Goods and Services Tax (GST). The drive will continue till 14th of June.
  • the special refund drive will facilitate all types of Refund claims in which Customs, Central and State GST officers will strive to clear all GST refund applications received on or before 30th of April this year.
  • This will include refunds of IGST paid on exports, refunds of unutilized Input Tax Credit (ITC) and all other GST refunds submitted.
  • Till now, the union government has sanctioned more than 30 thousand crore rupees as the GST Refund which includes an amount of 16 thousand crore rupees of IGST and 14 thousand crore rupees of ITC.

4th Intl Yoga Day celebrations at Dehradun on June21

  • The fourth International Yoga Day celebrations will be held at Dehradun in Uttrakhand on 21st of next month. The celebrations will be also held in Indian embassies and 50 representatives will be sent to 50 countries on the occasion. The union government plans to sensitize people on benefits of Yoga and a research paper will be published on this topic shortly.
  • 22 yoga representatives will be going to China because of high curiosity in Yoga among the people.

Centre to launch first ever guidelines for Adventure Tourism

  • The Union government for the first time is issuing guidelines for Adventure Tourism in India. These set of guidelines list out the basic minimum standards required for adventure tourism activities in India.
  • The aim of this initiative is to help adventure tour operators understand and execute safety guidelines in a better manner. As these guidelines cover land, air and water based activities which include mountaineering, trekking, bungee jumping, paragliding, kayaking, scuba diving, snorkeling, river rafting and many other sports.
  • Adventure tourism has grown rapidly over the past few years playing a vital role in the economic growth of India as well as attracting a large number of travellers from across the globe to the country.

China overtakes U.S. for healthy lifespan: WHO data

  • According to the World Health Organization data, China has overtaken the United States in healthy life expectancy at birth for the first time.
  • Chinese newborns can look forward to 68.7 years of healthy life ahead of them, compared with 68.5 years for American babies, which relates to 2016 data.
  • Singaporean babies can count on 76.2 years of health on average, followed by those in Japan, Spain and Switzerland. The United States came 40th in the global rankings, while China was 37th.
  • The world’s longest life expectancy is in Japan, at 84.2 years

Discus thrower Vikas Gowda retires

  • Top Indian discus thrower Vikas Gowda retired after competing at the highest level for more than 15 years. His retirement was announced by the Athletics Federation of India (AFI) after Gowda sent a letter declaring his intent to call it quits.
  • Gowda became the first and only Indian male to win Commonwealth Games medals in the discipline. Gowda is also four-time Olympian.

Facebook set to launch WhatsAPP Pay

  • Facebook is set to offer its WhatsApp payment services to the entire country as early as next week in an attempt to win market share. The messaging app will partner HDFC Bank, ICICI Bank and Axis Bank to process the transfers, and SBI will join once it has the necessary systems in place.
  • The pilot version of WhatsApp Pay — started with 1 million users in February received rave reviews, threatening the market share of Googlr Tez and Alibaba-backed Paytm, which lack the benefits of a social network.
  • More than 200 million Indians use WhatsApp, equivalent to 60% of the US population and a daily active usage estimates to be about 20 times higher than Paytm’s.

Facebook to offer digital literacy programme for women

  • Social networking giant Facebook has partnered with National Commission for Women (NCW) to launch a digital literacy programme in collaboration with the Cyber Peace Foundation (CPF). As part of the digital literacy programme pilot, awareness training will be conducted for 60,000 women in universities across major cities in Haryana, Delhi-NCR, Manipur, Sikkim, Meghalaya, Maharashtra, and Tamil Nadu over a one-year period.
  • These interactive sessions will provide training on safe and responsible use of the internet, social media and email and will enable trainees to differentiate between credible and questionable information. The training will be conducted in local languages.

French Open: Yuki Bhambri- Divij Sharan enter 2nd round of men's doubles

  • The Indian pair of Yuki Bhambri and Divij Sharan has entered the second round of Men's doubles. In the first round, the pair overcame the Indo-French combination of Purav Raja and Fabrice Martin in three sets 6-3, 5-7, 6-4.
  • India's Rohan Bopanna and his French partner Edourd Roger-Vasselin had already advanced to the second round.

India among 26 participant countries to participate in RIMPAC exercise

  • RIPMAC, known as the world's largest international maritime exercise will begin from June 27 to August 2, in and around the Hawaiian Islands and Southern California. As many as 26 countries, including India, will participate in the biennial Rim of the Pacific exercise.
  • This year involves 47 surface ships, 5 submarines, 18 national land forces, and more than 200 aircraft and 25,000 personnel.
  • This year the United States had disinvited China from RIMPAC, a move Beijing described as unfortunate.
  • The countries participating in the exercise include Australia, Canada, France, Germany, Indonesia, Japan, South Korea and the United Kingdom among others.

India asks U.K. to extradite Mallya, Lalit Modi

  • India asked U.K authorities to expedite the process of extradition of fugitive economic offenders at the third India-U.K home affairs dialogue. India had raised the issue of early extradition of liquor baron Vijay Mallya and former Indian Premier League chairman Lalit Modi.
  • It also sought their help in locating diamond merchant Nirav Modi who is said to have been planning for an asylum in the U.K.
  • It also raised the visa problems faced by its nationals, including delays in visas to students, the high amount charged for U.K. visas and lengthy waiting period for tourist visas.
  • The dialogue covered issues including cyber security, women safety, organised crime, terror financing and a need to put in place a mechanism for timely exchange of information and intelligence inputs on such issueS.

India pitches for WTO talks on checking theft of traditional knowledge

  • India pitched for reviving negotiations at the World Trade Organization on issues related to prevention of theft of traditional knowledge such as Ayurveda and naturopathy. The government of India, along with the Centre for WTO Studies, Indian Institute of Foreign Trade and the South Centre (an inter-governmental organisation based in Geneva), are organising an International Conference on TRIPS- CBD Linkage in Geneva on 7-8 June 2018.
  • The issue assumes significance as India wants an effective legal international regime to stop misappropriation and reckless patenting of traditional knowledge like healing properties of neem and turmeric.
  • According to a report, domestic trade of Ayush industry in India is about USD 1.2 billion. The world trade in herbal products are at USD 120 billion and is expected to touch around USD 7 trillion by 2050.
  • Traditional knowledge, a kind of intellectual property, is something which is passed on from generation to generation within a community. It often forms part of a people's cultural and spiritual identity. In India it includes areas like Ayurveda, Yoga and naturopathy.

India, Indonesia elevate ties to Comprehensive Strategic Partnership

  • India and Indonesia elevated their bilateral ties to Comprehensive Strategic Partnership. The two countries also signed 15 agreements, including one to boost defence cooperation, and called for freedom of navigation in the strategic Indo-Pacific region.
  • The two leaders also discussed areas of strategic cooperation and ways to ensure better economic ties and closer cultural relations, besides regional and global issues of mutual interest.
  • Mr. Modi announced a free 30-day visa for Indonesian citizens and invited the diaspora to travel to their country of origin to experience the ‘New India.’
  • Indonesia
  • President: Joko Widodo
  • Capital: Jakarta
  • Currency: Indonesian rupiah

IOB loss widens to Rs. 3,607 cr. on higher provisions for NPAs

  • Government owned Indian Overseas Bank’s (IOB) net loss for the fourth quarter widened appreciably to Rs. 3,606.73 crore, from Rs. 646.66 crore a year earlier. The loss was higher mainly due to provisioning requirements on account of the RBI’s revised framework for Resolution of Stressed Assets.
  • The bank was planning to raise Rs. 1,500 crore in the current year towards regulatory capital adjustment and credit expansion.
  • IOB’s total income grew to Rs. 5,814 crore from Rs. 5,662 crore, registering a year-on-year growth of 2.68%, while total business dropped to Rs. 3,67,831 crore from Rs. 3,68,119 crore. Interest income rose 4.28% to Rs. 4,828 crore.
  • IOB managing director R. Subramaniakumar

Moody's cuts India's GDP forecast to 7.3% from 7.5%

  • International rating company Moody’s Investors Service has cut India’s growth forecast to 7.3% for 2018 from 7.5% projected earlier on the back of higher oil prices. It further said that the India’s economy is projected to grow by 7.5% in 2019.
  • It expects the country to benefit from acceleration in rural consumption due to a normal monsoon and higher support prices.
  • It expects a strong global growth in 2018 similar to that in 2017, but expects some moderation by the end of 2018 and in 2019 as a number of advanced economies reach full employment and borrowing costs rise.
  • A re-escalation of trade tensions between the US and China is another risk factor to global growth.

Normal monsoon likely, except in east, northeast

  • The Indian Meteorological Department (IMD) said that all of India is likely to receive a normal monsoon, except the east and northeast of the country, which are likely to witness below normal rainfall.
  • Rainfall over the country as a whole for the 2018 southwest monsoon season (June to September) is most likely to be normal (96%-104% of LPA).
  • The monthly rainfall over the country as whole is likely to be 101% of its Long Period Average (LPA) during July, and 94% of the LPA during August — both with a model error of plus or minus 9%.

SBI hikes deposit rates by 5-15 bps

  • State Bank of India, the country’s largest lender, has raised retail fixed deposit rates by 5 to 15 basis points on two maturities. Deposit rates (less than Rs. 1 crore) from one year to less than two years have been raised by 15 bps to 6.65%, while those for two years to less than three years have been increased by 5 bps to 6.65%. Senior citizens will get 50 bps more than these rates.
  • The new rates came into effect from May 28, 2018.

SEBI says panel must for reviewing ratings

  • As part of its attempts to strengthen the governance, accountability and functioning of Credit rating agencies (CRAs), the Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI) has proposed measures for CRAs following a consultation paper issued in September 2017.
  • Credit rating agencies (CRAs) will have to form a review committee of mostly independent members to decide on any request for a rating review and will have to disclose on their website all ratings that are not accepted by an issuer for at least 12 months.
  • Meanwhile all cases of requests by an issuer for review of the ratings provided to its instruments by the CRA, shall be reviewed by a Rating Committee of the agency that shall consist of a majority of independent members.
  • All non-accepted ratings will have be disclosed on the CRA’s website for a period of 12 months from the date of disclosure of such ratings.

US Pacific Command renamed as Indo-Pacific Command

  • The United States has renamed its oldest and largest military command, US Pacific Command, or PACOM, to Indo-Pacific Command. The decision has been taken in recognition of the growing importance of the Indian Ocean in US strategic thinking. The US relationships with Pacific and Indian Ocean allies and partners have proven critical to maintaining regional stability.
  • The Trump administration had also renamed Asia Pacific as Indo-Pacific and identified India as one bookend of the region.

WHO Adopts Digital Health Resolution Initiated by India

  • The resolution on digital health brought out by India was adopted by the 71st World Health Assembly, that was held last week in Geneva and was attended by delegations from all WHO member states.
  • The resolution paves the path for WHO to establish a global strategy on digital health identifying priority areas including where it should focus its efforts and engages member states to optimize their health systems in sync with the global digital health agenda.
  • The Indian government stressed on the importance of building digital health ecosystem partnerships with private healthcare providers, academia, health IT practitioners, industry, patient groups and regulatory bodies.
  • Digital health is important in the context of countries achieving health-related SDG targets as well WHO's implementation of 13th General Program of Work. Digital health agenda is multisectoral and cross-cutting in nature.