Daily Current Affairs - 12th Jun 2018

Centre launches 'Rail MADAD', 'Menu on Rails' mobile apps

  • The Ministry of Railways launched two mobile applications to ease the travelling experience. The two apps, 'Rail MADAD' and 'Menu on Rails', were launched by Railway Minister Piyush Goyal and Minister of State (MoS) Manoj Sinha during a press conference organised to highlight the achievements of the Ministry in the last four years.
  • Rail MADAD will enable travellers to lodge complaints, Menu on Rails will facilitate seamless ordering of food.
  • The theme for development this year is to improve connectivity for the poor, in line with Mahatma Gandhi's ideologies.

Centre launches 5000 Wi-Fi Choupals in villages and delivery of rail tickets through Common Service Centres

  • The has launched 5,000 Wi-Fi Choupals in villages and delivery of rail tickets through Common Service Centres (CSCs). The WiFi Choupals will enable people in rural areas with an effective Internet access for their various digital processes. The move is aimed at transforming rural Internet connectivity through BharatNet.

Centre plans to allow CSCs to offer banking services

  • The information technology ministry is planning to get all the common services centres (CSCs) to act as business correspondents (BCs). The move is aimed at creating last mile access points for financial services across the country. It is an integral part of the ‘Digital India’ initiative of the government to foster financial inclusion in the country.
  • There are approximately 290,000 CSCs in the country—access points with basic computing infrastructure run and operated by a local entrepreneur who lives in the same community.
  • A business correspondent is an approved bank agent providing basic banking service using a micro ATM.

Gaurav Bidhuri bags bronze medal in Umakhanov Memorial Tournament in Russia

  • India's Gaurav Bidhuri has settled for a bronze medal in 56kg after going down in the last-four stage of the Umakhanov Memorial Tournament in Kaspiysk, Russia. She lost to Kazakhstan's Siroshiddin Abdullayev in a split 2-3 decision.
  • Two Indian boxers Brijesh Yadav (81kg) and Virender Kumar (91kg) have advanced to the finals. Among the Indian women, only Saweety Boora (75kg) has made the final.

Govt. set to unveil Rs. 500 cr. credit enhancement fund’

  • The government is set to unveil a Rs. 500-crore credit enhancement fund next month to facilitate infrastructure investments by insurance and pension funds. This fund will help in upgrading credit ratings of bonds issued by infrastructure companies and facilitate investment from investors like pension and insurance funds.
  • The initial corpus of the fund, to be sponsored by IIFCL (India Infrastructure Finance Company), will be Rs. 500 crore, and it will operate as a non-banking finance company.
  • The fund was first announced in the Budget for fiscal year 2016-17.

India to host first BIMSTEC war games

  • India will host the first military exercise of the BIMSTEC (Bay of Bengal Initiative for Multi-Sectoral Technical and Economic Cooperation) group focussing on counter-terrorism in September. The exercise is scheduled to be held in Pune in the second week of September.
  • The theme includes counter-terrorism in semi-urban terrain and cordon and search, and each side will bring in some 30 soldiers.
  • The aim of the exercise is to promote strategic alignment among the member-states and to share best practices in the area of counter-terrorism.
  • BIMSTEC was set up in 1997 and includes India, Bangladesh, Bhutan Myanmar, Nepal, Sri Lanka and Thailand.

ISRO’s PRL scientists discover an ‘EPIC’ planet

  • A team from the Physical Research Laboratory, Ahmedabad, has spotted for the first time a distant planet six times bigger than Earth and revolving around a Sun-like star about 600 light years away. Both the planet and the star have been named EPIC.
  • The discovery was made using a PRL-designed spectrograph, PARAS, to measure and confirm the mass of the new planet.
  • EPIC 211945201b (or K2-236b) is the name given to the planet by the discovery team led by PRL's Abhijit Chakraborty.
  • PRL conducts fundamental research in a host of physical sciences including astronomy and space.

Meteorological Department (IMD) to use flash flood guidance system for first time to forecast floods

  • India Meteorological Department (IMD) will use flash flood guidance system for the first time in the country to forecast floods. Currently, the Central Water Commission issues flood warnings. This new system will help to ascertain how much water will be absorbed into the ground and how much will be left behind after going into rivers, drains and other water bodies, which can lead to floods.
  • Using the Flash Flood Guidance System, the IMD will be able to issue accurate flood forecasts for different regions by assessing their specific geographical conditions and on the basis of the surplus rain forecast
  • IMD Director said the state and district-level farmers’ bodies and disaster management agencies will also be given appropriate guidance for flood preparedness.
  • IMD Director General KJ Ramesh

Passenger vehicles sales rise 20% in May

  • According to data released by the Society of Indian Automobile Manufacturers (SIAM), passenger vehicle sales in India rose almost 20% in May, driven by strong sales across segments, including utility vehicles, cars and vans, registering a second consecutive month of robust sales. Passenger vehicle (PV) sales last month rose to 3,01,238 units, up 19.65% from 2,51,764 units in May 2017.
  • Domestic car sales were up 19.64% at 1,99,479 units as against 1,66,732 units in the same month last year. Utility vehicle (UV) sales rose 17.53% to 82,086 units, while van sales surged 29.54% to 19,673 units during the month.
  • Total two-wheeler sales in May rose 9.19% to 18,50,093 units compared with 16,94,323 units in the year-ago month.

PM’s maternity scheme benefits 23.6 lakh

  • The central government’s maternity benefit programme Pradhan Mantri Matru Vandana Yojana (PMMVY) has finally made some headway and provided cash incentives to nearly 23.6 lakh beneficiaries out of an estimated 51.6 lakh a year.
  • An amount of Rs. 673 crores have been transferred to the accounts of the beneficiaries out of the total budget of Rs. 2,594 crores set aside for the scheme last year, and another Rs. 2,400 crores allocated for the current fiscal. The scheme is being implemented on a 60:40 cost-sharing basis with the State governments.
  • While States like Tamil Nadu, Telangana, Odisha and West Bengal have their own maternity benefit schemes and have been reluctant to implement the PMMVY.
  • Under the scheme, pregnant women and lactating mothers are offered a cash incentive of Rs. 6,000 on the birth of their first child as partial compensation for wage loss, to reduce maternal mortality and malnutrition levels among children.

Qatar takes UAE to UN International Court of Justice over human right violations

  • The government of Qatar said, it was taking the United Arab Emirates to the United Nations' International Court of Justice over what it described as human right violations. The Qatari government stated that the UAE enacted a series of measures that discriminate against its citizens, including expelling them from the UAE, prohibiting them from entering or passing through the UAE, ordering UAE nationals to leave Qatar, and closing UAE airspace and seaports to Qatar.
  • It further said that the actions were in violation of the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination (CERD) - including discrimination on the basis of nationality - of which the UAE and Qatar are both signatories.
  • The UAE, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and Egypt imposed a boycott on Qatar in June 2017, severing diplomatic and transport ties with the tiny, wealthy state, accusing it of supporting terrorism.

RBI likely to issue $35bn NRI bonds to support rupee

  • The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) is likely to mop up foreign exchange of $30-35 billion by floating bonds to non-resident Indians (NRIs), The main trigger for the dollar mop-up is the rise in crude oil prices, which in turn has put pressure on the rupee. Another reason for the government to issue bonds is that $27 billion of foreign exchange loans and bonds are set to mature by March 2019, putting further pressure on the rupee.
  • The government had first raised money through NRIs by floating $5 billion of Resurgent India Bonds in 1998 in the wake of sanctions placed on the country following the second round of nuclear tests in Pokhran.

Reserve Bank aims to tighten working capital loan norms

  • The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) has proposed a minimum 40% loan component for working capital funding of Rs. 150 crore and above to bring in greater credit discipline and improve monetary transmission. The said proposal of the loan component of 40% will come into effect from October 1 and will be increased to 60% from April 1, 2019.
  • The proposed new norm will address the following issues. First, if there is a loan component then there will be a repayment schedule which will put pressure on borrowers to manage their liquidity. Secondly, since the loan component will have a fixed tenure, the reset clause can be invoked at the end of each tenure period.
  • It also poses several regulatory challenges such as perpetual roll-overs, transmission of liquidity management from the borrowers to banks/RBI.

S Ramesh is appointed as Chairman of CBIC

  • Senior bureaucrat S Ramesh was appointed as chairman of Central Board of Indirect Taxes and Customs (CBIC). He will succeed Mrs Vanaja N. Sarna, the outgoing Chairman retiring this month end.
  • Ramesh, a 1981 batch officer of Indian Revenue Service (customs and central excise), is at present member in the CBIC, an apex policy making body for indirect taxes.
  • CBIC is the nodal national agency responsible for administering Customs, Goods and Services Tax (GST) and Central Excise.
  • The CBEC works under finance ministry—comprises of a chairperson and a maximum of six members.
  • The board has been rechristened as Central Board of Indirect Taxes and Customs (CBIC) from Central Board of Excise and Customs (CBEC) after necessary legislative approval in the GST regime.

Sebastian Vettel wins the Canadian Grand Prix, his 50th career victory

  • Ferrari's Sebastian Vettel picked up his 50th career Formula One win in Montreal cruising to victory in the Canadian Grand Prix. It was his first victory since winning the first two races of the season in Australia and Bahrain. The win vaulted Vettel over Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton in the drivers' standings. He now leads the defending Formula One drivers' champion by one point.

Trump meets Singapore PM Lee Hsien Loong

  • US President Donald Trump today met Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, just a day before his historic summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un. Both were expected to discuss everything from the summit preparations to the US' tariff threats. Trump expressed optimism for tomorrow's meeting with Kim and also thanked his Singapore hosts for their hospitality.
  • Lee complimented the bold and admirable decision by Kim and Trump to come together for the Summit.

WTO chief warns against escalation of trade tensions between US, Other major economics

  • World Trade Organisation Chief Roberto Azevedo warned against a damaging escalation of trade tensions between the United States and other major economies, following a divisive G7 summit. He further said, the trade war would have a long-term impact on the global economy.
  • Meanwhile, the EU has vowed to retaliate against US metal tariffs imposed by US President Donald Trump, and tensions worsened at a Group of Seven summit in Canada after Trump rejected an attempt to write a consensus statement.
  • The joint communique which Trump rejected had vowed that G7 members would reform multilateral oversight of commerce through the WTO and seek to cut tariffs.