Daily Current Affairs - 19th Jun 2018

Arab group wants India on board in Yemen

  • The Arab coalition which is fighting to secure the strategic Yemeni port of Hodeidah will be reaching out to India for its support. The Arab coalition, led by Saudi Arabia and the UAE, claims that the Iranian military has used the port to supply the Houthis with weapons and ammunition. A formal discussion regarding this would be held during the visit of the Foreign Minister of the United Arab Emirates (UAE) next week.
  • The operation at Hodeidah would secure the energy lanes of India with the Gulf, and that the Arab coalition had sourced large quantity of relief material from India to help the Yemeni population.
  • The UN Security Council last week voted against an immediate end to hostilities in the port, even as India has maintained a studied silence on the conflict.
  • Yemen’s port of Hodeidah was under the control of the Houthi rebels who are believed to be drawing support from Iran.

Bank credit rises 3.4% in December quarter

  • According to the Reserve Bank of India data, bank credit grew 3.4% on a sequential basis in the December 2017 quarter, helped by better performance by private sector banks and an uptick in industrial credit after two successive quarters of declines.
  • At the end of the December quarter, bank credit stood at Rs. 80.62 trillion compared with Rs. 77.95 trillion in the September 2017 quarter as per the RBI data. Significantly, industrial credit growth turned positive after moderating for two successive quarters.
  • Among bank groups, private sector banks continued to maintain double-digit annual expansion in their loan portfolio and led the overall credit growth. Private banks’ credit offtake grew 4.88% in the reporting quarter, while public sector banks’ loans rose much lower by 2.96%.
  • Credit to the household sector recorded sustained growth and its share in total credit stood at 47.3%.

Canada lawmakers vote to legalize cannabis

  • The Canadian Parliament has passed a bill to legalize cannabis that would make Canada the first G7 country to allow free consumption of the mind-altering drug. The bill was passed by 205 votes to 82 in the House of Commons. The legislation must now pass the Senate, and receive royal assent by the Governor General before becoming law, likely by September.
  • Statistics Canada has estimated that the market will be worth Can$5.7 billion ($4.5 billion US), based on last year's consumption data.

Centre directs CBSE to conduct CTET exam in all 20 languages

  • The Union Government has directed the CBSE to conduct the Central Teacher Eligibility Test (CTET) examination in all Indian languages as was being done earlier. Therefore the examination will be held in English, Hindi, Assamese, Bangla, Garo, Gujarati, Kannada, Khasi, Malayalam, Manipuri, Marathi, Mizo, Nepali, Odia, Punjabi, Sanskrit, Tamil, Telugu, Tibetan and Urdu.
  • Earlier, the CBSE had decided to remove 17 languages including Tamil, Malayalam, Telugu and Kannada from the list of options for the CTET. The decision was criticized by some political parties at that time.

Centre seeks involvement of state health ministers in National Health Mission

  • Union Minister of State for Health and Family Welfare Ashwini Kumar Choubey has sought enhanced participation by state health ministers in the National Health Mission. He said up to 70 per cent of health-related work in states is done through NHM.
  • NHM continues to play an important role in strengthening public health systems at the state and sub-district levels.
  • The main components of NHM include strengthening the health system in rural and urban areas, improving the maternal, neonatal- child and adolescent health and focusing on communicable and non-communicable diseases.

CEO Chanda Kochhar would be on leave during probe in Videocon loan matter: ICICI Bank

  • The ICICI Bank has announced that its CEO Chanda Kochhar would be on leave till completion of an enquiry against her in the Videocon loan matter.
  • The bank has named Sandeep Bakhshi as the Chief Operating Officer, COO, who would be handling all the businesses from today, subject to various approvals. He is currently Managing Director and CEO of the ICICI Prudential Life Insurance.
  • Chanda Kochhar and her family members are facing allegations of quid pro quo and conflict of interest with respect to a loan extended to the Videocon group.

Exam paper setters to receive training

  • The National Testing Agency, which is being set up to relieve the Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE) of the burden of conducting multiple examinations, will also train paper setters to set better question papers and provide better model answers.
  • The agency’s mandate as envisaged by the Ministry of Human Resource Development is to put in place a robust system for the conduct of examinations.
  • The new body will take over all examinations from the CBSE, except the 10th and 12th board examinations.
  • Among the examinations that will be transferred to the NTA are the prestigious Joint Entrance Examination (JEE) for admission to engineering colleges like the IITs and NITs and the National Eligibility Cum Entrance Test (NEET) for admission to all medical colleges in the country, except AIIMS and JIPMER, Puducherry.
  • The creation of NTA was approved by the Union Cabinet chaired by the Prime Minister in November 2017.

Fast patrol vessel Coast Guard ship Rani Rashmoni commissioned

  • Indian Coast Guard Ship (ICGS) Rani Rashmoni, the fifth in the series of fast patrol vessels constructed by Hindustan Shipyard Limited, was commissioned at Visakhapatnam. The 51 mtr ship named after famous legendary leader ‘Rani Rashmoni’ of Kolkata has been designed and built indigenously and is equipped with the most advanced and sophisticated navigational and communication sensors and equipment. It can achieve a maximum speed of 34 knots (63 kmph).
  • The induction not only reinforce the coastal security apparatus but also ensure added focus on surveillance at the sea, coastal patrol, anti-smuggling, anti-poaching operations, protection of fishermen apart from maritime search and rescue.
  • Chairman and Managing Director of Hindustan Shipyard Limited Rear Admiral LV Sarat Babu

FIFA World Cup:England beat Tunisia, Belgium outplayed Panama

  • In the ongoing FIFA World Cup, arry Kane gave England a 2-1 win over Tunisia in their opening World Cup Group G match. In another match Belgium outplayed Panama 3-nil, and Sweden defeated South Korea 1-0 in their opening Group matches yesterday.

Govt. teams up with Google for flood warning

  • The Union Water Resources Ministry has teamed up with Google to generate flood warnings, if there are signs of an imminent flood. Via Google Maps user will be able to see what regions are likely to see water logging first and if their neighbourhood is under threat.
  • The Central Water Commission and Google will share technical expertise in the fields of artificial intelligence, machine learning, geospatial mapping and analysis of hydrological observation data to improve flood prediction systems, provide location-targeted, actionable flood warning and use Google Earth Engine to help visualise and improve flood management and [initiate] a cultural project to build online exhibitions on the ‘Rivers of India.
  • This expertise will be offered by Google free of cost as part of the company’s Corporate Social Responsibility.
  • Every year, monsoon brings torrential floods to several parts of India — particularly the North-East and many parts of Central India.
  • Currently, the Central Water Commission (CWC) warns of floods based on the rising water levels in reservoirs and if these are nearing a dam’s ‘danger marks.

Govt. to set up fifth national data centre

  • The Union government will set up the country’s biggest data centre in Bhopal with a capacity to host five lakh virtual servers. This will be the fifth National Data Centre after the ones at Bhubaneswar, Delhi, Hyderabad and Pune.
  • The new data centre will take about two years to come up and will be set up by the National Informatics Centre (NIC), under the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MeitY).
  • National Data Centres host government websites, services and applications.

India reiterates matters related to India-Pakistan relations are purely bilateral in nature

  • India has said matters related to India-Pakistan relations are purely bilateral in nature and have no scope for involvement of any third country. Indian External Affairs Ministry said this in a response to queries on the comments made by the Chinese Ambassador to India on a trilateral Summit between India, China and Pakistan.
  • Further India has not received any such suggestion from the Chinese government and it considers the statement as the personal opinion of the Ambassador.

India, Italy agree to revitalise bilateral ties

  • India and Italy agreed to boost cooperation in counter-terrorism and cybersecurity as External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj met the top Italian leadership and discussed steps to revitalise bilateral ties. They exchanged views on regional and global issues of mutual interest.
  • Both Ministers agreed to hold the next meeting of the Joint Commission for Economic Cooperation (JCEC) in India later this year.
  • India also welcomed Italy’s participation as a partner country at the Tech Summit in India in November 2018 which would boost cooperation in technology and innovation. The year also marks the 70th year of establishment of diplomatic relations between the two countries.
  • Italy:
  • President: Sergio Mattarella
  • Prime Minister: Giuseppe Conte
  • Capital: Rome
  • Currency: Euro

Indian Army observes 2018 as Year of Disabled Soldiers in Line of Duty

  • To honor soldiers, who have been disabled in line of duty, the Indian Army is observing this year as the Year of Disabled Soldiers in Line of Duty. The primary focus is towards alleviating the sufferings of these soldiers, who have done their duty with utmost dedication to the Nation and have been disabled for the life.
  • This year is to provide a one-time financial assistance to disabled soldiers who have been boarded out from service on medical grounds and are rendered non-employable due to their medical or physical conditions.
  • Army also plans to showcase talent of disabled soldiers by organizing sports and physical activities, cultural events and their art exhibitions.
  • The centre is also considering proposal of major grant to establish a separate fund for disabled soldiers which can be further enhanced by contributions from individuals, establishments and corporate sector thus facilitating meaningful initiatives.

RBI alters ‘relative’ definition to check outward remittances

  • Concerned over funds sent abroad under the ‘maintenance of close relative’ category of the Liberalised Remittance Scheme (LRS), the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) has narrowed the definition of relatives to check the flow of funds.
  • Hence, funds under the ‘maintenance of close relative’ category can be sent only to immediate relatives such as parents, spouses, children and their spouses.
  • This has brought about by defining ‘relatives’ under the Companies Act, 2013 instead of the same act of 1956.
  • RBI has introduced a system for daily reporting of individual transactions under the LRS by banks. This enables banks to view remittances already made by an individual during the fiscal, thus improving monitoring and ensuring compliance.
  • Outward remittances under maintenance of close relatives shot up to almost $3 billion in 2017-18 from a mere $174 million in 2013-14. Overall outward remittances under LRS went up to $11 billion from $1 billion in the same period.

Temasek picks up 5% in AU bank

  • Singapore’s sovereign wealth fund Temasek Holdings picked up 5% equity in AU Small Finance Bank for a consideration of Rs. 1,000 crore, making it one of largest primary capital infusions into the bank. This capital raising will strengthen bank's presence in both the digital as well as the physical marketplaces. As these funds will help the bank to remain sufficiently capitalised for the near-term.
  • MD & CEO Sanjay Agarwal

UK govt suffers fresh Brexit defeat

  • Britain's House of Lords inflicted another defeat on the Theresa May government over its flagship Brexit bill, sending it back to the MPs and setting up a fresh showdown between Prime Minister Theresa May and her pro-European rebels.
  • Unelected candidates in the upper house voted by 354 to 235 to support a rebel amendment on the role parliament should play if the government fails to secure a deal with the European Union before Britain leaves the bloc in March 2019.
  • Pro-Europeans want to ensure there is some way of holding the government to account in what would be a crisis situation.
  • The amendment to the EU (Withdrawal) Bill was drawn up in consultation with pro-European MPs in the lower House of Commons, who will have a chance to vote on it themselves.
  • The EU (Withdrawal) Bill would formally end Britain's membership of the bloc and transfer more than 40 years of European law on to the British statute books.

US team of experts in Delhi to discuss key military agreement

  • As part of preparations for the 2+2 dialogue between the foreign and defence ministers of India and the US in Washington next month, a team of specialists from the US will be meeting their counterparts on the Indian side in Delhi to negotiate the text of a “foundational” military communications agreement.
  • The US team will include lawyers, and policy and technical experts, is scheduled to meet the Indian experts and will try and address Indian observations on the draft Communications Compatibility and Security Agreement (COMCASA) submitted earlier.
  • COMCASA essentially provides a legal framework for the transfer of communication security equipment from the US to India that would facilitate interoperability between Indian and US forces — and potentially with other militaries that use US-origin systems for secure data links.
  • The US had granted India the status of a ‘Major Defence Partner’ in 2016 but no tangible benefits on military technology front have come to New Delhi so far.

Vijay Mallya diverted Rs. 3,700 cr. to F1, IPL

  • The Enforcement Directorate charged liquor baron Vijay Mallya and his two firms for fraudulently diverting over Rs. 3,700 crore from bank loan funds to a UK-based F1 motorsport firm, a T20 IPL team, and towards private jet sorties.
  • The ED’s fresh chargesheet against Mr. Mallya and his firms is likely to pave the way for him to be declared a “fugitive” under the recently promulgated Fugitive Economic Offenders Ordinance.
  • The chargesheet revolves around a complaint received from the State Bank of India on behalf of a consortium of banks against Mr. Mallya for causing a loss of Rs. 6,027 crore by not repaying loans taken during 2005-10.
  • The Enforcement Directorate (ED) has attached moveable and immoveable properties worth Rs. 4234.84 crore belonging to Vijay Mallya and companies controlled by him.

West Indies escape with a draw on difficult final day

  • Kraigg Brathwaite’s defiance and more inclement weather ensured a draw on the final day of the second Test between the West Indies and Sri Lanka at the Darren Sammy Stadium in St Lucia. West Indies were set for victory target of 296.
  • Shannon Gabriel took the last two wickets of the Sri Lankan second innings with the outstanding innings analysis of eight for 62 and match figures of 13 for 121, the third-best by a West Indian in Tests and the best-ever by a Caribbean bowler in home conditions.
  • Scores: Sri Lanka 253 & 334 for eight (K. Mendis 87, D. Chandimal 39, N. Dickwella 62, Gabriel six for 57) vs West Indies 300 .