Daily Current Affairs - 02nd Aug 2018

Culture Ministry launches scheme to reimburse central share of CGST and IGST on food, prasad, langar or bhandara

  • The Union Ministry of Culture today launched a scheme to reimburse central share of CGST and IGST on food, prasad, langar or bhandara offered by religious and charitable institutions. the 'Seva Bhoj Yojna' has a total outlay of Rs 325.00 crore for financial years 2018-19 and 2019-20.
  • The scheme will compensate such institutions of the Central Government share of Central Goods and Services Tax (CGST) and Integrated Goods and Service Tax (IGST) so as to lessen the financial burden on religious and charitable bodies that provide food/prasad/langar (community kitchen)/ bhandara free-of-cost without any discrimination to public/devotees.
  • Religious or charitable institutions such as temples, gurudwaras, mosques, churches, dharmik ashram, dargah, matth, monasteries, that have been in existence for at least three years before applying for financial assistance under the scheme, will be eligible for getting benefits under the scheme, provided they meet other criteria.

Fino told by RBI to hold off new accounts

  • The RBI has asked Fino Payments Bank not to open new accounts after finding some of the accounts had more than Rs. 1 lakh. According to norms, the aggregate limit for a customer of a payments bank is Rs. 1 lakh. It directed Fino Payments Bank to put in place appropriate process to address the operating guidelines on deposit limits in customer accounts.

France's Parliament signs into law a controversial asylum and immigration bill

  • France's Parliament has signed into law a controversial asylum and immigration bill. The bill is designed to accelerate asylum procedures by cutting the maximum processing time from the current 120 days to 90 days after entering France. The bill was adopted on a final reading by 100 votes in favour to 25 against with 11 abstentions.
  • The Senate had rejected the bill, but the Lower House passed the text as President Emmanuel Macron's La Republique En Marche party holds a large majority.
  • France
  • President Emmanuel Macron
  • Capital: Paris
  • Currency: Euro

Govt to appeal against arbitration panel rejecting its $1.5 bn claim against Reliance

  • The Centre is likely to appeal against a tribunal ruling that rejected its $1.55 billion claim against Reliance Industries and its partners for allegedly siphoning gas from deposits they had no right to exploit.
  • A three-member international arbitration tribunal held that Reliance could contractually produce and sell any gas that might have migrated from adjoining fields of ONGC into its area and that it was not obligated to seek permission.

GST revenue in July rises to Rs. 96,483 cr.

  • According to official data released, revenue collected through the Goods and Services Tax touched Rs. 96,483 crore in July,marginally higher than the Rs. 95,610 crore collected in June.
  • The total gross GST revenue collected in July 2018 is Rs. 96,483 crore, of which CGST is Rs. 15,877 crore, SGST is Rs. 22,293 crore, IGST is Rs. 49,951 crore (including Rs. 24,852 crore collected on imports) and cess is Rs. 8,362 crore (including Rs. 794 crore collected on imports).
  • The total number of GSTR 3B returns filed for July up to July 31 was 66 lakh, higher than the 64.69 lakh filed for June up to June 30.

India's new status will benefit US manufacturers

  • US Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross said that the Trump administration's decision to ease export controls for high-technology product sales to India by placing it in the Strategic Trade Authorisation-1 list of countries will benefit the US manufacturers.
  • India became the only South Asian nation to get designated as a Strategic Trade Authorisation-1 (STA-1) country by the US earlier this week. The granting of STA-1 status to India comes after the US recognised it as a "Major Defence Partner" in 2016.
  • Currently, 36 countries, mostly all the NATO countries, have this status. Other Asian countries as STA-1 are Japan and South Korea.

India, Germany sign pact on financial and technical cooperation focusing on sustainable urban development and renewable energy

  • India and Germany have signed an agreement on financial and technical cooperation focusing on sustainable urban development and renewable energy. The government-to-government Umbrella Agreement on Financial Cooperation and Technical Co-operation 2017 is worth about 5,000 thousand crore rupees.
  • The priority of the co-operation is on sustainable urban development in the areas of sanitation, solid waste management and promotion of urban mobility.
  • Germany
  • President: Frank-Walter Steinmeier
  • Chancellor: Angela Merkel
  • Capital: Berlin
  • Currency: Euro

Indian-Origin Professor Wins Fields Medal, The "Nobel of Mathematics"

  • Akshay Venkatesh, a renowned Indian-Australian mathematician, is one of four winners of mathematics' prestigious Fields medal, known as the Nobel prize for math. The other three winners are: Caucher Birkar, a Cambridge University professor of Iranian Kurdish origin; Germany's Peter Scholze, who teaches at the University of Bonn and Alessio Figalli, an Italian mathematician at ETH Zurich.
  • Each winner receives a 15,000 Canadian-dollar cash prize.
  • He has won the Fields Medal for his profound contributions to an exceptionally broad range of subjects in mathematics said the awarding committee. Venkatesh has worked at the highest level in number theory, arithmetic geometry, topology, automorphic forms and ergodic theory.He is currently teaching at Stanford University.
  • His research has been recognized with many awards, including the Ostrowski Prize, the Infosys Prize, the Salem Prize and Sastra Ramanujan Prize.
  • The prize was inaugurated in 1932 at the request of Canadian mathematician John Charles Fields, who ran the 1924 Mathematics Congress in Toronto. The Fields medals are awarded every four years to the most promising mathematicians under the age of 40.

IRDAI Regulator bats for tech in policy pricing, risk assessment

  • An IRDAI working group on InsurTech has indicated support for the use of technology that aids in more scientific pricing of insurance policies and facilitates ease of business for both the insurer and the insured.
  • The 10-member group that assessed the use of technology such as artificial intelligence and machine learning as well as wearable devices, supported the use of technology that facilitated risk assessment and risk improvement.
  • The recommendations held the industry may adopt technology that facilitates risk assessment and improvement, so long as the costs were not prohibitive since it is the policyholder who has to bear the impact.
  • Insurers could be allowed to provide incentives to customers based on their health and activity data captured by the device, by way of discounts on premium or an additional benefit.
  • IRDAI: Subhash Chandra Khuntia

Kerala firm on lifting Sabarimala ban

  • The Kerala State government argued that the Sabarimala deity’s celibacy cannot be used as an argument to bar women from entering the temple to offer worship. The government’s stand is the exact opposite of the Travancore Devaswom Board, which had strongly opposed the lifting of the centuries-old prohibition.
  • The Board insisted that the nature of the deity in Sabarimala is of a ‘Naishtika Brahmachari’ and it should not be disturbed.
  • The Supreme court had referred the issue to a Constitution Bench after framing five significant questions, including whether the practice amounted to discrimination and violated women’s fundamental rights under the Constitution.

LS passes commercial courts Bill

  • The Lok Sabha passed the Commercial Courts, Commercial Division and Commercial Appellate Division of High Courts (Amendment) Bill, 2018. It will designate some courts as commercial courts for speedy disposal of commercial disputes and will reduce the pecuniary jurisdiction of these courts from Rs. 1 crore to Rs. 3 lakh.
  • Minister of Law and Justice Ravi Shankar Prasad

Manufacturing activity slows in July: Nikkei

  • The Nikkei India Manufacturing Purchasing Managers Index (PMI) stood at 52.3 in July, down from 53.1 in June. This is the 12th consecutive month that the manufacturing PMI remained above the 50-point mark. In Purchasing Managers Index (PMI) terminology, a point above 50 means expansion, while a score below denotes contraction.
  • The country’s manufacturing sector activity moderated in July amid softer increase in output, new orders and employment.

MSME launches Mission Solar Charkha for implementation of 50 Solar Charkha Clusters across the country

  • The Ministry of Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSME) has launched the Mission Solar Charkha for implementation of 50 Solar Charkha Clusters across the country. The scheme aims to generate direct employment to nearly one lakh people.
  • The budget set for the mission is 550 crore rupees for 2018-19 and 2019-20. Solar Charkha Units have been classified as village industries.
  • The Mission was launched by President Ram Nath Kovind on 27th June on the occasion of UN Small and Medium-sized Enterprises Day
  • Minister of State (Independent Charge) for MSME Giriraj Singh

Myanmar sets up commission of inquiry to look into Rakhine State abuses

  • Myanmar has set up a commission of inquiry to probe allegations of human rights abuses in conflict-torn Rakhine state. The commission was established as part of a national initiative to address reconciliation, peace, stability and development in the state.
  • It will investigate the allegations of human rights violations and related issues, following the terrorist attacks by Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army (ARSA) last year.
  • The Commission will be assisted by national and international legal and technical experts.
  • Myanmar
  • President: Win Myint
  • Capital:Naypyitaw
  • Currency: Burmese kyat

RBI plans internal group to review timings of various market segments

  • The Reserve Bank of India is planning to set-up an internal group to comprehensively review timings of various market segments including currency futures and foreign exchange. The group will submit its report by end of October this year.
  • The apex bank stated that it has been receiving requests for extension of timings for certain market segments such as currency futures, Over-the-Counter foreign exchange market. As the decision of market timings is best left to market participants and exchanges
  • RBI further said that it is necessary that timings across products and funding markets complement each other and avoid unanticipated frictions.
  • Earlier, securities market regulator Sebi had permitted stock exchanges to set their trading hours in the equity derivatives segment between 9:00 am and 11:55 pm. Currently, trading is allowed from 9.15 am till 3.30 pm.

RBI's Third Bi-Monetary Policy 2018:

  • The Reserve Bank of India in its third bi-monthly policy of the current fiscal has raised the interest rate by 0.25 per cent on inflationary concerns. It raised benchmark repo or the short term rate at which it lends to other banks, by 0.25 per cent to 6.5 per cent.
  • The 6-member Monetary Policy Committee (MPC) headed by RBI Governor Urjit Patel kept its stance at neutral. For July-September, it pegged CPI-based retail inflation at 4.2 per cent which it saw firming up to 4.8 per cent in the second half of the current fiscal.
  • The RBI retained the GDP forecast for the current fiscal at 7.4 per cent on robust corporate earnings and buoyant rural demand.
  • Policy rates:
  • Repo rate: 6.50%
  • Reverse Repo rate: 6.25%
  • Marginal Standing Facility Rate: 6.75%
  • Bank Rate: 6.75%
  • Reserve Ratios:
  • CRR: 4%
  • SLR: 19.5%
  • Repo rate is the rate at which the central bank of a country (Reserve Bank of India in case of India) lends money to commercial banks in the event of any shortfall of funds. Repo rate is used by monetary authorities to control inflation.

South Africa take 2-0 lead in ODI series

  • South Africa won the second ODI against host Sri Lanka in Dambulla by four wickets. Batting first Sri Lanka posted 244 for eight against South Africa with half-centuries from skipper Angelo Mathews and Niroshan Dickwella. South African batsmen Quinton de Kock scored a 78-ball 87 that included 13 fours and a six. With this win the South African team took a 2-0 lead in the five-match series.

UAE launches amnesty programme for foreign workers overstaying permits

  • The UAE has launched a landmark three-month visa amnesty programme which will benefit hundreds of illegal foreign workers, including Indians, overstaying their permits by allowing them to leave the country without penalties and giving them six months to find a job.
  • The UAE is home to 2.8 million Indian expatriates, the largest expatriate community in the country. Professionally qualified personnel constitute about 15 to 20 per cent of the community, followed by 20 per cent white-collar non-professionals and the remainder 65 per cent comprises blue-collar workers.
  • Indian Missions in Abu Dhabi and Dubai have opened a help desk to help maximum number of Indians staying in the country illegally to avail of the three-month amnesty.
  • Primarily labourers from countries like India, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Pakistan, Nepal and the Philippines, will benefit from the amnesty scheme which will facilitate their smooth return to their home countries.
  • UAE:
  • Capital: Abu Dhabi
  • Currency: United Arab Emirates dirham

Union Cabinet clears purchase of 51 per cent controlling stakes in IDBI Bank by LIC

  • The Union Cabinet has cleared the purchase of 51 per cent controlling stake in IDBI Bank by state-run Life Insurance Corporation (LIC). As per the proposal, the debt-ridden bank will issue preferential shares to LIC to raise capital.
  • The measure will financially strengthen both LIC and IDBI, as well as their subsidiaries which offer financial products, such as housing finance and mutual funds.
  • The IDBI would get an opportunity to tap 11 lakh LIC agents for doorstep banking services, positioning it to improve customer services and deepen financial inclusion.
  • LIC Chairman: V K Sharma
  • IDBI Chairman: B Sriram

Williams, Russell power Windies to 7-wicket win

  • West Indies defeated Bangladesh by seven wickets in the rain-affected opener of the three-match T20 International series at Warner Park in St Kitts. Kesrick Williams' career-best bowling figures and a batting cameo by Andre Russell won the match for the Windies.
  • Batting first, Bangladesh finished at 143 for nine in 20 overs. After the rain interruption the revised target of 91 off 11 overs has been achieved in 9.1 overs.

World Badminton Championships: PV Sindhu, Kidambi Srikanth and 4 other Indian Shuttlers to play for quarterfinal berths

  • PV Sindhu and Kidambi Srikanth are among the six Indian shuttlers who will play for quarterfinal berths of the World Badminton Championships at Nanjing, China .
  • Sindhu will take on Sung Ji-Hyun of South Korea, while Saina Nehwal will face Thai Ratchanok Intanon.
  • In Men's Singles, Srikanth will clash with Malaysia's Liew Daren, while B Sai Praneeth will battle it out against Hans-Kristian Vittinghus of Denmark.
  • In Mixed Doubles, the pair of Ashwini Ponnappa and Satwiksairaj Rankireddy will play against the seventh-seeded Malaysian team of Shevon Jemie Lai and Goh Soon Huat.