Daily Current Affairs - 28th Sep 2018

8th Asian Yoga Sports Championship to begin in Thiruvananthapuram, Kerala

  • The 8th Asian Yoga Sports Championship organised by Asian Yoga Federation has begun in Thiruvananthapuram, Kerala. Nearly 450 participants representing 12 Asian countries showcasing their yoga skills will take part in four-day event. The Indian team include 111 yoga exponents, including five Keralites.
  • Competitions would be held under various age groups in six categories including Asian yogasana sports competition, artistic yoga, artistic pair yoga, rhythmic yoga, free flow dance competition, and professional yogasana sports competition.
  • Yogaratna Awards will be given away to foreign delegates who were instrumental in popularising yoga in their respective countries.

Cabinet Approves 100% Government Stake in Goods and Services Tax Network (GSTN)

  • The Union Cabinet has approved increasing the government stake in Goods and Services Tax Network (GSTN) to 100 percent. The governmen currently holds 49 percent stake in the technological arm of the new indirect tax regime, will acquire the entire 51 percent equity held by the non-government institution.
  • The restructured GSTN, with 100 percent government ownership, shall have equity structure between the Centre (50 percent) and the states (50 percent).
  • The Cabinet also decided to allow a change in the existing composition of the GSTN board, which will have a total of 11 directors including a Chairman and a Chief Executive (CEO).

Centre forms Lokpal search committee headed by former Supreme Court judge

  • The Union government has set up an eight-member Lokpal Search Committee under the Chairmanship of former Supreme Court Judge, Justice Ranjana Prakash Desai. Prasar Bharati Chairman A Surya Prakash, former SBI Chief Arundhati Bhattacharya and Justice Sukha Ram Singh Yadav among others will be members of the panel.
  • The panel will recommend the names for the Chairperson and Members of the Lokpal to the Lokpal Selection Committee.

Centre steps up grant for disaster fund

  • The Centre has enhanced its contribution in the State Disaster Response Fund (SDRF) from 75% to 90% with effect from April 1. Henceforth all States will be required to contribute 10% to the SDRF. Kerala, which has recently faced the worst floods, will be a major beneficiary of the Centre’s decision.
  • The additional contribution by the Central government in SDRF on this account will be Rs. 1,690.35 crore for 2018-19 and Rs. 1,774.67 crore for the financial year 2019-20

Finance Ministry launches Mobile Application Jan Dhan Darshak as a Part of Financial Inclusion

  • The Union Finance Ministry has launched Mobile Application Jan Dhan Darshak as a Part of Financial Inclusion. Jan Dhan Darshak app will provide a citizen-centric platform to the common people for locating financial service touch points across all providers such as banks and post office.
  • Department of Financial Services (DFS), Ministry of Finance and National Informatics Centre (NIC) have jointly developed the app Jan Dhan Darshak as a part of financial inclusion initiative.

Government Increases Customs Duty On Import Of 19 Items

  • To arrest the massive fall in Indian Rupee, the union government has increased customs duty on import of 19 items. This increase in import duty is aimed at bridging current account deficit (CAD). The increase in basic customs duty on import of these items will come into effect from September 27. The total value of imports of these items in the year 2017-18 was about Rs 86,000 crores.
  • It has doubled the customs duty on imported air conditioners, household refrigerators, and washing machine weighing less than 10 kilograms from 10 per cent to 20 per cent. Aviation turbine fuel, which was kept free of customs duty earlier, will now attract 5 per cent import duty.
  • Customs duty on import of cut and polished diamond, semi-processed, half cut or broken diamonds, lab-grown diamonds, cut and polished coloured gemstones has also been increased from 5 per cent to 7.5 per cent.

Govt launches Agmark online system

  • The Union government has launched an online platform for processing applications related to quality certification mark 'Agmark' for agricultural products.Through the Agmark online system, certificate of authorisation, permission of printing press, permission of laboratories and services related to laboratory information management system will be provided. As the existing procedures for Agmark certification were in physical form and time consuming.
  • Agmark is certification mark that assures conformity to a set of standards approved by the government agency Directorate of Marketing and Inspection.

India ranks 96th on Economic Freedom Index

  • India was placed 96th among 162 countries in this year’s report on Economic Freedom in the World, released by the Centre for Civil Society(CCS) in partnership with Canada’s Fraser Institute. Last year, India’s rank was 98.
  • India improved its score on parameters such as legal system and property rights, access to sound money, freedom to trade internationally and regulation of credit, labour and business.
  • Hong Kong and Singapore again topped the index, as the first and the second country, respectively. New Zealand, Switzerland, Ireland, the US, Georgia, Mauritius, the United Kingdom, Australia and Canada (tied for 10th) were among the top 10.
  • While Russia and South Africa are ahead of India at 87th and 94th, China and Brazil are behind at 108th and 144th positions.

India to lock horns with Bangladesh in Asia Cup cricket final

  • Defending champions India will lock horns with Bangladesh in the Asia Cup cricket final in Dubai today. The men in Blue are aiming to win the tournament for a record seventh time. Bangladesh had stunned Pakistan by defeating them in the last of the Super Four clashes by 37 runs , to clinch a seat in the Final.
  • India and Bangladesh have played 35 one-day internationals against each other, out of which Bangladesh have won five and India has registered its victory in 28.

Kolkata launches India’s first flood forecast system

  • The Kolkata Municipal Corporation, with the support of the Asian Development Bank has launched the country’s first flood forecasting and early-warning system, which will provide real-time data on inundation, rainfall intensity, temperature, air quality and other climate-related data. This system is expected to help policy-makers make informed decisions during disasters.

Litterateur Kavita Mahajan passes away

  • Eminent Marathi litterateur and translator Kavita Mahajan, winner of a 2011 Sahitya Akademi translation award, passed away. She was 51. Ms. Mahajan was noted for her trenchant prose which pierced gender barriers and challenged age-old notions about women in literature.

Maldives Oppn. seeks foreign help

  • The Maldivian Opposition appealed to the international community to help ensure a peaceful transition of power amid fears that the incumbent President Abdulla Yameen may cling onto power despite his shock election defeat.
  • The joint Opposition, which includes four political parties that successfully put forward the Ibrahim Mohamed Solih at Sunday’s vote, called for external help to re-establish democracy in the tiny Indian Ocean archipelago.
  • Maldives:
  • Capital: Male
  • Currency: Maldivian rufiyaa

Model Code will come into force on premature dissolution of assembly: EC

  • Election Commission has issued direction on the applicability of Model Code of Conduct in case of premature dissolution of state assembly followed by the caretaker government till the formation of new government.
  • In a letter to Union Cabinet Secretary and State Chief Secretaries, the Commission said, neither the caretaker state government nor the Central Government will announce any new schemes and projects or undertake any of the activities prohibited under Model Code of Conduct.
  • The poll panel also cited earlier Supreme Court's order that the caretaker government should merely carry on the day-to-day government and desist from taking any major policy decision.
  • Chief Election Commissioner of India: Om Prakash Rawat

Narendra Modi, Emmanuel Macron selected for UN's highest environmental award

  • Prime Minister Narendra Modi and French President Emmanuel Macron are selected for this year's 'Champions of the Earth' award - UN's highest environmental honour.
  • Both of them are selected in the Policy Leadership category for their pioneering work in championing the International Solar Alliance (ISA) and promoting new areas of levels of cooperation on environmental action.
  • India's Cochin International Airport - the world's first fully solar-powered airport - is also selected for the award. It is selected in the Entrepreneurial Vision category for its leadership.
  • India and France had together launched the ISA on sidelines of the UN climate conference (COP21) in Paris in 2015.
  • The annual 'Champions of the Earth' prize is awarded to outstanding leaders from government, civil society and the private sector whose actions have had a positive impact on the environment.

Parakram Parv will be celebrated to showcase courage, sacrifice of Indian Armed Forces

  • Parakram Parv will be celebrated from 28 September to 30 September to showcase the courage, valour and sacrifice of Indian Armed Forces. The main event is planned at India Gate Lawns, Rajpath in New Delhi. Similarly, 53 locations in 51 cities across the country will be showcasing the events highlighting valour of Indian Armed Forces in general and Special Forces in particular.
  • Union Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman

Railways to roll out smart coaches

  • The Indian Railways are set to launch their ‘Make in India’ smart coaches with new features like black box and artificial intelligence (AI)-powered CCTVs, matching international standards.
  • Named ‘Smart Trains’, these coaches have been equipped with sensors that can detect defects on bearings, wheels, and the railway track, giving constant inputs to those in the control room to avoid accidents, carry out maintenance, and to improve efficiency of operations.
  • The Passenger Information and Coach Computing Unit (PICCU), an industrial grade computer, will monitor the coach maintenance and passenger interface. The maiden smart coach was unveiled at the Modern Coach Factory in Rae Bareli as part of launching 100 such trains in a pilot project to improve the safety and security of commuters, and to boost efficiency.

RBI eases cash reserve rules to ease liquidity condition of banks

  • The Reserve Bank of India has allowed banks to dip further into statutory cash reserves in a bid to ease a liquidity squeeze afflicting the nation's money markets. With this banks could carve out' up to 15 per cent of holdings under the statutory liquidity reserves to meet their liquidity coverage ratio (LCR) requirements as compared to 13 per cent now.
  • It will further announced the relaxation in statutory liquidity ratio (SLR) requirement with effect from October 1, 2018.
  • The move by the central bank follows concerns over tight liquidity conditions and banks' unwillingness to lend to NBFCs.
  • Concerns of liquidity crunch were triggered following defaults by an IL&FS group company. It spread to non-banking financial companies (NBFCs), which in turn roiled financial markets.

Sabarimala temple entry verdict today

  • A Constitution Bench led by Chief Justice of India Dipak Misra will pronounce its judgment on September 28 on petitions to lift the centuries-old prohibition on women in menarche (menstrual cycle) entering the Sabarimala temple in Kerala.
  • If the apex court lifts the prohibition, a 27-year-old Kerala High Court judgment would be set aside. The Kerala High Court had upheld the prohibition on women aged between 10 and 50 years stating that the ‘Naisthik Brahmachari’ nature of the deity in Sabarimala is “a vital reason for imposing this restriction on young women”
  • If the ban is lifted, the case would be a precedent for future challenges against similar prohibitory practices in places of worship across religions.

Saina Nehwal enters quarter-finals of Korean Open

  • Saina Nehwal has advanced to the quarter-finals of the Korean Open Badminton championships. She defeated Korea's Kim Ga Eun in straight games 21-18, 21-18 in a 37-minute women's singles pre-quarterfinal. Saina will now face third seed Japanese Nozomi Okuhara in the quarter final.

SC strikes down penal provision making adultery a criminal offence

  • The Supreme Court of India has struck down the penal provision making adultery a criminal Offence. The court's five-judge bench headed by Chief Justice Dipak Misra declared the section 497 of the IPC as unconstitutional and arbitrary. The Apex court said that adultery can be a civil wrong and a ground for divorce but it cannot be a criminal offence.
  • The court said Section 497 is violative of right to equality and right to equal opportunity to women.The 5 judge bench unanimously held Section 497 unconstitutional saying adultery is manifestly arbitrary .

Sreeshankar sets National record

  • M. Sreeshankar bettered Ankit Sharma’s National and meet record in the men’s long jump to steal the show on the penultimate day of the National Open athletics championships. He recorded a jump of 8.20m, one centimetre more than Ankit’s National mark, in his fifth attempt.
  • Sreeshankar overcame a heat-stroke to register 7.95m and a foul in his first two attempts. He came back stronger to smash the meet record of 7.87m a by covering a distance of 8.11m.

Trump accuses China of interfering in upcoming Midterm Elections

  • US President Donald Trump has accused China of interfering in the upcoming midterm elections to damage him politically because of his tough decisions on trade. However, the US President did not offer proof for his claim. China swiftly denied Mr. Trump’s accusation by saying that they did not, and will not, interfere in any country’s domestic affairs.
  • President Trump's allegation comes as trade tensions soar between Beijing and Washington, which this week enacted new tariffs against China covering another 200 billion US dollars of its imports.

Uber pays 148m over data breach cover-up

  • Ride-hailing firm Uber is paying 148 million dollars to settle legal action over a cyber-attack that exposed data from 57 million customers and drivers. The massive breach happened in 2016 but Uber sought to hide it from regulators. The company paid the hackers behind the intrusion 100,000 dollar to the data they grabbed from Uber's cloud servers.
  • The personal data from 57 million Uber accounts also included information about 600,000 driving licence numbers.

Uzbek President to invite India to join Afghan rail project

  • India will be invited to help with a key rail link in Afghanistan, during the visit of Uzbekistan’s President Shavkat Mirziyoyev early next week. The rail link of approximately 650 km, connecting the Afghan cities of Mazaar-e-Sharif and Herat, which may later be extended to Kabul, is a major project agreed to by President Ashraf Ghani and President Mirziyoyev last year.
  • India is also committed to building another rail route, from Chabahar to Zahedan on the Iran-Afghan border, and Uzbekistan is keen to join the transit trade agreement signed by India, Afghanistan and Iran.
  • Uzbekistan
  • Capital: Tashkent
  • Currency: Uzbekistani so?m

Walmart Foundation to invest Rs. 180 crore in agriculture

  • Walmart Foundation announced that it would invest Rs. 180 crore in India over the next five years to improve farmers’ livelihood. The funds would be used to support farmer organisations to develop knowledge of sustainable farming practices, share business best practices and add value to primary agricultural commodities. The money will also be used to improve access to finance and markets.
  • Walmart India would grow its direct sourcing from farmers to 25% of the products sold in its Cash & Carry stores over the same period