Daily Current Affairs - 30th Oct 2018

Angela Merkel to step down as German chancellor in 2021

  • Germany's Angela Merkel has said that she will step down as Chancellor in 2021, following recent election setbacks. She stated that she would not seek re-election as leader of the centre-right Christian Democratic Union (CDU). She has held the post since 2000. Both the CDU and its coalition partners, the Social Democrats, were 10 percentage points down on the previous poll there.
  • Germany
  • President: Frank-Walter Steinmeier
  • Chancellor: Angela Merkel
  • Capital: Berlin
  • Currency: Euro

Bans on Warner, Smith will stand: CA

  • Cricket Australia (CA) will not reconsider reducing the ban on Steve Smith, David Warner and Cameron Bancroft in the ball-tampering case.
  • The Australian Cricketers’ Association (ACA) termed the punishment on the trio harsh and called for a reconsideration, but CA chairman remained adamant and turned down the plea.
  • Skipper Smith and his deputy Warner were slapped with a one-year international ban while Bancroft was suspended for nine months by CA in March this year.

Hitachi and SBI form payments joint venture

  • The State Bank of India (SBI) and Hitachi Payment Services (Hitachi Payment) have entered into a joint venture (JV) to start a digital payment platform in India. The SBI would have a majority stake in the partnership. The joint venture will provide comprehensive suite of payment options to customers and merchants focussing on areas such as rollout of a nationwide card acceptance infrastructure, quick response (QR) code acceptance, Unified Payment Interface (UPI), mass transit sector and e-commerce businesses.
  • Hitachi Payment Services India, a wholly owned subsidiary of Hitachi Group, Japan.
  • SBI Chairman Rajnish Kumar

IBM to acquire software company Red Hat for $34 billion

  • IBM Corp had agreed to acquire U.S. software company Red Hat Inc for $34 billion, including debt, as it seeks to diversify its technology hardware and consulting business into higher-margin products and services. The acquisition implies its efforts to expand the company's subscription-based software offerings, as it faces slowing software sales and waning demand for mainframe servers.
  • IBM will pay $190 per share in cash for Red Hat, a 63 percent premium. This transaction is by far IBM's biggest acquisition. IBM has a market capitalization of $114 billion.
  • Red Hat founded in 1993, specializes in Linux operating systems, the most popular type of open-source software, which was developed as an alternative to proprietary software made by Microsoft Corp.
  • IBM was founded in 1911 and is known in the technology industry as Big Blue, a reference to its once ubiquitous blue computers.
  • IBM Chief Executive Ginni Rometty

India beat West Indies by 224 runs in 4th ODI

  • India defeated the West Indies by 224 runs in fourth ODI in Mumbai to take a 2-1 lead in the five-match series. Chasing a mammoth target of 378 runs, West Indies were all out for 153 in 36.2 overs.
  • Earlier, winning the toss and electing to bat, Rohit Sharma and Ambati Rayudu struck centuries to guide India to a mammoth 377 for five.

India tops as Asia’s most investment savvy economy: StanChart

  • According to a new Standard Chartered study, India is Asia’s most investment savvy economy and more than two-thirds of the country’s affluent class prefer to use various investment products to achieve their financial goals and greater social mobility.
  • As per the study, the number one financial goal for India’s emerging affluents is saving towards their children’s education which is also the top savings priority across the markets in the study.
  • The study said, 31% of emerging affluents is selecting mutual funds, a quarter (25%) choosing fixed income investments and 22% equity investments.

India, Japan sign $75 billion currency swap agreement

  • India and Japan signed a currency swap agreement worth $75 billion during Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to Japan. The currency swap agreement will aid in bringing greater stability to foreign exchange and capital markets in India.
  • A currency swap typically involves the exchange of interest and sometimes of principal in one currency for the same in another currency. Interest payments are exchanged at fixed dates through the life of the contract.

India, Qatar decide to establish joint commission to strengthen relations

  • India and Qatar decided to establish a joint commission to strengthen their relations in various fields with a view to furthering the common interest of the people of the two countries. The joint commission had been tasked with formulating the basis to strengthen the relations between India and Qatar.
  • Proposed joint commission will be co-chaired by ministers of External Affairs and Foreign Affairs of the two countries or their representatives
  • The proposed joint commission will focus on various areas including economic, commercial, cultural, scientific, technological, Information Technology and educational fields. The proposed joint commission has also been tasked to facilitate the exchange of information and expertise in different areas.
  • Qatar
  • Prime Minister: Abdullah bin Nasser bin Khalifa Al Thani
  • Emir: Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani
  • Capital: Doha
  • Currency: Qatari riyal

Indian paddler Raegan settles for silver at Egypt Open

  • Fourth seed Raegan Alburquerque went down fighting to China's Ding Shixian 8-11, 12-10, 11-13, 9-11, 11-13 in the Junior Boys Table Tennis final at the Egypt Open.
  • In Mini Cadet Boys singles, Vishal Rajveer Shah defeated Badr Mostafa of Egypt in another straight game final to claim the title. The Indian won 11-6, 11-6, 11-7.

Isle of Man International Chess tournament: Grandmaster B Adhiban finishes 3rd

  • Grandmaster B.Adhiban finished third at the Isle of Man International tournament, UK after beating highly-regarded Michael Adams of England in the ninth and final round.
  • The victory gave him 6.5 points and netted him in the pool of joint third spot after the other top results came in. Poland's Radoslav Wojtaszek emerged the winner of the event.

Italian PM to be on two-day visit to India

  • Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte will be on a two-day official visit to India. During his stay in India, the Italian prime minister will address the valedictory session of the India-Italy Technology Summit
  • India-Italy Technology Summit is organized by the Confederation of the Indian Industry (CII). This would be the 24th edition of the technology summit to be attended by a large Italian delegation led by Prime Minister Conte and his cabinet ministers.
  • The annual India-Italy Technology Summit benefits immensely the Indian industry and academic and research institutions in forging collaborations with global partners, including policy making.
  • Italy:
  • President: Sergio Mattarella
  • Prime: Giuseppe Conte
  • Capital: Rome
  • Currency: Euro

Japan agrees to 316 Billion Yen loan for seven major infrastructure projects in India

  • During the 13th India Japan Annual Bilateral Summit in Tokyo, Japan has agreed to provide loans of about 316 Billion Yen for seven major infrastructure projects in India. These include Mumbai-Ahmedabad Bullet Train, projects in Delhi, North East and Chennai.
  • Both the countries have agreed to forge a closer partnership in digital technologies, cyberspace, health, defence, ocean and space sciences as well.
  • The two sides have also agreed to establish a 22 dialogue between the Foreign Ministers and the Defence Ministers of the two countries in augmenting bilateral defence ties.
  • The two sides also exchanged 32 MoUs. A Letter of Intent was also exchanged in which 57 Japanese companies conveyed their decision to make an investment of about 2.5 billion US Dollars in India. 15 Indian companies have also come forward to invest in Japan.
  • Japan formally joining the International Solar Alliance-ISA after the ratification of its Framework Agreement. Japan will be the 71st country to sign the agreement and the 48th country to ratify it.
  • Japan:
  • Prime Minister: Shinzo Abe
  • Capital: Tokyo
  • Currency: Yen

Lewis Hamilton wins fifth Formula One world title at Mexico Grand Prix

  • Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton celebrated his fifth Formula One World Championship and joined an elite trio of greats after a Mexican Grand Prix won by Red Bull’s Max Verstappen for the second year in a row.
  • Hamilton equalled the five titles of late 1950s Argentine great Juan Manuel Fangio with only seven times champion Michael Schumacher above them, finished fourth while Ferrari rival Sebastian Vettel was second.
  • Hamilton had needed only five points to be sure of the title while four-time champion Vettel had to win to have any hope of denying the Briton.
  • Standings (top 10): Drivers:
  • 1. Lewis Hamilton 358 pts — champion
  • 2. Vettel 294,
  • 3. Raikkonen 236
  • 4. Bottas 227
  • 5. Verstappen 216
  • 6. Daniel Ricciardo 146

Maneka asks NCW to set up dedicated cell for cases related to NRI marriages

  • Women and Child Development Minister Maneka Gandhi has asked the National Commission for Women, NCW to set up a cell dedicated to cases related to NRI marriages and monitor them on a real-time basis.
  • She reviewed the progress of cases of wives who have been abandoned by their NRI husbands. She has asked lawyers representing these women to have weekly review meetings with the NRI cell of NCW.

More than 90% of the world’s children breathe toxic air every day: WHO

  • According to a new WHO report on Air pollution and child health, every day around 93% of the world’s children under the age of 15 years (1.8 billion children) breathe air that is so polluted it puts their health and development at serious risk.
  • Air pollution is one of the leading threats to child health, accounting for almost 1 in 10 deaths in children under five years of age. Air pollution also impacts neurodevelopment and cognitive ability and can trigger asthma, and childhood cancer.
  • Fourteen out of the 20 most polluted cities in the world are in India as per figures compiled and released earlier this year by the World Health Organization (WHO). Delhi tops the charts of bad air quality nationally.
  • The report says India faces the highest air pollution-related mortality and disease burden in the world with more than 2 million deaths occurring prematurely every year, accounting for 25% of the global deaths due to poor air quality.
  • WHO estimates that in 2016, 600,000 children died from acute lower respiratory infections caused by polluted air.
  • WHO: The World Health Organization is a specialized agency of the United Nations that is concerned with international public health
  • WHO Director-General: Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus
  • Headquarters: Geneva, Switzerland

New cabinet sworn in amid political crisis in Sri Lanka

  • The new cabinet of Sri Lanka's newly appointed Prime minister Mahinda Rajapakse was sworn amid growing pressure on President to convene early session of Parliament. However, ousted PM Ranil Wickremesinghe has demanded immediate convening of Parliament claiming he has the majority support.
  • Meanwhile, a total of 126 legislators out of the 225-member Parliament signed a petition urging speaker to call an emergency session of parliament.
  • Sri Lanka plunged into a political crisis when President sacked Mr. Wickremsinghe from his post and swore in Mahinda Rajapakse.
  • Sri Lanka
  • President: Maithripala Sirisena
  • Capitals: Colombo, Sri Jayawardenepura Kotte
  • Currency: Sri Lankan rupee

Nitin Gadkari to lay foundation for India’s largest Dry Dock

  • Road Transport and Highways Minister Nitin Gadkari will lay the foundation for India’s largest Dry Dock at Cochin Shipyard in Kerala. The Dry Dock will give a push to Make in India initiative under Sagarmala and raise India’s share in global shipbuilding to two percent.

Pakistan accepts India invite to SCO meet

  • India will host Pakistan and other member-countries of the China-led Shanghai Cooperation Organisation for a meeting on urban disaster handling this week. The meeting assumes significance as India had called off dialogue with Pakistan last month.
  • The National Disaster Response Force is hosting the preparatory meeting for the ‘Joint mock exercise on urban earthquake search and rescue’ to be held next year in India. The first phase of the meeting will be held from November 1 to 2 in Delhi.
  • Pakistan:
  • President: Arif Alvi
  • Prime Minister: Imran Khan
  • Capital: Islamabad
  • Currencies: Pakistani rupee

Plane carrying 189 people crashes off Indonesia

  • An aircraft with 189 people on board is believed to have sunk after crashing into the sea off Indonesia’s island of Java on Monday. The pilot of the plane had requested to return to base before it lost contact 13 minutes into the flight. The plane plunged into the Java Sea off Jakarta just 13 minutes after takeoff.
  • The crash is a significant blow to the country's aviation safety record after the lifting of bans on its airlines by the European Union and U.S.
  • Indonesia
  • President: Joko Widodo
  • Capital: Jakarta
  • Currency: Indonesian rupiah

PM to unveil Patel statue

  • Prime Minister Narendra Modi is set to unveil Sardar Patel’s statue, the world’s largest, on his birth anniversary on October 31. Final touches are being given to the Statue of Unity, as it is called, built by the engineering and infrastructure major L&T on the river Narmada in South Gujarat.
  • The statue is made up of 1,700 tonnes of bronze, 1,850 tonnes of bronze cladding, 70,000 metric tonnes of cement and 24,500 metric tonnes of steel.
  • The Rs. 3,000 crore project is funded for the most part by the Gujarat government, with minor contributions from the Centre and Central PSUs.

Scientists make world's first bio-brick using human urine

  • Students from the university of Cape town have made the world’s first bio-brick made using human urine. These young scientists developed the new building material by collecting urine from specially designed male urinals before mixing it with sand and bacteria.
  • The bio-bricks are created through a natural process called microbial carbonate precipitation.
  • The use of these bio-bricks would effectively result in zero waste as they are made in moulds at room temperature. Regular bricks are kiln-fired at temperatures around 1,400°C and produce vast quantities of carbon dioxide.

Union Bank posts Rs. 139 cr. net profit in Q2

  • State-run lender Union Bank of India reported a Rs. 139 crore net profit during the quarter ended June 30 as compared to a Rs. 1,531 crore loss in the corresponding quarter of the previous year. Its asset quality worsened with gross non-performing assets (NPAs) hitting 15.74% of gross advances as compared to 12.35% year ago. In absolute-terms, gross NPAs were Rs. 50,157.42 crore as on September 2018, against Rs. 38,285.84 crore in the year-ago period.
  • MD & CEO: Rajkiran Rai G