Daily Current Affairs - 01st Jan 2019

23 goods and services become cheaper from today

  • 23 goods and services, including movie tickets, TV and monitor screens and power banks become cheaper from today as the reduced Goods and Services Tax (GST) on them came in to effect from January 1.
  • The GST Council on December 22 had decided to cut tax rates on 23 goods and services and exempted Music books, preserved vegetables and savings bank accounts under the Jan Dhan Yojana from the Tax.

Allahabad Bank, SBI Life join hand for bancassurance partnership

  • State-owned Allahabad Bank has tied up with SBI Life Insurance to sell the policies of the insurer from over 3,200 branches.
  • The tie-up, one of the largest Bancassurance partnerships in the country, will see 3,238 branches of Allahabad Bank across the country offer SBI Life's range of protection, wealth creation and savings products to its customers, it said.
  • Allahabad Bank Managing Director (MD) and Chief Executive Officer: Mallikarjuna Rao
  • SBI Life MD & CEO: Sanjeev Nautiyal.

ASI declared 6 monuments of national importance in 2018

  • The 125-year-old Old High Court Building in Nagpur, Maharashtra, and two Mughal-era monuments in Agra — Haveli of Agha Khan and Hathi Khana are among the six monuments declared protected and of national importance by the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) in 2018.
  • The ancient Neemrana Baori in Rajasthan's Alwar district; the Group of Temples at Ranipur Jharail in Odisha's Bolangir; and the Vishnu Temple in Kotali, Pithoragarh district, Uttarkhand, are the three other monuments that have been listed.
  • There were 3,686 centrally protected monuments/sites under the ASI in the country; the number has now increased to 3,693. Uttar Pradesh (745 monuments/sites), Karnataka (506) and Tamil Nadu (413) have the highest number of ASI-maintained sites.

Banking sector on course to recovery as afflicting NPAs recede: RBI Governor

  • RBI Governor Shaktikanta Das has said, the banking sector is on course to recovery as the afflicting non-performing assets recede, but stated that the state-run lenders need reforms in governance.
  • He said this in his foreword to RBI's half-yearly financial stability report (FSR) in Mumbai even though the current NPA levels are high, stress tests done by the RBI have pointed to an improvement in the ratio in future.

Credit flow to agriculture increased by 57 per cent: Govt

  • The Union Agriculture Ministry has stated that the agricultural credit flow was increased by 57 per cent to Rs 11 lakh crore in the last 4 years, Interest subsidy has also been increased by one and half times to 15 thousand crore rupees.
  • In order to increase the income of farmers, 546 Farmer Producer Organizations (FPO) has been constituted. For landless farmers, the Joint Liability Group has been increased from around six lakh to over 27 lakh.
  • Minimum Support Prices of 24 crops have been raised by 1.5 times of the production cost.

Devastating storm Usman leaves 68 dead in the Philippines

  • At least 68 people have died in a tropical storm Usman in the Philippines. The storm has resulted in heavy rain and triggered deadly landslides hit the Bicol region in Manila. The tropical depression has destroyed infrastructure and displaced more than 40,000 people nationwide.
  • Certain areas are also experiencing power outages. Several houses have been buried in landslides.

Fourfold jump in bank frauds: RBI

  • In the financial stability report presented by the RBI stated that there has been a fourfold increase in the quantum of money swindled by fraudsters from banks in the last four years.
  • 5,917 frauds involving an amount of Rs. 41,167 crore were reported by the banks in fiscal year 2017-18, as against 4,306 frauds entailing an amount of Rs. 10,170 crore in FY14.

Fund raising via NCD surges 3-fold to Rs 29,300-cr in 2018

  • According to SEBI data, Indian companies raised over Rs. 29,300 crore by issuing non-convertible debentures (NCDs) to retail investors in 2018 to meet their business requirements, representing a threefold surge compared to the preceding year. Companies mobilised Rs. 9,779 crore from this route last year.
  • NCDs are loan-linked bonds that cannot be converted into stocks and usually offer higher interest rates than convertible.

Funds given for 4 new tribal research institutes in northeast

  • Minister of State, Tribal Affairs, Jaswantsinh Bhabhor informed the Lok Sabh that during 2017-18 and 2018-19, funds have been provided for setting up new tribal research institutes (TRIs) in Arunachal Pradesh, Nagaland, Sikkim and Mizoram. At present, there are 25 TRIs in 24 States and one Union territory.
  • The core responsibility of TRIs is to function as a body of knowledge and research for development and preservation of tribal cultural heritage.

Govt approves additional assistance of over Rs 1,146 cr to Tamil Nadu

  • The Union government has approved the additional assistance of over 1,146 crore rupees to Tamil Nadu from the National Disaster Response Fund, which was affected by cyclone – Gaja. The approval was given by a High Level Committee chaired by Home Minister Rajnath Singh in New Delhi.

Govt infuses about Rs 11,000 capital in four public sector banks to enhance lending capacity

  • The union government has infused 10,882 crore rupees in four public sector banks, including UCO Bank and Syndicate Bank. It is a part of 28,615 crore rupees capital infusion to be done in about half a dozen public sector lenders.
  • UCO Bank has received 3,074 crore rupees in the equity by way of preferential allotment. Besides, Bank of Maharashtra got 4,498 crore rupees, Syndicate Bank 1,632 crore rupees and Central Bank of India 1,678 crore rupees.
  • The recapitalisation would enhance the lending capacity of PSBs and help them come out of the Reserve Bank of India's Prompt Corrective Action (PCA) framework.

ICC announces women's ODI and T20I teams of the year

  • International Cricket Council, ICC, announced women's ODI and T20I teams of the year 2018.
  • New Zealand’s Suzie Bates was named as captain of the 50-over side while Harmanpreet Kaur of India was appointed captain of the T20 team.
  • Smriti Mandhana and Poonam Yadav are the two Indians who feature in both the ODI and T20I squads.

Kohli, Rabada maintain top spot in year-end ICC Test Player Rankings

  • Virat Kohli and South Africa maintained their respective pole positions in the year-end ICC Test Player Rankings. Kohli enjoys a 34-point lead over nearest rival Kane Williamson of New Zealand despite dropping three points.
  • Rabada holds the top spot ahead of England's seasoned fast bowler James Anderson with six points ahead.

Loan subsidy for middle-income group extended till March 2020

  • Minister for Housing and Urban Affairs Hardeep Singh Puri said that the Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana, PMAY loan subsidy for middle-income group has been extended till 31st March 2020. About one lakh beneficiaries have taken benefit of the scheme so far.
  • Under PMAY, 68.7 lakh houses have been sanctioned, 37 lakh houses have been grounded and 13.5 lakh have been completed and handed over.An investment of 3.85 lakh crore rupees has been envisaged under the mission.
  • So far more than 6 thousand 9 hundred crore rupees interest subsidy on housing loans have been disbursed to over 3.14 lakh beneficiaries of Credit Linked Subsidy Scheme CLSS under Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana (Urban).

Lok Sabha passes Indian Medical Council (Amendment) Bill

  • The Lok Sabha passed the Indian Medical Council (Amendment) Bill. It amends the Indian Medical Council Act, 1956 and replaces the Indian Medical Council (Amendment) Ordinance, 2018.
  • The Bill is aimed at revamping medical education regulatory system in the country. The 1956 Act provides for supersession of the MCI and its reconstitution within a period of three years.
  • Whereas this bill amends this provision to provide for the supersession of the MCI for a period of one year.

Price of open market LPG refills slashed

  • The union government has slashed non-subsidised LPG price by Rs. 120.5 per cylinder w.e.f. January 1, 2019, due to fall in price of LPG in international market and strengthening of U.S. dollar-rupee exchange rate. Consumers will now pay Rs. 689 per unsubsidised cylinder, down from Rs. 809.5.
  • As domestic LPG prices are subsidised, the effective price to consumer will reduce by Rs. 5.91/cylinder (from Rs. 500.90 in December 2018 to Rs. 494.99 for January 2019).

RBI reserves ratio among the highest

  • Analysis of the balance sheets of the central banks of 10 comparable economies shows that the RBI's reserves as a percentage of its balance sheet is among the highest, a report by consultancy firm Quantum Advisors found.
  • The RBI’s reserves was about Rs. 10.5 lakh crore — form 26.2% its balance sheet. Only two central banks those of South Africa and Russia have a reserve ratio higher than this. The other two BRICS nations, China and Brazil, have reserve ratios of 1.7% and 0.2%, respectively.
  • However, the bulk of these reserves are notional and thus their value can only be unlocked when the underlying assets are sold

Russian President signs executive order to ensure country's effective participation in G 20

  • Russian President Vladimir Putin has signed an executive order on setting up an interdepartmental commission to ensure the country's effective participation in the Group of 20 industrialized nations.
  • Putin appointed Russia's G20 Sherpa Svetlana Lukash as chair of the interdepartmental commission.

SEBI rules for physical settlement of derivatives

  • The Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI) has directed exchanges to move stock derivatives in a phased manner to physical settlement mechanism based on their respective daily market capitalization averaged for December 2018.
  • It has said that all stock derivatives that are cash-settled would be ranked in descending order based on the above criteria and thereafter, the bottom 50 stock derivatives would be moved to physical settlement from April 2019 expiry.
  • On March 28, SEBI decided to move towards physical settlement for all stock derivatives.

Three Indian-Origin Women Scientists Among 60 Superstars Of STEM Announced By Australian Government

  • Three women scientists of Indian- origin— Onisha Patel, Devika Kamath and Asha Rao, have made it in the list of 60 Superstars of Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM), announced recently by the Australian government.
  • The Australian government is reportedly planning to train them for over a year to become influencers for female students to address the gender gap in STEM.

V K Yadav appointed new railway board chairman

  • V.K. Yadav, General Manager, South Central Railway, has been appointed the new Railway Board Chairman. Mr. Yadav takes over from Ashwani Lohani, who retired.
  • Yadav belongs to the 1980 batch of the Indian Railway Service of Electrical Engineers.
  • Mr. Lohani was appointed Chairman after A.K. Mital resigned in August, 2017, following the derailment of the Kaifiyat Express in Uttar Pradesh.