Daily Current Affairs - 01st Feb 2019

Ajai Kumar is interim CEO of Yes Bank

  • Ajai Kumar, a board member of Yes Bank, will hold the charge of managing director and chief executive officer till the new CEO Ravneet Gill joins the lender. Yes Bank stated that the Reserve Bank of India had approved the interim appointment of Mr. Kumar.
  • Mr. Kumar, the former chairman and managing director of Corporation Bank, is the non-executive non-independent director of bank since 2016.
  • Ravneet Gill is expected to take charge by March 1.

BEL chosen to fortify naval air stations

  • To strengthen the perimeter security of its air stations, the Indian Navy has finalized a Rs. 700 crore contract with Bharat Electronics Limited (BEL) for establishing an upgraded Naval Airfield Integrated Security System.
  • The contract was signed on January 22, and the implementation would be completed between January and June 2020
  • After terrorists attacked the Pathankot Air Force Station, this system was formulated as a comprehensive project for upgrading the security of naval airfields.

Bharti Airtel net slides 72% to Rs. 86.2 crore

  • Bharti Airtel’s net profit fell for the 11th consecutive quarter, plunging almost 72% year-on-year to Rs. 86.2 crore for the third quarter ended December 31. It had registered a net profit of Rs. 305.8 crore in October-December 2017 quarter.
  • Consolidated revenues stood at Rs. 20,519 crore, up marginally by 1% from Rs. 20,318.6 crore.

Coca-Cola bowls out PepsiCo on ICC pitch, becomes global sponsor

  • Coca-Cola has replaced Pepsi Co as the global sponsor of the International Cricket Council (ICC), breaking the latter's eight-year deal that was signed in 2015. The deal size is estimated at Rs 300 crore over a five-year period till 2023.

Core sector grows slowest in 18 months

  • Eight core sectors grew at their slowest pace in 18 months at 2.6% in December 2018 due to the fall in output of crude oil, refinery products and fertilizers. Crude oil, refinery products and fertilizer output posted negative growth of 4.3%, 4.8% and 2.4% respectively in December 2018. The previous lowest expansion in output of these key sectors was recorded in June 2017 at 1%.
  • The growth rate of the infrastructure sectors — coal, crude oil, natural gas, refinery products, fertilizers, steel, cement and electricity — stood at 3.8% in December 2017.

DAC approves indigenous construction of 6 submarines worth Rs 40000 cr

  • The Defence Acquisitions Council, DAC chaired by Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman approved indigenous construction of six submarines worth 40 thousand crore rupees. It is the second project under the Ministry's ambitious strategic partnership model aiming to boost the government's Make in India' program.
  • The construction of six advanced submarines under project 75(India) will provide a major boost to submarine design and manufacturing ecosystem in India through the transfer of design, equipment technology and skill sets.
  • Defence Acquisitions Council has also approved the acquisition of about five thousand MILAN Anti Tank Guided Missiles for the Army.

FMCG sector to clock double-digit growth

  • According to the latest study by market research firm Nielsen, the FMCG industry is expected to grow between 11% and 12% in 2019, which is a tad lower than the 13.8% growth in 2018. The growth in the current year will be primarily on the back of conducive macroeconomic environment, rural consumption, sustained benefits of GST regime and election impact.

Germany, France and UK set up transactions channel with Iran

  • Germany, France and the UK have set up a payment channel with Iran called INSTEX, to help continue trade and circumvent US sanctions. The long-awaited special payment system will help save the Iran nuclear deal by allowing it to keep trading with EU companies despite US reimposing sanctions after its President Donald Trump abruptly quit the accord last year.
  • The new institution, called INSTEX is a project of the three governments, which will receive the formal endorsement of all 28 EU members.

Govt approves construction of over 7.8 lakh more affordable houses

  • The Union government has approved construction of four lakh 78 thousand 670 more affordable houses for the benefit of urban poor under Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana (Urban). Out of total houses, over one lakh houses each have been sanctioned for Andhra Pradesh and West Bengal.
  • The number of houses sanctioned for Uttar Pradesh is over 91 thousand, for Tamil Nadu over 68 thousand, for Madhya Pradesh over 35 thousand and for Kerala over 25 thousand.

GSAT-31 to be launched from Kourou next week

  • The Indian Space Research Organisation will get its new communication satellite GSAT-31 aloft in space on February 6 from French Guiana on a hired European rocket. GSAT-31, weighing roughly 2,500 kg, will replace the INSAT-4CR.

GST collections in January cross Rs 1 lakh crore mark

  • The GST collections in January this year has crossed one lakh crore rupees mark which has been a significant improvement in comparison to GST collection over 94 thousand crore rupees during last month. In January last year the GST collection was 89 thousand crore rupees.
  • The increase in GST collection this month has been achieved despite various tax relief measures implemented by the GST Council to lower the tax burden on the consumers.

India to take on Italy in Davis Cup World Group qualifiers

  • India will take on Italy in the Davis Cup World Group qualifiers beginning in Kolkata.
  • Prajnesh will clash with Italian Matteo Berrettini while Andreas Seppi, who will be leading the Italian challenge, will face Ramkumar Ramanathan in the singles.
  • In the doubles match to be played, Rohan Bopanna and Divij Sharan will lead India against Italy's duo Marco Cecchinato and Simone Bolleli.
  • The rejigged Davis Cup enters a new era with 12 qualifiers across the globe on the road to Madrid Finals in November.

Israel Aerospace Industries announces agreement worth $93 million with Indian Navy, Cochin Shipyard

  • Israel Aerospace Industries(IAI) has announced entering into agreements worth $93 million this week for providing Naval Medium Range Surface-to-Air Missile systems to India. Under the contracts, IAI will provide complementary systems for the air defense system.
  • Last week, the Indian Navy, in collaboration with IAI, held an interception test aboard INS Chennai, which assessed for the first time potential collaboration between ships

LT Gen Rajeev Chopra Takes Over as Director General of NCC

  • Lt Gen Rajeev Chopra assumed the appointment of Director General of NCC (DGNCC). Lt Gen Chopra is an alumnus of the National Defence Academy, Khadakwasla and Indian Military Academy, Dehradun.
  • The National Cadet Corps is an Indian military cadet corps with its Headquarters at New Delhi, Delhi, India. It is open to school and college students on voluntary basis.
  • National Cadet Corps is a Tri-Services Organization, comprising the Army, Navy and Air Force, engaged in grooming the youth of the country into disciplined and patriotic citizens

New H-1B visa filing rule to give priority to workers with advanced degrees from US

  • The US has announced a new H-1B visa filing rule from April under which priority would be given to foreign workers with advanced degrees from American universities. The final rule reverses the order by which the US Citizenship and Immigration Services ,USCIS selects H-1B petitions under the regular cap and the advanced degree exemption. The new rule will go into effect on April 1.
  • With this US employers seeking to employ foreign workers with a US master's or higher degree will have a greater chance of selection in the H-1B lottery in years of excess demand for new H-1B visas.
  • The H-1B visa, popular among Indian IT professionals, is a non-immigrant visa that allows US companies to employ foreign workers in specialty occupations that require theoretical or technical expertise.
  • The number of H-1B visas granted annually is capped at 65,000, and another 20,000 are reserved for people who hold advanced degrees from US higher education institutions.

New Zealand beat India by 8 wickets

  • New Zealand's Trent Boult and Colin de Grandhomme wreaked havoc with the new ball to bundle out a India for 92 to help hosts pull off a stunning eight-wicket win in the fourth ODI. This is India's seventh lowest total in the 50-over format.
  • With India put to bat, paceman Boult troubled the Indian batsmen with his swing to return with impressive figures of 5 for 21.
  • India's lowest ODI total is 54 against Sri Lanka at Sharjah in 2000.

Paytm Launches Domestic Hotel Bookings, Acquires Noida-Based NightStay

  • Paytm has forayed into hotel bookings and announced the acquisition of NightStay, a luxury hotel-booking platform that offers deals on last-minute bookings. Paytm is set to invest Rs. 500 crores to scale up its operations and expand the hotel-booking portfolio.
  • NightStay co-founder and CEO Nasr Khan will be leading the newly launched hotel-booking category at Paytm.
  • Paytm is owned by One97 Communications.

RBI lifts curbs on three PSBs

  • The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) has decided to allow three public sector banks — Bank of India, Bank of Maharashtra and Oriental Bank of Commerce — to exit the PCA framework following capital infusion by the government and a decline in net non-performing asset ratio.
  • The RBI, which conducted a review following a demand made by government to lift the restrictions in order to boost credit growth.
  • The PCA framework is triggered when a bank breaches one of the three risk thresholds, and crossing 6% net NPAs is one of them.

Ujjivan Small Finance Bank launches Ujjivan Bank Kisan Suvidha loan for small and marginal farmers

  • Ujjivan Small Finance Bank (SFB) announced the launch of Ujjivan Bank Kisan Suvidha loan to offer financial credit services to small and marginal farmers. It is the first bank in this category to offer collateral free loans for both agriculture and allied activities such as dairy purchase and maintenance, post-harvest transportation, farm implements purchase, fishery, sheep rearing, sericulture, floriculture, mushroom farming and ad hoc requirements like coconut farm maintenance and vegetable farm development.
  • The product provides hassle free loans to individuals with amount ranging from Rs60, 000 – Rs2 lakhs. The product is launched across four states namely, Tamil Nadu, West Bengal, Karnataka and Odisha.

Unemployment rate at 6.1% in 2017-18, highest in over 4 decades: NSSO survey

  • According to the National Sample Survey Office (NSSO) report, unemployment in India stood at 6.1 percent in 2017-18, the highest in 45 years. The report, which is yet to be made public, states that this level of unemployment was last seen in 1972-73.
  • According to the survey, the rate of unemployment among rural males in the age group of 15-29 years was at 17.4 percent, more than three times the 2011-12 rate of 5 percent.
  • A similar trend was seen in females in the same age group, where the rate jumped from 4.8 percent in 2011-12 to 13.6 percent in 2017-18.
  • The rate of joblessness for urban youths was a whopping 18.7 percent for males and 27.2 percent for females.
  • Even the labour force participation rate (LFPR), which is indicative of the share of the population looking for jobs, came down from 39.5 percent in 2011-12 to 36.9 percent in 2017-18.

UNESCO Launched International Year Of The Periodic Table Of Chemical Elements

  • The International Year of the Periodic Table of Chemical Elements was launched at UNESCO's Headquarters, Paris. Various events and activities will be held throughout the year to celebrate the 150th anniversary of the organisation of the periodic table by Russian scientist Dmitri Mendeleev, one of the fathers of modern chemistry.
  • This event brought together scientists, representatives of the private sector.
  • UNESCO
  • The Director-General of UNESCO:Audrey Azoulay
  • Headquarters: Paris, France

UNSC adopts resolution to extend sanctions against CAR for another year

  • The United Nations Security Council has adopted a resolution to extend sanctions against the Central African Republic (CAR) for another year.
  • Resolution adopted unanimously by the 15-member council, decides to renew the sanctions that includes - an arms embargo, travel ban and asset freeze till January 31, 2020.
  • The CAR has been mired in a civil war since 2012. The presence of armed groups has prevented the government from establishing state authority in most parts of the country.
  • Central African Republic
  • President: Faustin-Archange Touadéra
  • Capital: Bangui
  • Currency: Central African CFA franc

US urges Venezuela's Maduro to accept amnesty

  • The United States has urged Venezuela's President Nicolas Maduro to accept an amnesty offer from opposition leader Juan Guaido, whom it recognized as President. Mr. Guaido last week declared himself the interim president of Venezuela and was swiftly recognized by the United States and key Latin American nations amid a spiralling economic crisis under Mr Maduro's leftist regime.
  • With the military leadership still backing Mr Maduro, Mr Guaido offered amnesty for anyone who disavows the president and has suggested a similar offer for Maduro himself.
  • Meanwhile, the European Parliament voted to recognize Venezuela’s Juan Guaidó as acting President and urged the European Union (EU) and its member states to follow suit.
  • Venezuela
  • Capital: Caracas
  • Currencies: Venezuelan bolívar, Sovereign Bolivar