Daily Current Affairs - 07th May 2019

1 Million Animal And Plant Species Are At Risk Of Extinction, U.N. Report Says

  • Up to 1 million of the estimated 8 million plant and animal species on Earth are at risk of extinction — many of them within decades, according to scientists and researchers who produced a sweeping U.N. report on how humanity's burgeoning growth is putting the world's biodiversity at perilous risk.
  • The report lists a number of key global threats, from humans' use of land and sea resources to challenges posed by climate change, pollution and invasive species.
  • Some of the report's notable findings:
  • 75% of land environment and some 66% of the marine environment have been significantly altered by human actions.
  • More than a third of the world's land surface and nearly 75% of freshwater resources are used for crops or livestock.
  • Up to $577 billion in annual global crops are at risk from pollinator loss.
  • Between 100 million and 300 million people now face increased risk of floods and hurricanes because of loss of coastal habitats and protection.
  • Since 1992, the world's urban areas have more than doubled.
  • Plastic pollution has increased tenfold since 1980.

76% of new voters exercised franchise in four phases

  • Around 76% of new voters exercised their franchise in the first four phases of the Lok Sabha election. The overall turnout in these phases was 69.50%, 69.44%, 68.40% and 65.51%. As compared to the corresponding phases of the 2014 election, the 2019 elections have seen 7.85 crore more electors on the electoral rolls and close to six crore more voters turned out to vote till the fourth phase.

Anmol-Esha pair wins bronze

  • Anmol Jain and Esha Singh won the mixed air pistol team bronze medal in the Grand Prix of Liberation international shooting competition. The India-A team, which topped qualification with 776 out of 800, lost the race for better medals by 2.5 points to the Austrian and Italian teams.

Avengers: Endgame' crosses $2 billion in record time, topples 'Titanic'

  • Marvel Studios' 'Avengers: Endgame' has surpassed the $2 billion mark in its second weekend, beating the record for the fastest film to reach that milestone. This film is now the second-highest grossing movie of all time with $2.188 billion globally, passing "Titanic" in just 11 days. It took "Avatar", the previous record holder for quickest film to make $2 billion, 47 days to reach that benchmark.
  • 'Avengers: Endgame' is one of only five films to ever cross $2 billion in ticket sales, joining the company of "Avatar" ($2.78 billion), "Titanic" ($2.187 billion), "Star Wars: The Force Awakens" ($2.06 billion), and "Avengers: Infinity War" ($2.04 billion).

Bharti Airtel net rises 24%, telco logs exceptional gain of Rs. 2,022 cr.

  • Telecom operator Bharti Airtel has posted a surprise net profit of Rs. 107.2 crore for the fourth quarter ended March 31, a growth of 24.4% over the year-ago period, on the back of exceptional gain of Rs. 2,022 crore.
  • The company’s revenue for the March quarter was up 6.2% year-on-year to Rs. 20,602.2 crore. For the full fiscal 2018-19, Airtel’s net profit tanked 62.7% to Rs. 409.5 crore.
  • The relentless tariff war that ensued after Jio’s entry into the telecom sector with free voice calls and SMS, bundled with cheap data, has led to pressure on margins of older operators that have scrambled to match the competition.

Discom debt to return to pre-UDAY levels

  • According to Crisil’s analysis of discoms in 15 States, the aggregate external debt of State-owned electricity distribution companies (discoms) is set to increase to pre-Ujwal Discom Assurance Yojana (UDAY) levels of Rs. 2.6 lakh crore by the end of this fiscal. These 15 states account for 85% of the aggregate losses.
  • With most States having limited fiscal headroom, continuous financial support to their discoms may be difficult, Crisil opined. So discoms have to become commercially viable through prudent tariff hikes and a material reduction in aggregate technical and commercial (AT&C) losses.

ICICI Bank Q4 net declines 5% to Rs. 969 cr.

  • Private sector lender ICICI Bank reported a 5% decline in standalone net profit to Rs. 969 crore during the fourth quarter of 2018-19, compared to Rs. 1,020 crore during the same period of the previous year. The profit for Q4 of FY18 was boosted by a one-time gain of around Rs. 3,300 crore from stake sale in ICICI Securities, one of its subsidiaries.
  • Asset quality of the bank improved, as gross and net NPAs declined sequentially and on a year-on-year basis. The bank’s gross NPA as at end of March was Rs. 46,292 crore (or 6.7% of gross advances) as compared to Rs. 56,063 crore (8.84%) a year ago and Rs. 51,591 crore (7.75%) as at December end.

Israel, Gaza reach ceasefire agreement

  • Palestinian leaders in Gaza have agreed to a ceasefire with Israel to end a two-day escalation in violence. Egypt brokered the agreement to cease hostilities. Israel also lifted restrictions on civilian movements in communities around the Gaza border.
  • The escalation began on Saturday with rocket fire from Gaza, drawing waves of Israeli retaliatory strikes. At least 23 Palestinians, including at least nine militants, were killed.

Mali President names new government

  • In Mali, president Ibrahim Boubacar Keïta has named a new government after its predecessor resigned last month. President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita announced the new executive of 37 members under Prime Minister Boubou Cisse. He was appointed to oversee the formation of a broad-based government.
  • Cisse's predecessor and his entire cabinet resigned on April 18 following the massacre of 160 members of the Fulani herding community on March 23.
  • Mali
  • President: Ibrahim Boubacar Keïta
  • Prime minister: Boubou Cisse
  • Capital: Bamako
  • Currencies: CFA franc, West African CFA franc

Mastercard to invest $1 billion in India over five years

  • Global card payments major Mastercard has said it will invest $ 1 billion (about ?7,000 crore) in India in the next five years and plans to make the country a global technology node for its platforms. The company has already invested $1 billion in the Indian market in the last five years.
  • This investment will help foster innovation and increase Mastercard's speed-to-market capabilities and value-added services.
  • Of the $1 billion investment, over $300 million will be used to develop the India technology node. The rest of the investment will go towards existing services and expanding capacity among others

NGT directs Environment Ministry to furnish report on forest fires

  • Following a plea raising concerns over incidents of forest fires in Uttar Pradesh, Uttarakhand and Jammu and Kashmir, the National Green Tribunal has sought a report from the Union Environment Ministry.
  • Additionally, the bench sought a report on the preventive steps taken by the Centre and the State governments in accordance with previous orders passed by the National Green Tribunal.

No coercive action against VW, orders SC

  • The Supreme Court of India has restrained the Centre from taking any coercive step against German auto major Volkswagen for non-submission of Rs. 500 crore fine imposed by the National Green Tribunal for damaging environment through use of “cheat device” in its diesel cars in India.
  • The court order came on the eve of the deadline set by the NGT for Volkswagen India Private Limited, the Indian subsidiary of German auto major, to deposit the fine with the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB). The company has already deposited Rs. 100 crore with the CPCB.

Odisha seeks Rs. 10,000 cr. for power infrastructure

  • Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik has demanded Rs 17,000 crore long-term assistance from the Centre for the cyclone-ravaged state. During a review meeting on cyclone Fani held by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Patnaik sought Rs 10,000 crore for disaster-resilient power infrastructure.
  • He also sought Rs 7,000 crore for converting 5 lakh kutcha houses to pucca houses and for a disaster-resilient telecommunication network.
  • While the Centre had earlier released Rs 381 crore, Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced an additional fund of Rs 1,000 crore for the state.
  • Earlier, Odisha was affected by Cyclone Phailin in 2013, Cyclone Hudhud in 2014, drought in 2015 and Cyclone Titli in 2018.

Over 100 U.S. firms to join Dept. of Commerce on trade visit to India

  • The U.S. Commercial Service will bring more than 100 U.S. companies to India as part of the U.S. Department of Commerce’s largest annual trade mission program, Trade Winds. Trade Winds Indo-Pacific features a three-day business forum in New Delhi, with additional trade mission stops in Ahmedabad, Chennai, Kolkata, Mumbai, Bengaluru, Hyderabad, and Bangladesh.
  • At each mission stop, the attending companies will meet directly with government leaders, market experts and pre-vetted potential business partners.
  • Trade Winds, now in its 11th year, has directly supported more than $3.4 billion in U.S. exports in over 40 countries, and in 2018, U.S. exports of goods and services to the Indo-Pacific were more than $476 billion.

Panama's Cortizo declares victory in presidential vote

  • Former Panamanian minister Laurentino Cortizo declared victory in presidential polls that saw a large number of voters turn out amid concerns over corruption scandals and the country’s image as a money-launderer’s paradise.
  • With 90.9 per cent of the vote counted, Cortizo led with 33 per cent, followed by Roux with 31 per cent and Lombana with 19.5 per cent,
  • But Panama’s Electoral Tribunal has yet to announce an official result due to the narrow difference in tallies between contenders for the country’s top office.
  • Panama
  • Capital: Panama City
  • Currency: Panamanian balboa, United States dollar

RBI raises cap on home loans by SFBs, RRBs

  • The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) has increased the eligibility cap on home loans extended by regional rural banks and small finance banks to Rs. 35 lakh in metropolitan areas and Rs. 25 lakh in other centres, provided the overall cost of the dwelling unit in the metropolitan centres and other centres does not exceed Rs. 45 lakh and Rs. 30 lakh.
  • All such loans will be now classified by these banks as priority sector loans.
  • In addition, the existing family income limit of Rs. 2 lakh per annum to be eligible for loans for housing projects exclusively for construction of houses for Economically Weaker Sections (EWS) and Low Income Groups (LIG), is revised to Rs. 3 lakh per annum for EWS and Rs. 6 lakh per annum for LIG, in alignment with the income criteria specified under the Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana.

Roger Federer climbs to third in men's rankings

  • Former world number one Roger Federer has returned to third in the ATP Men's rankings, replacing Alexander Zverev after the reigning champion was knocked out of the Munich Open at the quarter-finals stage.
  • Novak Djokovic remains first ahead of Rafael Nadal as world number one, a record only bettered on four occasions in the past.
  • Japan's Naomi Osaka remained atop of WTA Women's rankings, ahead of Czech Petra Kvitova and Romanian Simona Halep.

SC in-house committee gives clean chit to CJI Gogoi in sexual harassment case

  • The three-judge panel constituted to look into the sexual harassment charges against Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi has dismissed the charges against him. The three-judge panel, headed by Justice Sharad Bobde, filed a report stating that “it did not find any substance in the allegations” made by the former Supreme Court staffer who, in a sworn affidavit, had accused CJI Ranjan Gogoi of sexual harassment.
  • Referring to the Supreme Court judgement in the 2003 Indira Jaising case, the panel added that the report of the committee constituted as a part of the in-house procedure is not liable to be made public.
  • The committee comprised of Justices Sharad Bobde, Indu Malhotra and Indira Banerjee.

Stevo Pendarovski won North Macedonia’s presidential elections

  • Stevo Pendarovski, supported by the ruling Social Democrats (SDSM), has won the North Macedonian presidency in a run-off vote. He garnered 51.66 percent of the vote in North Macedonia, beating nationalist VMRO's Gordana Siljanovska-Davkova which got 44.73 percent. The remaining 3.61 percent of the votes were void.
  • North Macedonia
  • Capital: Skopje
  • Currency: Macedonian denar

Sushma, Qureshi to attend SCO meet

  • External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj and Pakistan’s Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi will attend the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation Council of Foreign Ministers in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan, later this month, for the first time since a proposed meeting between them in New York last September was cancelled.
  • The two-day meeting, concluding on May 22, assumes significance ahead of the planned heads of government meeting, also in Bishkek on June 14 and 15.
  • This meeting is expected to be attended by the newly appointed Prime Minister and his Pakistani counterpart, Imran Khan.