Daily Current Affairs - 15th May 2019

17 developing countries call for strengthening WTO

  • Seventeen developing countries have stressed on working collectively to strengthen the World Trade Organisation-WTO to promote development and inclusivity for the benefits of all members. A 13 point declaration was signed by these nations at the end of the two-day Ministerial meeting of developing countries in New Delhi.
  • These countries include Egypt, Barbados, Jamaica, Malaysia, India, Indonesia and South Africa. A total of 22 countries attended the meeting.
  • According to the document, the process of WTO reform must keep development at its core, promote inclusive growth and fully take into account the interests and concerns of developing members.

Centre extends ban on LTTE for 5 years

  • The Union Home Ministry had issued a fresh notification extending ban on the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam, LTTE in India for a further period of five years.
  • The Ministry said that LTTE, even after its military defeat in May 2009 in Sri Lanka, has not abandoned the concept of Eelam and has been secretly working towards the Eelam cause by undertaking fundraising and propaganda activities in Europe.
  • The remnant LTTE leaders or cadres have also initiated efforts to regroup the scattered activists and resurrect the outfit locally and internationally.
  • LTTE was banned in India after the assassination of former Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi in 1991.

CEO, CFO exit Jet after ‘disappointing’ bid

  • Jet Airways (India) Ltd. has announced the resignation of its Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Vinay Dube and Deputy Chief Executive Officer and Chief Financial Officer (CFO) Amit Agarwal, who stepped down days after the ‘disappointing bid’ by Etihad Airways. Jet Airways’ shares plunged 7.42% to Rs. 129.10 on the BSE.

Doris Day, legendary singer and actress, dies

  • Doris Day, the honey-voiced singer and actress whose film dramas, musicals and innocent sex comedies made her a top star in the 1950s and ’60s and among the most popular screen actresses in history, has died. She was 97.
  • In 2004, she was awarded the US Presidential Medal of Freedom for her achievements in the entertainment industry and for her work on behalf of animals.

DRDO conducts successful flight test of ABHYAS

  • Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) conducted successful flight test of ABHYAS - High-speed Expendable Aerial Target (HEAT) from Interim Test Range, Chandipur in Odisha.
  • The flight test was tracked by various RADARS and Electro Optic Systems and proved its performance in a fully autonomous way point navigation mode.
  • The configuration of ABHYAS is designed on an in-line small gas turbine engine and uses indigenously developed MEMS-based navigation system for its navigation and guidance.

Former SC Justice MB Lokur appointed to Supreme Court of Fiji for three years

  • Retired Supreme Court judge Justice Madan Lokur has been appointed to the Supreme Court of Fiji’s non-resident panel for three years. The Supreme Court of Fiji has three sessions in a year. Justice Lokur will attend the August session from August 15 to August 30, 2019.
  • Justice Madan Lokur retired as Supreme Court judge on December 31, 2018, after a tenure of more than 6 years. He was appointed as judge of the Supreme Court on June 4, 2012.

India extends U.S. retaliatory tariff deadline

  • The Union government has again extended its deadline to impose retaliatory import duties on 29 U.S. products, including almond, walnut and pulses, till June 16. The implementation of increased customs duty on specified imports originating in the U.S. had been postponed from May 16 to June 16 this year.
  • This extension by the government comes in the backdrop of the U.S.’ decision to withdraw export incentives being provided to Indian exporters under the Generalised System of Preferences programme, which is expected to impact India’s exports to the U.S. worth $5.6 billion under this scheme.

India finds OECD index for services trade faulty

  • India has found problems with the current method under which the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) ranks countries based on their services trade policies, indicating the outcomes are biased and counter-intuitive.
  • The Services Trade Restrictiveness Index (STRI) launched in 2014 and computed by the OECD, is now available for 2018 for a total of 45 economies (36 OECD and the rest non-OECD) and 22 sectors. The existing system, developed by the OECD, has significant quantitative and qualitative flaws. Further, it is biased towards developed countries.
  • India has approached several developing countries during the recently-concluded World Trade Organization talks in New Delhi to try to build consensus around the new method of measuring trade restrictiveness in the services sector.

India to co-chair Consultative Group (CG) of Global Facility for Disaster Reduction and Recovery (GFDRR)

  • India has been unanimously chosen as co-chair of the Consultative Group (CG) of Global Facility for Disaster Reduction and Recovery (GFDRR) for the fiscal year 2020.
  • GFDRR is a global partnership that helps developing countries better understand and reduce their vulnerability to natural hazards and climate change. It is is a grant-funding mechanism, managed by the World Bank, that supports disaster risk management projects worldwide.
  • India became a member of CG of GFDRR in 2015 and expressed its interest to co-chair during the last meeting of the group held in October 2018.

India to decide on Iran crude imports after polls

  • India will take a call on the purchase of Iranian energy after the general elections, External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj told her Iranian counterpart Javad Zarif. The discussions come in the backdrop of escalating tensions in the Gulf after the U.S. waivers for supply of Iranian energy ended on May 2, prompting Iran to declare that it would no longer be bound by the 2015 nuclear deal.

India's GS Lakshmi first woman on ICC international panel of match referees

  • India's G.S. Lakshmi has become the first woman to be appointed to ICC's international panel of match referees and will be eligible to officiate in international games with immediate effect. Lakshmi, who first officiated as a match referee in domestic women's cricket in 2008-09, has overseen three women's ODI matches and three women's T20 International matches.
  • Claire Polosak had become the first ever woman umpire to stand in a men's ODI, earlier this month.

Indian Bank reports net loss of Rs 190 cr in Q4 due to IL&FS provisioning

  • Public sector bank Indian Bank posted a net loss of Rs 190 crore during the quarter ended March 31, 2019, compared to a profit of Rs 131 crore in the same period last year. The loss was due to a provision of around Rs 220 crore towards IL&FS' account and another undisclosed corporate account.
  • Indian Bank's provisions in the March quarter (Q4) of financial year (FY) 2019 at Rs 1,639 crore, up 6 per cent compared to Rs 1,546 crore in FY2018. Gross NPA in Q4 was 7.11 per cent, down from 7.46 per cent sequentially.
  • Meanwhile, the bank is planning to raise Rs 1,500 crore of growth capital and plans to rope in a strategic partner for its NBFC arm, which recently got a deposit licence.
  • Chairperson and Managing Director Padmaja Chunduru

NGT directs 18 states, 2 UTs to submit action plan on utilization of treated wastewater

  • The National Green Tribunal has directed 18 states and two Union Territories to submit an action plan to ensure utilization of treated waste to reduce pressure on the groundwater resources throughout the country. The states which have not submitted action plans include Gujarat, Assam, Bihar, Punjab, Uttar Pradesh and Uttarakhand. It also noted that only nine states and five UTs have submitted the action plan
  • NGT Chairperson Justice Adarsh Kumar Goel has directed the states and UTs to submit the action plan within three months to the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB).

NMDC to invest $1 bn in infrastructure

  • National Mineral Development Corporation (NMDC) is investing about $1 billion in infrastructure in the next three years to help ramp up iron ore production. The cost of the upcoming three-million tonne capacity steel plant would go up to Rs 19,000 crore against the estimated over Rs 15,500 at the time of conception. It has already invested nearly Rs 14,500 crore on the plant.

Paytm First Card launched in collaboration with Citibank

  • Paytm the digital payments company has launched its first credit card in association with Citibank called Paytm First Card. The new credit card hyped to offer one per cent "unlimited cash back universally" to the customers.
  • The company says it's unlimited one per cent cash back to be auto-credited every month without any restrictions through the new credit card.
  • Chairman and CEO of Paytm: Vijay Shekhar Sharma

Putin tells Pompeo he wants to 'fully restore' US-Russian ties

  • Russian President Vladimir Putin has said he would like to fully restore relations with the United States and believes that his counterpart Donald Trump also wants the same. At a joint news conference with US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo in Sochi, Putin said that his country had not interfered in US elections.
  • He further said that a report by US Special Counsel Robert Mueller had found no evidence of collusion with Trump’s 2016 campaign.

RBI names Gandhi to Yes Bank board

  • The Reserve Bank of India has appointed its former Deputy Governor R. Gandhi as an additional director on the board of private sector lender Yes Bank with immediate effect. The appointment is for two years, that is till May 13, 2021.
  • Yes Bank had posted its first-ever quarterly loss of Rs. 1,507 crore in the March quarter.
  • MD & CEO of Yes Bank: Ravneet Gill.

Shagun best-placed Indian in women's trap at Changwon Shotgun WC

  • Shagun Chowdhary shot 65 out of 75 to emerge the best-placed Indian at 34th position after day one of the Women's Trapshooting qualifiers at the International Shooting Sport Federation World Cup Shotgun in Changwon, Korea.
  • Shagun shot rounds of 21, 21 and 23 to lie at 34th spot with France's Carole Cormenier. Meanwhile, China's Wang Xiaojing leading the 59-strong field with scores of 72 each at the year's third Shotgun World Cup stage.

UN mission urges cutting off financial ties with Myanmar army

  • A United Nations fact-finding mission had called for financial isolation of Myanmar's military as part of efforts to hold the army accountable for human rights abuses. The independent investigators, working under a mandate from the UN Human Rights Council, said in a statement that there has been no progress toward resolving the crisis over Myanmar's mostly Muslim Rohingya minority.
  • The mission found that the military has committed atrocities against many ethnic groups living within Myanmar. It also faulted armed ethnic groups for committing human rights abuses.
  • Myanmar denies allegations of human rights violations in Rakhine, saying its security forces have not targeted civilians and have taken action only in response to attacks by Rohingya militants.

Union Bank of India posts Rs.3,369-cr loss as RBI finds divergence in bad loans

  • Public sector lender Union Bank of India reported a net loss of Rs.3,369 crore in the March quarter of FY19, owing to higher operational expenses, and provisions on account of bad loan divergences. The losses in Q4 of FY19 was wider than the Rs.2,583-crore loss in the same period last year.
  • The bank further said that the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) has found gross non-performing asset (NPA) divergence for FY18 at Rs.867 crore and the ensuing provision divergence of Rs.2,281 crore.
  • Union Bank MD and CEO Rajkiran Rai G.

WPI inflation slows to 3.07% in April

  • Wholesale inflation eased to 3.07% in April on cheaper fuel and manufactured items, even as prices of food articles remained high. Inflation in the ‘food articles’ basket hardened to 7.37% in April 2019 as against 5.68% in March
  • The wholesale price index (WPI)-based inflation was at 3.18% in March and 2.93% in February. It was 3.62% in April 2018.