Daily Current Affairs - 18th May 2019

Centre issues drought advisory to 6 States

  • With water storage in dams dropping to a “critical” level, the Centre has issued a “drought advisory” to Maharashtra, Gujarat, Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh, Telangana and Tamil Nadu, asking them to use water judiciously.
  • The drought advisory is issued to States when the water level in reservoirs is 20% less than the average of live water storage figures of the past

EU extends sanctions against Assads Syria regime for a year

  • The European Union has extended the sanctions against Syrian regime of President Bashar Assad for a year due to its continuous crackdown against civilians in the war-ravaged country. At least 270 people and 70 entities like companies or organisations will have travel bans and asset freezes against them extended until June 1, 2020.
  • The EU has also imposed an oil embargo on Syria and bans equipment that could be used in a crackdown on Syrian civilians. These sanctions are due to alleged violence against civilians and benefiting from or supporting the regime.

Govt. declines to share black money details from Switzerland

  • The Union government has declined to share information on black money cases received from Switzerland, citing confidentiality. Replying to an RTI query, the union Finance Ministry said India and Switzerland share information on black money on a case to case basis and the information is governed by confidentiality provisions

HDFC Ergo and IBM to jointly setup data lab in India

  • General insurance company HDFC Ergo and technology major IBM have jointly set up a lab in India to run deep analytics on customer data and subsequently develop customised solutions to improve business efficiency and profitability.
  • The ‘IBM Garage’ with a team of 25 experts, including data scientists, technology architects and design engineers from IBM and experts from HDFC Ergo, are working on various test cases aimed at improving customer experience

ICC World Cup 2019: Sourav Ganguly, Sanjay Manjrekar named in ICC commentary panel

  • Former Indian cricketers Sourav Ganguly and Sanjay Manjrekar have been named in the International Cricket Council’s (ICC) commentary panel for the upcoming World Cup, beginning May 30 in England and Wales.
  • The stellar line up of commentators includes game’s most respected broadcasters Nasser Hussain, Ian Bishop, Melanie Jones, Kumar Sangakkara, Michael Atherton, Alison Mitchell, Brendon McCullum, Graeme Smith, and Wasim Akram.
  • Other big names who will commentate through the tournament are Michael Clarke, Shaun Pollock, Michael Slater, Mark Nicholas, Michael Holding, Isa Guha, Pommie Mbangwa, Harsha Bhogle, Simon Doull, Ian Smith, Ramiz Raja, Athar Ali Khan, and Ian Ward.

In a first for Asia, Taiwan Bill legalises same-sex marriages

  • Taiwan’s Parliament legalised same-sex marriage in a landmark first for Asia as the government survived a last-minute attempt by conservatives to pass watered-down legislation. Lawmakers comfortably passed a Bill allowing same-sex couples to form “exclusive permanent unions” and another clause that would let them apply for a “marriage registration” with government agencies.
  • Two years ago, Taiwan’s top court ruled that not allowing same-sex couples to marry violates the Constitution, with judges giving the government until May 24 to make the changes or see marriage equality enacted automatically.

Iran urges for concrete action to safeguard nuclear deal

  • Iran has urged countries including China and Russia to take concrete action to safeguard the 2015 nuclear deal after the US withdrew from the agreement. This landmark 2015 deal between Iran and world powers including the EU and the United States offered sanctions relief to Iran for scaling back its nuclear programme.
  • In May 2018 President Donald Trump withdrew the US from the deal and reinstated unilateral economic sanctions.

May-Corbyn Brexit talks end without deal

  • Britain’s opposition Labour Party ended the crucial cross-party Brexit talks with embattled Prime Minister Theresa May without a deal, saying negotiations have gone as far as they can. Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn wrote to Ms. May to declare an end to the negotiation process, blaming the weakness and instability of her government. Ms. May in turn blamed Labour for not having a common position within its own ranks on issues such as a second referendum.
  • Brexit had been due to take place on 29 March - but after MPs voted down the deal Mrs May had negotiated with the bloc three times, the EU gave the UK an extension until 31 October.

Nadal, Federer enter in Pre-Quarterfinal of Italian Open tournament

  • Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer have entered in the Pe-Quarterfinal of Italian Open Tennis tournament being held in Rome. Nadal defeated Jeremy Chardy of France in straight sets 6-0,6-1. Swiss Federer defeated Joao Sousa of Portugal 6-4 6-3 to reach in the third round.
  • Federer plays Borna Coric next, while Nadal faces Nikoloz Basilashvili.

Navy boosts its air warfare capability

  • The Indian Navy crossed a milestone in enhancing its anti-air warfare capability, with the maiden “cooperative engagement firing” of the medium-range surface-to-air missiles. This was achieved by network-centric operations that helped to combine the capabilities of all military platforms in a formation.
  • The firing was undertaken on the western seaboard by the INS Kochi and the INS Chennai, wherein the missiles of both ships were controlled by one ship to intercept different aerial targets at extended ranges.
  • This missile was developed by the Defence Research and Development Laboratory (DRDL), Hyderabad, a DRDO laboratory, and IAI. It is made by Bharat Dynamics Limited.

Ongoing trade war with US could slash 1 % of China's GDP: Official

  • A high ranking Chinese official of the elite Politburo Standing Committee of the Communist Party of China (CPC) has said that the ongoing trade war with the US could slash China's GDP by one per cent. The Chinese economy which is on a downward trend slowed down to 6.8 per cent last year and the government this year officially slashed the GDP growth to be between 6.5 and six per cent.
  • US President Donald Trump, who kicked off the trade war last year, is demanding China to reduce the massive trade deficit which has climbed to over USD 539 billion last year.

Over two lakh Rohingya refugees receive identity cards for first time

  • The UN has said that it has registered over two lakh Rohingya refugees in Bangladesh, providing many with their first ever identification cards and proof of their right to return to Myanmar in the future. This registration could serve as a tool for law enforcement to help counter human trafficking.
  • The new ID cards, provided to all refugees over the age of 12, lists important information, including names, family links and fingerprints and iris scans. These cards list Myanmar as the refugees' country of origin.
  • Over seven lakh Rohingya refugees fled a military crackdown in August 2017 to cross into Bangladesh.

Saudi Arabia approves permanent residency for first time

  • The Saudi government has approved for the first time a scheme called "Privileged Iqama" system that gives permanent residency to certain expatriates, allowing them to own real estate in the kingdom and reside with their families without a Saudi sponsor.
  • This new scheme will offer a permanent residency and can be renewed annually to highly skilled expatriates and owners of capital funds.
  • The decision, approved by Saudi Arabia's Cabinet is aimed at attracting long-term investments as the government tries to diversify the economy and boost domestic spending.

Tennis: Sumit Nagal advances

  • Sumit Nagal beat Roberto Ortega-Olmedo of Spain 7-5, 6-4 to reach the semifinals of the $54,160 Challenger tennis tournament in Samarkand, Uzbekistan. In the semifinals, Sumit will play Joao Menezes of Brazil.

Trump delays decision on auto tariffs for up to 6 months

  • US President Donald Trump has announced that he will delay by six months a decision on imposing steep tariffs on imported autos. This decision marks an attempt by the US to increase pressure ahead of negotiations with the European Union. Trump had been facing a Saturday deadline to announce whether to implement 25 per cent punitive duties on autos.
  • Meanwhile, European Union said that it is prepared to negotiate with US a limited trade agreement including cars.

Ujjivan Small Finance Bank appoints Nitin Chugh as next MD and CEO

  • Ujjivan Small Finance Bank Limited has appointed Nitin Chugh as its next Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer (CEO) from December 1, 2019. Nitin Chugh will join the bank by August 2019 as President and will work closely with Samit Ghosh, existing MD and CEO to ensure a smooth transition.

US approves missile sales to South Korea, Japan

  • United States has approved more than 600 million dollar in sales of air defense missiles to South Korea and Japan as tensions return with North Korea. The US had approved 94 SM-2 missiles used by ships against air threats, along with 12 guidance systems for a total cost of 313.9 million dollar. It separately gave the green light to sell 160 anti-air AMRAAM missiles and related guidance equipment to Japan for 317 million dollar.
  • These sales will support the US foreign policy and national security objectives by assisting key allies and will not alter the basic military balance in the region.

US reaches deal with Canada, Mexico to lift tariffs on steel and aluminum

  • United States has reached an agreement with Canada and Mexico to lift tariffs on steel and aluminum and the corresponding retaliatory tariffs. This move is likely to ease trade tensions between the three North American countries.
  • Elimination of these tariffs is expected to remove a significant barrier to passing the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA). The 1.4 trillion dollar in North American trade supports more than 12 million American jobs.
  • The steep US tariffs imposed last year with 25 per cent on steel and 10 per cent on aluminum has became a major stumbling block to ratifying a new North American trade pact negotiated last year by the three countries.

USD 10 million on offer in ICC World Cup, winner to earn 4 million

  • Ten million US Dollars or a little more than 70 crore rupees are on offer in the upcoming ICC men's cricket World Cup. Besides a trophy, the World Cup winner will earn a cash award of 4 million US dollars or about 28 crore rupees which is the highest prize money on offer in the history of the tournament.
  • The runners-up take home 2 million US Dollars or about 14 crore rupees. The losing semifinalists will get around 5 crore 60 lakh rupees.
  • The 46-day tournament will be played across 11 venues in the United Kingdom from 30th of this month.

World Telecommunication and Information Society Day 17 May

  • World Telecommunication Day is celebrated on May 17 every year which highlights the role of Information and Communication Technology in today’s world. This year, the 50th anniversary of the World Communications Day is being celebrated, with the event being first started in 1969. This day also marks the anniversary of the International Telecommunication Union (ITU)
  • The theme for this year of World Telecommunication Day 'Bridging the standardization gap' focuses on the power of data for development and aims to explore how to turn complex, and unstructured data into actionable information to help move development forward.