Daily Current Affairs - 31st May 2019

Brazil flirts with double-dip recession as economy shrinks

  • Brazil's economy shrank in the first quarter of the year taking Latin America's biggest country to the brink of recession for the first time in two years. Gross domestic product contracted 0.2 percent from the previous quarter, marking the first decline in the key gauge of economic activity since the end of 2016.
  • Brazil's slowdown increases pressure on its central bank to cut the main interest rate, which is already at a historic low of 6.5 percent.
  • It is unwelcome news for far-right President Jair Bolsonaro, who took power in January on a promise to revive the economy.
  • Recession A recession is defined as two consecutives quarters of GDP decline.

Coal India profit rises 148%

  • Coal India Ltd. closed 2018-19 with a 148% rise in its post tax profit to Rs. 17,462.2 crore on a net sales of Rs. 92,896.1 crore against Rs. 82,487.9 crore a year ago. All the subsidiaries of CIL earned profits during the year. CIL produced 606 million tonnes of raw coal during the year against 567.4 million tonnes in 2017-18.
  • During the fourth quarter, profit after tax was 362 % higher at Rs. 6,024.2 crore.
  • Better average realisation in both FSA (fuel supply agreement) and e-auction sales, coupled with operation cost control, led to the company’s record performance.

Diksha finds hole in one, lies sixth after round one in Switzerland

  • Diksha Dagar's dream season continued as she sunk in a hole-in-one to lie tied-sixth after round one of the Lavaux Ladies Championship at Puidoux in Switzerland. The event is on the Ladies European Tour's Access Series.
  • Dagar shot two-under 70 and was lying tied-sixth with two birdies, two bogeys and an ace.

Goldman Sachs invests $250 mn in India

  • New York-based investment and financial services major Goldman Sachs has pumped in $250 million to construct one of its largest global workspaces in Bengaluru. The 1.2 million sq.ft office space, located on the outskirts of the city on a land parcel of 22.5 acres, has a capacity to seat 9,000 staff.
  • The company has invested $250 million to develop a new 10.5-acre hub, its third largest in the world. The company’s headcount includes 2,500 engineers and it is expected to add more at the 7,300-seater Bengaluru innovation hub.
  • Chairman and CEO David M. Solomon

Govt making all its payments through digital means, says Finance Secretary

  • Finance Secretary Subhash Chandra Garg has said the digital technology has enabled the people by making payments more convenient, effective and less costly. He said that the union government is making all its payments through digital means and transferring the amount to the bank account of beneficiaries.
  • He said the government is moving towards another level of financing by the use of new technology as the traditional mode was costlier.

ICC World Cup: England beat South Africa by 104 runs in opening match

  • Hosts England have defeated South Africa by 104 runs in the opening match of the World Cup at the Oval in London. Ben Stokes starred in all departments who top-scored with 89 in England's 311 for eight and took two wickets. The African side could not match the performance and managed to put up 207 runs in reply in 39.5 overs.

India concludes best ever ISSF WC performance in Munich

  • India produced their best ever show at the ISSF World Cup with a total tally of five gold medals in Munich, Germany. India topped the medals tally with five golds and a silver. Second-placed China bagged nine medals - two gold, two silver and five bronze medals.
  • India gold medallists included Apurvi Chandela in the Women's 10 metre Air Rifle, Rahi Sarnobat in the Women's 25m Pistol and Saurabh Chaudhary in the men's 10m Air Pistol, besides the Mixed Team titles won on the last day
  • The pair of Anjum Moudgil and Divyansh Singh Panwar first won the 10m Air Rifle mixed team gold.
  • Teenage pair of Manu Bhaker and Saurabh Chaudhary backed them up with the 10m Air Pistol mixed team title.

India criticises slow pace of UNSC reform process

  • India has criticised the slow pace of UN Security Council reform process. The adoption of opaque methodologies, non-attribution of assertions and obfuscation of references by the member states are attributed to block the early reform of the world body.
  • India's Permanent Representative Syed Akbaruddin said that the document co-chairs produced on the meetings of the Inter-Governmental Negotiations (IGN) for reforms during the current General Assembly session had serious gaps and did not properly reflect the proceedings.
  • The G-4 grouping of India, Japan, Brazil and Germany has been seeking expansion of the permanent and non-permanent seats of the Council to make it more representative and reflective of the changing global order.

Indian writer Annie Zaidi is 2019 winner of the $100,000 Nine Dots Prize

  • Indian writer Annie Zaidi was announced as the 2019 winner of the $100,000 Nine Dots Prize, a prestigious book prize created to award innovative thinking that addresses contemporary issues around the world.
  • Zaidi, a freelance writer whose work includes reportage, essays, short stories, poetry and plays, won for her entry Bread, Cement, Cactus' combining memoir and reportage to explore concepts of home and belonging rooted in her experience of contemporary life in India.
  • The Nine Dots Prize is a prize for creative thinking that tackles contemporary societal issues. Entrants are asked to respond to a question in 3,000 words, with the winner receiving US$100,000 to write a short book expanding on their ideas.

Israel to hold fresh polls as Netanyahu fails to form coalition govt

  • Israeli lawmakers voted to dissolve Parliament and hold fresh elections after Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu failed to form a coalition before a midnight deadline. He became the first prime minister-designate in Israel's history who was unable to form a government.
  • Israeli lawmakers voted 74-45 in favour of dissolving the 21st Knesset (Israeli Parliament). The repeat general elections will be held on September 17.

L&T picks up 27,000 Mindtree shares

  • Infrastructure major Larsen and Toubro (L&T) acquired about 27,000 shares of Mindtree from the open market, raising its shareholding in the IT services firm to 28.88%.
  • It has acquired 26,974 equity shares (with a face value of Rs. 10 each) of Mindtree Ltd. on May 30, 2019.
  • Earlier this month, L&T purchased around 20% stake of V.G. Siddhartha and Cafe Coffee Day in Mindtree through a block deal for about Rs. 3,210 crore, and has since topped that up with share purchases from open market.

Medical body against pharmacists using the ‘Dr.’ prefix

  • The Indian Medical Association (IMA) has opposed the move by the Pharmacy Council of India (PCI) to authorise candidates receiving the Doctor of Pharmacy degree (Pharm D) from recognised universities to use the ‘Dr.’ prefix.
  • As this title reflects entitlement and identity, IMA is against all such shift from those who are trained in other streams of health sector to venture into medical practice.

Narendra Modi takes oath as PM for second term

  • National Democratic Alliance leader Narendra Modi was sworn in as Prime Minister for the second consecutive term. President Ram Nath Kovind administered the oath of Office and Secrecy to him and a team of 57 ministers.
  • Besides 24 Cabinet ministers including Amit Shah, Rajnath Singh, Nirmala Sitharaman, Nitin Gadkari, Smriti Irani, and Piyush Goyal, nine were sworn in as Minister of State with Independent charge and another 24 as Minister of State.
  • One-third of the total ministers in the Cabinet are first-timers, including BJP president Amit Shah and former Foreign Secretary Subrahmanyam Jaishankar.
  • Two former Chief Ministers - Ramesh Pokhriyal from Uttarakhand and Arjun Munda from Jharkhand - have taken oath as Union ministers for the first time.

Rich haul for India at u-20 Eurasian meet

  • Gurindervir Singh, the senior Federation Cup champion, emerged fastest man in the under-20 Eurasian athletics meet. He won the Federation Cup in 10.35s.
  • India won six golds at the two-day meet with the others coming through quartermilers Vikrant Panchal (47.90s) and Florence Barla (54.73s), Sreekiran Nandakumar (800m, 1:54.62s), Rohit Yadav (javelin, 74.55m) and the 4x400m mixed relay team (Florence Barla, Priscilla Daniel, Vikrant Panchal, Abdul Razak, 3:30.58s).

South African president unveils his new cabinet

  • South African President Cyril Ramaphosa has unveiled his new Cabinet, which includes two Indian-origin leaders and 50 per cent women, making the country one of the world's few gender-balanced governments. The two Indian-origin ministers who have been retained from the previous administration are Pravin Gordhan and Ebrahim Patel.
  • The number of Cabinet Ministers has been cut from 36 to 28.
  • Mr Ramaphosa led the ruling African National Congress (ANC) party to victory in elections earlier this month with a majority of 57.5 per cent.

Three PSUs ink joint venture pact for buying rare metals

  • Three public sector units, National Aluminium Company (NALCO), Mineral Exploration Corporation Ltd. and Hindustan Copper Ltd. are set to sign by next month, a joint venture (JV) agreement for making overseas acquisition of reserves of rare metals like lithium and cobalt.
  • The first acquisition is likely to be made within six months NALCO will hold 34% of the proposed Rs. 100 crore equity, with the other two companies holding 33% each. The JV will acquire assets in overseas countries.

Trump says US will impose 5% tariff on all Mexican imports from June 10

  • The U.S. will impose a 5% tariff on all Mexican imports from June 10 and duties of up to 25% will be added in the coming months if Mexico does not take action to reduce or eliminate the number of illegal persons crossing into the U.S.
  • Mexico was the second-largest importer of goods into the United States in 2018. The United States imported $346.5 billion of goods from Mexico in 2018, an increase of 10.3% over the year prior.

UN extends sanctions against South Sudan

  • The UN Security Council has extended an arms embargo and sanctions on South Sudan for a year, despite resistance from African countries, Russia and China.
  • This measure renews until May 31, 2020, an arms embargo along with an assets freeze and global travel ban slapped on eight South Sudanese nationals for their role in fuelling the war.