Daily Current Affairs - 29th Jun 2019

2.51 lakh more houses sanctioned under Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana-Urban

  • The Union Housing and Urban Affairs Ministry stated that the construction of 2.51 lakh more houses in 10 States under the Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana (PMAY) (Urban) was sanctioned, further taking the total number of houses approved under the scheme since it started in 2015 to 83.62 lakh.
  • Of the houses sanctioned, 12,171 are in Assam, 13,165 in Bihar, 6,231 in Chhattisgarh, 13,724 in Gujarat, 19,333 in Jharkhand, 25,241 in Maharashtra, 2,422 in Meghalaya, 2,983 in Nagaland and 18,054 in Tamil Nadu.
  • So far U.P. now has 12.96 lakh houses sanctioned, followed by Andhra Pradesh (12.48 lakh) and Maharashtra (9.86 lakh).

Centre releases action plan on higher education

  • The Central government has released a five-year vision and action plan to transform higher education by doubling enrolment and employability, addressing inequalities of access, and revamping governance and funding mechanisms.
  • The Education Quality Upgradation and Inclusion Programme (EQUIP) is likely to involve investment of ?1.5 lakh crore over the next five years, much of which will have to be raised from the market.
  • The action plan was drafted by 80 experts in 10 teams headed by eminent academicians, scientists and industrialists over the last two months and was submitted to Human Resource Development Minister Ramesh Pokhriyal Nishank.

Current account deficit tapers

  • India’s ’s current account deficit (CAD) for the January-March period narrowed to 0.7% of the GDP, or $4.6 billion, compared with 1.8%, or $ 13 billion recorded during the same period of the previous year. The deficit narrowed due to a lower trade deficit.
  • The current account deficit was $17.7 billion, or 2.7% of the GDP, in the preceding quarter.
  • The reduction was primarily on account of a lower trade deficit at $35.2 billion as compared with $41.6 billion a year ago.
  • Net services receipts increased by 5.8% year on year, mainly on the back of a rise in net earnings from telecommunications, computer and information service.
  • For the full financial year 2018-19, CAD increased to 2.1% of the GDP in 2018-19 from 1.8% in 2017-18 on the back of a widening trade deficit. The country’s trade deficit increased to $180.3 billion in 2018-19 from $160 billion in 2017-18.

Elephants killed over 2,300 people in last five years: Environment Ministry

  • Minister of State (MoS) for Environment, Babul Supriyo has said 2,398 people have died since 2014 up to March 31, 2019 due to human-elephant conflict with West Bengal recording the maximum 403 deaths in last five years. Nearly 494 persons were killed by the elephants last year alone.
  • West Bengal was closely followed by Nagaland where 397 persons were killed by the elephants while 349 people died in Jharkhand.
  • Tiger-human conflict has killed 224 persons in India in the last five years with West Bengal once again recording the maximum number of human deaths in this case at 71.
  • As per the last census in 2017 by the Ministry, there were as many as 27,312 elephants in the country. A total of 75 elephants died in 2018 while a total of 373 elephants died between 2015 and 2018.
  • India is home to 70% of tigers in the world. In 2006, there were 1,411 tigers which increased to 1,706 in 2010 and 2,226 in 2014.
  • There are 50 tiger reserves in India which are governed by Project Tiger which is administrated by the National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA).

FDI from China in five years: Goyal

  • Commerce and Industry Minister Piyush Goyal has said that India has received $1.81 billion (around Rs 12,474 crore) foreign direct investment from China during April 2014 to March 2019. The sectors which received maximum inflows from China during the period include automobile industry ($876.73 million), electrical equipment ($152.5 million) and services sector ($127 million).
  • He also said the trade deficit (difference between imports and exports) declined to US 53.57 billion in 2018-19 from $63 billion in 2017-18 with China.
  • Moreover, India received FDI worth $13.62 billion during the period from the US. The sectors which received maximum inflows from the US include computer software and hardware, automobile industry and services sector

Fiscal deficit touches 52% of full year target in first 2-months

  • As per the data released by the Controller General of Accounts (CGA), the union government's fiscal deficit touched 52% of the budget estimate for the full year in the first two months of 2019-20. In absolute terms, the fiscal deficit or gap between expenditure and revenue, was ?3,66,157 crore.
  • The fiscal deficit was 55.3% of 2018-19 budget estimate in the year-ago period.
  • The union government aims to restrict the fiscal deficit at 3.4% of the GDP during the current fiscal, same as the last financial year.

Govt to launch ‘One Nation One Ration Card’, access to ration shop anywhere in the country

  • The central government is working on a plan to launch a “One Nation One Ration Card” scheme for beneficiaries, especially migrant workers, to access the Public Distribution System from any PDS shop across the country.
  • This scheme is aimed at providing freedom to beneficiaries, as they will not be tied to one PDS shop, reduce their dependence on shop owners and curtail corruption.
  • The government has stated that the availability of PoS (Point of Sale) machines need to be ensured at all PDS shops to implement the scheme.
  • Union Minister for Consumer Affairs, Food and Public Distribution Ram Vilas Paswan

Heat wave grips Western Europe

  • Almost the whole of Western Europe is now in the grip of a severe heat wave. Villevieille in France recorded 45.1 degree Celcius. The heatwave is sweeping across France, Spain, Italy and several other countries including Germany.
  • Governments warned citizens to take extra precautions. French President Emmanuel Macron warned that such extreme weather is likely to become more frequent as a result of global warming.

ICC World Cup: South Africa beat Sri Lanka by 9 wickets

  • In the ICC Cricket World Cup, South Africa beat Sri Lanka by 9 wickets at Chester-le-Street. Put into bat, Sri Lanka were all out for 203 in 49.3 overs. D. Pretorius and C.H. Morris claimed three wickets each for South Africa.
  • Hashim Amla (80 off 105 balls) and Faf du Plessis (96 off 103) sailed their team to victory.

India's acting High Commissioner to Bangladesh pays respects to Padmashree Awardee Jharna Dhara Chowdhury

  • India’s acting High Commissioner to Bangladesh Bishwadip Dey has paid his respects to the eminent Gandhian and Padmashree Awardee Jharna Dhara Chowdhury who passed away in Dhaka at the age of 80.
  • Jharna Dhara Chowdhury devoted her whole life to promoting peace, communal harmony and social justice in Bangladesh.
  • She was honoured with Padma Shri in 2013. She was awarded Jamnalal Bajaj award in 1998 and other awards like Begum Rokeya Padak, Gandhi Seva Puraskar and Ekushey Padak for her social work.

Mist and morning glories to beat the heat in Tokyo 2020

  • Tokyo 2020 officials have unveiled measures to beat the heat during the Olympics scheduled in July next year. The measures include Mist sprays, cooling scarves and pots of morning glory flowers.
  • Doctors have warned the Games could see deadly medical emergencies as athletes, volunteers and spectators face the sweltering Tokyo summer where the mercury can easily reach 40 degrees Celsius.

PM Modi, US President Trump agree to sort out trade disputes

  • Prime Minister Narendra Modi and President Donald Trump voiced their concerns over the bilateral trade disputes and agreed for an early meeting of their Commerce Ministers to sort out the issues.
  • A row over market access and tariffs has escalated in recent months between the two countries, leading to fears of a protracted dispute.
  • Earlier, the U.S. leader has demanded withdrawal of the very high tariffs levied by India on American goods.

Pullela Gopichand bestowed honorary doctorate by IIT Kanpur

  • India's chief national badminton coach Pullela Gopichand was bestowed upon an honorary doctorate by IIT Kanpur on the occasion of their 52nd convocation. He received the honour from former ISRO chairman and Chairman of the board of Governors of IIT Kanpur, Prof K Radhakrishnan. The past recipients of the honour are Former President APJ Abdul Kalam and former Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh.

RBI allows ARCs to buy financial assets from peers

  • The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) has allowed asset reconstruction companies (ARCs) to acquire financial assets from other ARCs in a bid to accelerate timely resolution of stressed assets. Earlier, ARCs could acquire financial assets from other ARCs only when they had some exposure to the asset that was being bought.
  • The date of redemption of underlying Security Receipts and total period of realisation should not extend beyond eight years from the date of acquisition of the financial asset by the first ARC.

RBI sets average base rate at 9.18% for NBFC-MFI borrowers for the quarter beginning July 1, 2019

  • The Reserve Bank of India has set an average base rate of 9.18 per cent for non-banking financial companies and micro finance institutions to be charged from their customers for the quarter beginning July 1, 2019.
  • The central bank in a circular in 2014 had communicated to NBFCs and MFIs regarding pricing of credit on the last working day of every quarter.
  • RBI sets the average base rate for NBFC-MFIs on the basis of average of base rate of the five largest commercial banks.

UBI eyes Rs. 4,000 cr. in NPA recovery for FY20

  • State-run United Bank of India (UBI), which is looking to come out of the Reserve Bank of India's Prompt Corrective Action (PCA) framework by the second quarter of the current fiscal, is expecting to recover Rs 4,000 crore from the accounts of non-performing assets (NPA) this financial year.
  • The bank has several cases with a total exposure of more than Rs 3,000 crore lying in the National Company Law Tribunals (NCLTs).
  • The bank's gross NPA and net NPA stood at 16.48 per cent and 8.67 per cent, respectively, at the end of the last financial year as against 24.10 per cent and 16.49 per cent, respectively, in the year-ago period.
  • Managing Director and Chief Executive Office, UBI: Ashok Kumar Pradhan