Daily Current Affairs - 25th Jul 2019

1,300 security personnel freed of VIP duty after Home Ministry review

  • As many as 1,300 security personnel have been freed of VIP duty following a comprehensive review of the protection provided to 350 dignitaries, including politicians, by the Union Home Ministry this week.
  • These security personnel were drawn from forces such as the Central Reserve Police Force, Central Industrial Security Force, National Security Guard and the Delhi Police.
  • Nearly 3,000 personnel of the Central Armed Police Forces (CAPFs) would still be part of the Central VIP security set-up.
  • A number of those who have been taken off the “central” list of VIP security would be secured by the State police forces.

1,905 women officers serving in IAF as of July 1: MoS Defence

  • Minister of State (MoS) for Defence Shripad Naik has said that there are 1,905 women officers currently serving in the Indian Air Force (IAF). Of these, eight are Fighter Pilots and 17 are Navigators.
  • After approval of Ministry of Defence, the IAF commenced a scheme for induction of women SSC officers in the fighter stream of the flying branch in 2016, under which eight women fighter pilots have been commissioned till date.

Ajay Bhalla to be Home Secretary

  • Current Secretary, Ministry of Power, Ajay Kumar Bhalla has been appointed Officer on Special Duty (OSD) to the Ministry of Home Affairs with immediate effect. He will take over as Home Secretary from incumbent Rajive Gauba.
  • Mr. Bhalla will have a fixed two-year tenure as Union Home Secretary till August 2021.
  • In another significant change, Subhash Chandra Garg, Secretary, Economic Affairs, and designated as Secretary, Finance, in the Ministry of Finance, has been shifted to the Power Ministry as Secretary. While Gujarat cadre IAS officer Atanu Chakraborty has been made new Economic Affairs Secretary.
  • Anshu Prakash has been appointed new Secretary, Telecommunications, in place of Aruna Sundararajan, who is superannuating on July 31.
  • P.D. Waghela has been made Secretary, Pharmaceuticals, while the current chief of the Airports Authority of India Guruprasad Mohapatra has been made Secretary, Department of Promotion of Industry and Internal Trade, in the Ministry of Commerce.

Bill to ban unregulated deposit schemes passed

  • The Lok Sabha passed the Banning of Unregulated Deposit Schemes Bill, 2019 by voice vote. The Bill also aims to prevent such unregulated deposit schemes or arrangements at their inception. The Banning of Unregulated Deposit Schemes Bill, 2019 replaced the Ordinance on the same.
  • The proposed laws would have provisions to combat three different types of offences — running unregulated deposit schemes, fraudulent default in regulated deposit schemes, and wrongful inducement in relation to unregulated deposit schemes.
  • The Bill also provides for 1-10 years punishment and Rs 2 lakh to Rs 50 crore fines to deter any such act.
  • As per information provided by the Reserve Bank of India (RBI), during the period between July 2014 and May 2018, 978 cases of unauthorised schemes were discussed at the state-level coordination committee meetings in various states/Union Territories, and were forwarded to the respective regulators/law enforcement agencies in the states.

Boxing: Six Indian pugilists storm into semi-finals of Thailand International Tournament

  • Six Indian pugilists, including Nikhat Zareen (51 kg) and Deepak Singh (49 kg) have stormed into semi-finals of the Thailand International Tournament in Bangkok.
  • Former junior world champion Nikhat recorded a 5-0 triumph over Uzbekistan's Sitora Shogdarova in women's draw.
  • Also advancing to the medal rounds were Ashish (69kg), Manju Rani (48kg), Brijesh Yadav (81kg) and Mohammed Husammuddin (56kg).

Centre notifies pension scheme for small traders

  • The Centre’s pension scheme for small traders has been notified and is being introduced on a trial basis this week, with the formal launch of the scheme likely to be done by Prime Minister Narendra Modi soon.
  • Under the scheme, those who are self-employed and working as shop-owners, retail traders, rice mill owners, oil mill owners, workshop owners, commission agents, real estate brokers, small hotel owners, restaurant owners and other small traders will be eligible for pension.
  • Small traders between 18 and 40 years of age, having an annual turnover of less than Rs.1.5 crore would qualify to apply for the scheme. To be eligible, the applicants should not be covered under the National Pension Scheme, Employees’ State Insurance Scheme and the Employees’ Provident Fund or be an Income Tax assessee.
  • The scheme gives the subscribers Rs.3,000 a month after they turn 60, once they have contributed to the scheme every month from the time of enrolment and till that age.

DCC okays Rs.3,050 cr. penalty on Airtel, Vodafone Idea

  • The Digital Communications Commission (DCC) has approved the cumulative penalty of Rs.3,050 crore that regulator TRAI had imposed on Bharti Airtel and Vodafone Idea for not providing points of interconnection to Reliance Jio when it entered the market.
  • The inter-Ministerial body had, at its meeting in June, approved the imposition of penalty recommended by Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI). It had, however, asked the sectoral regulator to review the levy given the financial stress in the sector. TRAI stuck to its earlier recommendations.

Facebook slapped with 5 billion US Dollar fine for users' privacy violation

  • US regulators have formalized a record 5 billion US Dollar fine on Facebook for violation of users' privacy in the Cambridge Analytica data scandal involving 87 million users.
  • The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) said the penalty was the largest ever imposed on any company for violating consumers' privacy and one of the largest penalties ever assessed by the US government for any violation.
  • The FTC initiated the investigation after a scandal involving former British consulting firm Cambridge Analytica, which was accused of illegally accessing data of more than 87 million Facebook users without their prior knowledge.

France sweats in new record-breaking Europe heatwave

  • In France, the temperature rose to 41.2 degrees Celcius, breaking the 16-year-old record of 40.7 Celcius in 2003. in the south-western city of Bordeaux.
  • Forecasters predict a record-breaking run across Europe this week, including Belgium, Germany and the Netherlands.
  • Meanwhile, the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) spokesperson said the heatwaves bore the hallmark of climate change.

Goa govt seeks new dates for holding National Games

  • The Goa government has sought new dates for holding National Games. Chief Minister Pramod Sawant told the Legislative Assembly in Panaji that it was not possible to put up the infrastructure required for hosting the National Games by November this year.
  • The IOA had recently fined the Goa government for frequently missing the deadlines to host the games in the last four years.
  • The National Games were earlier scheduled to be held in March- April 2019, but were postponed to November on account of Lok Sabha elections, by-polls in the state and HSC examinations.

GoM on sexual harassment at workplace reconstituted

  • The Union government has reconstituted the Group of Ministers (GoM) looking after the issues of how to prevent sexual harassment at workplace and strengthen legal frameworks with Home Minister Amit Shah replacing his predecessor Rajnath Singh.
  • The other members of the reconstituted GoM are: Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman, HRD Minister Ramesh Pokhriyal ‘Nishank’, and Women and Child Development Minister Smriti Irani.

GST Council may reduce tax on electric vehicles

  • The Goods and Services Tax (GST) Council, at its 36th meeting likely to reduce the tax rate on electric vehicles, ease tax issues for the solar sector and deliberate on the tax rate on lotteries.
  • In its last meeting, the Council had asked the Fitment Committee to look into the matter of reducing the GST rate on electric vehicles from 12% to 5%.
  • The government had, in the Budget, announced an additional income tax deduction of up to ?1.5 lakh on the interest paid on loans taken to purchase electric vehicles.

IDFC First Bank posts Rs. 617 cr. June quarter loss

  • IDFC First Bank has reported a net loss of Rs 617 crore for the April-June quarter of the current fiscal on account of higher provisioning. The bank had reported a net profit of Rs 181 crore in the April-June period of the previous fiscal.
  • Provisioning during the quarter increased to Rs 1,280 crore, as against Rs 33.99 crore made in the June quarter of the last fiscal.
  • The gross and net non-performing assets (NPA) of the bank as of June 30, 2019, stood at 2.66 per cent and 1.35 per cent.
  • IDFC First Bank MD and CEO V Vaidyanathan

IMF lowers India’s growth forecast for 2019-20 to 7% from 7.3%

  • The International Monetary Fund (IMF) further cut its annual growth forecast for India, as it expects weaker domestic demand to limit an economic recovery. It stated that the economy is now expected to expand 7% in the year ending 31 March 2020, 0.3 percentage point slower than IMF’s April projection.
  • It also cut India’s growth forecast in 2020-21 to 7.2% from the previous estimate of 7.5%.
  • Gross domestic product growth in India in the March quarter slowed more than expected to 5.8% from 6.6% in the December quarter.
  • The broad-based slowdown in consumption and investment demand in India was partly a reflection of the uncertainties associated with the just concluded general elections in India, as well as tightening of borrowing conditions for small and medium enterprises.

India jumps 5 places to 52nd rank in Global Innovation Index 2019

  • India has jumped five places to rank 52 in the Global Innovation Index 2019, up from the 57 it had in last year’s rankings.
  • India, whose 29-place move up the GII (From 81 in 2015) represents the biggest jump by any major economy, also remains 2nd among middle-income economies in terms of the quality of innovation.
  • According to the index, Switzerland is the most innovative economy, followed by Sweden, US, Netherlands and United Kingdom.
  • China, which has invested heavily in research and development, moved up three positions to rank 14. Israel managed to secure the 10th rank
  • The global innovation index (GII) is an annual ranking that quantifies the state of national innovation ecosystem across countries.
  • This Index is co-published by World intellectual property organisation (WIPO), Cornell University and INSEAD.
  • WIPO Director General Francis Gurry,

Indian origin Priti Patel appointed as Britain's Home Secretary

  • British Prime Minister Boris Johnson has appointed Indian origin Priti Patel as the country Home Secretary.
  • Ms Patel, an ardent Brexiteer was among the most vocal critics of Theresa May's Brexit strategy.
  • She was first elected as a Conservative MP in 2010 and gained prominence in the then David Cameron led Tory government as his Indian Diaspora Champion.
  • Boris Johnson named former Home Secretary Sajid Javid to take over from Philip Hammond as the Finance Secretary or Chancellor.
  • He also named Brexit hardliner Dominic Raab as the country's Foreign Secretary.

Kumaraswamy submits resignation to Governor after losing confidence motion

  • Karnataka Chief Minister H D Kumaraswamy has submitted his resignation to Governor Vajubhai Vala shortly after losing the confidence motion in the Assembly. The confidence motion moved by Kumaraswamy was defeated with 99 voting in favour and 105 against it.

Miners health body merged with National Institute of Occupational Health

  • The National Institute of Miners’ Health (NIMH), an autonomous institute under the Ministry of Mines (MoM), has been dissolved and merged with the ICMR-National Institute of Occupational Health (NIOH), Ahmedabad, under the Ministry of Health & Family Welfare (MoH&FW), with all assets and liabilities.
  • It said the merger would enhance expertise in occupational health and management of public money.

Pakistan still has 30,000-40,000 militants, admits Imran Khan

  • Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan has made a startling revelation that his country still has about 30,000 to 40,000 militants who have been trained and fought in some part of Afghanistan or Kashmir.
  • The Pakistani leader made these comments at the United States Institute of Peace during his three-day visit to the nation.

PM Modi promises museum to preserve memories of PMs

  • Prime Minister Narendra Modi has said that a grand museum dedicated to all his predecessors will be built in Delhi. He urged family members of the former prime ministers to share all things related to them for this museum.

Smuggling of cattle along Bangladesh border drops by half

  • Cattle smuggling along the 4,096-km India-Bangladesh border has dropped almost by half since 2016. Detailed figures reveal that in 2016 about 1,28,440 cattle heads were seized, while the figure dropped to 83,378 in 2017 and 51,592 cattle heads in 2018.
  • The number of cattle seized along the border is an indication of the volume of illegal cattle trade running into thousands of crores of rupees.
  • Till June 30 this year, about 23,208 cattle heads were seized along the border by the BSF.
  • The South Bengal Frontier of the BSF, which guards 915 km of the border from Sunderbans to Malda, continues to account for 60% to 70% cattle heads seized.
  • Cattle from different States, particularly in north India, and brought to the State before being smuggled through the porous south Bengal border. The crackdown on cattle trade in the country is believed to have affected this illegal trade.

Sri Lankan pacer Kulasekara announces retirement from cricket

  • Sri Lanka seamer Nuwan Kulasekara has decided to call time on his international career, finishing as the third highest wicket-taker among his country’s pace bowlers after Chaminda Vaas and Lasith Malinga.
  • He had 199 scalps in 184 ODIs while he took another 66 wickets in 58 T20 matches in a career spanning over 15 years. He also played 21 Tests for the island nation taking 48 wickets.

US, China to hold trade talks next week

  • In an effort to resolve the year-long trade dispute, US and Chinese officials will hold two-day talks in Shanghai next week. It will be the first face-to-face meeting since talks collapsed in May after President Donald Trump accused Beijing of reneging on its commitments.

World Swimming Championships: Milak crushes Phelps’ 10-year-old record

  • Hungarian teenager Kristof Milak shattered Michael Phelps’s 200m butterfly world record.Kristof Milak stormed to gold in the men's 200m fly, clocking a blistering 1:50.73 to shatter Phelps's 10-year-old mark by almost eight tenths.