Daily Current Affairs - 01st Aug 2019

2,461 students dropped out of IITs in last two years, says HRD Ministry

  • More than 2,400 students have dropped out of the most sought after IITs in the past two years, reveals data provided by the Ministry of Human Resource and Development (MHRD). Of the 2,461 dropouts recorded from the 23 IITs, about 57% were from the IIT Delhi and the IIT Kharagpur,
  • The IIT Delhi recorded 782 dropouts and Kharagpur 622. While 263 students dropped out of the IIT Bombay, 190 dropped out of the IIT Kanpur and only 128 from the IIT Madras.
  • Another interesting aspect which emerges from the data is that 1,171 of the dropouts, which is 47.5%, are from the Scheduled Castes, Scheduled Tribes and Other Backward Class category.
  • The dropout in the undergraduate programmes is attributed to withdrawal due to wrong choices filled, poor academic performance, personal and medical reasons.

Cabinet nod for revised Chit Funds Bill

  • The Union Cabinet has approved the introduction of the Chit Funds (Amendment) Bill, 2019, in Parliament, to reduce the compliance burden of the registered chit funds in the country while also protecting the interest of the subscribers.
  • The Bill follows the Chit Funds (Amendment) Bill, 2018, which was introduced in Parliament last March, but then lapsed. The government has not released any details about the 2019 Bill as it is yet to be introduced in Parliament.

Cafe Coffee Day founder VG Siddhartha found dead

  • V. G. Siddhartha, the man who founded India’s biggest coffee chain more than a decade before Starbucks Corp. entered Asia’s third-largest economy, has died.
  • Siddhartha went missing on Monday after he went for a walk near a bridge close to the southern Indian city of Mangaluru. His body has been found in the Netravati river in Dakshina Kannada district of Karnataka after 36 hours of intense search.
  • Coffee Day has about 1,700 outlets, 10 times more than Starbucks runs in the nation, according to the National Restaurant Association of India.

Eight core sectors growth drops to 0.2% in June

  • Growth of eight core industries dropped to 0.2 per cent in June mainly due to a contraction in oil-related sectors as well as in cement production. The eight core sectors- had expanded by 7.8 per cent in June last year.
  • Crude oil output contracted by 6.8 per cent while the refinery segment de-grew by 9.3 per cent.
  • The cement output declined by 1.5 per cent. The production of fertilisers grew by 1.5 per cent.
  • However, Steel production increased by 6.9 per cent and electricity production increased by 7.3 per cent during the month under review.
  • Eight-core sector industries include- coal, crude oil, natural gas, refinery products, fertiliser, steel, cement and electricity.

Fiscal deficit touches 61.4% of estimate

  • As per the data released by the Controller General of Accounts (CGA), the Union government’s fiscal deficit touched ?4.32 lakh crore for the June quarter, which is 61.4% of the Budget Estimate for 2019-20 fiscal. In absolute terms, the fiscal deficit, or the gap between expenditure and revenue, was ?4.32 lakh crore at June-end.
  • The fiscal deficit was 68.7% of the 2018-19 Budget Estimate in the year-earlier period.

Foreign Ministers from South East Asia attend 52nd ASEAN summit

  • The 52nd ASEAN Foreign Ministers’ Meeting (AMM-52) and related meetings officially opened in Bangkok on July 31 under the chair of Thai Foreign Minister.
  • This meet brings together representatives from more than 30 countries, including ASEAN member states, Dialogue Partners, ASEAN Regional Forum Non-Dialogue Partner Members, and Guests of the Chair – Thailand – such as Norway, Peru, Switzerland and Turkey.
  • Besides the Foreign Ministers' Meeting, the 20th ASEAN Plus Three Foreign Ministers' Meeting, 9th East Asia Summit Foreign Ministers' Meeting, 26th ASEAN Regional Forum and other related meetings are also to be held here from July 31 to August 2.

Former RBI Deputy Governor Subir Vithal Gokarn passes away

  • Former Reserve Bank of India Deputy Governor Dr Subir Vithal Gokarn (60) passed away on Tuesday after a brief illness. He was the RBI Deputy Governor from 2009-12 and oversaw Monetary Policy Research and Financial Markets department.
  • He served as Executive Director on the board of the IMF in November 2015. Gokarn also served as the Chief Economist of Standard & Poor’s Asia-Pacific between 2007-09) and was Executive Director and Chief Economist of CRISIL from 2002 to 2007.

Good July rain brings monsoon deficit to 9%

  • India’s monsoon deficit percentage has for the first time this year narrowed down to single digits thanks to better-than-expected July rainfall.
  • As of July 31, data from the India Meteorological Department (IMD) says that the country got 28.5 cm of rainfall in July, about 4% more than what’s normal for the month. This has reduced the seasonal deficit (calculated from June 1 to July 31) from 32.8% as on June 30 to 9%, as July’s numbers suggest. July rainfall exceeded the prediction by the weather agencies in May
  • The improvement in rainfall was distributed in all regions except the southern peninsula, which got 10% less rain than what’s normal for July.
  • The improvement in rains are critical to revive kharif sowing in the country. As of July 26, the area under food crops is about 10% below what it was last year.

India's Gaurav, Pinki enter quarters of Russian boxing tourney

  • Gaurav Solanki in 56kg category and Pinki Jangra in 51kg category claimed comfortable victories to enter the quarterfinals of the Magomed Salam Umakhanov Memorial International Boxing Tournament in Kaspiysk, Russia.
  • The tournament features close to 250 boxers from 20, including Azerbaijan, Belarus, China, Israel, Italy, Mongolia, Sweden, Ukraine, and Uzbekistan.

Indian needs exports of 1 trillion to become 5 trillion dollar economy: Piyush Goyal

  • Commerce and Industry Minister Piyush Goyal has said India’s exports will have to contribute at least one trillion dollars to achieve the target of 5 trillion dollar economy.
  • Mr Goyal said, the Ministry is working on making India’s export products competitive and simplifying rules and regulations for easy availability of export credit.
  • He said, it will help the Ministry in ironing out the issues impeding India’s exports and facilitate the exporters to take maximum benefit from the tariff escalation between the US and China.

Indian tourists exempted from visa fees by Sri Lankan govt

  • India is among 48 countries whose citizens have been exempted from visa fees for tourism purposes by Sri Lankan government with effect from tomorrow. Visa fees, which ranged from 20 to 40 US dollars, will not be charged for grant of one month visa for tourism. The tourists can apply for electronic travel authorisations online or apply for visa on arrival.
  • Indian tourist constitute the maximum number with around one fourth of total tourist arrivals.
  • Tourism is Sri Lanka’s third largest and fastest growing source of foreign currency last year, accounting for almost 5 percent of gross domestic product in 2018.

Malcolm Nash passes away

  • Malcolm Nash, the Glamorgan bowler who entered cricket folklore when Garfield Sobers struck him for six sixes in an over, has died at the age of 74. It was the first time any batsman had hit six sixes in an over in first-class cricket.
  • Nash, a left-armer, took 993 first-class wickets in a 17-year career between 1966 and 1983, while also scoring 7,129 runs and holding 148 catches.

Non-subsidised LPG price cut by Rs 62.50 per cylinder

  • The price of Non-Subsidised cooking gas (LPG) has been cut by 62 rupees 50 paise per cylinder based on softening international rates. Non-subsidised or market priced LPG, which consumers buy after exhausting their quota of 12 cylinders of 14.2-kg each at subsidised rates, will now cost 574.50 rupees per cylinder.
  • With this, the price of Non-Subsidised LPG cylinder has come down by 163 rupees per cylinder cumulatively in two months.

OBC sub-categorisation panel gets extension for 6 more months

  • A commission appointed in 2017 with the task of examining the sub-categorisation of Other Backward Classes (OBCs) was given yet another extension of six months by the Union Cabinet headed by Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
  • This decision to extend the commission's term till January 31, 2020 was to enable it complete its work with the States where there are some anomalies.
  • Headed by retired Delhi High Court Chief Justice G. Rohini, the commission was supposed to work out a mechanism, criteria, norms and parameters for the sub-categorisation within the OBCs in the Central list so that the benefits of reservation are distributed equitably.

Oppenheimer buys 11% stake in ZEEL

  • Media baron Subhash Chandra’s Essel Group has sealed a deal with private equity fund Invesco Oppenheimer Developing Markets Fund, which will pick up 11% stake in Zee Entertainment Enterprises Ltd. (ZEEL) for Rs.4,224 crore. The proceeds will help the group, which was scouting for an investor for months, to partially meet its debt obligations.
  • Oppenheimer, which already has 7.74% stake in ZEEL, will buy 11% from the promoter group. The promoters of ZEEL currently hold 35.79%.
  • Managing director and CEO, ZEE Entertainment Enterprises Ltd: Punit Goenka

Plan for single water disputes tribunal

  • Lok Sabha passed a Bill that promises faster redressal of water disputes between States by putting in place a new architecture for tribunals that handle inter-State water disputes.
  • Moving the Inter-State River Water Disputes (Amendment) Bill, 2019, for passage in the Lok Sabha, Union Jal Shakti Minister Gajendra Singh Shekhawat said that the existing tribunals constituted to resolve river water disputes had failed and in some cases, even after 33 years, the tribunals are yet to give an award.
  • The original Inter-State River Water Disputes Act, enacted in 1956, was amended 17 years ago to make five years the maximum period within which river water disputes need to be resolved.
  • The new Bill proposes that the final award will be delivered in two years and whenever it gives the order, the verdict will be notified automatically.

Postal dept decides to convert India Post Payments Bank to a SFB

  • The postal department said it has decided to convert the India Post Payments Bank into a small finance bank, enabling it to offer small loans to customers. Besides, the department looks to open one crore accounts for IPPB in 100 days.
  • India Post will partner with Common Service Centre to provide a suite of citizen centric services such as banking, remittance, insurance, DBT, bill and tax payments etc at post offices.
  • The postal department has also decided to develop infrastructure to extend the reach of the e-commerce industry to tier 2 and 3 town as well as to rural areas by investing in 190 parcel hubs, 80 Nodal Delivery Centers and a Pan India Road Transport Network.

Sri Lanka makes it 3-0

  • Sri Lanka defeated Bangladesh by 122 runs in the third and final ODI to win the three-match series 3-0 at the R. Premadasa Stadium. Sri Lanka bowled out Bangladesh for 172 runs in 36 overs after Angelo Mathews had guided the hosts to 294 for eight.

Task force on direct tax code to submit report by August 16

  • The Union Government has allowed the task force, formed to draft new direct tax law, to submit its report by August 16.
  • Earlier, the force had to submit its report by July 31. The extension has been given as new members of the Task Force requested for more time to provide further inputs.
  • The Task Force was constituted by the Government in November, 2017 to review the existing Income Tax Act, 1961 and to draft a new direct tax law in consonance with economic needs of the country.

Thailand in talks with India to buy BrahMos cruise missiles

  • In possibly the first sale of BrahMos supersonic cruise missiles to another country, Thailand is in talks with India for their purchase. A few other countries have also expressed interest in BrahMos but nothing has fructified yet.
  • While Thailand expressed interest in the missiles some time back, discussions picked pace after the visit of Royal Thai Navy Chief Admiral Ruddit to India in December last year.

US Federal Reserve cuts benchmark lending rate

  • The US Federal Reserve cut interest rates for the first time since 2008, citing concerns about the global economy and muted U.S. inflation, and signaled a readiness to lower borrowing costs further if needed.
  • The Fed said it will continue to monitor how incoming information will affect the economy, adding that it will act as appropriate to sustain a record-long U.S. economic expansion.
  • Chief of Federal Reserve: Jerome Powell

Vidit Gujrathi wins Biel tournament

  • Grandmaster Vidit Gujrathi has won the Biel International Chess tournament with a round to spare.
  • With one round in classical chess yet to be played, Vidit has scored 31 points and is four ahead of nearest competitor Samuel Shankland of USA.
  • This Category 16 tournament has a unique format in which all the eight contestants have to play seven rounds of classical chess, seven rounds of rapid and 14 rounds of blitz to decide the winner.