Daily Current Affairs - 24th Aug 2019

13 States, UTs improve their water management practices

  • According to the second-edition of Niti Aayog’s Comprehensive Water Management Index (CWMI) 2019 , of the 25 states and two union territories, assessed in the CWMI, 80 per cent have improved their water management scores, with an average improvement of more than 5.2 points.
  • But, 16 states still score less than 50 points on the index (out of 100) and fall in the low-performing category.
  • The low-performing states, which include Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Jharkhand, Odisha, Delhi, Rajasthan, Nagaland and Meghalaya, collectively account for around 48 per cent of the population, 40 per cent of agricultural produce and 35 per cent of economic output of India.
  • Gujarat topped the rankings for the second year in a row with a score of 75 out of a maximum possible 100. Other than Gujarat, Andhra Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh and Himachal Pradesh continue to demonstrate strong water management practices

Ajay Kumar Bhalla appointed as the new home secretary

  • Ajay Kumar Bhalla, currently serving as an officer on special duty in the home ministry, was appointed as the new Union home secretary.
  • The Appointments Committee of the cabinet headed by Prime Minister Narendra Modi approved Bhalla's appointment as the new home secretary. He replaces Rajiv Gauba, who was appointed as the new cabinet secretary.
  • Bhalla, a 1984-batch Assam-Meghalaya cadre IAS officer, served as the Union power secretary, before being appointed as an officer on special duty on July 24. He will have a fixed two-year tenure till August 2021 as the home secretary.

Akshay Kumar takes 4th spot in Forbes highest paid actors list

  • Bollwood actor Akshay Kumar has made it to the fourth position on the Forbes magazine’s Worlds Highest-Paid Actors Of 2019 list. According to the list on forbes.com Akshay has raked in $65 million.
  • Hollywood star Dwayne ‘Rock’ Johnson tops the Forbes list of the 10 highest-paid actors, collecting $89.4 million between June 1, 2018, and June 1, 2019.
  • Here’s the list of the World’s Highest-Paid Actors Of 2019 listed by Forbes:
  • 1. Dwayne Johnson ($89.4 million)
  • 2. Chris Hemsworth ($76.4 million)
  • 3. Robert Downey Jr. ($66 million)
  • 4. Akshay Kumar ($65 million)
  • 5. Jackie Chan ($58 million)
  • 6. Bradley Cooper ($57 million)
  • 7. Adam Sandler ($57 million)
  • 8. Chris Evans ($43.5 million)
  • 9. Paul Rudd ($41 million)
  • 10. Will Smith ($35 million)

Archery: In World Youth Championships, India won bronze medal

  • The Indian team of Sukhbeer Singh, Sangampreet Singh Bisla and Tushar Phadtare clinched a bronze medal in the junior compound men's team event in the World Youth Championships in Madrid. In the final, the Indians shot 60 out of 60 while the Colombians made 56 to lose the battle in the bronze play-off.
  • The compound junior mixed team of Raginee Markoo and Sukhbeer Singh also assured India of a second silver medal, beating their Iranian opponents Geesa Bybordy and Danial Heidarzadehdehkordi 154-151. The Indian team will face Switzerland for a gold tomorrow.

Billionaire David Koch, Who Used His Wealth to Reshape U.S. Politics, Dies at 79

  • David Koch, the billionaire industrialist and philanthropist whose support for conservative causes and candidates helped reshape U.S. politics in recent decades, died at the age of 79.
  • Mr. Koch retired last year as Executive Vice President of Koch Industries, the conglomerate he co-owned with Mr. Charles and built into the second largest family-owned company in the U.S.
  • Both brothers were a force behind the scenes in Republican politics, giving heavily to candidates and causes that matched their conservative economic positions.

EMIs on new home, auto loans may get cheaper

  • Equated monthly instalments (EMI) on retail loans like home and auto loans are set to become cheaper as banks will now link such rates for fresh loans to the Reserve Bank of India’s (RBI’s) repo rate as announced by Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman.
  • With this the repo-linked rates will be much cheaper than existing interest rates which are linked to marginal cost of funds-based lending rate (MCLR).
  • SBI and Syndicate Bank have already linked their home loan rates to repo rate, while Bank of India, Allahabad Bank and Central Bank of India are expected to come out with similar schemes shortly.

Finance Minister announces measures to revive economic growth

  • Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman has announced a slew of measures, including the rollback of enhanced super-rich tax on foreign and domestic equity investors, exemption of start-ups from 'angel tax', a package to address distress in the auto sector and upfront infusion of Rs 70,000 crore to public sector banks, in efforts to boost economic growth from a five-year low.
  • The applicability of higher income tax surcharge on those earning more than Rs 2 crore a year has been withdrawn for foreign and domestic equity market investors.
  • Angel tax shall not be applicable to a startups registered with the Department for Promotion of Industry and Internal Trade.
  • The government will also set up a dedicated cell under a member of the Central Board of Direct Taxes to address the problems of the startups relating to income tax.
  • All pending Goods and Services Tax refunds to MSMEs would be made within 30 days, and that all future refunds will be paid within 60 days. This is expected to free up a lot of capital that was otherwise locked up for the MSME sector.
  • Demand for auto sector was sought to be raised by a slew of measures. These steps include a plan to encourage scrapping of old vehicles and removal of the ban on government departments in buying new petrol/ diesel vehicles.
  • Public sector bank infusion of Rs.70,000 crore to be released upfront, in one go. Additional Rs.20,000 crore liquidity for housing finance companies.
  • Corporate Social Responsibility violations not to be treated as criminal of fences.

India & US review the progress, development of bilateral relations

  • India and the United States have reviewed the progress and development of bilateral relations in defence, security, and foreign policy areas in the two plus two intersessional meetings. The two countries explored further possibilities of cooperation in these fields based on common interest.
  • They also discussed regional developments and agreed to pursue their quest for a free, open, inclusive, peaceful and prosperous Indo-Pacific. The meeting took place in Monterey, California.

India will appeal before CAS against WADA decision to suspend NDTL’s accreditation: Sports Minister

  • Sports Minister Kiren Rijiju has said that India will file an appeal before the Court of Arbitration for Sport in Switzerland against the decision of the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) to suspend the accreditation of National Dope Testing Laboratory.
  • The WADA suspended the National Dope Testing Laboratory's (NDTL) accreditation for six months in a massive blow to the country's anti-doping programme, which left the Sports Ministry surprised as it claimed WADA's concerns were duly addressed.

Mohun Bagan to take on Kerala Gokulam in Durand Cup final

  • Mohun Bagan will take on Kerala Gokulam in the final of Durand Cup Football tournament at VYBK ground in Kolkata. 16-time Durand Cup winner Mohan Bagan has reached final beating Real Kashmir 3-1 after 10 years whereas Gokulam Kerala has defeated East Bengal 3-2 in the semifinal.

Pakistan blacklisted by Asia-Pacific Group of FATF for its failure to comply with terror funding standards

  • The Asia-Pacific Group of the global watchdog for terror financing and money laundering has put Pakistan in the Enhanced Expedited Follow Up List (Blacklist) for its failure to meet its standards.
  • The Asia Pacific Group (APG) of the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) has also found that Pakistan was non-compliant on 32 of the 40 compliance parameters of terror financing and money laundering.
  • On 11 effectiveness parameters of terror financing and money laundering, Pakistan was adjudged as low on 10.
  • Pakistan could not convince the 41-member plenary to upgrade it on any parameter. Now, Pakistan has to focus on avoiding the blacklist in October, when the 15-month timeline ends on the FATF's 27-point action plan.

PV Sindhu, B Sai Praneeth to play semi-final matches in BWF World C'ships

  • PV Sindhu and B Sai Praneeth will play their semi-final matches in the BWF World Championships at Basel, Switzerland. P.V. Sindhu will take on the reigning All England Open Champion, Chinese 4th seeded Chen Yufei whereas B. Sai Praneeth will face world No.1 Kento Momota of Japan in the Semifinals.
  • Saina, Kidambi Srikanth and HS Prannoy bowed out of World Championships from the pre-quarterfinals stage.

Sri Lanka ends 4-month long state of emergency

  • Sri Lanka has ended the four-month-long state of emergency imposed in the country following the Easter Sunday attacks that claimed 258 lives.
  • President Maithripala Sirisena has been extending the emergency through a gazette notification every month since the bombings on April 21.
  • The state of emergency gives sweeping powers to the security forces to arrest and detain people in the aftermath of the attack.

U.S. Coast Guard ship holds drill off Chennai

  • The Indian Coast Guard and the U.S. Coast Guard cutter ship Stratton held a joint exercise at the Chennai coast, during the latter’s maiden visit to India.
  • Indian Coast Guard ships ICGS Shaurya, ICGS Abheek and a Chetak helicopter were part of the joint exercise that focused on drills on anti-piracy operations, search and rescue (SAR), law enforcement, fire fighting at sea and joint helicopter exercises.

UN, France call for the protection of fire-plagued Amazon rainforest

  • United Nations and France have called for the protection of the fire-plagued Amazon rainforest. The extent of the area damaged by fires has yet to be determined, but smoke has choked Sao Paulo and several other Brazilian cities in the past week.
  • France's President Emmanuel Macron said, the wildfires were an international crisis and called on the globe's most industrialized nations to address it at G-7 this weekend. Paraguay and Bolivia are battling separate wildfires that have devastated large areas of their rainforests.
  • Official figures show nearly 73,000 forest fires were recorded in Brazil in the first eight months of the year, the highest number for any year since 2013.

UNSC criticises China, Pakistan for persecution of religious minorities

  • A UN Security Council meet has criticized China and Pakistan for persecution of their religious minorities. Western powers such as the US, Canada, France and UK criticized China and Pakistan for the oppression faced by Christians, Ahmadis, Uighurs and other ethnic minorities.
  • The Arria-Formula Meeting of the Security Council on 'Advancing the Safety and Security of Persons Belonging to Religious Minorities in Armed Conflict' was organised by Poland.

US-China trade war deteriorates

  • The United States and China exchanged blows as each side increased punitive tariffs on the other, intensifying a trade war that is threatening to engulf the global economy.
  • US President Donald Trump lashed out at China and vowed a quick response to China's plans for new tariffs, while ordering American companies to leave the country.
  • The outburst came after China announced that it will hit US soybeans, lobsters, peanut butter and other imports worth 75 billion US dollars with new tariffs in retaliation for USA's latest round of punitive duties due to take effect in two rounds, September 1 and December 15.