Daily Current Affairs - 31st Oct 2019

Former Mumbai Police Commissioner Datta Padsalgikar appointed as Deputy NSA

  • Former Mumbai Police Commissioner and Maharashtra DGP Datta Padsalgikar has been appointed as Deputy National Security Advisor (NSA). The 1982-batch IPS officer had earlier served in the Intelligence Bureau (IB) for 26 years before he was picked as the Mumbai Police Commissioner in 2016.
  • He retired as the Director General of Police (DGP) in 2018.

28th Vyas Samman conferred on Leeladhar Jagoori

  • The 28th Vyas Samman for the year 2018 was conferred on well known Hindi writer Leeladhar Jagoori at a function in New Delhi. Mr Jagoori has been chosen for the prestigious award for his poetry collection- Jitne Log Utne Prem.
  • The Vyas Samman, started in 1991, is given by K K Birla Foundation for an outstanding literary work in Hindi authored by an Indian citizen published during the last 10 years. It carries an award money of four lakh rupees along with a citation and plaque.

Angela Merkel to visit India

  • German Chancellor Angela Merkel will pay a day-long visit to India on Friday. The Chancellor will be accompanied by several Ministers and State Secretaries of the Federal Government, as well as a high-powered business delegation.
  • During the visit, Prime Minister Modi and the German chancellor will co-chair the fifth Biennial Inter-Governmental Consultations.
  • India and Germany have established a Strategic Partnership that is characterized by a high degree of trust and mutual understanding.

Argentine diplomat Rafael Grossi appointed IAEA chief

  • Argentine diplomat Rafael Grossi was appointed to succeed late Yukiya Amano as the new director-general of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), a United Nations' nuclear watchdog.
  • He will be appointed for a term of four years and assume office no later than January 1, 2020. He will be the sixth head of the IAEA since it was founded more than six decades ago.
  • Grossi is a nuclear and diplomatic veteran from Buenos Aires in Argentina.

Australia's backpacker law ruled out illegal by Federal court

  • The Federal Court of Australia has ruled the backpacker law to be illegal which imposed a controversial 15% tax rate in 2017 on two visa categories for working holiday-makers from 8 countries. But a court today found the levy was in breach of existing treaties with the UK, US, Germany, Finland, Chile, Japan, Norway and Turkey
  • Australia has used a so-called backpacker tax to illegally tax foreign workers from eight countries, according to a landmark ruling.

BJP MLAs elect Fadnavis as House leader

  • The BJP party re-elected Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis as leader of the party in the Maharashtra Assembly. All 105 newly elected legislators of the party supported the proposal recommending Mr. Fadnavis’ name as Chief Minister in the presence of central observers, Union Minister Narendra Singh Tomar and party vice-president Avinash Khanna.

BWF World Tour: Satwiksairaj, Chirag Shetty reclaim top 10 in doubles

  • Indian men's doubles pair of Satwiksairaj Rankireddy and Chirag Shetty has reclaimed its position in the top 10 of the latest BWF Badminton rankings.
  • Satwik and Chirag, who became the first Indian pair to enter the finals of a BWF World Tour Super 750 event at the French Open last week, gained two places to grab the ninth place.
  • Meanwhile, PV Sindhu and Saina Nehwal remained static at the sixth and ninth places respectively in the rankings after finishing in the quarter-finals in women's singles in Paris.

Chile pulls out of hosting APEC and COP 25 due to protests

  • Chile has pulled out of hosting two major international summits, including a UN climate change conference, as anti-government protests continue.
  • The decision to call off the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) planned for November and U.N. global climate gatherings (COP25) in December is said have dealt a blow to Chile’s image as a regional oasis of stability and economic development.
  • The demonstrations were originally triggered by a now-suspended rise in the price of metro fares in the capital Santiago. However, protesters are now marching to express their discontent over a wide variety of problems ranging from inequality to the high cost of healthcare.

China expresses 'approval, support' for disqualification of Hong Kong activist Joshua Wong from upcoming local elections

  • China expressed approval and support for the disqualification of Hong Kong democracy activist Joshua Wong from upcoming local elections, after months of protests in the semi-autonomous city.
  • Wong, one of the most prominent figures in the otherwise leaderless movement, accused the Hong Kong Government of political screening after an election officer ruled his nomination for the November poll invalid.

Delhi’s pollution spikes to ‘severe’ category

  • Air pollution in Delhi hit the ‘severe’ category on Wednesday, with an Air Quality Index of 419, the season’s highest. Government agencies attributed the spike to stubble burning in neighbouring States.
  • The contribution of stubble burning in Punjab and Haryana to Delhi’s air pollution was 35% on Wednesday, which is the highest this season, said government-run monitoring agency SAFAR (System of Air Quality and Weather Forecasting and Research).

Farmers hit by sharp decline in pepper prices

  • A drastic fall in the price of black pepper and low production owing to climate vagaries are the major concerns of farmers in Kerala and Karnataka, the two major pepper producing States in the country. Black pepper prices have crashed from Rs. 760 a kg in 2017 to Rs. 490 a kg and then to Rs. 290 a kg.
  • The influx of imported pepper from Vietnam via Sri Lanka was the major reason for the fall in prices in the Indian market. The cheaper commodity from Vietnam continues to flood the market through Sri Lanka, aided by a low-duty structure under the ASEAN (Association of South-East Nations) trade agreement, SAFTA (South Asian Free Trade Area) and ISFTA (Indo-Sri Lanka Free Trade Agreement)

Harsh Vardhan releases 14th National Health Profile, 2019

  • Union Health Minister Dr. Harsh Vardhan has released the 14th National Health Profile (NHP), 2019 and its e-book in New Delhi.
  • The NHP is prepared by the Central Bureau of Health Intelligence and covers comprehensive information on demographic, socio-economic health status, health finance indicators, health infrastructure and health of human resources in the country.
  • The NHP highlights substantial health information under major indicators viz. demographic indicators (population and vital statistics), socio-economic indicators (education, employment, housing and amenities, drinking water and sanitation) and health status indicators (incidence and prevalence of common communicable and non-communicable diseases) etc.

J&K, Ladakh become Union Territories

  • The bifurcation of Jammu & Kashmir into two Union Territories came into effect at midnight Wednesday. Girish Chandra Murmu and Radha Krishna Mathur will be sworn in as Lieutenant Governors of J&K and Ladakh respectively at two separate ceremonies on Thursday
  • J&K Chief Justice Gita Mittal will administer the oath to Mr. Mathur at 7.15 a.m. in Leh district of Ladakh. Around 12.45 p.m., she will swear in Mr. Murmu in J&K’s summer capital Srinagar.

Lebanese PM resigns after weeks of anti-govt protests

  • Lebanon Prime Minister Saad Hariri has announced his resignation from the post amid a wave of protests against his government in nearly two weeks. On October 17, the Lebanese government proposed imposing a tax on WhatsApp calls, along with other austerity measures, sparking countrywide agitations that have brought the country to a standstill.
  • The protestors have been demanding an end to rampant corruption and calling for steps to improve the economic condition of the country.
  • In recent months, the Middle East nation has been embroiled in a severe economic crisis, coupled with rising prices and ballooning debt.

Lenders bank on brick and mortar

  • At a time when most public sector banks (PSBs) are going slow on expanding their branch infrastructure, large private sector banks like ICICI Bank and Axis Bank are opening branches in a big way.
  • Both ICICI Bank and Axis Bank will be opening over 400 branches each during the current financial year. So far ICICI Bank had 5,228 branches while HDFC Bank has 5,314 branches as on September 30, 2019.
  • Among PSBs, State Bank of India (SBI, the country’s largest lender has plans to open 600 branches this year.
  • Banks no longer require RBI’s prior approval to open branches but they are mandated to open 25% of their new branches in unbanked areas.

National Unity Day being observed across the country on October 31st

  • National Unity Day - Rashtriya Ekta Diwas - is being observed across the country today, on the occasion of the 144th birth anniversary of the Iron Man of India, Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel.
  • Since 2014, October 31st is observed as the National Unity Day and people from all walks of life participate in the 'Run For Unity'.

OCI can now apply for National Pension System

  • Overseas Citizens of India (OCI) will now be eligible to apply for the National Pension System at par with Non Resident Indians (NRIs). Pension Fund Regulatory and Development Authority (PFRDA) has permitted Overseas Citizen of India to enrol in NPS.
  • Now, any Indian citizen, resident or non-resident and OCIs are eligible to join NPS till the age of 65 years.
  • More than 66 lakh government employees have been enrolled under NPS and 19.2 lakhs subscribers have subscribed to NPS in the private sector with 6,812 entities registered as corporates.
  • Till 26th of this month, the total number of subscribers under NPS and Atal Pension Yojana has crossed 3.18 crores and the Asset under Management has grown to over 3.79 lakh crore rupees.

Oman Junior and Cadet Table Tennis Open: Swastika Ghosh, Kavya Sree Baskar clinch bronze

  • India's Swastika Ghosh and Kavya Sree Baskar have secured bronze medals in the Oman Junior and Cadet Table Tennis Open in Muscat.
  • Swastika beat Wan-Hsuan Lee in the quarters 4-3 to advance to the medal round. She lost to Yi-Chen Hsu of Chinese Taipei 1-4 to settle for the bronze medal.
  • Kavya Sree lost 1-3 against eventual champion Pu-Syuan Cheng of Taipei in the Cadet Singles to be content with the bronze medal.

Ravinder settles for silver at U-23 World Wrestling Championship

  • At the Under-23 World Wrestling Championship in Budapest,Indian grappler Ravinder settled for a silver medal after going down to Kyrgyzstan's Ulukbek Zholdoshbekov in the final. He suffered a 3-5 loss to Ulukbek in 61-kg category.
  • Ulukbek is the current Asian U23 champion.
  • This was India's first medal at the 2019 edition and overall fifth silver at the Championships.

Sheikh Sultan inaugurates Sharjah International Book Fair 2019

  • The 38th edition of the Sharjah International Book Fair (SIBF) 2019 was inaugurated by Sheikh Dr Sultan bin Muhammad Al Qasimi, Supreme Council Member and Ruler of Sharjah. Nearly 1800 exhibitors from 77 countries are participating in the Fair. The fair will showcase 987 activities presenting scientific, knowledge and literary themes.
  • This year's book fair will be carrying the theme of the Sharjah World Book Capital (SWBC), 'Open Books Open Minds', to promote books and reading across age groups and communities.
  • Republic of Mexico has been declared as the Guest of Honour at the 38th edition of SIBF.
  • America’s most-loved host, Steve Harvey, has been announced Sharjah International Book Fair (SIBF 2019)’s ‘Principal Guest of Honour.
  • Sharjah International Book Fair is an annual event and runs for 11 days.

Shiva Thapa, Pooja Rani enter finals of Olympic Test

  • Former world bronze-winner Shiva Thapa in 63kg category and Pooja Rani in 75 kg category have entered the finals of Olympic Test event for boxing in Tokyo. Thapa defeated Japan's Daisuke Narimatsu in a split verdict in semifinals.
  • Rani got the better of Brazil's Beatriz Soares in a unanimous decision.

Submarine propulsion system test a success

  • The indigenous Air Independent Propulsion (AIP) system to enhance the endurance of conventional submarines being developed by the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) reached a milestone on Wednesday with the successful operation of a land-based prototype.
  • All Scorpene submarines of the Navy are planned to be equipped with an AIP module in due course.
  • An AIP module enables conventional submarines to remain submerged for longer duration.
  • Chief of the Naval Staff Admiral Karambir Singh

Syrian constitutional committee meet in Geneva for first time to end civil war

  • A 150-strong Syrian constitutional committee is meeting for the first time in Geneva under UN auspices to chart a political settlement to end the eight-and-a-half-year civil war.
  • The aim of the meeting is to agree on a new constitution for Syria, but it is unclear if this will mean redrafting the existing constitution, written in 2012, or starting from scratch.

UBI net at Rs. 124 cr. as bad loans drop

  • State-owned United Bank of India (UBI) reported a net profit of Rs. 123.88 crore in the second quarter ended September 30, on the back of substantially lower bad loans, leading to lower provisioning requirement.
  • Total income rose to Rs. 3,013.74 crore in the September 2019 quarter compared with Rs. 2,600.47 crore earned in the corresponding period of the previous financial year
  • The bank brought down its net non-performing assets (NPAs) to 7.88% as at September 30, from 14.36%.
  • Thus, the bank’s provisioning and contingencies requirement for July-September 2019 came down to Rs. 436.42 crore from the Rs. 1,481.24 crore parked aside for the year-ago period.