Daily Current Affairs - 04th Dec 2019

12 Indian observers to monitor Uzbekistan polls

  • Twelve Indian observers, including from the Chief Election Commissioner's office, will monitor the Uzbekistan polls scheduled to be held later this month. India’s Chief Election Commissioner (CEC) Sunil Arora might himself visit Uzbekistan to monitor the polls or designate someone from the office for it.
  • Elections are due on December 22 and would see a contest between five political parties.
  • A total of 500 international observers, including 12 from India, will monitor the polls.

Bad loans worth Rs 80,893 crore written off by banks till September quarter

  • In response to a question, MoS Finance Anurag Thakur has revealed that public sector banks had written off bad loans worth Rs 1.86 lakh crore in FY 2018-19. As per RBI data on global operations, Public Sector and Private Sector Banks wrote-off Rs 80,893 crore (provisional data), during the current financial year 2019-20 (till September 30, 2019).
  • He said close to 3 per cent of Rs 6.04 lakh crore worth of loans sanctioned under the Pradhan Mantri Mudra Yojana (PMMY) has turned into bad loans.
  • Scheduled Commercial Banks and Regional Rural Banks have reported that as of March 2019, against a total amount of Rs 6.04 lakh crore disbursed by them under PMMY since inception of the scheme, an amount of Rs 17,251.52 crore had turned into Non-Performing Assets (NPAs), which is 2.86 percent of the total disbursed amount.
  • Thakur stated that gross NPAs of public and private sector banks, rose from Rs. 3.13 lakh crore as on March 31, 2015, to Rs 10.21 lakh crore as on March 31, 2018.
  • Due to government's efforts, gross NPAs have declined to Rs 9.41 lakh crore as on September 30, 2019.

EC to implement Political Parties Registration Tracking Management System

  • The Election Commission will implement Political Parties Registration Tracking Management System. It will be implemented through an online portal to facilitate tracking of status of application by applicants. The Commission said, the applicant who is applying for party registration from 1st January 2020 onwards will be able to track the progress of his or her application and will get status through SMS and email.

Govt deactivates more than 19 lakh Director Identification Numbers

  • The Corporate Affairs Ministry has deactivated more than 19 lakh Director Identification Numbers (DIN) as the individuals concerned failed to file KYC details under the companies law.
  • In the last two financial years, over four lakh 24 thousand directors were disqualified by the Ministry. During the same period, Registrars of Companies struck-off names of more than 3.38 lakh companies for failing to file annual returns.
  • Minister of State for Finance and Corporate Affairs Anurag Thakur

Govt launches 4th round of Regional Connectivity Scheme-UDAN

  • The Union Government has launched the 4th round of Regional Connectivity Scheme - UDAN (Ude Desh Ka Aam Nagrik) to further enhance the connectivity to remote and regional areas of the country. Civil Aviation Ministry said, the focus in this round will be North East Region, Hilly States, Jammu and Kashmir, Ladakh and Islands.
  • In the last three years government has successfully completed three rounds of bidding under the Scheme and awarded about 700 routes. The Ministry aims to operationalize one thousand routes and more than 100 airports in the next five years.
  • The scheme was launched in October, 2016, which seeks to provide connectivity to un-served and under-served regions through revival of existing air strips and airports.

Govt revises stock limit of onion for retailers, wholesalers

  • The Union government has revised the stock limit of onion for retailers and wholesalers in view of its rising prices. Now the stock holding limit for retailers has been reduced to five tonnes and for wholesalers to 25 tonnes. Earlier, retailers could hold onion stock up to 10 tonnes and wholesalers up to 50 tonnes. The decision has been taken to augment availability of onion in open market.

GST Council worried about strained revenue, asks states for ways to meet compensation needs: Reports

  • The Goods and Services Tax Council has expressed concern about the Centre’s ability to meet the compensation needs of states due to lower tax collections in recent months.
  • Ahead of its meeting on December 18, the council wrote a letter to states, seeking suggestions to deal with the situation.
  • In its letter to the states, the council sought suggestions, such as reviewing items currently exempted from GST and revisiting rates of tax and compensation cess on various items, “to augment revenue”.
  • The GST Act promises states enough compensation from the Centre to keep their annual revenue growth 14% for five years despite any likely loss due to the implementation of the indirect tax regime. Most prevalent indirect taxes were subsumed by the new GST structure, which came into effect on July 1, 2017, and states are eligible for the compensation till 2021-’22.

India bag ten Gold medals at 13th South Asian Games in Kathmandu

  • India dominated the 13th South Asian Games in Nepal by clinching 10 Gold in Athletics, Volleyball, Shooting and Table Tennis.
  • In track and field events Archana Suseendran in women's 100 metre, M. Jashna in women's high jump, Sarvesh Anil Kushare in men's high jump and Ajay Kumar Saroj in men's 1500 metres won a gold each to begin India's athletics campaign on an impressive note.
  • In Shooting, India swept all the medals on offer in the women's 10 metres air rifle event with Mehuli Ghosh winning the gold. India also won the team gold in the 10 metres air rifle event.
  • The Indians have so far claimed 40 medals, including 15 gold, 16 silver and nine bronze. The country is currently second in the medals tally behind hosts Nepal with 44 medals.

India successfully test-fires indigenously developed nuke-capable Prithvi-II missile

  • India has successfully test-fired its indigenously developed surface-to-surface nuclear-capable Prithvi-II missile off Odisha coast. The Strategic Forces Command of the Indian Army conducted the user trial of the 350 km range missile from a mobile launcher from launch complex-3 of the Integrated Test Range at Chandipur.
  • The missile weighs about 4,600 kg, can carry 500 to one thousand kilograms of warheads and is thrust by liquid propulsion twin engines.
  • This missile developed under the collaboration of Defence Research and Development Organization and Bharat Dynamics Limited, the missile was first test-fired on 27 January 1996.

India, Sweden sign MoU for India-Sweden Healthcare Innovation Centre

  • India and Sweden have signed a Memorandum of Understanding for India-Sweden Healthcare Innovation Centre in New Delhi. The objective of the innovation Centre is to develop an ecosystem of open innovation to which start-ups and the healthcare delivery stakeholders can use to collaborate and address current and future challenges in the healthcare sector.
  • The MOU focuses on creating new partnerships within the public, private and academic sectors. The Minister further stated that with 22 new AIIMS soon to become fully operational, and 157 new Medical Colleges are at the development stage.

International Day of Persons with Disabilities observed on 3 December

  • International Day of Persons with Disabilities (December 3) is an international observance promoted by the United Nations since 1992. It aims to promote the rights and well-being of persons with disabilities in all spheres of society and development, and to increase awareness of the situation of persons with disabilities in every aspect of political, social, economic and cultural life. Top of Form
  • 2019 Theme: Promoting the participation of persons with disabilities and their leadership: taking action on the 2030 Development Agenda

Larry Page, Sergey Brin step down; Sundar Pichai promoted as Alphabet CEO

  • Google co-founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin have announced that they are stepping down from the leadership role of the parent company Alphabet. Google CEO Indian-American Sundar Pichai will be assuming the role of Alphabet CEO, making him one of the most powerful corporate leaders of the world.
  • They said, Alphabet and Google no longer need two CEOs and a President and Sundar Pichai will be the CEO of both Google and Alphabet.

Lionel Messi: Barcelona forward wins Ballon d'Or for record sixth time

  • Barcelona forward Lionel Messi has won the Ballon d'Or award for the world's best player for a record sixth time. Virgil van Dijk was second - one of four Liverpool players in the top seven, including Sadio Mane in fourth.
  • Juventus and Portugal forward Cristiano Ronaldo, who has won the award five times, was third in the voting.
  • England defender Lucy Bronze was beaten to the women's award, finishing second behind Megan Rapinoe, who was Golden Ball winner as USA claimed a second successive World Cup in 2019.

National Assembly Elects Mr Prithvirajsing Roopun As President of the Republic of Mauritius

  • The National Assembly unanimously elected Mr Prithvirajsing Roopun, as President of the Republic of Mauritius. The motion for the election of the new President was presented by the Prime Minister, Mr Pravind Kumar Jugnauth.
  • The Prime Minister also presented the motion for the election of Mr Marie Cyril Eddy Boissezon, as the new Vice-President of the Republic of Mauritius

Navy Day is being celebrated on December 4

  • Navy Day is being celebrated on December 4th every year. The day is celebrated in honour of the maritime force's role during the war with Pakistan in 1971 when Indian warships attacked Karachi port and successfully thwarted Pakistani operations in the western coast.
  • The Day is also celebrated to highlight the achievements and role the Navy plays in securing the country's marine borders.

New Zealand Win MCC's Spirit Of Cricket Award For Conduct In World Cup Final

  • New Zealand cricket team have been awarded with the MCC's Christopher Martin-Jenkins Spirit of Cricket Award for 2019 for their sporting conduct in the aftermath of the World Cup final against England.
  • After losing to England in a thrilling final held on July 14 at the Lord's -- regarded as one of the most exciting ODI matches of all time -- Kane Williamson's team displayed an exceptional level of sportsmanship, humility and selflessness in defeat.

Parliament passes Dadra and Nagar Haveli and Daman and Diu (Merger of Union Territories) Bill, 2019

  • Parliament has also passed the Dadra and Nagar Haveli and Daman and Diu (Merger of Union Territories) Bill, 2019.
  • The Bill provides for the merger of Union territories of Dadra and Nagar Haveli and Daman and Diu. It is aimed at providing better delivery of services to citizens of both the UTs by improving efficiency and reduction in paperwork and administrative expenditure.
  • It will also bring uniformity in policy and schemes. Both the UTs are in the western region of the country. Dadra and Nagar Haveli has just one district while Daman and Diu has two.
  • Speaking on the bill, Minister of State for Home Affairs, G. Kishan Reddy said, it was the long-standing demand of the people of the region. He clarified that there won’t be any change in the linguistic policy after the merger.

PSBs disburse Rs.4.91 trillion loans in October-November

  • Public sector banks (PSBs) have disbursed loans of Rs.2.39 trillion in November to non-bank lenders, large and small businesses, as well as farmers, and Rs.2.52 trillion in October, the finance ministry.
  • In a bid to improve consumer demand amid an economic downturn, outreach camps, or loan melas, were held in two phases across 374 districts in October alone.
  • Data shared by the ministry showed that corporate houses borrowed the most during October-November, followed by MSMEs and farm loans.
  • Since October, banks have disbursed loans of Rs.72,985 crore to MSMEs, including Rs.35,775 crore in November.
  • PSBs have disbursed Rs.25,525 crore to NBFCs in November, and Rs.19,628 crore in October.

SAT asks NSDL to hold back remaining stocks of Karvy clients

  • In an interim relief to the lenders, the Securities Appellate Tribunal (SAT) has asked NDSL not to transfer any more shares to the clients of the crippled Karvy Broking.
  • The SAT order came on a plea from affected lenders-- HDFC Bank, ICICI Bank, Indusind Bank and Bajaj Finance-- which challenged NSDL's decision to transfer shares from now-banned Karvy Broking back to 83,000 clients, which helped almost 90 percent of the demat accountholders of brokerage to recover their investments.
  • Karvy had misused securities of over 95,000 clients which it was holding on behalf of the clients to raise over Rs 600 crore in loans.
  • Following an order from the capital markets regulator Sebi, National Securities Depository (NSDL) on Monday transferred back stocks of nearly 83,000 clients.

Shanmuga Subramanian first to spot debris from Chandrayaan-2 lander, says NASA

  • The United States premier space agency, NASA, has credited Shanmuga Subramanian (Shan), a mechanical engineer and a computer programmer from Chennai, for helping it find ISRO's Vikram Moon lander debris on the lunar surface.
  • Despite a frantic search for the Vikram Moon lander by scientists at ISRO and US space agency NASA for over two months since it disappeared on Moon's surface on September 7, it's a techie from Chennai who was finally able to unravel the biggest mystery in India's space history so far.
  • Shanmuga works as a technical architect at engineering company Lennox India Technology Centre in Chennai.

TRAI revamps mobile number portability rules

  • Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) has revamped mobile number portability (MNP) rules, making the entire process faster and simpler.
  • TRAI has prescribed three working days timeline for port out requests within a service area. Similarly, timeline of five working days has been prescribed for requests for port out from one circle to another. The new rules will come into effect from December 16.
  • Validity of the Unique Porting Code (UPC) has also been brought down to four days instead of a fortnight earlier.
  • It will be applicable to all circles except Jammu & Kashmir, Assam and North East, where the validity of the said code remains unchanged to 30 days.
  • The MNP request under the present rule will be processed till December 9.

US vows 100% tariffs on French exports over digital tax

  • The US government says it may slap punitive duties of up to 100 per cent on 2.4 billion worth of French exports as retaliation for the country's new digital services tax. The new tax, which France approved in July, unfairly targets American tech giants. The items that could face tariffs include cheese, make-up and handbags.

Williamson, Taylor's centuries help New Zealand tie Test, win series against England

  • Centuries from Kane Williamson and Ross Taylor ensured New Zealand drew the rain-hit second Test against England in Hamilton, sealing a 1-0 series win.
  • New Zealand batted the final day needing a substantial innings to avoid defeat and were helped by sloppy England fielding.

Zimbabwe going through vicious cycle of skyrocketing malnutrition: UN

  • The United Nations has stated that Zimbabwe is going through a vicious cycle of skyrocketing malnutrition that's hitting women and children hardest. About half of the country's population faces severe hunger amid a devastating drought and economic collapse. With poor rains expected before the harvest in April, the scale of hunger will worsen.
  • Inflation is skyrocketing to over 490 per cent. This is the second-highest rate in the world after Venezuela.
  • Zimbabwe's crisis includes high unemployment, cash and water shortages and electricity outages of up to 19 hours a day.
  • The World Food Programme said it plans to more than double the number of people it helps to more than 4 million. More than 7 million people overall are in need.