Daily Current Affairs - 10th Jan 2020

2nd phase US-China trade deal to begin promptly but outcome may wait until after this year's elections: Prez Trump

  • US President Donald Trump has said that negotiations for the second phase of a pending US-China trade deal will begin promptly but the outcome may wait until after this year's elections. Mr Trump's remarks come days before China's trade envoy is due in Washington to sign a phase one agreement, marking a pause in the two sides' nearly two-year trade war.
  • As part of the Phase One deal, China has committed to a minimum of 200 billion US Dollars in increased purchases over the next two years from the United States.

60 listed firms disclose Rs.75,000 cr. Default

  • A directive by the Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI) for companies to disclose loan defaults at the end of every quarter has led to almost 60 listed entities disclosing a cumulative default amount of almost Rs.75,000 crore as on December 31.
  • SEBI had asked companies to disclose loan defaults at the end of every quarter
  • Some of the companies which disclosed default in their loans include Suzlon Energy, Jaypee Infratech Ltd, companies belonging to the Anil Dhirubhai Ambani group.
  • The defaults for these companies are considerably high. Relaince Naval & Engineering Ltd, as per exchange filing, has defaulted on loans to the tune of Rs.9,491 96 crore, Reliance Power Ltd - Rs.685 crore, National Steel & Agro Industries Ltd Rs.1,134.8 crore, Reliance Communication Ltd - Rs.32,575 crore, Suzlon Energy - Rs.7,256 crore, Jaypee Infratech - Rs.6,721 crore.

Australia issues new warnings, evacuation notices as bushfires regenerate

  • Australian government has issued new warnings and evacuation notices across the country's heavily populated southeast as a return of hot weather fanned huge bushfires threatening several towns and communities.
  • Twenty-six people have died, thousands have been made homeless and thousands of others have had to evacuate repeatedly as the monster fires have scorched through more than 10.3 million hectares of land.

British Parliament to finally approve terms of Brexit

  • Britain's parliament finally approved Brexit allowing it to become the first country to leave the European Union by the end of this month, ending years of arguments that toppled two governments and divided a nation.
  • For much of the time since the 2016 Brexit referendum, MPs have been deadlocked over how, when and even if Britain should end almost half a century of European integration.

EU chief defends Iran deal after Trump call to quit

  • EU chief Charles Michel has defended the crumbling Iran nuclear deal after the US President Donald Trump urged Europe to quit it, but warned Iran against "irreversible acts" that would sink the accord.
  • The European parties Britain, France and Germany -- have led efforts to save the deal, which has been crumbling since Trump pulled out in 2018 and reimposed sanctions, and Michel insisted it remained vital.
  • The Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) agreement was an important achievement after 10 years of intense international negotiations and remains an important tool for regional stability, Michel's office said in its readout of his call with Rouhani.

Forest Committee approves scheme to ‘trade’ in forests

  • The Forest Advisory Committee, an apex body tasked with adjudicating requests by the industry to raze forest land for commercial ends, has approved a scheme that could allow “forests” to be traded as a commodity. If implemented, it allows the Forest Department to outsource one of its responsibilities of reforesting to non-government agencies.

Govt to propose easing foreign investment rules further

  • India is considering further opening its insurance and aviation sectors to foreign investors to help spur the economy. The Finance Ministry has suggested increasing the limit on foreign direct investment in insurance and pension companies to 74% from the present 49% and allowing foreign airlines to own Indian carriers.
  • It also wants to allow 100% foreign investment in railway operations, education, and rental housing management companies. FDI is currently prohibited in railway operations.
  • The government wants to increase the amount of FDI to as much as 6% of gross domestic product, compared with less than 2% now.

Justice Dilip Bhosale Resigns As Lokpal Member, 9 Months After Appointment

  • Justice Dilip B Bhosale has resigned as member of the country's anti-corruption ombudsman Lokpal, citing personal reasons, nine months after he was appointed to the Constitutional post. A former chief justice of the Allahabad High Court, Justice Bhosale was administered the oath of office by Lokpal chairman Justice Pinaki Chandra Ghose on March 27, 2019.
  • A Lokpal member is appointed for a five-year term or till attaining the age of 70.

Malaysia Masters Badminton: Sindhu, Saina to play their quarterfinals

  • PV Sindhu will take on world number one Chinese Taipai shuttler Tai Tzu Ying in the women's singles quarterfinal match of Malaysia Masters Super 500 badminton tournament in Kuala Lumpur. In another quarterfinal match, Saina Nehwal will clash with Olympic champion Spaniard Carolina Marin.
  • In the men's singles, India's challenge ended after both Sameer Verma and HS Prannoy crashed out in the second round.

Modi govt policies hampering India’s economic growth, foreign policy: risk firm

  • According to a list of 10 global risks in the year ahead, compiled by the Eurasia Group, a leading global political risk management consultancy, India has been ranked the 5th highest “Geopolitical Risk” in 2020.
  • The report said that in its second term, the Narendra Modi-led NDA government’s “social” policies were affecting India’s economic agenda and foreign policy image.

NRC, CAA unnecessary, wasteful exercises: 106 former civil servants to govt

  • Citing grave reservations about the constitutional validity of the CAA, as many as 106 retired bureaucrats have wrote an open letter to people saying both the NPR and the NRIC were "unnecessary and wasteful exercises", which will cause hardships to the public.
  • The former bureaucrats, including former Lieutenant Governor of Delhi Najeeb Jung, the then Cabinet Secretary K M Chandrasekhar and former Chief Information Commissioner Wajahat Habibullah urged fellow citizens to insist the Union government to repeal relevant sections of Citizenship Act, 1955, pertaining to the issue of national identity cards.
  • The former civil servants said that worrying reports are already coming in of people in different parts of India rushing in panic to obtain the necessary birth documents. The problem is magnified in a country where the maintenance of birth records is poor, coupled with highly inefficient birth registration systems.
  • They also questioned the widespread setting up of Foreigners' Tribunals and detention camps under the Foreigners (Tribunals) Amendment Order, 2019.

Real Madrid defeated Valencia to book Spanish Super Cup final berth

  • Real Madrid defeated Valencia 3-1 to book a Spanish Super Cup final berth at Jeddah in Saudi Arabia. Toni Kroos helped Real Madrid took the lead on 1-0 with a corner kick in the 15th minute.
  • This is the first year the Super Cup was played with four teams with league second and third placed teams included. It used to feature only the Spanish La Liga winners and the Copa del Rey champions

Reliance Infra gets NHAI approval for sale of Delhi-Agra road project to Cube Highways

  • Reliance Infrastructure has received in-principle approval from the National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) for Harmonious Substitution of the Delhi-Agra (DA) Toll Road project to Cube Highways.
  • In view of the difficulties being faced by Concessionaires in Public-Private-Partnership (PPP) projects, the Government has decided to permit the substitution of existing Concessionaires in a harmonious manner, in accordance with the agreed provisions.
  • With this transaction, RInfra will receive an Enterprise Value of Rs 3,600 crore, including equity of up to Rs 1,700 crore, which it has said will be used to repay its debt. The remaining Rs 1,900 crore will be transferred to the books of Singapore-based Cube Highways, who have bought the Delhi-Agra toll road

Sale of 13th tranche of electoral bonds from Jan 13: FinMin

  • The Finance Ministry has said 13th tranche of electoral bonds sale will take place from January 13 to January 22.
  • Electoral bonds have been pitched as an alternative to cash donations made to political parties as part of efforts to bring transparency in political funding.
  • The 29 specified SBI branches are in cities such as New Delhi, Chandigarh, Shimla, Srinagar, Dehradun, Gandhinagar, Bhopal, Raipur, Mumbai, Patna, and Lucknow. The sale of the first batch of electoral bonds took place from March 1-10, 2018
  • According to provisions of the scheme, electoral bonds can be purchased by a person who is a citizen of India or incorporated or established in India. Registered political parties that have secured not less than 1 per cent of the votes polled in the last election of the LS or Legislative Assembly will be eligible to receive electoral bonds.

Ukrainian airliner was mistakenly downed by Iranian missile: US

  • US officials have said that the Ukraine airliner that crashed in Iran, killing all 176 people aboard, was most likely brought down accidentally by Iranian air defence missiles. The US officials said that American satellites had detected the launch of two missiles shortly before the plane crashed, followed by evidence of an explosion.
  • Iran has challenged international suggestions that the Ukrainian airliner was mistakenly downed by an Iranian missile. Iranian government urged Canada to share its information after its Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said multiple intelligence sources indicate that Iran shot down the Boeing airliner after it took off from Tehran.

US House of Representatives votes to curb Prez Trump war power on Iran

  • The US House of Representatives has approved a symbolic resolution seeking to limit President Donald Trump's ability to make war on Iran. This measure passed the Democratic-run chamber 224-194 but faces an uphill task in the Republican-held Senate.
  • It aims to mandate congressional approval for any conflict with Iran except in cases of an imminent attack against the US.

Uttar Pradesh, Rajasthan top the chart in economic offences in 2018

  • Data from the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) has revealed that Uttar Pradesh accounted for the maximum number of economic offences in 2018. While the state recorded 22,822 cases of economic offences, Rajasthan was a close second with 21,309 such cases.
  • Maharashtra reported 14,854 cases of economic offences and Telangana and Bihar saw 10,390 and 9,209 such cases respectively.
  • Out of three specified category of economic offences (viz. criminal breach of trust, forgery, cheating and fraud and counterfeiting), forgery, cheating and fraud accounted for maximum such cases, with 1,34,546 cases, followed by criminal breach of trust (20,456 cases) and counterfeiting (1,266 cases) during 2018.
  • Countrywide, 1,56,268 cases of economic offences were recorded in 2018, higher than 143,524 such cases reported in 2017, according to the data. In 2016, such crimes totalled 148,972.