Daily Current Affairs - 18th Jan 2020

36 Union Ministers to visit Jammu and Kashmir from January 18 to disseminate information about development policies

  • Thirty-six Union Ministers will visit Jammu and Kashmir beginning on January 18. The Ministers will visit different districts on different days in both the Divisions of the Union Territory till 24th of this month.
  • The objective of the visit is to disseminate information about the importance of the Centre's policies for the overall development of the Union Territory and its people, along with steps taken by the government.

Aadhaar mandatory to get benefits under scheme for civilian victims of terror, communal violence

  • In a notification, the Union Home Ministry said that Aadhaar will be required for getting benefits under a central government scheme for providing financial assistance to the family of victims of violence perpetrated by terrorists or Naxals, and communal riots.
  • Assistance will be provided to Civilian Victims, Family of Victims of Terrorists, Cross Border Firing and Mine, IED Blasts on Indian Territory under the scheme.
  • An eligible beneficiary desirous of receiving the benefit is required to furnish proof of possession of Aadhaar number or undergo Aadhaar authentication. The Ministry said the notification comes into effect in all states and union territories except Assam and Meghalaya, where Aadhaar has not covered all residents.

Amazon to create 1 mn new jobs in India by 2025: Bezos

  • American multinational Amazon has announced plans to create 1 million new jobs in India by 2025 through continued investments in technology, infrastructure and its logistics network, the company said.
  • The new jobs will add up to the 7,00,000 jobs the Seattle-based e-commerce major created in India over the last six years., the retailer added.
  • The announcement follows Bezos’ promise on Wednesday to investing $1 billion in India to help small businesses digitise.

Anshu Malik wins silver in 57 kg competition in Rome

  • Teenager Anshu Malik settled for a silver medal after losing the 57kg final by technical superiority while Divya Kakran missed out on a podium finish after losing her bronze play-off at the Rome Ranking Series wrestling event.
  • Anshu carried her sparkling form from the trials at her maiden international tournament at the senior level but could not replicate it in the gold medal bout, losing to Nigeria's Odunayo Adekuoroye.
  • India can hope for one more medal as 2019 World Championship bronze winner Vinesh Phogat is yet to compete in the 53kg. Nirmala Devi will also open her campaign in the 50kg.

Beijing should refrain from helping Pakistan to raise Kashmir issue in international fora: MEA

  • External Affairs Ministry Spokesman Raveesh Kumar has said that China should seriously reflect on the global consensus and refrain from helping Pakistan in trying to raise the Kashmir issue.
  • Replying to a media query, he said that an attempt was made by Pakistan through China to misuse the platform of United Nations Security Council.
  • He said, the overwhelming majority of the UNSC was of the view that it is not the right forum for such issues and it should be discussed bilaterally. The meeting concluded without any outcome.
  • Pakistan has repeatedly tried to raise the Kashmir issue at the UN Security Council with China's help, but it has failed to find any support. The latest attempt failed as other countries of the 15-member council felt Kashmir is a bilateral matter between India and Pakistan.

China's economic growth sinks to lowest level in three decades

  • According to the new GDP data released by the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS), China registered 6.1 per cent GDP last year, which is the slowest pace of growth for the country in almost three decades. The government said that sluggish domestic demand and the bruising 18-month trade war with the US has seriously impacted the economy.
  • In 2018, China's economy sank to a 28-year low slowing down to 6.6 per cent, lower than the 6.8-per cent growth registered in 2017.
  • China aims to double the per capita income of its urban and rural residents from 2010 levels By 2020.

Climate change threatens Afghanistan's archaeological treasures

  • In Afghanistan, the archaeological treasures of Bamiyan province are facing a new and possibly a daunting threat of climate change. Nestled in the heart of the Hindu Kush mountains, the Bamiyan valley's spring snow-melts, is putting this historic art and architecture at risk of destruction.
  • Afghan officials were warned in a 2016 United Nations report that the structures may collapse and suffer from severe erosion due to conditions directly linked to climate change.

Conference on Census 2021 held in New Delhi

  • A Conference of the Chief Secretaries and Administrator State and Union Territories on Census 2021 and updating of National Population Register, NPR was held in New Delhi. Inaugurating it, Minister of State for Home Nityanand Rai laid emphasis on the need of conducting Census 2021 and the role of the States in doing the same.
  • The data collected in the Census helps us in framing policies for the welfare of the people of the country.
  • Registrar General and Census Commissioner of India Dr Vivek Joshi made a brief presentation on the Strategy for Census 2021.

DV Sadananda Gowda launches APNA UREA – SonaUgle” brand of HURL

  • Chemicals and Fertilizers Minister D.V. Sadananda Gowda has launched the APNA UREA - Sona Ugle brand of Hindustan Urvarak and Rasayan Limited (HURL) at a function in New Delhi.
  • HURL is Joint Venture Company promoted by the three Maha Ratna Companies - Coal India Limited, NTPC Limited and Indian Oil Corporation Limited.
  • Mr Gowda said, with the objective of making the country self-reliant in Urea, Prime Minister had directed for the revival of five major sick or shutdown fertilizer plants.

Forex reserves rise by USD 58 mn to record high of USD 461.21 bn

  • The country foreign exchange reserves rose by USD 58 million to reach a life-time high of USD 461.21 billion in the week to January 10, according to the RBI data. In the previous week, the reserves had increased by USD 3.689 billion to USD 461.15 billion.
  • In the reporting week, the reserves rose despite a decline in foreign currency assets (FCA), which is a major component of the overall reserves. FCA decreased by USD 367 million to USD 427.582 billion.
  • The foreign currency assets include the effect of appreciation or depreciation of non-US units like the euro, pound and yen held in the forex reserves.
  • Gold reserves rose by USD 435 million to USD 28.492 billion. The special drawing rights with the International Monetary Fund were down by USD 5 million to USD 1.442 billion.
  • The country's reserve position with the IMF also declined by USD 5 million to USD 3.697 billion

Former India all-rounder Bapu Nadkarni passes away at 86

  • Former India all-rounder Bapu Nadkarni passed away. He was best known for bowling a record 21 successive maiden overs in a Test match.
  • Nadkarni, a left-handed batsman and slow-left arm orthodox bowler. He played 41 Tests in which he scored 1414 runs and grabbed 88 wickets with 6/43 as his best bowling figures.
  • Nadkarni was a Mumbai stalwart having played 191 first-class matches and taken 500 wickets and scored 8880 runs.

Govt awards over Rs 2000 cr for completing Z Morh tunnel

  • A Concession Agreement for completing the 6.5-kilometre long Z-Morh tunnel in Jammu and Kashmir was signed in New Delhi. Under the agreement, the two-lane bi-directional tunnel with parallel escape tunnel will be completed in 3.5 years at a cost of 2379 Crore rupees.
  • Z-Morh Tunnel will provide all-weather road connectivity to Sonmarg tourist spot in Jammu and Kashmir.
  • The project includes construction, operation and maintenance of the tunnel with approaches on NH-1 at Srinagar-Sonmarg-Gumri Road from 61 kilometres to 89.30 kilometres on Design, Build, Finance, Operate and Transfer Annuity basis.

ICC U-19 World Cup Cricket begins in South Africa

  • The ICC Under-19 World Cup Cricket begins in South Africa. Indian team, under the captaincy of Priyam Garg, will look to defend the title when it begins its campaign against Sri Lanka at the Oval, Bloemfontein, on Sunday.
  • India are placed in Group 'A' and will face New Zealand, Sri Lanka and Japan, who will be making their first-ever appearance in any World Cup.
  • India is the most successful team in the tournament, having won four titles till date, including the last edition in 2018.
  • The top two teams from each group will qualify for the Super League stage. The final of the tournament will be played at Oval on the 9th of next month.

India defeat Australia in second One Day International by 36 runs at Rajkot

  • India defeated Australia in the second One Day International by 36 runs at Saurashtra Cricket Association Stadium in Rajkot. India has now levelled the three-match series 1-1 after losing the first game by 10 wickets in Mumbai.
  • Chasing 341, Indian bowlers dismantled the Australian batting unit and bundled out the visitors at 304.
  • Earlier, Australia won the toss and asked India to bat first. The hosts posted a mammoth total of 340 for the loss of six wickets.

J P Nadda likely to be elected unopposed for BJP’s top party post

  • The nominations for the election to the post of BJP national president will be filed on 20th of this month. The polling, if required, will take place the next day.
  • BJP Working President J P Nadda is likely to be elected unopposed for the top party post. The schedule was announced after the party's internal poll exercise was completed in 21 of the BJP's 36 state and Union territory units.

Kuldeep Yadav becomes fastest Indian spinner to take 100 wickets in ODIs

  • Kuldeep Yadav became the fastest Indian spinner to claim 100 wickets in ODI during the second match against Australia in Rajkot. He reached the milestone in his 58th match when he got rid of Alex Carey for 18 in the 38th over of the Australian run chase.
  • Among spinners, the earlier fastest to 100 wickets was Harbhajan Singh in 76 matches.
  • Kuldeep is now also the third-fastest Indian bowler to take 100 ODI wickets behind current teammates Mohammed Shami, who reached the milestone in 56 matches, and Jasprit Bumrah in 57 matches.

Nirbhaya Case: Convicts to be hanged on Feb 1

  • A Delhi Court has issued fresh death warrants against the four convicts in the Nirbhaya rape and murder case. The court set the date of the hanging as February 1, at 6 am. Earlier, President Ram Nath Kovind rejected the mercy petition of one of the convicts in the Nirbhaya gangrape case.
  • The four convicts – Mukesh Singh, Vinay Sharma, Akshay Kumar Singh and Pawan Gupta were to be hanged on 22nd of this month in Tihar Jail.

Nominations for Sardar Patel National Unity Award-2020 open till April 30

  • Nominations for the highest civilian award in the field of contribution to unity and integrity of India - Sardar Patel National Unity Award-2020, are open till 30th April this year. People can send their nominations online on the website, www.nationalunityawards.mha.gov.in.
  • The Award seeks to recognize the notable and inspiring contribution to promote cause of national unity and integrity and reinforce the value of a strong and united India.

RIL profit surges 13.5% on retail, telecom

  • Reliance Industries Limited (RIL) reported a 13.5% growth in its third quarter net profit to Rs. 11,640 crore, led by growth in consumer driven businesses of retail and telecommunications, even as petrochemicals, the core business, disappointed.
  • RIL's net profit during the October-December period stood at Rs 11,640 crore, as compared to Rs 10,251 crore profit in the same period a year back. Consolidated revenue, however, dipped 1.4 percent to Rs 168,858 crore.
  • Retail business EBITDA rose 58 percent to Rs 2,389 crore while telecom arm Jio posted a net profit of Rs 1,350 crore.
  • Outstanding debt as on 31 December 2019 was Rs 306,851 crore ($43.0 billion) compared to Rs 287,505 crore as on March 31, 2019.

Russia to deliver S-400 air defence systems to India by 2025

  • Russia said it has started production of S-400 long-range surface-to-air missile systems for India, and all five units will be delivered by 2025. Russian Deputy Chief of Mission said that a contract will be finalised shortly for joint production of Kamov lightweight multi-role military helicopters for India. He said that the Indian Armed forces will also receive the first batch of 5,000 Kalashnikov rifles this year as well. These will be produced in India under a joint venture.
  • In October 2018, India signed a USD 5 billion deal to buy the air defence missile systems.

Sania Mirza to play in women’s doubles final of Hobart International

  • Indian tennis ace Sania Mirza and her Ukrainian partner Nadiia Kichenok will play in the women's doubles final of the Hobart International Tennis tournament in Australia. The pair defeated Slovenian-Czech pair of Tamara Zidansek and Marie Bouzkova 7-6, 6-2 in the semi-final.
  • The fifth-seeded Indo-Ukrainian combination will lock horns with second seeds Shuai Peng and Shuai Zhang of China in the finals.

State of Art Tejas express train between Mumbai-Ahmedabad flagged off

  • The state of art- new Tejas Express train between Ahmedabad and Mumbai Central has been flagged off by Gujarat Chief Minister Vijay Rupani at Ahmedabad Railway Station. The train will have stoppages at Nadiad, Vadodara, Bharuch, Surat, Vapi and Borivali en-route to Mumbai Central.
  • This is the first train under the private sector which has world-class comfort and facilities for passengers.
  • The train operated by IRCTC will run between between Ahmedabad and Mumbai on a six days a week- basis except Thursday - with effect from 19th of January. This train will offer world- class comfort and facilities for the passengers.

Travel advisory issued to passengers travelling to and from China over Coronavirus

  • In view of the outbreak of Novel Coronavirus in China, Union Health Ministry has reviewed the public health preparedness at a meeting in New Delhi. The Ministry said the government is closely monitoring the situation after the reports of 41 confirmed cases including one death in Wuhan, China.
  • A travel advisory has also been issued to the passengers travelling to and from China on the issue.
  • Coronaviruses are a large family of viruses, which cause illnesses to people and also circulate in animals including camels, cats and bats.

Ukraine PM Oleksiy Honcharuk resigns

  • Ukrainian Prime Minister Oleksiy Honcharuk has tendered his resignation to President Volodymyr Zelenskiy after less than six months in the role. The resignation was still to be confirmed as the presidential office responded to the letter, saying they would consider it.
  • An alleged recording emerged earlier this week where Honcharuk questioned Zelenskiy's ability to manage the economy and the Prime Minister felt this would undermine his position.

Yes Bank ratings put under review

  • Rating Agency Moody’s has placed Yes Bank’s long-term foreign currency issuer rating of B2 under review, with the direction uncertain. The rating agency has downgraded Yes Bank’s Baseline Credit Assessment (BCA) and adjusted BCA to caa2 from b3.
  • The placing of Yes Bank's deposit rating of B2 under review reflects Moody's expectation that the bank's standalone viability is getting increasingly challenged by its slowness in raising new capital.
  • It further said the potential credit risk to the bank's senior creditors is uncertain, because there are several diverse scenarios that could affect the rating in either positive or negative directions.