Daily Current Affairs - 31st Jan 2020

Australian Open: Novak Djokovic storms into final of men's singles, Gabrine Muguruza in women's singles final

  • Spaniard Garbine Muguruza and Serb Novak Djokovic stormed into the finals of the Australian Open Tennis tournament at Melbourne. In Women's singles, a two-time Grand Slam champion, Garbine Muguruza reached her first Melbourne final with a tough 7-6 10/8, 7-5 victory on fourth seed Simona Halep. She will take on Sofia Kenin in the title clash.
  • In Men's singles, Novak Djokovic defeated Roger Federer to sweep into a record eighth Australian Open final and move closer to his 17th Grand Slam crown. Djokovic defeated Swiss Roger Federer 6-7, 4-6, 3-6, in the first Semifinal clash.
  • He will play either fifth seed Dominic Thiem or seventh-ranked German Alexander Zverev in Sunday's final.

Budget Session begins with President's address to joint session of both the houses

  • The Budget Session of Parliament will commence from January 31. President Ram Nath Kovind will address a joint sitting of both the Houses of Parliament on the first day of the session. The Economic Survey will also be tabled, while the Union Budget will be presented on Saturday. The first phase of the session will conclude on the 11th of next month while the second part of the session will begin from 2nd March and will end on the 3rd of April.
  • Ahead of the session, Government today held an all-party meeting to ensure smooth functioning of both houses of Parliament.

Coronavirus impact: Shutdown in China may hit Indian companies hard

  • As the coronavirus epidemic plagues more than 20 countries across the world, Indian companies with businesses in China may be significantly impacted. Travel restrictions to China could disrupt the operations of Indian companies that import goods and commodities from that country.
  • According to a report, there could be a shortage of life-saving drugs and antibiotics. The launch of smartphones and other electronic devices in India may also get impacted as most of these devices are manufactured in China. Overall, India imports goods worth $70 billion from China. It also exports products amounting to $17 billion to that country.

Eminent Social Worker and Educationist Tushar Kanjilal Dies at 85

  • Eminent social worker, environmentalist, educationist and writer Tushar Kanjilal died. He was 85. Kanjilal is known for his contribution to education in remote Rangabelia in the Sundarbans in the 1970s and his work for the uplift of the people in the area.
  • Kanjilal involved himself in environmental activism and worked for the preservation of the mangrove forests in the Sundarbans. He penned a book 'Who Killed the Sunderbans?' which deals with the issue of the destruction of the mangrove forests.
  • Kanjilal was awarded the Padma Shri in 1996 and received the Jamnalal Bajaj Award in 2008

FinMin recommends subsidy cuts to expand fiscal room

  • India’s Finance Ministry officials recommended the government to cut some subsidies and reallocate spending to sectors where it can help spur demand in the economy. Rationalization of subsidies such as on food allowances could be a key tool for expanding fiscal headroom.
  • Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman is scheduled to present the annual budget on Saturday.
  • The government distributes food grains at below market prices to keep costs low. It had budgeted 1.84 trillion rupees ($26 billion) for food subsidies in the year to March, making up more than half of the nation’s three trillion-rupee subsidy bill.

Four Indians in joint 2nd spot after penultimate round of Gibraltar chess

  • Teen sensation R Praggnanandhaa drew his penultimate round game against Russian Mikhail Kobalia to hold on to the joint second spot, along with four other Indians, in the 18th Gibraltar Chess Festival. Five players shared the lead with seven points after nine rounds in the Masters category of the event. Wang Hao, David Paravyan, Parham Maghsoodloo, Mustafa Yilmaz and Andrey Esipenko formed the leaders' pack with seven points.
  • A 16-player pack including four Indians -- B Adhiban, Praggnanandhaa, Karthikeyan Murali and Aryan Chopra -- is close behind on 6.5 points.

Gita Sabharwal of India appointed UN Resident Coordinator in Thailand

  • The UN has appointed India's Gita Sabharwal, who has over two decades of experience in peacebuilding and social policy, as the Resident Coordinator in Thailand. Sabharwal brings 25 years of experience in development, peacebuilding, governance and social policy across five Asian countries, including Maldives.
  • The UN Resident Coordinator is the highest-ranking representative of the UN development system at the country level. Resident Coordinators lead UN Country Teams and coordinate the world body's support to countries in implementing the 2030 Agenda. Resident Coordinators are the designated representatives of the UN Secretary-General. They report to the UN chief.

Govt aims to achieve objective of Housing for All by 2022 under PMAY-G

  • The Union Government aims to achieve objective of Housing for All by 2022 under Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana-Grameen. A total of over one crore 50 lakh rural houses have been completed in the last five years.
  • Ministry of Finance said, the eligible beneficiaries will get one crore 95 lakh houses in the second phase of the scheme. Government has set a target of 60 lakh houses for the current financial year.

Govt to augment Lab facilities for screening the Novel Coronavirus across country; Six more labs functioning from today

  • The Union government has decided to augment the lab facilities in the country for a screening of Novel Coronavirus. Six more labs will start functioning from today. These are NIV Bengaluru Unit, Victoria Hospital Campus, KR Road, Fort, Bengaluru, AIIMS, New Delhi, NCDC, Delhi, Kasturba Hospital for infectious diseases, Mumbai and NIV - Kerala Unit.
  • Six other labs will also start functioning by tomorrow. These are ICMR - NICED, Kolkata, GMC, Secunderabad, KGMU, Lucknow, SMS, Jaipur, IGGMC, Nagpur and KIPMR, Chennai.

Irdai slaps Rs 1 cr penalty each on ICICI Lombard, Tata AIG for violation of norms

  • Regulator Irdai has imposed a penalty of Rs 1 crore each on ICICI Lombard, GIC and Tata AIG General Insurance Company for violation of various norms. The regulator has slapped the penalty on ICICI Lombard for violation of certain provisions related to health insurance policies.
  • In a separate order, Irdai imposed the penalty on Tata AIG General Insurance Company for violation of provisions for protection of policyholders' interests.

Kotak gets time to cut promoter stake

  • The Reserve Bank of India agreed to give billionaire Uday Kotak more time to cut his stake in Kotak Mahindra Bank even as the regulator decided to cap his voting rights, ending a decade-long dispute over promoter shareholding.
  • As part of the agreement, Uday Kotak will now have to cut his stake in Kotak Mahindra Bank by only 4% over the next six months, against the 15% that the regulator wanted him to reduce by March, but the Reserve Bank will cap his voting rights—first at 20% till 31 March, which will then drop overnight to 15% even if his actual shareholding is higher.
  • Kotak will now sell 4% of his stake worth Rs.12,500 crore over the next six months, ending the dispute between the regulator and the bank over dilution of promoter stake.

Nation pays homage to Mahatma Gandhi on his 72nd death anniversary

  • Nation pays homage to the father of the nation Mahatma Gandhi on his 72nd death anniversary on January 30. It was on this day in 1948, Mahatma Gandhi fell to the bullet of his assassin. This day is also observed as Martyrs Day.
  • President Ram Nath Kovind, Vice President M Venkaiah Naidu, Prime Minister Narendra Modi today paid floral tributes to Father of the Nation Mahatma Gandhi at Rajghat in New Delhi on his death anniversary.

National Shooting trials: Ayonika Paul and Vijayveer Sidhu emerge winners

  • Olympian Ayonika Paul has won the women's 10m Air Rifle T1 event while Vijayveer Sidhu won the men's 25m Pistol T2 event in the National Shooting trials at Thiruvananthapuram. Ayonika overcame a quality eight-woman field which had the likes of Tokyo 2020 quota holders Apurvi Chandela and Anjum Moudgil among competitors.
  • Chandigarh's Vijayveer won the junior men's 25m Pistol with an aggregate score of 585. He had three inner 10s, more than second-placed Rajkanwar Singh Sandhu of Punjab.

Nine Judge Constitution Bench of SC to frame issues about discrimination against women in various religions

  • The Supreme Court said, a 9-judge Constitution bench will on February 3 frame issues for deliberation in the matter relating to discrimination against women in various religions and at religious places including Kerala's Sabarimala Temple.
  • It said, the Constitution bench will consider issues related to the entry of Muslim women into mosques, female genital mutilation in the Dawoodi Bohra Muslim community and barring of Parsi women, married to non-Parsi men, from the holy fireplace at Agiary.

Tata Motors Q3 results: Firm posts Rs 1,738 crore profit in major turnaround, beats Street estimates

  • Tata Motors, India’s largest carmaker by revenue, reported a Rs 1,738.3-crore profit for the December-ended quarter on the back of improved profitability at its British subsidiary Jaguar Land Rover even as the domestic business reported a loss. Last year, the company had reported a loss of Rs 26,992.5 crore during the corresponding quarter.
  • Revenue fell 6.8% to Rs 71,676.1 crore, a decline of 6.8% year-on-year.
  • The Jaguar Land Rover business, which accounts for over 80% of the company’s consolidated top-line, reported a 3% growth in revenue to £6.4 billion (Rs 60,000 crore, approx.) with a profit of £372 million.

Terror attacks drop by 85% in a decade in Pakistan

  • Terror attacks in Pakistan plummeted by more than 85% over the past decade. The tally, put together by Pakistani think tanks, found terror attacks dropped from nearly 2,000 in 2009 to fewer than 250 in 2019, a steady decline that underscores the long-haul nature of fighting terror.
  • Since early last year, Pakistan has banned 66 organizations declared as terrorist or terrorist-supporting groups and listed an estimated 7,600 individuals under its anti-terrorism act.
  • Paris-based international watchdog FATF meets next month to decide whether the country should be downgraded from a “gray” status to “black,” alongside Iran and North Korea, a step that could pose a challenge to Pakistan’s economy.
  • If Pakistan is blacklisted, every financial transaction would be closely scrutinized, and doing business with the country would become costly and cumbersome.

Uttar Pradesh''s Chandauli district tops Niti''s ranking in Dec

  • Chandauli district in Uttar Pradesh has topped the list of aspirational districts ranked by the government think tank Niti Aayog in December 2019. Belangir (Odisha) and YSR (Andhra Pradesh) have been placed at the second and third positions, respectively. Sahibganj (Jharkhand) has been ranked at the fourth spot and Hailakandi (Assam) at the fifth place.
  • Aspirational districts programme, launched in January 2018, aims to transform districts that have shown relatively lesser progress in key social areas and have emerged as pockets of under-development. The ranking of aspirational districts is done every month.

World Leprosy Day observed on January 26 every year

  • World Leprosy Day is observed on January 26 every year to create awareness about the disease and fight the misinformation attached to it. For the World Leprosy Day 2020, WHO has taken up the theme “Leprosy isn’t what you think”.
  • Leprosy is an infectious skin and nerve disease which can cause debilitating disabilities. However, early diagnosis and treatment can cure this ailment.