Daily Current Affairs - 05th Feb 2020

CBDT issues clarification on the new provision in Finance Bill 2020

  • Central Board of Direct Taxes has said that the Finance Bill, 2020 has proposed that an Indian citizen shall be deemed to be resident in India if he or she is not liable to be taxed in any country or jurisdiction. It said that the new provision in Finance Bill, 2020 is not intended to include in tax net those Indian citizens who are bonafide workers in other countries.
  • CBDT issued a clarification on the new provision pertaining to residence in India saying this is an anti-abuse provision since it is noticed that some Indian citizens shift their stay in low or no tax jurisdiction countries to avoid payment of tax in India.

DST launches SATHI Initiative for building shared, professionally managed strong S&T infrastructure

  • The Department of Science and Technology has launched the SATHI initiative, Sophisticated Analytical & Technical Help Institutes.
  • SATHI centres are state-of-the-art, professionally managed science and technology infrastructure facilities which will house major analytical instruments with the primary objective of extending help to the academic institutes in the neighbouring regions.
  • DST has already set up three such centres in the country, one each at IIT Kharagpur, IIT Delhi and IIT-BHU at a total cost of Rs 375 Cores. It is planned to set up five SATHI Centres every year for the next four years.

EU condemns Trump's decision to lift US restrictions on landmines

  • The European Union strongly condemned the decision by US President Donald Trump to lift US restrictions on landmines. European Union's diplomatic chief Josep Borrell said that the decision undermines the global norm against anti-personnel mines, which has saved tens of thousands of people over the past 20 years. He said, most of the mine victims were children.
  • More than 160 countries, including most of the Western world, are party to the 1999 Ottawa Convention that aimed to eliminate anti-personnel mines.

EU rejects Trump Mideast plan amid annexation concerns

  • The European Union has rejected U.S. President Donald Trump’s proposal for securing peace in the Middle East and expressed concern about Israel’s plans to annex more Palestinian land. Trump's plan, which was unveiled last week, would foresee the eventual creation of a Palestinian state, but it falls far short of minimal Palestinian demands and would leave sizable chunks of the occupied West Bank in Israeli hands.
  • In a statement, EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell underlined the bloc's commitment to a two-state solution, based along the 1967 lines, with the possibility of mutually agreed land-swaps, made up of the state of Israel and an independent, democratic, contiguous, sovereign and viable state of Palestine.
  • Gulf Arab states also rejected the Trump plan calling it as biased.

FM Nirmala Sitharaman to table 'Vivad se Vishwas' Bill in Lok Sabha

  • Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman will introduce the Direct Tax Vivad Se Vishwas Bill, 2020 in Lok Sabha. The bill aims at reducing litigations in the direct taxes payments. Under the 'Vivad se Vishwas' scheme announced in the Union Budget, taxpayers whose tax demands are locked in dispute in multiple forums can pay due taxes by 31st of March and get complete waiver of interest and penalty.
  • Under the scheme, if a taxpayer is not able to pay within the 31st March deadline, he gets a further time till 30th June, but in that case he would have to pay 10 percent more on the tax.

Frequency of Maitree and Bandhan Express increased

  • The frequency of the Maitree Express and Bandhan Express trains connecting Bangladesh and India has been increased. Maitree Express running between Dhaka and Kolkata will now run 5 days a week. Earlier it was running 4 days a week.
  • Bandhan Express running between Kolkata and Khulna will now be running twice a week. Earlier it was running once a week.

G-7 agrees to work with WHO, EU, China to tackle Coronavirus

  • The Group of Seven leading industrialized democracies, G-7 have agreed to work with the WHO, EU and China seeking a unified procedure to tackle the fast-spreading Novel Coronavirus. They all agreed that isolated approaches were less likely to succeed against the global risks posed by the virus.
  • They are likely to coordinate their approach on travel regulations and precautions as well as research into the virus.
  • Novel Coronavirus has till now infected close to 20,500 people on the Chinese mainland and at least 192 outside the Chinese mainland. 427 deaths have been reported till now in China and two abroad.

HAL to make advanced armed UAVs with Israeli Co

  • In a first, advanced Unmanned Combat Aerial Vehicles (UCAVs) will be manufactured in India, with leading aeronautical entity Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd (HAL) set to formalise a partnership with an Israeli firm that specializes in autonomous weaponry.
  • The advanced Heron TP, which belongs to the Medium Altitude Long Endurance (MALE) class with an endurance of over 36 hours, will be manufactured to cater both to Indian requirements for a combat UAV and possibly exports to third nations in the future as well.
  • HAL is set to sign a partnership pact with Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI) at the upcoming DefExpo 2020 in Lucknow this week, with estimates that in the Indian market alone, there is a requirement of at least 100 drones of this type.

ICC Under-19 Cricket World Cup: India thrash Pakistan by 10 wickets; storm into final

  • Defending Champions India stormed into their second successive finals of the Under-19 World Cup after thrashing Pakistan by 10 wickets in the first semifinals in Potchefstroom, South Africa. India dismissed Pakistan for 172 in 43.1 overs and then returned to overhaul the target with consummate ease, scoring 176 for no loss in 35.2 overs.
  • Chasing the target, openers Yashasvi Jaiswal made 105 and Divyaansh Saxena made 59.
  • The final will be played on Sunday. India will face the winner of the Bangladesh-New Zealand match scheduled on Thursday.

India develops new vaccine to control classical swine fever

  • In order to check fall in pig population in India, the union government has unveiled a new indigenously developed vaccine for controlling classical swine fever, which is an highly contagious fatal pig disease.
  • The new vaccine, developed by Uttar Pradesh-based ICAR-Indian Veterinary Research Institute (IVRI), will be much cheaper than the existing one. It would cost only Rs 2 per dose compared to the current vaccine's rate of Rs 15-20 per dose and imported Korean vaccine rate of Rs 30 per dose.

India’s Ambassador to UAE assumes responsibility of India’s Co-Chair of Expo-2020 Dubai Committee

  • Navdeep Singh Suri, who was until very recently India’s Ambassador to the UAE, has assumed the responsibility of India’s Co-Chair of the Expo-2020 Dubai Committee. Mr Suri was also a recipient of the UAE's Order of Zayed II honour. FICCI is the industry partner of the Indian Government for its participation in Expo-2020 Dubai.
  • Expo-2020 is a World Expo to be hosted by Dubai. It is scheduled to open on 20th October this year.
  • India is one of the few countries which have been awarded to create a permanent structure at the Expo-2020 and proposes to showcase the country’s strengths in innovation and start-ups in the hi-tech sector.

Indo-US trade deal likely to be sealed during Donald Trump's visit to India

  • India and the US are set to seal a trade deal during President Donald Trump's planned visit to India in the last week of this month. Trade officials of Indian and the US are giving final touches to the proposed deal which is expected to cover certain specific sectors.
  • India is seeking exemption from high duties imposed by the US on certain steel and aluminium products as well as resumption of benefits on tariff on certain products under their Generalised System of Preferences (GSP).
  • India is also pressing the US to facilitate greater market access for its products in the US in sectors such as agriculture, automobile, auto components and engineering.
  • On the other hand, the US wants greater market access for its farm and manufacturing products, dairy items and medical devices in India.

Kerala govt declares coronavirus outbreak as state disaster

  • Kerala government has declared the coronavirus outbreak a 'state disaster' following three confirmed cases of the deadly infection in the state. The condition of the patients are stable and is being closely monitored.
  • A total of 1,999 people, who have a travel history from China and other affected countries, are under observation in Kerala,of whom 75 are in isolation wards of various hospitals.
  • Preventive measures are strengthened with full equipped treatment facility, isolation wards in all major hospitals and awareness campaigns at local level.

Pak. Parliament passes resolution on Kashmir

  • Pakistan’s Parliament has unanimously passed a resolution expressing “unflinching and unwavering support” to the Kashmiri people and demanding India to reverse its decision to revoke the special status of Jammu and Kashmir.
  • The resolution was passed by the lower house, the National Assembly -- ahead of the Kashmir Solidarity Day, an annual affair Pakistanis observe to express their support to the “freedom struggle” of Kashmiris on Feb. 5.
  • India and Pakistan both hold Kashmir in parts and claim it in full. China also controls part of the contested region, but it is India and Pakistan who have fought two wars over Kashmir.

PNB posts Rs 492 crore loss in December quarter on higher NPA provisions

  • Punjab National Bank reported a standalone net loss of Rs 492.28 crore in the quarter ended December 31, 2019. It had posted a profit of Rs 246.51 crore in the corresponding quarter last fiscal. In the previous September quarter, the bank had a profit of Rs 507.05 crore.
  • Total income during the quarter under review was at Rs 15,967.49 crore as against Rs 14,854.24 crore in the year-ago same period. Interest earned during the quarter stood at Rs 13,834.9 crore, whereas interest expended was Rs 9,366.88 crore.
  • The bank made provisions worth Rs 4,445.36 crore during Q3 FY20, 73.5 per cent per cent higher than Rs 2,565.77 crore in Q2 FY19. CRAR (Capital adequacy ratio) as per Basel III improved to 14.04 per cent in December 2019 from 10.52 per cent in December 2018-19

Services PMI rises to 7-year high at 55.5 in January

  • The services sector started 2020 on a strong footing with the IHS Markit India Services Business Activity Index coming in at 55.5 in January 2020, up from 53.3 in December 2019. This signalled the strongest upturn in output for seven years.
  • Surging demand underpinned the fastest increase in new orders and output for seven years. As a result, job creation was sustained, and business optimism maintained.

South African court issues arrest warrant for ex-leader Zuma

  • A South African court has issued an arrest warrant for former President Jacob Zuma after he did not appear at a pre-trial hearing in a corruption case on grounds of needing medical treatment. The judge, however, stayed the warrant until the case resumes on May 6.
  • The former leader is on trial on 18 charges of fraud, racketeering and money laundering relating to a $2bn arms deal with French defence firm Thales in 1999, when Zuma was deputy president.

Weightlifting: Mirabai Chanu betters her own national record; wins gold with 203 kg lift

  • Former world champion Mirabai Chanu bettered her own national record by two kilogram as she lifted a total of 203kg to win the 49kg gold in the National Weightlifting Championships in Kolkata. She lifted 88kg in snatch in her second attempt and 115 kg in clean and jerk for a total of 203kg.
  • Her effort has put her in fourth place in world rankings behind Chinese Jiang Huihua 212kg and Hou Zhihui 211kg and Korean Ri Song Gum 209 kg.

Women's Hockey: Rani strike helps India beat Great Britain 1-0

  • In Women's Hockey, skipper Rani Rampal struck the solitary goal as the Indian team recorded a 1-0 win over Great Britain in its fourth match of the ongoing tour in Auckland. Rani scored the goal in the 47 minutes to give India the lead and eventually seal the match.