Daily Current Affairs - 12th Jun 2020

FM Nirmala Sitharaman to chair 40th GST council meeting through video conferencing

  • Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman will chair the 40th GST council meeting through video conferencing. This meeting of the GST council will be for the first time after the nationwide lockdown and the council is expected to discuss the revenue shortfall and the compensation to states.
  • In the last meeting in March, Ms Sitharaman had said that the Centre will look into the legality of GST Council borrowing from the market to meet the compensation requirements.
  • The Council is likely to decide on ways to garner funds to compensate states for the revenue loss due to GST implementation.

Global COVID-19 cases touch 72 lakh with over 4,11,000 deaths

  • According to Johns Hopkins University's Center for Systems Science and Engineering (CSSE), the total number of cases stood at 72 lakh 44 thousand 108, while the death toll increased to 4 lakh 11 thousand 260.
  • The US continues to be at top with 19 lakh 79 thousand 411 confirmed cases and deaths at 1 lakh 11 thousand 989. After the US, Brazil comes in second place with 7 lakh 39 thousand 503 infections.
  • Regarding fatalities, the UK continues in the second position after the US with 40 thousand 968 COVID-19 deaths, which also accounts for the highest number of fatalities in Europe.

Gold prices up by Rs 477 to Rs 48,190 rupees per 10 gram in Delhi

  • Gold prices jumped 477 rupees to 48,190 rupees per 10 gram in the national capital. The precious metal had closed at 47,713 rupees per 10 gram. Silver prices rose by 26 rupees to 49,868 rupees per kg.

Govt constitutes Empowered Group of Secretaries to facilitate investment in country

  • The Union Government has constituted an Empowered Group of Secretaries headed by Cabinet Secretary to facilitate investment in the country. The empowered group will assist investment in key sectors of the economy by identifying potential investors. It will also recommend sector-specific and geography specific incentive packages focusing on both domestic and foreign investors.
  • Along with handholding investors it will identify Industrial clusters, land-banks, states and areas where investments can be made. Boosting Make in India the empowered group will also incentivise schemes for creating Indian Global Champions in sectors of mobile and electronics, medical devices, drugs, auto and textile machinery among others.
  • The seven member empowered group has CEO of NITI Aayog along with secretaries of Department for Promotion of Industry and Internal Trade, Commerce, Revenue and Economic Affairs as it's members.

HDFC to raise up to Rs.4,000 cr via bonds

  • Mortgage lender HDFC Ltd said it will raise up to Rs.4,000 crore by issuing bonds on private placement basis. The issue size of the secured redeemable non-convertible debentures, to open on June 15, 2020, is of Rs 2,100 crore with option to retain over-subscription up to Rs 1,900 crore. The proceeds of the present issue would be utilized for financing/refinancing the housing finance business requirement of the Corporation.

India asks UK not to consider any request for asylum by Vijay Mallya

  • India has asked the UK not to consider fugitive businessman Vijay Mallya's request for asylum in that country. External Affairs Ministry spokesperson Anurag Srivastava said that India is in touch with the UK for his early extradition. India argued that there are no grounds for the fugitive businessman to be persecuted back home as alleged by him in his plea.
  • The development comes after a spokesperson of the British High Commission said that a legal issue remains to be resolved before the fugitive economic offender could be extradited to India.

India is not in community transmission stage of COVID-19, asserts ICMR

  • While releasing India's first sero-survey on COVID-19, Director General of Indian Council of Medical Research, Dr Balram Bhargava has stated that India is not in community transmission stage of COVID-19. However, the country has to continue with effective surveillance and containment strategies.
  • Dr Bhargava informed that India's COVID-19 cases per lakh population is the lowest in the world and the number of deaths per lakh population is also amongst the lowest in the world.
  • The survey has found that lockdown and containment measures were successful in preventing a rapid rise in infections, but a large proportion of the population still remains susceptible. It has also found that 0.73 per cent of population in 83 districts where it was conducted had evidence of past exposure to coronavirus infection.

India Rankings-2020 for Higher Educational Institutions released; IIT Madras retains first position in overall ranking

  • Union Minister for Human Resource Development Ramesh Pokhriyal Nishank has virtually released India Rankings-2020 for Higher Educational Institutions. IIT, Madras retains first position in Overall Ranking as well as in Engineering.
  • Indian Institute of Science, Bengaluru tops the University list. IIM, Ahmedabad tops in Management Category and AIIMS occupies the top slot in Medical category for third consecutive year.
  • Miranda College retains first position amongst colleges for third consecutive year Maulana Azad Institute of Dental Sciences, Delhi secures first position in Dental category.
  • Dental institutions included for first time in India Rankings-2020 .

India, China maintaining military & diplomatic engagements to peacefully resolve border standoff: MEA

  • External Affairs Ministry said that India and China are maintaining their military and diplomatic engagements to peacefully resolve the border standoff at the earliest to ensure peace and tranquility in the border areas. External Affairs Ministry Spokesman Anurag Srivastava said, this is essential for the further development of India-China bilateral relations.
  • A meeting was held between the Corps Commanders of India and China on 6th of this month in the Chushul-Moldo region. This meeting was in continuation of the diplomatic and military engagements which both sides have maintained to address the situation in areas along the India-China border.

Indian Musician Shobha Sekhar to receive “the Medal of the Order of Australia”

  • Indian Musician & founder of Kalakruthi music organisation in Australia, Shobha Sekhar will be conferred the “Medal of the Order of Australia”. The Montreal-based artiste and lecturer, University of Melbourne, figures in the Queen’s Birthday 2020 Honours List and will be conferred the Medal of the Order of Australia later this year.

Indian-American soil scientist Rattan Lal gets 2020 World Food Prize

  • Eminent Indian-American soil scientist Rattan Lal has been named this year's recipient of the World Food Prize for developing and mainstreaming a soil-centric approach to increasing food production that conserves natural resources and mitigates climate change.
  • Lal, a native of India and a citizen of the United States, will receive the 2.5 lakh dollar award that honours his contribution throughout his career spanning more than five decades and four continents to promote innovative soil-saving techniques that benefit the livelihoods of more than 500 million smallholder farmers, improve the food and nutritional security of more than two billion people and saves hundreds of millions of hectares of natural tropical ecosystems.
  • Lal serves as Distinguished University Professor of Soil Science and founding Director of the Carbon Management & Sequestration Center at The Ohio State University (OSU).

India’s tour of Sri Lanka called off

  • India’s limited-over tour of Sri Lanka in June-July was called off due to COVID-19, with both Boards saying that the situation was not feasible for the games to go ahead. India was scheduled to play three ODIs and as many T20s. The dates had not been finalised.

ISRO to organize online ISRO Cyberspace Competitions-2020

  • The Indian Space Research Organization, ISRO will organize online ISRO Cyberspace Competitions-2020 to ignite young minds in the country. A press release issued by the space agency says that ICC-2020 online competition will involve drawing competition for Class 1 to 3 students, model making competition for Class 4 to 8 and Essay competition for Class 9 and 10th students.
  • For the students of class 11 and 12, essay competition is organized with space quiz contests in Hindi and English.

Mumbai most expensive city in India for expats, ranks 19th in Asia cost of living: Survey

  • According to Mercer's '2020 Cost of Living Survey', Mumbai is the 60th most expensive city for expatriates globally, while it ranks 19th in Asia. Mumbai is followed by New Delhi (101st globally) and Chennai (143rd globally). Bengaluru (171) and Kolkata (185) are the least expensive Indian cities in the rankings, the survey said.
  • The global list was topped by Hong Kong, followed by Ashgabat (Turkmenistan) in second position. Japan's Tokyo and Switzerland's Zurich remain in the third and fourth positions, respectively, whereas Singapore is in fifth position, down two places from last year.

PSBs disburse Rs 12,200 Cr to states, UTs so far: FM Nirmala Sitharaman

  • Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman has said, the Public Sector Banks have disbursed 12,200 crore rupees to the States and Union Territories so far. She also said, PSBs have sanctioned loans worth 24 thousand 260 crore rupees under the 100 per cent Emergency Credit Line Guarantee Scheme including the disbursed amount.
  • Maximum disbursements were made by the State Bank of India followed by Canara Bank. SBI disbursed more than seven thousand five hundred crore rupees whereas Canara bank disbursed 814 crore rupees. Public Sector Banks have disbursed maximum amounts to Tamil Nadu followed by Uttar Pradesh.

RBI moves in to strengthen governance in commercial banks

  • As part of its plan to strengthen the governance in commercial banks, the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) has proposed to restrict promoters from holding the CEO position for more than 10 years. The tenure of a non-promoter CEO will be capped at 15 years, according to a discussion paper issued by the central bank.

SBI to divest 2.1% stake in SBI Life

  • State Bank of India (SBI) said the executive committee of its central board of directors has approved the divestment of 2.10 crore equity shares, constituting 2.1 per cent of its stake in its subsidiary, SBI Life Insurance Company. SBI will offload 2.1 crore shares as part of the exercise. As per the shareholding pattern as on March 31, SBI holds 57. 6 per cent shares in SBI Life.
  • SBI Life is a joint venture between India''s largest bank State Bank of India and leading global insurance company BNP Paribas Cardif.

Sports will be a part of curriculum, says Rijiju

  • Sports Minister Kiren Rijiju has said sports will be a part of the curriculum in the country’s new education policy and won’t be considered an extra-curricular activity. Rijiju also said that he has constituted a “very high-level” committee to shape the National Sports Education Board. Rijiju said that sports cannot be treated as an optional subject.

Syria's Assad fires his PM amid worsening economic crisis

  • Syrian President Bashar Assad has fired his prime minister a month ahead of elections as the economic crisis worsens and public anger rises in the territory under his control. He also appointed the current water resources minister to replace Imad Khamis, who has been the premier since 2016. The Syrian president asked Hussein Arnous to replace Khamis until parliament elections are held next month and a new government comes in.
  • The surprise move comes amid a deepening economic crisis that Assad's government has been facing. Syria's national currency is tumbling to the dollar, reaching unprecedented lows while food prices have skyrocketed.

Third phase of Vande Bharat Mission to have 432 international flights from 43 countries

  • The Phase-Three of Vande Bharat Mission began and will last till the 2nd of July. Phase-Three will have 432 international flights from 43 countries reaching 17 States and Union Territories. In this phase, there will also be 29 flights from private carriers - 24 Indigo flights, three Go Air flights and two Vistara flights.
  • The number of flights from the US and Canada have also been increased given the huge demand. There are 53 flights from the US and 24 from Canada. There will be 16 flights from Paris and 16 from Frankfurt which are to be used as hubs in Europe.

Trump targets ICC with sanctions over Afghanistan war crimes case

  • U.S. President Donald Trump has issued an executive order authorising sanctions against individuals involved in an International Criminal Court (ICC) investigation into whether U.S. forces committed war crimes in Afghanistan. The executive order allows the US to block the assets of International Criminal Court (ICC) employees and stop them from entering the country.
  • The ICC described the decision as an unacceptable attempt to interfere with the rule of law. The ICC investigation began after a preliminary report found reason to believe war crimes had been committed. The US is not a signatory of the Hague-based ICC and does not recognise its authority over American citizens.

Union Bank rolls out new organisation structure

  • Union Bank of India has announced the roll out of its new, combined organisation structure that includes 18 zonal offices and 125 regional offices. This roll out follows the amalgamation of Andhra Bank and Corporation Bank into Union Bank of India with effect from April 1.