Daily Current Affairs - 25th Jul 2020

Airtel Africa net profit falls 57% in June quarter

  • Airtel Africa said its net profit for the three months ended June 30, 2020, declined nearly 57% to $57 million due to one-off gain in the comparable period last year and increased finance costs and taxes. The outlook remained uncertain amid the COVID-19 pandemic, the company said.
  • Its revenue rose by 6.9 per cent to USD 851 million (about Rs 6,382 crore) in June quarter, with constant currency revenue growth of 13 per cent.

Anand and Giri play out a sedate draw

  • Viswanathan Anand, after a hat-trick of defeats, resumed his search for a win with a sedate 82-move draw against Anish Giri in the opening game of the fourth round of chess24 Legends of Chess on Friday.

Banks’ gross NPAs may climb to as much as 14.7% by March: RBI

  • Financial stability report by the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) says that macro stress tests for credit risk in the banking sector indicate that the gross non performing assets (NPAs) may increase from current 8.5 per cent in March 2020 to 12.5 per cent by March 2021 under the baseline scenario. It, however, adds that if the macroeconomic environment worsens further, the ratio may escalate to 14.7 per cent under very severe stress.
  • Currently, close to 40 per cent of the Rs 100 lakh crore outstanding loan book of the banks is under a six-month moratorium which is ending in August. The business disruption post the Covid lockdown is creating a fresh set of stress for the banking sector.
  • The credit growth of scheduled commercial banks, which had considerably weakened during the first half of 2019-20, slid down further to 5.9 per cent by March 2020 and remained muted up to early June 2020.

China asks U.S. to shut Chengdu consulate

  • China has ordered the U.S. consulate in the southwestern city of Chengdu to close in retaliation for one of its missions in the United States being shuttered, capping a furious week of Cold War-style diplomacy.This announcement comes after Washington ordered Beijing to close its diplomatic mission in Houston.

England and West Indies to play for Richards-Botham Trophy from next series

  • England and West Indies will be vying for the 'Richards-Botham' Trophy when they next clash in Test cricket with the 'Wisden Trophy' being rechristened after the names of the two iconic cricketers from both teams. A new Richards-Botham Trophy will now be designed ready for when the two teams next meet in a Test series.
  • The third Test between England and West Indies will be the last time the two teams compete for the Wisden Trophy, the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) and Cricket West Indies (CWI) announced in a joint statement.

Erdogan joins thousands to pray at Hagia Sophia

  • Turkey's President Tayyip Erdogan joined thousands of worshippers at Hagia Sophia on Friday for the first prayers since he declared the monument, revered by Christians and Muslims for almost 1,500 years, a mosque once again.
  • A top Turkish court announced this month it had annulled Hagia Sophia's status as a museum. Erdogan immediately decreed that the building, a Christian Byzantine cathedral for 900 years before being seized by Ottoman conquerors and serving as a mosque until 1934, had been converted once again to a mosque.

India becomes one of frontrunners in global effort to develop COVID vaccine

  • India has become one of the frontrunners in the global effort to develop a vaccine for the containment of COVID-19. Government agencies have stepped up collaboration with private partners to fast track the approval process needed for development of a potential Covid vaccine.
  • Human clinical trials of the indigenous COVID vaccines have been started at the various levels in the country to identify the efficacy of these potential vaccines.
  • Bharat Biotech and Zydus Cadilla have initiated human clinical trials of their vaccines after getting the approval from the government. Serum Institute of India has bagged a contract with British drugmaker AstraZeneca to supply one billion doses of Oxford University's potential COVID-19 vaccine.
  • Government has assured to provide all the necessary support for the development of vaccine saying that all the regulatory process will be ensured.

India invites Israeli defence companies to strengthen ties

  • India on Friday invited greater participation from Israeli defence companies under the new liberalised foreign direct investment (FDI) regime in defence manufacturing. This was conveyed during a telephonic conversation between Defence Minister Rajnath Singh and his Israeli counterpart Lieutenant General Benjamin Gantz.
  • The conversation took place as the Indian Armed Forces are undertaking a series of emergency defence purchases, including from Israel, amid ongoing tensions with China on the border. The Army has already taken a decision to order another batch of 12 launchers and around 250 missiles of Spike Anti-Tank Guided Missiles (ATGM) and additional Heron Undermanned Aerial Vehicles (UAV), among others, from Israel through the emergency procurement route.

India, Sri Lanka continue to hold discussion on rescheduling of bilateral debt repayment

  • India and Sri Lanka are continuing to hold technical discussion on rescheduling of bilateral debt repayment by Sri Lanka. The Indian delegation comprising of senior officials from the Ministry of External Affairs, Ministry of Finance and EXIM Bank interacted with representatives from government of Sri Lanka through a video conference this week.
  • Sri Lanka has around 1 billion US dollars of loan commitment from India and has requested to reschedule the payment due to ongoing financial crisis and COVID situation.
  • Sri Lanka has also requested for currency swap of 1 billion US dollars with RBI, agreement for which is expected to be signed soon.

Insolvency law caused rift with govt: Former RBI governor Urjit Patel

  • Moves to dilute a new bankruptcy law caused disagreements between Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government and the central bank, according to former Reserve Bank of India Governor Urjit Patel. The rift centered around a February 2018 circular issued by the RBI, which forced banks to immediately classify borrowers as defaulters when they delayed repayments, barred defaulting company founders from trying to buy back their firms during insolvency auctions, and push them into bankruptcy if a resolution timeline wasn’t met.

IPL to be held in UAE from Sept. 19 to Nov. 8

  • The Indian Premier League is all set to begin from September 19 and will continue till November 8 in the United Arab Emirates (UAE), the tournament's Governing Council chairman, Brijesh Patel, has confirmed.
  • The BCCI had initially proposed September 26 to November 8 as the window but decided to advance the start by a week in order to reduce afternoon games. Lesser afternoon games, likely to start at 3.30 pm IST (2pm UAE) will be better suited for cricketers as well as broadcasters to ensure lesser fatigue and more revenue.

IRDAI nod for Arogya Sanjeevani group variant

  • Insurance regulator IRDAI said it was permitting insurers to offer standard health insurance cover Arogya Sanjeevani as a group policy. This version will be introduced under the same name — Arogya Sanjeevani — and terms and conditions of the standard policy retained. Insurers, however, get the freedom to fix the premium.

Largest solar power plant of Navy commissioned in Kerala

  • The Indian Navy’s largest solar power plant has been commissioned at Ezhimala, in Kannur district of Kerala. Vice Admiral Anil Kumar Chawla launched plant operations via virtual conferencing. The solar plant has an estimated life of 25 years. All components have been indigenously developed, including 9180 highly efficient monocrystalline solar panels employing the latest technology.
  • The project was executed by Kerala State Electronics Development Corporation Ltd (KELTRON).

Nitin Jairam Gadkari Launches Mentoring Platform ‘RestartIndia’ to Support MSME Sector

  • The Minister for Micro, Small and Medium Enterprise (MSMEs) sector, Mr Nitin Gadkari launched www.restartindia.in, a mentoring platform primarily aimed at aiding the sector to restart businesses across the country.
  • Muthoot Fincorp and INKtalks, an innovation platform for young professionals jointly conceptualised “RestartIndia”, which is an open platform for advisory support. It is designed to help the MSME sector, particularly the nano and micro enterprises. It will provide solutions to the problems faced by many women entrepreneurs making a livelihood by setting up very small businesses, following the pandemic crisis.
  • The website provides details of various MSME-focused governmental/institutional support and resources on how to run or set up a sustainable business venture.

Partha Pratim Sengupta appointed new MD, CEO of Indian Overseas Bank

  • Indian Overseas Bank (IOB) said Partha Pratim Sengupta has been appointed as its new managing director and chief executive. His appointment will be up to date of attaining the age of superannuation, December 31, 2022, or until further orders, whichever is earlier.
  • The post of the MD and CEO at IOB had fell vacant after the superannuation of Karnam Sekar, who retired on June 30, 2020.

RBI nod for Route One Investment Company’s stake hike in IndusInd Bank

  • The Reserve Bank of India has approved a proposal by Route One Investment Company (ROIC) to increase its stake in IndusInd Bank to up 10 per cent from 4.96 per cent. ROIC is a US-based hedge fund, that already holds approximately 4.96 percent of the issued and subscribed capital of the bank.
  • Indusind Bank had reported a 77 percent sequential fall and 16 percent yearly in profits for the quarter ending March 2020, as it increased its provisioning buffer. The bank’s gross bad-loan ratio increased 35 bps on a y-o-y basis to 2.45 percent in Q4FY20, and its deposits fell 6.6 percent sequentially to around Rs 2.02 lakh crore in the fourth quarter of FY20.

Reliance Industries market valuation crosses Rs 14-lakh cr mark

  • Reliance Industries’ market valuation crossed the Rs 14-lakh crore mark on Friday as its stock rallied over 4 per cent to scale its fresh peak. The company’s partly paid-up shares, listed separately, have a market capitalisation of Rs 54,262.45 crore. The combined market capitalisation (m-cap) of Reliance Industries now stands at Rs 14,14,825.44 crore.
  • Shares of Reliance Industries had on Thursday also jumped nearly 3 per cent amid reports that Amazon was eyeing a stake in the conglomerate’s retail arm.
  • While RIL is the country’s most-valuable listed company, the second-placed TCS has a market capitalisation of Rs 8,09,408.14 crore, followed by HDFC Bank at the third place with an m-cap of Rs 6,14,252.37 crore.

Special Liquidity Scheme for NBFCs/HFCs: FinMin sanctions 5 proposals for Rs.3,090 crore

  • The Finance Ministry said that five proposals involving an amount of Rs.3,090 crore had been sanctioned under the Rs.30,000 crore Special Liquidity Scheme for NBFCs and HFCs. Also, 35 more applications seeking financing up to Rs.13,775 crore are under process in this scheme, which was announced as part of the Aatma Nirbhar package announced by the Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman on May 13.

WHO Chief Scientist Dr. Soumya Swaminathan says, 24 vaccine candidates in human clinical trial stage, 150 vaccines in pre-clinical stages worldwide

  • Chief Scientist in World Health Organization Dr. Soumya Swaminathan has said that 24 vaccine candidates are in the human clinical trial stage and 150 vaccines are in the pre-clinical stages worldwide. She said, WHO has robust pipeline of potential COVID vaccine candidates and the more vaccine candidates will maximise the opportunities.
  • Dr Swaminathan said, three vaccine candidates are in the Phase-3 trial stage which are Oxford vaccine developed by Astrazeneca, mRNA-1273 by Moderna and the Chinese vaccine.