Daily Current Affairs - 01st Aug 2020

15th Finance Commission’s HLEG on Agricultural Exports submits report

  • The High Level Group (HLEG) on Agricultural Exports set up by the Fifteenth Finance Commission has submitted its report to the Commission. The HLEG was set up to recommend measurable performance incentives for states to encourage agricultural exports and to promote crops to enable high import substitution. After intensive research and consultations from stakeholders and the private sector, the HLEG has made its recommendations.
  • The recommendations include demand driven approach and focus on 22 crop value chains. The group has also suggested creation of state led export plan with participation from all stakeholders.

ADB signs Dollar 200 million financing deal with Reliance for power plant in Bangladesh

  • The Asian Development Bank (ADB) has signed a dollar 200 million financing deal with the Reliance Bangladesh LNG and Power Limited (RBLPL) to build and operate a 718 megawatt combined-cycle gas-fired power plant in Bangladesh. The ADB said that the project will ease ongoing energy shortages and drive further private sector investments in the country’s power sector.
  • The plant is proposed to be located on land allotted by Bangladesh Power Development Board (BPDB), in Meghnaghat, Narayanganj District near Dhaka.

Atal Innovation Mission launches ‘AIM-iCREST’, in partnership with Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and Wadhwani Foundation

  • NITI Aayog’s Atal Innovation Mission (AIM), has launched AIM iCREST – an Incubator capabilities enhancement program for an ecosystem focused on creating high performing startups. This is a first of its kind initiative for advancing innovation at scale in India.
  • AIM has joined hands with Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and Wadhwani Foundation - organizations that can lend credible support and expertise in the entrepreneurship and innovation space. These partnerships will provide global expertise and showcase proven best practices to the AIM's incubator network.

Central Government to fund 112 startups to promote Agri Firms

  • The Central Government will spend nearly twelve crore rupees for funding 112 startups to promote agri firms in the current financial year. Minister of Agriculture and Farmers’ Welfare Narendra Singh Tomar said the funds will be given to the start-ups selected by different knowledge partners and agribusiness incubators in the area of agro-processing, food technology and value addition.
  • He said, the funds will be provided under the Innovation and Agri-entrepreneurship Development Programme launched under the revamped Rashtriya Krishi Vikas Yojana. These start-ups were trained for two months at 29 agri-business incubation centres spread across the country.

Chess Legends:Carlsen shows his class

  • Magnus Carlsen needed just 27 moves to destroy Peter Svidler’s white citadel and lead 1-0 in the first set of their semifinal clash of the chess24 Legends of Chess on Friday. Carlsen exploited Svidler’s weakness on the kingside in the middle-game by bringing his queen into active play.
  • The other semifinal saw Anish Giri and Ian Nepomniachtchi sign peace after a marathon lasting 131 moves.

David Willey and Sam Billings star as England beat Ireland in ODI return

  • David Willey and Sam Billings guided World champion England to a six-wicket win over Ireland in the first One-Day International. Willey took a career-best 5-30 as Ireland were dismissed for a modest 172 in a match that marked the return of white-ball cricket from the coronavirus lockdown.
  • For England Sam Billings made 67 not out including 11 fours.

Eight core industries' output shrinks 15% in June

  • Contracting for the fourth consecutive month, the output of eight core infrastructure industries shrank by 15 per cent in June this year due to fall in the production of coal, crude oil, natural gas, steel, cement and electricity. The output of coal sector fell 15.5 per cent, crude oil declined by 6 per cent , natural gas by 12 per cent, refinery products fell by 8.9 per cent, steel sector plunged by 33.8 per cent, cement by 6.9 per cent and electricity declined by 11 per cent.
  • These eight industries account for 40.27 per cent in the Index of Industrial Production (IIP).

Fifth phase of Vande Bharat Mission to repatriate Indians from 23 countries begins today

  • The fifth phase of the Vande Bharat Mission begins on August 1 to rescue Indians stranded abroad. This phase will continue till 31st August 2020. Upto 1200 flights are likely to be added in Phase 5 of Vande Bharat Mission. Under various phases of Vande Bharat Mission, more than 8 lakh 45 thousand Indians have been repatriated.

Fiscal deficit hits 83% of Budget Estimate in Q1

  • The country's fiscal deficit during the first quarter of this fiscal widened to Rs 6.62 trillion or 83.2 per cent of the budget estimates, mainly on account of poor tax collections due to the coronavirus lockdown. Fiscal deficit during the corresponding period of last year was 61.4 per cent of the budget estimates.
  • The government had pegged the fiscal deficit for 2020-21 at Rs 7.96 trillion or 3.5 per cent of the GDP in the Budget which was presented by Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman in February.

Govt extends ban on international flights till August 31

  • The Union government has extended the ban on international flights till 31st of August amid the coronavirus pandemic. However, this restriction will not be applicable for international all-cargo operations and flights specifically approved by the DGCA.
  • As part of allowing gradual movement of passenger traffic amid the pandemic situation, 'Transport Bubble' agreements have been signed with the US, France, and Germany. Such bilateral agreements allow operation of flights between the two countries subject to a set of regulations.
  • International flight services to and from India remain suspended since March 23 due to the pandemic.

Govt says total Kharif crops sown over total area of 882 lakh hectares

  • Agriculture Ministry said that the total Kharif crops has been sown on over 882 lakh hectare area against 774 lakh hectare area during the corresponding period of last year. over 266 lakh hectare area has been covered under the cultivation of rice, as compared to around 224 lakh hectares during the corresponding period of last year.
  • Pulses have been sown in over 111 lakh hectare area as compared to around 94 lakh hectares during the corresponding period of last year. Coarse cereals have been sown in about 148 lakh hectare area, while about 51 lakh hectares have been brought under sugarcane.

Govt working with RBI to restructure loans due to impact of Corona virus, says FM

  • Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman said that the government is working with RBI on the Industry’s need for the restructuring of loans due to the impact of COVID-19. The Minister said while addressing the National Executive Committee Meeting (NECM) of the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FICCI) on Friday.
  • Ms. Sitharaman asserted that Banks cannot refuse credit to MSMEs covered under the emergency credit facility and any aberration in such cases must be brought to notice.

Housing Minister Hardeep Singh Puri releases Affordable Rental Housing Complexes Knowledge Pack

  • Union Housing Minister Hardeep Singh Puri released Affordable Rental Housing Complexes (ARHC) Knowledge Pack. This includes MoUs to be signed with States and Union Territories to provide ease of living to urban migrants in the country. The Union Cabinet had approved ARHC as a sub scheme under Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana (Urban) earlier this month to provide housing facility to migrant workers and urban poor.
  • The Affordable Housing Complex scheme will be implemented through two models in the country. Under the first model existing Government funded vacant houses will be converted into ARHCs through Public Private Partnership or by public agencies for a period of 25 years. Under the second model ARHCs will be constructed, operated and maintained by Public or Private Entities on their own available vacant land for a period of 25 years.

India achieves a remarkable feat by performing more than six lakh coronavirus tests in a single day

  • India achieved a remarkable feat by performing more than six lakh tests of coronavirus samples in a single day. The Indian Council of Medical Research said that a record six lakh 42 thousand 588 tests were conducted by various laboratories in the last 24 hours. More than one crore 88 lakh tests have been conducted in the country so far.
  • Now, 1331 government and private laboratory chains are conducting tests for coronavirus samples across the country. ICMR is continuously ramping up its testing capabilities by approving new laboratories, RT-PCR kits, True Nat Test, CBNAAT Test and rapid antigen test kit

ISA amends framework agreement to enable UN member states to join grouping

  • In a major development and push to Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s vision of achieving universalization of membership of the International Solar Alliance (ISA), the requisite number of member countries have given the go-ahead. After ratification to the amendment of the ISA framework, all the Member States of the United Nations will now be able to join the International Solar Alliance, including those countries which are beyond the Tropics.
  • The International Solar Alliance was launched jointly by Prime Minister Modi and the President of France during COP21 in Paris.

ITBP became first CAPF to have supplies from KVIC

  • Indo Tibetan Border Police, ITBP became the first Central Armed Police Force CAPF to have supplies from the Khadi & Village Industries Commission, KVIC. An agreement was signed between the ITBP and the KVIC in New Delhi between Chairman, KVIC, Vinay Kumar Saxena and Senior officers of Provisioning Directorate, ITBP.
  • According to the agreement, total 1200 Quintal of Mustard Oil is being procured from KVIC by ITBP with a total financial implication of 1 Crore 73 Lakh 80 Thousand rupees.

Ivory Coast Defence Minister Bakayoko named prime minister

  • Ivory Coast's defence minister, Hamed Bakayoko, has been named prime minister, after acting as interim prime minister since the sudden death of Amadou Gon Coulibaly on July 8. Bakayoko has had the defence portfolio since 2017, after serving as interior minister from 2011.
  • The unexpected death of Coulibaly, who had been handpicked by President Alassane Ouattara to succeed him, left his governing party scrambling to find a replacement three months ahead of the presidential election.

Motilal Oswal AMC appoints Navin Agarwal as MD

  • Navin Agarwal who was Managing Director at Motilal Oswal Financial Services Ltd (MOFSL) has taken over from Aashish Somaiyya as MD and CEO of Motilal Oswal Asset Management Company. MOFSL is the parent company of the diversified Motilal Oswal group and Agarwal will be stepping down from his role there to focus on the AMC.

P. Sainath’s People’s Archive of India wins the Prem Bhatia Award 2020

  • The People’s Archive of India (PARI) along with the journalist Dipankar Ghosh have won the prestigious Prem Bhatia Award 2020 for outstanding journalism. Ghosh and the PARI team were recognised for their coverage of the COVID-19 pandemic and related issues.
  • Founded in 2014 by the award-winning journalist P. Sainath, PARI is a website that is an archive of documentation on rural India through reportage.
  • The Prem Bhatia awards were instituted in 1995 by the Prem Bhatia Memorial Trust, in memory of eminent journalist Prem Bhatia (1911 – 1995).

SBI Q1 results: Profit surges 81% YoY to Rs 4,189 crore on one-off gains

  • State Bank of India has reported an 81 per cent jump in Q1 standalone net profit at Rs.4,189 crore on the back of lower loan loss provision burden and gain on sale of a part of its investment in its life insurance subsidiary. The country’s largest bank had reported a net profit of Rs.2,312 crore in the year-ago quarter.
  • The profit was lifted by one-off gains of Rs 1,539.73 crore on account of stake sale in arm SBI Life. Consequently, SBI's holding in the life insurance firm has fallen to 55.5 per cent from 57.60 per cent earlier. Net interest income (NII) for the quarter came in at Rs 26,641 crore
  • The bank made Rs 12,501.30 crore provisions for the quarter, which were less than Rs 13,495.08 crore provisions made in the March quarter, but higher than Rs 9,182.94 crore in the same quarter last year.

SIDBI, TransUnion CIBIL launch financial knowledge platform for MSMEs

  • The Small Industries Development Bank of India in association with TransUnion CIBIL has launched a comprehensive financial education and knowledge platform for micro, small and medium enterprises. The one-stop knowledge portal- MSMESaksham, will guide MSMEs (micro, small and medium enterprises) seeking seamless and quick access to finance and will also support them in managing their credit obligations.
  • The portal aims to guide MSMEs across their credit lifecycle, from availing credit to start and grow their businesses, to manage credit lines to sustain and build structural strength of the business as well as ensuring timely closures and renewals of credit facilities.

Taiwan's 'Mr Democracy' Lee Teng-hui dies aged 97 in Taipei

  • Former Taiwan President Lee Teng-hui, dubbed “Mr. Democracy” for burying autocratic rule in favour of freewheeling pluralism, died at the age of 97. Lee became Taiwan’s first democratically elected president in 1996, in a landslide victory that followed eight months of intimidating war games and missile tests by China in waters around Taiwan in an attempt to scare voters.

Young people must take precautions to protect themselves and others from COVID-19, says WHO

  • The World Health Organization has warned that spikes in coronavirus transmission in a number of countries were being driven by young people letting down their guard. WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said, although older people are at a higher risk of severe disease, younger people are at risk too. One of the challenges we face is convincing younger people of this risk, he added.
  • Saying that young people can be infected and can transmit the virus to others, he stressed that young people must take the same precautions to protect themselves and others.