Daily Current Affairs - 23rd Aug 2020

Centre asks States not to stop inter and intra-state movement of people and goods during Unlock-3

  • The Union Home Secretary has written to all Chief Secretaries reminding them that there are no restrictions on inter-state and intra-state movement of persons and goods.
  • The letter draws attention of the states to para 5 of Unlock-3 guidelines. This para clearly states that no separate permission, approval or e-permit will be required for such movement of persons and goods for cross land border trade under Treaties with neighbouring countries.
  • The Home Secretary said, such restrictions amount to violation of guidelines issued by Home Ministry under provisions of Disaster Management Act, 2005. The letter requests that no restrictions be imposed and it should be ensured that Home Ministry guidelines are followed.

Consumer Affairs Minister says hallmarking of precious metals will be mandatory from June 1 next year

  • Consumer Affairs Minister Ram Vilas Paswan has said that hallmarking of precious metals will be mandatory from 1st June next year. Mr Paswan said this while launching the online system of Registration and Renewal of Jewellers in New Delhi.
  • Now, Jewellers can apply online and submit required necessary documents and fees for obtaining a licence through this portal.
  • At present, there are 921 Hallmarking Centers, located in 234 districts of the country.

Election Commission issues guidelines to conduct elections amid COVID-19 pandemic

  • Election Commission has issued detailed guidelines related to key activities for conducting upcoming General Elections and bye-elections in various States and Union Territories during the period of COVID-19 Pandemic.
  • During the campaign process, not more than 5 people have been allowed for door to door campaigning. During the road shows, the convoy should have a gap after every set of five vehicles and Public gatherings and rallies can be conducted with strict adherence to the COVID-19 guidelines.
  • Election Commission in its guidelines has also stated that the training of election officials should be organized in a decentralized manner at large halls. It has also stressed on online modules of training as far as possible.

IBM partners with NSDC to offer free digital education platform

  • IBM (International Business Machines Corporation) announced its collaboration with National Skill Development Corporation(NSDC) to offer a free digital education platform on emerging technologies and professional skill development and to equip the next generation with digital skills.
  • IBM will manage an online course from Open P-Tech platform and will offer it to the users through eSkill India Portal of NSCD.

India, Japan, Australia working on a supply chain pact to counter China

  • Japan, India and Australia are seeking to build stronger supply chains to counter China’s dominance as trade and geopolitical tensions escalate across the region, according to people in Tokyo and New Delhi with knowledge of the matter.
  • The intensifying US-China conflict and worsening diplomatic relations across the region are forcing companies to consider whether they can continue to do business in China as before.

Myanmar pushes back against BRI; to involve foreign partners in China-funded mega city project

  • Myanmar has pushed back against China after trying to widen its influence through China-Myanmar Economic Corridor (CMEC). The decision was influenced from the experience of Pakistan in China Pakistan Economic Corridor and with Sri Lanka being pushed towards debt trap.
  • China proposed the CMEC as a part of the BRI initiative. When Chinese President Xi Jing Ping visited Myanmar in January 2020, two agreements were signed to establish Kyaukphyu Deep dea port and to set up Special Economic Zone.

National Council for Transgender Persons formed

  • The Government of India has constituted National Council for Transgenders. The Council is to be headed by the Union Social Justice Minister. It comprises of members from 10 central departments, members from the community and central department.
  • The Council has been formed under Transgender Persons (Protection of Rights) Act, 2019. The Council will also have joint secretary level members from ministries of health, minority affairs, education, labour, rural development. Apart from the ministries, the council will also have members from Human Rights Commissions, NITI Aayog and National Commission for women.

National Fertilizers Limited to set up an Organic Waste Converter Plant

  • National Fertilizers Limited, NFL, a PSU under the Department of Fertilizers in Vijaipur, Madhya Pradesh is going to set up an Organic Waste Converter, OWC Plant.
  • The biodegradable waste collected in the unit will be transported to OWC where it will be segregated from non-degradable parts. It will take around 10 days to convert it into ready to use compost.
  • The unit plans to utilize this compost as manure thus substituting consumption of fertilisers or manure used for developments of parks or public places. The compost can also be used by the residents in their lawns and kitchen gardens.

New feature added in Arogya Setu App to facilitate safe functioning of business and economy

  • Aarogya Setu app has started a new technological solution in order to help businesses and the economy to start functioning while being safe. The new Open API Service will enable organizations to check the status of the Aarogya Setu app of their employees and integrate it into its various Work from Home features.
  • The Open API Service of Aarogya Setu, addresses the risk of COVID-19 infections and will assist businesses and the economy to return to normalcy.
  • The new service can be availed by organizations and business entities, which are registered in India with more than 50 employees. Organizations can easily check the health status of their employees on a real time basis using new technology.

Nine killed in major fire in Telangana's Srisailam hydel power plant

  • A major fire in the Srisailam hydroelectric plant located on the Telangana-Andhra Pradesh border left nine people dead, most of them engineers, and three seriously injured, with thick smoke hampering rescue operations for over 12 hours.

Power Ministry suggests 12 per cent cap on Late Payment

  • The Power Ministry announced that the Generating Companies and the Transmission Companies have been advised to charge Late Payment Surcharge at a rate not exceeding 12% per annum. With this, the financial burden on Discoms is to ease out.
  • The interest rates in India have been softened over the last few years. However, the rate of late payment surcharges are still quite high. The rate has ranged up to 18% per annum. This has adversely impacted Discoms during the COVID-19 times. Thus, it has now been reduced to 12% ease out financial stresses on Gencos and Trancos.
  • The Government of India has taken number of measures to mitigate the adverse impacts. This includes rebate on capacity charges, Liquidity Infusion Scheme. Also, real time electricity market was launched by the Indian Energy Exchange. The UDAY scheme was launched to turn around the financial positions of state power distribution companies.

Rajiv Kumar appointed new Election Commissioner following resignation of Ashok Lavasa

  • Former finance secretary Rajiv Kumar has been appointed new election commissioner. He will replace Ashok Lavasa.
  • A 1984-batch IAS officer of Jharkhand cadre, Rajiv Kumar has over three decades of experience in public policy and administration across various sectors. He played a major role in merging 10 public sector banks into four.

SBI board approves proposal to raise Rs 8,931 crore via Basel III bonds

  • The country’s largest lender State Bank of India (SBI) said its board has approved a proposal to raise Rs 8,931 crore by issuing Basel III compliant bonds to investors.
  • The committee of directors for capital raising at its meeting accorded its approval to allot 89,310 Basel III compliant non-convertible, taxable, redeemable, subordinated, unsecured, fully paid-up debt instruments aggregating to Rs 8,931 crore to bond subscribers.
  • The bonds in the nature of debentures qualifying as tier 2 capital of the bank have face value of Rs 10 lakh, bearing a coupon of 6.80 per cent payable annually for a tenor of 15 years.

Spectacles believed to be worn by Mahatma Gandhi set auction record in UK

  • A pair of gold-plated spectacles believed to have been worn by Mahatma Gandhi and presented as a gift in the 1900s have broken all records for a United Kingdom auction house by selling for Rs. 2.55 crore or 2,60,000 pounds.
  • The glasses, which were dropped through the letterbox of East Bristol Auctions in Hanham, south-west England, four weeks ago were estimated to fetch between 10,000 pounds and 15,000 pounds.

UK govt debt tops $2.6 trn for first time

  • UK government debt passed £2 trillion ($2.6 trillion) for the first time, a milestone that will stoke the debate over how Chancellor of the Exchequer Rishi Sunak should finance his unprecedented support for the pandemic-ravaged economy.
  • It means Britain now owes an amount euiqvalent to more than 100 per cent of economic output, the heaviest burden since the early 1960s.

YES Bank signs agreement with White Oak to sell stake in MF arm

  • YES Bank has agreed to sell its stake in YES Asset Management Company (AMC) and YES Trustee to GPL Finance and Investments (GPLFI), which is owned by Prashant Khemka-backed White Oak Investment Management.
  • Khemka was formerly the chief investment officer and lead portfolio manager for Goldman Sachs’ India Equity Fund at Goldman Sachs Asset Management. White Oak is a Mumbai-based boutique investment management and advisory company.