Daily Current Affairs - 05th Sep 2020

15th Finance Commission holds discussions with its Economic Advisory Council

  • The Fifteenth Finance Commission had held discussions with its Economic Advisory Council. Finance Ministry said, the meeting discussed a gamut of issues around GDP growth, tax buoyancy of the Centre and the States, GST compensation and fiscal consolidation. Specific issues relating to public expenditure on health, investment revival, recapitalization of the financial system and its impact on public finances were also discussed.
  • The meeting was chaired by N. K. Singh, Chairman of Fifteenth Finance Commission.

Bangladesh govt extends suspension of jail term of former PM Khaleda Zia for 6 months

  • Government of Bangladesh has suspended the jail sentence of former Prime Minister Khaleda Zia for six more months on health grounds. The decision has been taken so that the 75-year-old leader can receive necessary medical treatment. Former Prime Minister and leader of the main opposition Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) Khaleda Zia was released on March 25 for six months after suspending her sentence for six months on health grounds.

Centre exhorts States to bring mortality due to COVID-19 below 1%

  • Centre has exhorted the States to proactively curb the chain of transmission and bring mortality below one per cent. Health Secretary Rajesh Bhushan held a review meeting with the Health Secretaries of 15 districts across five States of Andhra Pradesh, Punjab, Karnataka, Tamil Nadu and Uttar Pradesh.
  • These 15 districts have been exhibiting higher active caseload, fatality rates and a surge in the COVID cases for the past four weeks.

Centre writes to States, UTs to review existing practices & procedures to grant parole, furlough, premature release to inmates

  • Home Ministry has written to States and Union Territories to review existing practices and procedures governing grant of parole, furlough and premature release to inmates, especially in light of Model Prison Manual, 2016 and guidelines issued by the Ministry of Home Affairs, National Human Rights Commission and Apex Court.
  • In a letter to Chief Secretaries and DGPs, IG (Prisons) of states, the Ministry said, release of prisoners on parole and furlough is not an absolute right and it should be on the basis of well-defined norms of eligibility. The Ministry has directed not to allow those involved in terrorism and other heinous crimes should go out of jails. It said, parole and furlough may not be granted as a matter of routine and may be decided by a committee of officers and behavioural experts keeping in view all relevant factors, especially for inmates sentenced for sexual offences, serious crimes such as murder, child abduction, violence etc.

DCs in Aspirational Districts outperform many non-Aspirational Districts in fighting COVID-19: Dr. Jitendra Singh

  • Minister of State in PMO, Dr. Jitendra Singh has said that District Collectors in Aspirational Districts outperformed many non-Aspirational Districts in fighting the COVID-19 Pandemic. He urged the District Collectors of Aspirations Districts to consistently focus on achieving continuous growth in developmental indicators.
  • Dr. Singh said that the concept of Aspirational Districts conceptualised by Prime Minister Narendra Modi marks a major shift in political approach to Governance.

Future Retail logs Q4 loss of Rs. 477.6 crore

  • Future Retail Ltd. (FRL) reported a consolidated net loss of Rs. 477.6 crore for the quarter ended March. The company, which owns brands like Big Bazaar, fbb, Foodhall, Easyday and Nilgiris, had posted a net profit of Rs.199.31 crore in the January-March quarter a year ago.
  • Mukesh Ambani's Reliance Industries recently acquired Future Group's retail, wholesale, logistics and warehousing businesses for Rs.24,713 crore.

Germany joins Indo-Pacific club aimed at securing trade routes from aggressive China

  • Germany has joined the Indo-Pacific club. The move is aimed at securing the trade routes from aggressive China. The move makes it the second European nation after France to formally adopt a strategy for the Indo-Pacific region. The strategy is designed to allow Germany to make an active contribution to shaping the international order in the Indo-Pacific. The move by Germany augurs well for the Quad which is constituted by the United States, Japan, Australia, and India.

Japan govt to provide subsidy to manufacturers relocating from China to India, Bangladesh

  • In a blow to China, the Ministry of Economy, Trade, and Industry (METI) in Japan has provided subsidies to Japanese manufacturers to shift their manufacturing sites from China to ASEAN countries. India and Bangladesh have been added to the list of relocation destinations.
  • By expanding the scope of the subsidy program, Japan aims to reduce its dependence on a particular region and to build a system that is able to provide a stable supply of medical materials and electronic components even in an emergency.

Kaziranga set to be expanded by 3,053 hectares

  • The Assam government has approved the addition of 30.53 sq. km ( 3,053 hectares) to the 884 sq. km Kaziranga National Park. The additional areas straddling two districts — Nagaon and Sonitpur — would make the larger Kaziranga National Park and Tiger Reserve (KNPTR) grow to 1085.53 sq km.
  • The government issued a notification approving the seventh, eighth, and ninth additions to the World Heritage Site. These include encroachment-evicted areas and wildlife habitat at riverine islands that were vulnerable to encroachment. The seventh, eighth, and ninth additions have 176 hectares, 307 hectares, and 2,570 hectares respectively.

Moody’s cuts ratings on BoB, Canara, two others

  • Moody’s Investors Service has downgraded the long-term local and foreign currency deposit ratings of four public sector banks — Bank of Baroda (BoB), Bank of India, Canara Bank and Union Bank of India (UBI) — to Ba1 from Baa3 and their baseline credit assessments (BCAs) to b1 from ba3. The outlook on the ratings of the four banks is negative.

Pune firm’s test kit gets nod for manufacture

  • ‘CoViDx One’, the COVID-19 reverse transcriptase-polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) test kit developed by Pune-based GenePath Diagnostics, has received approval for manufacture and sale in India from the Central Drugs Standard Control Organisation (CDSCO).

RBI reviews PSL guidelines to align it with emerging national priorities for inclusive development

  • The Reserve Bank of India has comprehensively reviewed the Priority Sector Lending (PSL) guidelines to align it with emerging national priorities and bring sharper focus on inclusive development, after having wide ranging discussions with all stakeholders.
  • The revised PSL guidelines will enable better credit penetration to credit deficient areas; increase the lending to small and marginal farmers and weaker sections; boost credit to renewable energy and health infrastructure, bank finance to start-ups (up to 50 crore rupees); loans to farmers for installation of solar power plants for solarisation of grid connected agriculture pumps and loans for setting up Compressed Bio Gas (CBG) plants have been included as fresh categories eligible for finance under priority sector.
  • Some of the salient features of revised these guidelines are, to address regional disparities in the flow of priority sector credit, higher weightage have been assigned to incremental priority sector credit in ‘identified districts’ where priority sector credit flow is comparatively low.

Record area of 1095 lakh hactare covered under current Kharif crops season: Govt

  • The Union government said that in the current Kharif season, record area of over 1,095 lakh hactare has been covered. The sowing of rice still continues while sowing of pulses, coarse cereals, millets and oilseeds is almost over. Agriculture Minister Narendra Singh Tomar said that there is no impact of COVID-19 on progress of area coverage under kharif crops as on date.
  • The Ministry said, rice has been sown in over 396 lakh hactare as compared to 365 lakh hactare during the corresponding period of last year. While, Pulses have been sown in on over 136 lakh hactare as against 130 lakh hactare area of last year.

Russia’s COVID-19 vaccine is safe: study

  • The two-shot vaccine being developed by Russia’s Gamaleya Research Institute generated a strong immune response and didn’t produce serious adverse reactions in the 76 volunteers who were inoculated in a trial, according to results of a study reported online in The Lancet. The vaccine also produced a response in T-cells — a type of white blood cell that helps the immune system destroy infection.
  • Despite limitations in the trials, the peer-reviewed data bolster Russia’s prospects in the race with the U.S., China and Europe to secure a vaccine, following widespread scepticism. Russia earlier shocked much of the global medical community last month when it approved the shot, known as Sputnik V, for civilian use before completing so-called Phase 3 trials and without releasing any research on the vaccine.

SC rejects review plea to postpone JEE, NEET on account of coronavirus crisis

  • The Supreme Court of India dismissed the pleas, including the one filed by ministers of six opposition-ruled states, seeking review of its August 17 order which paved the way for holding NEET and JEE exams. A bench of Justices Ashok Bhushan, B R Gavai and Krishna Murari, which considered the pleas in-chamber, also rejected the applications seeking listing of the review petition in the open court.

Tour de France: Belgium's Wout Van Aert wins Stage 7

  • Belgian cyclist Wout Van Aert picked up a second win of the 2020 Tour de France on Friday as aggressive tactics and crosswinds combined to produce an enthralling race that claimed several victims. British rider Adam Yates retained the yellow jersey while Peter Sagan took the green points jersey after his Bora team led a carefully plotted and brilliantly executed attack to drop his sprint rivals.

Tribal Affairs Ministry signs agreement with IIPA for setting up of National Institute of Tribal Research

  • Tribal Affairs Ministry had signed an agreement with Indian Institute of Public Administration, IIPA for setting up of National Institute of Tribal Research at the IIPA campus, New Delhi. The proposed National Institute will be functional in a few months and will be engaged in quality tribal research in collaboration with reputed government and non-governments NGOs spread over the country.

US Open Tennis Tournament: Serena Williams wins in straight sets yet again

  • In the US Open tennis tournament, Serena Williams won in straight sets again. She moved into an all-American showdown against Sloane Stephens. Other women moving into the third round included No. 2 Sofia Kenin, who won the Australian Open in February; No 7 Madison Keys, No. 15 Maria Sakkari, No. 18 Donna Vekic and No. 22 Amanda Anisimova

VIL board approves Rs 25,000 crore fund-raising plan

  • Telecom operator Vodafone Idea said its board of directors has approved plans to raise up to Rs 25,000 crore. The funds will be raised through a combination of equity and debt instruments and the total fund-raising will not exceed Rs 25,000 crore. The fund-raising will throw a potential lifeline to the cash-strapped telco, which suffered massive losses, has been losing subscribers and ARPUs, and facing outstanding AGR dues of about Rs 50,000 crore.