Daily Current Affairs - 09th Sep 2020

Barella does it for Italy

  • Italy returned to winning ways as Nicolo Barella’s header just before halftime secured a 1-0 victory away to a below-par Netherlands in their Nations League clash at an empty Johan Cruyff Arena. Italy showed the greater urgency and quality throughout and were full value for the win that follows Friday’s disappointing 1-1 home draw with Bosnia in which their 11-match winning run came to a surprise end.

Borrowings by States soar 51% to Rs. 2.97 lakh cr.

  • The pandemic-stricken States have borrowed a whopping Rs. 2.97 lakh crore so far this financial year, which is as much as 51% more than the corresponding period a year earlier. But, the massive spike is led by just three states -- Karnataka, which borrowed Rs 23,000 crore, a 475 per cent more than last year's Rs 4,000 crore; Maharashtra borrowed 200 per cent more at Rs 37,500 crore as against Rs 12,500 crore last year; and Tamil Nadu borrowed Rs 46,000 crore or 117 per cent over Rs 21,190 crore of last year.
  • This means that these three states contributed as much as 38 per cent of the total incremental borrowing by the states so far, this fiscal. The cash-starved states are grappling with rising expenses due to the pandemic.

Cabinet approves asset monetization of subsidiaries of PGCIL through Infrastructure Trust

  • The Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs has approved Asset Monetization of subsidiaries of Power Grid Corporation of India Limited- POWERGRID through Infrastructure Investment Trust. It has given approval to POWERGRID to undertake monetization of its Tariff Based Competitive Bidding (TBCB) assets, held in existing Special Purpose Vehicle (SPVs), through Infrastructure Investment Trust (InvIT).
  • The approval would facilitate POWERGRID, to undertake asset monetization of its identified TBCB transmission assets through InvIT, so that the proceeds from the asset monetization could be utilized for fresh investment in the transmission network expansion and other capital schemes of the company.

Campaign to select Abe’s successor begins in Japan

  • The official campaigning to head Japan’s ruling party began, with outgoing Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s long-time right-hand man now seen as a front-runner to succeed him and complete his unfinished business, including coronavirus and economic measures. Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga has formally submitted his candidacy for the Liberal Democratic Party leadership after announcing his intention to run last week.
  • The top government spokesman faces two younger contenders, former Defence Minister Shigeru Ishiba and former Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida.
  • The winner of the in-party vote on Sept. 14 will eventually become Japan’s next prime minister because of the ruling bloc's parliamentary majority.

Global economy to contract 4.4%, China to grow at 2.7%

  • Fitch Ratings in its September update to the Global Economic Outlook (GEO) has projected global GDP to contract 4.4% in the current year, but revised upwards China’s growth estimate to 2.7% for 2020. Fitch has slashed India's growth projection to (-)10.5 per cent from (-)5 per cent estimated earlier after official data released last week showed the April-June 2020 quarter GDP contraction by 23.9 per cent.

Goldman Sachs, India Ratings slash India's FY21 GDP forecast; see recovery next year

  • Credit ratings agency India Ratings and Research and investment bank Goldman Sachs, slashed India’s GDP growth forecast for the year ending March 2021, following a sharper than expected contraction in the April-June quarter economic growth, but both are also expecting a stronger recovery the next year.
  • India Ratings expects India’s GDP growth to contract 11.8 per cent in 2020-21, compared with the 5.3 per cent contraction it had expected earlier. Goldman Sachs is expecting the GDP to shrink 11.1 per cent in calendar year 2020 and fall 14.8 per cent in the financial year ending March 2021.

Govind Swarup, pioneer of radio astronomy in India, dies at 91

  • Physicist Govind Swarup, known for pioneering radio astronomy in India and setting up giant radio telescopes, died . He was 91. Swarup was the brains behind the designing and installation of the Ooty Radio Telescope and the Giant Metrewave Radio Telescope near Pune.
  • He was Emeritus Professor at the National Centre for Radio Astrophysics (NCRA), Tata Institute of Fundamental Research (TIFR), and a pioneering figure in the field of radio astronomy.

Govt to sell 15-20 pc stake in IRCTC via OFS

  • The Union government plans to sell about 15-20 per cent stake in IRCTC via offer for sale (OFS) and would like to complete the transaction in minimum number of tranches. Last month, the Department of Investment and Public Asset Management (DIPAM) had invited bids from merchant bankers by September 10 for managing the sale in Indian Railway Catering and Tourism Corp (IRCTC).
  • The government currently holds 87.40 per cent stake in IRCTC. To meet Sebi''s public holding norm, it has to lower its stake in the company to 75 per cent.

IIIT-H prof. bags Google India research award

  • Vasudeva Varma from the International Institute of Information Technology-Hyderabad (IIIT-H) is all set to receive support as part of the Google India AI/ML Research Awards for his ‘Project Angel’. According to an announcement made on the Google India Blog, Mr. Varma is one of the five awardees belonging to different varsities.
  • Project Angel uses artificial intelligence, machine learning and neuro-linguistic programming to trawl social media, scrape words or phrases which are tantamount to bullying or hate speech to protect young social media users, especially teenage girls, from online toxicity.

Kerala Tops Literacy Rate List, Andhra Worst Performer

  • With 96.2 per cent literacy, Kerala has once again emerged as the most literate state in the country, while Andhra Pradesh featured at the bottom with a rate of 66.4 per cent, showed a report based on National Statistical Office (NSO) survey. According to the study, after Kerala, Delhi has the best literacy rate at 88.7 per cent, followed by Uttarkhand's 87.6 per cent, Himachal Pradesh's 86.6 per cent and Assam's at 85.9 per cent.
  • The study has pegged the overall literacy rate in the country at about 77.7 per cent. In rural areas, the literacy rate is 73.5 per cent compared to 87.7 per cent in urban areas of the country. At all-India level, the male literacy rate is higher at 84.7 per cent compared to 70.3 per cent among women.

Life insurers’ August first premium income up 15%

  • Life insurers have posted an almost 15% rise in first-year premium in August thus building on the growth momentum of the previous month after a dismal first quarter this fiscal. The 23 private life insurers registered a first-year premium of Rs.7,325.6 crore or 13.74% more compared with August 2019.

Sharath and Sathiyan among WC reserves

  • India’s top paddlers Sharath Kamal and G. Sathiyan have been included as reserves in the men’s World Cup (November 13 to 15) and ITTF finals (Nov. 19 to 22) in the city of Weihai (Shandong province, China). Sharath and Sathiyan are ranked 31 and 32 in the world.

Stock Holding Corporation bags approval to set-up Custodial Services at GIFT IFSC

  • Stock Holding Corporation of India said it has received an approval from GIFT SEZ Authority to start its custodial services at International Financial Services Centre (IFSC) in the GIFT City. Stock Holding is the leading custodian and has assets under custody to the tune of USD 540 billion with over a 22 per cent market share.
  • Stock Holding has already setup a wholly-owned subsidiary, Stock Holding Securities IFSC Limited, operating in the IFSC providing trading and settlement services to brokers or trading members.

Telangana seeks Bharat Ratna for former PM Narasimha Rao

  • The Telangana Assembly passed a resolution urging the Centre to confer the country's highest civilian honour Bharat Ratna on former Prime Minister PV Narasimha Rao posthumously on the occasion of his ongoing birth centenary celebrations and also install his statue in the Parliament premises.
  • A resolution to this effect, moved by Chief Minister K Chandrasekhar Rao, was adopted by the House. The resolution also urged the Centre to name the Central University in Hyderabad after Narasimha Rao.

UAE extends amnesty period waiving fines of residents with expired visas

  • The UAE has extended an amnesty period waiving the fines of residents whose visas expired before March 1. Authorities said those who are in the country on lapsed visas have time until November 17 to leave without having to pay a penalty. It targets people who were already in the country before March 1 without a valid visa - such as workers with expired permits, jobseekers on expired visit visas and people working without any documents

UK Pharma Firm AstraZeneca Pauses Coronavirus Vaccine Trial After Unexpected Illness In Volunteer

  • Pharmaceutical company AstraZeneca said it had "voluntarily paused" a randomized clinical trial of its coronavirus vaccine in what it called a routine action after a volunteer developed an unexplained illness. The company, which is developing the drug alongside the University of Oxford, is a frontrunner in the global race for a Covid-19 vaccine.

US open: Naomi Osaka to face Jenifer Bradi in women's semifinals

  • Naomi Osaka’s sharp serving and superior return game helped her past American Shelby Rogers 6-3 6-4 and into the semi-finals of the U.S. Open as the Japanese continues her quest for a second title at Flushing Meadows. Naomi Osaka will meet American Jennifer Brady in the semi finals.
  • In the Mens Quarter Finals , fifth seeded Alexander Zverev of Germany defeated Borna Coric of Croatia 1-6, 7-6 , 7-6, 6-3. Zverev overcame 12 double-faults and 46 unforced errors.

WHO will not recommend any COVID-19 vaccine before it proved safe, effective: Tedros Ghebreyesus

  • The head of the World Health Organization Tedros Ghebreyesus said the UN health agency will not recommend any COVID-19 vaccine before it is proved safe and effective. At a press briefing, he said vaccines have been used successfully for decades and credited them with eradicating smallpox and bringing polio to the brink of being eliminated.
  • He also said Vaccine nationalism will prolong the problem, not shorten it. The first priority must be to vaccinate some people in all countries, rather than all people in some countries.