October 11, 2019

National

  1. Union HRD Ministry launches Pradhan Mantri Innovative Learning Programme – DHRUV
  • Union Minister of Human Resource Development Ramesh Pokhriyal ‘Nishank’ on October 10, 2019, launched the Pradhan Mantri Innovative Learning Programme –DHRUV to motivate talented children to enhance their skills.
  • The Programme was launched from the headquarters of the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) at Bengaluru.
  • Under the programme, the selected students will be named as “Dhruv Tara”.
  • The programme reflects the true spirit of the “Ek Bharat Shreshth Bharat”.
  1. President Ram Nath Kovind presents Colour to Army Aviation Corps
  • President Ram Nath Kovind on October 10, 2019, presented the Colour to the Army Aviation Corps,
  • The president acknowledged the contributions of the Army Aviation Corps and said that it has earned over 200 honours and awards till date for its distinguished services.
  • Army Aviation Corps served the United Nations Peace Keeping Missions in countries like Somalia and the Democratic Republic of Congo.
  • The President also visited the School of Artillery at Deolali.
  1. Minister Piyush Goyal to attend 9th RCEP Intersessional Ministerial Meeting
  • Union Commerce Minister Piyush Goyal will be attending the 9th RCEP Intersessional Ministerial meeting at Bangkok in Thailand.
  • The meeting will be held on October 11, 2019, and it will be the last Ministerial meeting before the 3rd Leaders Summit that is scheduled to be held on November 4, 2019, in Bangkok.
  • This 9th Intersessional Ministerial Meeting comes at the time when the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) will be announced as concluded in November 2019.
  • Out of the total 25 chapters, 21 chapters have already been concluded. Only chapters of Investment, Electronic Commerce, Trade Remedies and Rules of Origin are left for settlement.
  1. Government launches Mahatma Gandhi National Fellowship Programme with IIM Bangalore
  • Ministry of Skill Development and Entrepreneurship (MSDE) signed a contract with the Indian Institute of Management (IIM) Bangalore for introducing a two-year fellowship programme Mahatma Gandhi National Fellowship (MGNF) programme to boost skill development at the district level
  • Designed under Skills Acquisition and Knowledge Awareness for Livelihood Promotion (SANKALP) the fellowship aims to address the challenge of non-availability of personnel for implementation of various programmes at national, state and district levels.
  • The MGNF programme has an in-built component of on-ground practical experience with the district administration.
  • Launched on a pilot basis in 75 districts across Gujarat, Karnataka, Meghalaya, Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh and Uttarakhand, eligible fellows for the programme have to be in 21-30 years age-group, have a graduation degree from a recognized university and be citizens of India. Proficiency in official language of state of fieldwork will be mandatory.
  1. 13th Conference of Central Council of Health and Family Welfare for 2019 held in New Delhi
  • Union Minister for Health & Family Welfare (MoHFW) Dr.Harsh Vardhan inaugurated the 13th Conference of Central Council of Health and Family Welfare (CCHWF) for 2019 in New Delhi.
  • Objective: To build a consensus on National wealth priorities.
  • SUMAN: A new initiative – ‘Surakshit Matritva Aashwasan (SUMAN)’ for Zero Preventable Maternal and Newborn Deaths, its website and the grievance redressal portal was launched on the occasion.
  • The goal of healthcare spending of the National Health Policy (NHP) 2017 is to reach 2.5% of GDP (Gross Domestic Product) by 2025.

State

  1. 38th India Carpet Expo in Varanasi
  • The Carpet Export Promotion Council (CEPC) is organizing the 38thIndia Carpet Expo (15thin Varanasi) in Sampurnanand Sanskrit University Ground
  • The Export was organized with an aim to promote the cultural heritage and weaving skills of Indian hand-made carpets and other floor coverings for the visiting overseas carpet buyers.
  • India carpet expo is aplatform for international carpet buyers, buying houses, buying agents, architects and Indian carpet manufacturers andexporters to meet and establish business relationship.
  • The Expo is organized twice a year in Varanasi and Delhi.
  • The Carpet Export Promotion Council has 2700 members from all over the country
  • The major carpet producing centres in India are in the states of Uttar Pradesh, Jammu and Kashmir, Rajasthan, Haryana, Punjab, Himachal Pradesh, Gujarat, Tamil Nadu, North East Region of India, Andhra Pradesh, Odisha, Telangana, Chhattisgarh and Jharkhand.

International

  1. India ranks 82nd in Henley & Partners Global Passport Index 2019, Japan and Singapore top the list
  • The latest Henley & Partners Global Passport Index 2019 was released. In the report, India iscurrently ranked at 82nd place in 2019, which is one place down from its previous rank of 81 in 2018. Japan and Singapore both hold the most powerful passport by ranking 1st in the list.

Key points

♦Index: The index measures the strength of all the passports around the world, based on mobility scores which denotes the number of destinations that could be accessed by the passport-holders of a specific country, without a pre-departure visa. Japanese and Singaporean passport holders can visit a total of 190 countries without a prior visa, thus its mobility score is 190. India’s mobility score is 59. Afghanistan ranks last at 107th position in the list.

♦Ranking: The ranking is done based on the data of International Air Transport Association (IATA) that contains most accurate travel information data.

  1. Singapore set to become the first country to ban ads for unhealthy sugary drinks
  • The health ministry of Singapore notified that it will ban ads for unhealthy sugary drinks to combat rising diabetes rates. Thus, it will become the first nation in the world to do so.

Key Points:

♦It has requested the SSB (sugar-sweetened beverages) manufacturers to reformulate the drinks with less sugar content.

♦As per the data from International Diabetes Federation (IDF), 13.7% of adults suffer from diabetes in Singapore.

♦IDF has estimated that the number of people suffering from diabetes in the world is expected to rise to 629 million by 2045 from 420 million people at present.

Banking & Finance

  1. SBI reduces lending rates by 10 basis points
  • The State Bank of India (SBI) reduced the lending rates by ten basis points.
  • The Bank also revised the savings rate by 25 basis points for the deposits under Rs 1 lakh.
  • This new Marginal Cost Of Funds-Based Lending (MCLR) rate will be effective from October 10, 2019.
  • The savings bank deposits rates will be effective from November 1, 2019.
  1. Reliance Nippon Life AMC Renamed As Nippon India Mutual Fund
  • Japan’s Nippon Life Insurance Co. has renamed its joint venture with Reliance Capital Ltd. after buying out the latter’s stake in the business.
  • It now plans to recapture the market share the mutual fund house had lost in the past few years, Nippon India Mutual Fund’s Chief Executive Officer is SundeepSikka.
  • This Asset Management Company (AMC) has been acquired by Japan’s largest life insurance company Nippon Life Insurance by acquiring 75 percent stake in the company, allowing Anil Ambani-promoted Reliance Capital to exit from the mutual funds business.
  • In Reliance Mutual Fund, both Reliance Capital and Nippon Life held 42.88 percent stake each, while the rest was with public shareholders.
  1. Reserve Bank gives final approval for the formation of the proposed Kerala Bank
  • The country’s central bank, Reserve Bank of India (RBI) has given its final approval of Kerala government’s long-pending proposal of setting up its own ‘Kerala Bank’, by amalgamating 13 district co-operative banks (DCBs) with Kerala State Co-operative Bank.

Key points:

♦With this merger, the ‘Kerala Bank’ will become the largest banking network in the state.

♦The RBI given its nod subject to some conditions that setting up of the new bank would also be in accordance with the final verdict of some cases pending before a court

♦All district cooperative banks, except the opposition Congress-led coalition-controlled Malappuram district Cooperative Bank, have approved the government’s move.

  1. RBI rejects merger of Lakshmi Vilas Bank and Indiabulls housing finance
  • The country’s central bank, Reserve Bank of India (RBI) has banned the proposed merger of Indiabulls Housing Finance and Lakshmi Vilas Bank, the flagship private sector bank. The merger was announced by Indiabulls in April, 2019 and sought approval from RBI on May 7, 2019.

Key points:

♦The rejection comes after LVB was put into a prompt corrective action (PCA) framework in September 2019 by the RBI due to high NPAs (Non Performing Assets), not enough cash for risk management and negative returns on assets for two consecutive years.

♦The Economic Offenses Wing of the Delhi Police is investigating allegations of fraud and criminal breach of trust against the directors on the board of the bank. An FIR (first information report) has been lodged against the directors on a complaint from Religare Finvest Limited (RFL), which stated that the bank has rigged its FD (fixed deposit) of Rs 790 crore.

♦The bank’s stock closed at Rs 27, down 4.93% on the BSE (Bombay Stock Exchange) on October 9, 2019.

  1. GST Council forms a panel of officers to suggest measures to increase GST revenue
  • The GST Council has formed a 12 member high-level committee of officers with members from Centre and commissioners from state GST council of Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu, Uttar Pradesh, West Bengal and Punjab to suggest measures to increase the revenue from Goods and Service Tax (GST) and to administer it.

Key Points:

♦ToR: The Terms of Reference (ToR) of panel includes making suggestions about systemic changes in GST; to give inputs on measures for the expansion of the tax base; Policy measures and relevant changes needed in the law; improved compliance monitoring and anti-evasion measures for better administrative coordination.

♦It will submit its first report within 15 days to the GST Council Secretariat.

Business & Economy

  1. Moody’s cuts India’s growth forecast to 5.8% from 6.2% for FY20
  • The International rating agency Moody’s has reduced India’s gross Domestic Product(GDP) growth forecast to 5.8% for FY20(Fiscal Year20) from its previous estimate of 6.2%. This downgrade in GDP was due to deceleration to an investment-led slowdown which has broadened into consumption, driven by financial stress among rural households and weak job creation.

Key points

♦It also estimated the GDP to pick up to 6.6% in FY21 and then to 7% later.

♦Recently, the Reserve Bank of India has also reduced the growth forecast to 6.1% from its earlier prediction of 6.8% for FY20.

Appointment & Resignation

  1. Mastercard India appoints Vikas Varma as COO
  • Mastercard India, payment technology major, elevated Mr Vikas Varma as the Chief Operating Officer (COO) of the firm. He will take up the responsibility related to new partnerships and development of digital payment solutions and has been serving the firm since 2005.
  • Recently, Mastercard had announced an investment of USD 1 billion (around Rs 7,100 crore) in India over the next 5 years.
  1. K Satish Reddy got appointed as Indian pharmaceutical alliance president
  • Indian Pharmaceutical Alliance (IPA) has appointed Chairman of Dr. Reddy’s Laboratories Limited, K Satish Reddy as its President of the for 2019-2021. He succeeds Glenn Saldanha. Rajesh Jain, Managing Director of Panacea Biotec Limited will continue as Vice-President of the company.

Key points:

♦Satish Reddy, the past president of IPA (2013-2015), played a major role in shaping policies concerning the pharmaceutical sector and the economy.

♦Rajesh Jain is an active member of major industry associations ,Central Drug Research Institute (CDRI), Lucknow, Uttar Pradesh and government panels. He is Chairman of Confederation of Indian Industry (CII), National Committee on Biotechnology for 2019. He has been praised by GAVI (Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunization) and Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation for his commitment towards making affordable vaccines.

Award & Honors

  1. Olga Tokarczuk, Peter Handke won Nobel Prize for Literature for 2018 and 2019
  • Norwegian Nobel Committee awarded Olga Tokarczuk with the 2018 Nobel Prize in Literature.
  • On the other hand, Austrian author Peter Handke was awarded the 2019 Nobel Prize for Literature.
  • The Nobel Prize in Literature was postponed for the first time in 70 years in 2018 due to the sexual assault scandal wherein Katarina Frostenson, one of the Academy members resigned due to the sexual assault charges against her husband Jean-Claude Arnault.
  • The Nobel Prize in Literature is regarded as the most celebrated award in the literary world.
  1. Olga Tokarczuk and Peter Handke win the Nobel Prize for Literature for 2018 and 2019 respectively
  • The Swedish Academy’s Nobel Committee has decided to award 2018 Nobel Prize for Literature Polish author Olga Tokarczuk “for a narrative imagination that with encyclopedic passion represents the crossing of boundaries as a form of life” and 2019 Nobel Prize in Literature to Austrian author Peter Handke “for an influential work that with linguistic ingenuity has explored the periphery and the specificity of human experience.”

Key Points:

♦Each laureate receives over €825,000 in prize money.

♦It is for the first time in 118-year history that 2 literature prizes are given in the same year.

♦Ms. Tokarczuk became the 15th woman to win the Nobel Prize for literature in more than a century.

♦The 2018 Nobel literature prize was cancelled after an exodus at the exclusive Swedish Academy following sex abuse allegations.

♦The Swedish Academy’s Nobel Committee is a new body consisting of 4 academy members and 5 external specialists to select the awardee.

Science, Space & Technology

  1. Government launches GEMINI, a disaster warning device
  • Union Science and Technology Minister Dr Harsh Vardhan launched a disaster warning device named Gagan Enabled Mariner’s Instrument for Navigation and Information (GEMINI). It will help provide information related to disaster warnings when fishermen move away from the coast beyond 10 to 12 kilometres, Potential Fishing Zones (PFZ) and Ocean States Forecasts (OSF) to fishermen.

Key Points:

♦GEMINI is developed by Indian National Centre for Ocean Information Services (INCOIS), along with Accord, a private company in Bangalore.

♦It utilizes the GAGAN (GPS- Global Positioning System Aided Geo Augmented Navigation) satellite system to transmit information to fishermen which is developed by Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) and the Airports Authority of India (AAI).

♦It relies on the positioning system by ISRO’s GSAT (Geosynchronous Satellite) (GSAT – 8 and GSAT – 10).

  1. Indian scientists discover two strains of ‘plastic-eating’ bacteria in Greater Noida wetlands, UP
  • A team of researchers at Shiv Nadar University in Greater Noida, Uttar Pradesh (UP) have discovered two ‘plastic-eating’ bacterial strains namely Exiguobacterium sibiricum strain DR11 and Exiguobacterium undae strain DR14 from the wetlands of Greater Noida, Uttar Pradesh.

Key points:

♦The strains have the great potential to decompose polystyrene (a synthetic aromatic hydrocarbon polymer), which is a  key component in Single-Use Plastic (SUP) items such as disposable cups, cutlery, toys, packaging materials etc

♦Due to its high molecular weight and long chain polymer structure, Polystyrene is quite resistant to degradation.

♦The findings will greatly benefit to mitigate the environmental pollution caused by plastics & to eliminate SUP by 2022 , a goal set by the central Government.

♦The study has been published in the journal Royal Society of Chemistry (RSC) Advances.

Important Days

  1. World Mental Health Day
  • World Mental Health Day, observed on 10th October every year
  • World Mental Health Day is organized by the World Federation for Mental Health
  • This year’s Day is supported by WHO, the International Association for Suicide Prevention, and United for Global Mental Health
  • This year, World Mental Health Day is focusing on suicide prevention. Keeping this in mind, the WHO has launched an intervention-based campaign — ‘40 seconds of action’.
January 26, 2020

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