September 18, 2019

READ IN HINDI

National

  1. National Centre for Clean Coal Research & Development inaugurated at Bengaluru
  • The National Centre for Clean Coal Research and Development at Indian Institute of Science (IISc)-Bengaluru has opened.
  • The Central Government through Department of Science & Technology, has set up the the National Centre for Clean Coal Research and Development as a national-level consortium on clean coal R&D, led by IISc.
  • Dr Vardhan also opened an Interdisciplinary Centre for Energy Research(ICER) equipped with facilities for conducting a wide spectrum of energy research by knowledge network of elite researchers.
  1. ECGC introduces Nirvik to enhance loan availability for exporters
  • Ministry of Commerce & Industry through Export Credit Guarantee Corporation (ECGC) has introduced a new Export Credit Insurance Scheme (ECIS) called NIRVIK to enhance loan availability and ease the lending process.
  • The Export Credit Guarantee Corporation of India (ECGC) provides credit guarantee of up to 60 percent loss. Under the new ‘NIRVIK’ (NiryatRinVikasYojna) scheme, the insurance cover guaranteed will cover up to 90 percent of the principal and interest. The insurance cover will include both pre and post-shipment credit.
  • The main aim behind introducing the scheme was to enhance accessibility and affordability of credit for exporters. The decision will help make Indian exports competitive and make ECGC procedures exporter friendly, benefiting MSME exporters with a new scheme for reimbursing taxes, reduced insurance cost and ease of doing business.
  • The insurance cover is expected to bring down the cost of credit due to capital relief, less provision requirement and liquidity due to quick settlement of claims and will ensure timely and adequate working capital to the export sector.
  • The Finance Ministry has decided to increase the insurance cover for banks up to 90 percent for working capital loans and moderation in premium incidence for the MSME sector to provide additional support to the banks in the wake of a global slowdown and rising NPAs.
  • The enhanced insurance cover will ensure that foreign and rupee export credit interest rates will be below 4 and 8 percent respectively for the exporters.
  • The existing insurance covers issued by the ECGC will continue for the existing customer banks and similar covers will also be made available to all other banks. All standard accounts covered under ECGC on the date of transition shall be eligible for the insurance cover under the ECIS.
  • The coverage has been increased to 90 percent from the present average of 60 percent for both principal and interest.
  • It will also cover both pre-shipment and post-shipment advances unlike the present system, where two different documents are issued by the ECGC.
  • The scheme also aims to simplify the procedure for settlement of claims and provisional payment of up to 50 percent within 30 days on production of proof of end-use of the advances in default by the Insured Bank.
  • The scheme will be in force for a period of 5-years and on the conclusion, the standard ECGC covers will be made available to the Banks with its regular features.
  1. Government launches steel import monitoring system
  • The government launched a steel import monitoring system (SIMS) to provide advance information about steel imports to various stakeholders including producers and importers to have effective policy interventions.
  • Minister of Commerce and Industry PiyushGoyal and Hardeep Singh Puri launched the system developed in consultation with Ministry of Steel on the pattern of US Steel Import Monitoring and Analysis (SIMA) system.
  • Importers of specified steel products will register in advance on the web portal of SIMS providing the necessary information. The registration will be online and automatic with no human intervention.
  • The information about the steel imports provided by importers on the SIMS will be monitored by the Steel Ministry.
  • SIMS will require importers to submit advance information in an online system for import of 284 steel tariff lines at 8-digit HS code in order to obtain an automatic registration number by paying a prescribed registration fee.
  1. Public Premises (Eviction of Unauthorized Occupants) Amendment Bill, 2019 comes into effect
  • The Public Premises (Eviction of Unauthorized Occupants) Amendment Bill, 2019 which provides for the eviction of unauthorized occupants from public premises in certain cases has come into effect. It amends the Public Premises (Eviction of Unauthorised Occupants) Act, 1971. The new bill is expected to increase the availability of government residential accommodations for eligible beneficiaries and reduce the waiting period.
  • The Bill defines ‘residential accommodation occupation’ as the occupation of public premises by a person on the grant of a license for such an occupation. The license must be given for a fixed tenure, or for the period the person holds office. The occupation must be allowed under the rules made by the central, state or union territory government, or a statutory authority.
  1. New amendments made to the Foreign Contribution (Regulation) Act, 2011
  • The Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) notified that it has amended the rules governing the Foreign Contribution (Regulation) Act (FCRA), 2011.
  • As per the amended rules, the individuals who receive gifts up to Rs 1 lakhare not required to inform the government.
  • In case of emergency medical aid needed during a visit abroad, the acceptance of foreign hospitality has to be intimated including the source, approximate value in Indian rupees and the purpose for which the aid has been taken and the manner in which it was utilized to the government within 1 month of such receipt. The earlier limit was 2 months (within).
  1. EAM and MHRD launched PhD fellowship programme for ASEAN students in IITs
  • External Affairs Minister (EAM) of India Dr S Jaishankar and Minister of Human Resource Development (MHRD) Mr Ramesh Pokhriyal ‘Nishank’ launched the PhD (Doctor of Philosophy) fellowship programme, initially launched by the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA), in Indian Institutes of Technology (IITs) for the students from Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN). In January 2018, prime minister Modi had notified to offer 1000 integrated PhD fellowships for ASEAN students in IITs at the 25th Anniversary ASEAN-India Commemorative Summit in New Delhi.

Key Points:

♦IIT-Delhi is designated by the MHRD as the coordinating IIT for the fellowship programme and it has developed a web portal (http://asean.iitd.ac.in) to administer the application and admission process.

♦The total budget outlay for the fellowship programme is Rs 300 crore (approximately US $ 45 million).

♦Fellowship programme is the single-largest capacity development initiative of India in its partnership with ASEAN.

State

  1. 2.05 cr fine slapped on ONGC for norm violation in Assam
  • Oil and Natural Gas Corporation (ONGC) has been fined by The Pollution Control Board (PCB), Assam, for violating environment protection norms in the Assam.
  • The PCB’s order said that ONGC was found guilty for violation of environmental laws in six wells of the state-owned energy behemoth in Assam.
  • ONGC has been asked to deposit Rs. 2.05 cr within one month of issuance of the order.
  1. HP CM Jai Ram Thakur launched the Mukhya Mantri SevaSankalp Helpline ‘1100’ for redressal of public grievances
  • The Chief Minister of Himachal Pradesh(HP) Shri Jai Ram Thakur launched the “Mukhya Mantri SevaSankalp Helpline ‘1100’”(Chief Minister’s Service Resolution Helpline) for redressal of public grievances in a speedy and time bound manner. The helpline functions from 7am-10pm from monday-saturday. By this service, HP became the fourth state in the country after Uttarakhand, Uttar Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh to launch this helpline.

About Mukhya Mantri SevaSankalp Helpline ‘1100’:

♦56 state departments are involved in this helpline by geo-mapping and geo-tagging.

♦Grievances will be addressed within a minimum period of 1 week and a maximum of 2 weeks.

International

  1. Singapore, India, Thailand kick off maiden trilateral exercise ‘SITMEX’ in Port Blair
  • The navies of the Republic of Singapore, India and Thailand are taking part in the inaugural Singapore-India-Thailand Maritime exercise (SITMEX)
  • The exercise comprises a shore phase held at Port Blair, and a sea phase in the Andaman Sea.
  • The host country is contributing guided missile destroyer INS Ranvir, missile corvette INS Kora, and OPV Sukanya in addition to maritime patrol aircraft.
  • The Republic of Singapore Navy is participating with the Formidable-class frigate RSS Tenacious while Thailand is represented by frigate HTMS Kraburi.
  1. SCO exercise “Tsentr (centre) 2019” commenced in DONGUZ Ranges, Russia
  • The opening ceremony of exercise “TSENTR 2019” which forms part of the Russian Armed Forces’ annual training cycle, under the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation(SCO), was conducted at the DONGUZ ranges near Orenburg, Russia.
  • 8 SCO member countries inclusive of Russia namely China, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, India, and Pakistan are participating in the exercise that will conclude on 23 September 2019.
  • The exercise which mainly focuses on countering international terrorism, comprises of two modules where the first module focuses on counter-terror operations,defensive measures and the second module focuses on offensive operations.

Banking & Finance

  1. Indian banks’ 2018-19 savings deposits stood at Rs 39.72 lakh crore
  • According to the Handbook of Statistics on the Indian Economy 2018-19 released by the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) on September 15, 2019, the aggregate savings deposits in the Indian private and public sector banks (PSBs) reached Rs 39.72 lakh crore as on March 31, 2019. The foreign banks had a share of Rs 58,630 crore.
  • Savings deposits: The total savings deposits with commercial banks (including foreign banks) in 2018- 19 stood at Rs 40.31 lakh crore, up from Rs 36.55 lakh crore in 2017-18.
  • Credit growth:The PSB credit growth for Q1 June 2019-20, increased to 8.7%. The aggregate deposits growth stood at 6.7%. The credit growth of foreign banks stood at 5.4% and the aggregate deposits growth was 19.3%. Bank credit between April and June 2019 grew by 11.7%, against a growth of 11.1% in April and June 2018. But it was lower than the 13.1% growth in bank credit in the Q4 of 2018-19.
  1. RBI allows all recurring bill payments through BBPS
  • The Reserve Bank of India(RBI) has extended the use of the Bharat Bill Payment System(BBPS) for all recurring(repetitive) payments such as school fees, insurance premiums and municipal taxes, Equated Monthly Installments (EMI) on a voluntary basis except for prepaid recharges to extend the scope and coverage of BBPS.

Key points

♦Current facility: The BBPS is currently available only in 5 segments. They are Direct To Home (DTH), electricity, gas, telecom and water.

♦The biller categories are expected to increase the user base of BBPS according to analysts.

About BBPS:

♦BBPS was formed in the year 2013 under the aegis of National Payments Corporation of India(NPCI) which acts as authorized Bharat Bill Payment Central Unit (BBPCU).

♦The NPCI sets protocols for technical and business requirements for participants of BBPS and also undertakes clearing and settlement activities.

♦Formation:  The BBPS was formed after theCommittee headed by G. Padmanabhan – RBI’s former Executive Director was in 2013 to study giro based payment’s feasibility and implementation.

  1. Government exempts 2% TDS on cash payments of over Rs 1 crore made through APMCs
  • Finance Minister of India Smt Nirmala Sitharaman notified that 2% Tax Deducted at Source (TDS) on cash payments above Rs 1 crore made through Agricultural Produce Market Committees (APMCs) will be exempted and it is set to be effective from October 1, 2019. This is aimed to discourage cash transactions and move towards a less-cash economy.

Other announcements:

♦An additional 15% depreciation was declared to be allowed on motor vehicles purchased between August 23, 2019, and March 31, 2020, taking the depreciation rate to 45%.

♦The depreciation on cars purchased during the period was declared at the rate of 30% as against the normal rate of 15%.

♦For buses, lorries and taxis, the depreciation rate was increased to 45% from 30%.

  1. Code for Responsible Lending (CRL) for the micro-credit industry launched by MFIN, Sa-Dhan and FIDC
  • In order to bring more transparency & address customer-centric issue, the Code for Responsible Lending (CRL) for the microcredit industry was jointly launched by Microfinance Institutions Network (MFIN), the RBI-recognised self-regulatory organization & and industry association for the microfinance industry, Sa-Dhan along with FIDC(Finance Industry Development Council) at Sa-Dhan’s 15th Annual National Conference 2019 held in New Delhi.

Key points:

♦A revised industry Code of Conduct (CoC) was also unveiled during the Conference for Microfinance Institutions (MFIs) that will act as a binding and requisite set of guidelines with respect to lending exercises.

♦The revised microfinance code mandates that only three microcredit entities can lend loans to a single client and cap the size of total lending to Rs 1 lakh per microfinance customer (a person who has an annual household income of Rs 1 lakh in rural India and Rs 1.6 lakh in urban India). It also bars lending to a customer whose loan has turned non-performing & lending will not be allowed without update credit bureau report.

♦More than 90 microcredit entities have signed up for the code, with more expected to endorse it.

♦At present, a wide range of credit lenders such as NBFC-MFIs(Non-Banking Financial Company- Micro finance Institutions), banks, small finance banks (SFBs), NBFCs and Non-profit/Section 8 MFIs, under different regulatory framework, provide micro-credit to over 5 crore women customers from low-income households.

♦Banks hold 40.9 % share of the total micro-credit at the end of June 2019 while NBFC-MFIs are the second largest lender registering for 30.2 % share. SFBs (Small Finance Banks) have a share of 17%, NBFCs 10.8 % and other MFIs witnessed for 1% share.

Business & Economy

  1. Ministry of Mines allows SAIL to offload 25% of iron ore production
  • Ministry of Mines said that 7 million tonnes of iron ore, produced at its different mines in the States of Jharkhand, Odisha and Chattisgarh, can be offloaded by SAIL to the domestic market.
  • Now, SAIL will be able to not only fulfil its own requirement but also to partially cater to the shortfall in domestic iron ore requirement.
  • One more order was issued on the same day, according to the order SAIL has also been allowed to dispose of the old stock of 70 Million Tonnes of low-grade iron fines and ores.
  1. Wipro Infrastructure and BEML signs MoU to work together in technical sections in Bengaluru
  • The Public Sector Unit (PSU) Bharat Earth Movers Limited (BEML) and Wipro Infrastructure Engineering (WIN) signed a Memorandum of Understanding(MoU), to work in areas such as aerospace components through special economic zone(SEZ) , industrial automation processing, 3-D printing, artificial intelligence and hydraulic system engineering.
  • The MoU was signed in Bengaluru between DK Hota, the Chief Managing Director(CMD) of BEML and Pratik Kumar, Chief Executive Officer of WIN.
  • The two firms will work together on projects, products, systems, services for Defence Research and Development Organisation(DRDO) labs and other govt. entities.

Sports

  1. Czech tennis player Karolina Pliskova beats Petra Martic winning the 15th WTA singles career title at 2019 Zhengzhou Open in China
  • World no.2 Czech tennis player Karolina Pliskova won her career 15th WTA (Women’s Tennis Association) title by defeating Croatia’s Petra Martic at the 6th edition of the 2019 Zhengzhou Open at Zhongyuan Tennis training base management Center, China. The prize money of the event that was held from September 9-15 was $1,000,000.

Key points

♦Doubles: America’s Nicole Melichar and Czech republic’sKvětaPeschke won the doubles title by defeating YaninaWickmayer(Belgium) and Tamara Zidanšek (Slovenia)

Appointment & Resignation

  1. AK Singh appointed new Press Secretary to President Ram Nath Kovind
  • Ajay Kumar Singh, a Political Journalist, has been appointed as the press secretary of President Ram Nath Kovind.
  • The Appointment Committee of the Cabinet (ACC) approved the name of Ajay Kumar Singh as a Press Secretary to the President Ram Nath Kovind.
  • Ajay Kumar Singh worked in various organizations during his career like Times of India, Hindustan Times, Business Standard, and Star News among others.

Award & Honors

  1. Neena Gupta wins two awards at Indian International Film Festival of Boston
  • Bollywood actor Neena Gupta registered a double victory at Indian International Film Festival of Boston. The BadhaaiHo actor won Best Actress award while her film The Last Color emerged victorious in Best Feature Film category.
  • The directorial debut of world-renowned chef VikasKhannaThe Last Color deals with taboo surrounding widows in Vrindavan and Varanasi in India.
  1. Bangladesh PM Hasina receives Dr KalamSmriti International Excellence Award
  • Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina conferred the Dr KalamSmriti International Excellence Award 2019 in Dhaka
  • The award citation lauded Prime Minister Hasina for her vision of a peaceful and prosperous South Asia, free of tension, conflicts and terrorism.
  • The award has been instituted in the memory of former President Dr. A.P.J. Abdul Kalam
  • The award is given every year to honour statesmen or leaders who have shown excellence in respective fields to achieve the best for their countries.
  • The Presidents of the Maldives, Ghana and Mauritius earlier received the prestigious award since its introduction in 2015.
  1. Raghu Rai becomes first recipient of inaugural 2019 “Acadmie des beaux-arts Photography Award – William Klein”
  • Renowned Indian photographer Raghu Raiwas chosen as the first recipient of the inaugural “Acadmie des beaux-arts Photography Award – William Klein” for the year 2019 and will be awarded in the Palais de l’Institut de France on October 30.
  • The award is named in honour of William Klein, the American born French photographer and filmmaker. The award, which will be conducted once in every two years alternating with Photography Prize Marc Ladreit de Lacharrière, will reward the photographer of all nationalities and ages for their entire career in photography. The award carries a monetary prize of 1,20,000 euros.
  • Awards: Rai won Padma Shree in 1972, which is a first for any photographer, photographer of the year in 1992 in America for his story “Human Management of Wildlife in India” for the National Geographic, Officer des Arts et des Letters award by the French government in 2009 and also Lifetime Achievement Award by the Indian Government in 2016.

Science, Space & Technology

  1. NASA’s microwave oven-sized CubeSat to lunar orbit
  • NASA is planning to send a microwave oven sized CubeSat to lunar orbit to collect technical data before its manned mission to the Moon.
  • NASA is mapping its Artemis Mission including the first woman and a man on the Moon by 2024.
  • This CubeSat mission has been given a name – Cislunar Autonomous Positioning System Technology Operations and Navigation Experiment (CAPSTONE).
  1. Air-to-Air missile Astra successfully flight tested by IAF from Su-30 MKI from the Bay of Bengal off the coast of Odisha
  • The Indian Air Force (IAF) successfully flight-tested air-to-air missile Astra from Su-30 MKI as a part of user trials from the Bay of Bengal off the coast of Odisha. It is India’s first air-to-air missile which is engaged accurately with the live aerial target demonstrating its capability.
  • Astra, beyond-visual-range missile, is capable of engaging targets of different ranges and altitudes including long-range and short-range targets.
  • It has a range of over 70 km and can fly towards its target at a speed of over 5,555 kilometres per hour.
January 6, 2020

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