September 19, 2019

National

  1. Govt approves Productivity Linked Bonus to 11.52 lakh railway employees
  • The payment of Productivity Linked Bonus (PLB) equivalent to 78 days wages will be given to over 11.52 Lakh eligible non-gazetted railway employees.
  • As per the government notification, it aims to maintain a high level of motivation among railway personnel.
  • Cabinet Minister Prakash Javadekar announced that PLB is an acknowledgement of railway employees’ contribution to the efficient running of the Indian Railways.
  1. India offers 1,000 PhD fellowships to ASEAN students at IITs
  • The government launched a major programme offering 1,000 PhD fellowships to ASEAN students at IITs in India.
  • Jointly inaugurating the programme with HRD Minister Ramesh Pokhriyal ‘Nishank’ in New Delhi, External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar said India’s partnership with ASEAN is based on shared values.
  • The funding will cover the entire cost of study and living expenses for up to 5 years of a PhD programme. The admission portal for the programme is being executed by IIT Delhi.
  • 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.
  1. Exhibition ‘ShashwatMaharathi : The Eternal Seeker’ on Chitracharya Upendra Maharath Inaugurated in New Delhi
  • Union Minister of State for Culture& Tourism (Independent Charge), ShriPrahlad Singh Patel inaugurated the exhibition ‘Shashwat Maharathi : The Eternal Seeker’ on Chitracharya Upendra Maharath at newly renovated Jaipur House in National Gallery of Modern art New Delhi
  • The Exhibition showcases more than 1000 works of art, design, and woven objects of art by Chitracharya Upendra Maharathi. Exhibition will be remained open for general public from 11:00 am to 6:00 pm Tuesday to Friday. On weekends people can visit exhibition till 8:00 pm.
  1. 3 day 5th International Ramayana Festival organised by ICCR held in New Delhi
  • 3 day organised 5th International Ramayana Festival was inaugurated in New Delhi on September 17, 2019 by Union minister of home affairs Shri Amit Shah.
  • The festival is organised by Indian Council for Cultural Relations(ICCR) to promote Indian culture and its values and will be held until September 19, 2019. 17 countries have participated in the festival which is organised 5th time in a row.

Key points

♦The festival will be conducted in Lucknow between September 20-22 and in Pune on September 21, 2019.

State

  1. TN unveils ‘Tamil Nadu Electric Vehicle Policy 2019’ with Rs.50,000-cr investment target
  • The Chief Minister of TamilNadu Shri Edappadi K Palaniswami unveiled new ‘Tamil Nadu Electric Vehicle Policy 2019’ in the state that would attract Rs. 50,000 crore investment and also create 1.5lakh jobs. An EV park is also decided to be created in the future with plug-and-play facilities.
  • Aim: To create Electric Vehicle(EV) ecosystem and also make TN, a preferred hub for EVs and Original Equipment Manufacturer(OEM) that includes charging infrastructure, battery making etc.
  • Subsidies: 50-100% exemption of road tax will be made for all EVs till the end of 2022, capital subsidies, reimbursement(repayment of paid money) of SGST(State-Goods and Service Tax), land cost subsidy, waivers on registration fee under central govt. policy and special incentives for job-creating EV projects.

International

  1. Sri Lankan president Maithripala Sirisena unveiled Lotus tower- the tallest tower of South Asia, funded by China in Colombo
  • president of Sri Lanka(SL) Shri Maithripala Sirisena unveiled “Lotus tower” which is the tallest tower of South Asia that cost over $100 million. 80% of the funding cost of the tower situated in Colombo, Srilanka has been done by China under the Belt and Road Initiative(BRI).
  • Building features: It is a 350-meter-tall building having 17 storeys spread over an area of 30,600 sq. metres.
  • A television tower, telecommunications museum, restaurants, observation deck, shopping mall, auditorium and a conference centre is comprised within the building. It is built with fibre optic cables equipped with telecommunication equipment.

Banking & Finance

  1. MFIN, Sa-Dhan jointly launch ‘Code for Responsible Lending’ for microfinance industry
  • Microfinance Institutions Network (MFIN) and Sa-Dhan, the Reserve Bank of India recognised self-regulatory organisations and industry associations for the microfinance industry, along with Finance Industry Development Council (FIDC), have jointly unveiled the ‘Code for Responsible Lending’ (CRL) for the micro-credit industry.
  • The launch was done at Sa-Dhan’s 15thAnnual National Conference in New Delhi. The CRL, aims to ensure uniform principles for customer-conduct in micro-credit. It is sector-specific and entity agnostic.
  • Both CRL and CoC are focused on highlighting and advancing ‘responsible lending’ practices in microfinance. A microfinance customer as defined by the RBI (for NBFC-MFIs) is one that holds an annual household income of Rs 1 lakh in rural India and Rs 1.6 lakhs in urban India.
  1. Saving Deposits of Banks Rose toRs. 39.72 Lakh Crore in 2018-19
  • The aggregate saving deposits of public and private sector banks (PSBs) stood at Rs.39.72 lakh crore as on March 31, 2019, according to Reserve Bank of India (RBI) data published in Handbook of Statistics on Indian Economy 2018-19.
  • On the other hand, foreign banks had a share of Rs. 58,630 crore in terms of savings deposits in the same fiscal, the data showed.
  • The total savings deposits with commercial banks, including foreign ones, in 2018-19 stood at Rs. 40.31 lakh crore, up from Rs. 36.55 lakh crore in 2017-18.
  • The public sector bank’s credit growth was up 8.7 per cent, while the aggregate deposit growth was 6.7 per cent at the end of the first quarter ending June.
  • The foreign banks’ credit growth was 5.4 per cent and the aggregate deposit growth was 19.3 per cent, according to the quarterly data on deposits and credits of commercial banks released earlier this month.
  • Bank credit between April and June this year grew by 11.7 per cent, against a growth of 11.1 per cent in the same period last fiscal.
  • Private banks registered a growth of 16.3 per cent in aggregate deposits and of 17.5 per cent in bank credit in the first quarter of the fiscal. The public sector banks had a deposit growth of 6.7 per cent and bank credit growth of 8.7 per cent in the same quarter.
  1. ZestMoney join hands with PayU for cardless EMI payment
  • Consumer lending platform, ZestMoney has partnered with PayU, a fintech firm that provides payment technology to online merchants to offer cardless EMI (equated monthly installment) payment option to consumers.

Key points:

♦with this partnership, more than 2,500 merchants that are equipped with PayU, Billdesk, Cashfree, and Razorpay can start accepting ZestMoney (which has over 3,500 unique data points (2,500 data points for new to credit) to ease risk decisioning) as a payment solution quickly.

♦ZestMoney, which has diverse customer base spread across different segments and risk profiles, aims to offer loans of amount starting from Rs 1,000 – Rs 5 lakh as per the demand of the customer anywhere.

About ZestMoney:

♦ Headquarters: Bengaluru, Karnataka

♦ Formation: 2015

♦ CEO :Lizzie Chapman

  1. Airtel Payments Bank launched ‘Bharosa’ savings account
  • Airtel Payments Bank, a public limited company with its headquarters in New Delhi has launched “Bharosa” savings account services with the aim of deepening the financial inclusion in India.

Key features of the account:

♦Customers of Airtel Payments Bank will get personal accident insurance up to Rs 5 Lakh, even with the minimum balance of 500. However, the customer will need to make a debit transaction at least once a month.

♦If the account holder transfers the government subsidy to this account, then the bank will also offer cashback on each transaction.

♦The customers can withdraw cash, check their balance or access a mini statement of their account from any of the outlets across India that have AePS (Aadhaar-enabled payment system) enabled.

♦This product of Airtel is available at over a quarter-million banking points.

♦Airtel Payments Bank was the first payments bank to start its operations in India. It provides convenient digital banking services to customers through a network of over 500,000 banking points in all states of India.

About Airtel Payment Bank:

♦ Headquarters : New Delhi

♦ MD, CEO : Anubrata Biswas

  1. EPFO to credit 8.65% interest in over 6 crore accounts for 2018-19
  • Minister of State (Independent Charge) of the Ministry of Labour and Employment Santosh Kumar Gangwar notified that over 6 crore members of the Employees’ Provident Fund Organisation (EPFO) will get 8.65% interest on deposits, which will be credited to the accounts, for 2018-19 after the approval from the Ministry of Finance. The decision was made on February 21, 2019.

Key Points:

♦At present, EPFO pays an interest rate of 8.55% for 2018-19 under Employees’ Provident Fund (EPF) withdrawal claims. The 8.55% interest rate on EPF deposits was fixed for 2017-18.

♦The rate which was increased to 8.65% for the year 2018-19 was the first increase in the past 2 years.

♦As per EPFO’s estimates, there would be a surplus of Rs 151.67 crore after providing 8.65% rate of interest for 2018-19 on EPF.

♦The Central Board of Trustees (CBT) is the apex decision-making body of the EPFO.

Other announcements:

♦Ministry is in the process of developing infrastructure in newly established union territories Ladakh and Jammu & Kashmir.

♦Employees State Insurance Corporation (ESIC) will start a 100-bed hospital Srinagar and a 30-bed hospital in Leh.

♦2 offices of EPFO in Srinagar and Jammu will also be established.

♦Ministry is working for over 40 crore unorganized workers in India to provide suitable work environment.

Business & Economy

  1. MSDE, IBM come together for nationwide Train-the-Trainer program in AI
  • The Directorate General of Training (DGT) division of the Ministry of Skill Development & Entrepreneurship, has signed an agreement with Global IT major IBM
  • Through this agreement IBMwill carry out a nationwide Train-the-Trainer in Basic Artificial Intelligence Skills
  • As part of the program, ITI trainers will be trained on basic Artificial Intelligence (AI) skills towards using the technology in their day-to-day training activities.
  • IBM aims at training 10,000 faculty members from ITIs across the country and the program will be executed over aperiod of one yearwith 14 trainers across 7 locations with over 200 workshops.
  1. Govt waives 3-year lock-in period on NRI investments in IDF bonds
  • The govtin order to boost foreign investment in the infrastructure sector, waived off the 3-year lock in period for investments made by Non-Resident Indians(NRI) in Infrastructure Debt Funds (IDFs), as notified by the Central Board of Direct Taxes (CBDT).
  • 3-year lock in period background: Transferring Rupee denominated bonds of IDF by an NRI to another NRI outside India, are not considered as transfers for capital gain purpose and no capital gain tax is charged on such transfers. These benefits will be available only when IDF is set up under prescribed guidelines and fulfill certain conditions. One of such conditions is investment made by an NRI in bonds should be subjected to a 3-year lock in period except where transfer is made to another non-resident. Thus, NRI investors can now transfer IDF bonds freely.
  • investment plan: Recently the govt has planned to invest Rs 100 lakh crore in infrastructure sector by 2024-2025 with the taskforce headed by economic affairs secretary shri Atanu Chakraborty.

Sports

  1. Vinesh Phogat qualifies for 2020 Tokyo Olympics
  • Vinesh Phogat has become first Indian wrestler who qualified for the 2020 Olympics.
  • She got the opportunity after beating American Sarah Hildebrandt in the World Championships in Nur Sultan, Kazakhstan.
  • Vinesh Phogat scored 8-2 win to secure her entry at Tokyo Olympics. Earlier in the championship, she defeated Ukraine’s Yuliya Khalvadzhy in the first round of repechage in the 53kg category.
  1. An official mascot for Beijing Winter Olympics and Paralympics 2022 revealed
  • The smiling panda, named Bing Dwen Dwen was revealed as the official mascot for Beijing Winter Olympics 2022 at a ceremony held at Shougang Ice Hockey Arena in Beijing, China. A walking Chinese lantern Shuey Rhon Rhon was declared as the official mascot for Winter Paralympics 2022.

Key Points:

♦Description of Winter Olympic mascot: Colorful circles around its face symbolize skating tracks and 5G technology. Bing, the Chinese word for “ice,” shows purity and strength. Dwen Dwen means sincerity, liveliness and health.

♦Description of Paralympic mascot: It is based on a traditional red lantern. It sports a yellow scarf, a circle of yellow doves around its head and a traditional Chinese paper cutting. “Shuey” means snow in Chinese and the characters for “Rhon Rhon” mean “inclusiveness” and “integration”.

♦They were selected from over 5,800 submissions from 35 countries.

Olympic games venues:

♦ 2020 Summer Olympics: Tokyo, Japan

♦ 2024 Summer Olympics: Paris, France

♦ 2028 Summer Olympics: Los Angeles, United States

♦ 2026 Winter Olympics: Milan and Cortina d’Ampezzo, Italy

  1. Former India all-rounder, Dinesh Mongia announces retirement from all forms of cricket career
  • The Former Indian team all-rounder Dinesh Mongia (42) of Chandigarh has his retirement from all formats of cricket.
  • He played his last international match for the Indian team in 2007 against Bangladesh. Mongia, the left-handed top-order batsman has made his debut against Australia in the year 2001.
  • He was also a part of the Indian team in the 2003 ICC Cricket World Cup ,where the Indian team was runners-up after losing to Australia.
  • Mongia played 57 matches in his ODI career in & his best score was against Zimbabwe in a series decision match where he scored 159 runs. He played his only T20 (Twenty20) International against South Africa, in which he scored 38 runs. Mongia also played county cricket in England, being part of the Lancashire and Leicestershire team.
  1. American woman Sarah Thomas became the first person to swim English Channel 4 times non-stop
  • An American woman Sarah Thomas, aged 37, became the first person to swim English Channel 4 times non-stop. She successfully completed the 84-mile challenge in 54 hours and 13 minutes.
  • Earlier, 4 swimmers had successfully swum across the English Channel 3 times without stopping.

Appointment & Resignation

  1. Wing Commander Anjali Singh becomes India’s first military diplomat
  • Anjali Singh has become India’s first female has joined the Indian Embassy in Russia as the Deputy Air Attache.
  • Wing Commander Anjali Singh has become India’s first female military diplomat to be posted in any of the Indian missions abroad.
  • Singh is an AE(L) officer with 17 years of service. She is trained on MiG-29 aircraft.
  1. Asia Development Bank president to step down
  • The president of the Asia Development Bank, TakehikoNakao, plans to step down early next year on January 16, 2020.
  • Nakao, 63, will leave on Jan. 16, 2020. He took the ADB post in 2013 when his predecessor Haruhiko Kuroda was named Bank of Japan governor. He was re-elected to a second five-year term in 2016.
  1. Cognizant India elevates R Ramamoorthy as its new CMD
  • Information Technology(IT) giant, Cognizant India has elevated Ramkumar Ramamoorthy currently the executive director, as its new chairman and managing director(CMD).

Key points:

♦During 21 years with the company , he played a key role in its CSR(Corporate social responsibility) initiatives through his work at Cognizant Foundation and Cognizant Outreach.

♦Ramamoorthy will make a management committee & operating committee for the country, which will help strengthen the company’s operations in India. He will also directly report to the parent company’s executive committee.

♦Prior to joining Cognizant, he worked with Tata Consultancy Services & before that, he was a lecturer at two leading colleges in India, and went on to officiate as principal of one of them.

  1. President of ADB Takehiko Nakao resigns
  • The president of Asian Development Bank (ADB), Takehiko Nakao has announced his resignation effective from January 16 , 2020. The new president will be elected in accordance with an open, transparent and merit-based principle.

Key points:

♦Takehiko joined as the president of ADB on April 28, 2013.

♦With ADB, he has expanded the operation of the organization from $ 14 billion in 2013 to $ 22 billion in 2018 & also integrating more advanced technologies into projects of ADB.

♦He played a major role in merger of Ordinary Capital Resources and concessional lending operations of the Asian Development Fund (ADF) and the launch of ‘Strategy 2030’, etc.

Award & Honors

  1. Swedish environmental activist Greta Thunberg wins 2019 Amnesty’s ‘Ambassadors of Conscience’ award in Washington D.C
  • Swedish environmental activist Greta Thunberg(16 years) and the ‘Fridays for Future youth movement’ won the Amnesty International’s ‘Ambassadors of Conscience’ award for the year 2019.
  • The award ceremony which was held at the George Washington University, Washington D.C, America, is the highest human rights award constituted by the Amnesty International.

About Amnesty International:

♦ It is a Britiish Non-Government Organisation(NGO) focused on human rights.

♦ Headquarters- London, United Kingdom.

♦ Founded- July 196.

♦ Founder- Peter Benenson.

Science, Space & Technology

  1. Astronomers using NSF’s Green Bank Telescope discovered the most massive neutron star ever- MSP J0740+6620
  • Astronomers at West Virginia University (U.S) using Green Bank Telescope (GBT) of the National Science Foundation (NSF) in Pocahontas County, United States (US) have discovered the most massive neutron star ever called MSP J0740+6620. It is one of the densest objects in the known universe. The research was published in the journal Nature Astronomy.

Key Points:

♦It weighs 2.14 times more than the Sun occupying a space that was only 30 kilometers across.

♦It is located some 4,600 light-years away from Earth. One light-year is about six trillion miles.

♦Authors on the paper include Duncan Lorimer, astronomy professor and Eberly College of Arts and Sciences associate dean for research; Eberly Distinguished Professor of Physics and Astronomy Maura McLaughlin; Nate Garver-Daniels, system administrator in the Department of Physics and Astronomy; and postdocs and former students Harsha Blumer, Paul Brook, Pete Gentile, Megan Jones and Michael Lam.

♦The previous massive neutron star was J0348+0432, with a mass about 2.01 solar masses.

About neutron stars:

♦Neutron stars are objects formed from the collapsed cores of large stars following a supernova explosion. They are also known as pulsars due to the pulses of radiation they emit as they rotate at high speeds.

  1. ISRO and DRDO join hands for ‘Gaganyaan’ mission
  • The Space agency of the Government of India(GoI), Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) and the Defense Research and Development Organization (DRDO) signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to develop human-centric systems for the ‘Gaganyaan’ project.

Key points:

♦A team of ISRO scientists, headed by Dr. S. Unnikrishnan Nayar, director of the Human Space Flight Center (HSFC), entered into agreements with various DRDO laboratories.

♦Some of the important technologies provided by DRDO to ISRO include food related technologies in space, health monitoring of space going teams, survival kits, radiation measurement and protection, parachutes etc.

♦DRDO is committed to provide all necessary support to ISRO for manned space mission. ISRO plans to demonstrate man’s ability to reach space before the completion of 75 years of India’s independence in 2022.

♦Gaganyaan: It  is a proposed manned space mission by Government of India (GoI). This will be India’s first manned mission, to be launched by 2022. On August 15, 2018 , the mission was announced by Prime Minister (PM) Narendra Modi in his independence day speech from Red Fort.

January 9, 2020

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