Current Affairs April 24 2019

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Indonesia releases Ramayana stamp
On 23 April 2019, Indonesia released a special stamp on the theme of Ramayana at the 70th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic ties between India and Indonesia event in the presence of India’ Ambassador Pradeep Kumar Rawat and Indonesia’s Deputy Foreign Minister Abdurrahman Mohammad Fachir.

i. Indonesian sculptor Padmashri Bapak Nyoman Nuart designed the stamp and it features a scene from Hindu epic Ramayana in which Jatayu valiantly fought to save Sita.
ii. A specially signed version of the stamp will be on display at the philately museum, jakarta.
About Indonesia:
♦ Official languages: Indonesian, Malay
♦ Capital: Jakarta
♦ Currency: Indonesian rupiah

India to be Guest of Honour country at 29th Abu Dhabi International Book Fair
On 24th April 2019, the 29th edition of the Abu Dhabi International Book Fair (ADIBF) started and will conclude on 30th April at the Abu Dhabi National Exhibition Centre. India has been nominated as the “Guest of Honour” country which reflects the strong relations between the leadership and the people of the UAE and India.

Key Points:
i. The fair will involve over 1000 participants from more than 50 countries and 30 publishing houses from India are taking part in the fair. The fair aims to highlight the UAE’s rich heritage, showcase its authenticity, and cultural.
ii. Navdeep Suri, Indian Ambassador to the United Arab Emirates (UAE) launched his book, “Inked in Blood and Spirit of Freedom” which is the English translation of poem ‘Khooni Baisakhi’ on  Jallianwala Bagh massacre.
iii. Also, books on the life and struggle of Mahatma Gandhi is on display as a special focus as part of the 150th birth anniversary celebrations.

Kazakhstan, under the chairmanship of its Prime Minister Askar Mamin sets up coordinating council to attract investments
Kazakhstan under the chairmanship of it’s Prime Minister, Askar Mamin has set up Coordinating Council for attracting foreign investments inclusive of investments from India.
Under Askar Mamin, a decision was taken to lay down the functions of Investment Ombudsman in order to venture for new approaches to improve investment scenario in Kazakhstan by efficiently interacting with the investors and providing solutions to current issues.
i. The requirement for such task is to increase the volume of investment in fixed assets in the medium term to 30% of (Gross Domestic Product) GDP of the nation and the primary driver should be foreign direct investment (FDI).
ii. The meeting chose the Astana International Financial Centre (AIFC) as a Unified Centre for the coordination of work on investment and promotion (Regional Investment Hub).
iii. In the meeting, the government-owned a stake in Kazakh Invest, national joint stock company was decided to be passed into confidential management of the AIFC.
iv. The AIFC platform presently has the necessary infrastructure, including the AIFC Court, International Arbitration Centre, the AIFC Exchange, the Expat Centre. The AIFC was founded in 2018 with its headquarters in Nur-Sultan, Kazakhstan. It’s governor is Kairat Kelimbetov.
About Kazakhstan
♦ Capital: Nur-Sultan
♦ Currency: Kazakhstani tenge

Iran in collaboration with Pakistan have agreed to set up joint border ‘Reaction Force’ to fight terrorism
Iranian President Hassan Rohani and visiting Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan have agreed for setting up a joint border ‘Reaction Force‘ to combat the attacks by militant groups on both sides their frontier.

i. The Iran-Pakistan border encompasses the south-eastern Iranian province of Sistan-Baluchestan (the second largest province of Iran with its capital Zahedan) where frequent attacks on Iran’s security forces have taken place.
ii. Since Iran-Pakistan relations had gone downhill with both the nations accusing each other for not taking enough steps to eradicate militants, they have decided to collaborate to form a joint quick reaction force by increasing cooperation between border forces and intelligence agencies.
About Iran
♦ Capital: Tehran
♦ Currency: Iranian rial


Kotak Mahindra Bank becomes the first Destination Bank to launch debit card based e-mandates On NPCI’s E-Mandate API Platform
Kotak Mahindra Bank (Kotak) has launched the first debit card-based authentication solution on NPCI’s (National Payments Corporation of India) e-Mandate (electronic mandate) API (Application Program Interface) platform, thus being the first ever Destination Bank to go live with both Net Banking and Debit Card-based e-mandate authentication.
i. The objective of this initiative is to enable Kotak customers to create electronic mandates (similar to the former eNACH with Aadhaar + OTP) (eNACH- Electronic National Automated Clearing House; OTP- One Time Password) via both debit card and net banking provision.
ii. As API based e-mandates are customer-friendly, fast, frictionless and paperless, the initiative would help in making its customers’ lives hassle free for handling recurring payments.
iii. E-Mandates are quite advantageous over physical mandates because of their security benefit, pricing, operational efficiency and turnaround time.

RBI gives HDFC’s proposal for holding 9.9% stake in Bandhan Bank
The RBI (Reserve Bank of India) has granted approval to HDFC Ltd for holding up to 9.9%  stake in Bandhan Bank following the Gruh Finance deal.
i. Gruh Finance is the housing finance arm of HDFC Ltd and was taken over in January by Bandhan Bank in a share-swap deal.
ii. The scheme is yet to get approvals from the National Company Law Tribunal (NCLT) and the shareholders of Gruh Finance and Bandhan Bank.
iii. The Gruh Finance deal will decrease stake of Bandhan Financial Holdings Ltd in Bandhan Bank from 82% to 61%.
iv. The share swap ratio for the merger will be 568:1000, that is 568 shares of Bandhan Bank for every 1,000 shares of Gruh Finance.

RBI becomes the first APAC (Asia-Pacific) central bank to begin interest rate easing cycle
The Fitch ratings notified that the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) becomes the first central bank in the Asia-Pacific region (APAC) to begin an interest rate easing cycle floated by benign food inflation and easier global financial condition.
i. The Monetary Policy Committee (MPC) chaired by Shaktikanta Das, RBI Govenor, had cut rates in February and April by citing prospects of benign inflation.
ii. In the 4 months of 2019, the RBI has cut policy interest rates 2 times by 0.25% each to one-year low of 6%.This is the 1st back-to-back rate cut since the MPC was formed in 2016.
iii. Inflation at 2.9% has stayed within the RBI’s comfort zone of 4% (with +/- 2%). Fitch reports stated that the fiscal slippage relative to RBI’s targets has brought about stalling of fiscal consolidation.
iv. Fitch has also estimated India to grow at 6.8% in current fiscal and 7.1% in the next year.


Food regulator FSSAI has extended ban on import milk products from China, until all labs at ports are upgraded to test the toxic chemical Melamine
The government has extended the ban on import of milk and milk products from China (including chocolates, chocolate products, candies, confectionary, food preparations with milk or milk solids as an ingredient).
i. The ban on milk products was 1st imposed in September 2008 and it had been extended continuously from time to time. The recent ban imposed by the government ended on April 23, 2019.
ii. Food regulator FSSAI (Food Safety and Standards Authority of India) has recommended that the ban should be extended till laboratories at ports are modernized to test the presence of the toxic chemical melamine. Melamine is an extremely toxic chemical that is used for making plastics and fertilisers.
iii. Though India doesn’t import milk or milk products from China, it has imposed the ban purely due to preventive measures.
Facts about India’s Milk Production:
♦ India is the world’s largest producer and consumer of milk.
♦ India produces around 150 million tonne of milk every year.
♦ Uttar Pradesh is the leading state in milk production and it is followed by Rajasthan and Gujarat.

First Indian Platform for Wholesale Cryptocurrency Trading has introduced by BuyUcoin
BuyUcoin, second oldest Cryptocurrency Exchange in India, has introduced a new and unique platform for wholesale cryptocurrency trading. This platform works on ‘free trading model’ which means it charges zero fee on any trade. This wholesale platform also known as OTC (Over-the-counter) Desk allows users to trade on a large scale with low price fluctuations.

i. This new platform will help to improve the problem of liquidity of cryptocurrency in Indian market. This will also help in quicker transactions, better prices and market stability.

India’s Pharmaceuticals export increases 11% to USD 19.2 billion
According to Commerce Ministry, India’s pharmaceuticals export has increased 11% to USD 19.2 billion in 2018-19. This is mainly due to increase demand in regions such as North America and Europe. The pharmaceuticals export in 2017-18 was USD 17.3 billion.
Key Highlights
i. India is the largest provider of generic medicines globally as 20 percent (in terms of volume) of generic medicines requirement was supplied by India globally.
ii. The other important destinations for Indian pharmaceutical exports are South Africa, Russia, Nigeria, Brazil and Germany. The pharmaceutical sector accounted for about 6 percent of country’s total exports of USD 331 billion in 2018-19.
iii. The regions like North America which constitutes about 30 per cent of Indian pharmaceuticals exports, followed by Africa with 19 percent share and European Union with 16 percent share.

Minimum subscription requirement for REITs and InvITs has reduced by SEBI
Recently, SEBI in his guidelines titled “Guidelines for Determination of Allotment and Trading Lot Size for Real Estate Investment Trusts (REITs) and Infrastructure Investment Trusts (InvITs)” has reduced the minimum subscription requirement as well as defined trading lots for REITs and InvITs.
Key Higlights
i. For determining the allotment in an initial offer and follow on public offers, REITs have to offer their units in lots worth at least Rs 50,000 and in case of InvITs, the minimum value of a single lot should be Rs 1 lakh.  The allotment to any investor shall be made in the multiples of a lot.
ii. For initial listing in case of REITs and InvITs, a trading lot should be of 100 units and for follow on public offers, each lot shall consists of such number of units in its trading lot as it had at the time of initial offer. Moreover, SEBI has also increased leverage limit for InvITs from 49 percent to 70 percent.
iii. Currently, the minimum subscription from any investor in an initial offer and public offer is not less than Rs 2 lakh in case of REITs and in case of InvITs the same is Rs 10 lakh.
About SEBI
♦ Founded: 12 April, 1992
♦ Headquarter: Mumbai, Maharashtra
♦ Chairperson: Ajay Tyagi


Rajendra Kumar Nayak Takes Over as the 52nd CGDA
On 22nd April 2019, Shri.Rajendra Kumar Nayak has been appointed as the 52nd Controller General of Defence Accounts (CGDA). Nayak, who is from the Indian Defence Accounts Service of 1983 batch, will succeed Smt. Madhulika P Sukul.
Key Points:
i. He has experience in handling Finance, Personnel, Pay & Budget matters of the Ministry of Defence.
ii. Nayak has held important assignments in the Defence Accounts Department and on deputation in the Government of India during over 35 years of his career span.
iii. Prior to charging as the CGDA, he was working Additional Controller General of Defence Accounts in Defence Accounts Department, Ministry of Defence.
About Indian Defence Accounts Service:
♦ Formed  :  1954
♦ Controlling Authority  : Ministry of Defence
♦ Financial Advisor,defence Services  : Madhulika P. Sukul

Uber Asia Pacific head Amit Jain resigns; Pierre-Dimitri Gore-Coty to take over
Amit Jain, Uber’s Asia-Pacific region (APAC) Head, announced his resignation at the end of May 2019 after four-year service to spend time with his family. Uber’s head of Europe, Middle East and Africa, Pierre-Dimitri Gore-Coty will take over the additional charge of APAC.

Key Points:
In June 2015, he had joined Uber as India head and become APAC chief in May 2018.
About Uber:
♦ Founded: March 2009, San Francisco, California, United States
♦ Founders: Travis Kalanick, Garrett Camp
♦ Headquarters: San Francisco, California, United States

Karnam Sekar has been appointed as Indian Overseas Bank’s new MD & CEO
Karnam Sekar, Dena Bank’s former Managing Director has been newly appointed as the new Managing Director (MD) and Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Indian Overseas Bank. He would take up the position from July 1, 2019.
i. He has been working as an officer on special duty and Whole Time Director in IOB (Indian Overseas Bank) from April 1 till the time of taking over charge from R Subramaniakumar who was the erstwhile CEO and MD.
ii. R Subramaniakumar had initiated measures to uplift IOB from loses due to high Non-Performing Assets.
iii. Earlier his stint in Dena Bank, Sekar was the Deputy Managing Director and Chief Credit Officer at State Bank of India (SBI).

Wipro BFSI president Shaji Farooq resigned
On 23rd April 2019, the president of Wipro’s banking financial services and insurance (BFSI) business unit, Shaji Farooq has resigned from the company after 5 years due to health reasons. He will precede Angan Guha, who will take over as senior VP and global head of the BFSI unit from 1st July.
Key Points:
i. He was inducted into Wipro’s core decision-making frame – the Group Executive Council which made up of a core workforce of Wipro leaders who power the long-term imaginative and prescient of the $8 billion IT corporate.
ii. He also played a key position in Wipro being an empanelled IT dealer to compete other IT companies like Infosys and Accenture.
About Wipro
♦ Founded: 29 December 1945
♦ Founder: Mohammed Hashim Premji
♦ Headquarters: Bangalore


IndusInd Bank receives NCLT approval for merger with Bharat Financial Inclusion
Recently, National Company Law Tribunal (NCLT) approved merger of private sector lender IndusInd Bank with Bharat Financial Inclusion (BFIL), a microfinance company. Now, BFIL become the subsidiary of IndusInd Bank. Last year, IndusInd Bank had received ‘No Objection’ from Reserve Bank of India, National Stock Exchange and Bombay Stock Exchange.

About IndusInd Bank
♦ Headquarter: Mumbai
♦ CEO: Romesh Sobti
♦ Tagline: We Make You Feel Richer
About National Company Law Tribunal (NCLT)
♦ NCLT is a quasi judicial body established under the Companies Act, 2013. This body was established by the recommendations of Eradi Committee. NCLT adjudicates issues related to Indian companies.
♦ Headquarter: New Delhi


Researches discovered how lifestyle affects genes
On 24th April 2019, Researchers at the Lund University Diabetes Centre, Sweden, have discovered how lifestyle affects genes and disease development in a human body in a new study called ‘Epigenetic Mechanisms’.
Key Points:
i. The details of the study were published in journal Cell Metabolism.
ii. Epigenetics is the study of heritable changes in genes which can be influenced by several factors including age, environment, and particular disease state.
iii. Epigenetic mechanisms control the activity of different genes and play an important role in disease development. Variations in genetic material (DNA), age, exercise, and diet also have an impact on this variation.
iv. The categories which were considered in the latest epigenetics findings are:

  • The significance of diet
  • Physical activity
  • Aging
  • The significance of genes
  • Is the epigenome heritable?
  • How can epigenetics contribute to novel treatments?

World’s first Malaria vaccine launched in Malawi
The world’s first malaria vaccine RTS, S is also known as Mosquirix has launched in Malawi, one of three countries in Africa in a landmark pilot programme coordinated by the World Health Organisation (WHO). The other two African countries are Ghana and Kenya. This vaccine has created by British Pharmaceutical giant GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) in 1987 and after that vaccine has undergone 30 years of testing which was supported by many organizations including a non-profit organization PATH. This pilot project aims to reach 360,000 children per year in all three countries.

Key Highlights
i. The malaria vaccine will be provided to children up to 2 years of age and it will be given in a total of 4 doses, first three doses between five and nine months of age and the fourth doses will be given around 2nd birthday.
ii. During the 30 years of clinical trials, scientists had found that the vaccine prevents approximately 4 out of 10 malaria cases, including 3 out of 10 cases of life-threatening severe malaria.
iii. This is a collaborative effort of WHO with health ministries of Ghana, Kenya and Malawi and other international partners which include PATH, GSK, the vaccine developer and manufacturer.
iv. This pilot project is financed by three key global health funding bodies: Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance, The Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria and Unitaid and other organization like The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation is also a funder of the vaccine.
About WHO
♦ Founded: 7 April, 1948
♦ Headquarter: Geneva, Switzerland
♦ Director-General: Tedros Adhanom
Static GK

Country Capital Currency
Malawi Lilongwe Malawian Kwacha
Ghana Accra Ghanaian Cedi
Kenya Nairobi Kenyan Shilling

An indigenous cruise missile successfully test-fires by Pakistan Navy
An indigenously developed cruise missile successfully test fired by Pakistan Navy from its latest Azmat-class Patrol Craft, PNS Himmat (1027) in North Arabian Sea. The cruise missile has capability of anti-ship missile and land attack. The media arm of the Pakistan Armed Forces, Inter Services Public Relations (ISPR) has not revealed the missile type which Pakistan Navy has tested.
About Pakistan
♦ Capital: Islamabad
♦ Currency: Pakistani Rupee

ICGS C-441 Commissioned at Vizhinjam 
On 24th April 2018, The newly built Coast Guard Vessel ICGS C-441 was commissioned into the service by Tom Jose, Chief Secretary of Kerala at Vizhinjam Harbour, Thiruvananthapuram. It is the seventh Interceptor vessel amongst the series which is built by M/s. L&T Ltd (Larsen & Toubro Limited), Surat. Inspector General Vijay D Chafekar, PTM, TM, Commander coast guard Region (West) Mumbai have attended the commissioning ceremony.
About ICGS C-441:
i. It is 27.4 metres long and has106 tonnes displacement capacity and can achieve a maximum speed of 45 knots(83 km/hr).
ii. The vessel is powered by twin diesel engines and twin water-jet propulsion systems and has an endurance of 500 NM at 25 knots of speed.
iii. It is designed to perform close coast surveillance, interdiction, search and rescue, rendering assistance to boats and crafts in distress at sea.
iv. The ship is fitted with state-of-the-art communication, navigational equipment and with light, medium and heavy automatic machine gun onboard armament.
v. The vessel is furnished with infrared surveillance capability and can operate in shallow waters as well as in deep seas.
vi. Assistant Commandant Amit K. Choudhary and 13 enrolled personnel specialised in various fields will operate the vessel.
About Vizhinjam International Seaport:
♦ Location:  Vizhinjam, Thiruvananthapuram, Kerala
♦ Operated by:  Vizhinjam International Seaport Ltd
♦ Owned by:  Government of Kerala

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Veteran Lady Mountaineer Rama Sengupta Paul passed away aged 66
On 21st April 2019, veteran lady mountaineer Rama Sengupta Paul passed away at the age of 66 at a city hospital due to cardiac arrest.
Key points:
i. She led the first successful all-women expedition to Kedarnath Dome in Garhwal Himalaya which was organized by Himalayan Association to commemorate the International Year of Women in 1975.
ii. She was a member of Indo-Japanese Women expedition to Kamet and Abi Gamin organized by Indian Mountaineering Foundation in 1976 and in 1978 she led another all women expedition of Himalayan Association to Dharamsura in Himachal Pradesh.
iii. She was a retired bank officer, who guided youths and students at many rock climbing and adventure camps in West Bengal.

Luxembourg’s Grand Duke Jean passed away aged 98
On 23rd April 2019, Luxembourg’s Grand Duke Jean passed away at the age of 98 due to pulmonary infection.
Key Points:
i. He was born on 5th January 1921 at Berg Castle, Luxembourg.
ii. In 1942 he received military training at Sandhurst in Britain and in 1944 he served as a guard at Buckingham Palace before joining Allied forces in Normandy.
iii. In 1963, he became the sixth Grand Duke of Luxembourg, held the position nearly 36 years and abdicated in 2000 in favour of his son Henri.


‘Indian constitution’ Book released in Konkani
On 21st April 2019, the Mangaluru Bishop Peter Paul Saldanha has released A Konkani translation of the Indian Constitution at the Rosario cathedral.

Key Points:
i. Prof Stephen Quadros Permude, who has authored several books in Konkani has translated the book.
ii. It has been brought out by the Mangaluru diocesan commission, which is led by its convener Fr J B Crasta.


First Official International Day of Multilateralism and Diplomacy for Peace observed on 24th April
International Day of Multilateralism and Diplomacy for Peace is observed on 24 April  annually to support the UN Charter and its principles of resolving disputes among nations through peaceful means. To promote the day, the UN General Assembly convened a one-day high-level plenary meeting on the same day.
Key Points:
i. This date was designated as International Day of Multilateralism and Diplomacy for Peace  on 12 December 2018 by the UN General Assembly through resolution A/RES/73/127.
ii. The day was proclaimed to support and promote the three pillars of the UN – Peace and Security, Development and Human Rights.

World Day for Laboratory Animals observed on 24th April
On 24th April 2019, World Day for Animals in Laboratories also known as World Lab Animal Day was observed for the movement to end the suffering of animals in laboratories around the world and their replacement with advanced scientific non-animal techniques. The adjoining week is known as “World Week for Animals in Laboratories” (WWAIL) which is observed from April 21-28.
Key Points:
i. Hugh Dowding’s birthday was chosen as the date of world Laboratory animal Protection Day. He was not only an officer of the Royal Air Force of Great Britain but also a famous animal rights fighter and former president of National Anti-Vivisection Society (NAVS).
ii. This Day was established in 1979 by the NAVS. They described the day as an “international day for commemoration” for animals in laboratories.
iii. The Society was founded in London in 1875 by Irish activist Francis Power Cobb.
iv. More than 150 million experimental animals are killed in the world in a year and around 65% of these are used in medical research while testing drugs and new treatments.


Calcutta Sports Journalists’ club annual awards 2019
On 23rd April 2019,Jhulan Goswami,former captain of India national women’s cricket team, awarded the “Sportsperson of the Year” honor at the Calcutta Sports Journalists’ club (CSJC) annual awards function 2019 held at Kolkata, West Bengal while Sukumar Samajpati, former India winger and Sambaran Banerjee, former national selector and Bengal’s Ranji Trophy winning captain honoured ‘Lifetime Achievement’ awards.
The other award winners:
Special award (bridge) – Shibnath De Sarkar and Pranab Bardhan
Special award (kabaddi) – Payel Chowdhury
Promising Sportsperson of the Year- NeelashSaha.
State awards:
Best cricketer – Tanusree Sarkar
Best footballer- Pritam Kotal
Best athlete-  Lily Das
Best chess player-  Utsab Chatterjee
Best TT player- Krittwika Sinha Roy.
About West Bengal :
♦ Capital  : Kolkata
♦ Chief minister: Mamata Banerjee
♦ Dance forms:  Baul, Purulia Chhau, Santhali Dance, Mundari dance, Gajan, Durga Puja, Dhak , DholBadan.
♦ Festivals: DurgaPuja, AkshayTritiya,  Gandheswari Puja, Buddha Purnima, Jamai Shasthi, Death Anniversary of LoknathBrahmachari, Snana Yatra, Bipattarini Brata, JhulanYatra.

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