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High-level discussions on “Fiscal Relations across levels of Government” by 15th Finance Commission held in New Delhi
On 4th April 2019, a High-level discussion on “Fiscal Relations across levels of Government” was held by 15th Finance Commission under the chairmanship of Shri N. K. Singh in New Delhi.
i. This discussion was organized in partnership with the World Bank, OECD (Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development), and ADB (Asian Development Bank).
ii. The Chairman discussed the four technical sessions in this meeting:
- Sub-national debt
- Transfer design incentives and fiscal equalization.
- Sub-national budget and Public financial management system
- Finances of third-tier of Government
iii. In April 2018, the Commission had held separate workshops with the OECD and in July 2018 with the World Bank to discuss the initial thoughts and country experiences on the issues related to fiscal federalism and inter-governmental transfers.
iv. But the present discussions were based on the work being done by the World Bank, OECD, and ADB for the Commission and about the findings coming out of the research work and analysis done by their teams.
About Fifteenth Finance Commission
♦ Founded: 27 November 2017
♦ Minister responsible: Arun Jaitley, Minister of Finance
♦ Chairman: K. Singh
BANKING & FINANCE
Karnataka Bank Signs agreement With Bharti AXA For Insurance Products
Karnataka Bank has signed a pact with Bharti Axa Life Insurance Company Ltd to distribute the latter’s life insurance products to provide insurance solutions to the customers of Karnataka Bank.
i. The pact was signed at the head office of the Karnataka Bank by Bharti representatives of the Karnataka Bank and the Bharti Axa Life Insurance Company.
ii. This collaboration will facilitate wide choices of life insurance products to its customers across all its 836 branches of bank supported by the customer centric products of the insurance company.
About Karnataka Bank
♦ Headquarters: Mangalore
♦ CEO: Shri Mahabaleshwara M.S.
BUSINESS & ECONOMY
BSE, India INX- the first ever Indian exchanges to sign MoU with MOEX on 3rd April, 2019
BSE (earlier called Bombay Stock Exchange) and INX (India International Exchange) are the first Indian exchanges to sign MoU (Memorandum of Understanding) with MOEX (Moscow Exchange) in order to allow capital formation platform and connect investor community and companies in both India and Russia.
i. BSE, INX and MOEX have accorded with the secondment of senior workforce to strengthen understanding of activities in each other’s market and to enhance the development of the communication channels. They will administer joint research in the areas of cross-listing of fixed income product cooperation, derivative products, dual listing and Exchange Traded Fund (ETF).
ii. On Wednesday, 3rd April 2019, the Mou was signed with MOEX CEO Alexander Afanasiev by Ashishkumar Chauhan , the Managing Director and CEO of BSE.
iii. The 3 exchange companies will use the India-Russia initiative to enlarge the client network and enhance professional intermediaries in both the home market and through cross-border.
Bombay Stock Exchange (BSE)
♦ It is an Indian stock exchange located at Dalal Street, Mumbai.
♦ Founded by Premchand Roychand, BSE is Asia’s first stock exchange and was established in 1875.
♦ As on April 2018, BSE is the world’s 10th largest stock exchange with an overall market capitalization of more than $4.9 trillion and has more than 5000 companies listed under it.
India International Exchange (India INX)
♦ Located at the Gujarat International Finance-Tec City (GIFT City), India International Exchange (IFSC) Limited (India INX) is India’s first international exchange in International Financial Services Centre (IFSC).
♦ India INX is a wholly owned subsidiary of BSE Limited.
♦ India INX initiated its operations from Jan 16, 2017 and was inaugurated by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, on Jan 09, 2017.
♦ It trades in commodity derivatives, equity derivatives, currency derivatives and index and stocks.
Indian APA regime steps forward as CBDT signs 18 APAs in March 2019
The Central Board of Direct Taxes (CBDT) has entered into 18 APAs (Advance Pricing Agreements) inclusive of 03 Bilateral APAs (BAPAs) during the month of March 2019.
i. The total number of APAs entered into by the CBDT in 2018-19 is 52, which is inclusive of 11 BAPAs. As of now, the number of APAs entered into by the CBDT is 271, which includes 31 BAPAs.
ii. In March 2019, the BAPAs entered into with following treaty partners:-
- Australia – 1
- Netherlands – 1
- USA – 1
iii. The Unilateral APAs (UAPAs) and BAPAs which entered into March 2019 concern very many sectors and sub-sectors of the economy, namely, risk management solutions platforms, BPO, IT/ITeS, ATMs, industrial and institutional cleaning and hygiene products, anti-friction bearings.
What is APA (Advance Pricing Agreement)?
♦ It is an ahead-of-time agreement between a taxpayer and a tax authority on an appropriate Transfer Pricing Methodology (TPM). This agreement is issued for a set of transactions at issue over a fixed time period.
♦ There are 3 types of APAs, namely, unilateral, bilateral and multilateral APAs.
♦ The progress of the APA scheme enhances the government’s resolve of encouraging a non-conflict oriented tax regime.
BSNL has received the In-Flight Connectivity License from the Department of Telecommunications (DoT)
On 4th April 2019, Bharat Sanchar Nigam Limited (BSNL) has received the In-Flight Connectivity license from the Department of Telecommunications (DoT) for enabling in-flight and maritime connectivity (IFMC) within Indian airspace.
i. BSNL and Inmarsat, which is the satellite partner of BSNL, also operates the GX Aviation service will be able to offer in-flight connectivity to airlines.
ii. With this facility users can send messages, surf the internet and/or tweet, when a flight is at a minimum height of 3,000m in Indian airspace. Presently any form of internet connectivity for both domestic and international flights is not available on Indian flights.
iii. After, this facility enabled, users will still have restricted amounts of data available for their uses, applicable for all airlines.
About Bharat Sanchar Nigam Limited
♦ CEO: Shri Anupam Shrivastava
♦ Headquarters: New Delhi
♦ Founded: 15th September 2000
Micromax Co-founder unveils India’s first AI-enabled e-motorcycle brand
Micromax co-founder Rahul Sharma has announced his incursion into smart mobility with the launching of an AI (Artificial intelligence) enabled electric motorcycle. This launch is expected to hit the roads by June this year.
i. He has set up Revolt Intellicorp Pvt Ltd, headquartered at Gurugram, to make personal mobility practical, affordable and sustainable, earmarking around Rs 500 crore of investment.
ii. He has claimed that Revolt Intellicorp is going to be a game changer in the automobile industry.
AWARDS & RECOGNITIONS
Indian Astrologer Dr. Sohini Sastri Felicitated By D. Litt in Astrology
On 4th April 2019, Indian Astrologer Dr. Sohini Sastri has been honoured with “D. Litt in Astrology” (Doctor of Letters) by National American University, USA at an event held in Mumbai at Classique Club for her immense knowledge and contribution towards Astrology.
i. Bollywood singer Mohit Chauhan and choreographer Terence Lewis were also awarded Doctorates at the same event.
ii. She was honoured with Doctorate in Astrology in the year 2018 by Victoria Global University, USA and also a receipt of “Champions of Change Award” by Honourable Vice-President of India, M. Venkaiah Naidu.
Shah Rukh Khan conferred with Honorary Doctorate from University of Law, London
On 4th April, 2019, Eminent Bollywood actor Shah Rukh Khan was conferred with an honorary doctorate in Philanthropy by the University of Law, London. He was awarded this for his efforts to give back to society.
i. He has received the merit during a graduation ceremony which had more than 350 students in attendance.
ii. Earlier, the actor was also conferred with honorary doctorates from the University of Bedfordshire and the University of Edinburgh.
APPOINTMENTS & RESIGNS
CS Rajan to be designated as Managing Director of IL&FS
On 3rd April 2019, the non-executive director of IL&FS (Infrastructure Leasing & Financial Services), Chandra Shekhar Rajan has been appointed as managing director of IL&FS. He will succeed Vineet Nayyar, who will be the executive vice chairman.
i. This decision was taken under the chairmanship of Uday Kotak at the board meeting.
ii. Bijay Kumar was appointed as deputy managing director.
iii. The total outstanding debt of IL&FS is Rs 94,216 crore, and out of this Rs 48,470 crore is in the four holding companies IL&FS, IL&FS Financial Services, IL&FS Energy Development Company Ltd and IL&FS Transportation Networks Ltd.
About Infrastructure Leasing & Financial Services
♦ Founded: 1987
♦ Headquarters: Mumbai
ACQUISITIONS & MERGERS
Project75I, the Indian Navy’s Rs. 50,000-crore venture to build 6 lethal submarines
Under the ambitious Project75-India, the Indian Navy desires to build 6 standard diesel-electric submarines. These submarines would be 50% massive in size than the Scorpene class submarines which are under-construction at the Mazagon Dockyards Limited. This would incur an overall cost of Rs. 50,000 crore.
i. Since the maritime force needs the boats to have minimum 12 Land Attack Cruise Missiles (LACM) and Anti-Ship cruise missiles (ASCM), it wants the diesel-electric submarines to be furnished with heavy-duty firepower.
ii. The firepower required for these diesel-electric submarines is multiple times higher as compared to that of Scorpene.
iii. The main weapons of the Scorpene are: the heavyweight torpedoes and the Exocet surface to surface missiles.
iv. The submarines should have the ability to carry and launch 18 heavyweight torpedoes in the sea.
v. The navy has commenced the tender process by issuing the draft to the foreign vendors and the probable Indian partners by first issuing the Expression of Interest (EoI) to the foreign vendors, then continuing the stance with the Indian partners.
vi. In order to smoothly manage its area of responsibility extending from the Malacca Straits to the Indian Ocean Region (IOR), the Indian Navy wants to equip itself with a fleet of both conventional and nuclear submarines.
vii. Currently the Navy has more than 100 submarines and surface warships and 14 conventional submarines inclusive of Scorpene. The Navy also possesses 2 nuclear-powered submarines, namely INS Arihant (83-megawatt’s ballistic missile submarine) and INS Chakra (leased from Russia).
viii. Nirmala Sitharaman, the Defence Minister of India has selected a Navy officer as the in-charge of Project-75. The head of this project is the Controller of Warship Production and Acquisition of the Indian Navy, while the project panel members consists of other Joint Secretaries.
vii. For the Indian Navy, the Project 75I-class submarine is a follow-on of the Project 75 Kalvari-class submarines.
SCIENCE & TECHNOLOGY
Indian Army patrol found wreckage of World War II US aircraft
A 12-member patrol team of the Indian Army along with a police official has discovered the wreckage of a World War II vintage US Air Force aircraft in Roing district of Arunachal Pradesh on 30th March, 2019.
i. The wreckage was located in a remote location at a distance of 30km from Roing and was covered by thick undergrowth and buried under five feet of snow.
ii. The discovery of this aircraft and other warlike stores will lead to the revelation of some historical inputs. World War II was fought from 1939 to 1945.
♦ Capital: Washington, D.C.
♦ President: Donald Trump
♦ Currency: US Dollar
South Korea unveils 5G networks early to secure world first
South Korea has unveiled the world’s first nationwide 5G mobile networks. This has made South Korea to be the first providers of the super-fast wireless technology.
i. Top 3 telecom providers namely SK Telecom, KT, and LG Uplus have began their 5G services on 3rd April.
ii. This 5G service will bring smartphones to instantaneous connectivity which will be 20 times faster than 4G. allowing users to download entire movies in less than a second.
iii. This service is important for the future development as it is expected to bring about $565 billion in global economic benefits by 2034.
About South Korea
♦ Capital: Seoul
♦ Currency: Won
♦ President: Moon Jae-in
Japan’s Hayabusa2 spacecraft drops explosive on asteroid to make crater
On 5th April, 2019, Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency, or JAXA has dropped an explosive from its Hayabusa2 spacecraft. It has successfully blasted the surface of an asteroid for the first time to form a crater.
i. The mission has paved the way for the collection of underground samples for clues to the origin of the solar system.
ii. The Hayabusa2 has dropped a small explosive box which sent a copper ball the size of a baseball weighing 2 Kg into the asteroid.
♦ Capital: Tokyo
♦ Currency: Japanese Yen
♦ PM: Shinzo Abe
The magnetic field of the Sun is ten times stronger than previously believed by a recent study
On 29th March 2019, the magnetic field of the sun is ten times stronger than previously thought according to a new study by the Queen’s University Belfast and Aberystwyth University.
i. The Sun’s corona extends millions of kilometers above the surface about 1,400,000 kilometers across and 150,000,000 kilometers from Earth.
ii. For this research, the researchers use the Swedish 1-m Solar Telescope at Roque de los Muchachos Observatory, La Palma in the Canary Islands.
iii. This study can not only potentially change our understanding of the solar atmosphere but also its effects on Earth.
iv. This magnetic field has direct effects on Earth. It can affect terrestrial weather, magnetic compasses, GPS, and radio communications. Also, it can lead to an electromagnetic pulse event that could knock out the power grid of an entire continent.
Phayeng Village of Manipur tagged as India’s first carbon-positive settlement
On 1st April 2019, Phayeng, a scheduled caste village of the Chakpa community in Imphal West district of Manipur has been tagged as India’s first carbon-positive settlement.
i. The village is surrounded by three densely forested hillocks with fruit trees at centre and a stream flowing through it.
ii. Also, it has been revived from the dry and denuded village through the sheer determination of its residents and funding under National Adaptation Fund for Climate Change (NAFCC), which is a central scheme launched in 2015-16 to support adaptation for climate change impact in various states.
♦ Capital: Imphal
♦ Chief Minister: Biren Singh
♦ Governor: Najma Heptulla
♦ National Park and Wildlife Sanctuary (WLS): Keibul Lamjao National Park, Khongjaingamba Ching WLS, Yangoupokpi-Lokchao WLS
Prehistoric fossil of a 40 million-year-old whale found in Peru
A 40 million-year-old fossil of a whale-with-four-legs, webbed feet and hooves has been excavated by palaeontologists from the marine sediments inland from Peru’s Pacific coast at Playa Media Luna.
i. The whale belongs to a biological group of ancient sea mammals, termed as Achaeocetes. The 13 feet long mammal has been named as “Peregocetus pacificus”.
ii. It is believed to be the first ancestor of whales and dolphins to reach the Pacific Ocean after crossing the Atlantic. The findings have been published in the scientific journal Current Biology.
iii. Over the passage of time, whales have lost connection between their backbone and hind legs, which again through evolutionary transformation have led to their losing of their hind legs completely.
♦ Country: Peru, officially the Republic of Peru (in western South America)
♦ Capital: Lima
♦ Official Language: Spanish
♦ Currency: Nuevo sol (symbol: S/.)
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FIFA Rankings: Belgium stayed on top spot
On 4th April 2019, in the latest release of FIFA (The Federation Internationale de Football Association) world football rankings, Belgium has edged the World Cup winners France to retain at the first rank.
i. Meanwhile, Indian football team also mounted two places to rank at 101. With 1219 total ranking points, the Indian team lies 18th among the Asian countries while Iran has topped it.
ii.Belgium has been followed by France, Brazil, England and Croatia at 2nd, 3rd, 4th and 5th position respectively.
BOOKS & AUTHORS
A book named “Kundan: Saigal’s Life & Music”, authored by documentary filmmaker and former DDG of Doordarshan Sharad Dutt released
“Kundan: Saigal’s Life & Music”, book authored by documentary filmmaker and former DDG of Doordarshan Sharad Dutt was released on 4th April, on the 115th birth anniversary of Saigal.
i. The book has been transcreated in English by Jyoti Sabharwal of Stellar Publishers.
ii. Sharad Dutt won the National Award (Swarna Kamal for best book on cinema) in 2005 for the original book in Hindi.
iii. Kundanlal Saigal was an Indian singer and actor who is considered the first superstar of the Hindi film industry.
India celebrated National Maritime Day on 5th April
On 5th April, 2019, India celebrated 56th edition of National Maritime day to support the global economy as the most well-organized, safe and sound environmentally responsive approach of transporting goods from one corner to another corner of the world.
i. The theme of the National Maritime Day 2019 celebrations is “Indian Ocean- An Ocean of Opportunity”. It was first celebrated on 5th April, 1964 .
ii. In 2018, the Central Committee of the National Maritime has instituted “Varuna Award” the highest award in the field of maritime.
“Sahulat”, a mobile app launched to facilitate elderly voters in Jammu
On 3rd April 2019, an Android-based application named “Sahulat” was launched to facilitate and to encourage the elder voters for participating in the elections in Jammu and Kashmir’s Rajouri district.
i. District Election Officer of Rajouri, Mohammad Aijaz Asad launched the application for the voters who are 90 years old or above.
ii. The app has been developed by the district unit of the National Informatics Centre.
iii. Through this application, the voters can request for the facilities like the provision of a wheelchair, vehicle for transportation and any helper who will assist them during casting of the vote.
About Jammu and Kashmir
♦ Capital: Srinagar (Summer), Jammu (Winter)
♦ Governor: Satya Pal Malik
♦ National Park: Dachigam National Park, Hemis National Park, Kishtwar National Park
Former Miss India runner up Sana Dua has been designated as the brand ambassador for elections in J&K
On 3rd April 2019, Femina Miss India 2017 runner up Sana Dua has been appointed as the brand ambassador of Jammu and Kashmir election department for general polls.
i. She is an advocate and an enthusiastic social activist.
ii. She was born in 1993 in Assam in a Sikh family.
iii. Also, she has been engaged in promoting girl child education and in “Save Water” campaign.
♦ Capital: Dispur
♦ Chief Minister:Sarbananda Sonowal
♦ National Park: Kaziranga National Park, Manas National Park, Orang National Park, Dibru-Saikhowa National Park