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Current Affairs August 24 2019

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INDIAN AFFAIRS

Gujarat tops in NITI Aayog Report on ‘Composite Water Management Index2019 (CWMI 2.0)’
According to the recently released report,” Composite Water Management Index 2019” (CWMI 2.0) for the year 2017-2018 by Government’s think tank NITI Aayog(National Institution for Transforming India) in association with Ministry of Jal Shakti and Ministry of Rural Development ,
i. Gujarat has again performed better in water management practices to get top spot with a score of 75. Uttar Pradesh(39), Bihar(38), and Jharkhand(34) continued to be in the low-performing category in the chart.
ii. The Index was launched by Shri Gajendra Singh Shekhawat, Minister of Jal Shakti, and Dr. Rajiv Kumar, Vice Chairman, NITI Aayog…………………………..Click here to Read more

International dialogue on South-South and Triangular Cooperation addressed by Commerce & Industry Minister
On August 22, 2019, the Union Minister of Commerce & Industry and Railways, Shri PiyushGoyal addressed the International dialogue on South-South and Triangular Cooperation that was held in New Delhi. Reforms to be taken on World Trade Organisation(WTO) by all the member countries was the key topic addressed.International dialogue on South-South and Triangular Cooperation addressed by Commerce & Industry Minister Key points:
The South-South and Triangular Cooperation organised by Research and Information System (RIS) and the United Nations Office for South-South Cooperation(UNOSSC).
Key topics addressed:
i. The member countries of WTO were asked to engage in rule-based, transparent, and non-discriminatory governance required for free trade in a non-discriminatory manner, keeping in mind the interests of member countries with disparate (essentially different in kind) GDP.
ii. The world economy is more likely to fall into a recession if not taken measures on the protectionism policies followed by the member countries which affects the trade engagement.
iii. Ways of attaining the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) for the target year 2030 were discussed.
Recession: A recession is typically marked by two consecutive quarters of decline in a country’s gross domestic product (GDP). Recession can also result in unemployment. The yield curve indicated the recession which financial crisis similar to the year 2008 is expected.
South-South cooperation:
The term South-South cooperation is used by policymakers and academics to describe the exchange of resources, technology, and knowledge between developing countries, also known as countries of the Global South as it is a broad framework of collaboration among countries in the south.
About commerce and industry ministry:
♦ Headquarters- New Delhi.
♦ Constituency of PiyushGoyal- Maharashtra.
♦ MoS (Minister of State) Commerce and Industry-SomParkash(constituency-  Hoshiarpur Lok Sabha constituency, Punjab).
♦ Mos independent charge- Hardeep Singh Puri.

Environment Ministry to relax mandatory charging of lease rent of Rs 30000 per MW for wind power projects
On August 22, 2019, Shri Prakash Javadekar, Union Minister for Environment, Forest and Climate Change stated that in order to boost the investment in wind power projects, the Government has decided to relax the mandatory charging of lease rent of Rs 30000 per MW for wind power projects.
Key points:
i. Present status: As per the existing procedure, if the wind power companies want to establish wind power project over forest land, they are required to pay the mandatory charges for compensatory afforestation and Net Present Value (NPV). In addition to these charges, they had to pay additional lease rent of Rs.30,000 per MW(megawatt), which is not mandatory for other renewal energy projects such as solar power and hydel electric projects. As a result of additional charge, the per-unit cost of power will increase at the consumer level.
ii. Benefit: The move will help in providing wind power at a cheaper rate & also strengthen India’s commitments towards International Agreements such as National Commitment pledged in Paris in December 2015, which was to have 40% of the power from renewable resources by 2030.
iii.Aim: India has over achieved the target and ensures that more than 50% of its installed capacity will come from renewable by the year 2030.
About Environment Ministry:
♦ Founded: 1985
♦ Headquarters: New Delhi

New set of pictorial health warnings for tobacco packs from Sept 1, 2019
The Union ministry of health and family welfare has notified new sets of specified pictorial health warnings for all tobacco product packs with effect from Sept 1, 2019, by making an amendment in the Cigarettes and other Tobacco Products (Packaging and Labeling) Rules, 2008 that was called  “Cigarettes and other Tobacco Products (Packaging and Labeling) Second Amendment Rules, 2018”. The amended rules were applicable with effect from September 1, 2018.
Key points:
i.Helpline: The new set of specified health warnings will include telephone Quit-line number “QUIT TODAY CALL 1800-11-2356”.
The helpline will create awareness among tobacco users, and give them access to counseling services and strategies for quitting tobacco use. It is also likely to lead to an increase in demand for tobacco cessation. Further, now the same set of warning images shall be on both smoking and smokeless forms of tobacco products.
ii. Warnings: The two images were to be printed on the pack as per the format of all tobacco products manufactured /imported, and the image shall be rotated by a new set of images after the completion of 12 months from the date of commencement of 1st image i.e, effective from 1st September 2019.
iii. Survey: According to the 2nd round of Global Adult Tobacco Survey (GATS -2, 2016-17) conducted in the age group 15 years and above, 61.9% of present cigarette smokers, 53.8% of current bidi smokers and 46.2% of current smokeless tobacco consumers thought about quitting because of warning label on packets.
About Ministry of Health & Family Welfare:
♦ Founded
: 1976
♦ Headquarters: New Delhi
♦ Union Minister: Harsh Vardhan

National Food Laboratory in Ghaziabad inaugurated by Harsh Vardhan
On August 23, 2019, Minister of Health and Family Welfare, Harsh Vardhan has inaugurated the FSSAI’s (Food Safety and Standards Authority of India) National Food Laboratory(NFL)Delhi, NCR(National Capital Region) in Ghaziabad on the 13th anniversary of Food Safety and Standards Act, 2006.National Food Laboratory in GhaziabadKey points:
i. The lab has been built with the P-P-P model(Public-Private-Partnership), the first of its kind in food laboratory sector. It is equipped with state-of-the-art collaborative training centers, namely the Food Safety Solution Centre (FSSC) and the Centre for Microbiological Analysis Training (C-MAT).
ii. The government has increased the number of food testing laboratories to 261 from 138 in 2014.
iii. Harsh Vardhan has launched  2 ‘Food Safety on Wheels’ (FSW) vans to Uttar Pradesh which would cater to the food testing needs of Ghaziabad and Western Uttar Pradesh. There are 44 FSWs at present, which will be increased to 500 in future to support the states in ensuring food safety.
iv. Vardhan also laid the foundation stone of 8-floor FSSAI Tower, released a report titled “Food Laboratories in India: A Meta Study” and awarded the Certificate of Recognition to 13 National Reference Laboratories.
v. NFL(Delhi-NCR), formerly the Food Research & Standardized Laboratory (FRSL, Ghaziabad), is one of the two premier referral laboratories under the direct administrative control of the apex food regulator, FSSAI.
About FSSAI:
♦ Founded
: August 2011
♦ Headquarters: New Delhi
♦ Chairperson: Ms. Rita Teaotia
♦ CEO: Shri Pawan Kumar Agarwal
About Ministry of Health and Family Welfare:
♦ Founded: 1976
♦ Headquarters: New Delhi

137 Mountain Peaks opened for Mountaineering, Trekking by India
On August 21, 2019, The Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) notified the opening of 137 mountain peaks for foreigners desirous of obtaining Mountaineering Visa (‘MX’) for mountaineering and trekking. These peaks are located in the States of Jammu and Kashmir, Himachal Pradesh, Uttarakhand, and Sikkim.137 Mountain Peaks opened for MountaineeringKey Points:
i. The adventure tourism guidelines must be followed by the States/Union Territories.
ii. The Indian Adventure Tourism Guidelines 2018 cover the land, air and water-based activities which includes mountaineering, trekking, bungee jumping, paragliding, kayaking, scuba diving, snorkelling, river rafting and many other sports.
iii. Following is the state wise breakup of the 137 Mountain Peaks opened for Mountaineering/Trekking:

Sl No State/Union Territory No of peaks opened for Mountaineering No of peaks opened for Trekking
1 Uttarakhand 39 12
2 Sikkim 22 2
3 Jammu & Kashmir 9 6
4 Himachal Pradesh 26 21


About MHA:
Headquarters: New Delhi
Founded: 15 August 1947
Minister In-charge: Amit Shah (Constituency: Gandhi Nagar, Gujarat)

INTERNATIONAL AFFAIRS

4th US-India Maritime Security Dialogue held in California, U.S
On August 23, 2019, 4th United States-India Maritime Security Dialogue was held in California, U.S. The Indian delegation was led jointly by Indra Mani Pandey, Additional Secretary (D&ISA), Ministry of External Affairs and Smt. Richa Misra, Joint Secretary (Navy), Ministry of Defence while the U.S. delegation was led jointly by Ambassador Alice Wells, Acting Assistant Secretary of State for South and Central Asian Affairs and Mr. Randall Schriver, Assistant Secretary of Defense for Indo-Pacific Security Affairs.
i. Both sides exchanged their views on maritime developments in the Indo-Pacific region and took steps to further strengthen bilateral maritime security cooperation.
About USA:
Capital: Washington, DC
Currency: US Dollar
President: Donald Trump

2019 Henley Passport Index- India slips 5 spots
Henley Passport Index for the year 2019 was released on August 21, 2019. The latest report ranks India at 86th position of 189 countries in 2019 with a mobility score of 58. However, it slipped 5 places from last year, in which India was ranked at 81st spot.The report was topped by Japan and Singapore as the “world’s most powerful passport” in 2019.Earlier, In the month of January, 2019 India was placed at 79th position.2019 Henley Passport Index- India slips 5 spotsKey points:
i. Japan topped the list for the second consecutive time in a row 189 countries.
ii. Only  8 nations were added to India’s list of  visa-free access between 2010 and 2019,and is ranked  lowest among BRICS nations. It shares the spot with Mauritania, and Sao Tome and Principe.
Mobility score:
This score denotes the no. of countries a person can visit without visa restrictions. A score of 58 for India denotes that a person can access 58 countries to which holders are eligible to travel without a visa in prior.
The rankings are as follows:

Rank Country
1 Japan and Singapore.
2 South Korea, Germany & Finland.
3 Denmark and Italy.
4 France and Sweden.
5 Austria, Netherlands, Portugal & Switzerland
6 Belgium,Canada,Greece,Ireland,Norway, United Kingdom(UK) and the United States(US).
7 Malta
8 Czech Republic.
9 Australia, Iceland, New Zealand and Lithuania.
10 Latvia, Slovenia & Slovakia


About Henley Passport index:
It is a global ranking of countries according to travel freedom for their citizens.
It started in 2005 as Henley & Partners Visa Restrictions Index (HVRI) and was modified and renamed in January 2018.

BANKING & FINANCE

Bandhan Bank join hands with standard Chartered for co-branded credit cards
On August 23, 2019, Private sector lender Bandhan Bank has entered into the partnership with multinational banking and financial services company, Standard Chartered Bank to provide co-branded credit cards to its 40 lakh savings bank account holders across the 1,000 branches of Bandhan.Bandhan Bank join hands with standard CharteredKey points:
i. The co-branded cards are available in three variants. It includes,(i) One- for the mass market,(ii) Plus- for the affluent segment and(iii) Xclusive- for the premium segment. The credit period offered will be of 52 days.
ii. As part of this partnership,  Standard Chartered Bank will take the risk of credit failure & Bandhan Bank will be responsible for identifying and issuing cards to its customers.
iii. Standard Chartered currently has 100 branches in 43 cities in India & It has 12 lakh customers base having credit card.
About Bandhan Bank:
♦ Founded: 23 August 2015
♦ Headquarters: Kolkata, West Bengal
♦ MD & CEO: Chandra Shekhar Ghosh
♦ Tagline: Aapka Bhala, Sabki Bhalai
About Standard Chartered Bank:
♦ Headquarters: London, United Kingdom
♦ Chairman: Jose Vinals
♦ Tagline: Your Right Partner

Balkan country Serbia becomes 73rd non-regional member of AIIB
On August 23, 2019, The Minister of Finance Sinisa Mali of Serbia, announced membership with the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank(AIIB). By this membership, Serbia officially becomes the 73rd non-regional member of the AIIB after completing all procedures and met all the conditions for membership after passing a bill on approval of the AIIB Articles of Agreement and depositing the Instrument of Accession and the first capital installment with the bank.SerbiaKey points
The news was confirmed on August 15, 2019, by the resolution of the AIIB Board of Governors recalling the request for membership in 2018 by Sinisa.
About AIIB:
It is a multilateral development bank that aims to support the building of infrastructure in the Asia-Pacific region.
Headquarters- Beijing, China.
President- JinLiqun.
Formation- January 16, 2016.

BUSINESS & ECONOMY

Government announces measures to boost Indian Economy
On August 23, 2019, A presentation was made by Union Finance & Corporate Affairs Minister Smt. Nirmala Sitharaman on measures to boost Indian Economy.

  • Corporate tax rate for companies with over Rs 400 crore turnover will be gradually cut to 25% and the government will support wealth creators.
  • The National Housing Bank (NHB) can now extend up to Rs 30,000 crore credit lines to Non-Banking Financial Companies (NBFCs), instead of Rs 20,000 crore earlier.
  • Rs 100 lakh crores for developing modern infrastructure over 5 years initiative is expected to boost growth and creation of jobs. These projects would be monitored actively to accelerate capital expenditure and investments in the economy………………………………..Click here to Read more

Bharatcraft portal will generate Rs 10 lakh crore revenues in 2-3 yrs: Nitin Gadkari
On August 22, 2019, The Union Minister of Ministry of Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises(MSME), Nitin Gadkari stated that the government’s planned e-commerce portal Bharatcraft has the potential to achieve revenues of around Rs 10 lakh crore in 2-3 years. He stated at the 200th listing of an MSME company ‘Wonder Fibromats’ on NSE Emerge in Mumbai, Maharashtra.
Key points:
i. The portal Bharatcraft, which will be on the lines of Alibaba and Amazon, will provide a platform for MSMEs to market and sell their products & help promote the MSME sector which is currently contributing nearly 29 % to the manufacturing segment and 40 % to the exports.
ii. The center sets a target to increase the contribution of MSMEs in the manufacturing sector to 50% as they have the capability to generate additional employment of 5 crores in the next 5 years.
iii. For the welfare of MSME, a committee has also been set up to study the aspect of payments, which have always been the issue for the MSMEs.
About MSME ministry:
♦ Founded: 2007
♦ Headquarters:  New Delhi

Small startups with turnover up to Rs 25 cr to get promised tax holiday
On August 22, 2019, The Central Board of Direct Taxes (CBDT) notified that small startups with a turnover of up to Rs 25 crore will continue to get the promised tax holiday as specified in the Section 80-IAC of the Income Tax (IT) Act, 1961. It provides a deduction for 100% of the income of an eligible startup for 3 years out of 7 years from the year of its incorporation.Small startups with turnover up to Rs 25 cr to get promised tax holiday Key Points:
i. Eligibility: A startup has to fulfil the conditions specified in Section 80-IAC for claiming the deduction. The startup recognized by the Department for Promotion of Industry and Internal Trade (DPIIT) which fulfils the conditions specified in the DPIIT notification does not automatically become eligible for the deduction under Section 80-IAC of the I-T Act. CBDT did not recognize the Rs 100-crore turnover definition of a small startup put up by the DPIIT.
ii. Section 80-IAC: It contains a detailed definition of the eligible start-up including the condition of having been incorporated on or after April 1, 2016, turnover not exceeding Rs 25 crore in a year of deduction and holding a certificate from the Inter-Ministerial Board of Certification. It was inserted vide Finance Act, 2016 as an exception to the Government’s stated policy of phasing out a profit-linked deduction for promoting small start-ups during their initial year of operation.
About CBDT:
Parent Organization: Ministry of Finance
Chairman: Pramod Chandra Mody

AWARDS & RECOGNITIONS

Euromoney magazine names DBS as the ‘World’s Best Bank’
On August 21, 2019, English-language monthly magazine ‘Euromoney’ has named DBS bank as the ‘World’s Best Bank’. DBS as of now is the only bank in the world to concurrently hold three global best bank awards.Euromoney magazine names DBS as the ‘World’s Best Bank’ Key points:
i. Previously it won Global Finance’s “Best Bank in the World” in August 2018 and The Banker’s “Bank of the Year – Global” in November 2018.
ii. it also marks the first time an Asian-headquartered bank has been named “World’s Best Bank” by Euromoney since 1993.
iii. Previous award winners by Euromoney are Bank of America, BNP Paribas, Citi, and UBS (Union Bank of Switzerland). DBS was also named Asia’s Best Bank and Singapore’s Best Bank in 2019 Awards for Excellence.
iv. Other feats of DBS: It was the first bank in Southeast Asia to be included in the Dow Jones Sustainability Index Asia-Pacific, and the first Singapore bank to be named as a constituent of the FTSE4(Financial Times Stock Exchange) Good Global Index. It has also been included in the Bloomberg Gender-Equality Index since 2018.
About DBS:
♦ Headquarters- Singapore.
♦ Chief Executive Officer (CEO)- Piyush Gupta.
The company was previously known as “The Development Bank of Singapore Limited”, before the present name was adopted in July 2003.

ACQUISITIONS & MERGERS 

Amazon to acquire 49% stake in Kishore Biyani-led Future Coupons Ltd
Amazon will acquire a 49% stake in Kishore Biyani-led Future Coupons Ltd for an undisclosed amount. Amazon has agreed to make an equity investment in Future Coupons Ltd. It will have both voting and non-voting shares. With this, amazon acquired around a 3.6 percent stake in the Future group.Amazoni. Future Retail operates more than 1,500 stores in India. It owns several supermarket brands like Big Bazaar.
About Amazon:
Founded: 5th July, 1994
Founder: Jeff Bezos
Headquarters: Seattle, Washington, U.S

ENVIRONMENT

2019 report by “TRAFFIC” reveals 2000 tigers poached over the past 19 years
On August 21, 2019, TRAFFIC, a wildlife trade monitoring network revealed that nearly 2000 tigers were poached between 2000 and 2018 in India which is the home for more than half of the global tiger population (75%). This was reported in the 4th report of “Skin and Bones Unresolved: An Analysis of Tiger Seizures from 2000-2018”.
i. The report authored by Ramacandra Wong and KanithaKrishnasamy, estimated that 2,359 tigers were seized across 32 countries between 2000 and 2018 resulting in 1,142 seizure incidents. 95% seizures are recorded in the countries that are home to tigers.
ii. India tops Overall seizure category: India, which is the home of the world’s largest wild Tiger population, tops the countries among overall seizure category. It accounted for 40.5% of total incidents (463) and 26.5% of tigers seized (626)……………………………….Click here to Read more

Nations around the world moved to protect giraffes as endangered species
At the global meeting on endangered species, the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) 2019, in Geneva, Switzerland, CITES member nations have agreed to protect giraffes for the 1st time, which draws the praise from conservationists.
Key points:
i. The vote passed 106-21, with 7 abstentions.
ii. The move would regulate the trade in giraffe, hunted for their skin, meat, bones, and tails, while stopping short of a full ban.
iii. An environmental advocacy group, The Natural Resources Defence Council hailed the move, noting that giraffes are a vulnerable species facing habitat loss and population decline(up to 40 % during the past 3 decades).
iv. The US (United States) was the world’s biggest consumer of giraffe product.
About CITES:
It is a multilateral treaty to protect endangered plants and animals. It came into force in 1975 with the goal of ensuring that international trade does not threaten the survival of wild plants and animals.

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SPORTS

WADA suspends India’s NDTL for 6 months
The World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) suspended the accreditation of the National Dope Testing Laboratory (NDTL) of India for 6 months due to non-conformities with the International Standard for Laboratories (ISL), as identified during a WADA site visit in New Delhi, with effect from August 20, 2019.
Key Points:
i. The disciplinary proceedings were initiated by WADA’s Laboratory Expert Group (LabEG) in May 2019 and the process was carried out by an independent disciplinary committee as per the procedure.
ii. It prohibits the NDTL from carrying out any anti-doping activities, including all analyses of urine and blood samples.
iii. Pursuant to Article 13.7 of the World Anti-Doping Code (WADA), NDTL can appeal this decision in the Court of Arbitration for Sport in Lausanne, Switzerland, within 21 days of receipt of the notice.
About WADA:
Formed: November 10, 1999
Headquarters: Montreal, Quebec, Canada
About NDTL:
Headquarters: New Delhi
Parent Organization: Ministry of Youth Affairs and Sports
CEO: Radhey Shyam Julaniya

OBITUARY

Former finance minister Arun Jaitly passed away at the age of 66
On August 24,2019, former Finance Minister Shri ArunJaitley passed away at the age of 66 due to health related ailments at the All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) Delhi where he underwent treatment several weeks after suffering from breathlessness and restlessness.
i. Being a finance minister under Modi’s first government, ArunJaitley stepped down from contesting in the 2019 loksabha election citing health issues.
ii. He also served as a member of the Board of Governors of Asian Development Bank(ADB)…………………….Click here to Read more

BOOKS & AUTHORS

New book describing Flipkart’s untold  story launched
A new book recounting the story of how Binny Bansal and Sachin Bansal (both-former founders of flipkart) built e-commerce giant Flipkart written by Mihir Dalal is launched on August 21,2019. The book is titled as “Big Billion Startup: The Untold Flipkart Story” and is published by “Pan Macmillan India”.
Key points:
i. It also depicts the story of big money, power, and hubris (excessive pride or self-confidence), as both business and interpersonal complexities weakened the founders’ control over Flipkart and forced them to sell out to American multinational retail company Walmart.
ii. In 2018, Walmart acquired a 77% stake in Flipkart group for a $16 billion. After the acquisition, Binny Bansal assumed the role of chairman and continued as Group Chief Executive Officer(CEO). His 5.5% stake in Flipkart was valued at $1 billion after the acquisition. He resigned from Flipkart in November 2018 on allegations of personal misconduct.

STATE NEWS

Haryana Govt launched Mukhya Mantri Parivar Samridhi Yojna
On August 21, 2019, In a bid to provide social security to families, the state Government of Haryana has launched  ‘Mukhya Mantri Parivar Samridhi Yojna’ and under this scheme Rs 6,000 per year will be given to each eligible family of the state.Haryana Govt launched Mukhya Mantri Parivar Samridhi YojnaKey points:
i. The scheme provides social security to people in terms of life/accidental insurance cover and pensionary benefits to individual families.
ii.Eligibility:  To avail benefit of the scheme, the annual family income should be less than Rs 1,80,000 or a total landholding of less than two hectares.
iii.Insurance Benefits:  The eligible beneficiary family will get Rs 500 per month. Out of this amount, the premium for the life insurance of a member of the age group of 18 to 50 years will be paid from his account at the rate of Rs 330 per year.
In case of death of the beneficiary, cover insurance of two lakh rupees will be given.
iv. In addition, under the Pradhan Mantri Suraksha Bima Yojana, an amount of Rs 12 per annum would be paid on account of Accidental Insurance of at least one family member.
v. Under the Pradhan Mantri Shram Maan-Dhan Yojana, the contribution from Rs 55 to 200 per month will be paid automatically from the bank account as a premium for providing pension to the beneficiary. on the attainment of the age of 60 years, the pension will be given at the rate of Rs 3,000 per month.
vi. Further, the balance consolidated amount for all the social security options left, if any, would be invested in a specially designed Systematic Investment Plan (SIP).
About Haryana:
♦ Capital: Chandigarh
♦ Governor: Satyadev Narayan Arya
♦ Chief Minister: Manohar Lal Khattar
♦ National Parks: Kalesar National Park , Sultanpur National Park

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