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Current Affairs August 31 2019

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INDIAN AFFAIRS

1st India-Ghana Foreign Office Consultations held in New Delhi
On August 28, 2019, The first ever India-Ghana Foreign Office Consultations was held in New Delhi. The Indian delegation was led by Shri. T.S Tirumurti, Secretary (Economic Relations) while the Ghanaian delegation was led by Mr. Charles Owiredu, Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs and Regional Integration.1st India-Ghana Foreign Office Consultations held in New DelhiKey Points:
i. Both sides reviewed the entire gamut of bilateral relations and looked at new areas for cooperation. Views were also exchanged on regional and multilateral issues.
ii. They agreed to enhance cooperation in the areas of trade and investment, development partnership, dèfence & security, health & pharmaceutical sector, capacity building & training and people to people contacts.
iii. Satisfaction was expressed by both sides on the regular high political level exchanges, including the successful visits of Honorable President of India to Ghana in June 2016 and Honorable President of Ghana to India in March 2018 to attend the Founding Conference of International Solar Alliance (ISA).
About Ghana:
Capital: Accra
Currency: Ghanaian cedi

INTERNATIONAL AFFAIRS

Indonesia chooses East Borneo Island for its new capital
On August 26, 2019, The President of Indonesia, Joko Widodo stated that the government has chosen sparsely populated East Kalimantan province on forested Borneo island, known for orangutans for its new capital. The current capital of Jakarta, overcrowded ( ome to more than 10 million people), sits on watery land. Parts of the city are sinking by as much as 25cm a year and almost half now sits below sea level.Indonesia chooses East Borneo Island for its new capitalKey points:
i.
The proposed location, not named yet, is close to the regional cities Balikpapan and Samarinda which is located in the geographical center of the South East Asian Islands and there is a ‘minimum’ risk of natural disaster .
ii. The new location (home to only 3.5 million people) has 180,000 hectares (444,780-acre) of land and is surrounded by Kutai National Park, known for orangutans and other primates and mammals.
iii. About 466 trillion rupiah ($32.5 billion) will be spent on this project, of which 19% will come from the State budget and the rest will be funded by cooperation between the government and business entities and by direct investment by state-run companies and the private sector.

BANKING & FINANCE

10 public sector banks to be merged into four large entities: Nirmala Sitharaman
On August 30, 2019 , In the biggest consolidation exercise in the banking space, the Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman has made a big announcement that the formation of four large banks by merging 10 banks under the scheme of amalgamation. The decision aimed at making state-owned lenders global sized banks. With this, the number of public sector banks will be 12 as against 27 in the year 2017.
i. Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman stated that the total gross NPAs of Public Sector Banks(PSBs) have come down to Rs. 7.9 lakh crore in March quarter of the FY 20(Fiscal year 2019-20), from Rs. 8.65 lakh crore in the previous December quarter of FY 2019(FY 2018-19). Out of total 18 public sector banks only 14 are in profit-earning situation at this time………………………….Click here to Read more

Anchor bank Amalgamating bank (s) Business size (Rs lakh cr) PSB rank by size
PNB(Punjab National bank) Oriental Bank of Commerce(OBC) 17.94 2nd  largest
United Bank of India
Canara Bank Syndicate Bank 15.20 4th  largest
Union Bank of India Andhra Bank 14.59 5th  largest
Corporation Bank
Indian Bank Allahabad Bank 8.08 7th  largest

RBI extends time limit for PPIs to become full KYC complaint by 6 months
The country’s central bank, the Reserve Bank of India(RBI) has again extended the deadline for prepaid payment instruments (PPIs), including digital wallets, to do full KYC(Know your customer) by six months(till February 28, 2020). The deadline was expiring on August 31, 2019.
Key points:
i.
The extension, which was announced a day before the deadline expired, will benefit the companies such as Paytm, Amazon Pay and PhonePe.
ii. It was the 2nd such extension given by the RBI to regulated PPIs after the Supreme Court(SC) banned companies from using the Aadhaar-linked UIDAI (Unique Identification Authority of India ) database to authenticate customers in September,2019.
iii. It is the extension of timeline for PPIs to convert minimum KYC wallets to full Know Your Customer through a physical verification process.
iv. The central bank aslo made it clear that there will be no further extension in the timeline.
About RBI:
♦ Headquarters
: Mumbai
♦ Founded: 1 April 1935, Kolkata
♦ Governor: Shaktikanta Das

NPCI has rationalises BHIM UPI charges for merchant transactions to promote digital payments
In a bid to promote digital payments, an umbrella organisation for operating retail payments in India, the National Payments Corporation of India (NPCI) has rationalised merchant discount rates(MDR) for BHIM UPI (Unified Payment Interface ) transactions.
Key points:
i.
It has waived merchant fees for offline UPI transactions of up to Rs 100 made using QR(Quick Response) code scan-and-pay. For the large transactions, merchant fees have been capped at Rs 100.
ii. For other transactions, the merchant discount rate (MDR) has been hiked to 0.30% (maximum Rs 100). Currently, it is 0.25% for transactions up to Rs 2,000. It will be 0.65% for transactions above Rs 2,000.
iii. The revised MDR rates will come into effect from October 1, 2019.
iv. MDR: It is the is the rate charged to a merchant for payment processing services on debit and credit card transactions.
v. Bharat Interface for Money (BHIM), a mobile payment App developed by NPCI  is interoperable with other UPI applications, and bank accounts for quick money transfers.
vi. The NPCI already launched P2PM (an addition of the P2P (Peer to Peer) and P2M (Peer to Merchant),that waives off the MDR for small businesses that carry inward transactions of up to INR 50,000. This limit is now extended to Rs 1,00,000 per month .
About NPCI:
♦ Headquarters
: Mumbai,Maharashtra
♦ Founded: 2008
♦ MD and CEO: Dilip Asbe

Centre released Rs.47,436.18  crore to 27 States for green activities
On August 29, 2019, The Union Minister of Environment, Forest and Climate Change, Prakash Javadekar has handed over the Rs 47,436.18 crore to 27 States for compensatory afforestation and other green activities, including prevention of forest fire, biodiversity management and soil conservation.
Key points:
i.
 The Fund will be used as per provisions of the Compensatory Afforestation Fund (CAF) Act and Rules(CAF Act 2016), under which the CAMPA (Compensatory Afforestation Fund Management and Planning Authority)has been set up to collect funds from user agencies.
ii. The state of Odisha, the top recipient of funds, got Rs 5933.98 crore.
iii. The 27 states which have received the funds are Odisha (5933.98 crore ), Chhattisgarh (5791.70 crore), Madhya Pradesh (5196.69 crore) Jharkhand, Maharashtra ,Telangana ,Uttarakhand ,Uttar Pradesh ,Rajasthan ,Andhra Pradesh, Himachal Pradesh ,Arunachal Pradesh , Gujarat ,Karnataka ,Haryana ,Punjab, Assam ,Bihar ,Sikkim ,Manipur ,Goa ,West Bengal ,Mizoram ,Tripura,Meghalaya,  Tamil Nadu ,Kerala .
iv. The monitoring & implementation of the works pertaining to afforestation and other green activities will be done with the help of technology like geotagging& video shooting.

BUSINESS & ECONOMY

India’s GDP growth slows to 5% in Q1 FY20
The Ministry of Statistics and Programme Implementation notified that the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of India registered a growth of 5% in April to June quarter of 2019-20 from 8% of 2018-19 quarter. It is the lowest in 7 years due to a sharp dip in the manufacturing sector and agriculture output.India’s GDP growth slows to 5% in Q1 FY20Key Points:
i. The previous lowest GDP was recorded at 4.9% in April to June 2012-13.
ii. The manufacturing sector grew by 0.6% as compared to a growth of 12.1% in Q1 2018-19.
iii. Agriculture, forestry and fishing’ sector grew by 2% as compared to growth of 5.1% in Q1 2018-19.
iv. Mining and quarrying sector grew by 2.7% as compared to a growth of 0.4% in Q1 2018-19.
v. Electricity, gas, water supply and other utility services sector grew by 8.6% as compared to growth of 6.7% in Q1 2018-19.
vi. The passenger vehicle industry suffered its worst performance in 19 years in July 2019. It declined at 31% in sales and it was the 9th consecutive month of declining sales, underscoring a sharp decline in demand.

CAGR of Digital payments in India recorded at 12.7%
According to the report titled “Fintech in India – Powering mobile payments” released by KPMG, a global advisory firm, Digital payments in India have grown with a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 12.7% in the number of non-cash transactions.
Key Points:
i. Merchants have adopted digital payments with close to 1.5 million digital payment acceptance locations in 2016-17. It has been hiked over 10 million in a short span of 2-3 years.
ii. The global digital payments market is expected to touch $10.07 trillion by 2026.
iii. Factors responsible for a transformational role and democratised mobile payments in India was the role played by wallet players and Unified Payments Interface (UPI)-based real time payments.
iv. The volume of UPI transactions have increased at a CAGR of 246% during the period from 2016-17 to 2018-19.
v. Mobile payments have witnessed a major shift in the past 5 years with the proliferation of payments like UPI, mobile wallets, Bharat Interface for Money (BHIM), BharatQR and Unstructured Supplementary Service Data (USSD).
vi. The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) has forecast an outcome of 50% increase in mobile-based payment transactions as per its ‘2021 vision document’.
About KPMG:
Founded: 1987
Headquarters: Amstelveen,  Netherlands
Founders: James Marwick and William Barclay Peat

2% TDS on cash withdrawals of over Rs 1 crore to come into effect from September 1, 2019
On August 30, 2019, The Department of Revenue notified that 2% tax deduction at source (TDS) on cash withdrawals of over Rs 1 crore will come into effect from September 1, 2019. The government had made this provision in the Union Budget 2019-20 with an aim to discourage cash transactions and move towards less cash economy.2% TDS on cash withdrawals of over Rs 1 croreKey Points:
i. The Central Board of Direct Taxes (CBDT) further notified that if a person has already withdrawn Rs 1 crore or more in cash up to August 31, 2019 from one or more accounts maintained with a banking company or a cooperative bank or a post office, in the current fiscal, the 2% TDS shall apply on all subsequent cash withdrawals.
ii. Any cash withdrawal prior to September 1, 2019, will not be subjected to the TDS.
iii. Since the threshold of Rs 1 crore is with respect to the previous year, calculation of the amount of cash withdrawal for triggering deduction under section 194N of the Finance Act shall be counted from April 1, 2019.
About TDS:
It is a means of collecting income tax in India, under the Indian Income Tax Act of 1961. Any payment covered under these provisions shall be paid after deducting a prescribed percentage. It is managed by the Central Board for Direct Taxes (CBDT) and is part of the Department of Revenue managed by Indian Revenue Service.

CBDT frames 5-member special cell “Startup Cell” to redress grievances of start-ups
On August 30, 2019, In a bid to redress the grievances of start-ups and reduce their tax-related issues, the Central Board of Direct Taxes (CBDT) has constituted a 5-member special cell named “Startup Cell” led by the member (Income Tax and Computerisation) of CBDT, which will work towards the issues with relation to angel tax and others in case of Start-up entities with respect to administration of the Income-tax Act, 1961.
Key points:
i.
Start-up firms can approach the special cell for the quick resolution of their grievances.
ii. As part of the several measures to boost the economy, the Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman had announced creation of such a cell and had also declared exempting startups from the angel tax.
iii. The decision comes in line with the CBDT’s initiatives to ease the compliance issues pertaining to start-up entities.
Here’s the 5-member special cell consisting ex-officio members constituted by CBDT,

S.No Portfolio Designation
1 Member (Income Tax and Computerisation-IT &C)- Shri P.K. Dash (Addl. Charge) Chairman
2 Joint Secretary (tax policy and legislation(TPL )-II) Member
3 Commissioner of I-T (ITA-) Member
4 Director (ITA-I) Member Secretary
5 Under Secretary(ITA-I) Member


About Angel tax:
i.
It is a unique tax where a startup has to pay a certain percentage of the angel investment they receive to the Government of India, under specified conditions.
ii. It is charged at the maximum marginal rate of 30%. This large percentage affects the investor as well as the receiver as they are losing almost one-third of the investment in taxes.
About CBDT:
Formation
: 1944
Chairperson: Pramod Chander Mody

AWARDS & RECOGNITIONS

Prime Minister of India Shri Narendra Modi confers Yoga Awards 2019
On August 30, 2019, The Prime Minister (PM) of India, Shri Narendra Modi conferred Yoga awards for the year 2019 to the winners of PM’s Award for Outstanding Contribution for Promotion and Development of Yoga at New Delhi.
They were announced during the International Day of Yoga, 2019 at Ranchi, Jharkhand along with the 2 winners of 2018 in an event organized by the Ministry of Ayurveda, Yoga & Naturopathy, Unani, Siddha and Homoeopathy (AYUSH). Winners were selected under different categories out of 79 nominations for 2019 and 186 nominations for 2018…………………………….Click here to Read more
ii. Winners of the year 2019 Yoga Awards are as follows:

Category Awardee
Individual-National category Swami Rajarshi Muni of Life Mission, Gujarat
Individual-International category Ms. Antonietta Rozzi, Italy
Organisation-National category Bihar School of Yoga, Munger,  Bihar
Organisation-International Organisation category Japan Yoga Niketan, Japan

For the 2nd time, HPCL wins the Best navratna award in manufacturing category at Dun & Bradstreet PSU Awards 2019
On August 22, 2019, The Indian oil and natural gas company, Hindustan Petroleum Corporation Limited (HPCL) has won the award for the ‘Best Navratna‘ in the ‘ Manufacturing Sector ‘ for the 2nd time consecutively at the 6th edition of Dun & Bradstreet PSU Awards 2019 ceremony held in New Delhi. The theme of the event was “Strengthening PSUs: Strengthening Brand India”.
Key points:
i.
The PSU(Public Sector Undertaking) Awards for business excellence in India,  is established to recognize and honor contributions in economic development. Awards are provided in various categories based on several performance standards such as total income, profitability, industry overview.
ii. Get Full list of awardees in different categories from here: Dun & Bradstreet PSU Awards 2019
iii. The awardees were felicitated by Honorable Mr. Arvind Ganpat Sawant, Minister of Heavy Industries and Public Enterprises, Mr. Subhash Chandra Garg, Secretary-Ministry of Power and Mr. Manish Sinha, Managing Director-India, Dun & Bradstreet. HPCL received the award from Shri Alok Kumar Gupta, Chief General Manager-In-Chief and Executive Assistant to Chairman and Managing Director and Mr. Rajeev Goel, Chief General Manager, Public Relations Corporation Communications.
iv. A total of 35 awards were presented by Dun & Bradstreet at the event .

APPOINTMENTS & RESIGNS

PM’s principal secretary Nripendra Misra to Retire, PK Sinha Appointed Officer on Special Duty (OSD) in the PMO
On August 30, 2019, Former Cabinet Secretary Pradeep Kumar(PK) Sinha ,a 1977 batch IAS officer of Uttar Pradesh cadre has been appointed as Officer on Special Duty (OSD) in Prime Minister’s Office(PMO) after Nripendra Misra’s request to be relieved as Principal Secretary was accepted by Prime Minister Narendra Modi.PK SinhaKey points:
i. PK Sinha: He worked as the Power Secretary of India, and was the Shipping Secretary of India.

  • He retired as 31st Cabinet Secretary on 30th August 2019.
  • He is an economics graduate and earned a postgraduate degree in economics.
  • He has served in various key posts in both the Government of India(GoI) and the Uttar Pradesh state Government.

ii. Nripendra Misra: He is a 1967-batch retired IAS officer of Uttar Pradesh(UP) cadre .

  • Misra is an Allahabad University graduate &went on pursuing his master’s from Harvard University.
  • He has over 40 years of experience and held several important posts in UP state and Centre government.
  • He is one is among the most outstanding officers, who have a great knowledge of public policy and administration.

SCIENCE & TECHNOLOGY

MIT scientists developed biggest-ever carbon nanotube computer chip- RV16XNano
Scientists at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Cambridge, USA, have developed the biggest-ever computer chip using carbon nanotubes (CNT)- RV16XNano. This was published in the journal Nature.
i. RV16X-Nano is a 16-bit processor that contains 14,000 transistors — electronic switches. These switches are made up of CNT — tiny cylinders made of rolled-up, atom-thick sheets of graphene.
ii. The first carbon nanotube (CNT) computer, made in 2013, contained only hundreds of electronic switches known as transistors.

OBITUARY

4-time Emmy award winner Valerie Harper passed away in US
On August 30, 2019, Veteran comedian and four-time Emmy winner Valerie Harper, aged 80, passed away in Los Angeles, United States. She was suffering from different health issues over the years. She was born on August 22, 1939, in Suffern, New York.Valerie Harperi. She was nominated for the Tony Award for Best Actress in a Play for her performance as Tallulah Bankhead in the play Looped in 2010.
ii. She was the recipient of Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series 3 times during her time on The Mary Tyler Moore Show, and the Emmy for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Comedy Series for her work on Rhoda.

BOOKS & AUTHORS

Book ‘Jin Dhoondha Tin Paaiyan’ penned by senior IPS officer O P Singh released
On August 30, 2019, Chief Minister of Haryana, Manohar Lal Khattar released a book titled ‘Jin Dhoondha Tin Paaiyan’ in Hindi at Chandigarh, written by senior IPS (Indian Police Service) officer O P Singh, an ADGP (Additional Director General of Police) rank officer in Haryana police, who is currently Special Officer to the Haryana chief minister. It is the third book of the officer which covers a wide range of issues including crime, violence, police, sports and social media.

A new book named , “A Short History of Indian Railways”, penned by Rajendra B Aklekar introduced
A new book called “A Short History of Indian Railways”, written by veteran journalist and author Rajendra B Aklekar on the history of Indian Railways details the journey of the national transporter starting from the 1830s(almost 15 years before the official train run of 1853) to the new high-speed Train 18 and Prime Minister(PM) Narendra Modi’s ambitious bullet train project, has been introduced in Mumbai, Maharashtra.A Short History of Indian Railways penned by Rajendra B AklekarKey points:
i.
The preface of the book has been written by eminent journalist Mark Tully(former Bureau Chief of the BBC- British Broadcasting Corporation, New Delhi), who lauds the book for its interesting story-telling and carefully-curated topics and its enchanting description on Indian Railways.
ii. The book documented many untold stories of the 1st train, the key roles of Railway Department in the freedom struggle of India, including incidents like Kakori Train Dacoity, a plan to blow up Mahatma Gandhi’s Train, and also interesting stories of rail demons, ghosts, and haunted railway lines.
iii. The book has been published by Rupa Publications.

STATE NEWS

Himachal Pradesh Assembly passed Himachal Pradesh Freedom of Religion Bill, 2019
On August 30, 2019, The Himachal Pradesh assembly passed a bill named Himachal Pradesh Freedom of Religion Bill, 2019 which repeals the Himachal Pradesh Freedom of Religion Act, 2006. The new bill is against conversion by force, inducement or through marriages solemnised for the sole purpose of adopting a new religion.
Key Points:
i. Bill prohibits conversion by misrepresentation, force, undue influence, coercion, inducement, marriage or any fraudulent means.
ii. Any marriage for the sole purpose of conversion will be declared null and void under Section 5 of the bill.
iii. As per the bill, anyone seeking to convert will need to give a month’s notice to the district magistrate, stating that the person is converting on his own.
iv. The priest who performs conversion ceremony will also be given a month’s notice in advance and those reconverting to their parent religion are exempted from this provision.
v. If Dalits, women or minors were made to convert, the jail term will be between 2-7 years.
vi. Section 10 of the bill states that no person or organisation violating the provisions will be allowed to accept any donation or contribution of any kind from within or outside the country.
About Himachal Pradesh:
Capital: Shimla
Chief Minister: Jai Ram Thakur
Governor: Kalraj Mishra
National Parks: Great Himalayan National Park, Pin Valley National Park, Inderkilla National Park, Khirganga National Park, Simbalbara National Park
Wildlife Sanctuaries: Bandli WLS, Churdhar WLS, Daranghati WLS, Gamgul Siyabehi WLS, Kais WLS, Kugti WLS, Lippa Asrang WLS, Majathal WLS,
Pong Dam Lake WLS, Sainj WLS, Sech Tuan Nala WLS, Tirthan WLS etc

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