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Current Affairs May 17 2019

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The (CBIC) Government launches Project SPARROW for CBIC officers for over 400 formations of CBIC across India
The Central Board of Indirect Taxes and Customs (CBIC) notified that for better human resource management, it will conduct annual performance appraisal report (APARs) of over 46,000 Group B and C officers (IRS– Indian Revenue Service officers in Customs and Central Excise in 2016-17) online in SPARROW (Smart Performance Appraisal Report Recording Online Window).
Key Points:
i. This project is being implemented in over 400 formations of CBIC across India.
ii. The DGHRM (Directorate General of Human Resource Management), the HR (Human Resource) arm of CBIC, is the implementing agency for this project.
iii. The project serves as a key landmark in the path towards digitisation and paper-less working since it leverages modern technology for improving the wholesome efficiency of the huge workforce working in Central GST (Goods and Services Tax) and Customs formations of CBIC.
iv. Shri P.K.Das, Chairman, CBIC has inaugurated the project from the Board Office, North Block, New Delhi in presence of Member (Admn)-CBIC Shri A.K. Pandey, and officers of DGHRM-CBIC.
Central Board of Indirect Taxes and Customs (CBIC) 
Chairperson       :          Pranab Kumar Das
Elected officer responsible: Arun Jaitley, Finance Minister of India
Headquarters    :    New Delhi

11th India Iran Joint Consular Committee Meeting (JCCM)
The 11th India Iran Joint Consular Committee Meeting (JCCM) held in New Delhi on May 14, 2019. Indian delegation was led by Amit Narang, Joint Secretary in Consular, Passport and Visa (CPV) division and the Iran delegation was led by Ali Asghar Mohammadi, Director General of Consular Affairs.
Key Highlights
i. The purpose of this meeting is to review the status of ongoing cooperation in consular and visa related issues and also to discuss the strategy to further expand people to people contacts and to promote friendly exchanges between India and Iran.
ii. Both countries have discussed some important issues between India and Iran:

  • Early conclusion of Agreement on Mutual Legal Assistance on civil and commercial matters.
  • To extend longer duration of e-Visa for each other nationals on reciprocity.
  • Visa facilitation for greater people to people contacts etc.

About Iran
♦ Capital: Tehran
♦ Currency: Iranian Rial

India-Botswana Foreign Office Consultations held in New Delhi 
The 3rd round of Foreign Office Consultations between India and Botswana was held in New Delhi on 15th May, 2019. Indian delegation was led by Neena Malhotra, Joint Secretary (East and Southern Africa) and the Botswana delegation led by Tapiwa Mongwa, Deputy Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of International Affairs and Cooperation.
Key Highlights
i. The purpose of the Foreign Office Consultation is to review bilateral relation which includes political, economic, commercial, defence, consular and international cooperation related to United Nations.
ii. Botswana government had also decided to join the International Solar Alliance (ISA).
iii. The next round of Foreign Office Consultations will be held in Botswana on mutually agreed dates.
About Botswana
♦ Capital: Gaborone
♦ Currency: Botswana Pula

The Maharashtra Cabinet provides approval for the promulgation of ordinance on Maratha quota
In order to provide reservation to Maratha students in postgraduate medical courses, the Maharashtra Cabinet approved to circulate an ordinance to amend the Socially and Educationally Backward Classes (SEBC) Reservation Act, 2018, and also approved to recompense the fees to the general category-students, who will be affected after the promulgation of the ordinance.
Key Points:
i. Previously the Nagpur bench of the Bombay High Court did not grant 16% reservation to the Maratha community students for admissions to post-graduate (PG) medical courses and dental courses because the admission process had begun much earlier.
ii. After the Supreme Court’s decision, the Maharashtra Common Entrance Test (CET) Cell had issued cancellation of admissions’ notice under the SEBC quota, which affected around 290 students from Maharashtra.

GSI in its report notified that the highest graphite reserves of India are found in Arunachal Pradesh
The Geological Survey of India (GSI) in its report notified that the highest graphite reserves of India, that is, around 35% of India’s total Graphite reserves are found in Arunachal Pradesh.
Key Points:
i. The data was presented during GSI’s annual interactive meeting with the Department of Geology and Mining & Industries, Government of Arunachal Pradesh in Itanagar.
ii. Arunachal Pradesh could now be developed as the leading producer of graphite in India to meet the nations’ future needs, since currently, India imports the majority of Graphite from other nations.
About Geological Survey of India (GSI):
Formed in: 1851
Headquarters: Kolkata
GSI conducts geological surveys and studies of India.
About Arunachal Pradesh:
Established: 20th February 1987
Capital: Itanagar
Districts: 25
Governor: Brig. (Dr.)B.D. Mishra (Retd.)
Chief Minister: Pema Khandu
About the mineral- graphite:
Graphite, also known as a dry lubricant for its greasy feel, is the most stable allotrope of Carbon, with standard entropy being zero.
The striking factor of Graphite is that, it is the only non-metal element which is a good conductor of electricity.
Under high pressures and temperatures Graphite converts to diamond.
Graphite is used in pencils, lubricants, steel-making, electrodes, brake linings, batteries, solar panels and in various other products.


Taiwan becomes the first country in Asia to legalise same-sex marriage
For the first time in Asia, Taiwan’s parliament legalised same-sex marriage, as lawmakers passed a bill permitting same-sex couples to form ‘exclusive permanent unions‘ which would let them apply for a ‘marriage registration’ (under Clause Four) with government agencies.

Taiwan legalise same-sex marriageIn 2017, Taiwan’s constitutional court ruled that same-sex couples had the right to legally marry, but also notified that Taiwan had 2 years to make necessary changes to the law.
Key Points:
i. The vote took place on the International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia and Biphobia, that is on 17th May, 2019.
ii. Taiwan has been 1 of the most progressive societies in Asia for gay rights, in the last 10 years. Taiwan had staged Asia’s biggest annual gay pride parade.
iii. The only places in the broader Asia-Pacific region to have passed gay marriage laws are Australia and New Zealand.
iv. Vietnam decriminalised gay marriage celebrations in 2015, but it did not legalise same-sex marriages.
About Taiwan (located in East Asia):
♦ Capital: Taipei
♦ Currency: New Taiwan dollar
♦ President: Tsai Ing-wen

CTBTO has offered India an ‘Observer’ status and access to IMS data
CTBTO (The Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty Organisation) has offered India an ‘Observer‘ status and access to the International Monitoring System (IMS) data.

CTBTO offer India an 'Observer' statusKey Points:
i. CTBT is a global treaty that runs IMS which constantly monitors the Earth for nuclear explosions and shares evaluative findings with its member states. CTBTO’s headquarters is in Vienna, Austria.
ii. Currently, IMS has 337 facilities, located in 89 nations.
iii. In 1996, CTBT was opened for signature after being adopted by the UN General Assembly.
iv. India wants CTBT to have a clause on complete nuclear disarmament and didn’t yet sign the treaty as CTBT favours 5 nuclear weapon states, namely, China, US, Russia, France and UK.
v. Pakistan also did not sign the treaty but joined CTBTO as an observer.
vi. China has agreed to set up 5 IMS stations on its soil.
About Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT):
The 1996 CTBT bans all nuclear explosions.
All of the 44 countries listed in Annex 2 of the Treaty must ratify, before the CTBT can enter into force.
These 44 countries possessed nuclear power or research reactors when the CTBT was negotiated.
♦ 8 of the Annex 2 States have not yet ratified the treaty. The member states are, namely, the People’s Republic of China, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, the Arab Republic of Egypt, the Republic of India, the Islamic Republic of Iran, the State of Israel, the Islamic Republic of Pakistan and the United States of America.

The 26th edition of Singapore India Maritime Bilateral Exercise (SIMBEX) held in Singapore
INS Kolkata (being designed and built in India, it is an advanced stealth destroyer capable of engaging multiple threats from the air, sea and underwater) and INS Shakti (is a fleet support ship that provides fuel, provisions and munitions to warships at sea), the 2 warships of the Indian Navy participated in a 3-day Asia Pacific naval and maritime event titled the International Maritime Defence Exhibition Asia (IMDEX Asia-2019) (it commenced on May 14, 2019) held in Changi Exhibition Centre, Singapore.

SIMBEXKey points:
Some of India’s leading engineering and shipbuilding firms, including Larsen & Toubro and BrahMos, participated in it.
ii. Deputy Chief of Naval Staff, Vice-Admiral M S Pawar, led the delegation to the Asia Pacific gathering of the event.
iii. After IMDEX, Indian Naval ships together with an Indian Navy surveillance aircraft P8I have participated in the 26th edition of Singapore India Maritime Bilateral Exercise (SIMBEX).
iv. SIMBEX scheduled from 16th May 2019 to 22nd May 2019, is the longest uninterrupted naval exercise that India has with any other nation.
v. The 25th edition SIMBEX took place in the Andaman Sea and Bay of Bengal from 11th November to 21st November 2018. It was witnessed by Singapore’s Minister of Defence, Dr. Ng Eng Hen. 
vi. Thus this 26th edition of SIMBEX is taking place 6 months after the last edition

Global Drug Survey 2019
According to the 8th edition of Global Drug Survey (GDS) 2019, Indians are seeking help more than any other countries to reduce their alcohol intake. The survey was conducted online in between October and December 2018. Around 1,00,000 respondents from 30 countries have participated in the online survey. People participated from India are mostly male (age 25 to 34 years). GDS is an independent research organization based in London, UK.

Global Drug Survey 2019Key Highlights
i. Indians are reported drunk on an average of 41 times in the last 1 year which is well behind countries like UK, US, Canada, Australia and Denmark which have an average of 33 times in the last 1 year.
ii. According to the survey, 51 percent of total respondents from India wanted to reduce their alcohol intake in last 1 year and 41 percent respondents wanted someone’s help to reduce alcohol intake which is also highest percentage among other countries.
iii. Indian respondents revealed that they enjoyed being drunk on 71 percent of the occasions which is very close to global average of 74 percent. Portugal leading the country whose respondents enjoyed 82 percent of the occasions while India ranked in 16thplace.

For the first time, the Government of Saudi Arabia approves permanent residency to certain expatriates to attract long-term investments
On May 15, 2019, for the first time, the Cabinet of Saudi Arabia approved to give permanent residency to certain expatriates by allowing them to own real estates. They are eligible to reside with their families without a Saudi sponsor(Kafeel). This new system is named as the “Privileged Iqama”.

Privileged IqamaKey Points:
i. This is aimed to attract the long term investments in order to boost domestic spending.
ii. The owned residence under the “Privileged Iqama” system can be renewed annually.
iii. The newly adopted scheme will boost the growth in private sector and increase the employment opportunities in Saudi Arabia.
iv. This scheme is benefitted to the highly skilled expatriates and owners of capital funds.
v. The scheme is commonly called as the Saudi Green Card. Three years ago, this was announced for the first time by the Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman as a part of Vision 2030 plan.
About Saudi Arabia:
Capital: Riyadh
Currency: Saudi Riyal


SIDBI’s pilot scheme for fintech NBFCs to give financial assistance up to Rs. 10 crore to boost digital lending
Small Industries Development Bank of India (SIDBI) has launched a pilot scheme for fintech Non Banking Financing Companies (NBFCs) to give financial assistance up to Rs. 10 crore in order to boost digital lending.
Key Points:
i. SIDBI has set the credit exposure limit to a new fintech NBFC to 30% of the Net-Owned Fund(NOF) of the new fintech NBFC, with the maximum capital of Rs. 10 crores.
ii. The new fintech NBFCs must hold in trust the underlying securities or receivables on behalf of SIDBI.
iii. The minimum fee of 0.075% to 0.25% of the sanctioned amount along with applicable taxes is charged by the development bank.
About Fintech NBFCs:
These are digital loan companies. RBI has prescribed certain parameters for Fintech NBFCs in order to be eligible for funding assistance. This includes 15% Capital Risk-Weighted Assets Ratio(CRAR), Non-Performing Assets(NPA) should be less than or equal to 4%, Minimum NOF of Rs. 20 crore and Minimum asset size should be of Rs. 50 crore and the company must hold at least 2 audited annual reports, positive net worth and leverage ratio must be within 5:1.
About SIDBI:
Headquarters: Lucknow, Uttar Pradesh
Formation: April 2, 1990
Chairman & Managing Director: Mohammad Mustafa

HDFC ERGO and IBM to jointly setup data lab in India to improve business efficiency and profitability
HDFC ERGO, General Insurance Company and IBM, technology giant, announced to jointly setup data lab in India to improve business efficiency and profitability. It will analyze the customer data and develop customized solutions.
Key Points:
i. Neither HDFC ERGO nor IBM has disclosed the amount of investment in setting up the lab.
ii. The experts from HDFC ERGO and a team of 25 experts from IBM Garage which includes data scientists, technology architects, and design engineers are working together to improve customer experience by working on different test cases.
iii. HDFC ERGO is the third largest private general insurance company of India with 11 million customers associated with the business.
iv. HDFC ERGO is a joint venture between HDFC and Munich-based ERGO International.
Headquarters: Mumbai, Maharashtra
Founded: 2002
CEO and Managing Director: Ritesh Kumar
About IBM:
IBM stands for International Business Machines.
Founder: Charles Ranlett Flint
CEO: Ginny Rometty
Headquarters: Armonk, New York, US

Rs 70,000 crore NPA recovered via IBC in FY19
According to Crisil Ratings (formerly Credit Rating Information Services of India Limited) report, in the year 2018-19, Rs 70,000 crore bad loans were recovered through the Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code (IBC) with a recovery rate of 43 percent in 94 cases. The IBC has recovered bad loans two times the Rs 35,500 crore through previous resolution mechanisms like Debt Recovery Tribunal and Lok Adalat.
Key Highlights
i. According to a report of the Insolvency and Bankruptcy Board of India (IBBI), around Rs 2.02 lakh crore to Rs 3 lakh crore of debt from 4,452 cases was disposed of even before admission into the IBC process.
ii. According to Crisil estimates, gross non-performing assets (NPA) of the banking sector has declined to 10% till the March 2019, from 11.5% in the year 2018, which was the result of IBC process.
iii. At present, the timeline of cases resolved through IBC in 324 days which is still high above than 270 days set out in the IBC. However, it is better than earlier resolutions which take around 4 years to 4.3 years.
About Crisil Ratings
♦ Headquarter: Mumbai
♦ CEO: Ashu Suyash


Ujjivan Small Finance Bank appointed Nitin Chugh as MD and CEO
Ujjivan Small Finance Bank has appointed Nitin Chugh as its Managing Director (MD) and Chief Executive Officer (CEO) for a period of 3 years from December 1, 2019. The current MD and CEO Samit Ghosh’s tenure will end on November 30, 2019.

Nitin Chughi. Currently, Nitin Chugh is Group Head of Digital Banking of HDFC Bank. He will join the bank by August 2019 as President and will work closely with Samit Ghosh.
About Ujjivan Small Finance Bank
♦ Headquarter: Bengaluru, Karnataka
♦ Tagline: We believe in your belief (Bharosa, Aap ke Bharose Par)


Indian Coast Guard Ship ‘Vigraha’ decommissioned at Vishakhapatnam
Indian Coast Guard Ship (ICGS) ‘Vigraha’ decommissioned at Vishakhapatnam, Andhra Pradesh. It is a frontline offshore patrol served for 29 years from 1990 to 2019. It was the seventh offshore patrol vessel built by the Mazagaon Dock Limited, Mumbai.

ICGS Vigrahai. The offshore patrol vessel Vigraha has participated in major coast guard operations which involves search and rescue, anti-poaching, humanitarian assistance, and disaster relief, repatriation and joint exercises, etc.
About Andhra Pradesh
♦ Capital: Amravati
♦ Governor: E.S.L. Narasimhan
♦ Chief Minister: N. Chandrababu Naidu
♦ National Parks/Wildlife Sanctuaries: Koundinya Wildlife Sanctuary, Mrugavani National Park, Coringa Wildlife Sanctuary, etc.
♦ Dance Forms: Kuchipudi, Bhamakalpam, Dappu, Lambadi, Tappeta Gullu, etc.


Union Ministry of Environment to undertake a project to create DNA Database for Indian Rhinos
Union Ministry of Environment has announced a project to create DNA Database for Indian Rhinos. This is done in order to curb poaching and collect evidence for wildlife crimes including Rhinos.
Key Points:
i. The deadline to meet this project is 2021.
ii. The database will be kept in the Wildlife Institute of India (WII) headquartered in Dehradun, Uttarakhand.
iii. The proponents of this project include the World Wide Fund for Nature-India (WWF-India) and the Centre-funded Wildlife Institute of India.
iv. There are three species of rhinos, of which only one, the Indian rhino or One-horned Rhinos is found in the country mainly in Kaziranga National Park, Assam.
About Wildlife Institute of India(WII):
Established: 1982
Director: Dr. Vinod B. Mathur

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India’s Sourav Ganguly, Sanjay Manjrekar, and Harsha Bhogle inducted in the ICC commentary panel for World Cup 2019
Former Indian cricketers Sourav Ganguly and Sanjay Manjrekar along with cricket writer and commentator Harsha Bhogle are inducted into the International Cricket Council’s (ICC) commentary panel from India for World Cup 2019. World Cup 2019 will begin from May 30, 2019, in England and Wales. A total of 24 commentators are in the list of the ICC TV.

ICC commentary panel for World Cup 2019Key Points:
i. The debut commentary will be made by Michael Clarke, former Australian batsman, who was the captain of the 2015 World Cup winning team. Nasser Hussain, Ian Bishop, Kumar Sangakkara, Michael Atherton, Brendon McCullum, Graeme Smith and Wasim Akram are also the part of panel.
ii. Other commentrators of the tournament are Shaun Pollock, Michael Slater, Mark Nicholas, Michael Holding, Isa Guha, Pommie Mbangwa, Harsha Bhogle, Simon Doull, Ian Smith, Ramiz Raja, Athar Ali Khan, and Ian Ward.
iii. The inaugural match of the World Cup tournament will be held between England and South Africa at the Oval in London on May 30, 2019.
About ICC:
Headquarters: Dubai, UAE
CEO: Dave Richardson (28 Jun 2012–July 2019)
Designated CEO: Manu Sawhney (July 2019)
Motto‎: ‎Cricket for good
Chairman:  Shashank Manohar

For the first time in history, Asian Football Confederation(AFC) to have first-ever female referee team to take charge of men’s AFC cup
For the first time in history, Asian Football Confederation(AFC) announced its first-ever female referee team to officiate Men’s Continental Club Cup match.

Female referee teamKey Points:
i. The team consists of 3 Japanese referees namely, Yoshimi Yamashita and assistants Makoto Bozono and Naomi Teshirogi. They will officiate the match between Myanmar’s Yangon United and Cambodia’s Naga World at the Thuwunna Stadium in Yangon, Myanmar.
ii. They are among the 12 officials from the AFC to lead the FIFA Women’s World Cup which is scheduled to be held in June 2019.
iii. Earlier, women officials were only served as assistant referees in AFC Cup matches. Sarah Ho and Allyson Flynn were the first female assistant referees in AFC Cup matches in 2014.
About AFC Cup:
It was founded in the year 2004.
2018 Champion of AFC cup is Al-Quwa Al-Jawiya.


May 17 observed as World Telecommunication and Information Society Day
World Telecommunication and Information Society Day (WTISD) was celebrated on May 17, 2019, with a theme of “Bridging the Standardization Gap”. It is celebrated on May 17 every year since 1969 because on this day the first International Telegraph Convention was signed and International Telecommunication Union (ITU) was created. This year, we celebrated the 50th anniversary of World Telecommunication and Information Society Day.

World Telecommunication and Information Society Dayi. The purpose to celebrate this day is to help raise awareness of the possibilities that the use of the Internet and other information and communication technologies (ICT) can bring to societies and economies, as well as of ways to bridge the digital divide.
About International Telecommunication Union (ITU)
♦ Headquarter: Geneva, Switzerland
♦ Secretary General: Houlin Zhao


India’s Organic State, Sikkim celebrated its Statehood Day on May 16
India’s Organic State, Sikkim celebrated its 44th Statehood Day on May 16. On May 16, 1975, Sikkim was officially merged into the union of India. It was the 22nd state of India. The first Chief Minister of the state was Kazi Lhendup Dorjee. On the occasion, L D Kazi Award for Democratic Rights was presented to late Namgyal Tshering Euthenpa while Jeevan Rakshak Padak Award 2018 was presented to Chandra Kumar Gurung for his act of bravery of saving the life of a man.
i. On April 29, 2019, CM of Sikkim Pawan Kumar Chamling set the new record of being the longest-serving chief minister. On that day, the 67 years old completed 23 years 4 months and 17 days of the post.
ii. Last year, the state was conferred with the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation’s (FAO) Future Policy Award 2018 aka “Oscar for Best Policies” for being the world’s first 100 percent organic state.
About Sikkim:
Capital: Gangtok
Chief Minister: Pawan Kumar Chamling
Governor: Ganga Prasad
National Parks- Khangchendzonga National Park
Wildlife Sanctuaries: Barsey Rhododendron WLS, Fambong Lho WLS, Kitam (Bird) WLS, Kyongnosla Alpine WLS, Maenam WLS, Pangolakha WLS, Shingba (Rhododendron) WLS

Kerala Assembly to digitize all its records under the project E-Vidhan
Kerala Assembly will go paperless by undertaking an initiative to digitize all its records under the project E-Vidhan. The project is assigned to the Cyber Park of Uralungal Labour Contract Cooperative Society.
Key Points:
i. Within 14 months the first phase of the digitalization process is expected to be completed. By the launch of this project, Kerala Government expects to save around Rs. 35 crores to Rs.49 crores annually.
ii. e-Vidhan, a Mission Mode Project (MMP) has been initiated as a part of Digital India program for State Legislatures and e-Sansad for Parliament. The aim is to digitize both Parliament and state legislature documents, including speeches, committee reports, questions and debates available on the internet. Ministry of Parliamentary Affairs (MoPA) is the Nodal Ministry for its implementation in all the 31 States/UTs. Himachal Pradesh is the first Digital Legislature of the country.
About Kerala:
Capital: Thiruvananthapuram
Chief Minister :   Pinarayi Vijayan
Governor :  Palanisamy Sathasivam
National Parks: Anamudi Shola National Park, Eravikulam National Park, Mathikettan Shola National Park, Pambadum Shola National Park, Periyar National Park,Silent Valley National Park
Wildlife Sanctuaries: Aralam WLS, Chimmony WLS, Idukki WLS, Periyar WLS, Wayanad WLS, Peppara WLS, Neyyar WLS, Kurinjimala WLS, Malabar WLS etc

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