Assam Current Affairs August 2018 Free PDF Download

Assam Current Affairs August 2018

Assam Current Affairs August 2018   SEBI to appoint Auditors to carry Forensic Audit – India’s security market watchdog Securities and exchange Board of India (SEBI) has decided to appoint auditors to perform forensic audit of financial statements of listed companies to put a check on rising frauds.

Assam Current Affairs August 2018

Concerns regarding some of the auditors’ negligence have come up wherein they ignore different inconsistencies in the financial statement while examining the books of listed entities. Assam Current Affairs August 2018 – SEBI has also put the directive to conduct forensic audit of some of the firms that include Fortis Healthcare.

Assam Current Affairs August 2018 – FACTFILE – Forensic Auditing

  • Forensic Auditing is a specialization within the field of accounting, and forensic auditors often provide expert testimony during trial proceedings. Most large accounting firms have a forensic auditing department.
  • It is an examination and evaluation of a firm’s or individual’s financial information for use as evidence in court. A forensic audit can be conducted in order to prosecute a party for fraud, embezzlement or other financial claims.
  • The audit covers a wide range of investigative activities performed by accountants. The process may also include serving as an expert witness in a fraud trial. A forensic audit could also cover situations that do not involve fraud or embezzlement, such as disputes related to a bankruptcy, business closures, and divorces.

FACTFILE – The Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI)

  • SEBI was established on April 12, 1992 in accordance with the provisions of the Securities and Exchange Board of India Act, 1992.
  • Securities and exchange Board of India (SEBI) was first established in the year 1988 AQF as a non-statutory body for regulating the, securities market.
  • It became an autonomous body by The Government of India on 12 May 1992 and given statutory powers in 1992 with SEBI Act 1992 being passed by the Indian Parliament.
  • SEBI has its headquarters at the business district of Bandra Kurla Complex in Mumbai, and has Northern, Eastern, Southern and Western Regional Offices in New Delhi, Kolkata, Chennai and Ahmedabad respectively.
  • It has opened local offices at Jaipur and Bangalore and is planning to open offices at Guwahati, Bhubaneshwar, Patna, Kochi and Chandigarh in Financial Year 2013 – 2014.

Assam Current Affairs August 2018 – Lok Sabha passed The Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code (Second Amendment) Bill, 2018

The Lok Sabha on 31st July passed the The Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code (Second Amendment) Bill, 2018, seeking to give home buyers the status of financial creditors. This will give the home buyers, just like the financial creditors, the right to decide the fate of defaulting builders.

Union Finance Minister Piyush Goyal said the financial creditor status will help home buyers protect their hard earned savings. Whether home buyers are secured or unsecured creditors will be decided on a case to case basis by the resolution professional and the courts.

Once it becomes a law, home buyers would be able to invoke Section 7 of the Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code against errant developers. This would allow financial creditors to file application seeking insolvency resolution process.

As financial creditors, home buyers will be able to participate in the decision-making process when developers are declared bankrupt under the bankruptcy law – IBC (Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code, 2016). It also proposes to reduce the minimum voting threshold for the Committee of Creditors (CoC) to 66 per cent, from 75 per cent for key decisions.

Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSME) sector would also benefit from the Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code amendment. The promoter of MSME will no longer be disqualified to bid for their own enterprise as long as they are not the willful defaulters.

Earlier this year, the Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code was amended to prevent dishonest persons from misusing the law. Willful defaulters and those whose accounts were classified as ‘non-performing assets’ were barred from bidding for stressed assets.

Assam Current Affairs August 2018 – Infrastructure growth jumps to 6.7% in June month

Growth of eight core sectors expanded to 7 month high of 6.7 % in June due to better performance by cement, refinery and coal segments, especially. The eight sectors, which also include fertilisers, steel, natural gas, electricity and crude oil, had expanded by 1 % in June last year.

The previous high rate of growth was recorded in November 2017 at 6.9%. The expansion in cement, refinery products and coal was 13.2 %, 12 % and 11.5 % respectively, year-on-year basis.

  • Crude oil and natural gas registered a negative growth of 3.4 % and 2.7 % respectively in June compared to the year-ago period.
  • The expansion in the electricity generation was 4 % in June compared to 2.2 % in the same month of the last fiscal.
  • Steel sector, however witnessed a slower growth of 4.4 % compared to 6 % in June 2017.
  • Expansion rate in the fertiliser segment was 1 %, better than negative growth recorded in the year ago month.
  • April-June quarter of the current fiscal, the eight core industries recorded a growth of 5.2 % as against 2.5 % in the same period last year.
  • These eight core industries comprise 40.27 % of the weight of items included in the Index of Industrial Production (IIP).
Reliance overtakes TCS to become Most Valued Indian Company

Reliance Industries Ltd has overtaken Tata Consultancy Services Ltd in market capitalisation to reclaim the tag of India’s most valuable company.

The company is currently valued at Rs 7.44 lakh crore, higher than the Rs 7.39 lakh crore market cap of the India’s largest software exporter. The oil-to-telecom company reported its highest-ever quarterly profit in the April-June period, driven by its petrochemicals and consumer businesses.

FACTFILE – Reliance Industries Limited (RIL)

  • Reliance Industries Limited (RIL) is an Indian conglomerate holding company headquartered in Mumbai, Maharashtra, India.
  • Reliance owns businesses across India engaged in energy, petrochemicals, textiles, natural resources, retail, and telecommunications.
  • Reliance is one of the most profitable companies in India and the second largest company in India as measured by revenue after the government-controlled Indian Oil Corporation.
  • On 18 October 2007, Reliance Industries became the first Indian company to breach $100 billion market capitalization.
  • The company is ranked 203rd on the Fortune Global 500 list of the world’s biggest corporations as of 2017.
  • It is ranked 8th among the Top 250 Global Energy Companies by Platts as of 2016.
  • Reliance continues to be India’s largest exporter, accounting for 8% of India’s total merchandise exports with a value of Rs 147,755 crore and access to markets in 108 countries.
  • Reliance is responsible for almost 5% of the government of India’s total revenues from customs and excise duty.
  • It is also the highest income tax payer in the private sector in India.
India’s Fiscal Deficit reached 68.7% of budgeted target

India has already reached fiscal deficit of $62.57 billion (Rs 4.29 lakh crore) for the April-June quarter, which is 68.7 percent of the budgeted target of Rs 6.24 lakh crore for the current fiscal year of 2018-19 compared to 80.8 percent in the same period of the previous year.

For the same quarter of 2017-18, the government’s finances were constrained owing to the revision of the deficit target upwards to implement the new tax system-GST, that was launched on 1 July 2017.

For the first quarter of fiscal year ended March 2019, net tax receipts were Rs 2.37 lakh crore, that is 16 percent of the budgeted full-year target.

India aims to trim the deficit to 3.3 percent of GDP (gross domestic product) in this fiscal year, after meeting an upwardly revised fiscal deficit target of 3.5 percent of GDP in the FY 2017-18.

Union government’s total expenditure for the quarter rose to Rs 7.07 lakh crore, or 29 percent of the full-year target, while revenue receipts stood at 15.5 percent of the target.

Fiscal deficit = The difference between total revenue and total expenditure

It indicates the total borrowings needed by the government. Fiscal deficit takes place either due to revenue deficit or a major hike in capital expenditure (expenditure is incurred to create long-term assets such as factories, buildings and other development).

The gross fiscal deficit (GFD) is the excess of total expenditure including loans net of recovery over revenue receipts (including external grants) and non-debt capital receipts. The net fiscal deficit is the gross fiscal deficit less net lending of the Central government.
A deficit is usually financed through borrowing from either the central bank of the country or raising money from capital markets by issuing different instruments like treasury bills and bonds.

US passes bill to waive sanctions against India for buying Russian weapons

 

The United States Congress has passed the conference report on National Defense Authorization Act-2019 (NDAA-19), which paves the way for waiver to India from punitive Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act or CAATSA, under which sanctions kick off on countries that purchase significant military equipment from Russia.

The Senate passed the John McCain National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2019 (NDAA) by an overwhelming, bipartisan vote of 87 to 10.

Passed by the House last week, the bill, named after Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman John McCain, would provide USD 716 billion support in funding for national defense for fiscal year 2019.

The bill, which now moves to the White House for President Donald Trump to sign it into law, as, the proposed modified waiver requires presidential certifications designed to protect US alliances, military operations and sensitive technology.

RBI hikes repo rates by 25 basis points

The Reserve Bank of India increased the repo rate by 25 basis points to 6.5% and the reverse repo rate to 6.25%, in their third bi-monthly policy review of the 2018-’19 financial year.  The marginal standing facility rate and the bank rate have been adjusted to 6.75%.

The Monetary Policy Committee headed by RBI Governor Urjit Patel made the decision after a two-day meeting. Five of the six members on the rate panel voted for an increase.

The committee retained the growth forecast of 7.4% for the economy. Gross domestic product is likely to grow at 7.5% to 7.6% in the first half and 7.3% to 7.4% in the second half of the financial year.

The RBI lowered the retail inflation target for the first half of the 2018-’19 financial year to 4.7% from 5.1% on the grounds of a normal monsoon forecast and moderation in food price rise. For the second half 2018-’19, it has predicted an inflation outlook of 4.4%, lower than its last forecast of 4.5% to 4.6%.

Assam Current Affairs August 2018 – The central bank takes the contrary position in the event of a fall in inflationary pressures. Repo and reverse repo rates form a part of the liquidity adjustment facility.

Repo rate is the rate at which the central bank of a country (Reserve Bank of India in case of India) lends money to commercial banks in the event of any shortfall of funds. Repo rate is used by monetary authorities to control inflation. In the event of inflation, central banks increase repo rate as this acts as a disincentive for banks to borrow from the central bank. This ultimately reduces the money supply in the economy and thus helps in arresting inflation.

Reverse repo rate is the rate at which the central bank borrows money from commercial banks in India.

7 Indian companies in the Fortune 500 list

Seven Indian companies have made it to the latest Fortune 500 list of the world’s biggest corporations in terms of revenue, with state-owned Indian Oil Corporation (IOC) continuing to be the highest ranked Indian firm and Reliance Industries (RIL) jumping 55 places.

In the list topped by retail giant Walmart, Indian Oil Corporation with 23 per cent rise in revenues at USD 65.9 billion was ranked 137th, up from the 168th position in 2017.

RIL was the top private sector company from the country as it jumped from 203rd rank last year to 148th. It had a revenue of USD 62.3 billion in 2017-18. RIL was also the most profitable Indian firm on the list. On the globally most profitable list, it secured the 99th position on the list topped by Apple.

  • Oil and Natural Gas Corp (ONGC) made a come back into the list with a ranking of 197, with USD 47.5 billion revenue. It did not feature in the 2017 ranking.
  • State Bank of India (SBI) with USD 47.5 billion revenue is on rank 216, a shade higher than 217 last year.
  • Tata Motors improved its ranking from 247th last year to 232nd.
  • State-owned Bharat Petroleum Corp Ltd (BPCL) that moved up to 314th position from 360th last year.
  • Rajesh Exports was the seventh Indian firm on the list though its ranking slipped to 405th this year from 295th last year.

FACTFILE – The Fortune Global 500

  • Fortune 500, also known as Global 500, is an annual ranking of the top 500 corporations worldwide as measured by revenue and the list is compiled and published annually by Fortune
  • The world’s 500 largest companies generated USD 30 trillion in revenues and USD 1.9 trillion in profits in 2017. Together, this year’s Fortune Global 500 companies employ 67.7 million people worldwide and are represented by 33 countries.
Retail inflation hovers at 4.8%

The Reserve Bank pegged retail inflation at 4.8 per cent for the second half of current fiscal expecting increase in food prices due to hike in minimum support price (MSP). For the July-September quarter, it has projected inflation to be at 4.6 per cent.

RBI made the projections in its third monetary policy review for the current fiscal. Retail inflation has been projected to rise further to 5 per cent in the first quarter of the next financial year 2019-20.

The Monetary Policy Committee (MPC), chaired by RBI Governor Urjit Patel has raised the benchmark repo rate by 0.25 per cent to 6.25 per cent citing inflation worries, which is likely to make consumer products costlier.

FACTFILE – Retail inflation

  • Retail inflation means the increase in prices of certain products or commodities compared to a base price.Retail inflation is linked to Consumer Price Index(CPI) which is managed by Ministry of Statistics.
  • Currently the base year for India’s CPI is 2012 which means the prices for the certain commodities for the 2012 year are considered as the base price to calculate the price rise.
  • CPI numbers are widely used as a macroeconomic indicator of inflation, as a tool by governments and central banks.
India’s July Service PMI growth the Highest since October 2016

India’s services sector activity remained in the growth territory. Business activity in the sector has witnessed the strongest growth since October 2016 amid improved demand conditions. The seasonally adjusted Nikkei India Services Business Activity Index rose from 52.6 in June to 54.2 in July.

In PMI (Purchasing Managers Index) above 50 means expansion, while a score below that denotes contraction. The service sector observed the best performance since October 2016, underpinned by the strongest gain in new orders since June 2017.

With improved demand conditions, business confidence towards the 12-month outlook picked up from June’s recent low. Additionally, firms have raised their staffing levels at the strongest pace since April.

Nikkei India Composite PMI Output Index, that maps both the manufacturing and services sector, increased from 53.3 in June to 54.1 in July 2018.

FACTFILE – Purchasing Managers Indexes (PMI)

  • PMI are economic indicators derived from monthly surveys of private sector companies. The Purchasing Managers’ Index (PMI) is an indicator of the economic health of the manufacturing sector.
  • The PMI is based on five major indicators: new orders, inventory levels, production, supplier deliveries and the employment environment.
  • The purpose of the PMI is to provide information about current business conditions to company decision makers, analysts and purchasing managers.
Apple becomes first publicly listed company to be valued at $1 trillion

Apple Inc became the first $1 trillion publicly listed U.S. company crowning a decade-long rise fueled by its iPhone that transformed it into a global powerhouse spanning entertainment and communications.

The tech company’s stock jumped 2.8 percent to as high as $207.05, bringing its gain to about 9 percent since 31st July when its reported June-quarter results above expectations and said it bought back $20 billion of its own shares.

Apple’s stock market value is greater than the combined capitalization of Exxon Mobil, Procter & Gamble and AT&T. It now accounts for 4 percent of the S&P 500. It’s stock has surged more than 50,000 percent since its 1980 initial public offering, dwarfing the S&P 500’s approximately 2,000-percent increase during the same almost four decades.

FACTFILE – Apple Inc. is an American multinational technology company headquartered in Cupertino, California, that designs, develops, and sells consumer electronics, computer software, and online services.

  • The company’s hardware products include the iPhone smartphone, the iPad tablet computer, the Mac personal computer, the Apple Watch smartwatch etc.
  • Apple’s software includes the macOS and iOS operating systems, the Safari web browser etc.
  • Formerly known as Apple Computer Company (1976–1977) and Apple Computer, Inc. (1977–2007)
Iran officially joins ASEAN’s TAC treaty

The Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) ratified Iran’s membership in the Treaty of Amity and Cooperation in Southeast Asia (TAC).

On the sidelines of the 51st ASEAN Foreign Ministers’ Meeting in Singapore, Iran officially joined the TAC treaty in the presence of Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif.

FACTFILE – The Treaty of Amity and Cooperation in Southeast Asia is a peace treaty among Southeast Asian countries established by the founding members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), a geo-political and economic organisation of 10 countries located in Southeast Asia.

The purpose of the Treaty is to promote perpetual peace, everlasting amity and co-operation among the people of Southeast Asia which would contribute to their strength, solidarity, and closer relationship. In their relations with one another, the High Contracting Parties shall be guided by the following fundamental principles.

  1. Mutual respect for the independence, sovereignty, equality, territorial integrity and national identity of all nations,
  2. The right of every state to lead its national existence free from external interference, subversion or coercion,
  3. Non-interference in the internal affairs of one another,
  4. Settlement of differences or disputes by peaceful means,
  5. Renunciation of the threat or use of force, and
  6. Effective co-operation among themselves.
RBI asks Banks to partner with NBFCs

To promote deeper penetration of financial and banking services, the RBI has asked banks to enter into a tie-up with NBFC companies to extend loans to priority sectors. In this regard, non-deposit taking systemically important NBFCs have been allowed to co-originate priority sector loans with the banks.

As per the current directive, banks are required to lend 40% of their overall loans to sectors considered or included in the priority sector lending list ( areas include SME enterprises, affordable housing, agriculture and small ticket-size education loans.

There also is available a provision as per which in case banks fall short of their lending to the priority sector, they are allowed to buy such loans or certificates in their respect from other lenders.

As per bankers, this partnership to boost lending in such area shall be in the interest of both banks as well as NBFCs.  On a year on year basis, as on June 30, 2018, the lending to priority sector has seen an increase to Rs. 25 lakh crore.

FACTFILE – Non-Banking Financial Company (NBFC)

  • A Non-Banking Financial Company (NBFC) is a company registered under the Companies Act, 1956 engaged in the business of loans and advances, acquisition of shares/stocks/bonds/debentures/securities issued by Government or local authority or other marketable securities of a like nature, leasing, hire-purchase, insurance business, chit business but does not include any institution whose principal business is that of agriculture activity, industrial activity, purchase or sale of any goods (other than securities) or providing any services and sale/purchase/construction of immovable property.

Difference between banks & NBFCs

  • NBFC cannot accept demand deposits
  • NBFCs do not form part of the payment and settlement system and cannot issue cheques drawn on itself
  • Deposit insurance facility of Deposit Insurance and Credit Guarantee Corporation is not available to depositors of NBFCs, unlike in case of banks

FACTFILE – Deposit Insurance and Credit Guarantee Corporation

  • DICGC is a subsidiary of Reserve Bank of India.
  • It was established on 15 July 1978 under Deposit Insurance and Credit Guarantee Corporation Act, 1961 for the purpose of providing insurance of deposits and guaranteeing of credit facilities. DICGC insures all bank deposits, such as saving, fixed, current, Recurring_deposit for up to the limit of Rs. 100,000 of each deposits in a bank.
  • The functions of the DICGC (Deposit Insurance and Credit Guarantee Corporation)are governed by the provisions of ‘The Deposit Insurance and Credit Guarantee Corporation Act, 1961’ (DICGC Act) and ‘The Deposit Insurance and Credit Guarantee Corporation General Regulations, 1961’ framed by the Reserve Bank of India in exercise of the powers conferred by sub-section (3) of Section 50 of the said Act.

Germany to give India 1 billion Euros for urban growth

India, which is set to see the “world’s largest wave” of urbanisation in the next two decades, may receive around one billion Euros from Germany as part of its financial and technical assistance in the sector till 2022.

Sustainable urban development was agreed as a new priority area of bilateral cooperation between India and Germany in 2016.  Till 2022, Germany intends to provide financial and technical assistance in the range of 1 billion Euros.

Germany is the seventh largest foreign direct investor in India. There are around 215 Indian companies operating in Germany. The Joint Working Group on Sustainable Urban Development has identified Kochi, Coimbatore and Bhubaneshwar for bilateral collaboration.

Delhi tops the State Investment Potential Index (N-SIPI)

Delhi has toppled Gujarat from the top spot in a list of 21 states and union territories with the most investment potential. The national capital is followed by Tamil Nadu, Gujarat, Haryana, Maharashtra, Kerala, Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, Karnataka and West Bengal.

The ranking of 20 states and one Union Territory of Delhi was based on six pillars — land, labour, infrastructure, economic climate, governance and political stability and business perceptions.

NCAER launched the N-SIPI (State Investment Potential Index) series in March 2016. Gujarat had topped both the previous editions of the ranking.

Point2Remeber– Assam was ranked among the least favourable states for investment.

FACTFILE – National Council of Applied Economic Research (NCAER)

  • Established in 1956, NCAER is India’s oldest and largest independent, non-profit, economic policy research institute, based in New Delhi.
  • It was established in 1956 with financial support from the Ford Foundation, Finance Ministry and Tata Sons.

GST collections rose to Rs 96,483 crore in July month

The government collected Rs 96,483 crore as Goods and Services Tax in July, a tad higher than June’s figure of Rs 95,610 crore.The government attributed the increase in collection to the e-waybills that helped improve compliance.

Under GST, transporters or businesses have to generate an e-waybill for moving goods worth Rs 50,000 crore or more both within and outside states.

In July, 66 lakh businesses filed returns – the highest number of monthly GSTR-3B filed since the rollout of the tax regime in July 2017. Since April, there has been a steady increase in the number of returns filed. As many as 60.47 lakh returns were filed in April, 62.47 lakh in May and 64.69 lakh in June.

During the 28th meeting of the GST council on July 21, over 50 items were moved to lower tax slabs and some, including sanitary napkins, were exempted from any tax.

FACTFILE – Goods and Services Tax (GST)

  • GST is an indirect tax levied in India on the supply of goods and services. GST is levied at every step in the production process, but is refunded to all parties in the chain of production other than the final consumer.
  • The tax came into effect from July 1, 2017 through the implementation of One Hundred and First Amendment of the Constitution of India by the Indian government. The tax replaced existing multiple cascading taxes levied by the central and state.
  • Goods and services are divided into five tax slabs for collection of tax – 0%, 5%, 12%, 18% and 28%.
  • Petroleum products, alcoholic drinks, electricity, and real estate are taxed separately by the individual state governments.
  • There is a special rate of 0.25% on rough precious and semi-precious stones and 3% on gold.
  • In addition a cess of 22% or other rates on top of 28% GST applies on few items like aerated drinks, luxury cars and tobacco products.
  • Pre-GST, the statutory tax rate for most goods was about 26.5%, Post-GST, most goods are expected to be in the 18% tax range.
Banks collect Rs 5,000 Crore as Minimum Balance Penalty

21 public sector banks and three major private sector lenders collected a whopping Rs 5,000 crore from customers for non-maintenance of minimum balance in their accounts in 2017-18 .

SBI, which re-introduced the penalty on deposits going below monthly average balance basis from April 2017, collected nearly half the amount raised by the 24 banks put together of Rs 4,989.5 crore.

HDFC Bank Ltd charged its customers Rs 590.84 crore in 2017-18. Axis Bank Ltd. collected Rs 530.12 crore while ICICI Bank Ltd. charged Rs 317.6 crore in the last fiscal.

Minimum Balance Penalty – According to the RBI norms, banks are permitted to levy service/miscellaneous charges. Customers opening accounts under Basic Savings Bank Deposit scheme as well as PradhanMantri Jan DhanYojna are not required to maintain any minimum balance.

Foreign Portfolio Investors’ net inflow at Rs 2,300 Crore in July

Foreign investors poured in over Rs 2,300 crore in the Indian capital markets in July month, after pulling out funds for three months in a row. The latest inflow comes after investors had taken out over Rs 61,000 crore from the capital markets (equity and debt) during the April-June period. Prior to that, FPIs had invested Rs 2,662 crore in March.

Foreign portfolio investors pumped in a net sum of Rs 2,264 crore in equities in July, Rs 43 crore in the debt market, and withdrew Rs 43 crore from hybrid investments.

India has underperformed the emerging market index from the beginning of 2015 to June 2018 by 400 basis points.

This underperformance served as a good foundation for investors to come back. Interestingly, in the last 10 years, FPIs in India have never pulled out material capital for more than three months in a row.

Overall, so far this year, FPIs have withdrawn nearly Rs 4,100 crore from equities and over Rs 38,000 crore from the debt markets.

Foreign Portfolio Investment (FPI) – consists of securities and other financial assets passively held by foreign investors. It does not provide the investor with direct ownership of financial assets and is relatively liquid depending on the volatility of the market. Foreign portfolio investment differs from foreign direct investment (FDI), in which a domestic company runs a foreign firm, because although FDI allows a company to maintain better control over the firm held abroad, it may face more difficulty selling the firm at a premium price in the future.

Foreign portfolio investment is part of a country’s capital account and shown on its balance of payments (BOP). The BOP measures the amount of money flowing from one country to other countries over one monetary year. It includes the country’s capital investments, monetary transfers, and the number of exports and imports of goods and services.

Central Govt proposes to make FASTag compulsory

The Centre is proposing to make FASTag compulsory for all commercial vehicles; trucks, taxis and buses seeking a national permit.

FASTag, radio frequency identification device (RFID), automatically deduct toll charges from the chip embedded system mounted on the windshield of a vehicle when it crossed toll plazas on the country’s highway network.

The electronically operatable tag, which was rolled out in April 2016, is mounted on the windscreen of the vehicles.

At present all new cars and trucks have been fitted with FASTag from the factory itself since December 1, 2017. By making mandatory installation of radio frequency tag commercial for old commercial vehicles, the government wanted to promote the usage of FASTag.

The Ministry also prevailed upon toll plazas managing companies to make more lanes for FASTag for smooth passage of vehicles instead of collecting cash from vehicle users.

FACTFILE: FASTag

  • It is an electronic toll collection system in India, operated by the National Highway Authority of India (NHAI).
  • It employs Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) technology for making toll payments directly from the prepaid or savings account linked to it.
  • It is affixed on the windscreen of the vehicle and enables to drive through toll plazas without stopping for transactions.
  • The tag can be purchased from official Tag issuers or participating Banks and if it is linked to a prepaid account, then recharging or top-up can be as per requirement.
  • As per NHAI, FASTag has unlimited validity. 7.5% cashback offers were also provided to promote the use of FASTag.
  • Dedicated Lanes at some Toll plazas have been built for FASTag.
Centre to bring back FRDI Bill in new form

The Union Government will bring back the Financial Resolution and Deposit Insurance (FRDI) Bill for financial institutions in a recised form. The current Bill is being withdrawn from Lok Sabha in view of public concerns over the safety of bank deposits. It created a lot of controversies as many stakeholders felt that the ‘bail-in’ clause had the potential to harm deposits in the bank.

Like the Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code (IBC) was brought in to deal with the issues related to stressed firms other than financial companies, the FRDI Bill also envisaged as a separate bankruptcy law to deal with insolvency and bankruptcy in financial sector companies. It covered service providers such as banks, non-banking finance companies (NBFCs), microfinance institutions and insurance companies.

The government, however, decided to withdraw the FRDI Bill following apprehensions expressed by people with regard to its ‘bail-in’ clause to resolve failing banks and inadequacy of the deposit insurance cover, the protection extended to the depositors’ money in case of bank failure.

There is a requirement to revive the insurance limits substantially from the current limit of Rs 1 lakh and for application of resolution framework for public sector banks.

The proposal to create an authority with extraordinary powers to take decisions in bank failures also became controversial.

FACTFILE – The Financial Resolution and Deposit Insurance (FRDI) Bill

  • The bill seeks to establish a Resolution Corporation to monitor financial firms, anticipate risk of failure, take corrective action, and resolve them in case of such failure.
  • The Corporation will also provide deposit insurance up to a certain limit, in case of bank failure
  • It will take over the management of a financial firm once it is classified as ‘critical’ and will resolve the firm within one year, which may be extended by another year.
  • It will create law for the creation of an independent resolution corporation to carry out speedy and efficient resolution of financial firms in distress, providing deposit insurance to consumers, monitoring of important financial institutions and protecting the consumers to the extent possible.
P V Sindhu wins Silver in BWF World Championship

P V Sindhu finished second in a major tournament final as she went down tamely to Carolina Marin in the World Championships’ women’s singles.

Carolina Marin thus became the first woman player to win the world title three times. She was champion in 2013 and 2014.

With this second silver meant Sindhu is the only Indian to have four World Championships podium finishes. She had won two bronze medals at the 2013 Guangzhou and 2014 Copenhagen editions.

The 2018 BWF World Championships was a badminton tournament which was held from 30 July to 5 August at Nanjing Youth Olympic Games Sports Park Arena in Nanjing, China. Nanjing was the only bidder for 2018 edition of championships.

President assented to the Fugitive Economic Offenders Act, 2018

President Ram NathKovind has given his assent to a bill that will allow the seizure of domestic assets of those whom a court rules to be fugitive economic offenders

The bill will replace an ordinance promulgated by the government in April 2018, after billionaire jewellerNiravModi and his uncle MehulChoksi fled the country in January, after allegedly defrauding the Punjab National Bank of over Rs 13,000 crore. The Lok Sabha and the RajyaSabha had passed the bill last month.

Highlights of The Fugitive Economic Offenders Act, 2018

  • The Fugitive Economic Offenders Act, 2018, allows the formation of a special court under the money laundering law to declare a person a fugitive economic offender.
  • Courts or tribunals can also bar such offenders or their associated companies from filing or defending civil claims before it.
  • Fugitive economic offenders are those against whom arrest warrants are issued in connection with economic offences and have left India in order to avoid being prosecuted.
  • Offences involving amounts of at least Rs 100 crore will attract the provisions.
  • Existing criminal laws are inadequate in dealing with such offenders as they do not allow the enforcement agencies to impound the property of defaulters.
India becomes third country to get STA-1 status

India has become the third Asian country after Japan and South Korea to get the Strategic Trade Authorization-1 (STA-1) status after the US issued a federal notification to this effect, paving the way for high-technology product sales to New Delhi, particularly in civil space and defense sectors.

India is the 37th country to be designated the STA-1 status by the United States. The Trump Administration made an exception for India, which is yet to become a member of the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG).

Traditionally, the US has placed only those countries in the STA-1 list who are members of the four export control regimes: Missile Technology Control Regime (MTCR), Wassenaar Arrangement (WA), Australia Group (AG) and the NSG.

India is a member of three of the four multilateral export regimes. By placing India in the STA-1 list, the United States has acknowledged that for all practical purposes India adheres to the export control regimes of the NSG.

India was earlier listed in STA-2 category along with Albania, Hong Kong, Israel, Malta, Singapore, South Africa and Taiwan.

NHAI aims to earn Rs 5362 crore from its second TOT bid

The National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) has come up with second Toll-Operate-Transfer (TOT) Request For Proposal (RFP) with an aim to generate a minimum of Rs 5,362 crore from eight road assets in four states. The total National Highways put together measures 586.55 km in the states of Rajasthan, Gujarat, Bihar and West Bengal.

In March this year, NHAI had received a highest bid of Rs 9,681.50 crore from Macquarie Group-Ashoka Buildcon as against the reserved bid price of Rs 6,258 crore to manage 648 km of National Highways in the states of Andhra Pradesh, Odisha and Gujarat.

The government is looking at putting up more road assets under future TOT bids to monetise them for its ambitious Bharatmala Programme. The aim is to put up 75 road projects on the block on a long-term lease.

According to Crisil, about Rs 60,000 crore is estimated to be raised by NHAI over the next 2-3 years.

Under the TOT model, successful international and domestic private players are required to pay the bidding amount upfront. This money will be utilised by NHAI for funding construction of the upcoming highway projects. Those bagging the assets will recover their investments as well as returns by way of collection of toll.

FACTFILE – The National Highways Authority of India (NHAI)

  • NHAI is an autonomous agency of the Government of India, responsible for management of a network of over 50,000 km of National Highways out of 1,15,000 km in India.
  • It is a nodal agency of the Ministry of Road Transport and Highways.
  • The NHAI was created through the promulgation of the National Highways Authority of India Act, 1988. Section 16(1) of the Act states that the function of NHAI is to develop, maintain and manage the national highways and any other highways vested in, or entrusted to, it by the Government of India.
  • In February 1995, the Authority was formally made an autonomous It is responsible for the development, maintenance and management of National Highways, totaling over 92,851.05 km (57,694.97 mi) in length.
Criminal Law (Amendment) Bills Passed in the Parliament

The Parliament passed a stringent legislation prescribing death penalty to those convicted of raping girls below the age of 12 years and making the law against such sexual offences harsher. The Criminal Law (Amendment) Bill 2018, which was passed in the Lok Sabha on 30 July, was approved by a voice vote in the Upper House.

The bill stipulates stringent punishment for perpetrators of rape. A death sentence has been provided for cases in which the girl is below 12 years. The minimum punishment in cases of rape of women has been increased from rigorous imprisonment of seven years to ten years.

SC/ST Bill

  • The Lok Sabha passed The Schedule Caste &The Schedule Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Amendment Bill, 2018 overturning the Supreme Court order concerning certain safeguards against arrest under SC/ST law.
  • The bill passed on 6 August rules out any provision for anticipatory bail for a person accused of atrocities against SC/STs, notwithstanding any court order.

The Constitution Bill, 2017 and NCBC (Repeal) Bill, 2017

  • The Constitution (123rd Amendment) Bill, 2017 seeks to grant the National Commission on Backward Classes (NCBC) constitutional status, at par with the National Commission for Scheduled Castes (NCSC) and the National Commission for Scheduled Tribes.
  • The Constitution (123rd Amendment) Bill, 2017 was introduced in LokSabha by Gehlot on 5 April 2017. It seeks to grant the National Commission on Backward Classes (NCBC) constitutional status, at par with the National Commission for Scheduled Castes (NCSC) and the National Commission for Scheduled Tribes.
  • It was passed by the LokSabha on 2 August superseding the amendments earlier carried out by the RajyaSabha.
  • The bill was passed after the House repealed the National Commission for Backward Classes Act, 1993.
Assam CM launches ‘Hello Ma’ helpline service

Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal has launched a helpline service, ‘Hello Ma’, which is aimed at helping people experiencing challenging moments in their lives and are in need of support.

The Chief Minister also stressed the need to maintain a positive outlook in day-to-day life and said that challenges are temporary and people with positive outlook can overcome that.

Sonowal further called upon the people to show reverence to their parents and take good care of them, which is of foremost requirement for the elderly people.

Through ‘Hello Ma’, people can get counselling and support at the time of need. The service can be accessed through 2202237, 2202238 and 2202239 or email helloma.assam@gmail.com. People in need can also log on to the website, www.helloma.assam.co, to get details about the helpline service.

India’s GDP growth rate will be 7.3% in 2018-’19, 7.5% in 2019-’20, says IMF  Report

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) expressed that the macroeconomic outlook for India for the 2018-’19 financial year is “broadly favourable”, as the economy continues to recover after the implementation of the GST and demonetization. India’s Gross Domestic Product growth rate will rise to 7.3% in the present financial year and 7.5% in 2019-’20.

India’s Current Account Deficit will also widen to 2.6% of GDP due to higher oil prices and strong demand for imports. The IMF described theGoods and Services Tax (GST) as a “milestone reform” in India’s tax policy, but pushed for a simplified structure, saying the multiple rate structure and other features could give rise to high compliance and administrative costs.

The overall inflation will rise to 5.2% in 2018/19 from a 17-year low of 3.6 percent in the previous fiscal year, due to higher oil prices, implementation of the minimum selling price for farmers, depreciation of the rupee and housing rent allowances.

FACTFILE – The International Monetary Fund (IMF)

  • IMF is an international organization consisting of “189 countries working to foster global monetary cooperation, secure financial stability, facilitate international trade, promote high employment and sustainable economic growth, and reduce poverty around the world.”
  • Formed at the Bretton Woods Conference primarily by the ideas of Harry Dexter White and John Maynard Keynes, it came into formal existence in 1945 with 29 member countries and the goal of reconstructing the international payment system.
  • It has headquarters in Washington, D.C., US.
  • It now plays a central role in the management of balance of payments difficulties and international financial crises.
  • Countries contribute funds to a pool through a quota system from which countries experiencing balance of payments problems can borrow money. As of 2016, the fund had SDR477 billion (about $666 billion).

Govt appoints S Gurumurthy, Satish Marathe to RBI board

The Centre has appointed Swadeshi Jagaran Manch co-convenor Swaminathan Gurumurthy and businessman Satish Kashinath Marathe to the Central Board of the Reserve Bank of India (RBI).

The names were approved on 07th Aug as per provisions of Section 81 C of the RBI Act, 1934 by Prime Minister Narendra Modi-led Appointments Committee of the Cabinet.

They have been appointed as a part-time, non-official director for the period of four-year. With the two new appointments, the total number of government-appointed directors on the RBI board has reached 10.

FACTFILE – Central Board of the Reserve Bank of India (RBI)

  • The central board is the RBI’s highest decision-making body, which approves all key decisions the central bank takes, the central board members are responsible for the broad direction the central bank takes.
  • Under the RBI Act, 1934, the central board is designed to consist of 21 members: the governor and four deputy governors [under Sec 8(1)a], four directors from the four regional boards of the RBI [under Sec 8(1)b] who are elected by their respective local board members, 10 directors nominated by the Union government who are usually experts in their respective fields [under Sec 8(1)c], and two government appointed officials (usually from the finance ministry) [under Sec 8(1)d].
  • Unlike the monetary policy committee (MPC), which releases the minutes of its meetings, central board meetings are closed-door affairs, and hence, do not attract the same level of public scrutiny as MPC meetings.
  • Mandate of the central board is far larger than that of the MPC.

Lok Sabha passes Rs 11,698 cr extra expenditure for current fiscal

Parliament on 07th Aug approved gross additional expenditure of Rs 11,697.92 crore for the current fiscal, including Rs 980 crore for equity infusion into the heavily indebted Air India’s Turnaround Plan (TAP), which is burdened with accumulated debt of Rs 50,000 crore.

The Lok Sabha passed the Supplementary Demands for Grants for 2018-19 and demands for excess grants for 2015-16 along with the appropriation bills by voice vote. This is the lowest in the last 15 years. It is just 0.2 per cent of the total budget compared to 14 per cent in 2008-09.

400 schemes had been brought under the Direct Benefit Transfer (DBT) scheme under which Rs 4 lakh crore have been disbursed directly to beneficiaries.

As per the latest demands for grants, the net cash outgo amounts to Rs 5,951,22 crore and the government’s gross additional expenditure have been shown at Rs 5,745.68 crore. These are on account of expenditure of Rs 1,791.62 crore for the Agriculture Ministry, Rs 1,500 crore for the Textiles Ministry, Rs 1,057.84 crore for the Defence Ministry and Rs 1,708 crore for the Petroleum Ministry towards creation of capital assets under various schemes.

DMK chief Karunanidhi passes away

DMK chief M Karunanidhi, one of the foremost Dravidian politicians of in recent time, passed away at the age of 94. Karunanidhi became the chief minister for the first time in 1969 after the demise of Annadurai. He subsequently helmed the state as chief minister in 1971, 1989, 1996 and 2006. He was elected to the Legislative Assembly 13 times, the last time as a 92-year-old in 2016.

He has also made contributions to Tamil literature, having written stories, plays, novels, and a multiple-volume memoir. He was popularly referred to as Kalaignar, meaning artist in Tamil.

76th anniversary of Quit India Movement on 9th August

The Quit India Movement which was an agitation launched by Mahatma Gandhi in 1942 demanding an end to the British Rule. 9th August 2018 is the 76th anniversary of the start of the event.

The movement was started on August 9, 1942, and since then the day is celebrated as August Kranti Day/Diwas. The day is celebrated by paying tribute to freedom fighters with national integration speeches and other events.

In May 1942, Mahatma Gandhi called on Britain to “Leave India to God. If this is too much then leave her to anarchy”. In July 1942, the Congress Working Committee met at Wardha and a resolution was passed which was termed The Wardha Resolution. It is also known as Quit India Resolution which demanded, “The British Rule in India must end immediately.

The resolution was ratified in the AICC with minor amendments and a non-violent mass struggle under the leadership of Mahatma Gandhi was sanctioned. The session began on the August 7 and concluded post midnight of August 8, 1942 at Gowalia Tank Maidan, Bombay. In a speech entitled, “Do or Die (Karo ya Maro),” given on by Mahatma Gandhi, he urged the masses to act as an independent nation and not to follow the orders of the British.

RBI to pay Rs 50,000 crore dividend to govt for FY18

The RBI decided to pay Rs 50,000 crore as dividend to government in line with the Union Budget provisions, helping the Centre stick to its fiscal road-map. The Reserve Bank, which follows July-June financial year, has paid about 63 per cent higher dividend than previous year (2016-17). The RBI made a dividend payout of Rs 30,659 crore for the fiscal ended June 2017.

The Central Board of Directors of the Reserve Bank of India (RBI), at its meeting, approved the transfer of surplus amounting to Rs 500 billion (Rs 50,000 crore) for the year ended June 30, 2018 to the Government of India. Earlier in March month, RBI paid interim dividend of Rs 10,000 crore at the insistence of the government to support fiscal position.

As per the Budget Estimate, the government projected to collect Rs 54,817.25 crore as dividend or Surplus of Reserve Bank of India, Nationalised Banks and Financial Institutions.

It is to be noted that the RBI transferred a surplus of Rs 30,659 crore as dividend to the government for the year ended June 30, 2017, which was less than half of what it paid in the previous year (Rs 65,876 crore).

Point2Remember – Under the RBI Act, 1934, the central bank is required to pay the government its surplus after making provisions for bad and doubtful debts, depreciation in assets and, contribution to staff and superannuation fund among others.

Average Per Capita Income Edges Closer to Rs 80,000 in the Last 4 Years

The Parliament on 8th Aug  was informed that India’s average per capita income in the last four financial years was higher at Rs 79,882 as compared to the preceding four fiscals. Between 2011-12 to 2014-15, it was much lesser at Rs 67,594.

The average Per Capita NNI (net national income) in the country during 2011-12 to 2014-15 is estimated at Rs 67,594 whereas average Per Capita NNI in the country during 2014-15 to 2017-18 is estimated at Rs 79,882.

The data that the per capita income in India grew by :

  • 6 percent in 2013-14 to Rs 68,572
  • 2 percent to Rs 72,805 in 2014-15
  • 9 percent to Rs 77,826 in 2015-16
  • 7 percent to Rs 82,229 in 2016-17

FACTFILE – Per Capita Income

  • It is a measure of the average income earned per person in the country for the given period.
  • It can apply to the average per-person income for a city, region or country, and is used as a means of evaluating the living conditions and quality of life in different areas.
  • It can be calculated for a country by dividing the country’s national income by its population.

NDA candidate Harivansh Narayan Sing elected RS Deputy Chairman

NDA candidate and JD(U) member Harivansh Narayan Singh was elected as Rajya Sabha Deputy Chairman, defeating Opposition’s BK Hariprasad by 125 votes to 105 votes.

Rajya Sabha Chairman M Venkaiah Naidu initiated the process of the election by calling for division of votes in the House.

Point2Remeber – Shri S.V. Krishnamoorthy Rao was the first Deputy Chairman of the Rajya Sabha of India

FACTFILE – Deputy Chairman of the Rajya Sabha

  • The Deputy Chairman of the Rajya Sabha presides over the proceedings of the Rajya Sabha in the absence of the Chairman of the Rajya Sabha.
  • The Deputy Chairman is elected internally by the Rajya Sabha.

PM targets to save Rs 12k cr in oil import bill

Prime Minister Narendra Modi on 10th Aug set a target to triple ethanol production in four years to help save Rs 12,000 crore in oil import bill by mixing the sugarcane extract in petrol as well as boost farm income.

Speaking at a function to mark World Biofuel Day, he said about Rs 10,000 crore is being invested in setting up 12 bio-refineries in the country that will produce fuel from crop stubble and residue as well as urban waste.

The world’s third largest oil consumer is dependent on imports to meet 81 per cent of its needs and substituting some of the fuel with biofuels will help cut import dependence. India started blending ethanol, produced as a by-product during the process of making sugar from sugarcane. The target is to raise ethanol production for doping in petrol to 450 crore litres in four years that will save Rs 12,000 crore in import bill.

Currently, petrol contains 3.8 per cent of ethanol. The bio-refineries being set up will generate about 1.5 lakh jobs in the entire value chain.

The government approved the National Policy on Biofuels in June this year which seeks to produce fuel that can be doped in petrol and diesel from agriculture and municipal waste as well as crop residue.

Fuel is targeted to be produced from crop stubble, which otherwise is burnt every year causing pollution and erosion in soil’s nutrient value. It can also be produced from damaged crops.

Point2Rember

  • India spent nearly USD 88 billion (about Rs 5.9 lakh crore) on import of crude oil in 2017-18.
  • India is world’s third largest oil consumer country.
  • World Biofuel Day is observed on 10th August to create awareness about the importance of non-fossil fuels

National Policy on Biofuels, 2018 – Highlights

  • It categorises biofuels to enable extension of appropriate financial and fiscal incentives under each category.
  • Basic Biofuels: First Generation (1G) – bioethanol and biodiesel.
  • Advanced Biofuels: Second Generation (2G) – ethanol, Municipal Solid Waste (MSW) to drop-in fuels; Third Generation (3G) – biofuels, bio-CNG etc.
  • It expanded the scope of raw material for ethanol production, allows use of sugarcane juice, sugar containing materials like sweet sorghum, sugar beet, starch containing materials like corn, cassava, damaged food grains like broken rice, wheat, rotten potatoes, unfit for human consumption for ethanol production.
  • Use of surplus food grains for production of ethanol for blending with petrol with approval of National Biofuel Coordination Committee. This will also ensure farmers get appropriate price for their produce during the surplus production phase.
  • Incentives to advanced biofuel – Viability gap funding scheme indicated for 2G ethanol Bio refineries of Rs.5000 crore in 6 years for giving special emphasis to advanced biofuels.
  • Proposes additional tax incentives, higher purchase price as compared to 1G biofuels.
  • Supply chain mechanisms – encourage setting up of supply chain mechanisms for biodiesel production from non-edible oilseeds, used cooking oil, short gestation crops.

Assam CM launches new ferries in Majuli

As part of the State Government’s efforts to upgrade the communication system between Majuli and the mainland, the Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal on 10th Aug flagged off four new modern ferry vessels of Inland Water Transport (IWT) department at Kamalabarighat.

The new ferries are expected to improve the communication system while minimizing the people’s dependence on traditional boat service. Sarbananda Sonowal also flagged-off another new ferry service between Ahotguri and Misamora areas of Majuli. The service will significantly shorten the travel time between the places.

One Ramp Powered Lighter (RPL), which has been refurbished to carry JCB and dumpers to Majuli from Jorhat side, was also launched by the Chief Minister.

FACTFILE – Assam Inland Water Transport

  • It was established in the year 1958. The department of Transport, Govt of Assam is the Administrative department of Inland Water Transport, Assam.
  • The Directorate of Inland Water Transport, Assam was initially setup with a skeleton staff headed by a Director with its Head Quarter at Shillong.
  • In October, 1963 the Directorate of Inland Water Transport was shifted to Guwahati. This was slowly expanded to a fully fledged Directorate under the Transport Department, Govt. of Assam at Guwahati.
  • As a first major steps toward its expansion activity, 6 (six ) nos. of ferry  services operating in the river Brahmaputra were taken over from the State PWD Department in 1968.

ISRO not to sign MoU with Assam Govt

Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) has ruled out any possibility of signing an MoU with the Assam State Government for flood and disaster management.

However, North Eastern Space Applications Centre (NESAC), under Department of Space, has been working closely with the Assam State Disaster Management Authority (ASDMA) since 2009.

In association with ASDMA, the NESAC has developed the Flood Early Warning System (FLEWS), a terrain-specific model and employs satellite-based inputs, in-situ data on rainfall and river discharge data at critical locations to provide advance information on flood events as an input to disaster preparedness.

FACTFILE – North Eastern Space Applications Centre (NESAC)

  • NESAC, came into being on 5th of September, 2000, as a joint initiative of Department of Space (DOS) and the North Eastern Council (NEC) in Shillong.
  • The Centre plays a catalytic role in holistic development of entire north-eastern region by providing space science and technology support on natural resource management.

Sensex hits historic 38,000 mark for the first time

The BSE Sensex hit the 38,000 level for the first time on  09 August 2018, amid widespread buying in banking, energy and PSU stocks amid unabated inflows by domestic and foreign institutional investors. The broader NSE Nifty too touched a new peak of 11,495.20.

Strong gains in banking, oil and gas, PSU, realty, healthcare, IT, teck, metal, infrastructure, capital goods, FMCG, power and auto stocks spurred the index higher.

Analysts said strong liquidity in the market following unabated buying by foreign as well as domestic institutional investors and encouraging Q1 earnings bolstered sentiment.

On a net basis, foreign portfolio investors (FPIs) bought shares worth Rs 568.63 crore, while domestic institutional investors (DIIs) bought equities to the tune of Rs 30.25 crore yesterday, provisional data showed.

 

SEBI allows investors to hold shares in physical form beyond December 5

The SEBI on 10th Aug said that its new notification allows investors to continue maintaining shares in physical form even after December 5. The new amendment does not prohibit investors from holding shares in the physical form. Investors have the option of holding shares in the physical form even after December 5, 2018.

Earlier in July month, SEBI notified that the transfer of securities of listed companies has to take place in dematerialized or electronic mode from December 5. But the recent clarification comes up after the watchdog was reached out by several stakeholders in respect of the applicability of this directive.

SEBI favored dematerialisation of shares over physical form as it helps in maintaining a transparent record of shareholding at listed companies. It is to be noted that the new rules is not applicable in case of transfer of title of securities due to succession or inheritance and interchanging of the order of the name of shareholders.

FACTFILE – Securities and exchange Board of India (SEBI)

  • The Securities and Exchange Board of India was established on April 12, 1992 in accordance with the provisions of the Securities and Exchange Board of India Act, 1992.
  • The Preamble of the Securities and Exchange Board of India describes the basic functions of the Securities and Exchange Board of India as “to protect the interests of investors in securities and to promote the development of, and to regulate the securities market and for matters connected therewith or incidental thereto”
  • Securities and exchange Board of India (SEBI) was first established in the year 1988 AQF as a non-statutory body for regulating the, securities market.
  • It became an autonomous body on 12 May 1992 and given statutory powers in 1992 with SEBI Act 1992 being passed by the Indian Parliament.
  • SEBI has its headquarters at the business district of Bandra Kurla Complex in Mumbai, and has Northern, Eastern, Southern and Western Regional Offices in New Delhi, Kolkata, Chennai and Ahmedabad respectively.

GST compensation worth Rs 52,077 crore paid to states/UTs

The Union government said a GST compensation totaling Rs 52,077 crore has been paid to states and UTs during the 11-month period through May 2018.

Under the Goods and Services Tax (GST), implemented on July 1, 2017, the Centre has to compensate states/UTs for loss of their revenue on account of implementation of the new indirect tax regime.

States/UTs have been paid GST compensation of Rs 48,178 crore for the period July 2017 to March 2018 and of Rs 3,899 crore for the period of April-May 2018. Total taxes collected under GST works out to be Rs 11.3 lakh crore in the 13-month period ending July 2018.

The maximum GST collection was Rs 1.03 lakh crore in April. The collection dipped to Rs 94,016 crore in May and has been gradually increasing in the subsequent months.

FACTFILE – Goods and Services Tax (GST)

  • GST is an indirect tax (or consumption tax) levied in India on the supply of goods and services. GST is levied at every step in the production process, but is refunded to all parties in the chain of production other than the final consumer.
  • Goods and services are divided into five tax slabs for collection of tax – 0%, 5%, 12%, 18% and 28%.
  • Petroleum products, alcoholic drinks, electricity, and real estate are taxed separately by the individual state governments. There is a special rate of 0.25% on rough precious and semi-precious stones and 3% on gold.
  • In addition a cess of 22% or other rates on top of 28% GST applies on few items like aerated drinks, luxury cars and tobacco products.
  • Pre-GST, the statutory tax rate for most goods was about 26.5%, Post-GST, most goods are expected to be in the 18% tax range.
  • The tax came into effect from July 1, 2017 through the implementation of One Hundred and First Amendment of the Constitution of India by the Indian government. The tax replaced existing multiple cascading taxes levied by the central and state governments.

Assam CM launches free textbook distribution programme

Parents and teachers must play a vital role in nurturing students as quality human resource for the future and both these sections must fulfil their responsibilities to create good citizens for the country by harnessing the individual qualities of the students, said Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal while speaking at the launching ceremony of free textbook distribution programme for Class XI students of the State.

14,92,600 free textbooks were distributed among 1,71,065 students enrolled in Class XI of various colleges of the State. Free textbooks were also distributed in the district headquarters towns of the State.

Assam State Textbook Production and Publication Corporation has already published textbooks for Assamese, Bengali, Bodo, English, Nepali and Manipuri mediums for distribution among the Class XI students in the 2018-19 academic year.

Education Minister Siddhartha Bhattacharyya and MoS of Education Department Pallab Lochan Das also spoke in the meeting where the Chairman of the Assam State Textbook Production and Publication Corporation gave the welcome address.

2-day Meet on SDG-6 in Assam

A two-day session on “Training and Monitoring Action Plan on Sustainable Development Goal-6” was organised here recently by the Water and Sanitation Support Organisation (WSSO), PHED, Assam and supported by UNICEF, Assam.

The two-day programme focused on Sustainable Development Goal-6 by the year 2030, with emphasis on the provision of safe and adequate water for drinking, cooking and other domestic purposes for all households on a sustainable manner and provision of safe rural sanitation practices for all.

ASSAM-2030 in light of SDGs is the Vision of the Government of Assam for a developed and prosperous state with happy, healthy, cared-for and gainfully employed people. This will be through achievement of the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) adopted by the United Nations General Assembly on 25 September 2015. The Government of Assam is fully committed to the SDGs, and has decided to achieve all the goals in Assam by 2030, though a major all-round initiative.

Seven of 10 most valued cos add Rs 47,499 cr market capitalisation

Seven of the 10 most valued companies together added Rs 47,498.74 crore in market capitalisation, with RIL topping the chart. The gainers list comprised Tata Consultancy Services (TCS), RIL, HDFC Bank, ITC, HDFC, Infosys and SBI, while Hindustan Unilever Ltd (HUL), Maruti Suzuki India and Kotak Mahindra Bank suffered losses in their m-cap.

The market capitalisation (m-cap) of Reliance Industries Limited (RIL) jumped Rs 17,270.09 crore to Rs 7,63,053.04 crore. The m-cap of HDFC Bank zoomed Rs 12,597.94 crore to Rs 5,73,232.26 crore and that of TCS surged Rs 6,317.15 crore to Rs 7,63,360.46 crore.

State Bank of India (SBI) added Rs 5,220.89 crore to its m-cap to reach Rs 2,71,709.07 crore while Infosys saw a gain of Rs 4,608.51 crore to Rs 3,02,545.31 crore.

The market cap of ITC went up by Rs 1,306.69 crore to Rs 3,72,459.79 crore and that of HDFC rose by Rs 177.47 crore to Rs 3,33,892.33 crore. On the other hand, Kotak Mahindra Bank’s valuation slumped Rs 4,270.16 crore to Rs 2,45,305.58 crore and that of Maruti’s m-cap dipped Rs 1,117.69 crore to Rs 2,76,444.04 crore.

In the ranking of top-10 firms, TCS was at number one spot, followed by RIL, HDFC Bank, HUL, ITC, HDFC, Infosys, Maruti, SBI and Kotak Mahindra Bank.

Market capitalization refers to when the total dollar market value of all of a company’s outstanding shares. Market capitalization is calculated by multiplying a company’s shares outstanding by the current market price of one share.

As outstanding stock is bought and sold in public markets, capitalization could be used as a proxy for the public opinion of a company’s net worth and is a determining factor in some forms of stock valuation.

Digital North East Vision 2022 document launched

Union Electronics and Information Technology Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad in the presence of the chief ministers of Assam, Meghalaya and Tripura, released the document ‘Digital North East Vision 2022’  that profiles the assets, opportunities and challenges each of the northeastern states faces in the sector with an aim to bridge the digital as well as geographical divide in the region.

Alongside the event, the Union Minister and Assam Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal laid the foundation stone for Common Facilitation Centre and Smart Meter Manufacturing facility in the Electronics Manufacturing Cluster (EMC) in Tech City, Bongara near Palasbari for promotion of electronics manufacturing in the region.

e-Pragati will be available in all the northeastern states through ‘Digital India’. There will be e-classroom facilities in the medical colleges of Shillong, Guwahati, Dibrugarh, Dimapur, Agartala and Imphal.

50,000 state government employees of the Northeast will be trained in digital technology with capacity building in GST.

The number of seats allotted to the Northeast under the BPO promotion schemes has been increased from 5,000 to 10,000. The scheme, which aims to promote BPO operations in smaller towns, provides special incentives of up to Rs 1 lakh per seat in the form of viability gap funding (VGF). Disbursement of financial support under these schemes is directly linked with employment generation.

Northeast will get the required bandwidth. A regional data centre will also come up in Guwahati.

A cloud hub for the Northeast will be created in Guwahati.

A network of Common Service Centres (CSCs) will be expanded to cover all villages.

High speed broadband connectivity to all gram panchayats or equivalent bodies and mobile connectivity in all uncovered villages in the northeastern region will be provided.

Several other projects were launched were

  • The foundation stone was laid for four NIELIT (National Institute of Electronics & Information Technology) permanent centres in Guwahati, Shillong, Lunglei and Gangtok.
  • The NIC (National Informatics Centre) launched the ‘Secure, Scalable and Sugamya Website as a Service’ (SwaaS) websites for Arunachal Pradesh and Tripura.
  • To take participative governance to last mile citizen, State MyGov portals were launched for Arunachal Pradesh, Manipur and Tripura.
  • The STPI (Software Technology Park of India) incubation facility was inaugurated in Agartala, Aizawl and Shillong.
  • A BPO centre under the North East BPO Promotion Scheme (NEBPS) was inaugurated in Majuli.
  • The Manipur State Data Centre (SDC) was migrated to the Cloud Platform.
  • Virtual classroom facility in Tripura was enabled through the ERNET (National Research and Education Network) India.
  • ‘Digital Locker’ was being integrated with the Board of Secondary Education, Assam and the Nagaland e-District.
  • A comprehensive GIS-based decision support system for the northeastern states and the North Eastern District Resource Plan Geo-Portal (NEDRP) were also launched.

Foundation stone of SWIFT Centre laid in ASSAM

Union Electronics and Information Technology Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad 11th Aug laid the foundation stone of the Startup World of Innovation in Future Technology (SWIFT Centre), also known as the Electronic Manufacturing Cluster, at Tech City at Bongara, Palasbari in Kamrup district.

The SWIFT Centre will have state-of-the-art facilities for manufacturing electronic products along with other manufacturing and support services such as BPO, skill development centre, data centre, testing lab, tool room, etc. Several companies, including JnJ Powercom Systems Ltd, have come forward to manufacture electronic products at the centre

The Central government would give Rs 50 crore for the project, while the remaining amount would be borne by the Assam government. Over Rs 2,500 crore would be invested in the SWIFT Centre and this is the beginning of the investment after the Global Investment Summit

The SWIFT Centre at Tech City is being set in 103 acres of land having a project cost of Rs 119.89 crore.

India ready to launch two space missions every month

India is ready to launch two space missions every month, with 31 launches slated to take place over the coming 16 months. The space agency has a tight schedule ahead, as we are targeting nine launches over the next five months and 22 missions from February to December in 2019, aiming at two per month.

ISRO is looking at 31 space missions in a span of 16 months starting September 2018 to December next year. The next mission by ISRO will launch two commercial satellites from Britain in September onboard Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV) C-42 rocket.

The key missions are the launches of GSAT-29 onboard Geosynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle (GSLV) Mk 3 D2 in October to facilitate internet to rural India, GSAT-11 on November 30 onboard Arianespace space agency`s rocket from French Guiana on the north Atlantic coast of South America.

The space agency will be attempting its second lunar mission, “Chandrayaan-2”, on January 3, after its first mission a decade ago in 2008. Also scheduled the launch of GSAT-20 in August next year, which along with the three other satellites, will help in expanding 100 Gbps (Giga bytes per second) of internet connectivity to rural India.

ISRO will also be conducting a test flight in May-June next year of its new rocket, Small Satellite Launch Vehicle (SSLV). With a cost one-tenth of that of a PSLV, and with a length of 34m, SSLV will be used to launch smaller satellites that weigh between 500-700kg.

The city-based space agency also plans to have a student satellite programme next year, inviting students to build their own satellites to be launched by ISRO.

FACTFILE – The Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO)

  • ISRO is the space agency of the Government of India headquartered in the city of Bangalore.
  • Its vision is to “harness space technology for national development while pursuing space science research and planetary exploration.
  • Formed in 1969, ISRO superseded the erstwhile Indian National Committee for Space Research (INCOSPAR) established in 1962 by the efforts of independent India’s first Prime Minister, Jawaharlal Nehru, and his close aide and scientist Vikram Sarabhai.
  • The establishment of ISRO thus institutionalized space activities in India. It is managed by the Department of Space, which reports to the Prime Minister of India.

President approves Criminal Law (Amendment) Act, 2018 providing death penalty for rape of girls below 12

President Ram Nath Kovind on 11th Aug gave his assent to the Criminal Law (Amendment) Act, 2018, that provides either death penalty or life imprisonment to people convicted of raping girls below the age of 12 years. This Act may be called the Criminal Law (Amendment) Act, 2018. It shall be deemed to have come into force on April 2018.

The amendment will replace an ordinance promulgated by the government in April after outcry over the murder and alleged rape of an eight-year-old girl in Jammu and Kashmir’s Kathua district.

The amended law has also increased the minimum punishment for rape of women from seven years to 10 years. The legislation increases the minimum punishment for the rape of a girl under 16 years from 10 years to 20 years. The punishment can be extended to a life term.

The gang rape of a girl younger than 16 will carry the punishment of life imprisonment. People convicted of raping girls below 12 will face a minimum punishment of 20 years in prison.

Prior to the amendment, the maximum punishment for sexual assault of minors was life imprisonment and the minimum sentence was seven years in prison.

NASA launches the first ever mission to ‘touch’ the Sun

Assam Current Affairs August 2018 – NASA launches the first ever mission to ‘touch’ the Sun. The probe is designed to come within 6.16mn kms of the Sun, the closest a spacecraft has ever gotten to the star. The $1.5bn mission has been in the works for five decades. In seven years, it aims to orbit the Sun 24 times, pushing closer each time.

The Parker will be facing temperatures of up to 1,400 degrees Celsius. To survive, it will be protected by a 4.5-inch thick carbon-composite heat shield. Even when the temperature would be million degrees Fahrenheit outside, the inside will remain at 85 degrees.

The spacecraft, which will move at 430,000 mph, has a white light imager to click pictures of the Sun’s atmosphere.

Parker will explore the Sun’s outer atmosphere and collect data which will also help in forecasting major solar eruptions and subsequent space weather events which might have disruptive potential for technology on Earth.

FACTFILE – National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA)

  • The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) is an independent agency of the executive branch of the Federal government of the United States responsible for the civilian space program, as well as aeronautics and aerospace research.
  • The National Aeronautics and Space Act was passed on July 29, 1958, disestablishing NASA’s predecessor, the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics (NACA).
  • The new agency became operational on October 1, 1958. Since that time, most U.S. space exploration efforts have been led by NASA, including the Apollo Moon landing missions, the Skylab space station, and later the Space Shuttle.
  • Currently, NASA is supporting the International Space Station and is overseeing the development of the Orion Multi-Purpose Crew Vehicle, the Space Launch System and Commercial Crew vehicles.
  • The agency is also responsible for the Launch Services Program(LSP) which provides oversight of launch operations and countdown management for unmanned NASA launches.

Pune ranked first in the Ease of Living Index 2018

Pune has been ranked first in the Ease of Living Index launched by Housing and Urban Affairs Minister Hardeep Singh Puri, with Navi Mumbai coming in second.

Mumbai has been ranked three, followed by Triputi, Chandigarh, Thane, Raipur, Indore, Vijaywada, and Bhopal.

The Ease of Living Index has been based on four parameters, viz. governance, social institutions, economic and physical infrastructure. The survey was conducted on 111 cities in the country.

Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs (MoHUA), Government of India, is the apex body for formulation and administration of the rules and regulations and laws relating to the housing and urban development in India.

The Ministry became independent from Ministry of Housing and Urban Poverty Alleviation in 2004, but was re-merged with it in 2017.

The ministry also published the National City Rating, which ranked the cleanest cities in India, under which Indore was rated as the cleanest.

The ministry announced Smart Cities in India on 27 August 2015.

CPI Index at 4.17% and Wholesale inflation at 5.09% in July

Assam Current Affairs August 2018 – Consumer price index (CPI) inflation in July as it rose 4.17% compared with 2.36% in the same month last year. The CPI inflation eased 73 basis point (bps) in July mainly on softer fruit and vegetables. Structural “forces” like crude, petroleum and others continued to keep the upward pressure on headline CPI inflation.

Food inflation was 1.3% last month compared with 2.9% in June, while the fuel and light inflation remained elevated at 7.96% compared with 7.14% in the previous month. Housing inflation also saw a marginal uptick at 8.3% compared with 8.45% in June.

Sharp decline in retail inflation to 4.17%, closer to RBI’s 4% inflation target will give a lot of comfort to monetary authorities. The CPI inflation in Q2 FY2019 looks set to lag the MPC’s estimate of 4.6%, reducing the likelihood of a rate hike in the October 2018 policy review.

Wholesale inflation eased to 5.07 per cent in July on account of cheaper food articles, especially fruits and vegetables. The wholesale price index (WPI) based inflation was recorded at 5.77 per cent in June. In July 2017, it was at 1.88 per cent.

  • The wholesale inflation in food articles category was 2.16 per cent in July as against 1.80 per cent in the previous month.
  • Vegetable prices fell by 14.07 per cent during the reported month as compared to a growth of 8.12 per cent in June.
  • Likewise, there was an 8.81 per cent fall in wholesale prices of fruits in July as against a rise of 3.87 per cent in the preceding month.
  • In pulses category, inflation stood at 17.03 per cent as against 20.23 per cent.

FACTFILE – Consumer Price Index (CPI)

  • If measures changes in the price level of market basket of consumer goods and services purchased by households.
  • The CPI is a statistical estimate constructed using the prices of a sample of representative items whose prices are collected periodically.
  • It is one of several price indices calculated by most national statistical agencies.

FACTFILE – Wholesale Price Index

  • The Wholesale Price Index (WPI) is the price of a representative basket of wholesale goods.
  • The WPI is published by the Economic Adviser in the Ministry of Commerce and Industry.
  • The Wholesale Price Index focuses on the price of goods traded between corporations, rather than goods bought by consumers, which is measured by the Consumer Price Index.
  • The purpose of the WPI is to monitor price movements that reflect supply and demand in industry, manufacturing and construction.

Challenges faced by the Bamboo sector of Northeast

Over 67 per cent of India’s bamboo grows in the Northeast but the region is not able to realize the huge potential of it. Much of this is because of the Centre’s ‘failure’ of two much-touted bamboo missions.

The reluctance of the New Delhi-based North East Centre for Technology Application and Reach (NECTAR) which is actually headquartered in Shillong but it has not shifted office to Shillong since it was formed five years ago.

The Northeast’s bamboo sector has been plagued by anomalies and mismanagement for years. Two major projects – National Mission on Bamboo Technology (NMBT) and National Bamboo Mission (NBM) – were implemented in the past decade but with little impact on the ground, as those were plagued by corruption and mismanagement.

Experts believe that the harnessing the Northeast’s bamboo potential is critical to the fructification of any bamboo mission in the country.

Local entrepreneurs are enduring a tough time even as Indian markets are being flooded with products from China and Vietnam and we are in no position to compete. Only a few industries got technology development assistance from the National Mission on Bamboo Applications (NMBA).

Assam Current Affairs August 2018 – India celebrates 72nd Independence Day

Every year India celebrates 15th of August as Independence Day to commemorate the day India got independence from British rule, after the UK Parliament passed the Indian Independence Act 1947 transferring legislative sovereignty to the Indian Constituent Assembly. India still retained King George VI as head of state until its transition to full republican constitution.

India attained independence following the Independence Movement noted for largely non-violent resistance and civil disobedience led by the Indian National Congress (INC). Independence coincided with the partition of India, in which the British India was divided along religious lines into the Dominions of India and Pakistan; the partition was accompanied by violent riots and mass casualties, and the displacement of nearly 15 million people due to religious violence.

On 15 August 1947, the first Prime Minister of India, Jawaharlal Nehru raised the Indian national flag above the Lahori Gate of the Red Fort in Delhi. On each subsequent Independence Day, the incumbent Prime Minister customarily raises the flag and gives an address to the nation.

Odisha CM Naveen Patnaik launches Biju Swasthya Yojana

Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik launched a new health scheme, the Biju Swasthya Kalyan Yojana, on 15th Aug on the occasion of the 72nd Independence Day.

The Odisha government had rejected the National Health Protection scheme, widely called the Modicare scheme, as it covered much lesser number of people in Odisha by adopting the 2011 census.

The Odisha government has gone ahead with its own Biju Swasthya Yojana with an extended coverage up to Rs 5 lakh per year. The amount is Rs 7 lakh for women.

FACTFILE – The Biju Krushak Kalyan Yojana or BKKY

  • It is a health insurance scheme for the farmers in the state of Odisha, India.
  • The Biju Krushak Kalyan Yojana (BKKY) was launched in Angul district of Odisha to provide people financial support through health and accident insurance.
  • There are many hospitals, Community Health Centre (CHCs) in each district of Odisha under Biju Krushak Kalya Yojana (BKKY) to provide people health care with low cost.
Smitha Crishna tops the list of India’s richest women list

Kotak Wealth-Hurun, for the first time, has compiled a list of India’s wealthiest women, which features the heir of the Godrej empire, Smitha Crishna, as India’s richest woman.

Kotak Wealth-Hurun used multiple parameters including industry parameters like price-to-earnings, price-to-sales etc. to calculate wealth and prepare the list. The ranking recognizes India’s leading women, viz. entrepreneurs, businesswomen, investors and inheritors. The report acknowledges the Indian woman’s role in creating wealth in one of the fastest growing economies in the world.

Smitha Crishna’s top-ranked net worth of Rs. 37,570cr is followed by HCL CEO and Executive Director Roshni Nadar’s Rs. 30,200cr. Occupying the third spot is Times Group chairperson, Indu Jain, with a net worth Rs. 26,240cr. Fourth is the Biocon founder Kiran Mazumdar-Shaw with a net worth of Rs. 24,790cr, the only self-made woman in the list. Fifth is HCL’s Kiran Nadar (Rs. 20,120cr).

Assam Current Affairs August 2018 – The youngest woman in the rankings is Outcome Health co-founder Shradha Agarwal, with a net worth of Rs. 8,200cr. In a sector-wise breakdown, 22% of India’s top 100 wealthiest women come from the pharmaceutical sector, while 18% hail from the software services sector.

Former Indian Test captain Ajit Wadekar passed away

Former Indian captain Ajit Wadekar passed away on 15th Aug in Mumbai, at the age of 77.

Born in Mumbai, Wadekar made his international debut in 1966 against West Indies. Ajit Wadekar was the captain of the Indian side that won the series in England and West Indies. Wadekar was India’s first ODI captain, although he appeared in just two matches.

Wadekar also served as India’s manager in the ’90s during Mohammed Azharuddin’s tenure as captain. He later went on to become the chairman of selectors as well.

In 1967, the Government of India bestowed Wadekar with the Arjuna Award. He received the Padma Shri Award, the country’s fourth highest civilian honour. He was also awarded with CK Nayudu Lifetime achievement award, Sportsperson of the Year, and the Castrol Lifetime Achievement award.

Assam Current Affairs August 2018 – All-women SWAT team guards Red Fort

India’s first all-women SWAT team from the north-east beamed with pride as guarded the historic Red Fort on the Independence Day. The SWATunit was formed in 2009 in the wake of 26/11 terror attack in Mumbai, to counter terror operations in highly complicated situations.

The 36-member all-women Special Weapons And Tactics (SWAT) team has been trained by the NSG for anti-terrorism duty under the Delhi Police’s Special Cell.

They are equipped with AK-47 rifles, MP5 machine guns, Glock 17 or 26 pistols and corner shot devices for enhanced night vision.

The women commandos were also trained in Krav Maga, which is a self-defence system developed for the Israel Defence Forces.

The women commandos were trained to undertake complex operations during terrorist attacks at crowded markets, residential complexes or government premises.

The commandos are further equipped with a pencil torch, bulletproof helmet, bulletproof jacket, a cutter and a commando dagger. They also wear special knee and elbow pads for protection during covert operations.

Anandiben Patel takes oath as Governor of Chhattisgarh

Madhya Pradesh Governor Anandiben Patel, who has been given the additional charge of Chhattisgarh following the death of governor Balramji Dass Tandon, was sworn in at a ceremony. Chhattisgarh High Court Chief Justice Ajay Kumar Tripathi administered the oath of office to Patel during a simple function at the Raj Bhawan.

President Ram Nath Kovind gave Patel the additional charge of Chhattisgarh following the demise of Tandon, Patel will discharge the additional duties until regular arrangements for the office of the governor of Chhattisgarh are made.

Term of Governor– The governors and lieutenant-governors are appointed by the president for a term of five years.

Qualifications – Article 157 and Article 158 of the Constitution of India specify eligibility requirements for the post of governor. They are as follows:

      • be a citizen of India.
      • be at least 35 years of age.
      • not be a member of the either house of the parliament or house of the state legislature.
      • not hold any office of profit.
Former PM Atal Bihari Vajpayee dies at 93

Former Prime Minister and senior Bharatiya Janata Party leader Atal Bihari Vajpayee died on 16th Aug 2018. He was admitted to Delhi’s AIIMS in June.

Vajpayee will be accorded a state funeral and the government announced a seven-day state mourning across the countryDuring this period, the national flag will be flown at half-mast where it is regularly flown.

  • Atal Bihari Vajpayee was the 10th Prime Minister of India.
  • He has had three terms as Prime Minister, the first two that lasted 13 days and 13 months respectively.
  • He became the first non-Congress PM to complete a full term when he was elected in 1998 and demoted office in 2004.
  • Atal Bihari Vajpayee was born on December 25, 1924 in Gwalior and entered politics in the 1950s.
  • Vajpayee, who helped found the BJP after the Jana Sangh was dissolved, was considered instrumental in the party’s rise to prominence.
  • In 1998, when he was in power for a month, Vajpayee had conducted five underground nuclear tests in Pokhran, Rajasthan.
  • Vajpayee was awarded the Padma Vibhushan in 1992 and Bharat Ratna in 2015.
Veermata Jijabai Bhosale Udyan & Zoo welcomes the country’s first Humboldt Penguin chick

The first Humboldt Penguin chick in the country was hatched at the Mumbai Zoo. The Humboldt Penguin chick was born on Independence Day at the Veermata Jijabai Bhosale Udyan Zoo. The species is native to Peru and Chile in South America.

In July 2016, eight Humboldt Penguins were imported from Coex Aquarium in South Korea’s Seoul.

The zoo has four female penguins and three male penguins. The young chick will be added to the zoo’s penguin colony.

The penguins stay in a special chilled enclosure, with the nest also kept there. Spread over 1,700 square feet, an average temperature of 16 to 18 degrees Celsius is maintained in the enclosure. Zoo officials constantly monitor the quality of water inside and the birds are fed on fish, including Indian mackerels.

FACTFILE – Jijamata Udyaan

  • Jijamata Udyaan formerly called Raani Baag after the original British name Victoria Gardens, and now also known as Veermata Jijabai Bhosale Udyan & Zoo, is a zoo and garden covering 50 acres located at Byculla, in the heart of Mumbai, India.
  • It is the oldest public garden in Mumbai In 1835, British administration granted a large plot of land in Sewri to the Agro Horticultural Society of Western India for a botanical garden. In 1861, construction of a new garden was commenced on 33 acres in the Mount Estate, Mazagaon.
  • Agro Horticultural Society of Western India continued to maintain Victoria Gardens till 1873 when the society’s end led to the municipal corporation taking over the garden’s upkeep. In 1890 the garden was extended by 15 acres especially for the zoo.
NPCI launches Unified Payments Interface 2.0

National Payments Corporation of India (NPCI) launched Unified Payments Interface (UPI) 2.0. Reserve Bank of India Governor Urjit Patel, NPCI Advisor-Innovation Nandan Nilekani, and SBI Chairman Rajnish Kumar launched the service.

The key features of UPI 2.0 are Overdraft facility, Invoice in the inbox and One time mandate, among others. In addition to current and savings accounts, customers can link their overdraft account to UPI.

Customers will be able to transact instantly and all benefits associated with OD account shall be made available to the users. UPI 2.0 will serve as an additional digital channel to access OD account.

State Bank of India, HDFC Bank, Axis Bank, ICICI Bank, IDBI Bank, RBL Bank, YES Bank, Kotak Mahindra Bank, IndusInd Bank, Federal Bank and HSBC are UPI 2.0 member banks Launched on April 11, 2016.

BHIM UPI has recorded transactions worth Rs 45,845 crore and 235 million in terms of value and volume in the month of July 2018.

FACTFILE – National Payments Corporation of India (NPCI)

  • NPCI is an umbrella organisation for operating retail payments and settlement systems in India, is an initiative of Reserve Bank of India (RBI) and Indian Banks’ Association (IBA) under the provisions of the Payment and Settlement Systems Act, 2007, for creating a robust Payment & Settlement Infrastructure in India.
  • NPCI is a “Not for Profit” Company under the provisions of Section 25 of Companies Act 1956 (now Section 8 of Companies Act 2013), with an intention to provide infrastructure to the entire Banking system in India for physical as well as electronic payment and settlement systems.
  • The Company is focused on bringing innovations in the retail payment systems through the use of technology for achieving greater efficiency in operations and widening the reach of payment systems.
Airtel Payments Bank, Bharti AXA Life pacts to promote govt’s PMJJBY

Airtel Payments Bank and Bharti AXA Life Insurance on Thursday announced a pact to offer Pradhan Mantri Jeevan Jyoti Bima Yojana (PMJJBY), leveraging the payments bank’s network in rural pockets.

PMJJBY aims to enhance penetration of life insurance among underinsured masses contributing to financial inclusion in the country. It offers life insurance cover of Rs 2 lakh at a premium of Rs 330 per annum, and will initially be available at 1,00,000 banking points of Airtel Payments Bank. The number of banking points will be scaled to over 5,00,000 over time.

The product PMJJBY provided by Bharti AXA Life offers Rs 2 lakh life insurance cover for a nominal premium of Rs 330 per annum and can be purchased by all existing or new Airtel Payments Bank savings bank account holders between the age of 18-50.

FACTFILE – Pradhan Mantri Jeevan Jyoti Bima Yojana

  • It is a government-backed Life insurance scheme in India.
  • It was originally mentioned in the 2015 Budget speech by Finance Minister Arun Jaitley in February 2015.
  • Pradhan Mantri Jeevan Jyoti Bima Yojana is available to people between 18 and 50 years of age with bank accounts. It has an annual premium of ₹330 (US$4.80).
  • The GST is exempted on Pradhan Mantri Jeevan Jyoti Bima Yojana. The amount will be automatically debited from the account. In case of death due to any cause, the payment to the nominee will be ₹2 lakh.
  • This scheme will be linked only to the bank accounts opened under the Pradhan Mantri Jan Dhan Yojana Most of these account had zero balance initially.

Imran Khan takes oath as 22nd Pakistani PM

Pakistan’s cricketer-turned-politician Imran Khan took oath as the 22nd Prime Minister of Pakistan, after his Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) party won the highest number of seats in the general election.

Imran Khan, 65, who won a simple majority newly-elected Parliament on 17th Aug in a confidence vote was administered oath by President Mamnoon Hussain.

Khan’s government will be the third consecutive democratic government in Pakistan since 2008 when military ruler Gen Pervez Musharraf announced elections after serving as president from 2001 to 2008 following a bloodless coup in 1999. The Pakistan Peoples Party formed the government in 2008, followed by the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz led by jailed former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif in 2013.

Aggregate Fiscal deficits of the states to rise by 20 bps to 2.8%

The aggregate fiscal deficit of the states is likely to moderate to 2.8% of GDP, 20 bps higher than the budgeted target, on the back of the states likely achieving a zero revenue balance to GDP ratio in FY19.

India Ratings has revised downward the aggregate debt/GDP estimate to 24.4% for FY19 from its earlier estimate of 25.8%. The states have budgeted debt/GDP at 24.3% for FY19, marginally higher than 24% in FY18.

It estimates the states’ aggregate revenue receipt to grow 13.9% in FY19 from the previous year. The estimate is marginally higher than the earlier forecast of 13.7%.

The states have budgeted their combined gross market borrowings at Rs 4,40,720 crore in FY19. But the agency estimates the borrowings to be higher at Rs 4,65,280 crore this fiscal.

The states’ aggregate market borrowings rose to Rs 1.1 lakh crore during April to July 2018, from Rs 98,200 crore over April to July 2017.

It expects the states’ aggregate tax revenue including devolutions from the Centre to grow 16 per cent in FY19. It expects growth in revenue expenditure to moderate to 11.2%, from 20.7% in FY18, as salary revisions of state government employees and the outgo related to farm loan waivers have already been absorbed to some extent in FY18 itself.

FACTFILE – India Ratings and Research (Ind-Ra)

  • It is India’s most respected credit rating agency committed to providing India’s credit markets accurate, timely and prospective credit opinions.
  • Ind-Ra has grown rapidly during the past decade, gaining significant market presence in India’s fixed income market.
  • Ind-Ra currently maintains coverage of corporate issuers, financial institutions (including banks and insurance companies), finance and leasing companies, managed funds, urban local bodies, and structured finance and project finance companies.
  • Headquartered in Mumbai, Ind-Ra has seven branch offices located in Ahmedabad, Bengaluru, Chennai, Delhi, Hyderabad, Kolkata and Pune.
  • Ind-Ra is recognised by the Securities and Exchange Board of India, the Reserve Bank of India and National Housing Bank.
Mangalore Refinery to invest Rs 595 crore on RO plant

Assam Current Affairs August 2018 – The Mangalore Refinery and Petrochemicals Limited (MRPL), a subsidiary of oil and natural gas major ONGC, has proposed to set up a reverse osmosis (RO) based Desalination Plant at Mangaluru at a cost of Rs 595 crore.

The desalination plant, which will have a capacity of 13 million gallons per day (MGD), will help the company to reduce dependency on fresh water. The New Mangalore Port Trust (NMPT) has provided 15 acre land for the proposed project.

The project has received permission from the Government of Karnataka. The plant is expected to be completed by 2020.

The project is seen as a measure to mitigate the risk of river water as a single source of water. An alternative source of water is being planned through the installation of a desalination plant .

Currently, MRPL requires around 13 MGD of water and it gets around 2.5-3 MGD treated sewage water beside 7-8 MGD of freshwater. Balance water is sourced from its own internal sources.

Out of the total capacity, around 2 MGD water will be supplied to Mangalore Chemicals and Fertilisers (MCF). The MRPL is currently operating an RO plant with a capacity of 3.4 MGD for processing the municipal sewage.

With a vision of achieving Zero Effluent Discharge to Sea, except during monsoon, MRPL is undertaking an ambitious Zero Liquid Discharge (ZLD) project of 400 m3/h capacity with a capital expenditure of Rs 339 crore.

The feasibility study for the project has already been completed by Engineers India Limited. Post implementation of ZLD plant, the specific freshwater requirement of MRPL is expected to reduce by 15%.

The MRPL is also setting up a 2G Ethanol project. Land for the same has been identified and is being acquired through KIADB. Licensor selection for the technology is in progress and the project is expected to get commissioned by 2021.

FACTFILE – Oil and Natural Gas Corporation Limited (ONGC)

  • ONGC is an Indian multinational oil and gas company headquartered in New Delhi.
  • It is a Public Sector Undertaking (PSU) of the Government of India, under the administrative control of the Ministry of Petroleum and Natural Gas.
  • It is India’s largest oil and gas exploration and production company. It produces around 70% of India’s crude oil (equivalent to around 30% of the country’s total demand) and around 62% of its natural gas.
World Humanitarian Day observed on 19th Aug

The World Humanitarian Day is observed on 19th Aug day, every year, to bring people of the world together to rally support for people living in crises and to pay tribute to the aid workers who help them.

The day is dedicated to humanitarian aid workers, including health care workers, striving to provide assistance and rehabilitation to communities affected by disasters – “regardless of where they are in the world and without discrimination based on nationality, social group, religion, sex, race or any other factor”.

However, these people often find themselves on the target in conflict areas while discharging their duties as attacks on health facilities, workers and even ambulances continue across the world.

This year, the United Nations gave a call to join the #NotATarget movement and demand that world leaders do everything in their power to protect all civilians and healthcare workers in conflict.

FACTFILE – World Humanitarian Day

  • It was designated by the United Nations General Assembly as part of a Swedish-sponsored GA Resolution A/63/L.49 on the Strengthening of the Coordination of Emergency Assistance of the United Nations.
  • It marks the day on which the then Special Representative of the Secretary-General to Iraq, Sérgio Vieira de Mello and 21 of his colleagues were killed in the bombing of the UN Headquarters in Baghdad.
India win mixed air rifle bronze to start Asian Games medal tally

India opened its account in the 18th Asian Games with a bronze medal after Apurvi Chandela and Ravi Kumar cracked under pressure to finish third in the rifle mixed team shooting event.

The Indians aggregated 429.9 after 42 shots in the 48-shot final and were in the second spot for major part of the 48-shot finals before China overtook them to take the silver.

It was a maiden Asian Games medal for Chandela, a multiple time World Cup winner and had bagged gold at 2014 Commonwealth Games in Glasgow.

FACTFILE – 2018 Asian Games

  • The 2018 Asian Games, officially known as the 18th Asian Games and also known as Jakarta Palembang 2018, is a pan-Asian multi-sport event being held from 18 August to 2 September 2018 in the Indonesian cities of Jakarta and Palembang.
  • Bhin Bhin, Kaka, and Atung are the mascots of the 2018 Asian Games
  • For the first time, the Asian Games are being co-hosted in two cities; the Indonesian capital of Jakarta, and Palembang, the capital of the South Sumatra Events will be held in and around the two cities, including venues in Bandung and province of West Java and Banten.
India Win SAFF under-15 Women’s Football Championship

The Indian women’s team were crowned champions of the SAFF U-15 Championship after defeating defending champions Bangladesh by a solitary goal in the final at the Changlimithang Stadium in Thimphu, Bhutan.

India beat Bangladesh 1-0 to win the SAFF U-15 Championship. Sunita Munda scored the only goal in the match. The Indian team scored sixteen goals in four matches of the tournament.

FACTFILE – South Asian Football Federation (SAFF)

  • SAFF was founded in 1997, is an association of the football playing nations in South Asia and is part of the larger Asian Football Confederation.
  • Its founding members are Bangladesh, India, Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka.
  • Bhutan joined the federation in 2000 and Afghanistan in 2005. In February 2015, captain Haroon Amiri announced that Afghanistan had officially left the SAFF for the new Central Asian Football Association.
Former UN Chief Laureate Kofi Annan Dies Aged 80

Former United Nations secretary-general and Nobel Peace Prize laureate Kofi Annan has died at the age of 80. Annan, a Ghanaian national, died in hospital in Bern, Switzerland.

In Geneva, the Kofi Annan Foundation announced his peaceful death with ‘immense sadness’ after a short illness, saying he was surrounded in his last days by his second wife Nane and children Ama, Kojo and Nina.

Annan served two terms as UN Secretary-General in New York from 1997-2006 and retired in Geneva and later lived in a Swiss village in the nearby countryside.

YES BANK included in the FTSE4Good Emerging Index for 2nd Time

YES BANK, India’s fourth largest private sector Bank, has been selected in the FTSE4Good Emerging Index for 2nd consecutive year. The selection highlights YES BANK’s continued leadership in environmental, social and governance (ESG) performance.

YES BANK was rated above the threshold for companies in emerging markets, as well as that of developed markets, by FTSE Russell. YES BANK was selected amongst 87 banks from emerging markets, including China, Brazil, South Africa and UAE.

The bank continues to be the first and the only Indian bank to be selected in Dow Jones Sustainability Index (DJSI) – Emerging Markets for three consecutive years; additionally selected in MSCI ACWI ESG Leaders, MSCI ACWI SRI and FTSE4Good Emerging Index for 2017.

FACTFILE – FTSE4Good Index

  • Created by the global index provider FTSE Russell, the FTSE4Good Index Series is designed to measure the performance of companies demonstrating strong Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) practices.
  • The FTSE4Good indices are used by a wide variety of market participants to create and assess responsible investment funds and other products.”
  • The FTSE4Good Emerging Index, launched in December 2016, assesses 1000+ companies across 47 countries and comprises 528 organisations while covering 23 emerging economies including Brazil, China, Malaysia, Mexico, Qatar, Russia, South Africa and UAE.
Wrestler Bajrang Punia wins first Gold for India

24-year-old Indian wrestler Bajrang Punia has bagged the country’s first gold medal of the 2018 Asian Games. A gold medallist from the 2018 Commonwealth Games earlier this year, Bajrang won all his bouts leading into the final by technical superiority, asserting his class in the 65kg category.

He outclassed Uzbekistan’s Sirojiddin (13-3), Tajikistan’s Fayziev Abdulqosim (12-2) and Mongolia’s N Batmagnai Batchuluu (10-0) to storm into the gold medal bout. The final against Daichi Takatani was a close-fought encounter but Bajrang managed to hold his lead throughout and close out the win with a 11-8 scoreline.

 CAD to widen to 2.5% of GDP, predicts Moody

India’s current account deficit (CAD) will widen to 2.5% of the GDP in the current fiscal due to higher oil prices that has been accentuated by rupee depreciation, Moody’s.

Rupee last week dropped to a record low of 70.32 to a US dollar as political turmoil in Turkey and concerns about China’s economic health continued to support safe-haven assets and weighed on emerging market currencies. While the weaker rupee will benefit exports at the margins, it is unlikely to reverse the trade deficit, which hit a five year high of $18.02 billion in July.

India’s current account deficit is likely to widen to 2.5% in FY 2018-19, up from 1.5% in fiscal 2017 due to higher oil prices and strong non-oil import demand as domestic demand accelerates. Net oil imports accounted for 2.6% of GDP in FY 2017-18 and will increase further in fiscal 2019.

Current Account Deficit is a measurement of a country’s trade where the value of the goods and services it imports exceeds the value of the goods and services it exports.

The current account includes net income, such as interest and dividends, and transfers, such as foreign aid, although these components make up only a small percentage of the total current account.

The current account represents a country’s foreign transactions and, like the capital account, is a component of a country’s balance of payments.

A current account deficit represents negative net sales abroad. Developed countries, such as the United States, often run current account deficits, while emerging economies often run current account surpluses. Extremely poor countries tend to run current account deficits.

DRDO successfully flight test SAAW system

The Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) has successfully conducted flight test of the Smart Anti-Airfield Weapon (SAAW) at Chandan range in Rajasthan. SAAW is a long-range precision-guided anti-airfield weapon.

The SAAW project was approved by the Indian government in 2013. The first successful test of the weapon was conducted in May 2016. Another successful test was conducted in November of the following year.

During the recent test, Smart Anti-Airfield Weapon (SAAW) was successfully flight tested from an Indian Air Force (IAF) aircraft at Chandan range. The SAAW is capable of destroying a variety of ground targets using precision navigation. The tests were conducted between August 16 and 18.

FACTFILE – Smart Anti-Airfield Weapon (SAAW)

  • The SAAW was developed by the Research Centre Imarat (RCI), and other DRDO laboratories in collaboration with the Indian Air Force (IAF). It is a lightweight high precision-guided bomb designed to destroy ground targets, such as runways, bunkers, aircraft hangers and other reinforced structures.
  • Weighing 120 kg, carries a high explosive warhead and a standoff range of 100 kilometres, is India’s first fully indigenous anti-airfield weapon, being designed and developed wholly by DRDO.
  • The SAAW can currently be launched from the SEPECAT Jaguar and Su-30MKI aircraft. The Jaguar is capable of carrying six such weapons.
Vinesh Phogat Becomes 1st Indian Woman Wrestler to Win Gold in Asian Games

Vinesh Phogat created history by becoming the first Indian woman wrestler to win a gold medal at the Asian Games, brushing aside her rivals with remarkable ease in the 50 kg category in Jakarta. Vinesh did not give her opponent any chance and came out a dominant winner with a 8-2 score.

Vinesh had earlier won a bronze medal in the 48 kg category at the 2014 Incheon Asian Games. Vinesh also won back-to-back gold medals in Glasgow and Gold Coast Commonwealth Games this year.

RBI calls for an umbrella law for Public Credit Registry

The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) deputy governor Viral V Acharya on 20th Aug called for enacting a special law to enable the proposed public credit registry (PCR) to come into being

With a low credit-to-GDP ratio of a modest 55.7%, the country is still under-penetrated financially and the proposed PCR can help the system move towards more equitable and timely access to credit, especially to the underserved segments, and thus democratise and formalise the credit flow.

According to the Q4 2017 data from the Bank for International Settlements, India’s credit-to-GDP ratio stood at a low 55.7%, against China’s 208.7%, Britain’s 170.5% and the US’ 152.2%. Norway lead the chart with 245.6% credit-to-GDP ratio.

Underlining that almost everywhere PCRs are backed by a specific law. A PCR Act can enable us transparently address the entire gamut of governance issues including data acquisition and its dissemination through access rights by various users.

Public Credit Registry is an extensive database of credit information; for analysing, addressing and preventing in future the twin balance-sheet problems of banking and corporate sector.

Vinesh Phogat Becomes 1st Indian Woman Wrestler to Win Gold in Asian Games

Vinesh Phogat created history by becoming the first Indian woman wrestler to win a gold medal at the Asian Games, brushing aside her rivals with remarkable ease in the 50 kg category in Jakarta. Vinesh did not give her opponent any chance and came out a dominant winner with a 8-2 score.

Vinesh had earlier won a bronze medal in the 48 kg category at the 2014 Incheon Asian Games. Vinesh also won back-to-back gold medals in Glasgow and Gold Coast Commonwealth Games this year.

RBI calls for an umbrella law for Public Credit Registry

The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) deputy governor Viral V Acharya on 20th Aug called for enacting a special law to enable the proposed public credit registry (PCR) to come into being

With a low credit-to-GDP ratio of a modest 55.7%, the country is still under-penetrated financially and the proposed PCR can help the system move towards more equitable and timely access to credit, especially to the underserved segments, and thus democratise and formalise the credit flow.

According to the Q4 2017 data from the Bank for International Settlements, India’s credit-to-GDP ratio stood at a low 55.7%, against China’s 208.7%, Britain’s 170.5% and the US’ 152.2%. Norway lead the chart with 245.6% credit-to-GDP ratio.

Underlining that almost everywhere PCRs are backed by a specific law. A PCR Act can enable us transparently address the entire gamut of governance issues including data acquisition and its dissemination through access rights by various users.

Public Credit Registry is an extensive database of credit information; for analysing, addressing and preventing in future the twin balance-sheet problems of banking and corporate sector.

Satya Pal Malik appointed as J&K Governor

Bihar Governor Satya Pal Malik is appointed the Governor of Jammu and Kashmir, replacing N.N. Vohra who was in the post for more than 10 years.

With Satya Pal Malik transferred to Jammu and Kashmir, where Governor’s Rule was imposed on June 20 after the fall of PDP-led governmentt, President Ram Nath Kovind also appointed three new governors in Bihar, Haryana and Uttarakhand and transferred three Governors to new states.

Satya Pal Malik will only be the second politician to enter the Kashmir Raj Bhavan as 11 others were former bureaucrats or from military personnel.

  • Lalji Tandon is appointed as Bihar Governor.
  • Satyadev Narayan Arya has been appointed as Haryana Governor.
  • Baby Rani Maurya has been appointed Uttarakhand Governor.
  • Meghalaya Governor Ganga Prasad has been transferred to Sikkim.
  • Tripura Governor Tathagata Roy has been transferred to Meghalaya.
  • Kaptan Singh Solanki, Governor of Haryana, has been transferred to Tripura.

President’s rule– President’s rule refers to suspension of state government and imposition of direct Central Government rule in a state of India. Under Article 356 of the Constitution of India, if any state government is unable to function according to constitutional provisions, the Central government can take direct control of the state governance.

In such scenario, executive authority is exercised through the centrally appointed governor.

Governor of Indian state – Governor is a de jure constitutional head of Indian state. During President’s rule, the Council of Ministers is dissolved, vacating the office of Chief Minister. Furthermore, the Vidhan Sabha is either prorogued or dissolved, necessitating a new election.

In the state of Jammu and Kashmir, failure of governmental function results in Governor’s rule, imposed by invoking Section 92 of the Constitution of Jammu and Kashmir. The state’s governor issues the proclamation, after obtaining the consent of the President of India. If it is not possible to revoke Governor’s rule within six months of imposition, the President’s Rule under Article 356 of the Indian Constitution is imposed.

Darrang awarded best CSC performing district

The Union Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MeitY) has recognised Darrang as the best performing district in the field of digital online services through Common Service Centres or CSCs.

The Additional Secretary of the Electronics and Information Technology Pankaj Kumar in the presence of Union IT Law and Justice Minister, Ravi Shankar Prasad, Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of CSC Dr Dinesh Kumar Tyagi, Director MeitY, Pravin Chandekar, Joint Secretary, MeitY Sanjay Goel, and other senior officials from the North East offered a memento and a certificate of appreciation to Darrang Deputy Commissioner Ashok Kumar Barman and Additional Deputy Commissioner (IT) cum Project Director of DRDA, Darrang Pankaj Chakravarty.

This award was given ceremonially in a function organised in connection with the launching of the North East Vision Document recently in Guwahati.

FACTFILE – Common Service Centres or CSCs

  • CSCs are the access points for delivery of essential public utility services, social welfare schemes, healthcare, financial, education and agriculture services, apart from host of B2C services to citizens in rural and remote areas of the country.
  • It is a pan-India network catering to regional, geographic, linguistic and cultural diversity of the country, thus enabling the Government’s mandate of a socially, financially and digitally inclusive society.
  • Common Service Centres (CSC) scheme is one of the mission mode projects under the Digital India Programme.
  • Based on the assessment of CSC scheme, the Government launched the CSC 2.0 scheme in 2015 to expand the outreach of CSCs to all Gram Panchayats across the country. Under CSC 2.0 scheme, at least one CSC will be set up in each of the 2.5 lakh GPs across the country by 2019.

 

Veteran Journalist-Author Kuldip Nayar passes away at 95

Veteran journalist Kuldip Nayar passed away on 22 August at the age of 95. Nayar was also an author, with 15 books to his name, and was appointed as High Commissioner of India to the United Kingdom in 1990. He was also nominated as a Member of Parliament in the Rajya Sabha in 1997.

Kuldip Nayar was born in Punjab’s Sialkot in British India (now Pakistan) on 14 August, 1923 to Gurbaksh Singh and Pooran Devi. He completed a BA from Forman Christian College in Lahore and LLB from the Law College Lahore.

Kuldip Nayar was known as an editor who “refused to bend or crawl” during the Emergency under former Prime Minister Indira Gandhi’s tenure. Apart from his work in journalism, Kuldip Nayar was also a part of India’s delegation to the United Nations in 1996.

He was awarded 2003 Astor Award for Press Freedom and 2007 Shaheed Niyogi Memorial Award for Lifetime Achievement.

PV Sindhu among the World’s highest earning non-tennis female athlete

World championship and Rio Olympics silver medallist PV Sindhu is the seventh highest paid female athlete in the world based on the earnings from prize money and endorsements for the last 12 months ending June 1, 2018.

Sindhu and race car driver Danica Patrick are the only non-tennis players in the top-10 list that is headed by 23-time Grand Slam singles champion Serena Williams.

According to Forbes, Sindhu earned a total of $8.5 million in the corresponding 12 months with her prize money only accounting for $500,000, with the remaining $8 million coming from endorsements.

The top 10 women earned a total of $105 million in these 12 months through prize money and endorsements, which was 4% down from last year and 28% down from five years ago.

Rank Athlete Total Earnings
1 Serena Williams $18.1mn
2 Caroline Wozniaki $13mn
3 Sloane Stephens $11.2mn
4 Garbine Muguruza $11mn
5 Maria Sharapova $10.5mn
6 Venus Williams $10.2mn
7 PV Sindhu $8.5mn
8 Simona Halep $7.7mn
9 Danica Patrick $7.5mn
10 Angelique Kerber $7mn
India, China to work out new Defence pact

The Defence Ministers of India Nirmala Sitharaman met her Chinese counterpart Gen Wei Fenghe, who is on a bilateral visit to India from August 21 to 24, had met at Delhi, in their first high-level engagement since Wuhan, and the two nations agreed to work out a new bilateral memorandum of understanding on defence exchanges and cooperation to replace a pact signed in 2006.

The 2006 MoU signed by the then Defence Minister Pranab Mukherjee with his Chinese counterpart envisaged “establishment of a mechanism to ensure frequent and regular exchanges between leaders and officials of the defence ministries and the armed forces of the two countries in addition to developing an annual calendar for holding regular joint military exercises and training programmes.”

New Delhi and Beijing have also agreed to enhance cooperation between armed forces relating to training, joint exercise and other professional interactions.

NASA to launch advanced Laser to track change in Earth’s ice

National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) will soon launch an advanced Laser satellite that will measure the change in Earth’s polar caps with very high accuracy.

NASA’s Ice, Cloud and land Elevation Satellite-2 (ICESat-2) will be launch aboard a United Launch Alliance Delta II 7320-10C from Vandenburg Air Force Base in California.

It has been in the works for about 10 years. It is the second iteration of this satellite. The first one was much less precise laser and was decommissioned in 2010.

The satellite will measure the average annual elevation change of land ice covering Greenland and Antarctica to within the width of a pencil, capturing 60,000 measurements every second.

Melting ice sheets and glaciers is mainly caused by global warming. It is one of the primary reasons sea level is rising across the globe. Sea level rises an average of .3 centimeters per year.  Antarctic ice loss has tripled since 2012, causing sea levels across the globe to rise faster now than ever before in history.

FACTFILE – ICESat-2 (Ice, Cloud, and land Elevation Satellite 2)

  • A planned satellite mission for measuring ice sheet elevation and sea ice freeboard, as well as land topography and vegetation characteristics.
  • ICESat-2 is a planned follow-on to the ICESat mission.
  • It will be launched on 15 September 2018 from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California, into a near-polar orbit with an altitude of approximately 496 km.
  • The ICESat-2 mission is designed to provide elevation data needed to determine ice sheet mass balance as well as vegetation canopy information.
  • It will provide topography measurements of cities, lakes and reservoirs, oceans and land surfaces around the globe, in addition to the polar-specific coverage.
  • The ICESat-2 project is being managed by NASA Goddard Space Flight Center. The sole instrument is being designed and built by the center, and the bus is being provided by Orbital ATK.
  • ICESat-2, which cost a little over $1 billion and is about the size of a Smart car.
India’s Forex Reserves decline to $400 Billion

India’s forex reserves continue to decline and in the latest report upto August 17, it has declined by $33.2 million to $400.847 billion primarily aided by the decline in foreign currency assets.

The decline is largely triggered by RBI’s proactive measures to stem further free-fall in the rupee which in the wake of Turkey crisis and US-China trade war threat has fallen past the 70 mark. In the week ended 17 August, foreign currency assets, a major component of the overall reserves, dipped by $60.2 million to $376.205 billion

Gold reserves rose by $36.1 million to $20.727 billion in the reporting week. The special drawing rights with International Monetary Fund (IMF) dipped by $3.4 million to $1.463 billion. The country’s reserve position with the IMF also declined by $5.7 million to $2.452 billion

FACTFILE – Foreign-exchange reserves (or Forex reserves)

  • The Foreign exchange reserves of India are India’s holdings of cash, bank deposits, bonds, and other financial assets denominated in currencies other than India’s national currency, the Indian rupee.
  • The reserves are managed by the Reserve Bank of India for the Indian government and the main component is foreign currency assets.
  • Foreign exchange reserves act as the first line of defense for India in case of economic slowdown, but acquisition of reserves has its own costs.
  • Foreign exchange reserves facilitate external trade and payment and promote orderly development and maintenance of foreign exchange market in India.
  • India’s foreign exchange reserves are mainly composed of US dollar in the forms of US government bonds and institutional bonds, with nearly 5% of forex reserves in gold.
  • The FCAs also include investments in US Treasury bonds, bonds of other selected governments and deposits with foreign central and commercial banks.
  • India is at 8th position in List of countries by foreign-exchange reserves , just below Republic of China (Taiwan) and Russia.
Women account for 53% of direct selling industry

Women contribute 53% of entrepreneurs engaged in the $1.5 billion (Rs 9,850 crore) direct selling industry in India, a report by the World Federation of Direct Selling Associations (WFDSA).

The Indian direct selling industry provided entrepreneurship opportunities to 5.1 million people in 2017, of which 2.7 million were women.

The Indian direct selling industry has been growing at an exponential pace over the last few years to become a part of the ‘billion-dollar club’ of the multi-billion-dollar global direct selling industry.

 

Though India and China having a similar number of direct selling entrepreneurs, China is far ahead in terms of sales generated.  Around 5.1 million entrepreneurs in India were involved in direct selling in 2017 compared to 5.3 million in China.  However, sales generated in China stood at $34.29 billion compared with $1.5 billion in India in 2017.

A report by FICCI-KPMG predicts that with adequate regulatory support, retail sales in direct selling could reach Rs 64,500 crore by 2025 and provide self-employment opportunities to 18 million Indians by 2025, of which 60% could be women.

While the US is the world’s largest market, China is at the second spot. Asia Pacific region, however, has emerged as the largest contributor to the global direct selling industry in 2017. The Asia Pacific region contributed 46% to global sales generated by the direct selling industry in 2017 with more than 65 million people in the region involved in it. Among the world’s top 10 largest direct selling markets in 2017 in terms of sales, five countries are from Asia.

FACTFILE – World Federation of Direct Selling Associations (WFDSA)

  • WFDSA, based in Washington DC, is the leading international non-governmental organization representing direct selling industry worldwide as a federation of national Direct Selling Associations. WFDSA was founded in 1978 by 12 Direct Selling Associations.
  • The Federation was set up to address various direct selling issues around the globe by allowing DSAs the ability to share information, strategies and to plan common practices.
  • The First WFDSA World Code of Ethics was established in 1985 and adopted by the DSAs locally.
  • The key objectives of the Federation is to pursue the highest level of ethical conduct in the global marketplace, fosters advocacy by partnering with government, consumer and academic leaders around the world, strengthens management of national Direct Selling Associations and promoting integration and alignment of direct selling companies.
SBI expects 10% credit growth in FY19

State Bank of India said it has ‘set its house in order’ and the credit growth is expected to see 10 per cent growth by the end of the current fiscal.

The country’s largest lender suffered a hefty loss of Rs 4,876 crore for the June quarter due to higher bad loans. The total provisions more than doubled to Rs 19,228 crore for the first quarter of this fiscal, from Rs 8,929.48 crore in Q1 of FY 18. On a consolidated basis, the bank posted a net loss of Rs 4,230 crore as against a profit of Rs 3,032 crore earlier.

Gross advances crossed the Rs 20 lakh crore mark and grew at 4.91 per cent to Rs 20,48,387 crore by March 2018 from the previous year’s level of Rs 19,52,507 crore.

FACTFILE – State Bank of India (SBI)

  • SBI is an Indian multinational, public sector banking and financial services It is a government-owned corporation headquartered in Mumbai, Maharashtra.
  • The company is ranked 217th on the Fortune Global 500 list of the world’s biggest corporations as of 2017. It is the largest bank in India with a 23% market share in assets, besides a share of one-fourth of the total loan and deposits market.
  • The bank descends from the Bank of Calcutta, founded in 1806, via the Imperial Bank of India, making it the oldest commercial bank in the Indian subcontinent.
  • The Bank of Madras merged into the other two “presidency banks” in British India, the Bank of Calcutta and the Bank of Bombay, to form the Imperial Bank of India, which in turn became the State Bank of India in 1955.
  • The Government of India took control of the Imperial Bank of India in 1955, with Reserve Bank of India (India’s central bank) taking a 60% stake, renaming it the State Bank of India. In 2008, the government took over the stake held by the Reserve Bank of India.
Govt approves 1.12 lakh more houses under PM’s housing scheme

The Centre has approved construction of nearly 1.12 lakh more affordable houses for urban poor in eight states under the Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojna, with Andra Pradesh bagging the largest share of over 37,000 housing units.

According to the Housing and Urban Affairs Ministry, which is mandated to implement the scheme, the total number of houses being funded under the PMAY (Urban) is close to 55 lakh across the country so far.

The committee also sanctioned construction of 2.67 lakh affordable houses for the poor in 10 states. It stated that Andhra Pradesh has been sanctioned 37,719 houses while the sanction for Haryana is 19,858.

The number of houses sanctioned for Madhya Pradesh is 18,375, Maharashtra 12,238 houses, Chhattisgarh 10,632 houses and Karnataka 8,761 houses. Approvals given for J&K stands at 4,442 houses while Arunachal Pradesh has been sanctioned 188 houses.

FACTFILE – Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana (PMAY)

  • PMAY is an initiative by Government of India in which affordable housing will be provided to the urban poor with a target of building 20 million affordable houses by 31 March 2022.
  • It has two components: Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana (Urban) (PMAY-U) for the urban poor and Pradhan Mantri Awaas Yojana (Gramin) (PMAY-G and also PMAY-R) for the rural poor.
  • This scheme is converged with other schemes to ensure houses have a toilet, Saubhagya Yojana electricity connection, Ujjwala Yojana LPG gas connection, access to drinking water and Jan Dhan banking facilities, etc.
  • Accumulative houses under PMAY(U) would become 54,95,443 after final approval from CSMC.

India, Vietnam hold talks to bolster trade, investment and defence ties

External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj on 28th Aug held talks with her Vietnamese counterpart Pham Binh Minh and discussed measures to strengthen trade, investment, maritime and defence cooperation between the two countries.

Swaraj is in Vietnam on the first leg of her four-day two-nation tour which aims at deepening India’s strategic cooperation with Vietnam and Cambodia. India and Vietnam are connected not only by the common waters but also by a shared vision for peace and prosperity.

Hanoi is therefore a particularly appropriate setting to discuss developments in the Indian Ocean and the Indo-Pacific region.

India and Vietnam have agreed to further strengthen cooperation in the maritime domain, including on anti-piracy, security of sea lanes and exchange of white shipping information.

FACTFILE – Vietnam

  • Vietnam is the easternmost country on the Indochina Peninsula.
  • It has a population of 6 million, making it the world’s 15th-most-populous country, and the ninth-most-populous Asian country.
  • Hanoi is the capital and Ho Chi Minh City is the most populous city.
  • The conflict between North Vietnam and South Vietnam is known as the Vietnam War, with heavy intervention by the US on the side of South Vietnam from 1965 to 1973. The war ended with a North Vietnamese victory in 1975.
  • Vietnam was then unified under a Communist government but remained impoverished and politically isolated.
  • Since 2000, Vietnam’s economic growth rate has been among the highest in the world, and, in 2011, it had the highest Global Growth Generators Index among 11 major economies.
  • Its successful economic reforms resulted in its joining the World Trade Organization in 2007, it is also a member of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation and the Organisation Internationale de la Francophonie.
Centre signs MoU with 6 states for Lakhwar Yamuna basin project

Union Water Resources Minister Nitin Gadkari has signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) here with six states for the construction of the Lakhwar multi-purpose project in the upper Yamuna basin to deal with water crisis.

Chief Ministers of Uttar Pradesh (Yogi Adityanath), Rajasthan (Vasundhara Raje Scindia), Uttarakhand (Trivendra Singh Rawat), Himachal Pradesh (Jai Ram Thakur), Haryana (Manohar Lal Khattar) and (Delhi Arvind Kejriwal) signed the MoU. The agreement is an effort to conserve and utilise the monsoon flows of the Yamuna.

Under the agreement, the 204-metres high project will be constructed with live storage capacity of 330.66 million cubic metres (MCM) in the upper Yamuna basin to deal with the water crisis between January and June.

90 per cent of the project will be funded by the Centre while the remaining amount will be paid by the six states. The total project is worth Rs 3,966.51 crore.

The water storage will provide irrigation for 33,780-hectare land and facilitate availability of 78.83 MCM water for domestic, drinking and industrial use in six basin states. The project will also generate 300 mw of power and will be executed by Uttarakhand Jal Vidyut Nigam Limited (UJVL)

Indian economy likely to grow at 7.4% in FY19: NCAER

Economic policy think-tank NCAER has retained India’s growth forecast for the current fiscal at 7.4% citing comfortable agricultural sector outlook and a marked improvement in the external sector.

In 2018-19 the real agriculture Gross Value Added (GVA) is envisaged to grow at 4.6%, real industry GVA at 5.1%, and real services GVA at 8.5%.

The NCAER’s  annual model forecasts that GDP at market prices will grow at 7.4% for 2018-19 on a year-on-year basis, same as May 2018. The growth rates in exports and imports, in dollar terms, are estimated at 11.9% and 15.1% respectively.

The current account balance and central fiscal deficit, as percentages of GDP, are projected at 2% and 3.3% respectively.

National Council of Applied Economic Research (NCAER) was established in 1956, NCAER is India’s oldest and largest independent, non-profit, economic policy research institute.

India’s ever first biofuel flight by SpiceJet

India’s first ever biofuel flight, operated by SpiceJet, completed its maiden trip on 27th Aug 2018. A 78-seater aircraft Bombardier Q400 aircraft, partially using biojet fuel, took off from Dehradun and landed at the Indira Gandhi International Airport, Delhi.

The fuel used was developed by CSIR-Indian Institute of Petroleum (IIP), Dehradun, contains 75 percent aviation turbine fuel and 25 percent biofuel, produced from Jatropha crop.

Biofuel is a fuel that is produced through contemporary biological processes, such as agriculture and anaerobic digestion, rather than a fuel produced by geological processes such as those involved in the formation of fossil fuels, such as coal and petroleum, from prehistoric biological matter.

Biofuels can be derived directly from plants (i.e. energy crops), or indirectly from agricultural, commercial, domestic, and/or industrial wastes.

Renewable biofuels generally involve contemporary carbon fixation, such as those that occur in plants or microalgae through the process of photosynthesis.

Other renewable biofuels are made through the use or conversion of biomass (referring to recently living organisms, most often referring to plants or plant-derived materials).

EESL signed $300 mollin pact with World Bank to boost energy efficiency programme

Indian Govt, the government, World Bank and Energy Efficiency Services Limited (EESL)  signed a US$ 220 million loan agreement and a US$ 80 million guarantee pact to push energy efficiency programme in India.

To be implemented by EESL, the programme will help incrase the deployment of energy saving measures in residential and public sectors, strengthen EESL’s institutional capacity, and enhance its access to commercial financing.

The US$ 220 million loan, from the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development (IBRD) to Energy Efficiency Services Ltd, has a 5-year grace period, and a maturity of 19 years. This investment package is expected to avoid lifetime greenhouse gas emissions of 170 million tons of CO2, and contribute to avoiding an estimated 10 GW of additional generation capacity, which would be over 50 per cent of the National Mission for Enhanced Energy Efficiency target of 19.6 GW indicated in India’s Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) under the Paris Accord.

The key components of the program includes

  • creating sustainable markets for LED lights and energy efficient ceiling fans; facilitating well-structured and scalable investments in public street lighting
  • developing sustainable business models for emerging market segments such as super-efficient air conditioning and agricultural water pumping systems
  • strengthening the institutional capacity of EESL

FACTFILE – Energy Efficiency Services Limited (EESL)

  • Energy Efficiency Services Limited (EESL) is an energy service company (ESCO) of the Government of India and is the world’s largest public energy service company (ESCO).
  • It is 100% government owned, a joint venture of state-owned NTPC Limited, Power Finance Corporation, Rural Electrification Corporation and POWERGRID.
  • EESL was formed under India’s Ministry of Power to facilitate energy efficiency projects. Innovative business and implementation models can significantly reduce consumption and costs.
  • EESL also acts as the resource centre for capacity building of state electricity distribution companies, electricity regulatory commissions (ERCs), state-designated agencies (SDAs), upcoming ESCOs, financial institutions, etc.
  • It is backed by and promoters, and has net worth of over INR 2.144 billion. India’s energy efficiency market is estimated at US$12 billion

FACTFILE – The International Bank for Reconstruction and Development (IBRD)

  • IBRD is an international financial institution that offers loans to middle-income developing countries.
  • The IBRD is the first of five member institutions that compose the World Bank Group and is headquartered in Washington, D.C., United States.
  • It was established in 1944 with the mission of financing the reconstruction of European nations devastated by World War II. The IBRD and its concessional lending arm, the International Development Association, are collectively known as the World Bank as they share the same leadership and staff.
  • Following the reconstruction of Europe, the Bank’s mandate expanded to advancing worldwide economic development and eradicating poverty. The IBRD provides commercial-grade or concessional financing to sovereign states to fund projects that seek to improve transportation and infrastructure, education, domestic policy, environmental consciousness, energy investments, healthcare, access to food and potable water, and access to improved sanitation.
World Bank to provide USD 250 Million loan to Rajasthan to improve power distribution

An agreement was signed between the Government of India, the Government of Rajasthan and the World Bank, under which the World Bank will provide a USD 250 million loan facility to Rajasthan for improving the performance of its electricity distribution sector.

The Second Programmatic Electricity Distribution Reform Development Policy Loan for Rajasthan is the second in the series of two operations planned for a comprehensive turnaround of Rajasthan’s electricity distribution sector.

The key areas that the programme will support include, strengthening governance in the distribution sector by establishing annual performance MoUs between the DISCOMs and the State Government.

The loan from the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development (IBRD), has a 3-year grace period, and a maturity of 21 years.

Gross NPAs may improve to 10% by March 2019

The gross non-performing assets (GNPAs) of the banking sector is likely to improve to 10% in March 2019, from 11.52% as on June 30, 2018, as nearly 60% of the bad loans of the sector are under active resolution.

The net NPA is also expected to decrease to 4.3%, from 5.92% as of June-end this year. GNPA and NNPA may be higher at 12.2% and 5.6%, respectively, in absence of resolution.

ICRA estimated that 70 big companies accounting for around Rs 3.8 trillion of debt may be heading for resolution under the Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code (IBC).

Expect GNPAs and NNPAs for banking sector are likely to reduce to close to 10% and 4.3% respectively by March 2019, same may be higher at 12.2% and 5.6%, respectively, in absence of resolution. The GNPAs declined to 11.52% as on June 30, 2018, from 11.68% as on March 31, 2018, while the NNPAs decreased to 5.92%, against 6.27%.

FACTFILE – Non-performing asset (NPA)

  • Non-performing asset (NPA) is defined as a credit facility in respect of which the interest and/or installment of principal has remained ‘past due’ for a specified period of time. In simple terms, an asset is tagged as non performing when it ceases to generate income for the lender.
  • Once the borrower has failed to make interest or principal payments for 90 days the loan is considered to be a non-performing asset.
  • Non-performing assets are problematic for financial institutions since they depend on interest payments for income. Troublesome pressure from the economy can lead to a sharp increase in NPLs and often results in massive write-downs.

Govt approves 80% hike in spending for India Post Payments Bank to Rs 1,435 crore

The Cabinet approved 80 per cent increase in spending for India Post Payments Bank (IPPB) to Rs 1,435 crore. The IPPB is set to go live with 650 branches and 3,250 access points across the country on September 1.

It will offer financial services in rural areas including savings and current accounts, money transfer, direct benefit transfer, bill and utility payments and enterprise and merchant payments.

This financial push will increase IPPB project outlay to Rs 1,435 crore from Rs 800 crore, giving it additional firepower to compete in the market with existing operators like Airtel Payments Bank and Paytm Payments Bank.

The revised cost estimate of Rs 635 crore is on account of Technology Costs (Rs 400 crore) and HR expenses (Rs 235 crore). IPPB will begin scaling up its operations immediately from the 650 branches and 3,250 access points.

All 1.55 lakh post offices will be linked to its system by December 31, 2018. Of these, 1.30 lakh access points will be located in rural areas, taking it to vast untapped market.

FACTFILE – India Post Payments Bank

  • India Post Payment Bank (IPPB) is a Payments bank headquartered in New delhi.It is a goverment owned Public limited company. The bank was inaugurated on September 1, 2018.
  • It’s 100 per cent Government owned, set up under the aegis of Department of Post, and will offer products and services though multiple channels such as counter services, micro ATMs, mobile banking app etc.
  • On August 19, 2015 India post got licence to run payments bank from Reserve Bank of India.
  • On August 17 ,2016 registered as public limited government company for setup payments bank. First branch of IPPB inaugurated on 30 January 2017 at Raipur and Ranchi. The payment bank was nationwide inaugurated on September 1, 2018.
  • India Post Payment Bank is a digital bank. Account can open from mobile app of the bank using Aadhaar and PAN.
  • Account: The bank offer savings and current accounts up to a balance of Rs 1 Lac.

Key Person – Suresh Sethi, MD & CEO

FACTFILE – Payments banks

  • Payments banks is a new model of banks conceptualised by the Reserve Bank of India (RBI).
  • They can accept a restricted deposit, which is currently limited to ₹1 lakh per customer.
  • Payments banks cannot issue loans and credit card, but can issue services like ATM cards, debit cards, net-banking and mobile-banking.

Point2Remember -Bharti Airtel set up India’s first live payments bank.

GDP to register 7.4% growth on industrial activity, says RBI

The Reserve Bank expects India’s (RBI) says India’s economic growth rate to accelerate to 7.4% in the current financial year on pick up in industrial activity and good monsoon, as compare to 6.7% in the previous year.

RBI also expressed that its monetary policy objective will continue to be of achieving the medium-term target for retail inflation of 4%, within a tolerance band of +/- 2%, while supporting growth.

Several experts, including SBI, expects the CAD to widen this fiscal on account of persistent high oil prices and large trade deficit. The CAD was estimated at 2% of the GDP in fiscal year ending March 2018.

The prevailing negative credit-to-GDP gap indicates that there is sufficient scope for credit absorption and expansion in bank lending on a sustained basis.

India’s Chandrayaan-2 Moon Mission to be launched in 2019

Kailasavadivoo Sivan, the chairperson of the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) has said that the window to launch India’s second mission to the moon – Chandrayaan-2 – has been slotted between 3 January 2019 and 16 February 2019.

FACTFILE – Chandrayaan-2

  • The mission is planned to be launched to the Moon by a Geosynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle Mark III (GSLV Mk III).
  • Chandrayaan-2 will be equipped with a lander and rover probe which will descend on the surface of the moon from where it will observe the lunar surface and send back data which will be useful for analysis of the lunar soil.
  • The mission will have an orbiter weighing 2,379kg, lander named Vikram weighing 1,471kg and a rover weighing 27kg.
  • Chandrayaan-2 is scheduled to be launched no earlier than January 2019, and will attempt to soft land a lander and rover in a high plain between two craters, Manzinus C and Simpelius N, at a latitude of about 70° south. If successful, Chandrayaan-2 will be the first-ever mission to land a rover near the lunar south pole.
Asian Development Bank approves financing package of USD 245 Million for West Bengal

The Asian Development Bank (ADB) board has approved a financing package of $245 million to provide safe, sustainable, and inclusive drinking water service to about 1.65 million people in three districts of West Bengal, viz. Bankura, North 24 Parganas, and Purba Medinipur, affected by arsenic, fluoride, and salinity.

High arsenic and fluoride levels in drinking water are a threat to public health in India, where West Bengal is by far the worst affected state.

Through efficient use of surface water and a shift to piped water schemes, the ADB project will reduce the burden of disease from arsenic and fluoride while preserving groundwater and enhancing climate resilience.

Water will be provided through bulk water systems, consisting of intakes, water treatment plants, and transmission mains that will be connected to a grid with existing and new systems in the project districts.

The project will use a high-technology based smart water management system to efficiently manage services-a first for large scale rural water schemes in India.

The total project cost is $349 million, for which ADB will provide a loan of $240 million and grant of $3 million from the Japan Fund for Poverty Reduction, financed by the Government of Japan. The West Bengal government will provide $106 million in funding. ADB will also administer a $2 million grant from the Urban Climate Change Resilience Trust Fund.

FACTFILE – The Asian Development Bank (ADB)

  • ADB is a regional development bank established on 19 December 1966, which is headquartered in the Ortigas Center located in the city of Mandaluyong, Metro Manila, Philippines.
  • It maintains 31 field offices around the world to promote social and economic development in Asia.
  • The bank admits the members of the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (UNESCAP, formerly the Economic Commission for Asia and the Far East or ECAFE) and non-regional developed countries.
  • From 31 members at its establishment, ADB now has 67 members, of which 48 are from within Asia and the Pacific and 19 outside.
  • The ADB was modeled closely on the World Bank, and has a similar weighted voting system where votes are distributed in proportion with members’ capital subscriptions.
  • ADB is an official United Nations
World Bank approves Rs 929.89 crore for Shimla’s water project

The World Bank has approved in principle a financial assistance of Rs 929.89 crore for a water supply and sewerage project for the state capital, Himachal PradeshThe final negotiation meeting for loan sanction will be held on October 24.

There are six sources of drinking water supply to Shimla town with a total water supply capacity of 54 million litres per day (MLD). These included Gumma and Giri. To ensure regular supply of drinking water, particularly during summer, there is need to augment the Gumma water source from the Sutlej river and construct storage dams on the Giri river.

Another step to meet the water requirement would be to instal filter units in 13 ‘bouries’ or natural water bodies here to ensure water for non-potable uses.

FACTFILE – The World Bank (WB)
  • WB is an international financial institution that provides loans to countries of the world for capital projects.
  • It comprises two institutions: the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development (IBRD), and the International Development Association (IDA).
  • The World Bank is a component of the World Bank Group. The World Bank was created at the 1944 Bretton Woods Conference along with the International Monetary Fund (IMF). The president of the World Bank is, traditionally, an American.
  • The World Bank and the IMF are both based in Washington, D.C., and work closely with each other.
  • The Gold Room at the Mount Washington Hotel where the International Monetary Fund and World Bank were established.

 BIMSTEC summit concluded with signing of 18-point Kathmandu Declaration

The fourth summit of Bay of Bengal Initiative for Multi-Sectoral Technical and Economic Cooperation (BIMSTEC) concluded on 31st Aug.

On the second day of the summit, an 18-point declaration paper was signed. The declaration is expected to enhance the effectiveness of BIMSTEC Secretariat by engaging it in various technical and economic activities in the region.

FACTFILE – The Bay of Bengal Initiative for Multi-Sectoral Technical and Economic Cooperation (BIMSTEC)

  • It is an international organisation of seven nations of South Asia and South East Asia, housing 1.5 billion people and having a combined gross domestic product of $2.5 trillion (2014).
  • The BIMSTEC member states—Bangladesh, India, Myanmar, Sri Lanka, Thailand, Bhutan, and Nepal are among the countries dependent on the Bay of Bengal. Fourteen priority sectors of cooperation have been identified and several BIMSTEC centres have been established to focus on those sectors
  • On June 6, 1997, a new sub-regional grouping was formed in Bangkok under the name BIST-EC (Bangladesh, India, Sri Lanka, and Thailand Economic Cooperation).
  • On 22 December 1997, Myanmar became a full member, resulting in the renaming of the grouping to BIMST-EC. In 1998, Nepal became an observer. In February 2004, Nepal and Bhutan became full members.
  • On July 31, 2004, in the first Summit the grouping was renamed as BIMSTEC or the Bay of Bengal Initiative for Multi-Sectoral Technical and Economic Cooperation.

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