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Current Affairs Today August 9 2018

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Current Affairs Today August 9 2018

INDIAN AFFAIRS

Niryat Mitra : Mobile App to promote ease of doing business launched by Commerce & Industry Minister Suresh Prabhu
On August 9, 2018, Union Minister of Commerce & Industry and Aviation Suresh Prabhu launched Niryat Mitra – mobile App in New Delhi .

Niryat Mitra : Mobile App to promote ease of doing business launched by Commerce & Industry Minister Suresh PrabhuObjective:
It provides wide range of information required to undertake international trade.
Key Points:
i.It will help promote export in the country and increase the ease of doing business.
About the App:
i. It has been developed by the Federation of Indian Export Organizations (FIEO).
ii. It has the following features:

  • It will provide information regarding policy provisions for export and import, applicable GST rate, available export incentives, tariffetc.
  • It internally maps the ITC HS code of other countries with that of India and providesthe tariff line. Presently the app comes with the data of 87 countries.
  • Human Resource tool of the app enables candidates to register and apply against the vacancies in international trade sector.
  • Companies can also search the profiles of the candidates and engage them.

Background:
♦ Exports registering increase at the rate of 20%.
♦ India’s rank in ‘Ease of Doing Business’ is : 100th (in 2018 index)

Bid round –II under Discovered Small Field Policy for exploring  and extracting oil and natural gas launched by Petroleum  Minister
On August 9, 2018, Bid round –II under Discovered Small Field Policy was launched by Shri Dharmendra Pradhan, Minister of Petroleum and Natural Gas & Skill Development and Entrepreneurship.
Key Points:
i. The government aims to increase India’s growth to become the 4th largest economy and is bringing policy reforms to the energy sector . They are focused on: Energy Access, Energy Efficiency, Energy Sustainability and Energy Security.
ii. Discovered Small Fields (DSF) policy is a part of that reform.
About Small Field Policy:
i. Launched by Ministry of Petroleum and Natural Gas India in 2016, it aims to extract the Oil, Natural gas from the un-monetized small oil/gas discoveries available in the country.   
ii. DSF Bid Round-I launched by the Government was completed in a record time of 10 months.
iii. DSF Bid Round-II will offer larger field areas in commercially producing basins.
iv. The features of the Bid round 2 are:

  • No previous technical experience required for bidders, easy entry & investor friendly policy
  • Expected to offer around 60* discoveries clubbed into around 26* new contract areas
  • Large field areas on offer in already producing basins
  • Established Hydrocarbon resource base of over 190 MMT (O+OEG)
  • Better fiscal system through Revenue Sharing Contracts
  • Area having oil/gas discoveries; Potential of upsides in the area; Ready processing facilities nearby; Ready market
  • Easy bidding process; minimum requirements; transparent award; swift processing of approvals
  • Single license for all types of hydrocarbons
  • No signature bonus
  • Exploration allowed during the entire contract period
  • Full pricing and marketing freedom
  • Royalty rates further reduced for shallow water compared to DSF-I

Background:
According to the International Energy Agency (IEA), India is expected to account for almost one-third of the global growth in energy demand by 2040.

TRIFED (M/o Tribal Affairs) and National Medicinal Plant Board (M/o AYUSH) sign MoU to promote Medicinal and Aromatic Plants
On August 9, 2018, Tribal Cooperative Marketing Development Federation of India Ltd. (TRIFED) under the Ministry of Tribal Affairs & National Medicinal Plants Board (NMPB), Ministry of AYUSH signed an MoU to promote primary level value addition to MAPs produce from forest area.
Objective:
Aims to promote Medicinal and Aromatic Plants (MAPs) forest produce for livelihood development of tribal people
Key Points:
i. MoU will help in employment generation and skill upgradation of tribal people
ii. Doubling the income of farmers.
Under this MOU:
i. NMPB would:

  • identify potential Medicinal plant species
  • support training and awareness program and skill upgradation and capacity building
  • financial assistance for plantations and nursery development for MAPs through the Van Dhan Vikas Kendra SHGs
  • assistance for establishing of research and testing centre.

ii. TRIFED would:

  • establish Van-Dhan Vikas Kendra’ specifically for Medicinal plants & its products,
  • Set up primary processing facility, infrastructure support and value addition facility for MAPs and Supply chain for Minor Forest Produce (MFPs)
  • establish herbal garden of various types
  • Research and Development studies on Medicinal Plants collected by MFP gatherers. In consultation with NMPB and TRIs.

About Van Dhan Vikas :
It was launched at Bijapur District, Chattisgarh on 14.04.2018 and aims to at economic development of tribals in collection of Minor Food Produces (MFPs) Under it, 10 Self Help Groups (SHGs) of 30 Tribal gatherers will be constituted. About 3000 Van Dhan Vikas Kendras are proposed to be set up in span of 2 years.

Government sets up 4-member GoM committee headed by Suresh Prabhu to decide on participation in RCEP agreements
On August 9, 2018, four-member Group of Ministers (GoM) headed by Union Minister of Commerce and Industry Suresh Prabhu has been constituted to to discuss concerns of trade pact with RCEP countries.
i. This meeting will determine whether India is willing to give 92% of its market access to these countries or not for free trade or not.
ii. The trade pact will affect the sectors of steel, pharmaceuticals, agriculture, electronics, heavy industry, textiles and chemicals as there will be an influx of Chinese products effecting the domestic markets.
iii. These talks are to be held before the upcoming trade negotiations in  RCEP Summit with member nations — including Japan, China, Australia, New Zealand and South Korea in November 2018.
iv. Apart from that 16 member RCEP ministerial meet is on 30 and 31 August in Singapore.
Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP)
RCEP is proposed free trade agreement (FTA) or comprehensive regional economic integration agreement between the 10-ASEAN countries (Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, Vietnam) and its six FTA partners (Australia, New Zealand, India, China, Japan and Korea)
i. It has a collective GDP of $22.5 trillion.

Swaminathan panel report being implemented for better livelihood of farmers: Agriculture minister
On August 9, 2018, the agriculture minister Radha Mohan Singh announced that government would implement Swaminathan Committee’s reportto improve living standards of farmers and upliftment of farm sector.
Key Points:
i. In 2006, President of the National Commission on Farmers (NCF) Swaminathan had recommended the following:

  • reformatory schemesfor welfare of farmers,
  • transparency in the market, increase productivity and eliminate malnutrition.
  • sustainable production and development on erosion of natural resources and climate change
  • improving the infrastructure.

Government’s Achievement:
i. The government has introduced the Model Agricultural Land Leasing Act, 2016.
ii. The e-National Agricultural Market (e-NAM) scheme links 585 mandis and  22,000 agriculture markets across the country.
iii. Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR) has developed 795 improved varieties of crops. About 495 of these improved varieties are tolerant to climate change.
iv. The government has created corpus funds for improving the infrastructure  of dairy, cooperative, fisheries and aquaculture, animal husbandry, agriculture market and micro-irrigation sectors.
These are:
i. Establishment of Animal Husbandry Infrastructure Development Fund (AHIDF) and Fisheries and Aqua culture Infrastructure Fund (FAIDF) for a total of Rs.10,000 crore announced in Budget of 2018-19.
ii. Credit for Agri sector raised to Rs.11 lakh crore in 2018-19.
iii.  Introduction of Operation Green for Rs.500 crore.
iv. Allocation for Food processing Rs.1400 crore.
v. National Bamboo Mission: Rs.1290 crore.
vi. Irrigation project of ‘Krishi Sinchayee Yojna’: Rs.2600 crore.
vii. Cultivation of medicinal & aromatic plants: Rs. 200 crore.

Khangchendzonga Biosphere Reserve : 11th Biosphere Reserve from India to be Included in the World Network of Biosphere Reserves of UNESCO
On August 9, 2018, UNESCO designated World Network of Biosphere Reserves (WNBR) included Khangchendzonga Biosphere Reserve in its list. This decision was taken at the 30th Session of International Coordinating Council (ICC) of Man and Biosphere (MAB) Programme of UNESCO held at Palembang, Indonesia, from July 23-27, 2018.

Khangchendzonga Biosphere Reserve : 11th Biosphere Reserve from India to be Included in the World Network of Biosphere Reserves of UNESCOi. It is India’s 11th Biosphere Reserve that has been included so far.
Key Points:
The core zone – Khangchendzonga National Park was designated a World Heritage Site in 2016 under the ‘mixed’ category.
About Khangchendzonga Biosphere Reserve:
i. Khangchendzonga Biosphere Reserve in Sikkim is one of the highest ecosystems in the world, reaching elevations of 1, 220 metres above sea-level.
ii. Over 118 species of the large number of medicinal plants found in Dzongu Valley in north Sikkim are of ethno-medical utility.
iii. The core area of the Biosphere Reserve is a major transboundary Wildlife Protected Area.
Background:
i. India has a total of 18 Biosphere Reserves.
ii. 10 other Biosphere reserves are: Nilgiri (2000), Gulf of Mannar (2001), Sunderban (2001), Nanda Devi(2004), Nokrek (2009), Pachmarhi(2009), Similipal (2009), Achanakmar-Amarkantak Biosphere Reserve (2012) , Great Nicobar Biosphere Reserve (2013) and  Agasthyamala Biosphere Reserve (2016).

Haryana government launches online portal for disbursal of departmental funds
On 8th August 2018, Haryana Finance Minister Captain Abhimanyu Singh Sindhu launched an online portal for releasing grant-in-aid to government departments.
Online portal for disbursal of departmental funds:
i. Abhimanyu Singh Sindhu made the first transaction using the electronic system. He released Rs 84.58 crore to the health department under the National Health Mission.
ii. This online system will make budgetary process more transparent and enhance working efficiency of finance department officials.

Uttarakhand Cabinet approves revised policy on adventure sports
On 8th August 2018, Uttarakhand Cabinet chaired by Chief Minister Trivendra Singh Rawat approved a revised policy on adventure sports.

Uttarakhand Cabinet approves revised policy on adventure sportsRevised policy on adventure sports:
i. It has imposed a total ban on smoking and substance abuse by enthusiasts when they perform rafting, kayaking or canoeing in Uttarakhand.
ii. As per the revised policy, a minimum qualification has been fixed for raft operators. Also, stricter penal provisions have been formulated for violators.
iii. Uttarakhand Cabinet also approved revised rules on paragliding and aero sports to improve public safety.
iv. It also approved amendments in the Religious Freedom Act, bringing a well-defined procedure for cancellation of registration of institutions involved in fraudulent activities in the name of religion.
National Parks in Uttarakhand:
♦ Jim Corbett National Park
♦ Gangotri National Park
♦ Rajaji National Park

INTERNATIONAL AFFAIRS

4 day Visit of External Affairs Minister to Republic of Kazakhstan, Kyrgyz Republic and Republic of Uzbekistan (August 2- 5, 2018)
On August 5, 2018 External Affairs Minister Smt. Sushma Swaraj concluded her 4 day visit to three nations
i. During her visit to Astana, the minister also held a bilateral meeting with her Kazakhstani counterpart Kairat Abdrakhmanov.
ii. On August 4, 2018, External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj held talks with her Kyrgyzstan counterpart Erlan Abdyldaev on deepening cooperation in a number of areas, including trade, energy and defence and security.
iii. Sushma Swaraj congratulated the Kyrgyz Republic for taking over as Chair of SCO in 2018-19 and assured full cooperation in the successful conduct of meetings and the SCO Summit in 2019 to be held in Kyrgyzstan.
iv. On August 4-5, 2018 , External Affairs Minister Smt. Sushma Swaraj visited the Republic of Uzbekistan.
v. She also inaugurated a two-day Uttar Pradesh Mango Festival in Tashkent………………………………………………….Click here to Read more

“Pacific Endeavor-2018 (PE-18)” started in Kathmandu, Nepal
On 6th August 2018, Pacific Endeavor-2018 (PE-18), a communication exercise under the Multinational Communications Interoperability Program (MCIP) begun in Kathmandu, Nepal.
Pacific Endeavor-2018 (PE-18):
i. Pacific Endeavor-2018 (PE-18) is held for 12 days. It was inaugurated by Director General of Military Operations (DGMO) of Nepal, Major General Prabhuram Sharma
ii. Main objective: to develop common communications operating procedures to enable military forces in the Asia Pacific region to work together in times of disaster.
iii. Participation: nearly 270 personnel from 20 Asia-Pacific Countries are taking part.
iv. Organised by: Nepali Army and United States Pacific Command.
v. This exercise would contribute in reduction of disaster risk and losses of life. It will also promote timely and effective deployment of multinational military forces and international humanitarian agencies during disaster.
About Pacific Endeavor:
♦ Started – 2005
♦ Focus – establishing rapid and effective interoperable communication systems to work together in disaster relief operations

BANKING & FINANCE

HSBC launches online platform “MyDeal” to raise funds through capital markets
HSBC has launched a new digital platform named “MyDeal” to simplify capital raising process through capital markets by offering real-time access to information like investors’ feedback, profiles, client orders and deal pricing.
MyDeal:
i. MyDeal consists of all information related to a client’s capital markets transaction. It is updated on real time basis.
ii. MyDeal has raised more than USD 25 billion in its pilot phase in the first 7 months through more than 30 transactions worldwide.
iii. MyDeal can be accessed using a tablet or desktop. It uses application programming interface (API) technology to centralise data from multiple channels.
iv. The data is presented through custom-made graphs and visuals. The app would be released through the online store later in 2018, for direct use of clients.
About HSBC:
♦ Group Chief Executive – John Flint
♦ Headquarters – London

PayPal & HDFC Bank partner to offer seamless payment experiences to card holders
On August 9, 2018, PayPal and HDFC Bank partnered to offer safer, faster and convenient payment experiences to bank’s card holders.

PayPal & HDFC Bank partner to offer seamless payment experiences to card holdersi. This would enable consumers to easily open PayPal accounts and set it as their preferred payment method.
ii. This will enable the customers to shop how, where and when they choose.
iii. This will benefit both consumers and merchants.
HDFC:
♦ Headquarters: Mumbai.
♦ CEO: Aditya Puri.
♦ Tagline: We Understand your world.
♦ Founded: August 1994.

PayU & Reliance Money announce strategic partnership for instant personal loan
On August 9, 2018, PayU India partnered with Reliance Money to offer personal loans via LazyPay.
Objective:
To reach out to the underserved consumers in India,
Key Points:
i. This facility will be available to consumers in 10 cities, including metro cities and tier-II cities like Ahmedabad, Jaipur, Hyderabad, Bangalore, Chandigarh, Lucknow.
ii. The loan amount will start from Rs. 100 and will extend up to Rs. 1,00,000 with a duration varying from 15 days to 24 months.
iii. Reliance Money would carry out a one-step digital KYC process reducing the time to check.
iv.Customers would get an instant credit through a paperless process.
LazyPay:
It is a product powered by PayU that lets the customers avail services and pay for them at a later time.

BUSINESS & ECONOMY

IMF forecasts India’s GDP to grow at 7.5 % in 2019/20 fiscal year
On 7th August 2018, International Monetary Fund (IMF) has projected India’s GDP (Gross Domestic Product) to grow at 7.5 % in the 2019-2020 fiscal year.

IMF forecasts India's GDP to grow at 7.5 % in 2019/20 fiscal yearIMF forecasts India’s GDP to grow at 7.5 % in 2019/20 fiscal year:
i. IMF has stated in its report that, this growth is attributed to strengthening of investment and strong private consumption.
ii. It has said that, the near-term macroeconomic outlook for India is broadly favourable.
iii. India’s GDP forecast is 7.3 % in fiscal year 2018/19 and 7.5 % in 2019/20.
iv. Headline inflation is projected to increase to 5.2 % in fiscal year 2018/19 due to tightening of demand conditions, recent depreciation of the rupee and higher oil prices, housing rent allowances and agricultural minimum support prices.
v. Current account deficit is projected to increase to 2.6 % of the GDP due to rising oil prices and strong demand for imports, offset by a slight increase in remittances.
vi. The report has said that, continued fiscal consolidation is required to lower increased public debt levels, along with simplifying and streamlining the GST structure.
vii. Major macroeconomic challenges were identified as persistently-high household inflation expectations and large general government fiscal deficits and debt.
About International Monetary Fund (IMF):
♦ CEO – Christine Lagarde
♦ Headquarters – Washington, D.C., United States

APPOINTMENTS & RESIGNS

NDA candidate Harivansh elected as Deputy Chairman of Rajya Sabha
On 9th August 2018, NDA candidate and JD(U) member Harivansh was elected as Rajya Sabha Deputy Chairman.

NDA candidate Harivansh elected as Deputy Chairman of Rajya SabhaHarivansh – Deputy Chairman of Rajya Sabha:
i.The election process in Rajya Sabha was initiated by Rajya Sabha Chairman M Venkaiah Naidu.
ii.Harivansh secured 125 votes and defeated Congress MP B K Hariprasad who got 105 votes.
iii.The post of Rajya Sabha deputy chairman has been vacant since 1st July 2018, following the retirement of P J Kurien.
About Rajya Sabha:
♦ Chairman – M Venkaiah Naidu
♦ Leader of the House – Arun Jaitley
♦ Leader of Opposition – Ghulam Nabi Azad

Ivan Duque sworn in as Colombia’s youngest 60th President
On August 9, 2018, Colombia’s President-elect 42-year-old Ivan Duque has been sworn in as the country’s 60th president.
i. He replaced Juan Manuel Santos and became the youngest president in Colombia’s recent history.
ii. He defeated left-leaning candidate, Gustavo Petro, in a presidential runoff in June with 54 percent of the vote.

OBITUARY

Australian golfer Jarrod Lyle Passed away
On 9th August 2018, Australian golfer Jarrod Lyle died after fighting cancer in Australia.

Australian golfer Jarrod Lyle Passed awayi. Jarrod Lyle was 36 years old. He had won the feeder Web.com tour two times. He had played 121 US PGA Tour tournaments in his career.

Ex-400m world champion Nicholas Bett dies
On 7th August 2018, former 400m hurdles world champion Nicholas Bett of Kenya died in a car accident.

Ex-400m world champion Nicholas Bett diesDeath of Nicholas Bett:
i. Nicholas Bett was 28 years old. In 2015 IAAF World Championship held in Beijing, he won gold medal.
ii. He had made a Kenyan record of 47.79. In Commonwealth Games 2018 in Australia, he finished at 8th position in the 400m hurdles event.

IMPORTANT DAYS

76th anniversary of Quit India movement: August Kranti Day – 9 August
On 9th August 2018, the 76th anniversary of Quit India movement named as August Kranti Day was observed in India.
August Kranti Day:
i. On 9th August 1942, father of the nation Mahatma Gandhi started the Do or Die campaign to drive away Britishers from India.
ii. The movement started from Gawalia Tank in Mumbai. This day is observed as August Kranti Day every year.
iii. To observe the anniversary of Quit India movement, President Ram Nath Kovind hosted the freedom fighters at an At-Home reception at Rashtrapati Bhavan in New Delhi.

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