Current Affairs for IAS Exams - 19 April 2017


Current Affairs for IAS Exams - 19 April 2017

:: National ::

India is likely to get ‘normal’ monsoon rains according to Met Dept

  • India is likely to get ‘normal’ monsoon rains, according to the first official forecast of the season by the India Meteorological Department (IMD).

  • Rains are likely to be 96% of the 50-year average of 89cm for the monsoon season of June to September. They are expected to fan out favourably and “help agriculture.”

  • There is, however, a significant element of uncertainty in this forecast. For one, there’s the looming threat of El Nino. Secondly, the IMD has adopted a new weather model this year, and it is still a work-in-progress.

  • The IMD’s estimate of 96% rains falls at the bottom edge of what it considers ‘normal’ monsoon rains.

  • Every number forecast by the IMD has a built-in 5% error margin. India saw drought years in 2014 and 2015. As for 2016, it received 3% less than the 89 cm average, despite an IMD forecast of ‘above normal’ rains.

Australian 457 visa scheme scrapped

  • The Centre said it was studying the implications of the Australian government’s decision to scrap a visa programme that benefited Indians, and warned that the move could have an impact on negotiations on the CECA.

  • Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull announced that he was scrapping the Australian “457” visa programme that allowed Australian companies to hire Indians in a number of skilled jobs.

  • He said he would in due course replace the programme with a more stringent system, making it difficult for companies to hire non-Australian citizens.

Prime Minister Modi held talks with U.S. NSA

  • Prime Minister Narendra Modi held talks on Afghanistan, the West Asian region and the Korean peninsula with the visiting U.S. National Security Adviser, Lt. General H.R. McMaster.

  • Lt. Gen. McMaster, the first high official of the administration of U.S. President Donald Trump to visit India, met Mr. Modi after completing his trips to Afghanistan and Pakistan.

  • The meeting, however, did not yield an announcement of a date for Mr. Modi’s visit to Washington.

  • The meeting held at the Prime Minister’s official residence was attended by India’s National Security Adviser Ajit Doval, Foreign Secretary S. Jaishankar and a few other officials.

  • Earlier, the U.S. NSA and Mr. Doval held detailed discussions on India-U.S. relations, especially the security aspect of the ties, sources said.

  • During his stopover in Kabul, Lt. Gen. McMastertold an Afghan TV channel that Pakistan should deal with terror “less selectively” than it had done in the past.

  • A U.S. Embassy statement issued after the departure of Lt. Gen. McMaster that the bilateral talks “emphasised the importance of the U.S.-India strategic relationship and reaffirmed India’s designation as a major defence partner”.

Bharat Biotech to start the Phase I clinical trial of Zika virus vaccine (Register and Login to read Full News)

Task force framed on a road map for decriminalisation of politics (Register and Login to read Full News)

:: International ::

China wants India’s participation in the Belt and Road connectivity initiative

  • China reinforced its call for India’s participation in the Belt and Road connectivity initiative, telling that the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), on which India has its reservations, was not linked to the Kashmir issue.

  • India has objected to the CPEC as it passes through Pakistan-occupied Kashmir. But Mr. Wang said that China’s stance on CPEC projects “had no relationship with the [Kashmir] dispute”.

  • Mr. Wang pointed out that China had even earlier taken up projects, like the Karakoram highway, in the area. They, however, did not have any bearing on China’s position on Kashmir.

  • “I want to mention that the CPEC is economic, and for the purpose of serving economic cooperation and development. It has no direct link with political or border disputes.”

  • Referring to the Bangladesh-China-India-Myanmar (BCIM) economic corridor — one of the major economic corridors China is planning in its neighbourhood — Mr. Wang said that the four countries are ready to advance it within the framework of Belt and Road.

:: Business and Economy ::

Banks may not invest more than 10% of unit capital of REITs

  • Banks may not invest more than 10% of unit capital of Real Estate Investment Trusts (REITs) and Infrastructure Investment Trusts (InvITs), the RBI said.

  • During the first bimonthly policy review of 2017-18, the central bank allowed banks to invest in such funds, within the overall ceiling of 20% permitted for direct investments in capital markets (including venture capital funds).

SBI surpassed ONGC to become the country’s most valued state-owned firm

  • State Bank of India (SBI) surpassed ONGC to become the country’s most valued state-owned firm in terms of market valuation. At end of trade, the market cap of SBI was Rs. 2,35,307.51 crore.

  • This was about Rs. 2,961.79 crore more than ONGC’s Rs. 2,32,345.72 crore. ONGC once used to be the country’s most-valued company in terms of market valuation.

  • Among the top-10 most valued companies list, SBI is at fifth position.

The pace of road construction rose to 22.5 km per day in 2016-17 (Register and Login to read Full News)

The IMF trimmed India’s annual growth forecast by 0.4 percentage (Register and Login to read Full News) 

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