Current Affairs for IAS Exams - 11 JANUARY 2018

Current Affairs for IAS Exams - 11 JANUARY 2019


Cabinet approves new approvals including repromulgation of triple talaq ordinance

  •  Union Cabinet has approved a proposal to re-promulgate the ordinance making instant triple talaq a criminal offence. The ordinance makes all declarations of instant triple talaq void and illegal and the practice a punishable offence with imprisonment of three years. In order to boost healthcare infrastructure in the country, the Cabinet has approved the establishment of three more All India Institute of Medical Sciences, AIIMS.
  •  Two of them will be set up in Jammu and Kashmir and the third will come up in Gujarat. Expressing gratitude, Union Health Minister J P Nadda said the approval follows the prime minister's vision and upholds the spirit of 'Sabka Saath, Sabka Vikas'.
  •  The Cabinet also gave its nod to re-issue an ordinance to allow a Committee to run the Medical Council of India. The Cabinet also approved the creation of the post of Vice Chancellor for National Rail and Transport Institute in Vadodara, Gujarat.
  •  Beside, signing of MoUs with many countries on different fields has also been approved at the Cabinet meeting. Approval has been given for a MoU between India and France for technical bilateral cooperation in the field of new and renewable energy. The Cabinet also gave its nod to a MoU on Maritime issues with Denmark.
  •  It approved a MoU with Japan on Development of Advanced Model Single Window to promote Ease of Doing Business in India. Also, the proposal for entering into an Agreement for Bilateral Swap Arrangement with Japan also cleared. To provide tax assistance by Indian experts to African nation Eswatini, signing of terms of reference has also been approved by the Cabinet.

States agree on Renukaji Multipurpose dam project

  •  An agreement for Renukaji Dam Multipurpose Project will be signed today among the states of Uttar Pradesh, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh, Delhi, Rajasthan and Uttarakhand. The project is aimed at meeting the drinking water needs of these states.
  •  The agreement will be signed in the presence of Water Resources, River Development and Ganga Rejuvenation Minister Nitin Gadkari in New Delhi. All the six Chief Ministers will also be present on the occasion.
  •  Under it, three storage projects are proposed to be constructed on the river Yamuna and two of its tributaries - Tons and Giri in the hilly regions of Uttarakhand and Himachal Pradesh.
  •  These include Lakhwar project on river Yamuna in Uttarakhand, Kishau on river Tons in Uttarakhand and Himachal Pradesh and Renukaji on river Giri in Himachal Pradesh.
  •  The projects were conceived in 2008. Most of the irrigation cost and the drinking water component of these projects will be funded by the central government. In addition to this a concession agreement will also be signed for Namami Gange projects for the city of Prayagraj under Hybrid Annuity Mode and One City One Operator Concept.


Small businesses get sigh of relief in GST council meeting

  •  The GST Council in its 32nd meeting on Thursday — the last before the Budget — took a slew of decisions aimed at reducing the tax and compliance burden on small and medium enterprises, including increasing the threshold limit below which companies are exempt from GST, extending the Composition Scheme to small service providers, and allowing small companies to file annual returns.
  •  The Council also raised the annual turnover limit under which companies would be exempt from GST to Rs. 40 lakh for most States and Rs. 20 lakh for the North Eastern and hill states, from the earlier limit of Rs. 20 lakh and Rs. 10 lakh, respectively.
  •  Mr. Jaitley announced that the limit for eligibility for the Composition Scheme would be raised to an annual turnover of Rs. 1.5 crore from April 1, 2019. He added that companies opting for the Composition Scheme would be allowed to file annual returns and pay taxes quarterly from April 1.
  •  The Composition Scheme currently allows companies with an annual turnover of up to Rs. 1 crore to opt for it, and file returns on a quarterly basis at a nominal rate of 1%. So far, only manufacturers and traders were eligible for this scheme.
  •  Mr. Jaitley said that the Council had decided to extend the Composition Scheme to small service providers with an annual turnover of up to Rs. 50 lakh, at a tax rate of 6%.
  •  The GST Council also decided to allow Kerala to levy a cess of up to 1% for up to two years on intra-State supplies to help finance the disaster relief efforts following the recent floods in the state.

RBI defers capital buffer norms leveraging funds for banks

  •  The Reserve Bank on Thursday deferred the implementation of the last tranche of Capital Conservation Buffer (CCB) by a year, a move that would leave about an estimated Rs. 37,000 crore capital in the hands of banks.
  •  This would help banks increase lending by over Rs. 3.5 lakh crore by leveraging ten times the capital.
  •  Accordingly, minimum capital conservation ratios of 2.5% would be applicable from March 31, 2020.Currently, the CCB of banks stands at 1.875% of the core capital.
  •  The CCB is the capital buffer that banks have to accumulate in normal times to be used for offsetting losses during periods of stress. It was introduced after the 2008 global financial crisis to improve the ability of banks to withstand adverse economic conditions.
  •  Further, it said, the pre-specified trigger for loss absorption through conversion or write-down of additional tier 1 instruments will remain at 5.5% of risk-weighted asset (RWA) and will rise to 6.125% of RWAs on March 31, 2020. The decision to defer CCB was taken at the November 19 meeting of the central board of directors.

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U.S urging a diplomatic withdrawal of troops from Syria

  •  Secretary of State Mike Pompeo vowed on Thursday that the U.S. and its allies would work diplomatically to expel all Iranian troops from Syria, urging nations in the West Asian region to forge a common stand against Tehran.
  •  “It's time for old rivalries to end, for the sake of the greater good of the region,” said Mr. Pompeo at a keynote address in Cairo. America “will use diplomacy and work with our partners to expel every last Iranian boot” from Syria and bolster efforts “to bring peace and stability to the long-suffering Syrian people,” he added.
  •  In his speech at the American University in Cairo, Mr. Pompeo said the U.S. is creating an anti-Iran front, bringing together Gulf countries as well as Egypt and Jordan.
  •  He also stressed that the troop pullout from Syria would go ahead but said that the U.S. would remain engaged.
  •  Meanwhile, Turkey renewed its threat to launch an offensive against Kurds.
  •  “If the (pullout) is put off with ridiculous excuses like Turks are massacring Kurds, which do not reflect the reality, we will implement this decision,” Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu told NTV television.
  •  Turkish officials had a tense meeting this week with Mr. Trump’s National Security Adviser John Bolton in Ankara aimed at coordinating the pullout process.

U.S to go ahead with border wall during Mexico meeting

  •  President Donald Trump reached McAllen, Texas yesterday to push his demand for controversial US-Mexico border wall. The President is visiting the US-Mexico border for the first time amid an extended government shutdown with no deal in sight.
  •  Mr Trump said, more barriers on the frontier with Mexico are needed to protect the United States from the torrent of violent crime committed by illegal immigrants.
  •  Opposition Democrats are refusing to approve 5.7 billion dollars in wall funding, saying that overwhelming numbers of illegal immigrants do not commit serious crimes and Mr Trump is promoting the project to satisfy his right-wing base. The standoff has resulted in a partial government shutdown with hundreds of thousands of federal employees going without pay.
  •  On arrival in Texas, President Trump tweeted that he will skip the annual meeting of the World Economic Forum at Davos in Switzerland if the ongoing partial shutdown of the government continues.
  •  Meanwhile, Mexican authorities said yesterday that 21 bodies on the US-Mexican border had been found after a drug-gang shootout in a town near where President Donald Trump was due to visit later in the day. Mexico has been racked by drug-related violence in recent years.


NASA confirms Hubble telescope camera malfunction

  •  The operations of the Hubble Space Telescope’s most technologically advanced camera have been suspended after it encountered a hardware problem, NASA said.
  •  However, the telescope will continue to perform science observations with its other three active instruments, while the Wide Field Camera 3 anomaly is investigated, the U.S. space agency said in a statement.
  •  The Hubble Wide Field Camera 3 was installed by space-walking astronauts during Servicing Mission 4 in 2009.
  •  NASA said that the camera is equipped with back-up electronics that can be called to action should they be needed to recover the instrument.
  •  Hubble is the first major optical telescope to be placed in space, providing an unobstructed view into the universe. Launched in 1990, the world’s first space telescope helped confirm the theory that the universe is expanding, lending credence to the Big Bang theory.
  •  Hubble has made more than 1.3 million observations since its mission began in 1990, taking pictures of stars and galaxies of as it whirls around the Earth.
  •  Astronomers using Hubble data have published more than 15,000 scientific papers, making it one of the most productive scientific instruments ever built.


IWF President named chief of mission for 2020 olympics

  •  President of the Indian Weightlifting Federation (IWF), Birendra Prasad Baishya, has been named Chef de Mission for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.
  •  IWF Secretary Sahdev Yadav said in a release that it is for the first time that the Weightlifting has been accorded with the honour of Chef de Mission for the Olympics.
  •  Baishya is also one of the Indian Olympic Association Vice Presidents.

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