Current Affairs for IAS Exams - 24 MARCH 2019

Current Affairs for IAS Exams - 24 MARCH 2019


Home ministry to confiscate properties of terror financiers

  • The Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) said it has initiated the process to seize properties belonging to terror financiers.
  • So far 13 persons and their properties have been identified by the National Investigation Agency (NIA) and the Enforcement Directorate (ED), a senior official said. Ongoing investigations over the past two years have determined and quantified assets valued at more than Rs. 7 crore as proceeds of terror-funding crimes, the official said.
  • The official said funds obtained through these channels were being used by major secessionist outfits, particularly the All Party Hurriyat Conference (APHC).
  • “These funds are used for maintaining top APHC leadership and also the massive propaganda machinery being used to arouse disaffection among the people of J&K against the Government of India. It is also being utilised to sustain the spreading of false information through media contacts, newspapers and social media,” the official said.
  • The official said ZahoorWatali, a Kashmiri businessman arrested in 2017 by the NIA, was the main conduit for channelling terror finances in India. A plush bungalow owned by Watali in Gurugram was attached by the ED earlier this month. The official said the property was purchased using funds provided by Pakistan’s ISI and the Lashkar-e-Taiba’s (LeT) Hafiz Saeed.
  • “Documents seized by the ED clearly indicate that he has been receiving money from Hafiz Saeed, Syed Salahuddin, ISI and the Pakistan High Commission at New Delhi directly,” he said.
  • “Apart from Watali, another 10 top leaders have also been brought into the dragnet of terror funding and multi-agency surgical strikes on terror funding have been launched against them in a concerted manner,” the official said.

Process of PAN-Aadhar linking still a jeopardy

  • Tens of thousands of people may not be able to file income tax returns for the coming financial year as they are unable to link their Aadhaar to their PANs, for no fault of theirs.
  • Since a person’s identity is authenticated biometrically, Aadhaar can allow initials in the name. On the other hand, PAN is based on an old system that will not accept initials even if they are entered.
  • A large number of people, especially in south India, are not being able to link the two because of the name mismatch, officials of the Income Tax Department told . The officials have no solution to the problem from their end.
  • “This is a problem we have encountered a number of times since the linkage process started,” an official said. “In Aadhaar and passport, a person’s identity is tied to their biometrics, so their name on the document can have initials. The PAN software is at least 30 years old, and even if we enter initials, it will not accept them.”
  • “This is a problem that has come up because the two separate software systems are at different levels of sophistication,” he said. “The number of people affected is at least in tens of thousands, and the problem is even more in south India where the names are very long, and abbreviated in many cases.”
  • The government has mandated that PAN and Aadhaar be linked for filing income tax returns from the next fiscal, a decision the Supreme Court has upheld.


RBI defers implementation of new accounting norms

  • The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) has deferred the implementation of the new accounting norms, Ind AS, indefinitely, as necessary amendments to the relevant law are yet to be made.
  • The move will bring huge relief to the banks which are yet to recognise stressed assets and make necessary provisions as that would require higher capital.
  • While the original plan was to implement these accounting norms by April 1, 2018, it had to be deferred by a year due to pending legislative amendments to the Banking Regulation Act, 1949, as also the level of preparedness of many banks.
  • “The legislative amendments recommended by the Reserve Bank are under consideration of the Government of India. Accordingly, it has been decided to defer the implementation of Ind AS till further notice,” RBI said in a statement. Bankers said they had expected the deferment as necessary amendments to the Act were not made and RBI had not issued the final guidelines.
  • Ratings agencies had pegged capital requirement by public sector banks at ₹1.1 lakh crore in the first quarter of the next financial year, if the new accounting norms were implemented.
  • “The backend system and the other ecosystem probably were not ready. This required a thorough discussion with the auditors on what should be provided,” said MrutyunjayMahapatra, Managing Director & CEO, Syndicate Bank.
  • In recent times, the banking regulator had raised concerns over ‘divergence’ in asset classification and provisioning, which means the reported numbers of a bank were lower than what RBI’s inspection report had found. The implementation of Ind AS would have taken care of such issues, bankers said.

Change in debt mutual fund investment pattern

  • Debt mutual fund schemes are playing safe after bitter experiences in the last few months due to exposure towards entities with liquidity issues.
  • An analysis shows that there has been a significant shift in the manner debt schemes deploy their funds with the allocation towards government securities having halved since March 2018 and the share of corporate debt paper also witnessing a fall while investment in instruments such as bank fixed deposits, asset backed securities, equity-linked debentures and other money market instruments have almost doubled between March 2018 and February 2019.
  • “A shift in deployment of funds by debt MFs was witnessed in the initial 11 months of FY19,” said the latest analysis by CARE Ratings.
  • According to the agency, allocations towards government securities have halved since March 2018, while the share of corporate debt paper, including floating rate bonds, non-convertible debentures, fell from 38% in March 2018 to 31% in February 2019.
  • Incidentally, the overall exposure of mutual funds towards non-banking finance companies (NBFCs) has dropped from 19% in July 2018 to 15.6% in February 2019.
  • Further, as per CARE Ratings, after the liquidity crisis triggered in the NBFC space, mutual funds withdrew more than one-third of their investments from commercial papers.
  • “The percentage share of funds deployed in commercial papers of NBFCs was at the lowest at 7.7% in February 2019, since December 2017,” said the report, while adding that debt mutual funds held ₹1.08 lakh crore funds in commercial papers of NBFCs in February 2019.

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Italy signs non-binding protocol with China to take part in Silk road project

  • Italy on Saturday signed a “non-binding” protocol with China to take part in Beijing’s new “Silk Road” of transport and trade links stretching from Asia to Europe.
  • In doing so, Italy became the first G7 country to sign up for the massive project which has sparked unease in the U.S. and the European Union (EU) as China aspires to a greater world role.
  • Visiting Chinese President Xi Jinping and Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte both attended a ceremony for the signing of 29 Memoranda of Understanding which Italian media said were worth €5 billion-€7 billion. Also signing the accords were the chairman of China’s chairman of the National Development Commission He Lifeng and Italian Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Economic Development Luigi Di Maio.
  • Italy has rolled out the red carpet for Mr. Xi, who on Friday sought to allay Western unease over his transformational infrastructure initiative by emphasising the $1 trillion project’s mutual benefits.
  • Cultural tie-ups including town twinnings are also on the agenda while Beijing is pushing to have several Serie A football matches played in China although that would currently contravene regulations of the game’s governing body FIFA.
  • In what some perceived as a snub, Italy’s far-right Deputy Prime Minister MatteoSalvini did not attend Friday's state dinner for Mr. Xi at Mattarella's Quirinal Palace, having stated that Italy would be “no-one’s colony.” Mr. Salvini has notably urged caution about using Chinese telecom giant Huawei’s next generation 5G mobile technology, whereas coalition partner Luigi Di Maio is keener for Chinese partnerships.

Syria claims expulsion of Islamic state from its territory

  • Kurdish-led forces declared victory over the Islamic State (IS) in Syria on Saturday after liberating the last pocket of the territory held by the militants.
  • This marks the end of a brutal self-styled caliphate the IS created in large parts of Iraq and Syria in 2014.
  • The nearly five-year war that has devastated cities and towns across north Syria and Iraq ended in Baghouz, a minor border village where the cornered militants made their last stand, under a grueling siege for weeks.
  • On Saturday, the U.S.-led Syrian Democratic Forces raised their bright yellow banner from a shell-pocked house where the militants once flew their notorious black flag.
  • “Baghouz is free and the military victory against Daesh has been achieved,” tweeted Mustafa Bali, a spokesman for the Kurdish-led SDF, referring to IS by its Arabic acronym.
  •  The victory declaration sets the stage for President Donald Trump to begin withdrawing most of the 2,000 U.S. troops stationed in northern Syria, as he abruptly announced in December that he would do. Mr. Trump, however, later agreed to leave a small peacekeeping force of 200 soldiers in Syria to ensure Turkey will not get into a conflict with the Kurdish-led SDF.
  • The Kurds fear being abandoned by the Americans. They are squeezed between a belligerent Turkey from the north, which regards them as a national threat and Syrian President Bashar Assad’s forces from the south.


GRAPES-3 Muon telescope measures potential of thundercloud

  • For the first time in the world, researchers at the GRAPES-3 muon telescope facility in Ooty have measured the electrical potential, size and height of a thundercloud that passed overhead on December 1, 2014. At 1.3 gigavolts (GV), this cloud had 10 times higher potential than the previous record in a cloud.
  • Muons and other particles are produced when cosmic rays bombard air particles surrounding the earth. The muons produced can have positive or negative charge. When a positively charged muon falls through a cloud, it loses energy. If its energy falls below 1 giga electron volt (GeV), which is the threshold of detection of the GRAPES-3 muon telescope, it goes undetected.
  • On the contrary, a negatively charged muon gains energy when falling through the cloud and gets detected. Since there are more positive than negative muons produced in nature, the two effects don’t cancel out, and a net change in intensity is detected.
  • Dr Gupta and his colleagues surmise that this method can be used to solve a 25-year-old puzzle of terrestrial gamma ray bursts huge flashes of light that accompany lightnings, but which have not been explained in theory until now.
  • Learning about the properties of thunderclouds can be useful in navigation of aircraft and preventing short circuits. This serendipitous discovery might provide the means to making headway in this direction.


Smrithimandhana&JhulanGoswami tops ICC womes’s ranking

  • Indian duo of SmritiMandhana and JhulanGoswami continue to top the batting and bowling charts in the latest ICC Women's ODI Player Rankings.
  • Mandhana, with 797 points tops the batters list while Goswami leads the bowlers list with 730 points.
  • India's ODI skipper Mithali Raj is static at the fourth place with 713 points. She is the only other batter cricketer from the country in the top 10.
  • Among bowlers, Indian pacer ShikhaPandey stayed at the fifth spot with 688 points, while leg-spinner PoonamYadav was steady at the 10th place with 656 points.

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