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CURRENT AFFAIRS: NATIONAL
Foreign trade policy extended for one year till March 2021
- The government extended the existing foreign trade policy (2015-20) for one year till March 2021 amid coronavirus outbreak and the lockdown to contain the virus spread.
- The existing foreign trade policy 2015-20 which is valid up to March 31 this year is extended up to March 31, 2021. Various other changes are also made extending the date of exemptions by one year and extending validity of DFIA and EPCG authorisations for import purposes. The directorate general of foreign trade stated in a notification.
- Exports during April-February this fiscal dipped by 1.5 per cent to USD 292.91 billion.
- Imports during the period declined by 7.30 per cent to USD 436 billion, leaving a trade deficit of USD 143.12 billion.
- Export Promotion Capital Goods (EPCG) is an export promotion scheme under which an exporter can import certain amount of capital goods at zero duty for upgrading technology related with exports.
- On the other hand, advance authorisation is issued to allow duty free import of inputs, which is physically incorporated in export product.
- Under the Duty Free Import Authorisation (DFIA) scheme, exporters are allowed to import certain goods like sugar at zero duty.
Tourism Ministry launches ‘Stranded in India’ to help foreign tourists
- The Ministry of Tourism has launched a portal ‘Stranded in India’ to help foreign tourists who are stuck in various parts of the country.
- With an aim to extend support to the foreign tourists who are stranded in India, the Ministry of Tourism has come up with a portal to disseminate information regarding the services that can be availed by foreign tourists who are stuck far away from their home land, stated the official release.
- The portal strandedinindia.com consists of information around Covid-19 helpline numbers and call centres that foreign tourists can reach out for help, information around Ministry of External Affairs control centers along with their contact information and information around state-based, regional tourism support infrastructure.
About Ministry of Tourism:
- The Ministry of Tourism, a branch of the Government of India, is the apex body for formulation and administration of the rules, regulations and laws relating to the development and promotion of tourism in India.
- Officeholder: Prahlad Singh Patel (MOS independent charge)
- Headquarters: New Delhi
Govt extends crop loan interest benefits till May 31
- Farmers who have taken short-term crop loans will get time till May 31 to repay the loan without losing the benefit of interest subvention and other additional incentives offered by the government on timely repayment, an official statement stated.
- Taking into consideration the problems faced by farmers because of the nation-wide lockdown, the government has decided to extend the benefit of 2 per cent interest subvention to banks and 3 per cent incentive on prompt repayment to all farmers up to May 31 for all crop loans up to Rs 3 lakh given by banks which have become due or are becoming due between March 1 and May 31 this year, the statement stated.
- Farmers are facing difficulty in going to bank branches due to the lockdown and because of timely sale and receipt of payment of their produce.
- The decision would make it possible for farmers to enjoy the effective interest rate of 4 per cent on crop loans up to Rs 3 lakh for an extended period without attracting any penalty, it stated.
CURRENT AFFAIRS: INTERNATIONAL
Secretary General appoints group as part of NATO reflection process
- Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg announced the appointment of a group of experts on to support his work in a reflection process to further strengthen NATO’s political dimension. The group of five men and five women will be co-chaired by Thomas de Maizière and Wess Mitchell, and will report to the Secretary General
- At their meeting in London last year, NATO leaders agreed to a forward-looking reflection process under the auspices of the Secretary General.
- It will offer recommendations to reinforce Alliance unity, increase political consultation and coordination between Allies, and strengthen NATO’s political role.
- The composition of the group advising the Secretary General on the reflection process takes into account gender balance, relevant experience, and the geographic distribution of Allies. The group will engage with Allied capitals and the North Atlantic Council, NATO’s decision making body, and other relevant stakeholders.
- The following people have been appointed to the group: Greta Bossenmaier (Canada), Anja Dalgaard-Nielsen (Denmark), Hubert Védrine (France), Thomas de Maizière (Germany), Marta Dassù (Italy), Herna Verhagen (The Netherlands), Anna Fotyga (Poland), Tacan Ildem (Turkey), John Bew (United Kingdom) and Wess Mitchell (United States).
About NATO :
- The North Atlantic Treaty Organization, also called the North Atlantic Alliance, is an intergovernmental military alliance between 30 North American and European countries. The organization implements the North Atlantic Treaty that was signed on 4 April 1949.
- Chairman of the NATO Military Committee: Air Chief Marshal Stuart Peach, Royal Air Force
- Supreme Allied Commander Europe: General Tod D. Wolters, United States Air Force
- Headquarters: Brussels, Belgium
CURRENT AFFAIRS: BANKING AND FINANCE
Small Savings Scheme, PPF Rates Slashed For April-June
- Interest rate on public provident fund (PPF) scheme has been lowered to 7.1 per cent for the upcoming June quarter of financial year 2020-21. This is the lowest interest rate offered on the popular small savings scheme since 1977. Till the March quarter of FY20, PPF accounts used to attract 7.9 per cent interest.
- The new interest rates will remain in effect for the first quarter of financial year 2020-21, that is from April 1, 2020 to June 30, 2020. Rates for small savings schemes are revised quarterly.
- Interest on time deposits has been slashed by 1-1.4 per cent across tenors.
- Time deposits for 1-3 years will attract 5.5 per cent, instead of earlier 6.9 per cent.
- For 5-year time deposits, depositors will accrue 6.7 per cent from next quarter, instead of 7.7 per cent. In case of 5-year recurring deposits, interest rate has been lowered by 1.4 per cent to 5.8 per cent from 7.2 per cent.
- Senior Citizen Savings Scheme will attract 7.4 per cent interest instead of 8.6 per cent. Monthly Income Account will accrue 6.6 per cent interest, as opposed to 7.6 per cent earlier.
- Interest on National Savings Certificate (NSC) will be calculated at 5.8 per cent from next quarter onwards, instead of 7.9 per cent.
- Meanwhile, interest rate on Kisan Vikas Patra (KVP) has been lowered to 6.9 per cent from 7.6 per cent. The maturity period has also been changed to 124 months from 113 months.
- Sukanya Samriddhi Account Scheme will attract 6.8 per cent instead of 8.4 per cent.
RBI raises WMA limit for H1FY21 to Rs1.20-lakh crore
- The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) has upped the Ways and Means Advances (WMA) limit for the first half of the financial year 2020-21 (April 2020 to September 2020) to Rs 20-lakh crore from Rs 75,000 crore in the year-ago period.
- This hike in limit comes in the wake of expectation that the central government will step up expenditure in the social sector, including health and sanitation, following outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic.
- The central bank provides financial accommodation to the government to tide over temporary mismatches in cash flow as WMA. This is intended to provide a cushion to the government to carry on its essential activities and normal financial operations.
- The RBI stated it may float fresh market loans when the government utilises 75 per cent of the WMA limit.
- The central bank, in a statement, stated it retains the flexibility to revise the limit at any time, in consultation with the Government of India, taking into consideration the prevailing circumstances.
- The interest rate on the WMA is the repo rate, which is currently 40 per cent. The interest rate on the overdraft is 2 per cent over the repo rate or 6.40 per cent.
About Ways and Means Advances (WMA):
- Ways and means advances is a mechanism used by Reserve Bank of India under its credit policy to provide to States, banking with it, to help them tide over temporary mismatches in the cash flow of their receipts and payments.
- Headquarters– Mumbai, Maharashtra
- Formation– 1 April 1935
- Governor– Shaktikanta Das
- Deputy Governors– 3 (Bibhu Prasad Kanungo, Mahesh Kumar Jain, Michael DebabrataPatra)
ICICI Bank launches banking facilities on WhatsApp
- Private sector lender ICICI Bank has rolled out banking facilities on
- This will enable its retail customers to undertake a slew of banking requirements from their home at a time when they are advised to stay indoors in the wake of the nationwide lockdown to fight against coronavirus, it stated.
- Using the service on WhatsApp, retail customers can check their savings account balance, last three transactions, credit card limit, get details of pre-approved instant loan offers and block and unblock credit and debit cards in a secure manner with end-to-end encryption for all messages.
- Additionally, they can also get details of the nearest three ICICI Bank ATMs and branches in their vicinity. The customers can do all of these while they are on the social platform.
- While bank branches continue to be open, banks and the Reserve Bank of India are encouraging customers to do online banking and use digital payments to ensure social distancing.
- Earlier, ICICI Bank had rolled out ‘ICICI Stack’, a set of digital banking and APIs.
- CEO: Sandeep Bakhshi
- Headquarters: Mumbai
- Tagline : Hum Hai na.
IBA instructs banks to deposit Rs500 each in PMJDY accounts of women for three months
- An amount of Rs 500 each will be credited to the accounts of all women account holders under the Pradhan Mantri Jan Dhan Yojana (PMJDY) for the next three months, as announced by Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman.
- The Indian Banks Association (IBA) has written to member banks with respect to the direct cash transfer and logistics for withdrawal by the account holders, as part of Central assistance amid the pandemic.
- Necessary beneficiary and bank account details have been collected by the Department of Financial Services (DFS), Ministry of Finance, for the purpose, stated the IBA in its note.
- A meeting of the IBA Managing Committee decided to advise banks that, keeping in view the ongoing lockdown and the need for maintaining social distancing and sanitisation, they may take steps to ensure seamless withdrawal of the amount by individual beneficiaries from their respective accounts.
- Firstly, they may implement a token system at the branches to manage the crowd. For instance, 200 tokens may be issued, depending on the capacity of the branches, to the beneficiaries during the course of a day. Secondly, customers with RuPay cards may be encouraged to use electronic channels such as ATMs/AePS (Aadhaar-Enabled Payment System) to withdraw cash.
- The IBA also reiterated that the bank should be mindful of the guidelines issued by the DFS. They require that banks ensure adequate liquidity at branches and business correspondents; replenish ATMs on a regular basis to meet requirements; arrange for mobile ATMs wherever required with sufficient cash; and send SMS to beneficiaries regarding (i) the time schedule for withdrawal (ii) requesting them to utilise digital payment modes with a view to complying with prescribed Covid-19 safeguards.
About Indian Banks Association (IBA)
- Indian Banks’ Association, formed on 26 September 1946 as a representative body of management of banking in India operating in India – an association of Indian banks and financial institutions based in Mumbai.
- Chairman : Mr. Rajnish Kumar
- CEO: Sunil metha
- Headquarters location: Mumbai
CURRENT AFFAIRS: BUSINESS AND ECONOMY
Tata Power JV commences commercial operations of 178 MW Shuakhevi HPP in Georgia
- A Joint Venture between Tata Power, Norway’s Clean Energy Invest (CEI), and International Financial Corporation (IFC) has announced the start of commercial operation of the 178 MW Shuakhevi Hydro Power Project (Shuakhevi HPP) located in southwest
- Further, AGL will be soon commissioning the 9 MW Skhalta Hydro Power project which is also a component of the overall Shuakhevi Project scheme.
- The project will generate around 450 GWh of clean energy to reduce the emission of greenhouse gases by more than 200,000 tonnes a year.
- The successful completion and start of commercial operations are considered crucial for the integrity, security and energy independence of Georgia.
- The power generated by the project will be exclusively sold within Georgia throughout the winter which is a period of energy deficit.
- Capital- Tbilisi
- Currency- Georgian lari
- President- Salome Zourabichvili
Affordable housing firm Aavas gets $60m ADB loan
- The Asian Development Bank (ADB) has signed an agreement to lend up to $60 million to Aavas Financiers Ltd , a housing finance company in India, to improve access to housing finance for lower-income borrowers, particularly women.
- Aavas is one of the largest housing finance companies in India’s affordable housing segment and it has more than Rs 70 billion in assets under management and 245 branches across 10 states.
- According to Sushil Kumar Agarwal, Managing Director and CEO of Aavas, ADB funding will help the firm further deepen its presence in States that lag behind.
- Aavas will use the funds to provide housing finance to women in low-income communities either as primary borrowers or co-borrowers.
- India is experiencing a severe housing shortage estimated at 18.7 million units in urban areas and 43.7 million units in rural areas, mostly affecting low-income groups. They face several challenges in obtaining mortgages including a lack of documents to prove their incomes.
- Headquarters: Mandaluyong, Philippines
- President: Masatsugu Asakawa
- Founded: 19 December 1966
CURRENT AFFAIRS: STATES
Odisha Foundation Day
- Odisha Day is celebrated on 1 April in Odisha in the memory of the formation of the state as a separate state out of Bihar and Odisha province on 1 April 1936.
- Rajasthan, which is the largest state of India in terms of the area, also shares borders with Pakistan’s Punjab province.Rajasthan Day is celebrated on March 30 every year.
CURRENT AFFAIRS: ACQUISITION AND MERGERS
Apple acquires weather app Dark Sky, to shut down Android version in June
- Apple has acquired popular weather app Dark Sky and will shut down its Android and Wear OS versions in July. However, terms of the deal was not disclosed.
- According to Dark Sky, service to existing users and subscribers will continue until July 1, at which point the app will be shut down. Subscribers who are still active at that time will receive a refund. The Android app of Dark Sky has been downloaded more than a million times on playstore.
- There will be no changes to Dark Sky for iOS at this time. It will continue to be available for purchase in the App Store. The Dark Sky website will remain active beyond that time in support of API and iOS App customers.
- Our API service for existing customers is not changing, but we will no longer accept new signups. The API will continue to function through the end of 2021, stated Grossman.
- CEO: Tim Cook
- Chairman :Arthur D. Levinson
- Head quarters: California, United States
CURRENT AFFAIRS: APPOINTMENTS AND RESIGNATION
NEC Corporation appoints new President, CEO
- NEC Corporation and NEC Technologies India have appointed Aalok Kumar as the new President and Chief Executive Officer of NEC Technologies India.
- With this appointment, Takayuki Inaba, former Chairman and Managing Director, has been appointed Executive Chairman of NEC Technologies India.
- Supported by a workforce of over 6,000 local employees, NEC has successfully deployed a number of cross industry solutions for the infrastructure, aviation, logistics and transportation sectors.
- Some key NEC projects in India include the Chennai-Andaman submarine cable project, which will bridge the digital gap between Andaman and Nicobar Islands by ensuring speedy internet access.
- In the aviation sector, NEC’s biometric-based paperless boarding solution will enable a seamless airport experience for passengers.
CURRENT AFFAIRS: SUMMITS AND CONFERENCE
G20 finance ministers to hold virtual talks on coronavirus crisis
- Finance ministers and central bankers of the Group of 20 major economies will hold a second round of virtual talks to push ahead the coronavirus response.
- They were injecting $5 trillion into the global economy to head off forecasts of a deep recession.
- US President Donald Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin joined the emergency summit chaired by Saudi Arabia’s King Salman, who called for coordinated action while facing pressure to end an oil price war between Riyadh and Moscow
- G20 trade and investment ministers also held an extraordinary meeting, as they assess the impact of the crisis on global trade. This was attended by Piyush Goyal.
- They were working to ensure the flow across borders of medical supplies and equipment which are in short supply in some hard-hit nations- as well as critical agricultural products, and other essential goods and services.
- Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, France, Germany, India, Indonesia, Italy, Japan, Mexico, Republic of Korea, Russia, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, Turkey, the United Kingdom, the United States and the European Union (EU).
- 2020- Saudi Arabia
- 2021- Italy
- 2022- India
CURRENT AFFAIRS: SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY
NASA Announced New Sunrise Mission To Study Giant Solar Particle Storms
- US space agencyNational Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) has announced that it has selected a new mission to study giant solar particle storms.
- The Sun Radio Interferometer Space Experiment (SunRISE) will look into how Sun generates and releases the giant weather storms, known as the solar particle storms, into space.
- The mission will help in greater understanding of the solar system. The findings would safeguard astronauts from solar storms while they travel to Mars or the Moon.
- SunRISE contains six CubeSats which will work together as a large radio telescope. Each of the CubeSats would run on solar power and would be of the size of a toaster oven
- Together, these will observe radio images of low-frequency emission from solar activity and create 3D maps to locate the origin place of a solar particle storm on the Sun. The entire procedure of the storm evolution as it moves outward into the space will be studied too.
- NASA has awarded $62.6 million for building, designing and launching the mission. It will be headed by Justin Kasper of the University of Michigan and managed by NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California. The launch date of the mission has been set for July 1, 2023.
- Headquarters: Washington, D.C., United States
- Founded: 29 July 1958, United States
- Agency executives: Jim Bridenstine, Administrator
- James Morhard, Deputy Administrator
IIT Guwahati develops robots to deliver food, medicines to Covid-19 wards
- Researchers at the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) are developing two robots that can be deployed in isolation wards for Covid-19 infected cases for delivery of food and medicine to patients and the collection of contagious waste.
- The team from IIT Guwahati’s Mechanical Engineering and Electrical Engineering departments believes the move will reduce human intervention in isolation wards.
- They are working on two robots–one for medicine and food delivery to isolation wards which can be customised as per the needs of the hospital and the second robot will be specifically for toxic and contagious waste collection from isolation wards, a team member stated.
IIT Kanpur works on portable ventilator to tackle the COVID-19 outbreak
- Indian Institute of Technology Kanpur is working on portable ventilator to tackle the COVID-19 outbreak in the country. The proto type of this ventilator will be ready soon and just after assembling, it can be used as life support system.
- That keeping the importance of ventilators in mind, Bio Science and Bio Engineering department of IIT Kanpur has prepared a design of live saver portable ventilator. A team of experts from IIT is working for early production of this portable ventilator.
- Professor Amitabh also stated that within 3 to 4 days the proto type will be ready and in one month we will be able to produce maximum number of ventilators to save the lives of public.
CURRENT AFFAIRS: RANKING
RIL overtakes TCS to become most valued firm
- Reliance Industries Limited (RIL) surpassed TCS to become the most valued domestic firm by market capitalisation.
- The market capitalisation (m-cap) of RIL was Rs 7,05,211.81 crore, which was Rs 21,133.32 crore more than that of Tata Consultancy Services’ Rs 6,84,078.49 crore valuation on the BSE.
- Shares of RIL zoomed 7.76 percent to close at Rs 1,112.45, while TCS rose 2.64 percent to Rs 1,823.05.
- Tata Consultancy Services (TCS) had reclaimed its status as the country’s most valued firm by market valuation.
- CEO- Mukesh Ambani
- Founded-1973, Maharashtra
CURRENT AFFAIRS: SPORTS
World athletics championships moving to 2022
- The 2021 world athletics championships in Eugene, Oregon will be shifted to 2022 to accommodate the re-arranged Tokyo Olympics, World Athletics stated.
- The announcement came immediately after Olympics organisers stated the 2020 Tokyo Games — postponed because of the coronavirus pandemic — will now take place on July 23-August 8, 2021.
- That means the world athletics championships that were scheduled to take place in Eugene on August 6-15, 2021, can no longer be held on those dates.
- World Athletics stated they were also “in discussions” with the Commonwealth Games Federation, the organisers of the Commonwealth Games that are currently scheduled to be held In the English city of Birmingham on July 27-August 7, 2022.
- The athletics federation stated it was also talking to the organisers of the 2022 European Athletics Championships, which are due to take place in Munich on August 11-21.
- There has been no decision yet whether to postpone this year’s European championships, slated for Paris between August 26-30.
- Track and field is the traditional centrepiece of the Olympic Games and the Commonwealth Games.
CURRENT AFFAIRS: OBITUARY
Arjun Dev, a legendary historian passes away
- Professor Arjun Dev, the legendary educationist and historian passed away.
- In partnership with Indira he wrote a number of extremely popular textbooks for the NCERT on Modern and Contemporary India and the World.
Princess Maria Teresa of Spain passes away
- Spanish Princess Maria Teresa of Bourbon-Parma has become the first royal to pass away due to coronavirus complications.
- She was known for her outspoken views and activist work, which led to her nickname the “Red Princess.
Star Wars’ actor and ‘Batman Begins’ dialect coach Andrew Jack dies at 76
- Actor Andrew Jack, best known for playing Major Ematt in “Stars Wars” films, has died of coronavirus complications at the age of 76. Jack passed away at a hospital in Chertsey, England.
- As a dialect coach in Hollywood, Jack worked on high-profile projects such as “Men in Black: International“, “The Lord of the Rings” trilogy, “Thor: Ragnarok” and two of the Avengers movies.
DAILY CA 31st MAR
- Northern Railway makes first prototype of hospital isolation coach
- Implementation of Stamp Act changes deferred by 3 months till July 1
- United Nations urges USD 2.5 trillion as coronavirus pandemic aid to developing nations
- Facebook pledges $100 million to support journalism amid Covid-19 pandemic
- HDFC Mutual Fund subsidiary buys 5.45 per cent SpiceJet stake from open market
- Nomura lowers 2020 GDP growth forecast to -0.5%
- Ind-Ra cuts economic growth forecast for India to 6 pc
- Fitch Solutions cuts India GDP growth forecast to 6 per centfor FY21
- Rajasthan Police start giving permit on app for movement during lockdown
- Assam govt decides to provide Rs 1000 each to 78 Lakh construction workers; MP Govt transfers Rs 88 cr to accounts of registered construction workers
- ‘Modi Kitchen’ begins in Kovai, Tamil Nadu
- Himachal Pradesh govt to launch Active Case Finding Campaign for COVID 19 patients
- West Bengal Govt extends insurance coverage of Care givers to COVID-19 patients to Rs 10 lakh
- Karnataka develops app to track home quarantined persons
- National Book Trust, India of MHRD to launch ‘Corona Studies Series’ books
- Book “The Death of Jesus” by Nobel laureate J M Coetzee
- IIT Bombay develops two apps to track violations by those in quarantine
- IIT Guwahati students develop drone to sanitise large areas
- German state finance minister Thomas Schafer passes away
- Air Vice Marshal Chandan Singh Rathore passes away
DAILY CA 1ST Apr
- Foreign trade policy extended for one year till March 2021
- Tourism Ministry launches ‘Stranded in India’ to help foreign tourists
- Govt extends crop loan interest benefits till May 31
- Secretary General appoints group as part of NATO reflection process
- Small Savings Scheme, PPF Rates Slashed For April-June
- RBI raises WMA limit for H1FY21 to 20-lakh crore
- ICICI Bank launches banking facilities on WhatsApp
- IBA instructs banks to deposit Rs500 each in PMJDY accounts of women for three months
- Tata Power JV commences commercial operations of 178 MW Shuakhevi HPP in Georgia
- Affordable housing firm Aavas gets $60m ADB loan
- Odisha Foundation Day
- Apple acquires weather app Dark Sky, to shut down Android version in June
- NEC Corporation appoints new President, CEO
- G20 finance ministers to hold virtual talks on coronavirus crisis
- NASA Announced New Sunrise Mission To Study Giant Solar Particle Storms
- IIT Guwahati develops robots to deliver food, medicines to Covid-19 wards
- IIT Kanpur works on portable ventilator to tackle the COVID-19 outbreak
- RIL overtakes TCS to become most valued firm
- World athletics championships moving to 2022
- Arjun Dev, a legendary historian passes away
- Princess Maria Teresa of Spain passes away
- Star Wars’ actor and ‘Batman Begins’ dialect coach Andrew Jack dies at 76