9 PM Current Affairs Brief – August 27, 2019

Project SURE

  1. The Union Minister for Textiles has launched Project SURE.
  2. The SURE project is a commitment by India’s apparel industry to set a sustainable pathway for the Indian fashion industry.
  3. SURE stands for ‘Sustainable Resolution’ which means a commitment from the industry to move towards fashion that contributes to a clean environment.
  4. This framework would help the industry (a)reduce its carbon emissions, (b)increase resource efficiency (c)tackle waste and water management, and (d)create positive social impact to achieve long-term sustainability targets.
  5. According to UN,the global fashion industry is responsible for about 10% of all greenhouse gas emissions,20% of all wastewater and consumes more energy than the international aviation and shipping industries combined.
  6. In March 2019,the UN Alliance for Sustainable Fashion was launched at the UN Environment Assembly to improve collaboration among UN agencies by analyzing their efforts in making fashion sustainable.

WorldSkills Kazan 2019

  1. The 45th WorldSkills Competition is being held in Kazan,Russia.
  2. The WorldSkills International Competition is a biennial event and the biggest showcase of skills excellence in the world.It is conducted by the WorldSkills International.
  3. The objective of the competition is to demonstrate the advantages of learning a vocational skill and encouraging ‘parity of esteem’ between vocational and academic qualifications.
  4. The WorldSkills International is a not for profit membership association open to agencies or bodies which have a responsibility for promoting vocational education and training in their respective countries/regions. The organization is registered in Amsterdam,Netherlands.
  5. Currently,it consists of 79 Member countries and regions,most of which organise national skills competitions that help to prepare the workforce and talent of today for the jobs of the future.
  6. National Skill Development Corporation (NSDC) under the Ministry of Skills Development and Entrepreneurship (MSDE) has been leading India’s delegation at the event since 2011.

RBI board approves Rs 1.76 lakh crore transfer to govt

  1. The Reserve Bank of India(RBI) has decided to transfer a sum of 1.76 lakh crore rupees to the government.The surplus transfer was finalised in keeping with the recommendations of a committee headed by former RBI governor Bimal Jalan.
  2. RBI had constituted a panel on Economic capital framework(ECF) to address the issue of RBI reserves.The panel was headed by Bimal Jalan.
  3. The panel has recommended a distinction between the two components of the economic capital of RBI which are (a)Revaluation reserves and (b) Realized reserves.
  4. Revaluation reserves comprise of periodic marked-to-market notional gains or losses in values of foreign currencies and gold, foreign securities and rupee securities and a contingency fund.
  5. Realized reserves is a form of a contingency fund for meeting all risks or losses primarily built up from retained earnings.It is also called the Contingent Risk Buffer(CBR).
  6. The panel headed by Bimal Jalan has given a range of 5.5-6.5% of RBI’s balance sheet for Contingent Risk Buffer.Hence,the RBI has decided to set the CBR level at 5.5% of the balance sheet while transferring the remaining excess reserves to the government.

Centre forms panel on power reforms

  1. The Central government has formed a panel headed by Sanjiv Nandan Sahai,Special Power Secretary on power reforms.
  2. The panel will recommend measures required to be made in the Power Purchase Agreements(PPAs) and for increasing competitiveness in the power markets.
  3. PPA is a contract between the one who generates electricity and one which is looking to purchase it.
  4. PPA defines all of the commercial terms for the sale of electricity between the two parties such as (a)when the project will begin commercial operation (b)schedule for delivery of electricity (c)penalties for under delivery (d)payment terms and (e)termination.
  5. The Power Sector has witnessed a huge growth in terms of capacity addition during the last few years.But it is reeling under stress as the mismatch in demand and supply has led to stressed power assets or non-performing assets(NPAs).
  6. According to the 37th Standing Committee On Energy report,about 34 power plants in the country amount to about ₹1.40 lakh crore NPAs.
  7. The debt has increased due to several factors such as (a)capacity addition without tied-up PPAs with Distribution Companies (DISCOMs), (b)coal supply issues (c)inability of DISCOMs to pay to generators (d)regulatory issues among others.

CBIC compulsorily retires 22 tax officials over charges of corruption and bribery

  1. The government has compulsorily retired 22 senior tax officials under Rule 56 (j) of Fundamental Rules. 
  2. This decision has been taken in the backdrop of charges of corruption, extortion and professional misconduct against them.
  3. All Central government employees are governed by the ‘fundamental rules (FR)’ and the Central Civil Services (CCS) rules and compulsory retirement is a provision in both of them.
  4. Rule 56(j) of the Fundamental Rules allows the appropriate authority to retire any government servant in public interest by giving notice of three months.
  5. A review is carried out on a quarterly basis,including officials and employees facing serious allegations of corruption.If the review committee finds the allegations to be true,it recommends compulsory retirement and the order is then signed by the President.

India’s GDP to grow at 6% in April-June: FICCI survey

  1. According to FICCI report,India is projected to grow at 6.9% for the year 2019-20.
  2. They have also said that the RBI will continue its accommodative stance with a further cut in the repo rate in the remaining part of 2019-20.
  3. The report has identified four key areas of improvement that would help create more jobs which are (a)cost of doing business (b) regulatory reform (c)labour reforms and (d) announcement of sector specific special packages.
  4. However,the report has expressed concerns on external front with median current account deficit forecast pegged at 2.3% of GDP for 2019-20.
  5. The report has listed various concerns on the external front such as (a)overall decline in global growth forecasts (b)escalating trade tensions (c)uncertainty around Brexit and (d)foggy outlook on international crude oil prices.
  6. The report has said that to achieve India’s potential growth rate, government should (a)boost agriculture (b)strengthen micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) (c)enhance avenues for infrastructure financing and (d)borrowing costs should be lowered to drive investments and employment in the country.
  7. Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry(FICCI) is the largest and oldest business organization in India.It is a non government and nonprofit organization.It was established in 1927 on the advice of Mahatma Gandhi by GD Birla and Purushottam Das Thakurdas.

Explained: Reasons, implications of repo rate cut

  1. The Reserve Bank of India’s(RBI) monetary policy committee (MPC) has lowered the repo rate by 35 basis points to 5.4%.
  2. Repo stands for ‘Repurchasing Option’.It refers to the rate at which commercial banks borrow money from the RBI.
  3. The Monetary Policy Committee(MPC) is a committee of the Reserve Bank of India.The MPC is made up of six members with three nominated by the Union government and three representing the RBI.
  4. The MPC is mandated by law to ensure that retail inflation stays within a band of two percentage points of the target inflation rate of 4%.Since inflation has been well below the 4% mark,the MPC members have voted for rate cut.
  5. The rate cut was also needed as government finances are at their limit and exports has also been lagging because of low global demand and trade tensions.Hence,the rate cut is expected to boost consumption and investment in the economy.
  6. However,the MPC has cut the repo rate by 110 bps since February,2019 but only about 40 bps have been transmitted to borrowers.The poor monetary transmission by banks has consistently undermined the effectiveness of the MPC’s decision.

Young biologist from Andhra Pradesh recreates a blue whale from bones

  1. Recently,a biologist has recreated a blue whale from the skeletal remains of dead blue whales washed ashore on the Andhra Pradesh coast.
  2. The blue whale is the largest animal on the planet weighing as much as 200 tons.They are also the loudest animals on Earth and are even louder than a jet engine.
  3. Blue whales are called baleen whales which means they have fringed plates of fingernail-like material called baleen attached to their upper jaws.
  4. Blue whales live in all the world’s oceans occasionally swimming in small groups but usually alone or in pairs.They often spend summers feeding in polar waters and undertake lengthy migrations towards the Equator as winter arrives.
  5. However,aggressive hunting in the 1900s by whalers seeking whale oil drove them to the brink of extinction.They finally came under protection with the 1966 International Whaling Commission but they’ve managed only a minor recovery since then.
  6. Blue whales are listed as endangered in the IUCN Red List.In India,the blue whale comes under Schedule I of the Wildlife (Protection) Act,1972.

Imports from U.S. to grow, trade Ministers to meet soon

  1. Indian Prime Minister has met US President on the sidelines of the G-7 Summit in France.
  2. During the meeting,the Indian PM said that India has planned to increase imports including oil from the US and $4 billion worth of imports were already in the pipeline.
  3. India and the US has differences over trade imbalance between the two countries.India’s exports to the U.S. in 2017-18 stood at $47.9 billion while imports were at $26.7 billion.The trade balance is in favour of India.
  4. Further,the Indian PM is also expected to hold talks with the top CEOs of the energy companies in the US.The objective of the meeting would be (a)to see how India can import more oil from the US and (b)how India can invest in the energy sector in the US. 
  5. Although trade is an important part of the bilateral strategic partnership, a dispute over market access and tariffs has escalated between India and the US.
  6. India has also imposed long pending retaliatory tariffs on 29 US products after US had withdrawn Generalized system of preferences(GSP) for Indian exporters.
  7. GSP is a preferential tariff system extended by developed countries to developing countries.It is a preferential arrangement in the sense that it allows concessional low/zero tariff imports from developing countries.

PM rejects scope for third party mediation in Kashmir

  1. Indian Prime Minister has met US President on the sidelines of the G-7 Summit in France.
  2. During the meeting,Indian PM has rejected any scope for a third party mediation between India and Pakistan on Kashmir.He reiterated that Kashmir is a bilateral issue.
  3. This statement came after US President has offered to mediate between India and Pakistan on the Kashmir dispute despite India repeatedly stating that it is a bilateral matter between the two nations.
  4. The tensions between India and Pakistan have escalated ever since India abrogated provisions of Article 370 of the Constitution to withdraw Jammu and Kashmir’s special status and bifurcated it into two Union Territories.
  5. However,India has categorically told the international community that the scrapping of Article 370 was an internal matter and has also advised Pakistan to accept reality.

G7 Summit: signs of hope as Donald Trump says U.S.-China trade talks are on

  1. The Group of Seven(G7) summit was held in Biarritz,France.During the summit,US President has said the US and China will be resuming trade talks shortly.
  2. The US and China are negotiating a trade deal that would end the trade war between both the countries that has been escalating since last year.
  3. Trade war is a situation where countries restrict each other’s trade by imposing tariffs or quotas on imports.
  4. The trade agreement under discussion will lead to(a)lower tariffs for US goods (b)ease restrictions on US goods such as on farms,automobile and chemical products (c)lower barriers that would allow US companies to operate from China and (d)Reduce trade gap as China will be buying more goods from US.
  5. In return for Chinese concessions,US will also remove all the trade sanctions which it had imposed on China since 2018.

Exchange rate driven by capital flows, says RBI

  1. According to Reserve Bank of India Deputy Governor,India’s foreign exchange reserves are borrowed reserves and not built out of export surplus.This means that exchange rate dynamics in India is driven by capital flows rather than current account balances.
  2. Current account includes export and import of goods and services while Capital account includes inflow and outflow of capital, including foreign investment, gold and foreign exchange reserves.
  3. He also added that RBI’s intervention in the foreign exchange market is aimed at curbing sudden turbulences in the market and not backed by economic fundamentals.
  4. This statement came as the rupee has weakened to its lowest level due to further escalation in US-China trade war as both sides have increased tariffs further. 
  5. The deputy governor has also acknowledged that global economic scenario is not very encouraging.He observed that growth in developed countries remains sluggish and emerging economies such as China and India appears to be facing challenges.
  6. The deputy governor also said that every country favours exports except when the terms of trade are deteriorating because it contributes to domestic employment and growth.But there is a dislike for imports because the country loses employment, growth and foreign exchange.
  7. However,if all the trading countries impose retaliatory tariffs in the interest of their respective countries,it becomes a negative-sum game affecting global welfare and welfare of individual nations to a great extent.
Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Free IAS Preparation by Email

Enter your email address to subscribe to the blog followed by several Rankholders and ensure success in IAS.