Daily Current Affairs
EPFO (Employees’ Provident Fund Organisation) has announced the introduction of a new service for pensioners through the Umang App. Under the new facility, a pensioner can view his pension passbook on the app.
About Umang app:
- Umang is an initiative to promote Digital India program. The term — Umang stands for Unified Mobile Application for New-age Governance and is envisaged to make e-governance. The application is developed by the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MeitY) and National e-Governance Division (NeGD) in order to drive Mobile Governance in India.
- The key goal of launching this application is to allow the citizens of India do everything online, at just a click – be it making a passport, Aadhaar or Pan, book a gas cylinder, know about your Provident fund account or resolving an Aadhaar related. Umang app basically provides a unified approach where you can install one application to avail multiple government services — almost over 100 of them
Most Polluted Cities in the world
- According to the data released by the World Health Organization, the south Asian region accounts for 34 pc or 2.4 million of the 7 million premature deaths caused by household and ambient air pollution together globally every year.
- Delhi and Varanasi are among the 14 Indian cities that figured in a list of 20 most polluted cities in the world in terms of PM2.5 levels in 2016.
- Indian cities that registered very high levels of PM2.5 pollutants were Kanpur, Faridabad, Gaya, Patna, Agra, Muzaffarpur, Srinagar, Gurgaon, Jaipur, Patiala and Jodhpur.
- It is followed by Ali Subah Al-Salem in Kuwait and a few cities in China and Mongolia.
- In terms of PM10 levels, 13 cities in India figured among the 20 most-polluted cities of the world in 2016.
- Stanford scientists have developed a water-based battery that could provide a cheap way to store wind or solar energy.
- The stored energy fed back into the electric grid and redistributed on high demand.
- The prototype manganese-hydrogen battery stands three inches tall and generates a mere 20 mill watt hours of electricity, which is on par with the energy levels of LED flashlights.
- It is a way to store unpredictable wind or solar energy so as to lessen the need to burn reliable but carbon-emitting fossil fuels when the renewable sources are not available.
- The researchers coaxed a reversible electron-exchange between water and manganese sulphate.
- Magnesium Sulphate is a cheap, abundant industrial salt used to make dry cell batteries, fertilizers, paper and other products.
- The data from NASA’s Galileo spacecraft shows that the Jupiter’s moon Ganymede has a magnetic field unlike any other.
- Ganymede is a unique solar-system body because it’s the only moon with an internally generated magnetosphere.
- This magnetic-field region surrounds Ganymede like a bubble and shelters it from cosmic radiation.
- Just like on Earth, the magnetosphere causes auroras near this moon’s poles.
- Galileo mission was the first to enter orbit around the planet.
- Galileo data allowed the creation of the first detailed maps of Jupiter’s major moons.
- The Rainbow Mountain, also called as Vinicunca, is in Peru.
- It is situated at 16,000 feet (5,000 meters) above sea level in the Andes.
- The ridge is blanketed in an array of turquoise, lavender and gold stripes.
- It is a ridge of multicolored sediments laid down millions of years ago and pushed up as tectonic plates clashed.
- The tourism has provided a much-needed economic boost to this region.
- The region is populated by Pampachiri indigenous community who are alpaca herders.
- It is facing various threats at present, one of which is dirt trail left by tourists to reach Rainbow Mountain which has badly eroded in the last 18 months.
- Tiwa tribes people celebrate Yangli festival.
- It is celebrated in Assam’s Karbi Anglong.
- Yangli is an important festival for the Tiwas because of its relation to agriculture, a main source to their economy.
- During Yangli the Tiwas pray for a bountiful harvest as well as protection for their crops against pests and other harmful natural calamities.
- They celebrate Yangli every three years.
- Sowing of paddy starts immediately after this festival.
- A severe dust storm followed by thunder showers hit parts of Uttar Pradesh and Rajasthan.
- The dust storm has been declared a disaster as per the State Disaster Response Force of Rajasthan norms.
- The relentless heat wave conditions added to the situation.
- Dust storms are an annual weather pattern seen in the region.
- A dust storm is a strong, turbulent wind which carries clouds of fine dust, soil, and sand over a large area.
- A huge thunderstorm complex that swept through the area overnight generated high winds which also carried lots of dust.
- The strong winds were probably downburst which is characterized by intense, downward air movements during thunderstorms.
- Downbursts can span distances over 200 miles, some are more concentrated.
- Downbursts smaller than 2.5 miles are called microbursts.
Beti Bachao Beti Padhao programme
The Ministry of Women and Child Development recently held a National Conference of 244 Districts under Beti Bachao Beti Padhao (BBBP) in New Delhi. The Nodal Officers of 244 Districts, State Nodal Officers and Senior officers were part of the conference.
- Beti Bachao Beti Padhao (BBBP) Scheme was launched in January, 2015. The scheme is aimed at promoting gender equality and the significance of educating girls.
- The Scheme is targeted at improving the Child Sex Ratio through multi sectoral interventions including prevention of gender biased sex selection and promoting girls’ education and her holistic empowerment.
- It is a tri-ministerial effort of Ministries of Women and Child Development, Health & Family Welfare and Human Resource Development.
- The low and falling child sex ratio in the country is a matter of policy concern, not only because it violates the human rights of unborn and infant girls but also because it deprives the country of the potential economic and social contribution of these ‘missing women’.
- In addition, there may be longer-run adverse impacts from a marriage market squeeze caused by an excess supply of male relative to female youth. Already, states like Haryana and Punjab, where the sex ratio has been extremely distorted for several decades, have been experiencing bride trafficking.
Declining sex ratio is a silent emergency. But the crisis is real, and its persistence has profound and frightening implications for society and the future of humankind. Clearly, there is a need to go beyond slogans and institute tangible schemes. Enforcement of the law that prohibits determination of the sex of the foetus must go hand in hand with massive social investments to protect both immediate and long-term prospects of girls — in the form of cash incentives through registration of births, a continuum of health care, early educational opportunities and social protection. Half-measures cannot produce a dramatic reversal of the shameful national record.
Asian Development Bank (ADB)
51st Annual Meeting of Asian Development Bank (ADB) is being held in Manila, Philippines. The Annual Meeting of the ADB Board of Governors is an opportunity to provide guidance on ADB administrative, financial, and operational directions.
It is a regional development bank established on 22 August 1966 and is headquartered in Philippines. It aims to facilitate economic development of countries in Asia. It also aims for an Asia and Pacific free from poverty.
- The bank admits the members of the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (UNESCAP, formerly known as the United Nations Economic Commission for Asia and the Far East) and non-regional developed countries.
- Currently, it has 67 members – of which 48 are from within Asia and the Pacific and 19 outside.
ADB was modelled closely on the World Bank, and has a similar weighted voting system where votes are distributed in proportion with member’s capital subscriptions.
- ADB raises funds through bond issues on the world’s capital markets.
- ADB also rely on its members’ contributions, retained earnings from its lending operations, and the repayment of loans.
- Japan holds the largest proportions of shares at 15.67%. The United States holds 15.56%, China holds 6.47%, India holds 6.36%, and Australia holds 5.81%.
Board of Governors:
- It is the highest policy-making body of the bank.
- It is composed of one representative from each member state.
- The Board of Governors also elect the bank’s President who is the chairperson of the Board of Directors and manages ADB.
- The Alternate Board of Governors are nominated by Board of Governors of ADB’s 67 to represent them at the Annual Meeting that meets formally once year to be held in a member country.
It offers both Hard Loans and Soft loans. The ADB offers “hard” loans from ordinary capital resources (OCR) on commercial terms, and the Asian Development Fund (ADF) affiliated with the ADB extends “soft” loans from special fund resources with concessional conditions.
World Gold Council
As per WGC’s ‘Gold Demand Trends’ report, the global gold demand fell by 7% to 973 tonne during the January-March period this year as compared to the same period last year mainly due to a decline in investment demand.
Highlights of the report:
- ETF inflows were down year-on-year.
- Investment in gold bars and coins was down.
- Jewelry demand was flat.
- Central banks bought more gold.
- Gold supply up 3 percent year-on-year.
About World Gold Council:
- The World Gold Council is the market development organization for the gold industry. It works across all parts of the industry, from gold mining to investment, and their aim is to stimulate and sustain demand for gold.
- The World Gold Council is an association whose members comprise the world’s leading gold mining companies. It helps to support its members to mine in a responsible way and developed the Conflict Free Gold Standard.
- Headquartered in the UK, they have offices in India, China, Singapore, Japan and the United States.
Advance Pricing Agreement
The Central Board of Direct Taxes (CBDT) recently achieved another milestone of having signed its 200th Unilateral Advance Pricing Agreement (UAPA). The total number of APAs entered into by CBDT has gone up to 220, which, inter alia include 20 Bilateral APAs.
About the APA scheme:
- The APA scheme was introduced in the Income-tax Act in 2012 and the “rollback” provisions were introduced in 2014. The scheme endeavors to provide certainty to taxpayers in the domain of transfer pricing by specifying the methods of pricing and determining the prices of international transactions in advance.
- Since its inception, the APA scheme has evinced a lot of interest from taxpayers and that has resulted in more than 700 applications (both unilateral and bilateral) being filed so far in about five years.
- The progress of the APA Scheme strengthens the government’s resolve of fostering a non-adversarial tax regime. The Indian APA program has been appreciated nationally and internationally for being able to address complex transfer pricing issues in a fair and transparent manner.
- The Central Board of Direct Taxes is a statutory authority functioning under the Central Board of Revenue Act, 1963. It is a part of the Department of Revenue in the Ministry of Finance, Government of India.
- It provides essential inputs for policy and planning of direct taxes in India and is also responsible for administration of the direct tax laws through Income Tax Department.
- It is also India’s official Financial Action Task Force unit.
- The CBDT Chairman and Members of CBDT are selected from Indian Revenue Service (IRS) whose members constitute the top management of Income Tax Department.
FDI confidence index
FDI confidence index for the year 2018 has been released.
About the FDI confidence index:
The Foreign Direct Investment Confidence (FDI) Index prepared by A.T. Kearney is an annual survey which tracks the impact of likely political, economic, and regulatory changes on the foreign direct investment intentions and preferences of CEOs, CFOs, and other top executives of Global 1000 companies. The report includes detailed commentary on the markets and the impact a variety of global trade issues have on their FDI attractiveness, as well as a ranking of the top 25 countries.
Performance of India:
- India is ranked 11th. India was down three notches in the overall ranking from last year.
- India remains the second highest ranked emerging market on the Index. A variety of recent reforms have made its regulatory environment more business friendly, and economic growth is forecast to rebound this year.
- Overall, India remains among the top investment destinations due to its market size and rapid economic growth.
Performance of other countries:
- US topped the list, followed by Canada, while Germany dropped to the third place.
- The United States tops the Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) Confidence Index for the sixth year in a row.
- The top five countries on the Index have not changed in the past three years, but their relative positions have shifted.
- While the top 10 likely destinations for FDI were the same in 2016 and 2017, there is a change in the composition of the list this year: Switzerland and Italy enter the top 10 for the first time in more than a decade, edging out India and Singapore.
- European markets account for more than half of the total positions on this year’s Index as well as half of the top 10.
The investment climate in India has become much friendlier today than previous decades. Infrastructure is being developed and FDI policy is being liberalized to improve the situation. However, a lot is to be done if we want to emerge as one of the major export oriented manufacturing hub. Investors are showing their growing confidence in the immediate and medium term prospects of Indian Economy. FDI off course might be one of the important sources of financing the economic development. India needs a massive investment to achieve the goals of vision 20-20. Policy makers need to ensure transparency and consistency in policy making along with comprehensive long term development strategy.
It is a new species of shieldtail snake found recently from the Western Ghats in Tamil Nadu.
- The snake, currently found only in the forests of the Anaikatty hills in Tamil Nadu’s Coimbatore district, has been named Uropeltis bhupathyi, after the late herpetologist S. Bhupathy, for his contributions to the field.
- The reptile belongs to a family of snakes found only in peninsular India and Sri Lanka. They are non-venomous, mostly burrowing and earthworm-eating, and are called shieldtails after the large, flat tips of their tails, which make them appear almost sliced off.
Tag:ADB, Advance Pricing Agreement, Asian Development Bank, Beti Bachao Beti Padhao programme, Bhupathy’s shieldtail, currentaffairs, Dust storm, FDI confidence index, Ganymede, Most Polluted Cities in the world, Rainbow Mountain, Umang App, upsccoaching, Water-based battery, World Gold Council, Yangli festival