Current Affairs: 19 June 2017

Important Days

International Day for the Elimination of Sexual Violence in Conflict: 19 June

  • On 19 June 2015, the United Nations General Assembly (A/RES/69/293) proclaimed 19 June of each year the International Day for the Elimination of Sexual Violence in Conflict, in order to raise awareness of the need to put an end to conflict-related sexual violence, to honour the victims and survivors of sexual violence around the world and to pay tribute to all those who have courageously devoted their lives to and lost their lives in standing up for the eradication of these crimes.
  • The date was chosen to commemorate the adoption on 19 June 2008 of Security Council resolution 1820 (2008), in which the Council condemned sexual violence as a tactic of war and an impediment to peacebuilding.
  • 2017 Theme: “Preventing Sexual Violence Crimes through Justice and Deterrence”
  • A panel discussion to commemorate the second annual International Day for the Elimination of Sexual Violence in Conflict will be held at United Nations Headquarters in New York
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National Events

Government announces 149 new post office passport kendras, aims a centre every 50 km

  • The government came up with a plan to open passport centres within a radius of 50 km, while announcing that nealry 150 post offices would start doubling as passport kendras soon. 
  • These will be in addition to 86 POPSKs announced by the Ministry of External Affairs in the first phase, an initiative undertaken jointly by the MEA and the Department of Post. 
  • Since coming to power, the NDA government has also opened 16 PSKs, with a priority given to the northeastern states, Swaraj said. 
  • Thus, the NDA government has altogether opened or announced 251 PSKs and POPSKs since coming to power in May 2014 

Sushma Swaraj inaugurates KIP for young overseas Indians

  • External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj inaugurated Know India Programme, KIP, for young overseas Indians at a function in New Delhi. 
  • Mrs Swaraj said, the programme is aimed at promoting awareness on different facets of life in India and the progress made by the country in various fields such as economic and education.
  • The Know India Programme is a three-week orientation programme for the Indian diaspora. 
  • It provides a unique forum for students and young professionals of Indian origin to visit India, share their views, expectations and experiences and develop closer bonds with the contemporary India.
  • On the occasion, the External Affairs Minister announced opening of new 149 post office passport seva kendras in the country soon. 
  • This will take the total number of such Kendras to 251. She also said that government is making all out efforts that a person should not travel more than 50 kilometres to get his/her passport.

GST return filing rules relaxed for Jul-Aug, July 1 rollout

  • The Goods and Services Tax (GST) Council at its 17th meeting decided to increase the room tariff threshold, above which the luxury rate of 28% will apply, to Rs.Rs.7,500 from the Rs. 5,000 decided earlier.
  • The Council also decided to defer the dates of filing the detailed return for July and August.
  • The Council decided that State-run lotteries will fall in the 12% tax bracket, while all others will be taxed at 28%.

Centre to help for scheme for beautification of Aravalis

  • Union minister Harsh Vardhan assured that the central government will extend all possible support to any scheme for enhancing the beauty and ecology of the Aravali range.
  • He also announced that the forest around Bhondsi area had been renamed as 'Chandra Shekhar Smriti Van' in the memory of former prime minister Chandra Shekhar.
  • Khattar exhorted the people to plant trees equal to the population of the village and to plant 2 crore trees in the next one year for protection of the environment.

Atal Pension Yojana (APY) can now be subscribed digitally

  • Pension Fund Regulatory and Development Authority (PFRDA) has now introduced “APY@eNPS” which involves a complete digital enrolment process. 
  • This is the latest in the series of various initiatives taken by PFRDA for expansion of outreach of Atal Pension Yojana (APY), to give additional push to cover the as yet unreached population at greater ease. 
  • PFRDA has conducted meetings with Banks and Deptt of Post at Kolkata, Bengaluru & Mumbai respectively for the earliest roll out of the facility call.
  • The APY was launched by the Prime Minister of India on 9th May, 2015 and became operational from 1st June, 2015. 
  • APY is available for all citizens of India in the age group of 18-40 years. 
  • Under the APY, the subscribers would receive a minimum guaranteed pension of Rs. 1000 per month, Rs. 2000 per month, Rs. 3000 per month, Rs. 4000 per month, Rs. 5000 per month, at the age of 60 years, depending on their contributions, which itself would vary on the age of joining the APY.

CRPF launched 24X7 helpline Madadgaar 

  • The Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF), deployed in the Kashmir valley, has launched a helpline, “Madadgaar”, with a toll-free number 14411, the first of its kind in the Valley which has already started getting distressed calls.
  • The toll-free helpline is to serve the citizens of Kashmir located all over the country. 
  • The helpline will render assistance in case of women and public safety, medical emergencies, disruption of civic amenities and natural and man-made calamities.
  • The round-the-clock helpline, Madadgar, had become operational and not just limited to the Kashmir valley. 
  • Anyone could dial the helpline, from girls being harassed by road Romeos to people in need of emergency ambulance services and those getting threat calls from militants. 
  • The paramilitary force would use its fleet of ambulances and doctors to provide medical help

International Events

India-Afghan air freight corridor to start soon

  • Undeterred by Pakistan’s concerted attempt to block road access to Afghanistan, New Delhi and Kabul will operationalise their first air-freight corridor
  • The flight to be operated by Ariana Afghan Airlines — Afghanistan’s national carrier — will carry commodities from Kabul to Delhi and then return with Indian goods to Kabul. 
  • Initially, the plane will operate once or twice in a month, depending on the demand and supply needs.
  • The corridor is aimed at providing the private sector in Afghanistan with a platform to increase their exports to India. 
  • The project was also envisaged to enable traders to export Afghan products to the vast Indian market by air with minimum costs while circumventing the obstacles faced in the land route, which was denied by Pakistan.

No Indian university in world's top-100 list

  • Indian universities yet again missed a spot on the Times Higher Education (THE) World Reputation Rankings 2017. 
  • The list is compiled through research insight, from leading academics across the world. No Indian university made it to the top-100 list, which Harvard University topped.
  • Asian universities, however, improved their performance, with 28 of them on the list. 
  • Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and Stanford University retained their second and third positions that they had secured last year. Oxford and Cambridge came in a joint fourth.
  • University of California, Berkeley, Princeton University, Yale University, University of Chicago and California Institute of Technology followed, making up the top-10 list. 

Connaught Place India's most expensive office market ranks 9th globally

  • New Delhi's Connaught Place is India's most expensive prime office market and the ninth most expensive in the world with an occupancy cost of $153.89 per sq. ft per annum, surging ahead of Dubai, Downtown Boston and Shanghai.
  • As per the latest biannual Global Prime Office Occupancy Costs Survey by CBRE Group Inc., a global real estate consulting firm, Connaught Place, despite its limited supply of prime office space, is the choicest destination for its central location in the national capital, great infrastructure and connectivity.
  • Bandra Kurla Complex (BKC) is ranked second in India and 20th in the global list while the central business district (CBD) of Nariman Point comes third in India and is ranked 33rd in the list of top 50 most expensive office markets around the world.
  • Hong Kong (Central) and London's West End continue to be the two most expensive markets in the world.

Banking & Finance

RBI directs IDBI Bank to start insolvency for Lanco Infra

Lanco Infratech said the Reserve Bank has directed its lead lender IDBI Bank to initiate insolvency proceedings for the company under the Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code (IBC).
Lanco Infratech Limited (LITL) intimated under Regulation 30 of SEBI (Listing Obligations and Disclosure Requirements) Regulations, 2015, that Reserve Bank of India directed IDBI Bank Limited, the lead bank of LITL to initiate Corporate Insolvency Resolution Process (CIRP) for LITL under the Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code, 2016
The company is among 12 firms identified by the central bank with a combined debt of over Rs 1,50,000 crore, a quarter of the total NPAs, for proceedings under the newly enacted Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code, 2016.

RBI initiates PCA against Bank of Maharashtra as bad loans mount

  • The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) has initiated prompt corrective action (PCA) against Pune-based Bank of Maharashtra (BoM) in view of a high level of bad loans and negative return on assets.
  • BoM has become the sixth state-owned lender to be put under the PCA.
  • For the year ended March 2017, the net non-performing assets (NPAs) of the bank rose to 11.76%, while return on assets declined to (-) 1.09%. 
  • At the same time, the bank reported a loss of Rs 455.4 crore for the fourth quarter, while for entire fiscal 2016-17 booked loss of Rs1,372 crore. 
  • It is to be noted that IDBI Bank, Indian Overseas Bank, UCO Bank, Dena Bank and the Central Bank of India have already come under the PCA initiated by the RBI
Must Read: Prompt Corrective Action 

Awards & Honours

2017 Orwell Prize awarded to John Bew

  • The 2017 Orwell Prize, Britain's most prestigious prize for political writing, was announced in London. The £3,000 2017 Orwell Prize for books was bestowed upon John Bew for his "extraordinary biography" Citizen Clem , which is about Clement Attlee, the founder of the NHS.
  • The award, named after the author of the cult classic dystopian-political fiction Nineteen Eighty-Four and Animal Farm , is awarded annually by the Orwell Foundation to a book that comes closest to the George Orwell's ambition "to make political writing into an art".
  • The winners of the Orwell prize for journalism and the Orwell prize for Exposing Britain's Social Evils were awarded to Fintan O'Toole and Felicity Lawrence respectively. 
  • O'Toole of The Irish Times for applauded for his commentary on the ramifications of Brexit, while The Guardian's Felicity Lawrence was acclaimed for exposing social evils that revealed how criminal gangs were forcing migrants to work for them in Wisbech, Cambridgeshire.

Madhavan, Ritika Singh bag Best Actors

  • Madhavan and Ritika Singh's Irudhi Suttru, the Tamil version of Hindi film Saala Khadoss, has walked away with three honours at 64th Jio Filmfare South Awards
  • It bagged the awards in categories like Best Director (Sudha Kongara Prasad), Best Male Actor (Madhavan) Best Female Actor (Ritika Singh).Best Film SR Prabhu Joker
  • Best Director: Sudha K Prasad for Irudhi Suttru
  • Best Supporting Actor (Male): Samuthirakani Visaaranai
  • Best Supporting Actor (Female): Sai Dhanshika Kabali

Sports

Pakistan beat India by 180 runs, win ICC Champions Trophy 2017

  • Pakistan clinched their maiden ICC Champion Trophy beating India by a massive 180-run margin in the final on Sunday at The Oval. 
  • After being put in to bat, Pakistan put up 338 for four on the board buoyed by opener Fakhar Zaman's maiden international century and fifties from Azhar Ali and Mohammad Hafeez. 
  • Mohammad Amir then tore into India's top-order claiming three for 16 as India were bundled out for 158 in 30.3 overs.

No ICC World T20 in 2018, India to host next Champions Trophy in 2021

  • Twenty20 cricket may be a lucrative business around the world but the International Cricket Council has decided not to host the 2018 World T20 due to a cramped schedule and lack of sponsors’ interest.
  • India hosted the 2016 edition, won by West Indies, but the World T20 will become a quadrennial event as per the original plans. Australia will host the next championship in 2020.
  • India will host the next ICC Champions Trophy in 2021. This will be the second time India will be hosting this eight-team event played on a group league-cum-knockout basis.

Kidambi Srikanth wins Indonesian Open Super Series title

  • Kidambi Srikanth notched-up a comprehensive performance against Kazumasa Sakai of Japan, won his first ever Indonesia Open Superseries title, in Jakarta
  • The Indian shuttler, who had defeated world no 1 Son Wan Ho of South Korea in the semifinals, took just 37 minutes to overcome Sakai's challenge 21-11, 21-19.

Science & Technology

NASA’s James Webb space telescope to find signs of life in exoplanets

  • Finding signs of life on the earth-sized planets of the TRAPPIST-1 system and on Saturn’s moon Enceladus are among the science targets that NASA‘s James Webb space telescope has following its launch and commissioning
  • These specific observations are part of a program of Guaranteed Time Observations (GTO), which provides dedicated time to the scientists that helped design and build the telescope’s four instruments.
  • NASA recently announced the discovery of the first known system of seven Earth-sized exoplanets around a single star. 
  • All of these seven planets around the TRAPPIST-1 star could have liquid water — key to life as we know it — under the right atmospheric conditions. 
  • Launching in 2018, the James Webb space telescope is the scientific successor to NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope. It will be the most powerful space telescope ever built.

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