DAILY CURRENT AFFAIRS : September 19 & 20, 2019

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President gives assent to ordinance banning e-cigarettes

  • President Ram Nath Kovind has given his assent for promulgation of the ordinance to ban e-cigarettes.
  • The ordinance was approved by the Union Cabinet yesterday, which bans production, import, distribution and sale of electronic cigarettes.
  • Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman who headed a Group of Ministers (GoM) on the issue, said the Cabinet decided to ban e-cigarettes and similar products as they pose health risk to people, especially the youth. She said a bill replacing the ordinance will be brought in the next session of Parliament.
  • AIR correspondent reports that production, import, export, transport, sale or advertisements of e-cigarettes will now be a cognizable offence. First time violators will face a jail term of up to one year and a fine of one lakh rupees. For subsequent offences, there will be a jail term of up to three years or a fine of five lakh rupees or both.
  • The storage of e-cigarettes shall now be punishable with imprisonment of up to six months or a fine of up to 50 thousand rupees or both.

SC gets four new judges taking total strength to highest-ever of 34

  • Four Chief Justices of High Courts have been appointed as the Supreme Court judges.
  • With this, the total strength of the Apex court has gone up to the highest ever number of 34.
  • The appointees are Himachal Pradesh High Court Chief Justice V. Ramasubramanian, Punjab and Haryana High Court Chief Justice Krishna Murari, Rajasthan High Court Chief Justice S. Ravindra Bhat and Kerala High Court Chief Justice Hrishikesh Roy. Four separate notifications have been issued by the Ministry of Law and Justice on the appointments.
  • The Supreme Court Collegium led by Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi had recommended their names for appointment to the apex court on 28th August. The Parliament had recently increased the number of judges in the Supreme Court from 31 to 34, including the Chief Justice of India.

Rajnath Singh flies in Tejas Fighter Jet; says aircraft is meant to strengthen India’s air defence capabilities

  • Defence Minister Rajnath Singh today flew on familiarisation sortie on the indigenous fighter aircraft LCA Tejas in Bengaluru
  • He said Tejas is a multi-role fighter with several critical capabilities and is meant to strengthen India’s air defence capabilities.
  • Tejas, a single engine, delta wing, multi-role light fighter, was designed by the Aeronautical Development Agency (ADA) and is produced by Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) for the Indian Air Force.
  • The latest test for the Indian Navy variant of Tejas is also being extensively tested in Bengaluru and Goa. The LCA Tejas, had bagged the Final Operational clearance (FOC) recently.

FM Nirmala Sitharaman to hold review meeting with public sector banks

  • Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman will hold a review meeting with public sector banks today. Introduction of repo-rate linked products to step up affordable credit, doorstep banking facility, monitoring of loans to MSMEs, small traders, SHGs and micro finance Institutions borrowers and collaboration of banks with non-banking financial companies, NBFCs for co-origination of loans are some of the agenda expected to come up for discussion during the meeting.
  • The Centre is expected to review the announcement made by the Finance Minister last month to mandate release of security documents within 15 days of loan closure.
  • The Ministry is expected to take stock of pooled assets of NBFCs or housing finance companies purchased by PSBs, following a one-time credit guarantee of up to Rs 1 trillion announced in the Budget 2019-20.

Poshan Maah: Govt giving special attention to 250 Districts where malnutrition level is higher than national average

  • NITI Aayog Vice Chairman and Chairman of the National Nutirtion Mission Dr Rajiv Kumar has said, during the ongoing Poshan Maah, the government is giving  special attention to those 250 Districts of the country where the malnutrition level is higher than the national average. The entire September month is being celebrated as the Rashtriya Poshan Maah across the country to address the malnutritional challenges.
  • Poshan Maah aims at making people aware of the importance of nutrition and giving individual access to government services to support supplement nutrition for their children and pregnant women and lactating mothers.
  • This year Poshan Maah focuses on five critical components – ‘First 1000 days of the Child, Anaemia, Diarrhoea, Hand Wash and Sanitation and Poshtik.

Union Minister Gehlot launches MIS portal under Accessible India Campaign

  • The Department of Empowerment of Persons with Disabilities, under Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment has developed a Management Information System, MIS for stakeholders of Accessible India Campaign.
  • Union Minister for Social Justice and Empowerment Thaawarchand Gehlot launched the MIS portal  in New Delhi yesterday in the presence of Secretaries of various nodal ministries including Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs, Ministry of Road Transport and Highways, Ministry of Civil Aviation, Ministry of Railways, Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology, Ministry of Information and Broadcasting and Ministry of Health and Family Welfare.
  • Mr Gehlot mentioned that the MIS portal will bring all the nodal ministries and States and Union Territories on a single platform for monitoring the progress being made against each target of Accessible India Campaign. He further stated that the portal will be useful in maintaining all the function on digital platform and capture data on a real-time basis.
  • Secretary, Department of Empowerment of Persons with Disabilities, Shakuntala Gamlin, informed that the monitoring of the places being made accessible will become more effective as there is provision of uploading images of such features. The portal is made fully accessible for Divyangjans.

Jal Shakti Ministry mulls to develop National Water Museum

  • Jal Shakti Ministry has taken an initiative to develop National Water Museum to raise awareness among people on conservation of the natural resource.
  • According to an official release, the Ministry is also organising a two day International Workshop from today which will be attended by experts from India and abroad.
  • The outcome of the workshop will be a blueprint for establishing the proposed National Water Museum under the aegis of Jal Shakti Ministry.
  • During the workshop, possible broad composition, content of the museum including highlighting importance of water and its current state in different regions of the country, possible solutions, traditional and modern water management practices and localised success stories are proposed to be discussed.

UP has become number one to implement many govt schemes: Yogi Adityanath

  • Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath today said the state has become the number one in implementing many central government schemes.
  • He was addressing media at his residence in Lucknow on the completion of a half term as the Chief Minister.
  • He said the government is now working on the goal to make Uttar Pradesh a one-trillion economy state. He said there has been a major improvement in law and order situation in the State, adding that no riots have happened in 30 months of his government.
  • AIR correspondent reports that, highlighting the achievements of the government, chief minister Yogi Adityanath said that famers were in a pity situation when we came to power but in our fist decision we did the loan waiver and took many steps to double their income. CM yogi said that now UP has the highest number of beneficiaries of Pradhanamntri Kisan Samman Yojna in country and 25 lakh houses were given during our tenure under PM Awas Yojna. He further added that 20 to 25 thousand crores will be invested in coming months in defence corridor and it will generate more than 2 lakh employment. CM Yogi Adityanath thanked PM Modi and BJP chief and Home Minister Amit Shah for providing the guidance and leadership to run the government in last 30 months.

Govt inaugurates 15 power projects in Jammu & Kashmir

  • Union Power Minister RK Singh and Jammu and Kashmir Governor Satya Pal Malik have jointly inaugurated 15 power projects and laid the foundation stone for 20 others worth 10,000 crore rupees in the state. Addressing a function in Srinagar, Power Minister said, the government is working to ensure 24 hours electricity supply to all the citizens of the country, including in Jammu and Kashmir, and Ladakh. He said, the power supply in this winter will be much better than in the past.
  • Speaking on the occasion, Governor Satya Pal Malik said  development works in Jammu and Kashmir will prompt People of Pakistan Occupied Kashmir to revolt against Islamabad and join India.
  • Meanwhile, Union Minister Jitendra Singh has said that the transition of Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh to Union Territories will be smooth.
  • He said, any arrangement or mechanism which evolves will be in the best interest of all the stakeholders.
  • Dr Jitendra Singh was addressing the Annual Conference of Chief Secretaries and Principal Secretaries of all States in New Delhi yesterday.


Mongolian President arriving in New Delhi on five day state visit

  • President of Mongolia Khaltmaagiin Battulga is arriving in New Delhi today afternoon on a five day State visit. He will be accompanied by a high-level official and business delegation. Mr Battulga will be accorded ceremonial reception at the forecourt of Rashtrapati Bhavan tomorrow. The visiting dignitary will meet President Ram Nath Kovind, Vice President M Venkaiah Naidu and Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
  • Both sides will hold in-depth discussions on a range of bilateral, regional and global issues and will also review ongoing cooperation in fields of infrastructure, energy, disaster management, defence, security, culture and capacity building. A Banquet will be hosted by President Kovind in honour of the visiting President. Mr Battulga will also participate in an India-Mongolia Business Forum in New Delhi.
  • During his stay, the Mongolian President will visit Agra, Bodh Gaya and Bengaluru. Mr Battulga’s visit to India will be the first State visit by a Mongolian President in last 10 years.
  • Earlier this month, Prime Minister Narendra Modi and  President Battulga had met on the sidelines of the Eastern Economic Forum in Vladivostok, Russia.


RBI asks banks, NBFCs to limit sharing of consumers’ credit data: Report

  • The central bank, in a letter, has asked banks and NBFCs to stop granting unregulated entities access to consumer data held by credit information companies.
  • The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) has asked banks and non-banking finance companies (NBFCs) to restrict access to consumers’ credit data, reports The Economic Times.
  • The central bank, in a letter, has asked banks and NBFCs to stop granting unregulated entities access to consumer data held by credit information companies, the report said. The move will impact the business model of fintech companies.
  • Such sharing of information is a violation under the Credit Information Companies (Regulation) Act, 2005 (CICRA), and the banking regulator has warned regulated entities that it may penalise them in case of a breach, the report said.The lenders have to inform the central bank within 15 days if they have implemented the measures.
  • The central bank sent the letter on September 16. The following day RBI representatives met the heads of four credit information companies.
  • Banks and NBFCs are required to provide details of every retail loan to all four credit information bureaus – TransUnion CIBIL, Equifax, Experian and CRIF High Mark. As per RBI, this data is supposed to be confidential.
  • But it found that banks and NBFCs partner with fintech companies and institutional agents, giving them access to the data without consumers’ consent.

IDBI Bank approves preferential issue to LIC, Govt of India

  • Shares of IDBI Bank fell 3 percent intraday on September 19 after the company approved preferential issue of capital to Life Insurance Corporation and the government.
  • The board of directors, at a meeting on September 19, approved the proposal for preferential issue of capital to the government and LIC aggregating upto Rs 4,557 crore and Rs 4,743 crore, respectively, subject to regulatory approvals, if any.
  • At 1125 hours, IDBI Bank was quoting at Rs 27.30, down Rs 0.50, or 1.80 percent, on the BSE.

Allahabad Bank to launch loans linked with external benchmark rates

  • Presently, the bank has identified RBI’s repo rate and 3 month MIBOR as the benchmark rates.
  • Share price of Allahabad Bank fell 3.6 percent intraday on September 19 after the company decided to launch retail loans linked with external benchmark rates.
  • The bank in its press release said that it has decided to launch Retail loans and loans to micro & small enterprise linked with external benchmark rates published by Financial Benchmarks India Pvt Ltd (FBIL).
  • Presently, the bank has identified RBI’s repo rate and 3 month MIBOR as the benchmark rates.
  • All the aforesaid products of the bank will be available for general public with effect from October 1, 2019.


Tamil Nadu ‘ first team’ to enter semifinal of 25th Senior Women’s National Football C’ship

  • Tamil Nadu has become the first team to enter the semi final of the 25th Senior Women’s National Football Championship being held in Arunachal Pradesh.
  • In the first quarter final match in Pasighat, Tamil Nadu beat Madhya Pradesh comfortably by 4-2. The second quarter- final is being played between Railways and Himachal Pradesh.

PV Sindhu, S Praneeth, P Kashyap to play their pre-quarterfinal matches in China Open

  • The Indian men’s doubles pair of Satwiksairaj Rankireddy and Chirag Shetty crashed out of the China Open badminton tournament in Changzhou today. The duo suffered a straight-game loss to Japan’s Takeshi Kamura and Keigo Sonoda.
  • Satwik and Chirag, ranked 15th in the world, ran out of steam after a decent start against their fourth-seeded opponents. The pair went down 19-21 8-21 in the second-round match that lasted 33 minutes.
  • Later in the day, the mixed doubles pair of Satwik and Ashwini Ponanappa will take on Japan’s Yuki Kaneko and Misaki Matsutomo. The Indian pair stunned Indonesia’s world No. 7 combination of Praveen Jordan and Melati Daeva Oktavianti in the opening round.
  • In the singles events, fifth seed PV Sindhu, Parupalli Kashyap and B Sai Praneeth will also be in action.

India assured of two medals at AIBA World Men’s Boxing C’ships

  • India were assured of an unprecedented two medals at the AIBA World Men’s Boxing Championships after Amit Panghal and Manish Kaushik entered the semifinals of the marquee event at Ekaterinburg in Russia today.
  • Asian Games Championship gold-medallist Panghal defeated Filipino Carlo Paalam 4-1 in the 52-kg category. Commonwealth Games silver-medallist Kaushik beat Brazil’s Wanderson de Oliveira 5-0 in the 63-kg category.
  • With their victories, both the boxers also sealed their maiden world medals.
  • However, former India Open gold-medallist Sanjeet lost 1-4 to Ecuador’s seventh-seeded Julio Castillo Torres in his 91-kg semifinal bout.
  • In the last four stage, Panghal will be up against Kazakhstan’s Saken Bibossinov. Kaushik will take on Cuban top seed Andy Gomez Cruz.


Govt notifies 8.65% interest rate for EPFO members

  • Government has approved 8.65 per cent interest rate on deposits in Employees Provident Fund for 2018-19.
  • Sources said, Ministry of Labour and Employment has notified 8.65 per cent rate of interest on EPF deposits for its over six crore subscribers.
  • The EPFO has been settling EPF withdrawal claims at 8.55 per cent interest rate, approved for 2017-18. Now, the EPFO will settle accounts on higher rate of 8.65 per cent for 2018-19.

PM Modi to embark on seven-day visit to US tomorrow

  • Prime Minister Narendra Modi will embark on a seven-day visit to United States tomorrow. During his visit, Mr. Modi will be in Houston and New York and address the United Nations General Assembly on 27th of this month.
  • Foreign Secretary Vijay Gokhale said, the Prime Minister will address Indian community on  22nd of  this month and President Donald Trump will also be there.
  • On 24th September, India will organize an event to commemorate the 150th Birth Anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi in the UN.
  • Mr. Modi will be joined by heads of some countries including President of South Korea, Prime Ministers of Singapore, New Zealand, Bangladesh and Jamaica as well as the UN Secretary General.

Pradhan Mantri Matru Vandana Yojana crosses one crore beneficiaries

  • Pradhan Mantri Matru Vandana Yojana (PMMVY) has achieved a significant milestone by crossing one crore beneficiaries. The PMMVY is a direct benefit transfer scheme under which cash benefits are provided to pregnant women in their bank account directly to meet enhanced nutritional needs and partially compensate for wage loss. Women and Child Development Ministry said, the total amount disbursed to the beneficiaries under the scheme has crossed four thousand crore rupees.
  • The scheme, under which the beneficiaries receive a cash benefit of five thousand rupees in three installments, was launched on 1st of January in 2017. They eligible beneficiaries also receive cash incentive under Janani Suraksha Yojana. On an average, a woman gets six thousand rupees.
  • Madhya Pradesh, Andhra Pradesh, Himachal Pradesh, Dadra and Nagar Haveli and Rajasthan are the top five States and Union Territories in the country in implementation of the scheme. Odisha and Telangana are yet to start implementation of the scheme.


Air Marshal RKS Bhadauria appointed as new Air Chief

  • Air Marshal Rakesh Kumar Singh Bhadauria will be the next chief of IndianAir force.
  • Air Marshal Bhadauria, who took over as the Vice Chief of the Indian Air Force in May this year, will take charge from the incumbent Chief Air Chief Marshal BS Dhanoa on 30th of September.


Bangladesh: 55th ITEC Day celebrated in Dhaka

  • The 55th Indian Technical and Economic Cooperation (ITEC) Day was celebrated at the High Commission of India in Dhaka, Bangladesh yesterday. Around 300 ITEC alumni from all walks of life, attended the programme.
  • Over 4,000 young Bangladeshi professionals have undergone specialized short and medium term courses in India under the ITEC programme since 2007.
  • Every year more than 10,000 training slots are offered to 161 partner countries for training courses in various areas like Accounts, Audit, Management, SME, Rural Development and Parliamentary Affairs.

Banking & Finance

RBI paper on payment gateways: Maintain Rs 100 crore net worth or wind up operations

  • The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) has mandated that payment aggregators and payment gateways maintain a minimum net worth of Rs 100 crore within a year of the issuance of these norms or else wind up operations, as part of the discussion paper.
  • “Entities not able to comply with the net-worth requirement within the stipulated time frame, need not apply for authorisation but shall wind-up payment aggregation business within one year of issuance of guidelines,” the Central Bank said in a discussion paper.
  • “Existing payment gateways and payment aggregators shall, within one year after the issuance of guidelines by RBI, comply with this net-worth requirement,” the regulator said.
  • Each entity also needs to appoint a nodal officer and formulate a customer grievance redressal and dispute management framework. The paper suggested that payment aggregators and gateways would need to be authorised/licensed by RBI under the Payments and Settlements Act, 2007.

RBL Bank-backed microlender Utkarsh SFB plans Rs 500 crore IPO

  • RBL Bank-backed Utkarsh Small Finance Bank (USFB), which mainly gives microfinance loans in Bihar and Uttar Pradesh, has begun work on its initial public offering (IPO), Mint reported citing three people aware of the matter.
  • The bank is presently in the process of appointing investment banks for its proposed IPO, which is expected to be around  Rs 500 crore in size.
  • Established in 2009, USFB is wholly owned by Utkarsh Coreinvest Ltd (erstwhile Utkarsh Micro Finance Ltd) and counts CDC Group Plc, the development finance institution of the UK government, as its largest shareholder holding a 14% stake.
  • Its other shareholders include Faering Capital and RBL Bank, which hold 9.9% each, followed by International Finance Corporation, Norwegian Microfinance Initiative AS, Swiss development financier responsAbility Investments AG and Aavishkaar Goodwell, a microfinance institution-focused private equity firm.
  • Utkarsh Coreinvest received a final small finance bank (SFB) licence from the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) in November 2016 and started operations as an SFB in January 2017.

Business & Economy

Tata Mutual Fund launches banking and PSU debt fund

  • Tata Mutual Fund has launched the Tata Banking and PSU Debt fund, an open-ended debt scheme which will predominantly invest in debt instruments of banks, public sector undertakings, public financial institutions and municipal bonds. The scheme will be open for subscription till October 3.
  • According to a press release,there is no entry and exit load in the scheme. The fund will be managed by Amit Somani, Senior Fund Manager – Fixed Income at Tata Mutual Fund.

Corporate tax rates slashed to 22% for domestic companies: FM

  • Finance Minister Nirmala Sithraman today said, a new provision has been ed in the Income-tax Act which allows any domestic company an option to pay income-tax at the rate of 22% if they do not avail any exemption/incentive. It will be effective from the current Financial Year.
  • Addressing the media ahead of 37th GST council meeting in Goa today, She announced reduction in corporate tax for domestic companies and domestic new manufacturing companies.
  • Another new provision allows any new domestic company incorporated on or after 1st October 2019 making fresh investment in manufacturing and commences their production on or before 31st March, 2023, will have to pay income-tax at the rate of only 15%. Finance Minister has also announced the government decision to expand the scope of 2 percent CSR spending.
  • Meanwhile, 37th GST council meeting, headed by Finance Minister Nirmala Sitaraman is underway in Panaji, Goa.
  • Prime Minister Narendra Modi has hailed the decision to cut corporate tax terming it as historic one. In a tweet, Mr Modi said, it will give a great stimulus to Make In India, attract private investment from across the globe, improve competitiveness of the private sector, create more jobs and result in a win-win for 130 crore Indians.
  • The Prime Minister said, the announcements in the last few weeks clearly demonstrate that the government is leaving no stone unturned to make India a better place to do business, improve opportunities for all sections of society and increase prosperity to make India a 5 Trillion dollar economy.


Bajrang Punia, Ravi Dahiya qualify for 2020 Tokyo Olympics

  • Bajrang Punia and Ravi Dahiya today qualified for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics winning their respective quarterfinal matches in World Wrestling Championships at Nur-Sultan in Kazakhstan.

B Sai Praneeth to take on Anthony Sinisuka Ginting in China Open

  • In China Open Badminton, B Sai Praneeth will take on Indonesian seventh seeded Anthony Sinisuka Ginting in men’s singles quarter-finals today. World Championship bronze medalist Praneeth is the only Indian left in the fray. In the pre-quarter finals, he defeated Lu Guangg Zu of China in straight set 21-19, 21-19.
  • In the pre-quarterfinals last evening, the reigning world champion PV Sindhu and Parupalli Kashyap lost their matches.
  • Doubles specialist Satwiksairaj Rankireddy also had a dismal day as he suffered twin defeats, losing both the men’s doubles and mixed doubles pre-quarterfinals.

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