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♦ RBIpanel may assess financials of 11 PSU banks
- The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) later this week would take the first step to explore whether lending curbs imposed on weaker banks — better known as the prompt corrective action — could be partly lifted on some of the state-owned lenders.
- The central bank’s Board for Financial Supervision (BFS) is scheduled to meet on Thursday to analyse latest financials of the 11 banks under the PCA framework to decide on the matter, according to the committee’s agenda finalised a few days ago. The BFS members would give its recommendations to the RBI board which would take a final call on the contentious subject.
- There is a consensus between the RBI and the government over the review of PCA framework. “About three PCA banks have shown some improvement. The board has to consider how PCA could be phased, what these banks could do in the next six months, and the role that the central government and RBI would play,” said a person familiar with the issue
- Under the PCA regime, banks are encouraged to avoid certain risky activities, improve operational efficiency and focus on conserving capital. But many bankers fear that continuance under the PCA regime for long could drive away large, creditworthy clients and further weaken the institutions.The government believes that substantial liquidity is trapped within these banks as they are largely confined to retail, mortgages and small loans, and are unable to participate in credit creation.
♦ Vivoto invest Rs 40 billion in new smartphone plant in Greater Noida
- Chinese smartphone maker Vivo will invest more than Rs 40 billion in a new smartphone unit spanning almost 170 acres in Greater Noida.
- The company has already identified land and the process for acquisition and other formalities were underway, Vivo director (brand strategy) Nipun Marya told Business Standard here adding the proposed investment does not include land cost.
- In phase I of the mega project, Vivo plans to invest nearly Rs 8 billion, which would ramp up its current smartphone production capacity in India from 25 million units to 50 million per annum. The company already operates a captive plant in Greater Noida spead over 50 acres and employing about 5,000 people.
- “We have so far invested Rs 3 billion in our existing facility in Greater Noida. The new plant would also employ about 5,000 people in phase I,” he informed and said Vivo was looking to make the new facility operational “as soon as possible.”
- At present, Vivo has 4 plants worldwide, including two in China and one each in India and Indonesia, although it has footprint in 16 countries. “India is the only country apart from China, where Vivo has planned its second production unit,” Marya noted and asserted India was a major market for the smartphone company.
♦ India’sheaviest satellite GSAT-11 is aloft in space from Kourou
- As most of India slept, its heaviest and most advanced communication satellite, GSAT-11, was shot to space from a European spaceport in faraway South America.
- The mission of the 5,854-kg giant ‘bird’ is to enable much faster Internet services than now to users down home over the next 15 years. GSAT-11 was launched from the Guiana Space Centre at Kourou in French Guiana at 2.07 a.m. IST on Wednesday, December 5.
- The large high-throughput satellite (HTS), along with two smaller HTS satellites GSAT-19 and GSAT-29 launched earlier (by ISRO from Srihsrihkota) will kick off effective satellite-based broadband services in remote, hitherto uncovered rural areas of the country. These and a few more upcoming HTS fleet will also innovatively enable the use of the superior and efficient Ka frequency band.
- The lift off of GSAT-11 and a South Korean co-passenger satellite on European pace vehicle Ariane 5 VA246 was watched and cheered by the Chairman of Indian Space Research Organisation K. Sivan. In his post-launch remarks Dr. Sivan said: “It will meet most of the requirements of providing broadband connectivity to rural and inaccessible village panchayats under BharatNet which is part of the Digital India initiative.”
♦ Government proposes PFC buy REC in Rs 14,000 crore deal
- The government has proposed that Power Finance Corp acquire REC in a Rs 14,000-crore deal, a surprising reversal of the previous plan of REC taking over PFC. The deal would require approval of the Cabinet, which may consider the proposal on Wednesday, sources familiar with the development said.
- The proposal, which is similar to Oil & Natural Gas Corp’s acquisition of Hindustan Petroleum Corp last fiscal year, is part of the government’s Rs 80,000-crore disinvestment target, of which it has been able to mobilise only Rs 32,247 crore so far in fiscal 2018-19.
- Until last week, the government was considering acquisition of PFC by REC followed by a merger, since it would have fetched more money given the government’s larger stake in the former, which also has a higher market value. The change in the proposal is backed by feedback from within government departments, including the administrative power ministry, sources said.
♦ Metalsstartup Runaya gets OPCB’s approval to set up unit in Odisha
- Runaya Refining, a metals start-up company floated by the Agarwal brothers- Naivedya and Annanya, sons of Vedanta Ltd’s executive chairman Navin Agarwal, has got the consent from the Odisha Pollution Control Board to set up its project in the state.
- Earlier, in November last year, the company got the nod from the State Level Single Window Clearance Authority (SLSWCA) to set up an aluminium dross refining unit at Jharsuguda with a capacity of 30,000 tonnes per annum. The project to cost Rs 644.3 million, would generate employment for 175 people. Vedanta has an aluminium smelting unit at Jharsuguda with an annual production capacity of 0.5 million tonnes per annum (mtpa). Apart from this standalone unit, the company has developed another aluminium smelter of 1.25 mtpa capacity in an SEZ (Special Economic Zone) designated area in the vicinity of the Jharsuguda smelter.
- Runaya Refiningalready has a technology licensing pact with Bahrain’s Taha International, acompany with patented technology for aluminium dross processing. Taha hasdeveloped a unique, two-stage process to recover metal from dross, a by-productof the aluminium industry. The patented technology helps to refine the residualoxides and converts them to value added products like fertiliser or slag steelconditioner.
♦ IASofficer A N Jha is new Finance Secretary, succeeds Hasmukh Adhia
- Ajay Narayan Jha, secretary, expenditure, will be the country’s new Finance Secretary, The Cabinet’s Appointments Committee cleared Jha’s appointment after incumbent Hasmukh Adhia, a 1981-batch Gujarat cadre officer of the Indian Administrative Service (IAS), retired on November 30.
- Jha, 59, is a 1982-batch IAS officer of the Manipur-Tripura cadre. An alumnus of St Stephens College from where he passed with first class in Graduation and post graduation in History, Jha is a recipient of World Bank scholarship to pursue Masters in Economic Policy Management from McGill University in Canada. He holds an MPhil in public administration from Delhi University.
♦ ADB, India Sign$85 Million Loan to Support Odisha Skills Development Project
- The Asian Development Bank (ADB) and the Government of India today signed a $85 million loan to improve the skills development ecosystem in Odisha and establish an advanced skills training center, the World Skill Center (WSC), in the state capital Bhubaneswar.
- The signatories to the Odisha Skill Development Project were Mr. Sameer Kumar Khare, Additional Secretary (Fund Bank and ADB), Department of Economic Affairs, Ministry of Finance, who signed on behalf of the Government of India, and ADB Country Director for India Mr. Kenichi Yokoyama, who signed for ADB.
- “The project will improve the quality and industry-relevance of the state’s TVET programs and will impart advanced occupation-ready skills training that is aligned with international standards and meet the employment needs of the emerging sectors in India and globally,” said Mr. Khare after signing the loan agreement.“The project will engage the Institute of Technical Education Services (ITEES), Singapore, to support the Odisha Skill Development Authority in setting up and operationalizing WSC, which would offer internationally benchmarked advanced training programs for the working age population of Odisha,” said Mr. Yokoyama.
♠Vocabulary (The Hindu)♣
1. REPLETE (ADJECTIVE): abundant
Synonyms: loaded, well-stocked
Antonyms: lacking, needy
Example: My kitchen is replete with all the groceries.
2. MULL (VERB): to spend time thinking carefully about a plan
Antonyms: disregard, ignore
Example: I need some time to mull it over before making a decision.
3. MUSTY (ADJECTIVE): smelling damp
Antonyms: degrade, tarnish
Example: He climbed thestairs to a lofty, musty room.
4. CEREMONIOUS (ADJECTIVE): an excess of formality
Antonyms: informal, unobserved
Example: A friend’s manners should not be ceremonious.
5. EXIGENT (ADJECTIVE): urgent
Synonyms: crucial, acute
Antonyms: inessential, trivial
Example: Mitali has an exigent need for medication, or else she will lose her eye sight.
6. FERAL (ADJECTIVE): savage
Synonyms: ferocious, wild
Antonyms: domesticated, cultivated
Example: His pet looks feral.
7. ERUDITE (ADJECTIVE): well educated
Synonyms: literate, knowledgeable
Antonyms: ignorant, uneducated
Example: Dr Bhimrao Ambedkar was an erudite person.
8. CAPITULATE (VERB): surrender
Synonyms: concede, bow
Antonyms: win, conquer
Example: They capitulated to the enemy.
Stunted, wasted: on Global Nutrition Report 2018
The health, longevity and well-being of Indians has improved since Independence, and the high levels of economic growth over the past two-and-half-decades have made more funds available to spend on the social sector. Yet, the reality is that a third of the world’s stunted children under five — an estimated 46.6 million who have low height for age — live in India. A quarter of the children display wasting (that is, low weight for height) as well. As the Global Nutrition Report 2018 points out, this finding masks the wide variation in stunting levels in different parts of the country. District-level data show high and very high levels of stunting mainly in central and northern India (more than 30% and 40%, respectively), but less than 20% in almost the entire south. This shows the important role played by political commitment, administrative efficiency, literacy and women’s empowerment in ensuring children’s health. Food and freedom go together, and the availability of one strongly influences access to the other; social institutions can work to improve nutrition and children’s welfare in free societies, and the absence of hunger enables people to develop their capabilities. Governments should acknowledge the linkages and commit themselves to improved nutritional policies. The national framework to improve nutrition already exists. The Anganwadi Services scheme, which incorporates the Integrated Child Development Services, caters to children up to age six, and to pregnant and lactating women. If it has not worked well in several States, it must be subjected to a rigorous review and targeted interventions for supplementary nutrition made.
Among the factors affecting the quantity and quality of nutrition are maternal education, age at marriage, antenatal care, children’s diet and household size. Now that mapping of malnutrition at the district level is available, as in the Global Nutrition Report, it is incumbent on State governments to address these determining factors. A second issue is that of the quality of nutrition in packaged foods available to children. Going by the report, only 21% of these foods in India were rated as being healthy, based on overall energy, salt, sugar and saturated fat on the negative side, and vegetable, fruit, protein, fibre and calcium as positive factors. The fact that the global average of processed foods scored only 31% and a peak of 37% in New Zealand indicates that whole foods and cooked meals emerge superior. India should invest more of its economic prosperity in its welfare system, without binding itself in restrictive budgetary formulations. The Economic Survey 2017-18 put social services spending at 6.6% of GDP, an insignificant rise after a marginal decline from the 6% band during the previous year to 5.8%. The latest report on stunting and wasting should convince the Centre that it needs to understand the problem better and work with the States to give India’s children a healthy future.
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