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♦ New AIIMS in Tamil Nadu to be functional in 45 months after cabinet approval: Centre to HC
- The Centre Thursday informed the Madras High Court that the proposed All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) here would start functioning 45 months after the formal approval by the Union Cabinet. The submission was made by the Union Health Ministry in its counter affidavit filed on a PIL filed by K K Ramesh seeking steps to expedite the work for setting up AIIMS in the district, which had faced a prolonged delay after the project was announced in Union Budget 2015-16.
- The process of identifying the location by the state government was delayed and in June this year, the state had proposed five locations. Subsequently, the Centre had announced Thoppur as the site for the premier medical institution. Citing the Centres’ response to an RTI query, the petitioner had submitted that the Union Cabinet was yet to approve the proposed AIIMS.
- On November 8, a division bench of Justices K K Sasidharan and P D Audhikesavalu had asked the Union Health Secretary to file its reply. In its counter, the health ministry had informed that establishment of AIIMS in Madurai district was under consideration.
- The Union finance committee has to first approve it and then the Union Cabinet would take it up. Once the cabinet approval was given, the work would be completed in 45 months, it said.
♦ Huawei CFO arrest
- Investors’ anxiety over the fragile peace between the world’s two largest economies mounted after the chief financial officer of Huawei, Meng Wanzhou, was arrested in Canada at the request of the United States.
♦ Athletics: Budapest to host 2023 world championships
- Budapest will host the 2023 athletics world championships, the governing IAAF announced on Tuesday.
- The Hungarian capital is the first host city to be named under a new bidding process announced in February last year by the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF).
- IAAF president Sebastian Coe said after a meeting of the IAAF Council in Monaco that Hungary boasted both athletic tradition and experience in organising world-class sports events.
♦ RBI keeps repo rate unchanged at 6.5% in monetary policy review meeting
- The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) kept its policy rates unchanged on Wednesday, as was widely expected, and cut its inflation forecast for the rest of the financial year, citing a sharp fall in crude oil prices and food “deflation”.
- The central bank also introduced proposals to improve policy rate transmission and credit discipline, besides initiating a predictable liquidity injection over the next six quarters, starting January, through a phased reduction of 25 basis points (bps) every quarter in statutory liquidity ratio (SLR).
- The six-member monetary policy committee (MPC) voted unanimously to keep the policy rate unchanged at 6.5%. Barring Ravindra Dholakia, the MPC voted in favour of maintaining the earlier stance of “calibrated tightening”. Dholakia, known for his dovish stance, voted to change the stance to neutral.
- Taking into account easing of food inflation, crude prices and an appreciating rupee, the MPC slashed its inflation projection to 2.7-3.2% from 3.9-4.5% for the second half of the current financial year. It expects inflation to quicken to 3.8-4.2% in the first half of the following year.
♦ UAE and India Sign 35 Billion Rupees Currency Swap Agreement
- India and the United Arab Emirates on Tuesday signed a currency swap agreement to boost investment and enable direct trade without using dollars or other international currencies.
- The swap is for 2 billion dirhams or 35 billion Indian rupees ($496 million), depending on which central bank requests the amount, an Indian embassy statement said.”The bilateral currency swap agreement between India and the UAE is expected to reduce the dependency on hard currencies like the U.S dollar,” the statement said, adding that the two central banks had agreed the deal.
- While giving a push to the two local currencies, the swap deal would also reduce the transmission costs arising from exchange rate risks, it added.
- The agreement was signed after the 12th India-UAE joint commission meeting co-chaired by India’s External Affairs minister, Sushma Swaraj and the UAE’s Foreign Minister, Sheikh Abdulla bin Zayed al Nahyan in Abu Dhabi.
♠Vocabulary (The Hindu)♣
- SATE (VERB):satisfy
Synonyms: gratify, satiate
Antonyms: abstain, deprive
Example: He was sated with flying.
- MACULATE (VERB): corrupt, violate
Synonyms: besmirch, degrade
Antonyms: honour, praise
Example: The population had not been maculated by inferior races.
- HIDEOUS (ADJECTIVE): Very ugly
Synonyms: grotesque, horrible
Antonyms: delightful, gentle
Example: She saw a hideous face at the window and screamed.
- SINGE (VERB):Burn
Synonyms: blaze, blacken
Antonyms: frost, glaciate
Example: She singed her dress by pressing it with too hot an iron.
- DISTEND (VERB):Amplify
Synonyms: dilate, augment
Antonyms: abridge, decrease
Example: The excess food consumption made his stomach distend from bloat.
- FRAILTY (NOUN): Weakness
Synonyms: defect, fallibility
Antonyms: advantage, perfection
Example: Despite her frailty she manages to work hard.
- GRANDIOSE (ADJECTIVE):Theatrical
Synonyms: ambitious, bombastic
Antonyms: trivial, moderate
Example: He produced several grandiose schemes for a holiday resort but no resort was ever built.
- DISCRETIONARY (NOUN): open to choice
Synonyms: unrestricted, facultative
Antonyms: nondiscretionary, restricted
Example : There has been a dip in year-end discretionary bonuses.
A valid pause: on RBI holding rates
The Reserve Bank of India’s decision to leave interest rates unchanged, given easing inflation and the slowdown in economic momentum, was both expected and reasonable. In fact, the RBI was prompted to sharply lower its projection for price gains after an unexpected softening in food inflation and a collapse in oil prices in a surprisingly short span of time — the price of India’s crude basket tumbled almost 30% to below $60 by end-November from $85 in early October. The monetary policy committee (MPC) now estimates retail inflation in the second half of the fiscal year to slow to 2.7%-3.2%, at least 120 basis points lower than its October forecast of 3.9%-4.5%. And it foresees the softness in prices enduring through the April-September half of next year, when headline inflation is projected to hover around its medium-term target of 4% and register in a 3.8%-4.2% range. The MPC’s decision to stand pat on rates must also have been bolstered by the findings in the RBI’s November survey of households’ inflation expectations: the outlook for price gains, three months ahead, softened by 40 basis points from September. On growth, the monetary authority has largely stuck with its prognosis from October, while flagging both external and domestic risks to momentum as well as the likely sources of tailwinds. Among the positives cited, beyond a likely boost to consumption demand and corporate earnings from softer fuel costs, are two key data points from the RBI’s own surveys. Capacity utilisation rose to 76.1% in Q2, higher than the long-term average of 74.9%. Also, industrial firms reported an improvement in the demand outlook for Q4. Still, the forecast for full-year GDP growth has been retained at 7.4%, on the back of an expected 7.2%-7.3% second-half expansion, with the risks weighted to the downside.
Interestingly, and justifiably so, the RBI has opted to keep the powder dry by sticking to its policy stance of ‘calibrated tightening’. Given that its primary remit is to achieve and preserve price stability, the central bank is wary of the uncertainties that cloud the inflation horizon. For one, with the prices of several food items at “unusually low levels”, the RBI reckons there is the clear and present danger of a sudden reversal, especially in prices of volatile perishable items. Also, the medium-term outlook for crude oil is still quite hazy, with the possibility of a flare-up in geopolitical tensions and any decision by OPEC both likely to impact supplies. Buttressing this reasoning, households’ one-year-ahead inflation expectations remain elevated and unchanged from September. Most significantly, the central bank has once again raised a cautionary signal to governments, both at the Centre and in the States. Fiscal slippages risk impacting the inflation outlook, heightening
market volatility and crowding out private investment. Instead, this may be an opportune time to bolster macroeconomic fundamentals through fiscal prudence.
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