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♦ Prasar Bharati shuts down All India Radio’s national channel to cut costs
- Public broadcaster Prasar Bharati has decided to shut down All India Radio’s national channel and its regional training academies in five cities to cut costs and to “rationalise” services, PTI reported on Friday. The national channel and academies in Ahmedabad, Hyderabad, Lucknow, Shillong and Thiruvananthapuram will be shut down immediately, the broadcaster said in an order dated Thursday.
- The order said the decision was communicated to the All India Radio director general on December 24, 2018. “The programme, technical, ministerial and other staff posted at National Channel in Todapur and Nagpur etc, apart from those working at Regional Academies of Broadcasting and Multimedia in five cities, may be posted as per the requirement of the organisation,” the order said. The order directed that the national channel’s programmes that are considered to be of archival value be sent to the central archives in Delhi for “digitisation and preservation for posterity”.
- Prasar Bharati Chief Executive Officer Shashi Shekhar Vempati told ThePrint: “We have been reviewing areas that have not been effective and where technology is getting obsolete and will invest in new areas that we expect to be relevant and technology is forward looking, such as digital. This is an ongoing exercise and will continue.”
♦ China’s Chang’e-4 probe lands on far side of moon
- The local media reported the unmanned Chang’e 4 lunar lander and rover spacecraft touched down at 10:26 a.m. local time (02:26 GMT) on Thursday.
- While past missions have been to the Earth-facing side, this is the first time ever a spacecraft has landed on the unexplored far side of the moon.
- The probe is carrying instruments to characterise the region’s geology.
♦ HDFC MF surpasses ICICI Prudential MF to become largest AMC in India
- HDFC Mutual Fund has pipped ICICI Prudential MF to become the country’s largest asset management company after a gap of over two years. As of December-end, HDFC MF manages assets to the tune of Rs 3.35 lakh crore, while those of ICICI Prudential MF stood at Rs 3.08 lakh crore, as per the latest data available with Association of Mutual funds in India (Amfi).
- The assets under management (AUM) of HDFC MF have grown over 9 per cent in October-December quarter from the previous three-month period, however, ICICI Prudential MF’s AUM slipped by 0.6 per cent during the period under review.
- HDFC MF was the largest asset manager since October 2011 and it held the numero uno position till March 2016, when ICICI prudential MF had overtaken the top spot.
- On month-on-month basis, ICICI Prudential MF had surpassed HDFC MF in terms of AUM in February 2016 and had reached the top position.
- SBI MF is at the third slot with AUM of Rs 2.64 lakh crore, followed by Aditya Birla Sun Life MF (Rs 2.42 lakh crore) and Reliance MF (Rs 2.36 lakh crore).
- Overall, asset base of the country’s mutual fund industry was at Rs 23.61 lakh crore at the end of December quarter.
- In 2019, the fund houses expect the industry to witness robust growth as the sector is yet to tap its full potential. Besides, several measures taken by the regulator Sebi will help in increasing the penetration of mutual funds.
- MFs are investment vehicles made up of a pool of funds collected from a large number of investors and invest in stocks, bonds and money market instruments, among others.
♦ Kei Nishikori, Karolina Pliskova crowned Brisbane International champions
- Japan’s Kei Nishikori overcame Daniil Medvedev in the Brisbane International final on Sunday for his first ATP title in nearly three years and the 12th of his career. Last year’s finalist Nishikori, who prevailed 6-4 3-6 6-2, won 70 percent of points on his first serve and converted five out of 15 break point opportunities to snap a nine-match losing streak in finals.
- World number nine Nishikori started slowly, trailing 3-0 in the opening set but responded in typically determined fashion to win six of the next seven games for an early advantage. Medvedev saved four break points to take a 3-2 lead in the second set before dragging the match into a decider but his opponent, who lost their previous meeting in last year’s Tokyo final, was not to be denied again.
- Breaking Medvedev for a 3-1 lead in the third set, Nishikori held firm to seal the match in a little more than two hours for his first trophy since winning in Memphis in February 2016.
♦ Vijay Mallya first businessman to be declared ‘fugitive economic offender’
- Weeks after a UK court ordered his extradition, former liquor baron Vijay Mallya, accused of defaulting on loans of over Rs 9,000 crore, received another blow as a Mumbai court on Saturday declared him a “fugitive economic offender” (FEO).
- Mallya became the first businessman to be declared an FEO under the Fugitive Economic Offenders Act, which came into existence in August 2018.
- The Enforcement Directorate had moved the special court for FEOA for this purpose.
- The agency had requested the court that Mallya, currently in the UK, be declared a fugitive and his properties be confiscated and brought under the control of the Union government as provided under the Act.
- “The application of the ED is partly allowed. Vijay Mallya is declared as fugitive economic offender under Section 12 (i) of the FEO Act,” said Judge M S Azmi in the order.
- Hearing on the second part of the ED’s plea — confiscation of properties — will start from February 5.
- Incidentally, the same court is also hearing the ED’s plea to declare diamond merchants Nirav Modi and Mehul Choksi FEOs in the Punjab National Bank fraud case.
♦ Ahmedabad to have world’s largest cricket stadium, construction underway
- The construction of the world’s largest cricket stadium, which will have a seating capacity of over 1 lakh, at Motera in Ahmedabad is underway.
- Gujarat Cricket Association vice-president Parimal Nathwani on Sunday tweeted out pictures of the construction, in which he stated this is the dream project of the state cricket board and after its completion, it will become a symbol of pride for the nation. As per a report in The Hindu, the stadium will be built across 63 acres of land and is being designed by renowned architect firm M/s. Populous.
- The cost of the project is estimated to be Rs 700 crore and the construction tender has been given to L&T. The infrastructure inside the stadium include three practice grounds and an indoor cricket academy.
♠Vocabulary (The Hindu)♣
- FRACAS (NOUN): feud (शोर–ग़ुल)
Synonyms: riot, scuffle
Antonyms: harmony, peace
Example: Fracas is going on in the city.
- DUPLICITOUS (ADJECTIVE): deceptive (प्रवंचनशील)
Synonyms: artful, deceptive
Antonyms: actual, authentic
Example: She has a duplicitous personality.
- DIFFIDENCE (NOUN): hesitancy (झिझक)
Synonyms: backwardness, doubt
Antonyms: arrogance, boldness
Example: I have seen diffidence in his speech.
- SCHISM (NOUN): separation (मतभेद)
Synonyms: breakup, alienation
Antonyms: unity, agreement
Example : In the United States, the schism caused by slavery led to the Civil War.
- ALUMNUS (NOUN): educated/ ex-student (भूतपूर्व छात्र)
Synonyms: old grad, alumna
Antonyms: undergraduate, uneducated
Example: He is an intelligent alumnus.
- UNCOUTH (ADJECTIVE): clumsy, uncultivated (भद्दा)
Synonyms: awkward, barbaric
Antonyms: agile, couth
Example: Manoj behaved in an uncouth manner.
- TRITE (ADJECTIVE): hackneyed (घिसे–पिटे)
Synonyms: dull, cliche
Antonyms: fresh, new
Example: I don’t want to involve in the trite conversation they were having.
- MURKY (ADJECTIVE): cloudy (फीका)
Synonyms: misty, foggy
Antonyms: bright, clear
Example: The fight was going on in the murky environment.
A global slowdown?
Stock markets across the world had very little reason to celebrate in 2018. They witnessed the return of extreme volatility after many years, and most of them recorded their worst performance in a decade. Much of this gloom has to do with the rise in fears that global economic growth could come to a grinding halt in the near future. The economic expansion in the United States, which began after the 2008 recession, is now the second-longest in history. Many believe that a recession is overdue now. China is another major concern as the People’s Bank of China’s earlier moves to rein in a massive credit-fuelled bubble have been dampening momentum with a lagged effect. The country’s private manufacturing sector contracted in December for the first time in 19 months and the official manufacturing PMI (purchasing managers’ index) number dropped below 50 for the first time since mid-2016. Other major economies such as Europe and Japan have also shown signs of a potential slowdown in growth. Global stocks have been pricing in these very real risks, particularly with major central banks such as the U.S. Federal Reserve and the European Central Bank remaining on the path to normalise interest rates from near-historic lows. The steep fall in the price of oil is another indicator of faltering demand for commodities as the global economy cools down. The tightening of monetary policy has often been followed by a slowdown in economic growth, and this time may be no different.
Going forward, a major worry for policymakers globally will be the lack of sufficient central bank firepower should the global economy move into a full-fledged recession in 2019. After years of adopting a monetary policy regime marked by near-zero interest rates, central banks like the Fed now have very little room to lower rates if they want to fight a recession. This is despite the gradual tightening of rates and unwinding of asset purchases in the last few years. The next recession may thus witness central banks adopting even more unconventional methods to stimulate their economies. Some hope that governments will ramp up spending to compensate for the lack of monetary policy leeway. But it is unlikely that any fiscal stimulus will fully compensate for the absence of an accommodative monetary policy, particularly when most governments are already deeply mired in debt. Further, the overuse of monetary policy will eventually lead to diminishing returns. A further escalation in the trade war between the U.S. and China is another imminent risk to global growth as additional tariffs could increase the overall tax burden on the economy. In order to tackle the next recession, policymakers will have to come up with reforms to boost economic productivity, instead of just relying on an ultra-easy monetary policy to boost their economies.
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