August 7, 2018

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NATIONAL NEWS

  1. The Goods and Services Tax (GST) Council decided to start a pilot project to give 20 percent cashback of the GST, subject to Rs100 cap, paid to incentivise digital payment in the country.
    • The cashback will apply only to transactions on channels such as the BHIM app, RuPay, Unified Payments Interface, USSD and Aadhaar.
    • The government has waived off transaction fees at several government utility websites and public sector undertakings.
    • The estimated net annual revenue impact is 980 crore, assuming 20% of total number of digital transactions at current levels are eligible for cashback.
    • The back-end technology for the cashback incentive will be worked out by the National Payments Corporation of India.
    • The plan is to directly credit the cash amount into the user’s account instead of lowering GST rates for transactions carried out digitally. 
    • West Bengal does not favour the move. State finance minister Amit Mitra argues that if digital transactions are incentivized, it will open the floodgates for others to demand similar incentives for some other things.
  1. The Telangana government will set up a biotech and pharma facility, B-HubIndia’s first organised cluster for life sciences Research & Development at Genome Valley.
    • It’s a first-of-its-kind initiative in the country, aimed at providing much-needed support to the biopharma research and development activities.

 

  1. Chief Minister N Chandrababu Naidu unveiled the world’s first-ever thermal battery in Amravati, Andhra Pradesh state manufactured by Bharat Energy Storage Technology Private Limited (BEST).
    • Conventional battery technology is based on the system of charging/discharging cycles that are driven by electricity. For example, the Lithium-ion battery, a staple of many electronic devices, consists of electric charges being transferred from electrodes.
    • Thermal batteries use thermal energy to operate, i.e., the energy created by temperature differences. Therefore, the energy transfer in thermal batteries helps store heat when heat travels from one part of the battery setup to the other.

 

  1. Ranjit Srivastava from Ranchi, has developed Rashmi, India’s first humanoid robot, which can speak Hindi, Bhojpuri, Marathi and English.
    • Rashmi is the Indian version of Sophia (a social humanoid robot developed by a Hong Kong based company).

 

  1. The data of National Family Health Survey (NFHS) which surveyed more than 600,000 households in 2015-16 which was used primarily to assess health outcomes, it is in fact a rich source of data on household ownership of assets.
    • Mint analysis of the NFHS unit-level data shows that India’s top six urban regions—Delhi NCR, Mumbai-Pune, Chennai, Hyderabad, Kolkata, and Bengaluru—account for 25% of India’s affluent class. 
    • Delhi NCR leads the race, accounting for more than 11% of affluent individuals in the country, followed by Mumbai-Pune, which accounts for 5% of affluent individuals in the country
    • Households having at least six of the following eight assets or amenities—pucca house, electricity connection, phone (landline/mobile), television, AC/cooler, refrigerator, washing machine, and motorized vehicle (car/motorcycle/tractor/truck)—have been classified as affluent.
    • When it comes to proportion of the affluent as a share of overall population in that region, Chennai region (including Chennai, Kancheepuram, and Thiruvallur) leads the race with 62% affluent population. Delhi-NCR comes second with 55% affluent population.
    • Among all 640 districts for which NFHS provides data, Jalandhar district in Punjab has the highest share (88%) of affluence while Shravasti district in Uttar Pradesh has the highest share (61%) of the poor. Sikkim West has the highest share of middle-income people (93%).

 

  • Among major states, Bihar, Assam, Jharkhand, and Uttar Pradesh have the highest share of poor households. Delhi, Punjab, Haryana, and Kerala are among the richest states, with a majority of households in these states in the affluent category.

 

  1. The number of e-cigarettes (Electronic Nicotine Delivery Systems (ENDS) and vapes) imported by India in 2017-18 is 19,585 up from 9,761 sets in 2016-17, as per the Ministry of Commerce and Industry.

 

  1. The government has set up a four-member Group of Ministers (GoM) headed by trade minister Suresh Prabhu to advise prime minister Narendra Modi on whether to continue with or withdraw from the 16-member Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP)
    • They believe that the presence of China in the grouping may hurt India’s interests in their respective fields.
    • Several countries in the grouping wanted India to open up its market for 92% of traded goods, while they remained reluctant to allow Indian skilled professionals greater access to their markets. India is ready to offer access for up to 85% of items, with deviations for countries such as China, Australia and New Zealand, with whom it does not have a free-trade agreements.

 

  1. Indian tourists visiting Sri Lanka may soon be exempted from visa requirement as the government is mulling granting visa -free entry to visitors from countries like India and China.
    • Sri Lanka’s tourism industry faced a difficult time until a decade back due to the civil war with the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE).
    • Tourist arrivals have recorded a growth of 3% during the first half of 2018 compared with the same period last year.
    • India topped the number of tourist arrivals in Sri Lanka at 206,337 followed by Chinese tourists at 136,294.
    • All tourists to Sri Lanka must obtain an Electronic Travel Authorisation (ETA) before their arrival.
    • On the basis of reciprocity, citizens of Singapore, the Maldives and the Seychelles are exempt from the ETA and can obtain a visa on arrival free of charge.

 

  1. The Rajya Sabha unanimously passed the Constitution (123rd Amendment) Bill 2017, which provides constitutional status to the National Commission for Backward Classes.

 

  1. The Telangana government launched a 5 lakh insurance programmeRythu Bandhu Life Insurance Bonds, for farmers in the state, touted to be the first of its kind, under which their families will get the amount irrespective of whether the death is natural or accidental.
    • The scheme is limited to farmers aged between 18 and 60 years.
    • It will cover only land owners who received monetary assistance of 4,000 from the state government to bear farming costs under the “Rythu Bandhu” programme.
    • The insurance amount in case of death or accident will be given to a farmer’s family in 10 days itself.

 

  1. The Supreme Court will consider whether Article 35A, which gives special status to the State and people of Jammu and Kashmir, is violative of the basic structure of the Constitution.
    • Article 35A gives the Jammu and Kashmir State Legislature complete authority to decide the ‘permanent residents’ of the State and grant them special rights and privileges in State public sector jobs, acquisition of property within the State, scholarships and other public aid and welfare programmes.
    • It was brought in by a presidential order in 1954 in order to safeguard the rights and guarantee the unique identity of the people of Jammu-Kashmir.
    • By striking down Article 35A, would allow people from outside Jammu-Kashmir to settle in the state and acquire land and property, and the right to vote, thus altering the demography of the Muslim-majority state.

 

  1. Meghalaya, Mizoram and Tripura have emerged as the new hotspots for HIV, according to the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare.
    • They are at high-risk behaviour of Injecting Drug Users (IDUs), and unsafe sexual practices.
    • At one site of Mizoram’s Aizwal district, the prevalence of HIV was as high as 68%, compared with 1.6% for other sites in the country.
    • The HSS had referred that HIV prevalence in the context of Ante-Natal Clinics (ANCs) in the north-eastern States of Mizoram (1.19%), Nagaland (0.82%), Meghalaya (0.73%), Tripura (0.56%) and Manipur (0.47%) were among the highest.
    • The HIV Sentinel Surveillance (HSS), a biennial study conducted by the National AIDS Control Organisation (NACO), is one of the largest regular studies in the world dealing with HIV in high risk groups of the population.
    • Anti-Retroviral Treatment (ART) leads to effectively suppressing the virus and reducing the transmission of HIV from the infected person.
    • In terms of Persons Living with HIV (PLHIV) who are on ART, Maharashtra has the highest number (with 2.03 lakh persons) followed by Andhra Pradesh (1.78 lakh ) and Karnataka (1.58 lakh persons).
    • AIDS (Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome) is a syndrome caused by a virus called HIV (Human Immunodeficiency Virus).

 

  1. The Jatayu sculpture at the Jatayu Earth Center in Kollam, Kerala, is believed to be world’s largest bird sculpture, will be inaugurated on August 17 by Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan.
    • It is designed by Rajiv Anchal and is built on a massive rock called Jatayupara.

 

INTERNATIONAL NEWS

  1. China successfully tested “Xingkong-2” or “Starry Sky-2”, its first waverider hypersonic aircraft that could carry nuclear warheads and penetrate any current generation anti-missile defence systems.
    • Waverider is a flight vehicle that flies in the atmosphere and utilises shockwaves produced by its own hypersonic flight with the air to glide at high speed.
    • It will not only challenge the defences of the US but also be able to more accurately hit military targets in Japan and India.
  1. Google launched the latest version of its Android operating system — Android Pie, that promises to make smartphones ‘smarter’ and make it much simpler to navigate the smartphone.

 

 

BANKING AND ECONOMY

  1. The board of State Bank of India (SBI), India’s largest lender, has approved a plan to cover legal expenses of current and former staff booked by investigating agencies, but where no probe has been ordered by the bank.
    • The bank also plans to purchase an insurance policy to reimburse legal costs for staff indicted for fraud while taking business decisions.

 

APPOINTMENTS

  1. Ramon Laguarta will probably take over as the CEO of as Indra Nooyi has decided to step down.

 

 

IMPORTANT DAYS

  1. August 6, 2018, marks the 73rd anniversary of the bombing of Hiroshima.
    • On this day in 1945, the US bomber Enola Gay dropped the first atomic bomb nicknamed ‘Little Boy’ ever used in military combat on Hiroshima.
    • The August 6, 1945, bombing of Hiroshima killed 140,000 people. Three days later, a second U.S. atomic bomb killed 70,000 people in Nagasaki. Japan surrendered six days after that, ending World War II.
  1. August 8 marks the 30th anniversary of the people’s uprising in Myanmar.
    • The ‘8888’ uprising (or the eighth day of August 1988) is one of Myanmar’s most important historic days in the context of the pro-democracy movement.

 

SPORTS

  1. Kliment Kolesnikov of Russia created a world record of 24 seconds for the 50 metres backstroke as he won the European Championship title in Glasgow, Scotland.
  2. Defending champions the Netherlands defeated Ireland in the finals and won the Women’s Hockey World Cup 2018 held in Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park, London.
    • India finished the tournament at 8th position.