Current Affairs Daily Updates: 19th May 2017

Mentor for Bank Exams
Current Affairs Daily Updates: 19th May 2017
Harsh Vardhan gets additional charge of Environment Ministry
  • Union Science and Technology Minister Harsh Vardhan was given additional charge of the Environment Ministry following the death of Union Environment Minister Anil Madhav Dave.
  • The President of India Shri Pranab Mukherjee as advised by the Prime Minister directed that Dr Harsh Vardhan should be assigned the charge of the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change, in addition to his existing portfolios.
Indian American student wins National Geographic Bee contest
  • Indian American student Pranay Varada (14 -year) won the prestigious USD 50,000 in the National Geographic Bee contest.
  • Indian - American Veda Bhattaram another Indian-American from New Jersey finished third at the finals and got USD 10,000 worth scholarships.
  • This year, six of the 10 finalists were Indian-Americans.
  • Indian-Americans have won the National Geographic Bee competition for the last six consecutive years.
Prestigious Whitley Award for Sanjay Gubbi and Purnima Barman
  • Sanjay Gubbi of Karnataka and Purnima Barman of Assam have won the prestigious Whitley Award, popularly known as Green Oscars, for their efforts in wildlife conservation.
  • The awards are instituted by the U.K.-registered charity Whitley Fund for Nature, which supports nature conservationists in their endeavour to conserve wildlife and nature.
  • While Mr. Gubbi has been awarded for his work to protect tiger corridors in Karnataka, Ms. Barman has won the award for her work in conservation of Assam’s Greater Adjutant Stork and its habitat.
25% of new bank branches to be opened in rural areas: RBI
  • The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) has mandated that 25 per cent of the total number of 'banking outlets' opened during a financial year should be located in unbanked rural centres.
  • The RBI mandated this in its notification "Rationalisation of Branch Authorisation Policy- Revision of Guidelines".
  • "Domestic scheduled commercial banks (other than RRBs) are permitted to open, unless otherwise specifically restricted, banking outlets in tier 1 to tier 6 centres without having the need to take permission from RBI in each case," the central bank said in the notification.
  • According to the revised policy, RBI has defined “a banking outlet” for a scheduled commercial, a payments bank or a small finance bank as a fixed point service delivery unit, manned by either the bank’s staff or its business correspondent, where services of acceptance of deposits, encashment of cheques, cash withdrawal or lending of money are provided for a minimum of 4 hours per day for at least five days a week”.
  • Those outlets which do not meet this criteria will be called “part-time banking outlet.”
Japan's SoftBank Invests Rs 9,000 Crore in Paytm
  • Japan's SoftBank invested 1.4 billion (over Rs 9,079 crore) in digital payments platform Paytm.
  • This is the largest fund investment by a single investor in an Indian start-up and also Softbank's largest investment in a single company in India.
  • The company plans to invest Rs 10,000 crore over the next three to five years.
GST rates announced; milk, cereals to be exempted
  • The meeting of the 14th GST Council was held in Srinagar marking participation of Union Finance Minister, Mr Arun Jaitley, Finance Ministers of all the states, Finance Secretaries and other taxation officials from the states and union territories.
  • The Goods and Services (GST) Council has agreed on the fitment of almost all commodities in the various tax slabs under the new indirect regime to be rolled out on July 1.
  • Milk, cereals (unpackaged and unbranded), and jaggery will be exempt from any GST, while sugar, tea, coffee (except instant), and edible oil will be taxed at 5%.
  • Common use items such as soap, toothpaste, and hair oil, which currently attract a tax rate of 22-24%, will be taxed at 18%. Coal, which is currently taxed at 11.7%, will attract a GST rate of 5%.
  • Consumer durables will come under the 28% tax bracket, down from the current 30-32% rate.
  • Capital goods and industrial intermediaries will be taxed at 18%.
  • Small petrol and diesel cars will be taxed at 28% with small petrol cars attracting a cess of 1% and small diesel cars 3%.
  • Luxury cars will attract a 15% cess in addition to 28% GST.
  • 350 cc bikes will attract a cess of 3%.
President of India Receives First Copy of Book Metaphysics, Morals and Politics
  • The President of India, Shri Pranab Mukherjee received the first copy of book ‘Metaphysics, Morals and Politics’ from Prof. Amal Kumar Mukhopadhyay in Kolkata, West Bengal.
  • In 1961, as a state scholar of the Government of West Bengal Prof. Mukhopadhyay joined as a research scholar at the London School of Economics.
  • Prof. Mukhopadhyay thesis was published in a book titled ‘The Ethics of Obedience’.
Start up India Summit to be held in Dubai
  • Dubai will host a two-day “Startup India Summit” in the United Arab Emirates with Consulate General of India (CGI) Dubai and Embassy of India in Abu Dhabi in partnership with Indian Software Product Industry Round Table (iSPIRIT).
  • This is the first “Start-Up Summit” being held in the UAE.
  • The aim is to provide a shared platform for the Start-up ecosystem in both India and UAE for greater collaboration, exchange ideas, interact with academia, investors and industry.
  • India is the third largest ecosystem in the world leading in tech innovation.
India's Healthcare Ranks Below Bangladesh And Sri Lanka: Study
  • Despite making giant leaps in medicine, India continues to be at the bottom in the ranking of countries in terms of quality and accessibility of healthcare.
  • According to the new Global Burden of Disease study published in the Lancet, while South Korea, Turkey, Peru, China and the Maldives have seen some of the greatest improvements in healthcare access and quality since the 1990s, India has failed to achieve most of the healthcare goals.
  • India ranked at 154 with an score of 44.8 in the list of 195 countries.
  • China is far ahead of India ranking at 82 with a score of 74 on the index. Sri Lanka has scored 73 on the index, whereas Brazil and Bangladesh have score 65 and 52, respectively.
  • Andorra scored the highest score (94.6) while Central African Republic had the lowest (28.6).
Karnataka to adopt a state Butterfly
  • Karnataka State Wildlife Board approved the proposal to declare Southern Bird Wing butterfly as the state butterfly.
  • Maharashtra is the first state, where Blue Mormon has been declared as the State butterfly of Maharashtra.
  • The state chose this butterfly as its red and yellow colour also represent the Karnataka flag.
Union Minister Inaugurates The Test Track Facility for The Automotive-OEM for Automotive Manufacturers at Chennai
  • Union Heavy Industries & Public Enterprises Minister Shri Anant G. Geete inaugurated the test track facility for the Automotive Original Equipment Manufacturer (OEM) developed by Global Automotive Research centre (GARC) at Oragadam, Chennai.
  • The Global Automotive Research Centre (GARC) Chennai is a body working under the NATRiP (National Automotive Testing & R&D Infra Project).
  • GARC-Chennai started a centre with an overall investment of Rs. 963 Crores.
  • It has 5 different types of test track namely high-speed track (HST), gradient or hill track, External noise track (ENT), Braking surface track (BST) & steering pad.
  • The total cost of Test tracks projects estimation around 193.25 Crores.
Humanitarian Assistance and Disaster Relief Commences At Naval Station Karwar
  • The Annual Joint Humanitarian Assistance and Disaster Relief (HADR) Exercise involving multiple agencies and being conducted by Indian Navy’s Western Nava Command commenced at Naval Station Karwar from May 18 - 20.
  • The exercise "KARAVALI KARUNYA", means assistance to the coast of Karnataka which involves both professional exchange and actual disaster response mechanisms is set on a Tsunami disaster scenario and will continue till 20 May 2017.
Simbex-17 Commences Between Indian & Republic Of Singapore Navy
  • As part of "SIMBEX-17’, the ongoing Bilateral Naval Exercise between Navies of the Republic of Singapore and India, lndian Naval Ships Shivalik, Sahyadri, Jyoti and Kamorta and one P8-I Maritime Patrol and Anti-Submarine Warfare Aircraft are participating.
  • SIMBEX is an acronym for “Singapore-India Maritime Bilateral Exercises”.
  • Bilateral cooperation between Singapore and India was first formalised when RSN ships began training with the Indian Navy in 1994.
  • This year’s edition of SIMBEX-17 being held in the South China Sea would be the 24th in the series and is aimed to increase interoperability between the RSN and IN as well as develop common understanding and procedures for maritime security operations.
Scientists discover First Natural Human Antibodies against Ebola Virus
  • A team of scientists from the United States of America discovered a possible cure for Ebola viruses.
  • They have discovered the first natural human antibodies that are capable of neutralising and protecting animals against all three major disease-causing Ebola viruses.
  • Ebola virus disease (EVD) is a severe, often fatal illness in humans. It was first identified in 1976 in the Democratic Republic of Congo in a village near the Ebola River.
Indian Cricket Team Retains No.1 Spot In ICC Test Team Ranking
  • Indian cricket team retained its top position in the latest International Cricket Council (ICC) Test rankings with 123 points.
  • Second place is South Africa with 117 points.
  • Australia has been placed at the third place with 100 points followed by England at 4th (99 points), New Zealand at 5th (97 points), Pakistan at 6th (93 points), Sri Lanka at 7th (91 points), West Indies at 8th (75 points), Bangladesh at 9th (69 points) and Zimbabwe at 10th with zero points.
Laxman wins All India Open Rapid FIDE Rating chess meet
  • R.R. Laxman of Integral Coach Factory won the All India Open Rapid  World Chess Federation (FIDE) Rating Chess Tournament at the Kshudiram Anushilan Kendra, Kolkata.
  • He got 9.5 points defeating Mitrabha Guha who bagged 8.5 points.
  • Somak Palit scored 7.5 points to secure the fifth place. Prantik Roy placed eighth in the tournament.