Current Affairs Daily Digest – March 30 2019
1. India Inc’s foreign borrowings fall 9% to $2.81 bn in February; Oil India emerges as top borrower
India Inc’s borrowings from foreign markets fell to USD 2.81 billion in February, down by 9 per cent as compared to the year-ago month, data from the Reserve Bank of India showed .
The domestic firms had raised as much as $3.1 billion through the external commercial borrowing (ECB) route in the corresponding month of 2018. No firms tapped the rupee-denominated bonds route to borrow capital from foreign markets during February.
Among the major borrowers were Oil India Ltd (USD 550 million for overseas investment), Indian Oil Corporation (USD 400 million as working capital loan), Shriram Transport Finance Company (USD 400 million for sub-lending) and Mahindra & Mahindra Financial Services (USD 300 million for sub-lending).
2. L&T announces new strategic initiative to focus on AI, cybersecurity
Infrastructure giant Larsen & Toubro (L&T) announced a new initiative, L&T-Nxt, to focus on new-age technologies such as artificial intelligence and cybersecurity.
L&T-Nxt will focus on areas of artificial intelligence, internet of things (IoT), virtual reality, augmented reality, geospatial solutions and cybersecurity, and leverage the experience that L&T has garnered over the decades.
3. Zydus Cadila gets USFDA nod for generic drug
Drug maker Zydus Cadila has received the final approval from the US health regulator to market Ambrisentan tablets, used to treat high blood pressure in the lungs, in the American market.
The Ahmedabad-based group has received the approval from the US Food and Drug Administration (USFDA) to market the drug in strengths of 5 mg and 10 mg, Zydus Cadila said in a statement.
The product would be manufactured at the group’s formulations manufacturing facility at SEZ, Ahmedabad. The sales of Ambrisentan tablets USP in the US market stood at USD 943 million (about Rs 6,500 crore) last year.
Zydus said it now has 258 approvals from the USFDA and has so far filed over 350 abbreviated new drug applications (ANDAs) since the commencement of its filing process in 2003-04.
4. Dhanbad best city for 4G availability in India, Srinagar grabs 3rd spot
In terms of 4G availability, Dhanbad in Jharkhand has topped the list of 50 cities in India, according to London-based wireless coverage mapping company OpenSignal. Ranchi, capital of Jharkhand, came second after scoring 95 per cent in 4G availability. Srinagar came third with a score of 94.9 per cent.
New Delhi, Mumbai, Bengaluru and Kolkata did not make it to the top 10 in the list.
For the study, Data analytics firm OpenSignal looked at 50 of India’s largest cities and analysed them by their 4G availability, based on a combined score for all
5. In world first, HIV-positive woman donates kidney to HIV-positive recipient
An Atlanta woman Nina Martinez became the first living HIV-positive kidney donor in the world when surgeons at Johns Hopkins Medicine in Baltimore transferred her organ to a recipient who is also HIV-positive. Both the donor and the recipient, who wishes to remain anonymous, are doing well.
Nina Martinez, a 36-year-old public health consultant, acquired HIV as a 6-week-old in 1983, when she received a blood transfusion in the years before blood banks began routine testing for the virus. HIV damages the immune system and interferes with the body’s ability to fight the organisms that cause disease.
6. President Kovind inaugurates plaque of Gandhi Hall at Gabriel Rene Moreno University in Bolivia
President Ram Nath Kovind inaugurated the plaque of the Mahatma Gandhi Hall at the Gabriel Rene Moreno University in Santa Cruz during his visit to Bolivia.
President said that India is the first major economy that is seeking to make that leap for industrialisation while combating climate change, and also reducing the dependence on fossil fuels. India has set a target of 175 gigawatts of renewable energy by 2022, of which 100 gigawatts will comprise solar energy.
President also participated in the India – Bolivia Business Forum. President is in Bolivia on the second leg of his three nation tour. He is on a three-nation visit to Croatia, Bolivia and Chile from March 25th to April 4th.
7. India & Bolivia sign 8 MoUs in various fields including culture, mining, space
India and Bolivia have signed eight MoUs on the second day of President Ram Nath Kovind’s three-day visit to that country.
These MoUs were signed in the fields of culture, Visa waiver arrangement for diplomats, the exchange between diplomatic academies, mining, space, traditional medicine, establishment of Centre of Excellence in IT and Bi-Oceanic Railway project.
Mr Kovind was also conferred with the highest State honour of Bolivia, “Condor de Los Andes en el Grado de Gran Collar” during his visit to Bolivia. President of Bolivia Evo Morales awarded him the Honour at a function held in Santa Cruz.
8. Foreign secy Vijay Gokhale holds bilateral talks with Nepalese counterpart
Foreign Secretary Vijay Gokhale held bilateral talks with his Nepalese counterpart Shanker Das Bairagi in Kathmandu . They reviewed all aspects of bilateral partnership between India and Nepal and exchanged views on issues of mutual interest.
They expressed satisfaction at the substantial progress in bilateral projects and initiatives that were discussed and agreed to during the reciprocal visits of Prime Ministers of Nepal and India last year. Both sides also agreed to strengthen the traditionally close, friendly and multi-faceted partnership between the two countries.
9. Assam: Bongaigaon dist admin develops ‘Sankalp’ app to reach out to 1st-time voter
In Assam, the Bongaigaon district administration has developed a mobile app Sankalp to particularly reach out to the first-time voters.
Bongaigaon Deputy Commissioner Adil Khan said that a special initiative has been taken to encourage the first-time voters. Mr. Khan said that the NIC team has developed the app and it will be launched soon. The new voters will also be able to sign a digital ‘sankalp patra’, promising to cast their votes on the day of polling.
10. Rima Das becomes ambassador of Toronto International Film Fest
Critically acclaimed Assam filmmaker Rima Das has joined Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF)’s ‘Share Her Journey’ as its official ambassador.
TIFF launched the 5-year campaign in 2017 with a view to increase participation, skills, and opportunities for women behind and in front of the camera.
11. RBI clears Rs19,240 crore CCL for Punjab for Rabi marketing season
The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) cleared Rs 19,240.91 crore towards Cash Credit Limit (CCL) for Punjab for the purchase of wheat in the Rabi marketing season.With this, the bulk of the CCL sought by the state government for the purchase of 130 lakh tonne of wheat for this season has been released by the central bank.
The release of the CCL would facilitate the state government in making timely payments to farmers against purchases of food grains in the current season, which would begin from April 1 and culminate on May 25, it said.
The central government has fixed the minimum support price (MSP) of wheat at ₹1,840 per quintal, hiking it by ₹105 from last year’s ₹1,735 per quintal.
12. GAIL, BHEL sign pact for development of solar power projects
State-owned gas utility GAIL India Ltd has signed an agreement with Bharat Heavy Electricals Ltd (BHEL) for cooperation in the development of solar power projects. “GAIL shall be the project developer and BHEL shall act as an engineering, procurement, construction and project management contractor.
BHEL shall also provide operation and maintenance services during the initial period upon becoming successful bidder.
“This development will help both the companies to leverage their competitive strengths to build a substantial portfolio in solar power projects.
13. India’s forex reserves rise for 3rd week in a row, now at $407 billion: RBI
India’s foreign exchange (forex) reserves continued to surge for a third week, adding $1.029 billion to $406.667 billion in the week to 22 March, according to data from the Reserve Bank of India (RBI). Forex reserves had increased by $3.6 billion to $405.6 billion in the previous reporting week driven by an increase in foreign currency assets.
Gold reserves were unchanged at $23.408 billion in the reporting week, according to data from the central bank. The special drawing rights with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) dipped by $0.7 million to $1.460 billion.
14. Sebi exempts govt from PNB open offer to bring its stake below 75%
The Securities and Exchange Board of India (Sebi) has exempted the government from making an open offer for the shareholders of Punjab National Bank (PNB) but directed reduction in non-public shareholding in the lender post capital infusion.
After capital infusion in lieu of preferential allotment of over 80.2 crore shares, the government’s stake in the bank would rise by 5.19% to 75.41%. Under the Sebi norms, entities are required to make an open offer in case their shareholding goes beyond a certain threshold. Against this backdrop, the bank sought Sebi’s exemption from the open offer requirement for the government.
15. RBI raises FPI investment limit in G-Secs
The Reserve Bank of India upped the investment limit for FY2019-20 for foreign portfolio investors (FPI) in Central government securities (G-Secs) to 6 per cent of outstanding stock of securities from 5.5 per cent in FY2018-19.
The limit for FPI investment in State development loans (SDLs) and corporate bonds has been left unchanged at 2 per cent and 9 per cent of outstanding stocks.
As against the current limit of ₹6,49,900 crore, the revised limit for FPI investment in debt for FY2020 has been set at ₹6,98,300 crore for the first half, and ₹7,46,500 crore for the second half of the financial year.
16. French director Agnes Varda dead at 90
Legendary French filmmaker Agnes Varda has died after battling breast cancer. She was 90.
She was popular for films like “Cleo from 5 to 7” and “Vagabond”. Her 2001 documentary “The Gleaners and I” is considered one of her masterpieces. In the film, she used the themes of collecting, harvesting and recycling to reflect on her own work.
17. Govt leaves interest rate on small-saving schemes unchanged
The Finance Ministry has decided to keep the interest rate unchanged on small savings schemes for the three-month period beginning April 1.
The announcement covers small-saving schemes such as the Post Office Saving Accounts, Post Office Time Deposits, the National Saving Certificates (NSC), the Public Provident Fund (PPF), the Kisan Vikas Patra (KVP) and Sukanya Samriddhi.
The unchanged interest rate means the NSC (5 years) and the PPF (15 years) will fetch 8 per cent interest, while money deposited in KVP will double in little over nine years . At the same time, if one is parking money in a fixed deposit with a maturity of five years with the State Bank of India, he/she will get 6.85 per cent. Senior citizens will get half a per cent more: 7.35 per cent.
18. Next Census Of India Will Be Carried Out In 2021
The next census of India will be carried out in 2021 with March 1 of that year as the reference date, the Home Ministry announced In a notification, the ministry said the decision has been taken by the central government under the powers conferred by section 3 of the Census Act, 1948 (37 of 1948).
For Jammu and Kashmir and snow bound non-synchronous areas of Himachal Pradesh and Uttarakhand, the reference date shall be the first day of October, 2020, the notification said.
19. Radm Mahesh Singh takes over as Flag Officer Commanding Karnataka Area
Rear Admiral Mahesh Singh, NM assumed charge as Flag Officer Commanding Karnataka Naval Area at a ceremonial parade at Karwar .
An alumnus of the National Defence Academy, he was commissioned into the #IndianNavy in January 1987 and is a Navigation and Direction specialist. His notable sea appointments include commissioning crew of INS Akshay and Jyoti, Executive Officer of Frigate Tabar and Command of missile vessel INS Nirghat during Op Vijay, MCGS Vigilante whilst on deputation to Government of Mauritius and the LPD INS Jalashwa.
20. Rear Admiral Suraj Berry takes over as the Flag Officer Commanding Eastern Fleet
Rear Admiral Suraj Berry, NM, VSM takes over the Command of Eastern Fleet, the Sword Arm of the Eastern Naval Command from Rear Admiral Dinesh K Tripathi, AVSM, NM at an impressive ceremony held at the Naval Base, Visakhapatnam on 30 March 19.