Daily Current Affairs – Feb 18, 2020

Airtel pays Rs 10,000 crore to telecom department as part of dues, days after SC raps Centre, firms
Telecom provider Bharti Airtel has paid Rs. 10,000 crores of its statutory dues to the telecom department. The government assesses that Airtel owes nearly 35,586 crores in licence fees. The company has paid Rs 9,500 crore on behalf of Bharti Airtel Limited (including Telenor India) and Rs 500 crore on behalf of Bharti Hexacom.
15 such firms owe the government Rs 1.47 lakh crore following the Supreme court’s order in October last year, saying that revenue from non-core businesses should be included in calculating the annual AGR of telecom companies.

Asian Wrestling Championship begins in New Delhi
Asian Wrestling Championship will begin in New Delhi from February 18. It will be held at the KD Jadhav Hall of Indira Gandhi Stadium till 23rd of this month. The event will have a total of 30 weight classes, 10 each in Freestyle Men, Women, and Greco Roman.
The Championship will begin with Greco-Roman events, followed by women wrestling and men’s freestyle.

CDS Gen Bipin Rawat announces plan to create Peninsula Command
Chief of Defence Staff, General Bipin Rawat has said there are plans to create a Peninsula Command with Navy’s Eastern and Western Command under it. General Rawat said India is looking at setting up two to five theatre commands. He said Air Defence command will be rolled out by beginning of next year and peninsula command will be rolled out soon.
He added that India is also working on separate joint commands for logistics and training.

EAM S Jaishankar reaches Belgium for talks with EU leaders on bilateral issues
External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar has reached Belgium for talks with leaders of the European Union on the bilateral issues and prepare the ground for Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s planned visit for the 15th India-EU summit in Brussels in March. Dr. Jaishankar met his Belgian counterpart Philippe Goffin.

FATF says terrorist groups continue to benefit from funds through illegal activities
The Financial Action Task Force (FATF) has said that several terrorist groups continue to benefit from funds raised through illegal activities and from supporters worldwide despite the international terror financing watchdog tightening the standards on the flow of money.
Without naming Pakistan, the FATF said that terrorists use various methods to gain financing, including using social media to identify new followers and to solicit financial or other forms of material support.
India has maintained that Pakistan extends regular support to terror groups like Lashkar-e-Taiba, Jaish-e-Mohammad and Hizbul Mujahideen, whose prime target is India and urged FATF to take action against Islamabad.

Fiscal deficit will be reduced to 3.5 percent of GDP in 2020-21, says Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman
Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman has said that the fiscal deficit will be reduced to 3.5 percent of GDP in 2020-21. Exempting seasonal perishable commodities, she assured that the prices of other food products will be kept well within the acceptable norms.

Govt to achieve 50% Gross Enrollment Ratio in higher education by 2030, says HRD Minister
Union Government has set an ambitious target to achieve 50 per cent Gross Enrollment Ratio in higher education by 2030 to equip its working population with employable skills. Currently, the Gross Enrollment Ratio is around 26 per cent.

India claims five silver, six bronze medals at 2020 Asian Youth and Junior Weightlifting Championships
India claimed five silver and six bronze medals at the ongoing 2020 Asian Youth and Junior Weightlifting Championships in Tashkent, Uzbekistan. In 45 kilogram category, K V L Pavani Kumari won silver medals in both youth girls and junior women section, while Sidhanta Gogoi claimed silver in youth boys and junior men events in 61-kilogram category after lifting a total of 145 and 269 kilograms.
A total of 197 athletes from 20 Asian countries are participating in the event.

IOB mulling follow-on offer next fiscal
State-owned Indian Overseas Bank is exploring options to raise funds through a follow-on public offer (FPO) during the next financial year. The centre holds nearly 95 per cent stake while LIC has three per cent and others-two per cent in the bank, which is currently under the Prompt Corrective Action (PCA) framework of the Reserve Bank.
The centre recently increased IOB’s authorized capital from Rs 10,000 crore to Rs 25,000 crore. The Government also infused Rs 4,360 crore capital into the bank.

Japan economy suffers worst drop in over five years
Japan’s economy suffered its worst quarterly contraction in more than five years at the end of 2019 after a tax hike and typhoons. According to official data, the nation’s gross domestic product in the three months to December shrank 1.6 percent from the previous quarter, before the novel coronavirus outbreak in China hit Japan.
The drop was much worse than the one-percent contraction economists had expected.
The disappointing data snapped four quarters of expansion and was the biggest contraction since the second quarter of 2014 when the economy shrank 1.9 percent after the first sales tax hike in 17 years was introduced.

Koneru Humpy wins Cairns Cup Chess Tournament in US
World rapid champion Koneru Humpy claimed her second title in the last two months by winning the Cairns Cup Chess Tournament at St Louis in USA. She drew with compatriot Dronavalli Harika in the ninth and final round. Humpy ended with six points ahead of reigning champion Zu Wezun who finished with 5.5 points.
With this win, Humpy would be gaining five ELO rating points, the basis for international rankings and moving to no.2 in the world list.

Moody’s Investors Service slashes India’s growth forecast to 5.4 per cent for 2020
Moody’s Investors Service slashed India’s growth forecast to 5.4 per cent for 2020 from 6.6 per cent projected earlier. In its on Global Macro Outlook, Moody’s said India’s economy has decelerated rapidly over the last two years and expects economic recovery to begin in the current quarter.
The growth projections are based on calendar year and as per its estimates, India has clocked a GDP growth of 5 per cent in 2019.

NADA bans javelin thrower Amit Dahiya for four years
National Anti Doping Agency (NADA) has banned javelin thrower Amit Dahiya for four years for evading sample collection and trying to cheat officials during the 2nd National Javelin Throw Open Championship 2019 held at SAI Centre in Sonipat.
NADA had issued the charge of notice to Dahiya on July 16 for violating rule 2.3 of the NADA.

RIL to consolidate media, distribution businesses
Reliance Industries Ltd. (RIL) plans to consolidate its media and distribution businesses spread across multiple entities into Network18, in a move that will make Network18 an integrated media and distribution company with a revenue of Rs. 8,000 crore.
RIL is restructuring its media and distribution operations by merging three group entities — Television 18 Broadcast, Hathway Cable and Datacom and Den Networks — with flagship Network18 Media and Investments.
The entire broadcasting business will be housed under Network18, while the cable and ISP businesses will be in two separate wholly owned subsidiaries of Network18. The merger will be executed through a share swap.

SEBI caps fees for investment advisers
With an aim to safeguard investors’ interest, markets regulator Sebi has decided to tighten its eligibility norms for investment advisers and decided to introduce an upper limit for their fees. Sebi also barred use of titles like independent “financial advisers” or “wealth advisers” by those dealing in distribution of securities, unless they are registered as investment advisers also.
Sebi will also introduce enhanced eligibility criteria for registration as an investment adviser including for networth qualification and experience. There will be a provision for grandfathering existing individual advisers. For a greater transparency, an agreement would have to be signed between an adviser and the client incorporating all terms and conditions.

SEBI decides to permit the use of regulatory sandbox
Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI) has decided to permit the use of regulatory sandbox, a system that will allow live testing of new products, services and business models by market players on select customers. The decision was taken at SEBI’s board meeting held in Mumbai.
The proposed ‘regulatory sandbox’ is intended to serve as a testing ground for new business models and technologies that benefit investors, Indian markets and the economy at large.
Under this framework, the eligible entities will be granted certain facilities and flexibilities to experiment with fintech solutions in a live environment and on real customers, while ensuring that there are necessary safeguards for investor protection and risk mitigation.

Soil Health Card Scheme to complete five years
The ambitious Soil Health Card Scheme is completing five years on February 18. The scheme was launched in 2015 to assess the nutrient status of every farm holding in the country. The objectives of the scheme are to issue Soil Health Cards to farmers every two years so as to provide a basis to address nutritional deficiencies in fertilization practices.
From 2015 to 2017, over 10 crores Soil Health Cards were distributed to farmers in the first phase. In the second phase, over 11 crore cards have been distributed to farmers across the country.

Supreme Court orders to grant permanent commission to women officers in Army
In a historic judgment, the Supreme Court has ordered the Centre to ensure that women officers are given permanent commission (PC) in the Army, while adding that the officers will be now eligible for command posting. The SC stated that the permanent commission will apply to all women officers in the Army in service, irrespective of their years of service. The Supreme Court also directed the Centre to grant permanent commission within three months to all women officers in Army who opt for it.
The SC added that all terms of appointments of women officers shall be same as their male counterparts.
The Supreme Court said Centre’s opposition to permanent commission and command appointments to women officers citing physiological features is disturbing and can’t be accepted.

Three-Day BioAsia Summit 2020 Begins in Telangana
The 17th edition of three-day BioAsia, Asia’s largest Biotechnology and Life Sciences Forum began in Telangana, Hyderabad on 17 February 2020. It will conclude on 19 February 2020. The theme of the three-day 2020 BioAsia is ‘Today for Tomorrow’. Switzerland is the partner Country for 2020 event.
About 2,000 delegates from 37 countries will be attending the annual flagship event.

United by Emotion: Motto of 2020 Tokyo Olympics announced
Tokyo 2020 organisers rolled out the motto for this year’s Olympics, “United by Emotion”, which they said reflected the “universal values” and “unifying power of sport”. The official Olympic motto is “Citius, Altius, Fortius” or “Faster, Higher, Stronger”, but each host city chooses its own motto to accompany that edition of the Games.
Some 10,000 athletes from over 200 countries will gather in Tokyo for the Olympics, which run from July 24 to Aug. 9.

WHO says Covid-19 is not as deadly as other coronaviruses
World Health Organization(WHO) has warned against blanket measures over the novel coronavirus outbreak, pointing out the epidemic outside of China is only affecting a tiny proportion of the population.
WHO also said that COVID-19 is less deadly than other coronaviruses such as Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome, SARS or Middle East Respiratory Syndrome.
WHO officials rejected the suggestion that all cruises should be halted to avoid risking a new nest of infection like the one on the coronavirus-hit Diamond Princess off Japan.

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