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AGR dues: Telecom firms approach SC for deadline extension
Vodafone Idea Ltd, Bharti Airtel Ltd and Tata Teleservices Ltd have jointly filed a modification application in the Supreme Court, seeking more time to pay the adjusted gross revenue (AGR) dues to the government.
This is the final attempt by the debt-laden operators to negotiate for an easier payment schedule with the department of telecommunications (DoT) and get an extension to the 23 January deadline.
Last week, the Supreme Court had dismissed the review petitions filed by telcos to alter its earlier judgement, which set a three-month deadline for telecom operators to pay the over Rs.1 trillion in AGR dues.

Centre appoints senior bureaucrats Rajeev Singh Thakur and Shantanu as Joint Secretaries in the newly-created Department of Military Affairs
The Centre appointed senior bureaucrats Rajeev Singh Thakur and Shantanu as Joint Secretaries in the newly-created Department of Military Affairs.
Mr Thakur, a 1995 batch Indian Administrative Service officer of Rajasthan Cadre will have a tenure till December 2022 while Mr Shantanu, a 1997 batch Tripura Cadre IAS officer has been appointed to the post till March 2024.
The government had last month created the Department of Military Affairs, which is headed by Chief of Defence Staff, CDS General Bipin Rawat.

Chinese President says coronavirus outbreak must be taken seriously
Chinese President Xi Jinping has said that it’s extremely crucial to take every possible measure to combat a new coronavirus that has infected more than 200 people in the country. The country reported a sharp rise in the number of people infected by the novel form of viral pneumonia, including the first cases in the capital.
The outbreak comes as the country enters its busiest travel period when millions of board trains and planes for the Lunar New Year holidays.
Authorities in Thailand and in Japan have already identified at least three cases, all involving recent travel from China.

Congress leader Shamsher Singh Surjewala passes away
Veteran Congress leader Shamsher Singh Surjewala has passed away following prolonged illness. He was 87. Shamsher Surjewala remained a five-time MLA and one-time Rajya Sabha MP. He was the president of the Haryana Krishak Samaj and fought for farmers rights.

England crush South Africa by innings and 53 runs in third Test to take 2-1 lead in series
England completed a comprehensive win by an innings and 53 runs on the fifth day of the third Test against South Africa at St. George’s Park, taking an unbeatable 2-1 lead in the four-match series. South Africa were bowled out for 237.
It was South Africa’s seventh defeat in their last eight Tests, the only exception being their win in the first Test against England

Federal Bank posts 32% rise in net profit
The Aluva-headquartered Federal Bank reported a net profit of Rs. 440.64 crore in the December quarter of the fiscal, a 32% year-on-year growth against Rs. 333.63 crore in the year ago period. Net interest income, or the difference between interest earned on loans and that paid on deposits, increased 7.21% to Rs.1,154.93 crore from Rs.1,077.29 crore in the corresponding period last year.
Gross non-performing assets (NPAs), as a percentage of total advances, were at 2.99% in the December quarter compared with 3.07% in the September quarter and 3.14% in the year-ago December quarter.

IAF inducts its first squadron of Sukhoi-30 MKI aircraft equipped with BrahMos missiles
The Indian Air Force has inducted its first squadron of Sukhoi-30 MKI aircraft carrying the BrahMos missiles in the South at its Thanjavur base in Tamil Nadu. The Chief of Defence Staff General Bipin Rawat and the Chief of Air Staff, Air Chief Marshal Rakesh Kumar Bhadauria inducted the squadron at an impressive ceremony.
The newly reinstated 222-squadron, also known as the Tigersharks, would serve as a lethal weapons platform capable of carrying both aerial and maritime roles in the Indian Ocean Region.

IMF cuts India’s growth estimate further
The International Monetary Fund (IMF) slashed India’s GDP growth rate to 4.8 per cent for the current fiscal and 5.8 per cent for 2020-21. The agency also said that a more subdued growth forecast for India accounts for the lion’s share of the downward revisions in global forecast. The agency has lowered the growth projection for entire Asia from the October forecast.
It stated that India’s domestic demand has slowed more sharply than expected amid stress in the non-bank financial sector and a decline in credit growth.
It further stated that the global growth is projected to rise from an estimated 2.9 per cent in 2019 to 3.3 per cent in 2020 and 3.4 per cent for 2021 — a downward revision of 0.1 percentage point for 2019 and 2020 and 0.2 for 2021 compared with those in the October World Economic Outlook (WEO).

Iran threatens to quit nuclear treaty over Europe dispute
Iran said that it will consider withdrawing from the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT) if a dispute over its atomic programme goes before the United Nations Security Council.
Britain, France and Germany launched a process last week charging Iran with failing to observe the terms of the 2015 nuclear deal.
Iran has accused the three European Union member states of inaction over sanctions the United States reimposed on it after unilaterally withdrawing from the landmark accord in 2018.

Iranian Film ‘Castle of Dreams’ gets Best Film Award at Dhaka International Film Festival
The Iranian film ‘Castle of Dreams’ directed by Reza Mirakarimi won the Best Film Award in Asian Competition section of the 18th Dhaka International Film Festival (DIFF) . This film also won the Best Director Award.
In the Asian Competition segment, Sri Lankan director Prasanna Vithanage’s film ‘Children of the Sun’ won Special Jury Award.
In Bangladesh Panorama Section, ‘No Dorai’ directed by Taneem Rahman Angshu bagged the Best Film Award.
Indian film ‘Finally Love’ directed by Anjan Dutt bagged Best Audience Award in Cinema of the World Category.
A total of 220 films from 74 countries were shown during the nine-day long festival which began on 11th of this month.

IRFC files IPO draft papers with Sebi
Indian Railway Finance Corporation has filed draft papers with markets regulator Sebi for its initial public offering (IPO). The public issue is of up to 140,70,69,000 equity shares of which up to 93,80,46,000 equity shares are fresh issue, and up to 46,90,23,000 equity shares are offer for sale, according to the draft red herring prospectus (DRHP).
The net proceeds from the offer are proposed to be utilised towards augmenting the company’s equity capital base to meet future capital requirements arising out of growth in business and general corporate purposes.

JP Nadda elected as National President of Bharatiya Janata Party
BJP Working President J P Nadda was elected unopposed as the National President of Bharatiya Janata Party. Party leaders including Union Ministers and Chief Ministers of BJP-ruled states filed nomination papers in support of Mr Nadda’s candidature.
Mr. Nadda, who is from Himachal Pradesh, was appointed as the party’s working president in July last year. He has long been a member of the BJP Parliamentary Board, its highest decision-making body. He was also the Cabinet Minister in the first tenure of the Narendra Modi Government.

Kotak Mahindra Bank net up 24%
Kotak Mahindra Bank, the country’s third largest private sector lender by market capitalisation, reported that its net profit rose 23.62 per cent to Rs 1,595.90 crore from Rs 1,290.93 crore, a year earlier.
Its core income or the net interest income, the difference between interest earned and interest expended, came in at Rs 3,429.53 crore compared with Rs 2,926.26 crore, during the same period last year, a jump of 17.2 per cent.
The bank saw its asset quality deteriorate slightly in December quarter as its gross non-performing assets as a percentage of total advances came in at 2.46 per cent versus 2.32 per cent in the previous quarter.
Its gross bad loans stood at Rs 5,413.20 crore in December quarter as against Rs 5,033.55 crore in the September quarter of current financial year.
Net performing assets as a percentage of total advances came in at 0.89 per cent versus 0.85 per cent in the previous quarter.

Land acquisition for dedicated Eastern freight corridor of Railways from Ludhiana to Dankuni to resume soon
In West Bengal, the land acquisition for the dedicated Eastern freight corridor of Railways from Ludhiana to Dankuni is to be resumed soon. The West Bengal Government has given green signal for the acquisition of lands in Hooghly, East and West Bardwan district for this project.
The project was being delayed for the lack of land for several years.
As per the agreement, the government will take those lands from the owners paying four times rates of the market value of the land and later it will be handed over to the Railways

More than 470 million people lack decent jobs: UN
More than 470 million people worldwide are currently unemployed or underemployed, the United Nations (UN) said. It warned that a lack of access to decent jobs was contributing to social unrest.
The global unemployment rate has remained relatively stable over much of the past decade, according to the UN’s International Labour Organisation (ILO).
This year, the number of people registered as unemployed is expected to rise to 190.5 million up from 188 million in 2019.
The ILO report highlighted that more than 60 percent of the global workforce currently work in the informal economy, often toiling for substandard wages and lacking basic social protections.
And in 2019, more than 630 million people — a fifth of the global working population lived in so-called working poverty, meaning they made less than USD 3.20 per day in purchasing power.

Prajnesh Gunneswaran crashes out in first round of Australian Open
In Australian Open Tennis tournament, India’s top-ranked player Prajnesh Gunneswaran crashed out in the first round to Tatsuma Ito of Japan at Melbourne. Prajnesh went down 6-4, 6-2, 7-5.
This was Prajnesh’s fifth straight appearance in the main draw of a Grand Slam event having earlier played in the Wimbledon, French Open and the US Open due to his better rankings.

Ravi Shankar Prasad to inaugurate second edition of NIC Tech Conclave-2020
Union Minister for Electronics and Information Technology Ravi Shankar Prasad will inaugurate the second edition of NIC Tech Conclave-2020 in New Delhi. The two-day event is being organized by the National Informatics Centre.
This year’s theme is Technologies for Next-Gen Governance.

Samsung to invest $500 mn to set up display factory in India
South Korean flat screen maker Samsung Display plans to set up a factory in India with a $500-million investment as parent Samsung Electronics Co. Ltd seeks to expand smartphone production in India.
Under the plan, Samsung Electronics will provide 35 billion rupees ($492.31 million) in loans and transfer a parcel of land in Noida for 920 million rupees to its display unit.
Samsung Electronics started making smartphones in Noida on the outskirts of the capital New Delhi in 2018.
Samsung, the second-biggest smartphone vendor in India after China’s Xiaomi Corp, saw its market share fall to 20% in the country in the third quarter, from 25% three months earlier.

SC refuses to grant interim stay on electoral bond scheme
The Supreme Court refused to grant an interim stay on the electoral bond scheme meant for funding political parties. The top Court sought response of the Centre and Election Commission on a plea seeking to stay the scheme. A bench comprising Chief Justice S A Bobde and justices B R Gavai and Surya Kant asked the Centre and the Commission to file their responses within two weeks.
Lawyer Prashant Bhushan, appearing for the NGO, alleged that the scheme is a means for channelising unaccounted black money in favour of the ruling party. He also referred to a document of the RBI while seeking the stay.

Sri Lanka president says thousands of war missing are dead
Sri Lanka’s president has acknowledged for the first time that more than 20,000 people who disappeared during the country’s civil war are dead. Gotabaya Rajapaksa made the remark in a meeting with a UN envoy in the capital, Colombo.

Tunisia: Former FM Elyes Fakhfakh named PM-designate
Tunisia’s President Kais Saied has named former Finance Minister Elyes Fakhfakh as Prime Minister-designate. He will now face the difficult task of forming a cabinet within a month. Fakhfakh’s proposal will have to gain the approval of a divided parliament, which this month rejected an earlier attempt to form a government.
If Fakhfakh fails to form a government, the next step would be dissolution of the assembly. Tunisia is currently run by an outgoing government led by Prime Minister Youssef Chahed.

West Bengal emerges at the top in vegetable production
According to the State-wise horticulture production data released at a conference organised by the Agriculture Ministry, West Bengal has overtaken Uttar Pradesh and emerged as the top State in vegetable production in 2018-19
West Bengal produced 29.55 million tonnes (mt) of vegetables last year against 27.70 mt in the year before. Vegetable production in UP, which held the numero uno position earlier, came down to 27.71 mt in 2018-19 from 28.32 mt the previous year.
West Bengal accounted for 15.9 per cent of the country’s total vegetable production in 2018-19 while UP produced 14.9 per cent. Madhya Pradesh (9.6 per cent), Bihar (9 per cent) and Gujarat (6.8 per cent) were the other major vegetable producers.
The area under vegetable cultivation increased from 6.74 million hectare (mh) in 2004-05 to 10.10 mh in 2018-19 (third advance estimates).
The major vegetable crops grown in India, which accounts for 11.2 per cent of global vegetable production, are potato, tomato, onion, brinjal, cabbage, cauliflower, peas, and okra.
Andhra Pradesh continued to hold on to the pole position in fruits with 17.61 mt, followed by Maharashtra (10.82 mt) and UP (10.65 mt).
With a production of 98.58 mt, fruits account for about 31.4 per cent of the total production of horticulture crops in the country.
The area under fruit crops cultivation during 2018-19 was 6.65 mh, which is 26.1 per cent of the total area under horticulture cultivation in India.

World leaders agree new push for Libya peace
World leaders committed to ending all foreign meddling in Libya’s war and to uphold a weapons embargo at a Berlin summit. The presidents of Russia, Turkey and France were among global chiefs signing up to the plan to stop interfering in the war. This includes through weapons, troops or financing.
The talks failed to deliver serious dialogue between the warring parties — strongman Khalifa Haftar and the head of Tripoli’s UN-recognised government Fayez al-Sarraj. It also failed to get both sides to sign up to a permanent truce.
Libya has been torn by fighting between rival armed factions since a 2011 NATO-backed uprising killed dictator Moamer Kadhafi.

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