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Current Affairs : 26 - 27 August 2018

NATION

Navy to get 24 multi role helicopters
  • Ahead of the upcoming 2+2 talks with the U.S., the Defence Acquisition Council (DAC),  cleared the procurement of 24 multi role helicopters (MRH) for the Navy. 
  • Overall, the Council approved procurement deals worth approximately ₹46,000 crore.
  • The 24 MRH will be procured from the U.S. under a government-to-government deal.
BIS to set standards for the services sector too
  • The Bureau of Indian Standards (BIS) has kicked off the process to set new standards to measure quality of services offered to consumers across different sectors, including telecom, aviation, e-commerce and healthcare.
  • “Service sector is one of the key sectors of the Indian economy with a huge potential to grow into one of the largest markets of the world. Standards can play a major facilitative role in this regard. It is important that the standardisation needs and priorities of the sector are determined,” a senior official said.
  • The BIS pointed out that the initial focus will be the 12 champion services sectors identified by the government. These include IT, tourism and hospitality, transport and logistics, accounting and finance services, legal services, communication services and construction.
BIS to set up panel for services sector
  • BIS will set up a separate ‘divisional council’ for services in a month’s time. Under this, different technical committees will be set up — one for each service. 
  • The committees will have various stakeholders such as government officials, experts and industry representatives.
  • In a poll, online community network LocalCircles found that in the absence of defined customer service standards in the country, a majority of consumers were not happy with after-sales services. 
  • As per the poll, 43% feel that mobile handset and computer manufacturers are the worst in after-sales services, followed by white goods firms (38%) and automobile companies (11%). About 93% of respondents said brands should at least acknowledge complaints from users within 72 hours.
Doklam effect: trade at Nathu La dips 90%
  • The trade between India and China at the Nathu La border dropped by 90% in 2017 owing to the standoff at Doklam between the two countries.
  • According to the figures provided by the Department of Commerce and Industries, Government of Sikkim, the value of exports from India to China in 2016 was ₹63.38 crore and the import from China was ₹19.30 crore.
  • In 2017, exports dropped to ₹7.83 crore while imports from China dipped to just ₹1.02 crore.
  • Ujjwal Rai, Deputy Secretary in Sikkim’s Department of Commerce and Industries, said the reason for a higher value of exports from India is because 36 articles are allowed to be exported from the country, while only 20 articles are allowed to be imported. Indian traders are allowed to carry goods valued at ₹2 lakh a day whereas Chinese traders are allowed to bring goods of the same value in Yuan, he added.
  • Not far from Nathu La is the Doklam plateau, connected by a road leading from the shrine of Baba Harbhajan Singh (also called Baba Mandir), a sepoy with 23 Punjab who went missing in 1968. On this road, the last inhabited Indian village is Kupup, where more than 100 families live.
Imran Khan’s Cabinet bans first-class air travel for officials

  • Pakistan’s new government banned the discretionary use of state funds and first-class air travel by officials and leaders, including the President and the Prime Minister, as part of its austerity drive.
  • Following his victory in the July 25 general election, Mr. Khan decided not to use palatial Prime Minister House and instead live in a small portion of it that was previously used as the residence by the military secretary to the Prime Minister.
  •  Mr. Khan also decided to stop using special plane for foreign visits or domestic travelling.

Kerala prepares memo seeking more Central funds

  • According to Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan, who held a review of the relief and rehabilitation work on Sunday, 4,62,456 persons are still housed in 1,435 relief camps. Over three lakh houses have been cleaned till date.
  • Apart from the physical challenge of clearing debris, cleaning flood ravaged buildings, sanitation and medical care, the fiscal challenges of handling the post-flood reconstruction are growing, despite a massive inflow of aid to the Chief Minister’s Distress Relief Fund.
  • The Public Works Department action plan, presented to the government to restore roads and other damaged infrastructure, puts the cost at ₹5,815.25 crore over the next 18 months.
  • The Centre has already released ₹600 crore as advance assistance, with another ₹562.45 crore given to the State Disaster Response Fund. The State government is preparing a memorandum for further assistance after Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s assurance to Governor P. Sathasivam when the latter called on him.
  • With educational institutions scheduled to reopen on August 29 after an advanced Onam vacation, cleaning 700-odd schools submerged by the flood waters poses a major challenge.
Odisha to come up with single revenue code
  • The Odisha government has proposed to come up with a single revenue act by merging various revenue laws enacted at different point in times.
  • A committee comprising Member of Board of Revenue as chairman and 12 other members was tasked to frame revenue code with futuristic outlook which will contain provisions for automation and Internet use.
  • The draft ‘Odisha Land and Revenue Code’ has been prepared by taking into consideration the Odisha Survey and Settlement Act, 1958, the Odisha Special Survey and the Settlement Act 2012, the Odisha Government Land Settlement Act, 1962, the Odisha Prevention of Land Encroachment Act, 1972, the Odisha Land Reforms Act, 1960, the Odisha Consolidation of Holdings and Prevention of Fragmentation of Land Act 1972 and the Odisha Estates Abolition Act, 1951.
  • According to minister, the code will be published inviting suggestions and objections from all sections and after scrutiny of feedbacks, necessary changes will be effected and steps will be taken for enactment of the code.
Baby Rani Maurya sworn in as Uttarakhand Governor
  • The oath of office and secrecy was administered to Ms. Maurya by the acting Chief Justice of the Uttarakhand High Court Rajiv Sharma.
New copters to enable tech transfer
  • The Defence Ministry is shortly expected to release project-specific implementation guidelines for the 111 naval utility helicopters to be procured under the Strategic Partnership (SP) model. However, foreign companies say there is still some clarity required on crucial legal, liability and technology transfer issues.
  • “There are two important issues that need clarity. One is legal. We can’t sell a submarine or fighter jet to a private company. Global regulations do not allow that. It has to be to a government-owned company. So, there has to be a government-to-government component in the end,” a top executive of a foreign company said.
  • The other issue, he said, was about the liability of the end product. 
Indian choppers to remain in Male
  • The two Indian military helicopters, gifted to the Maldives, are likely to stay back along with a 48-member crew and support staff for at least the next few months as talks between the two countries on their continued deployment in the island nation were “positive".
  • The lease agreement of the two helicopters, given to Maldives in 2013, has expired and the island nation had conveyed to New Delhi that it would not like to retain them.
  • After several rounds of talks, however, there has been indication from the Maldives on its willingness to keep the two helicopters along with the crew and support staff.

         ECONOMY

‘Share of top States in MF assets slides’

  • The share of the top five states in the total assets under management (AUM) of the mutual fund industry has decreased slightly in the last few years though they collectively still account for a significant chunk of the total assets of the fund industry.
  • The five, Maharashtra, New Delhi, Karnataka, Gujarat and West Bengal, together accounted for 70% of the total AUM with Maharashtra alone accounting for 41% of the assets, according to a latest study by Crisil.
  • Maharashtra was followed by New Delhi with a 10% share with Karnataka and Gujarat both pegged at 7% each. West Bengal had a share of 5%. 
  • Between March 2014 and March 2018, the share of these top five States has fallen 200 basis points (bps) from 72% to 70%. 
  • The study also found that while Gujarat had the highest allocation (42%) towards equity funds, most investors (39.5%) in West Bengal preferred debt funds. Maharashtra saw 32% of assets allocated to equity and debt, each.
  • This assumes significance as the Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI) has for long been pushing fund houses to move beyond the top 15 cities – known as B-15 in industry parlance – to get more investors enter the capital market through the relatively safer mutual fund route. 
  • The share of other cities has registered an increase over the years. Speaking at a recent conference organised by the Association of Mutual Funds in India, SEBI Chairman Ajay Tyagi said that share of the cities beyond the top 15 in overall AUM rose from 12.7% in 2012-13 to 17.7% in 2017-18.

PSU banks plan closure of 70 overseas offices in FY18
  • Public sector banks are in the process of closing or rationalising about 70 overseas operations as part of capital conservation exercise.
  • Unviable foreign operations are being shut while multiple branches in same cities or nearby places are being rationalised with a view to achieving efficiency.
  • Public sector banks (PSBs) closed down 35 foreign operations last year.
  • According to the data, 159 branches of PSBs are operating in foreign countries of which 41 branches made losses in 2016-17.
  • As on January 31, 2018, PSBs had about 165 overseas branches, besides subsidiaries, joint ventures and representative offices.
  • SBI had the largest number of overseas branches (52) followed by Bank of Baroda (50) and Bank of India (29). 
  • PSBs have the largest number of branches in the U.K. (32) followed by Hong Kong and the UAE (13 each) and Singapore (12).

SPORTS

ASIAN GAMES
  • Dutee Chand finished with a silver in 11.32s, behind Bahrain’s Odiong Edidiong (11.30s). For it ended a 32-year-wait for the country, with P.T. Usha’s 1986 silver in Seoul being India’s previous best.
  • Men’s and women’s 400m runners Muhammed Anas and Hima Das finishing second and the latter becoming the first Indian woman to break the 51-second barrier.
  • Fouaad Mirza, riding Seigneur Medicott, put it all behind to lift an individual eventing silver, the first ever individual equestrian medal since the inaugural edition in 1982. In the process, he also led India to a team silver in the event, another first after four bronze medals and gold in 1982.
  • India won two bronze medals from the debut sport of bridge in the Asian Games. 
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