9 PM Current Affairs Brief – April 20, 2019


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BBB tags 75 senior officers for leadership roles in PSBs

  1. The Banks Board Bureau (BBB) has identified 75 senior officials of state-run banks for leadership roles across public sector banks (PSB).
  2. The Banks Board Bureau (BBB) was set up in April 2016, under the government’s Indradanush programme to reform public sector banks.
  3. BBB is an autonomous body of the Government of India. It is tasked to (a)improve the governance of Public Sector Banks, (b)recommend selection of chiefs of government owned banks and financial institutions and (c)to help banks in developing strategies and capital raising plans
  4. The BBB has asked the government to give complete autonomy to bank boards to decide the organisation structure for better efficiency. Further, they have also suggested a revamp of credit governance architecture in state-run banks to minimise credit costs and improve efficiency of credit allocation.
  5. In 2015,Government had launched Mission Indradhanush to revamp the functioning of public sector banks. The seven pronged plan of it includes appointments, bank board bureau ,capitalisation, de-stressing, empowerment, framework of accountability and governance reforms.

SC to hear petition to end write-offs

  1. A petition has been filed in the Supreme Court to restrain banks from writing off non-performing assets(NPAs) and governments from waiving off farm loans.
  2. The petitioner has said that Supreme Court should (a)restrain banks from writing-off of NPAs so that exact financial conditions of the banks can be shown(b) The Centre and state governments should not be permitted to reduce or waive off loans and (c)political parties should not be permitted to offer loan-waiving incentives or any other monetary schemes in their election manifestos.
  3. The petitioner has also said that the practice of loan-waiving and writing-off of NPAs adversely affects the economy by increasing the fiscal deficit. Fiscal deficit is the amount of money that the government needs to borrow in a given year because their expenses were more than their revenues.
  4. Non-Performing Assets(NPA) are loans or advances that are in default or are in arrears on scheduled payments of principal or interest, usually for a period of 90 days. Before the period of 90 days, they are called Stressed Assets.

Chemists and druggists are passe;from now, all will be pharmacies

  1. Drugs and Technical Advisory Board (DTAB) has given its approval to replace the words ‘chemist’ and ‘druggist’ with the term ‘pharmacy’. It will amend the Rule 65(15)(b) and Rule 65(15)(c) under Drugs and Cosmetics Rules so that medical shops can be called a ‘pharmacy’.
  2. Earlier, the description ‘Chemists and Druggists’ was to be displayed by those licensees who employ the services of a registered pharmacist but who do not maintain a ‘pharmacy’ for compounding which means preparing a drug specifically for a buyer, based on a prescription from his or her doctor.
  3. However, the compounding of medicines by registered pharmacists hardly exists in current scenario due to a capable pharmaceutical industry in place in the country.
  4. Further, this step is in concurrence with the international practice of calling a medical shop selling medicines by the name ‘pharmacy. The phrase ‘chemists and druggists’ was coined over seven decades ago in 1945 and has lost its relevance in the current scenario.
  5. DTAB is highest statutory decision-making body on technical matters related to drugs in the country. It was constituted as per the Drugs and Cosmetics Act,1940.It is part of Central Drugs Standard Control Organization (CDSCO) in the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare.

India warns IMF against fresh bailout for Pakistan

  1. Indian Government has cautioned the International Monetary Fund against the fresh bailout for Pakistan.
  2. Pakistan has been seeking US $8 billion from the IMF to bail itself out from a severe financial crisis that threatens to cripple the country’s economy.
  3. Indianofficials has told the IMF that Pakistan which was already grey listed by Financial Action Task Force’s(FATF) for its failure to crack down on terror funding may soon be put under the black list which will severely restrict its financial transactions with other countries.
  4. Further, Pakistan had already received a total of US $9.1 billion in financial aid packages from countries like China, Saudi Arabia and the UAE during the current fiscal year.
  5. The International Monetary Fund (IMF) is an international organization headquartered in Washington, US. It consists of 189 countries. It was formed in 1944 at the Bretton Woods Conference. It has been established to (a)foster global monetary cooperation (b)secure financial stability, (c)facilitate international trade (d)promote high employment (e) sustainable economic growth and (f)reduce poverty around the world.

Cases of measles show alarming rise, warns WHO

  1. According to WHO’s preliminary global data on measles, there has been a 300% rise in measles cases worldwide during the first three months of 2019 compared with the same period in 2018.
  2. Measles is a highly contagious viral disease that is spread by contact with an infected person through coughing and sneezing. It can be entirely prevented with a two-dose vaccine.
  3. Africa has seen a 700% increase in cases in the first three months of 2019 compared to 2018. Further, Madagascar is the hardest-hit country, reporting more than 69,000 cases in its ongoing measles outbreak.
  4. Other countries with most reported measles cases include Ukraine, India, Nigeria, Kazakhstan, Chad, Myanmar, Thailand, the Philippines and Democratic Republic of the Congo.
  5. High number of measles cases has also been reported from countries with high vaccination coverage; such as, Israel, Thailand, and Tunisia. The rise in measles cases has raised widespread concerns across globe including India.

Asian Tea Alliance launched in China

  1. The Asian Tea Alliance has been launched in Guizhou in China. It is a union of five tea-growing and consuming countries.
  2. The members of the alliance are the a) Indian Tea Association, b) China Tea Marketing Association, c) Indonesian Tea Marketing Association, d) Sri Lanka Tea Board and e) Japan Tea Association.
  3. The formation of the alliance has come in the backdrop of signing of a memorandum of understanding between the Indian Tea Association and China Tea Marketing Association in 2018. The associations had signed the pact to promote green and black tea consumption in major tea markets of Europe, the U.S., Russia and West Asia, besides India and China.
  4. The alliance seeks to work towards enhancing tea trade, cultural exchanges, technology exchanges as well as globally promoting tea.
  5. Further, it seeks to work towards enhancing global consumption of tea, while creating a sustainability agenda for the future of Asian tea.

Meet between Afghan govt.Taliban postponed

  1. The peace conference in Qatar that was intended to bring Taliban negotiators and Afghan government officials together was postponed indefinitely after Taliban has objected to the Afghan officials included in the country’s delegation.
  2. The Afghan government has said that a non-government committee had prepared the list of participants which represented all political and social movements and classes of the society to attend the talks.
  3. However, Qatar Government and Taliban had prepared its own list which was non-inclusive and was not acceptable to the Afghan government.
  4. The collapse of talks comes at a critical time as Taliban which was ousted in a US-led invasion has now control over half of the Afghanistan.
  5. Further, U.S and Taliban negotiators are also set to resume talks in Qatar to try to conclude discussions on a preliminary draft agreement about a timeline for foreign forces to exit Afghanistan in exchange for insurgent assurances that they would disallow terrorists from using the Afghan soil for attacks against other countries.

Leave soon, Indians in Tripoli told

  1. Indian External Affairs Ministry has asked Indians in Tripoli, Libya to leave the place immediately. There have been ongoing clashes between rival militias for control of Tripoli, Libya’s capital.
  2. On April 5th, Libyan National Army led by Field Marshal Khalifa Haftar launched a major military offensive in Tripoli as UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres was in the city to discuss the ongoing Libyan crisis. Tripoli is the base of the UN-backed, internationally recognised government Prime Minister Fayez Sarraj.
  3. After the 2011 uprising that toppled and killed long-time dictator Moammar Gadhafi, there has been a power vacuum and instability, with no authority in full control of Libya. Since then the country has been divided into competing political and military factions based in Tripoli and the east Libya.

Top IT firms under threat of cyberattack

  1. According to Cybersecurity blog Krebs On Security, cyber attackers may have targeted IT majors such as Infosys, Capgemini and Cognizant to access data of third-party company resources.
  2. The Cyber attackers are targeting companies that in one form or another have access to a significant amount of third-party company resources and companies that can be abused to conduct gift card fraud.
  3. The blog had also reported that Wipro was subject to a cyber attack.Wipro has also confirmed the attack and said that it was a zero-day attack that was thwarted and a forensic investigation has been launched to look into it.
  4. Further, Wipro has also said that their employee accounts were subjected to an advanced phishing campaign. Phishing is the fraudulent attempt to obtain sensitive information such as usernames, passwords and credit card details by disguising as a trustworthy entity in an electronic communication.
  5. A zero day attack refers to any cyberattack conducted on the same day that a software vulnerability has been discovered and for which a patch had not been set up to counter effectively.

Ganga has higher proportion of antibacterial agents: study

  1. A new study titled ‘Assessment of Water Quality and Sediment to Understand Special Properties of River Ganga,’ has noted that Ganga River water significantly higher proportion of organisms with antibacterial properties. The study was commissioned by the Union Water Resources Ministry.
  2. Under the study, five pathogenic species of bacteria viz. Escherichia, Enterobacter, Salmonella, Shigella, Vibrio were selected and isolated from the Ganga, Yamuna and the Narmada. Their numbers were then compared with the bacteriophages present in the river water. bacteriophages are a kind of virus that kill bacteria and are frequently found in proximity to bacteria.
  3. The study has found that River Ganga particularly in its upper Himalayan stretches has more bacteriophages than other rivers. Samples drawn from the Ganga contained almost 1,100 kinds of bacteriophage.

Consider victim’s age to compute compensation: SC

  1. The Supreme Court has held that in case of death of a bachelor in a motor vehicle accident, the age of the deceased and not the age of the dependents will be the basis for computation of compensation.
  2. This verdict comes in the backdrop of an appeal filed by an Insurance Company against a High Court ruling that the multiplier should be taken on the basis of the bachelor victim’s age.
  3. The apex court has said that when a married man dies in an accident, his age is taken to compute the loss and compensation to the family. Similarly, same principle should also be applied to a bachelor who may also have family dependent on him.
  4. Further, the court said that the deciding factor of an accident claim should be the deceased age and what would be his contribution towards the dependants had he been alive.

NASA astronaut to set record for longest spaceflight by a woman

  1. NASA astronaut Christina Koch is going to have her mission on the International Space Station(ISS) extended to 328 days. Koch arrived at the space station on March 14 and now is scheduled to remain in orbit until February 2020.
  2. This would set a record for the longest single spaceflight by a woman by breaking the record of 288 days set by former NASA astronaut Peggy Whitson in 2016-17.However,this mission will be just short of the longest spaceflight by a former NASA astronaut Scott Kelly of 340 days during his mission in 2015-16.
  3. The significance of her extended mission will help scientists gather additional data about the effects of long-duration human spaceflight beyond those of the normal six-month station expedition. Such research is essential to support future missions to the Moon and Mars.
  4. The International Space Station (ISS) is a space station, a habitable artificial satellite in low Earth orbit.The ISS programme is a joint project among five participating space agencies: NASA(USA), Roscosmos (Russia), JAXA(Japan), ESA (European Union) and CSA(Canada).
  5. ISS orbits Earth at an average altitude of approximately 250 miles. It is a highly fortified space object and has shields to buffer against space debris. ISS serves as a microgravity and space environment research laboratory.

Navy to take part in fleet review in China

  1. The Indian Navy will participate in the International Fleet Review (IFR) that is scheduled to take place on April 21,2019 in Qingdao, China as part of 70th Anniversary celebrations of People’s Liberation Army Navy (PLA Navy).The Indian Navy would be represented in the IFR by INS Kolkata and INS Shakti.
  2. International Fleet Review (IFR) is a parade of naval ships, aircraft and submarines. It is organized by nations to promote goodwill, strengthen cooperation and showcase their organizational capabilities.
  3. IFR also serves as an ideal platform for the world’s navies to showcase their prowess and indigenous ship designing and shipbuilding capabilities in a global/international arena.
  4. INS Kolkata is an indigenously built stealth guided missile destroyer equipped with state-of-the-art weapons and sensors to address threats in all dimensions of naval warfare. INS Shakti is a fleet support ship.
  5. INS Shakti is one of the largest tankers displacing over 27,000 tonnes and capable of carrying 15,000 tonnes of liquid cargo and over 500 tonnes of solid cargo including victuals and ammunition.
  6. The Indian Navy had also held an International Fleet Review in February 2016 in which 50 navies of different countries took part with nearly 100 warships.

Traders, politicians slam govt. for suspension of Cross-LoC trade

  1. Traders and politicians in Kashmir have criticised the government over the sudden suspension of Cross-Line of Control (LoC) trade with Pakistan.
  2. The Indian government had recently suspended the Cross-LoC trade citing a) illegal trade of U.S.-origin California almonds, b) funnelling of counterfeit currency, and c) funding and promotion of terror groups and anti-India operations though the trade.
  3. The Line of Control (LoC) is 740km long India-Pakistan border which runs from parts of Jammu to parts of Leh.
  4. Cross-LoC trade was started in 2008 by setting up two Trade Facilitation Centres located at Uri’s Salamabad in Baramulla, and Chakkan-da-Bagh in Poonch. The trade took place four days a week. It was based on barter system and zero duty basis.

How climate change is turning these parrots into ‘rabbits’

  1. According to New Zealand scientists, kakapo,a bird has enjoyed a record breaking breeding season possibly 249 eggs laid as part of a breeding programme.
  2. This high amount of breeding is because of the Rimu trees that have produced a bumper crop this year possibly due to climate change and temperature fluctuations.
  3. Kakapo means ‘night parrot’ in Maori. It is also called owl parrot. It is nocturnal bird, the world’s fattest parrot and the world’s only flightless parrot.
  4. The parrot has been listed as Critically Endangered under the International Union for Conservation of Nature’s(IUCN) Red List.
  5. They are endemic to New Zealand. The surviving kakapo are kept on four predator-free islands off the New Zealand coast. They mate only every 2-4 years when New Zealand’s native Rimu trees are full of fruit.
  6. kakapo is an unusual parrot as the females control the breeding process. At the start of the breeding season, the males put themselves on display while the females choose a partner. They mate and then end the relationship, shutting the male out of the incubation and rearing processes.

India drops down on World Press Freedom Index

  1. World Press Freedom Index for the year 2019 has been released. In this year’s index, Norway has been ranked first for the third year in a row followed by Finland.
  2. India has dropped two places on the index to be ranked at 140th out of 180 countries. India has fared poorly due to (a)violent attacks against journalists leading to at least six journalists being killed (b)alarming rate of coordinated hate campaigns against journalists.
  3. The index also says that hatred against journalists has degenerated into violence contributing to an increase in fear. The number of countries regarded as safe where journalists can work in complete security continues to decline while authoritarian regimes continue to tighten their grip on the media.
  4. Further, South Asia features poorly on the index with Pakistan dropping three places to 142 and Bangladesh dropping four places to 150.At the bottom of the Index is Turkmenistan which has replaced North Korea.
  5. World Press Freedom Index is published every year since 2002 by Reporters Without Borders (RSF).Reporters Sans Frontieres (RSF) or Reporters Without Borders is a non-profit organisation that works to document and combat attacks on journalists around the world.
  6. The Index ranks countries according to the level of freedom available to journalists. However, It does not rank based on government policies.
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