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Daily current Affairs: 30th June 2018

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Permanent ceasefire begins in South Sudan’s civil war

  • A permanent ceasefire has begun in South Sudan in the latest attempt to end a five-year civil war. President Salva Kiir and his rival Riek Macha agreed on the cease-fire this week after their first face-to-face talks in almost two years.
  • South Sudan was also facing a possible UN arms embargo and sanctions if the fighting didn’t stop and a political deal wasn’t reached. Multiple attempts at peace have failed in the past.
  • Thousands of people have been killed in the civil war that erupted in the country just two years after independence from Sudan.
  • South Sudan
  • President: Salva Kiir
  • Capital: Juba
  • Currency: South Sudanese pound
  • Sudan
  • President: Omar Hassan al-Bashir
  • Prime Minister: Bakri Hassan Saleh
  • Capital: Khartoum
  • Currency: Sudanese pound

EU leaders agree to extend economic sanctions against Russia

  • The European Union leadershas agreed at a summit in Brussels to extend economic sanctions against Russia over the conflict in Ukraine for a further six months. The sanctions target whole sectors of the Russian economy including its oil businesses.
  • They also reiterated their full support for a UN resolution on MH17 and called on Russia to accept its responsibility and fully cooperate with all efforts to establish truth, justice and accountability.
  • The EU first imposed the sanctions after Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 was shot down over Ukraine in July 2014 killing 298 people, an attack blamed by the EU on pro-Russian rebels.

Nasheed exits presidential race after EC barred him

  • Former Maldivian President and exiled Opposition leader Mohamed Nasheed said that he was exiting the presidential race, after the Election Commission barred his candidacy. Earlier this month, authorities stated that the Maldivian presidential elections would be held on September 23.
  • Incumbent leader President Abdulla Yameen is eyeing another term, while his political opponents and dissidents remain in jail or in exile.
  • Maldives has experienced considerable turbulence since February, following a shock Supreme Court ruling that overturned criminal convictions of nine dissident leaders, including Mr. Nasheed.
  • Maldives:
  • President: Abdulla Yameen
  • Capital: Male
  • Currency: Maldivian rufiyaa

Ravi Thapar concurrently accredited as the next Ambassador of India to the Republic of Costa Rica

  • Ravi Thapar, who is currently Ambassador of India to Panama, has been concurrently accredited(dual responsibilities) as the next Ambassador of India to the Republic of Costa Rica. He is expected to take up the assignment shortly.
  • Ravi Thapar is an Indian Foreign Service officer of the 1983 batch.
  • Costa Rica
  • President: Carlos Alvarado Quesada
  • Capital: San Jose
  • Currency:Costa Rican colón

India wins GRR award for “most improved jurisdiction”

  • The Insolvency and Bankruptcy Board of India (IBBI) said that India has won Global Restructuring Review’s “most improved jurisdiction” award. The honour recognizes the jurisdiction which improved its restructuring and insolvency regime the most over the last year.
  • “Most improved jurisdiction” is one of the nine categories in which GRR presents the award, which were introduced in 2017
  • Global Restructuring Review (GRR) is an online daily news service and magazine on cross-border restructuring and insolvency law.

US names North Korea worst human trafficking nation for 16th consecutive year

  • The US State Department’s annual “2018 Trafficking in Persons Report” designated North Korea as one of the worst human trafficking nations for the 16th consecutive year, citing its use of forced labour.
  • The report named Belarus, Iran, Russia, and Turkmenistan remain among the worst offenders of human trafficking and forced labor.
  • The report evaluated 187 countries and territories and ranks them into four tiers (Tier 1, Tier 2, Tier 2 Watch List, and Tier 3), with Tier 1 being the best and Tier 3 the worst.
  • Russia, Belarus, Iran, and Turkmenistan were among 22 countries ranked as Tier 3. Others included Burma (also known as Myanmar), China, North Korea, Syria, and Venezuela.
  • In the middle are the Tier 2 countries, defined as those that do not fully meet the minimum standards but are making significant efforts to bring themselves into compliance. These include Afghanistan, Albania, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, Kosovo, Macedonia, Moldova, Pakistan, Romania, and Serbia.

India moves up a spot to 35th on real estate transparency index

  • According to a report by real estate advisory firm Jones Lang LaSalle Inc. (JLL), India has moved up just one spot in the global real estate transparency index from 36 in 2016 to 35 in 2018, despite the implementation of the Real Estate (Regulation And Development) Act or RERA. The UK, Australia, the US, France and Canada are the top five countries.
  • The countries in the top 30 ranks have been defined as transparent markets, while those in the top 10 are categorized as highly transparent.
  • The index measures transparency based on factors such as data availability, authenticity and accuracy; governance of public agencies as well as stakeholders of the realty sector; transaction processes and costs associated with those; and the regulatory and legal environment.
  • The report said that India is one of the 10 countries that have registered maximum improvement in transparency in real estate over the last two years.
  • Real Estate (Regulation And Development) Act was implemented in May 2016 to bring accountability and transparency into the sector. However, unlike a few states such as Maharashtra and Karnataka, several states have been slow in its implementation.
  • PE(private equity) investment in Indian realty has grown every year from $2.2 billion in 2014 to $6.3 billion in 2017

Climate change may cost India 2.8% of GDP, says World Bank

  • Changing monsoon patterns and rising temperatures driven by climate change could cost India 2.8% of gross domestic product (GDP), says a new World Bank report.
  • Climate change could depress the living standards of nearly half the India’s population by 2050, which now lives in the vulnerable areas.
  • Falling yields from climate change would lead to a decline in living standards for agriculture-dependent households, where over 75% of the population is dependent on agriculture. With this the effect on people’s health would worsen the overall impact.
  • Low-income states such as Chhattisgarh and Madhya Pradesh are predicted to be the top two climate hotspots by 2050 that are likely to experience a decline of over 9% in their living standards—followed by Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh, and Maharashtra.
  • It also highlights that seven out of the top 10 most-affected hotspot districts would belong to the Vidarbha region of Maharashtra.
  • Cities like Kolkata and Mumbai face a substantial risk of flood-related damage over the next century.
  • To reduce the rising risk to living standards, the report suggests enhancing educational attainment, reducing water stress and improving job opportunities in the non-agricultural sectors.

International Day of the Tropics observed on 29 June

  • The International Day of the Tropics is observed on 29th June every year to celebrate the extraordinary diversity of the tropics while highlighting unique challenges and opportunities nations of the Tropics face.
  • The tropical region these days faces a number of challenges such as climate change, deforestation, logging, urbanisation and demographic changes.
  • The Tropics are a region of the Earth, roughly defined as the area between the tropic of Cancer and the tropic of Capricorn.
  • It accounts for 40 per cent of the world’s total surface area and are host to approximately 80 per cent of the world’s biodiversity and much of its language and cultural diversity.

12th Statistics Day celebrated on 29th June, 2018

  • Ministry of Statistics & Programme Implementation and Indian Statistical Institute (ISI) jointly celebrated 12th Statistics Day and the closing ceremony of the 125th Birth Anniversary of Prof. P. C. Mahalanobis on 29th June, 2018 at Kolkata.
  • The theme selected for the Statistics Day this year is ‘‘Quality Assurance in Official Statistics’
  • The objective of celebration of this Day is to create public awareness about the importance of statistics in socio-economic planning and policy formulation, to acknowledge the contribution of Prof. Mahalanobis, and to pay homage to him.
  • In recognition of the significant contributions made by Late Professor Prasanta Chandra Mahalanobis in the fields of statistics, statistical system and economic planning, the Government of India in 2007, has designated 29thJune as the “Statistics Day” in the category of Special Days to be celebrated every year at the National level.
  • Vice President of India released a commemorative coin of Rs 125 and circulation coin of Rs 5 denomination as a mark of respect to Prof. Mahalanobis.
  • The Indian Statistical Institute (ISI) at Kolkata, set up by Prof. Mahalanobis in 1931.

CPCB to crack down on units that have failed to install real time pollution sensors

  • The Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) has directed State Pollution Control Boards (SPCB) to close down industrial units that haven’t installed Online Continuous Emission Monitoring Systems (OCEMS). It will also now become mandatory for a new industrial unit to install an OCEM to commence operations.
  • The CPCB has finalised guidelines this month that specify the kind of sensors and monitoring equipment that can be deployed for the purpose.
  • Industries, particularly Grossly Polluting Industries, are mandated to report their emissions to pollution control boards.
  • The industries that require OCEMS include distilleries (including fermentation industry), sugar, fertiliser, pulp & paper (paper manufacturing with or without pulping), pharmaceuticals, dyes and dye-intermediates, pesticides, tanneries, thermal power plants, iron and steel, zinc, copper and aluminium smelters.

Gadkari meets top banks to seek credit for projects

  • Road Transport and Highways Minister Nitin Gadkari met representatives from the country’s top banks and insurance companies in Mumbai, asking them to extend credit for road development projects.
  • The Ministry announced 104 projects under the Hybrid Annuity Model (HAM), of which 56 have reached financial closure. The remaining projects that were awarded in February and March, have six months to arrange funds.
  • The HAM is a variant of public-private partnership, which was launched by the government in January 2016. Through this model, the government bears 40% of the cost of the project and the rest comes from the developer.
  • The National Highways Authority of India collects toll on these projects and pays the developer a fixed annual fee for a specific period.

Madhya Pradesh will be awarded for reducing maternal mortality under PM Safe Motherhood Campaign

  • Madhya Pradesh will be awarded for reducing maternal mortality under Prime Minister’s Safe Motherhood Campaign. In Madhya Pradesh, Maternal mortality rate has seen a significant decline of 22% in the last three years due to various awareness programmes initiated by the state government. Prime Minister’s Safe Motherhood Campaign has been launched to ensure quality care of over three crore pregnant women of the country before delivery.

IISc to boost science start-up incubation

  • The Indian Institute of Science, plans to open a research park at its Bengaluru facility within the next three years to incubate sci-tech companies. Currently, the Society for Innovation and Development is incubating about 15 companies.
  • The institute has collaborations with companies such as Tata Consultancy Services, Volvo, Google Inc., General Motors, Microsoft Research, IBM Research, Boeing, Robert Bosch Foundation and Pratt & Whitney.
  • It also works with the Indian Space Research Organisation, Aeronautical Development Agency and Centre for Development of Advanced Computing.
  • Indian Institute of Science was founded in 1909 by Jamsetji Tata and former Maharajah of Mysore Krishnaraja Wadiyar IV. The institute, spread over 400 acres, is home to more than 40 departments.

‘ReUnite’ Mobile app launched to help track and trace missing and abandoned children

  • Commerce and Industry Minister Suresh Prabhu launched a mobile application called ReUnite — to trace missing and abandoned children in India. This effort to reunite parents whose children have gone missing is a wonderful use of technology to address real life social challenges.
  • The app is multiuser where parents and citizens can upload pictures of children, and provide detailed description like name, birth mark, address, report to the police station, search and identify missing kids.
  • Amazon Rekognition, web facial recognition service, is being used to identify missing kids.
  • Non-government organisation Bachpan Bachao Andolan and Capgemini has developed this app.

Total market cap of top 100 global companies reaches USD 20 trillion

  • According to PwC’s Global Top 100 ranking, the total market capitalization of the top 100 global companies has increased by 15 per cent since last year to USD 20 trillion.
  • The US accounts for more than half of the top 100 (54 companies, down from 55 in 2017). It also weighs in with 61 per cent of the overall market capitalisation, down from 63 per cent last year.
  • The market capitalisation of the companies from China in the top 100 leaped by 57 per cent compared to 2017, with 12 Chinese companies making the top 100, up from 10 last year.
  • Apple retained pole position in terms of market capitalisation for the seventh year in a row followed by Alphabet, Microsoft – followed by Tencent in fifth position and Facebook in eighth, down from sixth last year,
  • Amazon is the strongest performer in terms of absolute increase in market capitalisation, gaining USD 278 billion or 66 per cent in value compared to 2017 followed by two Chinese companies – Tencent, up by USD 224 billion or 82 per cent, and Alibaba, rising by USD 201 billion or 75 per cent. The next three highest performers in absolute terms are all from the US – Microsoft, Alphabet and Apple.
  • No Indian company made it to the list.

Chaturvedi named ICICI Bank chairman

  • ICICI Bank has appointed former bureaucrat Girish Chandra Chaturvedi as non-executive, part-time chairman and an independent director of the board for three years with effect from July 1. ICICI Bank’s present chairman M.K. Sharma’s term expires on June 30.
  • Mr. Chaturvedi, a former Indian Administrative Service officer, retired in 2013 as the petroleum secretary. He has also served on the boards of Canara Bank, Bank of Baroda and IDBI Bank as a government nominee.
  • ICICI bank is facing a crisis as allegations of conflict of interest have been levelled against MD and CEO Chanda Kochhar. It has formed a committee under former SC Judge B.N. Srikrishna to look into the allegations.

External debt rises by $58.4 billion

  • According to the RBI, India’s external debt stood at $529.7 billion at the end of March 2018, recording an increase of $58.4 billion year-on-year, primarily on account of a rise in commercial borrowings, short-term debt and non-resident Indian deposits.
  • The rise in external debt was partly due to valuation loss resulting from the depreciation of the U.S. dollar against major currencies.
  • The external debt to GDP ratio was 20.5% at end-March 2018, compared with 20% in March 2017.

Temasek buys stake in Adani Ports

  • Singapore-based investment firm Temasek Holdings has acquired stake worth Rs. 1,000 crore in Adani Ports and Special Economic Zone through open-market transactions. The shares were bought by Camas Investments, an indirect, wholly-owned subsidiary of Temasek. The shares were acquired at an average price of Rs. 369.65 apiece, valuing the deal at Rs. 1,000 crore.

BoM CEO, ED divested of duties

  • The board of Bank of Maharashtra has relieved its MD and CEO R. Marathe and executive director R.K. Gupta of their responsibilities with immediate effect, following arrests made by the economic offences wing of the Pune police for allegedly violating RBI norms while granting a loan to a real estate developer.

FIFA World Cup knockout round kicks off today

  • In FIFA World Cup, the Round of Sixteen is beginning from today. The knockout round is the second and final stage of the competition, following the group stage.
  • The first match of the day will be played between France and Argentina in Kazan this evening while Uruguay will meet Portugal in Sochi.
  • World football’s governing body FIFA has announced that a new ball will be used for the knockout phase. The Adidas Telstar Mechta will replace the Telstar 18 used during the group stage of football’s biggest tournament.
  • The new red design reflects the host nation’s colours and the rising heat of the second half of the competition.

Dubai Kabaddi Masters: India to take on Iran in summit clash

  • Defending Champions India will meet Iran in the summit clash of Kabaddi Masters in Dubai. India entered the finals after beating Korea 36-20 in the semifinals. In the first semifinal, Iran put up a strong show to annihilate Pakistan 40-21.
  • The six-nation invitational tournament, organised by the International Kabaddi Federation is the last event before the Asian Games.

India defeats Ireland by 143 runs

  • India defeated Ireland by 143 runs in the second and final Twenty20 International at Dublin. With this win, India have clinched the series 2-Nil. Put into bat, India posted a massive 213 for four in 20 overs with KL Rahul smashed 70 off 36 balls whereas Raina scored 69 off 45 balls. Hardik Pandya remained unbeaten at 32.
  • Ireland was bundled out for mere 70 runs in 12.3 overs. Kuldeep Yadav and Yuzvendra Chahal bagged three wickets each while Umesh Yadav took two wickets.

PV Sindhu, Kidambi Srikanth enter Semifinals of Malaysia Open

  • India’s PV Sindhu and Kidambi Srikant have stormed into the semifinals of the Malaysia Open Badminton. In women’s singles quarterfinal, Sindhu beat Olympic champion Carolina Marin of Spain 22-20, 21-19. In the semifinal, she will face top seed Chinese Taipei’s Tai Tzu Ying on Saturday.
  • In men’s singles quarterfinal, Srikanth defeated Brice Leverdez of France 21-18, 21-14. In the semifinal, Srikanth will take on Kento Momota of Japan.