Current affair of August 9th, 2019

1. World Biofuel Day 2018

Every year 10th August is observed as World Bio-Fuel Day in a bid to create awareness about non fossil-fuels (Green Fuels), "World Biofuel Day" is observed every year on 10th August. Ministry of Petroleum & Natural gas has started observing the World Bio fuel Day since 2015.

Key highlights:
  1. The aim is to create awareness about the importance of non-fossil fuels as an alternative to conventional fossil fuels and to highlight the various efforts made by the Government in the biofuel sector.
  2. World Biofuel day to be observed on 10th August 2018.
2. Niryat Mitra : Mobile App to promote ease of doing business launched by Commerce & Industry Minister Suresh Prabhu

Union Minister of Commerce & Industry and Aviation Suresh Prabhu launched Niryat Mitra – mobile App in New Delhi today. The app developed by the Federation of Indian Export Organisations (FIEO) is available both on Android and on IOS platforms. It provides wide range of information required to undertake international trade right from the policy provisions for export and import, applicable GST rate, available export incentives, tariff, preferential tariff, market access requirements – SPS and TBT measures.

Key highlights:
  1. It will help promote export in the country and increase the ease of doing business.
  2. It has been developed by the Federation of Indian Export Organizations (FIEO).
  3. It has the following features:
  4. i) It will provide information regarding policy provisions for export and import, applicable GST rate, available export incentives, tariff etc.
  5. ii) It internally maps the ITC HS code of other countries with that of India and provides the tariff line. Presently the app comes with the data of 87 countries.
  6. Human Resource tool of the app enables candidates to register and apply against the vacancies in international trade sector.
  7. Companies can also search the profiles of the candidates and engage them.
3. Bid round –II under Discovered Small Field Policy for exploring  and extracting oil and natural gas launched by Petroleum  Minister

India is the world's fifth-largest economy with the size of over 2.6 Trillion USD. Recently, it surpassed France and soon India is set to leapfrog Britain to become the fourth-largest economy.

Key highlights:
  1. India is the 3rd largest energy consumer in the world. Its energy consumption is expected to grow by 4.2% p.a. which is faster than all major economies. According to the International Energy Agency (IEA), India is expected to account for almost one-third of the global growth in energy demand by 2040.
  2. The government aims to increase India’s growth to become the 4th largest economy and is bringing policy reforms to the energy sector . They are focused on: Energy Access, Energy Efficiency, Energy Sustainability and Energy Security.
  3. Discovered Small Fields (DSF) policy is a part of that reform.
  4. Launched by Ministry of Petroleum and Natural Gas India in 2016, it aims to extract the Oil, Natural gas from the un-monetized small oil/gas discoveries available in the country.   
  5. DSF Bid Round-I launched by the Government was completed in a record time of 10 months.
  6. DSF Bid Round-II will offer larger field areas in commercially producing basins.
4. TRIFED (M/o Tribal Affairs) and National Medicinal Plant Board (M/o AYUSH) sign MoU to promote Medicinal and Aromatic Plants

Tribal Cooperative Marketing Development Federation of India Ltd. (TRIFED) under the Ministry of Tribal Affairs & National Medicinal Plants Board (NMPB), Ministry of AYUSH signed an MoU to promote primary level value addition to MAPs produce from forest area.

Key highlights:
  1. Aims to promote Medicinal and Aromatic Plants (MAPs) forest produce for livelihood development of tribal people
  2. MoU will help in employment generation and skill upgradation of tribal people
  3. Doubling the income of farmers.
  4. NMPB will identify potential Medicinal plant species, support training and awareness program and skill upgradation and capacity building, financial assistance for plantations and nursery development for MAPs through the Van Dhan Vikas Kendra SHGs and assistance for establishing of research and testing centre.
  5. TRIFED will establish Van-Dhan Vikas Kendra’ specifically for Medicinal plants & its products, Set up primary processing facility, infrastructure support and value addition facility for MAPs and Supply chain for Minor Forest Produce (MFPs), establish herbal garden of various types and Research and Development studies on Medicinal Plants collected by MFP gatherers. In consultation with NMPB and TRIs.
5. Government sets up 4-member GoM committee headed by Suresh Prabhu to decide on participation in RCEP agreements

Four-member Group of Ministers (GoM) headed by Union Minister of Commerce and Industry Suresh Prabhu has been constituted to to discuss concerns of trade pact with RCEP countries.

Key highlights:
  1. This meeting will determine whether India is willing to give 92% of its market access to these countries or not for free trade or not.
  2. The trade pact will affect the sectors of steel, pharmaceuticals, agriculture, electronics, heavy industry, textiles and chemicals as there will be an influx of Chinese products effecting the domestic markets.
  3. These talks are to be held before the upcoming trade negotiations in  RCEP Summit with member nations — including Japan, China, Australia, New Zealand and South Korea in November 2018.
  4. Apart from that 16 member RCEP ministerial meet is on 30 and 31 August in Singapore.
6. 11th Biosphere Reserve from India to be Included in the World Network of Biosphere Reserves of UNESCO

UNESCO designated World Network of Biosphere Reserves (WNBR) included Khangchendzonga Biosphere Reserve in its list. This decision was taken at the 30th Session of International Coordinating Council (ICC) of Man and Biosphere (MAB) Programme of UNESCO held at Palembang, Indonesia, from July 23-27, 2018.

Key highlights:
  1. It is India’s 11th Biosphere Reserve that has been included so far.
  2. Khangchendzonga Biosphere Reserve in Sikkim is one of the highest ecosystems in the world, reaching elevations of 1, 220 metres above sea-level.
  3. The core zone – Khangchendzonga National Park was designated a World Heritage Site in 2016 under the ‘mixed’ category.
  4. Over 118 species of the large number of medicinal plants found in Dzongu Valley in north Sikkim are of ethno-medical utility.
  5. The core area of the Biosphere Reserve is a major transboundary Wildlife Protected Area.
7. 4 day Visit of External Affairs Minister to Republic of Kazakhstan, Kyrgyz Republic and Republic of Uzbekistan (August 2- 5, 2018)

External Affairs Minister Smt. Sushma Swaraj concluded her 4 day visit to three nations

Key highlights:
  1. During her visit to Astana, the minister also held a bilateral meeting with her Kazakhstani counterpart Kairat Abdrakhmanov.
  2. On August 4, 2018, External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj held talks with her Kyrgyzstan counterpart Erlan Abdyldaev on deepening cooperation in a number of areas, including trade, energy and defence and security.
  3. Sushma Swaraj congratulated the Kyrgyz Republic for taking over as Chair of SCO in 2018-19 and assured full cooperation in the successful conduct of meetings and the SCO Summit in 2019 to be held in Kyrgyzstan.On August 4-5, 2018 , External Affairs Minister Smt. Sushma Swaraj visited the Republic of Uzbekistan.
  4. She also inaugurated a two-day Uttar Pradesh Mango.
8. HSBC launches online platform “MyDeal” to raise funds through capital markets

HSBC has launched a new digital platform named “MyDeal” to simplify capital raising process through capital markets by offering real-time access to information like investors’ feedback, profiles, client orders and deal pricing.

Key highlights:
  1. MyDeal has raised more than USD 25 billion in its pilot phase in the first 7 months through more than 30 transactions worldwide.
  2. MyDeal consists of all information related to a client’s capital markets transaction. It is updated on real time basis.
  3. MyDeal can be accessed using a tablet or desktop. It uses application programming interface (API) technology to centralise data from multiple channels.
  4. The data is presented through custom-made graphs and visuals. The app would be released through the online store later in 2018, for direct use of clients.
9. PayPal & HDFC Bank partner to offer seamless payment experiences to card holders

PayPal, a global technology platform and digital payments leader, has announced its strategic partnership with and HDFC Bank to offer safer, faster and convenient payment experiences for the bank's card holders.

Key highlights:
  1. This would enable consumers to easily open PayPal accounts and set it as their preferred payment method.
  2. This will enable the customers to shop how, where and when they choose.
  3. This will benefit both consumers and merchants.
10. IMF forecasts India’s GDP to grow at 7.5 % in 2019/20 fiscal year

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) cut India’s GDP growth forecast for 2019-20, following similar action by the Asian Development Bank (ADB) and the Reserve Bank of India (RBI).

Key highlights:
  1. IMF has stated in its report that, this growth is attributed to strengthening of investment and strong private consumption.
  2. It has said that, the near-term macroeconomic outlook for India is broadly favourable.
  3. India’s GDP forecast is 7.3 % in fiscal year 2018/19 and 7.5 % in 2019/20.
  4. Headline inflation is projected to increase to 5.2 % in fiscal year 2018/19 due to tightening of demand conditions, recent depreciation of the rupee and higher oil prices, housing rent allowances and agricultural minimum support prices.
  5. Current account deficit is projected to increase to 2.6 % of the GDP due to rising oil prices and strong demand for imports, offset by a slight increase in remittances.
  6. The report has said that, continued fiscal consolidation is required to lower increased public debt levels, along with simplifying and streamlining the GST structure.
  7. Major macroeconomic challenges were identified as persistently-high household inflation expectations and large general government fiscal deficits and debt.
11. 76th anniversary of Quit India movement: August Kranti Day – 9 August

The 77th anniversary of the August Kranti Din, which is considered as one of the important milestones in the history of freedom struggle of our country, is being observed today. On this date in 1942, Mahatma Gandhi gave a clarion call to end the British rule and launched the Quit India Movement at the session of the All-India Congress Committee in Mumbai.

Key highlights:
  1. On 9th August 1942, father of the nation Mahatma Gandhi started the Do or Die campaign to drive away Britishers from India.
  2. The movement started from Gawalia Tank in Mumbai. This day is observed as August Kranti Day every year.
  3. To observe the anniversary of Quit India movement, President Ram Nath Kovind hosted the freedom fighters at an At-Home reception at Rashtrapati Bhavan in New Delhi.

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