Current affair of 23rd August 2019

RBI allows recurring transactions up to 2,000 on cards from Sep 1

The Reserve Bank of India allows customers to make recurring payments of less than Rs.2000 without the two-factor authentication process

Key highlights:
  1. The changing payment needs and the requirement to balance the safety and security of card transactions with customer convenience decided to permit processing of e-mandate on cards for recurring transactions (merchant payments).
  2. The move has been made to make digital payments to merchant, typically at kirana and grocery stores where ticket sizes are small, more convenient. 
  3. The circular is applicable for transactions performed using all types of cards – debit, credit and Prepaid Card
Chandrayaan 2 sent the first image of Moon

The Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) released the first visuals of the moon captured by Chandrayaan-2 from a distance of 2,650 km from the lunar surface on 22 August. The photograph was taken on 21 August. In the image sent by Chandrayaan-2, ISRO has identified two landmarks on the moon, Mare Orientale basin, and Apollo crater. The first Moon image was captured at a height of about 2650km from the Lunar surface.

Key highlights:
  1. The Mare Orientale is shaped like a target ring bull's-eye. It is located on the Moon's extreme western edge which is difficult to see from an earthbound perspective. It is over 3 billion years old, about 950 km across and was formed by the impact of an asteroid sized object. 
  2. Apollo is a 538km diameter double-ringed impact crater in the southern hemisphere of the far side of the Moon.
India to launch e-commerce portal Bharatcraft for MSMEs

Union Government is planning to launch an e-commerce portal named “Bharatcraft” for MSME’s. The portal is based on other e-commerce portals like ‘Alibaba’ and ‘Amazon’. The portal will provide a platform for MSMEs to market and sell their products and in turn boost the sector. The MSME Union Minister, the Bharat Craft portal has a huge potential to generate revenue worth ₹10 lakh crore in the next 2-3 years.

Key highlights:
  1. Gadkari, who is the minister for MSME and road, transport and highways, was speaking at an event orgainsed by the National Stock Exchange (NSE), whose SME platform Emerge saw the listing of its 200th company.
  2. The minister said MSME sector is likely to contribute 50 per cent to the total GDP in the next five years. At present, the sector currently contributes 29 per cent to the country's GDP and employs 110 million people. Gadkari said the government had launched the 'Udyog Mitra' portal to ease of access to MSMEs financial and non-financial service needs.
  3. To resolve the issue of delayed payments to MSMEs, the government is planning a legislation, which would help MSME sector get their payments within 45 days of the bills being due and any delay, beyond that, will have legal ramifications.
Russia sends humanoid robot to ISS

Russia has sent a humanoid robot to the International Space Station (ISS) on a 10-day mission. The aim is to support the astronauts on board. The name of the humanoid robot is Fedor. The Skybot F-850 became the first humanoid robot to be sent to space by Russia after it was launched from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan on 22 August. The spacecraft has been scheduled to stay until September 7, 2019.

Key highlights:
  1. The robot is travelling in an unmanned Soyuz MS-14 spacecraft. Fedor is expected to dock at the ISS on 23 August. 
  2. The spacecraft holds more than 650kg of cargo, including medical supplies and food rations for the crew waiting at the station. It is also expected that Fedor will eventually carry out more dangerous tasks, like spacewalks.
  3. Russia launched a spacecraft carrying FEDOR, a humanoid robot.
  4. Its mission is to help astronauts aboard the International Space Station.
  5. Such androids can eventually help with dangerous missions likes spacewalks.
ASI revealed the evidence of an Iron Age settlement in the Vidarbha region

Archaeological Survey of India's (ASI) recent excavation at Maharashtra Phupgaon has revealed evidence of an Iron Age settlement in the Vidarbha region. The excavation at the site was taken up between December 2018 and March 2019.

Key highlights:
  1. The team of ASI took up an intensive survey in Chandur Bazar to Dariyapur of Purna basin at Phupgaon Amravati district of Maharashtra. 
  2. During the course of excavation 4 complete circular structures were exposed. These structures were found to be enclosed with a circular ditch like feature and postholes.
  3. Inside of these structure floor activity, storage bin platforms and hearths were noticed. The bin platforms are circular and they were of different sizes. The sizes ranged from 90cm to 125cm in diameter.
  4. The excavation area exposed antiquities like beads of agate-carnelian, jasper, quartz and agate were collected in large quantity. Iron, Copper objects have also been collected from all the trenches.
India opens 137 mountain peaks for tourism

The Indian Government has opened 137 mountain peaks for foreigners desirous of obtaining Mountaineering Visa for mountaineering and trekking. These peaks are located in the States of J&K, Himachal Pradesh, Uttarakhand, and Sikkim. The Ministry of State for Culture and Tourism also plans to open up more peaks to foreigners in New Delhi.

Key highlights:
  1. The Ministry advised the States to exercise utmost caution while registering adventure tourism operators. 
  2. The aim is to ensure that the adventure tourism guidelines are followed by the States. 
  3. The Adventure Tourism Guidelines of India includes tourism events and sports including land with air and water-based activities such as mountaineering, trekking, bungee jumping, paragliding, kayaking, scuba diving, snorkeling, river rafting, and many other sports.
Vikram Rathour to replace Sanjay Bangar as India's new batting coach

Former opener Vikram Rathour replace Sanjay Bangar as India's new batting coach while Bharath Arun and R. Sridhar retained as bowling and fielding coaches.

Key highlights:
  1. The senior national selection committee headed by MSK Prasad. The commended three names each for all the support staff positions and the top names in each category appointed as a Conflict of Interest declaration.
  2. The 50-year-old Rathour played six Tests and seven ODIsin 1996 without much success but was a domestic heavyweight for Punjab. He was a senior national selector under Sandeep Patil's chairmanship.
Acko announces partnership with fintech ZestMoney to offer credit insurance

Acko General Insurance partnered with ZestMoney to offer credit card insurance to its ZestMoney customers. Acko which offers personalized underwriting, micro insurance products, and automated micro claims process, will offer credit insurance. The Zest Money customers who are provided with instant financing and the option of paying through EMIs(Equated Monthly Installments) don’t own a credit card.

Key highlights:
  1. These consumers will be covered by Acko during eventualities like hospitalization or critical illness when they are unable to pay their instalments.
  2. Claims can be created within 3 minutes and can be filed through the ZestMoney app.
  3. Insurtech refers to the use of technology innovations designed to squeeze out savings and efficiency from the current insurance industry model. 
  4. Insurtech is a combination of the words “insurance” and “technology,” inspired by the term fintech(financial technology)
US hold talks with Afghan

The United States and the Taliban have resumed negotiations on 24th August to end America's longest war. The U.S. troops have been in Afghanistan for almost 18 years. The talks resumed in Qatar. They earlier announced that both the teams are close to signing a deal.

Key highlights:
  1. It is feared that the Taliban fighters who reject a deal with the U.S. could migrate to other militant groups such as the brutal local affiliate of the Islamic State group.
  2. In the past years, the U.S. and the Taliban have held eight previous rounds of negotiations on various issues that include a U.S. troop withdrawal, a cease-fire, intra-Afghan negotiations to follow and Taliban guarantees that Afghanistan will not be a launchpad for global terror attacks.
RBI permits processing of e-mandate on credit and debit cards for recurring merchant payments

The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) permitted processing of e-mandate on credit and debit cards for recurring transactions (merchant payments) with a cap of ₹2,000.RBI receiving requests from industry stakeholders to allow this with an additional factor of authentication during e-mandate registration and the first transaction.

Key highlights:
  1. RBI added that no charges should be levied or recovered from the cardholder for availing the e-mandate facility on cards for recurring transactions.
  2. The direction is applicable for transactions performed using all types of cards—debit, credit and Prepaid Payment Instruments (PPIs), including wallets.The central bank brought forward by an hour when the real time gross settlement (RTGS) system will become available.
  3. The transfer of funds through the system will be available. RBI decided to allow round-the-clock fund transfers through NEFT from December.
FASTags will be mandatory for all vehicles from December 2019

Shri Nitin Gadkari, Minister of Road Transport & Highways and MSME launched the new website of his Ministry. The new website has a dashboard that gives data about highways construction, land acquisition, FASTags. The state-wise, month-wise data on registration of vehicles in the country.
MoS, Road Transport & Highways, General (Retd) V K Singh, Secretary Shri Sanjeev Ranjan, NHAI Chairman Shri N.N. Sinha presented the occasion.

Key highlights:
  1. Shri Gadkari informed that his Ministry initiated steps to implement the Motor Vehicles Act 2019. It deals with penalties, licences, registration, National Transport Policy . The Minister that the Motor Vehicles Act 2019 become a reality will go a long way in giving the country a safe and corruption-free road transport system. Shri Gadkari that the MVA 2019 will help curb road accidents and bring down fatalities. The Ministry is spending Rs 12,000 crore towards rectification of 786 accident black spots identified by NHAI. The World Bank and ADB programme worth Rs 14000 crore for rectification of black spots on national, state, district highways. 
  2. The Minister announced that FASTags will become mandatory for all vehicles from December.
  3. FASTags issued by 22 certified banks through various channels such as Point-of-Sale at NH toll plazas, selected bank branches. These are also available on the e-commerce platform. It is a ‘bank-neutral’ FASTag. 
  4. No bank is pre-assigned to the FASTag at the time of purchase by a customer from a Point-of-Sale or Online and offers the flexibility to the customer to link the FASTag with their existing bank account by using My FASTag Mobile app, currently available on Google Play Store.
The 2 plus 2 intersessional between US and India is being held in California

The 2+2 intersessional and the Maritime Security Dialogue between India and the U.S. officials are being held in the Naval Postgraduate School at Monterey, California.

Key highlights:
  1. The intersessional meeting aims to strengthen the strategic partnership. The meeting will discuss ways to advance the security priorities and the cooperation on critical diplomatic between the countries including the shared vision of a free and open Indo-Pacific region.
  2. The U.S. delegations will be led by Alice Wells, the Acting Assistant Secretary for South and Central Asia and Randall Schriver, the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Indo-Pacific Affairs. 
  3. From Indian side Gourangalal Das, Joint Secretary, Americas, and officials from the Indian Embassy in Washington and five officials from the Ministry of Defence, the Joint Secretary of International Cooperation and the Joint Secretary of Navy, the Assistant Chief of the Naval Staff (ACNS) Foreign Cooperation and Intelligence (FCI) and a one-star officer from Headquarters Integrated Defence Staff (IDS) as well as the Director International Cooperation (IC) are participating in the Security dialogue.
  4. The first 2+2 Dialogue was held on September 2018. After the dialogue, India and the U.S. have had intense ties in the trade, strategic and defence aspects of the relationship.
Tourism ministry announces new 5 year visa and other e-visa relaxations in the works

The stakeholders desirous of utilizing Ocean Energy are invited by MNRE for demonstration projects of proven technologies under Research, Design, Development and Demonstration (RDD&D) programme/policy of the Ministry.

Key highlights:
  1. A reduction in the e-visa(electronic visa) fee was proposed by the tourism ministry The main aim of attracting more foreign travellers to the country. The proposed plan, a new 5-year visa plan, the e-visa fee will be offered with the option of short-term as well as long-term tourist e-visa plan. 
  2. The announcement made by Tourism Minister Prahlad Singh Patel (Minister of State- independent charge), at the State Tourism Ministers conference held on august 20, 2019 in New Delhi.The relaxation in the visa fee plans got the assent from the Home Ministry .It is under consideration by the Ministry of External Affairs,
  3. Short term e-visa for tourists with one month validity at a charge of $25 is to be made available only between tourism season of July and march.
  4. The visa fee is proposed to be reduced to as low as $10 between April to June during the lean period(unseasonal tourism period).
APG might blacklist Pakistan

The Asia-Pacific Group (APG), might blacklist Pakistan in the meeting that is held in Canberra, Australia, on 25 August. Pakistan has already been greylisted by the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) at its plenary session.

Key highlights:
  1. If APG blacklist Pakistan and place the country under 'Enhanced Expedited Follow Up' status, Pakistan's effort to release itself from FATF's greylist will be at stake. FATF greylist deals with countering terror-financing and money-laundering.
  2. The APG meeting began on August 18, 2019. The meeting reviewed Pakistan's behavior on building anti-money-laundering and countering the financing of terrorism (AML/CFT) safeguards in the past 5 years. It completed a third evaluation (MER) and the results were found wholly inadequate.
  3. APG was formed in 1997 in Bangkok, Thailand. It aims to combat money laundering and terrorism financing. There is 41 member jurisdiction under APG. The Deputy Commissioner Leanne Close and Mr. Abu Hena Mohd. Razee Hassan co-chair APG.
Shri Amit Shah chairs the 24th Meeting of Western Zonal Council at Panaji

Prime Minister Modi is paying a two-day state visit to France from 22 August ahead G-7 meeting. Modi and his French counterpart President Emmanuel Macron held talks discussed to strengthen strategic ties in key sectors. They also discussed the government’s move to suspend Article 370 in Jammu and Kashmir and split the State into two Union Territories.

Key highlights:
  1. France confirmed that it will support any policy that would give the region stability. It also added that no one should provoke violence in the region. It said that the issues should be resolved between India and Pakistan and no other party should be involved. 
  2. Prime Minister Modi has been invited for the G-7 summit that is to be held on August 25. The summit is to held in Biarritz, France. G-7 summit will include talks about the scrapping of Article 370.
  3. The French invite to India is not the first time India will be at this G-7 global high table. Then prime minister Manmohan Singh had attended the G-8 +5 meet in Gleneagles in Scotland in 2005 at the invitation of then British prime minister Tony Blair.
  4. The Group of 7 (G-7) industrialized nations meet is organized by France in Biarritz in August 2019. The invitation by France clearly reflects the strong strategic connect between India and France. The G-7 groups constitute of the US, Britain, France, Italy, Canada, Japan, and Germany.
Shri Amit Shah chairs the 24th Meeting of Western Zonal Council at Panaji

Union Minister for Home Affairs, Shri Amit Shah chaired the 24th meeting of the Western Zonal Council at Panaji (Goa) The dignitaries attending the meeting includes Chief Minister Gujarat, Shri Vijay Rupani, CM Maharashtra, Shri Devendra Fadnavis, CM Goa, Dr. Pramod Sawant and Administrator of the Union Territories of Daman & Diu and Dadra & Nagar Haveli, Shri Praful Patel and senior officers from the Central and State Governments.

Key highlights:
  1. The members of the Council to the 24th meeting the issues having Centre-State and inter-State ramifications will be resolved with consensus.Home Minister stated West Zone instrumental in giving impetus to the Indian economy as the States of the Zone are contributing around 24% to the GDP and 45% to the total exports of the country.  
  2. The pending issues between the States and the Centre need to be resolved on priority through the medium of Western Zonal Council.  The States in Zone have been a big exporter of sugar, cotton, groundnut and fish and contributing immensely to the economic development of the country. 
  3. The issues listed in the agenda add and discuss issues relating to law & order and administrative reforms to the development of the country. 

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