Insight Current Affairs for UPSC IES – 26 June 2019

Insight Current Affairs for UPSC IES – 26 June 2019

1) National Freight Index (NFI) launched

  • In its bid to bring transparency in the road-freight marketplace, Gurgaon-based tech-enabled logistics start-up Rivigo has launched National Freight Index (NFI) that will provide live freight rates for different lanes and vehicles across the country.

NFI

  • This first-of-its-kind barometer of the road freight market in India is based on a Rivigo rate exchange.
  • NFI gives a live spot rate on over 7 million lane and vehicle type combinations in the country.
  • NFI offers an aggregated picture of both live rates and historical trends of spot price movements in the road freight industry.
  • The index is represented in two main forms: In terms of actual freight rates condensed to INR per ton-km and in terms of relative movement with respect to a base month.
  • Both the index and the exchange are based on Rivigo’s machine learning and economics powered pricing algorithms, which are continuously improving on accuracy.
  • The rates on the exchange and index are computed using millions of data points from historical transactions, current market dynamics, micro market insights and other factors – with the ultimate purpose of giving a fair and precise representation of the state of the spot market in the country.

2) Odisha flood hazard atlas

  • Odisha has come out with a unique flood hazard atlas on the basis of historic flood inundation captured through satellite imagery over the period from 2001 to 2018, which is expected to help the State manage floods more efficiently.

  • The National Remote Sensing Centre (NRSC) of the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO), Hyderabad had taken the study on flood hazard zonation for Odisha.

Odisha Flood

  • Vast areas of the State are inundated when there is flooding every year in major rivers, namely, the Mahanadi, Brahmani, Baitarani, Subarnarekha and Rushikulya.

  • Some of the rivers like, the Vamsadhara and Budhabalanga, also cause flash floods due to instant run-off from their hilly catchments.

3) Prestigious IIFT drops to 31st in HRD Ministry’s 2019 national ranking Management category

  • The commerce ministry’s prestigious Indian Institute of Foreign Trade (IIFT) has slipped eight places to 31 in the HRD Ministry’s 2019 national ranking of higher education institutes under management category.

  • The IIFT featured on the coveted list at 23rd spot in 2018, 30th in 2017 and 81st in 2016.

  • The fourth edition of the ranking of management institutes based on the National Institutional Ranking Framework (NIRF) 2019 was announced in April.

  • In the management category rankings, IIM-Bangalore topped the chart, which was followed by IIM-Ahmedabad and IIM-Calcutta.

4) Number of willful defaulters in nationalized banks up 60% to 8,582 in 5 years

  • The number of willful defaulters in nationalized banks has increased by over 60 per cent to 8,582 in five years to March 2019.

  • By the end of 2014-15 fiscal, the figure stood at 5,349, Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman said in a written reply in Lok Sabha.

Who is willful defaulter?

  • A willful defaulter is an entity or a person that has not paid the loan back despite the ability to repay it.

5) RBI Deputy Governor Viral Acharya resigns

  • Reserve Bank of India (RBI) Deputy Governor Viral Acharya on 24 June told a newspaper that he has quit his role, six months before the end of his tenure.

  • It was reported that Acharya is returning to New York University’s Stern School of Business (NYU Stern) in August, instead of February 2020 as CV Starr Professor of Economics.

  • Acharya, who joined RBI as a deputy governor in January, 2017 was supposed to complete three years in his role.

Background:

  • He graduated from the Indian Institute of Technology Bombay in 1995 with a Bachelor of Technology degree in Computer Science and Engineering, receiving the President of India Gold Medal for attaining the highest grade point average in his batch.
  • In his final year at IIT Bombay, he enrolled in an elective in international finance.
  • He initially joined the PhD program in computer science at New York University, but after a year switched to the PhD program in finance at New York University Stern School of Business.
  • He graduated in 2001, with his dissertation thesis titled Essays in Banking and Financial Institutions.
  • After obtaining his PhD, Acharya worked at the London Business School (LBS) from 2001 to 2008.
  • Between 2007 and 2009, he was the Academic Director of the Coller Institute of Private Equity at the LBS.
  • In 2008, he received a Houblon-Norman Senior Fellowship at the Bank of England.
  • Since 2008, he is attached to the New York University Stern School of Business (NYU Stern), where he held the C.V. Starr Professor of Economics chair.
  • On 28 December 2016, Acharya was appointed by the Central Government of India as Deputy Governor of the Reserve Bank of India for a period of three years, starting on 20 January 2017.

6) PM Modi to attend G20 Summit in Japan

  • Prime Minister Narendra Modi will attend the G-20 summit in Osaka, Japan from June 27-29 2019.

  • He would hold bilateral (discussions) and participate in plurilateral meetings which would be announced closer to the date.

G20

  • The G-20 members are Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, the European Union, France, Germany, India, Indonesia, Italy, Japan, Mexico, Russia, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, South Korea, Turkey, the UK and the US.

  • Collectively, the G-20 economies account for nearly 90 per cent of the gross world product,

  • Around 80 per cent of world trade, two-thirds of the world population, and approximately half of the world land area.

7) Gov set to roll out a IMEI database to track lost phones

  • The Telecom Ministry is set to roll out a Central Equipment Identity Register (CEIR), a database of International Mobile Equipment Identity (IMEI) to help people track their stolen mobile phones.

  • People can inform the Department of Telecom (DoT) on losing their phones, which will, in turn, blacklist their IMEI numbers.

  • DoT had declared its plan to implement this project in July 2017 and a pilot was conducted in Maharashtra.

  • According to TRAI data, there are 1.16 billion wireless subscribers in India as of March 2019.

  • In the interim budget for 2019-20, the government allocated Rs 15 crore to the DoT for the CEIR project.

What is IMEI number?

  • IMEI is a 15-digit number that uniquely identifies each mobile device.

  • In line with global practices, DoT’s identity register will be a database of IMEI numbers that will consist of three lists – white, grey and black.

  • Mobile phones with IMEI numbers in the white list will be permitted for use, while those in the blacklist will be the ones that are reported stolen or lost and will not be allowed to access the network.

  • Devices with IMEI numbers in the greylist will be the ones that do not conform to standards but will be permitted to connect under supervision.

8) Saudi Arabia becomes 1st Arab country to get FATF membership

  • Saudi Arabia has become the first Arab country to be granted full membership of the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) following the group’s annual general meeting in the US.

  • The kingdom’s accession came as the global money laundering watchdog celebrated the 30th anniversary of its first meeting held in Paris in 1989.

  • Saudi Arabia had received an invitation from the FATF at the beginning of 2015 to join as an “observer member“.

FATF

  • The Financial Action Task Force (FATF) is an inter-governmental body established in 1989 on the initiative of the G7.

  • It is a “policy-making body” which works to generate the necessary political will to bring about national legislative and regulatory reforms in various areas.

  • The FATF Secretariat is housed at the OECD headquarters in Paris.
  • The objectives of the FATF are to set standards and promote effective implementation of legal, regulatory and operational measures for combating money laundering, terrorist financing and other related threats to the integrity of the international financial system.

Blacklist and Grey list

  • FATF maintains two different lists of countries: those that have deficiencies in their AML/CTF regimes, but they commit to an action plan to address these loopholes, and those that do not end up doing enough.

  • The former is commonly known as grey list and latter as blacklist.

  • Recently, Pakistan was put into the grey list.

  • Once a country is blacklisted, FATF calls on other countries to apply enhanced due diligence and counter measures, increasing the cost of doing business with the country and in some cases severing it altogether.

9) NASA Curiosity rover detects high levels of methane on Mars

  • Curiosity, NASA’s Mars rover, has detected an unusually high level of methane during a routine experiment which tests the concentration of molecules in the atmosphere on Planet Mars.

  • The data showed a methane level of 21 parts per billion, around three times higher than had ever been seen before. Curiosity is not outfitted with the appropriate instruments to tell us whether the plume is biological or geological in origin.

  • After detecting the highest levels of methane yet seen on Mars, NASA put a pause on the rover’s other science activities to follow up on the discovery. Many suggested the high methane could hint at the possibility of life on Mars. Methane is an important molecule on Earth and many living organisms excrete it, including microbes.

  • Mars is the fourth planet from the Sun and the second-smallest planet in the Solar System after Mercury. It is often referred to as the “Red Planet”.

10) “Lessons Life Taught Me Unknowingly”: Anupam Kher’s autobiography

  • Veteran actor Anupam Kher has authored autobiography “Lessons Life Taught Me Unknowingly”.

  • It is to be published by Hay House in an exclusive partnership with Penguin Random House.

  • With a filmography of over 530 films — and counting — Anupam is a National School of Drama alumnus, has his own acting school, does plays and also balances his work in India and abroad. Anupam has also authored “The Best Thing about You Is You!”.