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The (CBIC) Government launches Project SPARROW for CBIC officers for over 400 formations of CBIC across India

The Central Board of Indirect Taxes and Customs (CBIC) notified that for better human resource management, it will conduct annual performance appraisal report (APARs) of over 46,000 Group B and C officers (IRS– Indian Revenue Service officers in Customs and Central Excise in 2016-17) online in SPARROW (Smart Performance Appraisal Report Recording Online Window).
i. This project is being implemented in over 400 formations of CBIC across India.
ii. The DGHRM (Directorate General of Human Resource Management), the HR (Human Resource) arm of CBIC, is the implementing agency for this project.
iii. The project serves as a key landmark in the path towards digitisation and paper-less working since itleverages modern technology for improving the wholesome efficiency of the huge workforce working in Central GST (Goods and Services Tax) and Customs formations of CBIC.

11th India Iran Joint Consular Committee Meeting (JCCM) 

The 11th India Iran Joint Consular Committee Meeting (JCCM) held in New Delhi on May 14, 2019. Indian delegation was led by Amit Narang, Joint Secretary in Consular, Passport and Visa (CPV) division and the Iran delegation was led by Ali Asghar Mohammadi, Director General of Consular Affairs.
i. The purpose of this meeting is to review the status of ongoing cooperation in consular and visa related issues and also to discuss the strategy to further expand people to people contacts and to promote friendly exchanges between India and Iran.
ii. Both countries have discussed some important issues between India and Iran:

  • Early conclusion of Agreement on Mutual Legal Assistance on civil and commercial matters.
  • To extend longer duration of e-Visa for each other nationals on reciprocity.
  • Visa facilitation for greater people to people contacts etc.

About Iran
♦ Capital: Tehran
♦ Currency: Iranian Rial

India-Botswana Foreign Office Consultations held in New Delhi 

The 3rd round of Foreign Office Consultations between India and Botswana was held in New Delhi on 15th May, 2019. Indian delegation was led by Neena Malhotra, Joint Secretary (East and Southern Africa) and the Botswana delegation led by Tapiwa Mongwa, Deputy Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of International Affairs and Cooperation.
i. The purpose of the Foreign Office Consultation is to review bilateral relation which includes political, economic, commercial, defence, consular and international cooperation related to United Nations.
ii. They have also discussed the strategy to further strengthen the existing friendly relations by way of expanding cooperation in development projects. Botswana government had also decided to join the International Solar Alliance (ISA).
About Botswana
♦ Capital: Gaborone
♦ Currency: Botswana Pula

The Maharashtra Cabinet provides approval for the promulgation of ordinance on Maratha quota

In order to provide reservation to Maratha students in post- graduate medical courses, the Maharashtra Cabinet approved to circulate an ordinance to amend the Socially and Educationally Backward Classes (SEBC) Reservation Act, 2018, and also approved to recompense the fees to the general category-students, who will be affected after the promulgation of the ordinance.
i. Previously the Nagpur bench of the Bombay High Court did not grant 16% reservation to the Maratha community students for admissions to post-graduate (PG) medical courses and dental courses because the admission process had begun much earlier.
ii. The Supreme Court had upheld the high court’s decision.
iii. The Maratha students welcomed the Devendra Fadnavis government’s decision to amend the Act.
iv. The candidates would however, continue protesting till they get joining orders from the Maharashtra Common Entrance Test (CET) Cell.
v. After the Supreme Court’s decision, the CET Cell had issued cancellation of admissions’ notice under the SEBC quota, which affected around 290 students from Maharashtra.

GSI in its report notified that the highest graphite reserves of India are found in Arunachal Pradesh

The Geological Survey of India (GSI) in its report notified that the highest graphite reserves of India, that is, around 35% of India’s total Graphite reserves are found in Arunachal Pradesh.
i. The data was presented during GSI’s annual interactive meeting with the Department of Geology and Mining & Industries, Government of Arunachal Pradesh in Itanagar. 
ii. Arunachal Pradesh could now be developed as the leading producer of graphite in India to meet the nations’ future needs, since currently, India imports the majority of Graphite from other nations.
iii. Secretary, Department of Geology and Mining, Bidol Tayeng laid stress on the fact that that the survey and drilling activities of the GSI should be moved towards the lndo-China international Border.
About Geological Survey of India (GSI):
 Formed in: 1851
 Headquarters: Kolkata
 GSI conducts geological surveys and studies of India.
 The aims of GSI are achieved by different surveys, namely, the marine, airborne, ground, mineral surveys.
About Arunachal Pradesh:
 Established: 20th February, 1987
 Capital: Itanagar
 Districts: 25
 Governor: Brig. (Dr.)B.D. Mishra (Retd.)
 Chief Minister: Pema Khandu
About the mineral- graphite:
 Graphite, also known as a dry lubricant for its greasy feel, is the most stable allotrope of Carbon, with standard entropy being zero.
 The striking factor of Graphite is that, it is the only non-metal element which is a good conductor of electricity.
 Under high pressures and temperatures Graphite converts to diamond.
♦ Graphite is used in pencils, lubricants, steel-making, electrodes, brake linings, batteries, solar panels and in various other products.



Taiwan becomes the first country in Asia to legalise same-sex marriage

For the first time in Asia, Taiwan’s parliament legalised same-sex marriage, as lawmakers passed a bill permitting same-sex couples to form ‘exclusive permanent unions‘ which would let them apply for a ‘marriage registration’ (under Clause Four) with government agencies.

In 2017, Taiwan’s constitutional court ruled that same-sex couples had the right to legally marry, but also notified that Taiwan had 2 years to make necessary changes to the law.
i. The vote took place on the International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia and Biphobia, that is on 17th May, 2019. 
ii. Taiwan has been 1 of the most progressive societies in Asia for gay rights, in the last 10 years. Taiwan had staged Asia’s biggest annual gay pride parade.
About Taiwan (located in East Asia):
♦ Capital: Taipei
♦ Currency: New Taiwan dollar
♦ President: Tsai Ing-wen

CTBTO has offered India an ‘Observer’ status and an access to IMS data

CTBTO (The Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty Organisation) has offered India an ‘Observer‘ status and an access to International Monitoring System (IMS) data.

i. CTBT is a global treaty that runs IMS which constantly monitors the Earth for nuclear explosions and shares evaluative findings with its member states. CTBTO’s headquarters is in Vienna, Austria.
ii. Currently, IMS has 337 facilities, located in 89 nations.
iii. In 1996, CTBT was opened for signature after being adopted by the UN General Assembly.
About The Treaty
 The 1996 CTBT bans all nuclear explosions.
 All of the 44 countries listed in Annex 2 of the Treaty must ratify, before the CTBT can enter into force.
 These 44 countries possessed nuclear power or research reactors when the CTBT was negotiated.

The 26th edition of Singapore India Maritime Bilateral Exercise titled SIMBEX were held in Singapore 

INS Kolkata (being designed and built in India, it is an advanced stealth destroyer capable of engaging multiple threats from the air, sea and underwater) and INS Shakti (is a fleet support ship that provides fuel, provisions and munitions to warships at sea), the 2 warships of the Indian Navy participated in a 3-dayAsia Pacific naval and maritime event titled the International Maritime Defence Exhibition Asia (IMDEX Asia-2019) (it commenced on May 14, 2019) held in Changi Exhibition Centre, Singapore.

i. Some of India’s leading engineering and ship building firms, including Larsen & Toubro and BrahMosparticipated in it.
ii. Deputy Chief of Naval Staff, Vice-Admiral M S Pawar, led the delegation to the Asia Pacific gathering of the event.
iii. After IMDEX, Indian Naval ships together with an Indian Navy surveillance aircraft P8I have participated in the 26th edition of Singapore India Maritime Bilateral Exercise (SIMBEX).

Global Drug Survey 2019

According to Global Drug Survey 2019Indians are seeking help more than any other countries to reduce their alcohol intake. The survey was conducted online in between October and December 2018. Around 1,00,000 respondents from 30 countries have participated in the online survey. People participated from India are mostly male (age 25 to 34 years).

i. Indians are reported drunk on an average of 41 times in the last 1 year which is well behind countries like UK, US, Canada, Australia and Denmark which have an average of 33 times in the last 1 year.
ii. According to the survey, 51 percent of total respondents from India wanted to reduce their alcohol intake in last 1 year and 41 percent respondents wanted someone’s help to reduce alcohol intake which is also highest percentage among other countries.
iii. Indian respondents revealed that they enjoyed being drunk on 71 percent of the occasions which is very close to global average of 74 percent. Portugal leading the country whose respondents enjoyed 82 percent of the occasions while India ranked in 16thplace.

For the first time, the Government of Saudi Arabia approves permanent residency to certain expatriates to attract long-term investments

For the first time, the Cabinet of Saudi Arabia approved to give permanent residency to certain expatriates by allowing them to own real estates. They are eligible to reside with their families without a Saudi sponsor(Kafeel). This new system is named as the “Privileged Iqama”.

i. This is aimed to attract the long term investments in order to boost domestic spending.
ii. The owned residence under the “Privileged Iqama” system can be renewed annually.
iii. The newly adopted scheme will boost the growth in private sector and increase the employment opportunities in Saudi Arabia.
About Saudi Arabia:
 Capital: Riyadh
 Currency: Saudi Riyal



SIDBI’s pilot scheme for fintech NBFCs to give financial assistance up to Rs. 10 crore to boost digital lending

Small Industries Development Bank of India (SIDBI) has launched a pilot scheme for fintech Non Banking Financing Companies (NBFCs) to give financial assistance up to Rs. 10 crore in order to boost digital lending.
i. SIDBI has set the credit exposure limit to a new fintech NBFC to 30% of the Net-Owned Fund(NOF) of the new fintech NBFC, with the maximum capital of Rs. 10 crores.
ii. The new fintech NBFCs must hold in trust the underlying securities or receivables on behalf of SIDBI.
About Fintech NBFCs:
These are digital loan companies. RBI has prescribed certain parameters for Fintech NBFCs in order to be eligible for funding assistance. This includes 15% Capital Risk-Weighted Assets Ratio(CRAR), Non-Performing Assets(NPA) should be less than or equal to 4%, Minimum NOF of Rs. 20 crore and Minimum asset size should be of Rs. 50 crore and the company must hold at least 2 audited annual reports, positive net worth and leverage ratio must be within 5:1.
About SIDBI:
 Headquarters: Lucknow, Uttar Pradesh
 Formation: April 2, 1990
 Chairman & Managing Director: Mohammad Mustafa

HDFC ERGO and IBM to jointly setup data lab in India to improve business efficiency and profitability

HDFC ERGO, General Insurance Company and IBM, technology giant, announced to jointly setup data lab in India to improve business efficiency and profitability. It will analyze the customer data and develop customized solutions.
i. Neither HDFC ERGO nor IBM has disclosed the amount of investment in setting up the lab.
ii. The experts from HDFC ERGO and a team of 25 experts from IBM which includes data scientists, technology architects and design engineers are working together to improve customer experience by working on different test cases.
 Headquarters: Mumbai, Maharashtra
 Founded: 2002
 CEO and Managing Director: Ritesh Kumar
About IBM:
 IBM stands for International Business Machines.
 Founder: Charles Ranlett Flint
 CEO: Ginny Rometty
 Headquarters: Armonk, New York, US

Rs 70,000 crore NPA recovered via IBC in FY19

According to Crisil Ratings report, in year 2018-19, Rs 70,000 crore bad loans were recovered through the Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code (IBC) with a recovery rate of 43 percent in 94 cases. The IBC has recovered bad loans two times the Rs 35,500 crore through previous resolution mechanisms like Debt Recovery Tribunal and Lok Adalat.
i. According to a report of the Insolvency and Bankruptcy Board of India (IBBI), around Rs 2.02 lakh crore to Rs 3 lakh crore of debt from 4,452 cases was disposed of even before admission into the IBC process.
ii. According to Crisil estimates, gross non-performing assets (NPA) of banking sector has declined to 10% till the March 2019, from 11.5% in the year 2018, which was the result of IBC process.
About Crisil Ratings
♦ Headquarter: Mumbai
♦ CEO: Ashu Suyash



India’s Sourav Ganguly, Sanjay Manjrekar, and Harsha Bhogle inducted in the ICC commentary panel for World Cup 2019

Former Indian cricketers Sourav Ganguly and Sanjay Manjrekar along with cricket writer and commentator Harsha Bhogle are inducted into the International Cricket Council’s (ICC) commentary panel from India for World Cup 2019. World Cup 2019 will begin from May 30, 2019, in England and Wales. A total of 24 commentators are in the list of the ICC TV.

i. The debut commentary will be made by Michael Clarke, former Australian batsman, who was the captain of the 2015 World Cup winning team. Nasser Hussain, Ian Bishop, Kumar Sangakkara, Michael Atherton, Brendon McCullum, Graeme Smith and Wasim Akram are also the part of panel.
ii. Other commentrators of the tournament are Shaun Pollock, Michael Slater, Mark Nicholas, Michael Holding, Isa Guha, Pommie Mbangwa, Harsha Bhogle, Simon Doull, Ian Smith, Ramiz Raja, Athar Ali Khan, and Ian Ward.
About ICC:
 Headquarters: Dubai, UAE
 CEO: Dave Richardson (28 Jun 2012–July 2019)
 Designated CEO: Manu Sawhney (July 2019)
 Motto‎: ‎Cricket for good
 Chairman:  Shashank Manohar

For the first time in history, Asian Football Confederation(AFC) to have first-ever female referee team to take charge of men’s AFC cup

For the first time in history, Asian Football Confederation(AFC) announced its first-ever female refereeteam to officiate Men’s Continental Club Cup match.

i. The team consists of 3 Japanese referees namely, Yoshimi Yamashita and assistants Makoto Bozono and Naomi Teshirogi. They will officiate the match between Myanmar’s Yangon United and Cambodia’s Naga World at the Thuwunna Stadium in Yangon, Myanmar.
ii. They are among the 12 officials from the AFC to lead the FIFA Women’s World Cup which is scheduled to be held in June 2019.
About AFC Cup:
 It was founded in the year 2004.
 2018 Champion of AFC cup is Al-Quwa Al-Jawiya.



Ujjivan Small Finance Bank appointed Nitin Chugh as MD and CEO

Ujjivan Small Finance Bank has appointed Nitin Chugh as its Managing Director (MD) and Chief Executive Officer (CEO) for a period of 3 years from December 1, 2019. The current MD and CEO Samit Ghosh’s tenure will end on November 30, 2019.

i. Currently, Nitin Chugh is Group Head of Digital Banking of HDFC Bank.
About Ujjivan Small Finance Bank
♦ Headquarter: Bengaluru, Karnataka
♦ Tagline: We belive in your belief


Indian Coast Guard Ship ‘Vigraha’ decommissioned at Vishakhapatnam

Indian Coast Guard Ship (ICGS) ‘Vigraha’ decommissioned at Vishakhapatnam, Andhra Pradesh. It is a frontline offshore patrol served for 29 years from 1990 to 2019. It was the seventh offshore patrol vessel built by the Mazagaon Dock Limited, Mumbai.

i. The offshore patrol vessel Vigraha has participated in major coast guard operations which involves search and rescue, anti-poaching, humanitarian assistance and disaster relief, repatriation and joint exercises etc.
About Andhra Pradesh
♦ Capital: Amravati
♦ Governor: E.S.L. Narasimhan
♦ Chief Minister: N. Chandrababu Naidu
♦ National Parks/Wildlife Sanctuaries: Koundinya Wildlife Sanctuary, Mrugavani National Park, Coringa Wildlife Sanctuary etc.
♦ Dance Forms: Kuchipudi, Bhamakalpam, Dappu, Lambadi, Tappeta Gullu etc.

Thought of the Day

If you are currently struggling with self-doubt, know that success and great things will only come your way if you start believing in yourself. 

Attemp Quiz Based on 17th May 2019


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