Current Affairs, News & Facts of 08 Aug 2015

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  • Tripura Legislative Assembly passes resolution on abolishing death penalty



    • Tripura the second smallest state of Northeast India has always created an example few months back it created record by withdrawing the Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA) and now it has set another record when its state legislative assembly unanimously passed a resolution against death penalty and proposed the centre to replace the death penalty under Indian Penal Code Section 302 with lifetime imprisonment.
    • More than 149 countries have already abolished the death penalty though 58 nations still have the provision of death sentence. The resolution, moved by Congress MLA Jitendra Sarkar, suggested rigorous life imprisonment until the death of the guilty instead of capital punishment 
    • Chief Minister Manik Sarkar said, “The fundamental right to life and the death penalty are contradictory. There may be confusion among the public that life imprisonment means 14 years in jail, but life imprisonment is now life in prison.It is not an experiment where the culprit comes out of jail and we see if the person has been reformed. Rather, life imprisonment will send a message to society that the penalty for murder is living inside jail for the rest of your life,” 
  • Govt imposes 10% import duty on wheat  



    Union government has decided to impose an import duty of 10% on wheat which will be effective until March 31 next year. India is the world’s second largest wheat producer and consumer after China, and its warehouses often hold double the target amount as farmers get more incentives to produce grains than oilseeds and pulses, which it imports heavily.

    Reason behind imposing of 10 % import duty on Wheat

    • This move was taken as imports are happening eventhough we had bumper domestic wheat output in 2014-15 crop year and surplus stocks with the Food Corporation of India (FCI)
    • FCI has procured 28.08 million tonnes of wheat this year, of which 26.62 million tonnes have been purchased under the relaxed quality norms because the crop got damaged due to unseasonal rains early this year.
    • The government is keen to sell off on priority basis the wheat which was procured under the relaxed quality norms through ration shops, welfare schemes and open market sales.
    • At present, there is no import duty on wheat. Private traders are importing the grains on lower global prices and lack of high-quality grains in the domestic markets.
    • After rain and hailstorms earlier this year damaged crops private flour millers have started importing wheat from Australia for the first time in a decade especially high-protein varieties used to make pasta and pizzas.
  • DRDO develops poly-herbal medicine to cure Leucoderma



    • Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) has developed a poly-herbal medicine for the treatment of leucoderma (white patches on skin )
    • Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar in a written reply said the poly-herbal formulation comprises of ointment and oral dose.
    • The ointment has seven ingredients of plants having properties such as skin photo sensitizer, anti-blister, anti-irritation, anti-septic, wound healing and copper supplementing properties.
    • The technology of the herbal product has been transferred to AIMIL Pharmaceutical Private Limited for commercial production and marketing but DRDO has no plan to export this drug.

    What is leucoderma ?

    • Leukoderma which is also known as  vitiligo is a rare skin disease characterized by white spots and patches. The white patch or spot is called as leucoderma and when it occurs without any preceding disease it is called Vitiligo.
    • It may occur after any number of inflammatory skin conditions, burns, intralesional steroid injections, postdermabrasion, etc. It is mainly a cosmetic problem, and is neither infectious nor contagious
  • India imposed anti-dumping duty on Vitamin-C imports from China



    • To safeguard the interest of domestic industry India extended anti-dumping duty on import of all forms and grades of Vitamin C at USD 3.74 per kg from China for five years 
    • The anti-dumping duty has been imposed because Central Board of Excise and Customs (CBEC) founded that imports of Vitamin-C have caused injury to the domestic industry. 
    • The Government had earlier imposed the anti-dumping duty on import of Vitamin C from China in 2009 and later extended it by one year till June 2015.
    • Overall Vitamin-C imports in powder form amounted to USD 2.3 million in 2014-15. While the figure for Vitamin-C in tablet form stood at USD 1.3 million.
    • As per Central Board of Excise and Customs (CBEC) anti-dumping duty is applicable to all grades and forms Vit-C which includes L-3-Ketothreohexuronic Acid Lactone substrates, 3-Oxo-L-gulofuranolactone, L-Xyloascorbic Acid, Ascorbic acid, etc.

    Anti-dumping duty

    • A trade duty that a domestic government imposes on foreign imports that it believes are priced below fair market value. It is imposed when a foreign company is selling an item significantly below the price at which it is being produced
    • The logic behind anti-dumping duties is to save domestic jobs, although critics argue that this leads to higher prices for domestic consumers and reduces the competitiveness of domestic companies producing similar goods.
  • Atul Keshap appointed as US Ambassador to Maldives and Sri Lanka



    • Indian American Atul Keshap has been appointed to the post of U.S. Ambassador to Sri Lanka and Maldives. He is the second Indian-origin diplomat to be posted to the region after Richard Rahul Verma who was  presented with credentials as the U.S. Ambassador to India in January.
    • Atul Keshap is currently working as Deputy Assistant Secretary of State in South and Central Asian Affairs Bureau of State Department. He has also served as director for UN human Rights in the Bureau of International Organisation Affairs from 2008 to 2010.
    • Atul Keshap has worked assistant secretary Nisha Desai Biswal to contribute US policy toward India,Bangladesh,Sri lanka,Nepal,Maldives and Bhutan.

    Career as a Diplomat :-

    Atul Keshap joined the Foreign Service in 1994 and than he and moved to the White House in 2003, where he became director for North African and Middle Eastern regional affairs on the staff of the National Security Council. He was the deputy political counselor at the US Embassy in New Delhi from 2005 to 2008

  • Three more parks designated food parks status 



    • Three more industrial estates in Odisha have been accorded the status of designated food parks by the Ministry of Food Processing Industries (MoFPI).
    • This will enable the food processing units there to get concessional credit from National Bank for Agriculture and Rural Development (Nabard).
    • Ministry of Food Processing Industries (MoFPI)  has given the status to Agro Industrial Estate for maize (Nabarangpur), Jagatpur food park at Jagatpur industrial estate in Cuttack and Mancheswar food park at Mancheswar industrial estate in Bhubaneswar 
    • Earlier, the Union ministry had accorded the designated status to MITS mega food park, sea food park at Deras and Khordha mega food park in the state

    Fundings for the food parks 

    • It should be noted that the in the General Budget -2014, the Centre had announced setting up of a special fund of Rs 2,000 crore in Nabard to provide affordable credit to agro-processing units being designated as food parks.
    • The fund has been established in Nabard by Reserve Bank of India. The financial assistance will be provided by Nabard either directly or through consortium arrangements with other financing agencies.
  • Inter-State Coordination Council to resolve forest-related issues



    • The Southern Forest Ministers’ Conference decided to constitute an Inter-State Coordination Council, under which a full-time secretariat will function in the respective Forest Departments.
    • The Council has been mandated to issue the standard operating procedure for actions in the area. The Minister for Forests, Kerala, will be the president of the Council for the first year.
    • The conference also resolved to meet periodically to continue to share information, knowledge, experiences and best practices in order to strengthen inter-State coordination arrangements.
  • Thomas Cook India acquires Kuoni’s travel business in India and Hong Kong



    Travel major Thomas Cook (India) Ltd has signed an agreement with Kuoni Group to acquire its entire travel businesses in India and Hong Kong for Rs.535 crore.After the acquisition, both India and Hong Kong travel businesses will become subsidiaries of Thomas Cook and would function independently. 

    Under the acquisition, Thomas Cook will take on the approximately 1,800 employees of Kuoni’s business units in India and Hong Kong and will continue to run the business as an independent company. Fairfax Financial Holdings is the controlling share holder of Thomas Cook (India) Ltd.

    Kuoni entered India in 1996 by acquiring travel brand SOTC and destination management brand SITA. Currently, Kuoni-SOTC is present in outbound and inbound tour segment and also runs corporate travel business.

    Under the deal, Thomas Cook has also acquired Kuoni's inbound travel business Sita World Travels and the destination management arm Distant Frontiers. Thomas Cook India has footprint over 232 locations in 95 cities across India, Mauritius & Sri Lanka.

  • Rekha Menon to head Accenture India



    • Rekha M. Menon has been appointed as  the new chairperson of  Accenture’s India subsidiary. Rekha replaces Avinash Vashista who was both chairman and managing director of Accenture India, since 2011.
    • Currently Rekha M. Menon US-based company’s human resources managing director for growth markets, driving its human capital strategy for Asia-Pacific, West Asia, Africa, Russia, Turkey and Latin America.
    • Anindya Basu has been appointed as the managing director of  Accenture’s India subsidiary from August 21. He will be responsible for driving our India business and building relationships with key clients by leveraging our capabilities in strategy, consulting, digital, technology and operations.
    • Accenture is a global management consulting and technology services firm, Accenture has 336,000 people serving clients in 120 countries worldwide.

    Image source: NDTV

  • Employees’ Provident Fund Organization (EPFO) hits Stock Markets



    • Retirement fund body  "Employees’ Provident Fund Organisation (EPFO)" hit the stock market on Thursday, with an estimated amount of Rs 5,000 crore..
    • Prior to this it was only investing in traditionally preferred fixed income instruments like government securities and debt securities and kept themselves away from the equity market, due to it's volatile nature and risk factors.
    • Finance ministry had instructed EPFO to invest 5 to 15% in equities after the instruction of finance ministry EPFO has started investing  1 to 5% as they are still not confident of the equity markets

    Key facts 

    • EPFO plans to invest Rs 5,000 crore this fiscal year.
    • Labour minister said EPFO subscribers would get more than the 8.7% return they get now by way of annual interest.
    • The money will be invested through exchange traded funds (ETFs) and the limit for the current year will be 5 per cent of the incremental deposits.
    • EPFO funds will be invested through SBI Nifty exchange-traded fund (ETF) and SBI Sensex ETF managed by SBI Mutual Fund.
    • There is scope of further increasing EPFO’s corpus to maximum 15%

    Employees Provident Fund Organisation (EPFO) is the largest player in the Indian retirement fund industry which enables you to save for your old age offering you options like provident funds, life insurance plans, and mutual funds. They invest your money elsewhere, get returns, and give it you later as pension

    Image source :businesstoday


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