07 ,March 2018

1.Child marriages decline in India
Source: The Hindu

According to UNICEF India has seen a sharp decline in child marriages over the last ten years with 27% of girls getting married before their 18th birthday as against 47%, a decade ago.

  • The decline in child marriage in India has contributed significantly to a global decline in child marriages.
  • Overall, the proportion of girls who were married as children has decreased by 15% in the last decade, from 1 in 4 to approximately 1 in 5.
  • Twenty-five million child marriages were prevented globally in the last 10 years (2005-06 and 2015-16)
  • South Asia has seen the largest decline with India being at the forefront.

The UN children’s agency stated the following reasons for the decline

  • Increasing rates of girls’ education
  • Proactive government investments in adolescent girls
  • Strong public awareness about the illegality of child marriage and the harm it causes

2.India to join multilateral lender EBRD
Source: The Hindu

India has got the go-ahead to join the European Bank of Reconstruction and Development (EBRD).Shareholders of the London-based multilateral lender agreed to India becoming its 69th member.

Effect of the membership:

  • The membership will enable Indian companies to undertake joint investments in regions in which the EBRD operates
  • It will also enable Indian citizens to work for the organization
  • The move will see India take up a small stake in the bank, would spur further investment by Indian firms in a range of sectors from solar to utilities, providing them access to fast growing markets.
  • India’s stake will also give it a say in the direction of the EBRD’s future work

European Bank of Reconstruction and Development (EBRD):

  • EBRD is an international financial institution founded in 1991
  • Headquartered in London, the EBRD is owned by 65 countries and two EU institutions
  • As a multilateral developmental investment bank, the EBRD uses investment as a tool to build market economies
  • The EBRD has members from all over the world (North America, Africa, Asia and Australia), with the biggest shareholder being the United States
  • It only lends regionally in its countries of operations
  • Despite its public sector shareholders, it invests in private enterprises, together with commercial partners
  • The EBRD is not to be confused with the European Investment Bank (EIB), which is owned by EU member states and is used to support EU policy

3.Banks face $3 bn write-off from PNB scam
Source: The Hindu

The Rs 12,700 crore Letters of Undertaking (LoU) fraud at the Punjab National Bank (PNB) could punch a bigger hole in India’s banking system

The closure of businesses of loan-taking firms by investigative agencies is likely to result in another Rs 8,000 crore of loans extended to them by banks turning into non-performing assets (NPAs)

Reserve Bank of India’s guidelines:

  • According to Reserve Bank of India (RBI) guidelines, banks have to write off the entire loan amount once a fraud has been reported.
  • The entire $2 billion exposure of the country’s second largest bank PNB through LoUs issued in favour of Nirav Modi group firms will have to be booked as an NPA.
  • Banks are preparing for another ₹8,000 crore or about $1.2 billion in bad loans, taking the total damage to about $3 billion.

Status of loans and provisions

  • Bankers said the loans to these companies were already in the second category of special mention accounts (SMA-2)
  • If a loan repayment is due for over 60 days but less than 90 days, the account is accorded SMA-2 status
  • If the dues remain unpaid for 90 days, it is classified as non-performing

In a major breakthrough, the Central Bureau of Investigation recently arrested Vipul Chitalia, the vice-president (banking operations) of Mehul Choksi’s Gitanjali Group of companies, in connection with the Punjab National Bank fraudulent transactions.

Know about LOU: https://www.ndtv.com/business/what-is-an-lou-letter-of-undertaking-five-things-to-know-1814314
SWIFT Message in Banking: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Society_for_Worldwide_Interbank_Financial_Telecommunication

4.NFRA to have power to impose penalty on audit firms
Source: PIB

The Chartered Accountants Act, 1949 (Act) provides for imposition of penalties on members of the Institute of Charted Accountants of India (ICAI).

  • The ICAI had submitted a proposal to the Government for amendment to the Act to, inter alia, provide for registration of audit firms, procedure for taking necessary disciplinary action against audit firms (on the lines of such procedure for individual members) and imposition of penalties on audit firms.
  • Section 132 of the Companies Act, 2013 provides for constitution of the National Financial Reporting Authority (NFRA) and sub- section (4) thereof confers powers on NFRA, for imposition of penalties on audit firms.

What is NFRA? http://www.thehansindia.com/posts/index/Hans-Classroom/2018-03-04/What-is-NFRA/363248

Post NFRA formation, what is ICAI’s role? http://www.thehindu.com/business/Economy/post-nfra-formation-what-is-icais-role/article22925689.ece

5.‘Fix or nix’ Iran deal, Netanyahu tells Trump
Source: The Hindu

The singular focus of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s five-day tour of the United States has been Iran.

  • U.S has a deadline till May to decide whether to impose nuclear sanctions on Iran again.
  • If he chooses to impose sanctions, the deal will collapse.
  • U.S also underscored its goal of countering Iran’s malign influence.
  • Moreover, the President emphasized his commitment in achieving a lasting peace deal between Israelis and Palestinians.

Iran as a major challenge:

The greatest challenge for the Middle East is Iran because it has not given up its nuclear ambitions. It came out of this nuclear deal emboldened, enriched and has been practicing aggression everywhere.

6.Rs. 1,000 cr. for research and innovation
Source: The Hindu

The Centre had sanctioned Rs. 1,000 crore for the Phase II of the Impacting Research Innovation and Technology (IMPRINT) India programme.

  • Under the IMPRINT-II, a fund is being created by the Department of Science and Technology and Ministry of Human Resource Development together, in which participation will come from industry and other interested Ministries.
  • The project will be run as a separate vertical in coordination with the Department of Science & Technology.
  • The proposals for IMPRINT-II will be called from 16thMarch and will be sanctioned by May this year.

IMPRINT-I Programme:

  • Under the IMPRINT-I Programme, 142 projects at a cost of Rs. 318.71 crore are under implementation.
  • These projects cover crucial domains like security and defence, information technology, energy, sustainable habitat, advance materials, health care, nano technology, climate change, etc

7.Sri Lanka declares state of emergency amid violence
Source: The Hindu

Sri Lanka has declared an island-wide state of emergency. This is to curb growing anti-Muslim violence in the country’s Central Province.

Why was Emergency declared?

  • The violence was triggered by the death of a 41-year-old man.He succumbed to injuries inflicted by a group of Muslim men, following a road rage incident.
  • The suspects were arrested immediately after the incident and remanded. However, the incident triggered a series of anti-Muslim attacks.
  • The violence is provoked reportedly by Sinhala-Buddhist extremist group. A series of arson attacks targeted dozens of mosques and Muslim-owned shops and homes in Kandy, located in the Central Province.
  • Two mosques and shops were vandalised in Ampara. It is a district with a near equal population of Muslims and Sinhala-Buddhists.
  • The Sri Lankan government was criticised for “pandering to extremist forces” in the Sinhala majority community.
  • The move to declare emergency is seen as a “confidence-building measure”.
  • The emergency allows the government to deploy the army in case of any violent clashes. Procedurally, the emergency will lapse in two weeks unless the parliament votes to extend it.

This is the first time that emergency had been reimposed after it was in force for 40 years from 1971 during the civil war. The latest unrest underlines the new political and ethnic dynamics in Sri Lanka.

8.Northern White male Rhino ‘Sudan’
Source: The Hindu

A global team of scientists and conservationists is making effort to save the Northern White male Rhino from extinction with the help of the two surviving females.

  • ‘Sudan’ rhino attracts thousands of visitors to the Ol Pejeta Conservancy,Kenya and became “The Most Eligible Bachelor in the World” on Tinder dating app last year in a fundraising effort.
  • Ol Pejeta, in Kenya, is the largest black rhino sanctuary in east Africa, and home to three of the world’s last remaining northern white rhino.
  • Northern White rhino and Southern White rhino are the two subspecies of white rhino.
  • White rhinoceros is taken from the Afrikaans word describing its mouth: “wyd”, meaning “wide”, which was misinterpreted by English settlers as “wyd” for “white”.
  • It is also sometimes called the square-lipped rhinoceros.

9.Innovations to combat ‘microfiber’ pollution
Source: The Hindu

Innovators are coming up with solutions to combat microfiber pollution

What is microfiber pollution?

  • Once clothes reach a washing machine, the synthetic fabrics release tiny strands: so-called microfibers.
  • Hundreds of thousands of microfibers are flushed down the drain.
  • Many reach beaches and oceans where they can remain for hundreds of years.

About Microfibers:

  • Microfibers found in oceans can originate from a wide variety of textiles (such as nylon, polyester, rayon, acrylic or spandex)
  • Apart from apparel products, other industries are also contributing to this problem, as things like fishing nets, bottle caps, packaging and plastics bags that break down in the ocean.

 Microfiber Pollution on Coastal Ecosystem:

  • A 2011 study, led by Australian ecotoxicologist Mark Browne, found that microfibres made up 85% of man-caused shoreline debris.
  • Microfibers eventually pass through sewage plants, wash out to waterways, and can be eaten or absorbed by marine animals, some of which are later served as seafood.

Innovations to Combat Microfiber Pollution:

  • There are few products, with names such as Guppyfriend and Cora Ball, aimed at curbing microfibres.
  • Guppyfriend is a polyamide washing bag designed to prevent tiny threads from escaping.
  • Cora Ball is a multicolored ball designed to bounce around the washing machine, trapping microfibres in appendages that resemble coral.
  • Lint LUV-Ris a filter that attaches to a laundry water discharge hose.

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