Current Affairs for BANK, IBPS Exams - 09 March 2018

Bank Exam Current Affairs

Current Affairs for BANK, IBPS Exams - 09 March 2018


Cheaper TB Drugs plan launched by WHO

  • The World Health Organization (WHO) invited pharmaceutical companies around the world to submit proposals to manufacture affordable versions of newer medicines for treatment of drug resistant tuberculosis.
  • A WHO spokesman said the aim was to replicate the success of addressing the HIV epidemic.
  • Competition among Indian drug producers had then brought down the price of HIV medicines by 99% from $15,000 per patient per year to less than a dollar a day.
  • WHO has now requested drug makers to submit an Expression of Interest (EoI) for Bedaquiline and Delaminid, two new-generation drugs, recommended for drug resistant-TB.
  • Under WHO norms, drugs submitted upon such requests and complying with its standards are included in a list for procurement by the UN and other organisations.
  • India has nearly 1.3 lakh DR-TB patients, the most in the world, but the Health Ministry gets only 10,000 doses of Bedaquiline and 400 doses of Delaminid.
  • The medicines are obtained as donations from Janssen (US) and Otsuka Pharmaceuticals (Japan), the respective manufacturers.
  • In the case of HIV, one company, Cipla, came up with a ‘AIDS cocktail’ combination of Stavudine, Lamivudine and Nevirapine, enabling effective treatment.
  • Cheaper drugs to treat HIV became possible at the time as the Indian Patents Act did not provide for product patents on pharmaceutical products, until required by the Trade Related Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS) framework of the World Trade Organization (WTO).
  • India became TRIPS compliant with pharma product patents in 2005.
  • “The whole world looks to India to provide access to affordable drugs because of our capabilities. With WHO’s backing, we will be able to accelerate introduction of generics,” said D.G. Shah, secretary general, Indian Pharmaceutical Alliance (IPA).
  • Inclusion of the two new drugs, Bedaquiline and Delaminid, in the pre-qualification call is being interpreted by aid agency Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) as WHO’s backing for generics.
  • Arun Kumar Jha, Economic Advisor, Union Health Ministry, said, “We are not wasting a single moment in ensuring affordable versions of these medicines are scaled up.”

State Flag by Karnataka Unveiled

  • The Siddaramaiah government unveiled the State flag ( nada dhwaja ) for Karnataka.
  • If approved by the Centre, Karnataka will be the second State to have a flag after Jammu and Kashmir.
  • The yellow-white-red flag has the State emblem at the centre.
  • The proposal will be now sent to the Union Home Ministry for approval, since a State has no powers to announce its own flag.
  • Ahead of Assembly elections, a separate flag has been part of the ruling Congress’ campaign focusing on regional pride.
  • The decision followed a meeting of leaders of Kannada organisations and littérateurs convened to discuss the recommendations of a nine-member expert committee constituted to study and submit a report on the possibility of the State having a flag.
  • The State Cabinet had earlier approved the proposal of a separate flag for Karnataka and empowered Mr. Siddaramaiah to take the final call.
  • When asked about the Constitutional provisions for a State to have its own flag, Mr. Siddaramaiah said there was no bar in the Constitution on States having their own flag. “The State flag will fly below the national flag as prescribed,” he said.
  • “The BJP State unit should now bring pressure on the Union government to speed up the approval process,” he added.
  • Kannada activist Vatal Nagaraj is said to have been unhappy with the design of the flag.

Expanded Beti Bachao Beti Padhao Programme launched in Rajasthan

  • Prime Minister Narendra Modi inaugurated the expanded “Beti Bachao Beti Padhao” programme in Rajasthan’s Jhunjhunu district.
  • He also launched the National Nutrition Mission, aimed at improving nutrition levels of women and children and reducing low birth weight by 2% each year.
  • The “Beti Bachao Beti Padhao” programme, implemented as the Union government’s social campaign to create awareness and improve the efficiency of welfare services intended for girls, was expanded from the existing 161 to 640 districts of the country.
  • Addressing the function organised on International Women’s Day, Mr. Modi said people should change their mindset towards the girl child in order to bring equality between men and women.
  • He said mothers-in-law should take the lead to protect the girl child and stop the practice of female foeticide, which was a matter of “deep shame.”
  • “Let us resolve that there will be the same number of girls born as the number of boys. Both of them are equal,” Mr. Modi said.
  • He while affirming that gender imbalance had been created in the society because of the mistakes committed by several generations.
  • This needed to be corrected by the younger generation.
  • This was Mr. Modi’s second visit to Rajasthan in 2018 and the first after the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party’s drubbing in the Lok Sabha and Assembly by-elections last month.
  • The Prime Minister also highlighted the significance of proper nutrition among children and described the changes in the lives of women and children brought about by the “Indradhanush” immunisation programme.
  • He praised the Jhunjhunu district for registering a significant improvement in child sex ratio.
  • Earlier, Mr. Modi interacted with women and their children and gave awards to Collectors of various districts for their performance under the “Beti Bachao Beti Padhao” programme.
  • The districts included Sikar and Jhunjhunu of Rajasthan, Tarn Taran (Punjab), Sonipat (Haryana), Udhampur (Jammu and Kashmir) and Raigarh (Chhattisgarh).
  • Union Minister for Women and Child Development Maneka Gandhi said the government was planning to introduce a Bill for preventing trafficking of women and children.
  • Rajasthan Chief Minister Vasundhara Raje highlighted the State government’s schemes and programmes for girls’ education and empowerment.

TDP leaders resign from Union Cabinet

  • Upping the ante in their demand for Special Category Status and more funds for Andhra Pradesh, Union Civil Aviation Minister Ashok Gajapathi Raju and Minister of State for Science and Technology Y.S. Chowdary of the Telugu Desam Party submitted their resignations to Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
  • This is the first instance of an ally pulling out of the Modi government.
  • Following this, BJP Ministers Kamineni Srinivas (Health) and PydikondalaManikyala Rao (Endowments) resigned from the Andhra Pradesh Cabinet, headed by N. Chandrababu Naidu.
  • Andhra Pradesh and Telangana Governor E.S.L. Narasimhan accepted the resignations after the letters were forwarded by the Chief Minister’s Office.
  • Mr. Raju and Mr. Chowdary described their meeting with the Prime Minister as “cordial”.
  • “The PM called it an unfortunate event. He said we were working well together and he thanked us for our contribution. We too thanked him for allowing us to work in his team,” Mr. Chowdary.
  • The two leaders, however, insisted that the TDP continued to be part of the National Democratic Alliance.
  • According to senior leaders, the TDP might pull out of the NDA once the Budget session of Parliament ends on April 6.
  • Till then, they will keep up the pressure on the government.
  • “In Rajya Sabha, BJP is not in majority. We will not let the House run. We will be on our feet every day,” a senior leader said.
  • Mr. Raju and Mr. Chowdary, however, denied any possibility of joining forces with the Congress, whom they blame for the State’s current situation.
  • The TDP said it would not be part of any front chaired by the Congress.

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New Tax Code will be Very Fair: Trump

  • President Donald Trump vowed to be flexible toward “real friends” of the U.S. as the White House prepared to roll out punitive trade tariffs — singling out Germany for criticism and adding Australia to a list of likely carve-outs.
  • Mr. Trump made it clear that he will press ahead with tariffs of 25% on foreign steel and 10% on aluminium, while saying Australia and “others” could be exempt — in addition to America’s neighbours and NAFTA partners Mexico and Canada.
  • “We are going to be very fair, we’re going to be very flexible” Mr. Trump told his cabinet, pointing to winners and losers from the contentious policy.
  • If America reaches a deal on renegotiating its trilateral trade agreement with Mexico and Canada, he said, “it is most likely that we won’t be charging those two countries the tariffs.”
  • “We have a very close relationship with Australia,” he added. “We have a trade surplus with Australia, great country, long term partner, we’ll be doing something with them.” He also cited possible exemptions for unspecified “other countries.”
  • But Trump took aim at Germany — the biggest economy in the EU trade bloc — as a bad actor likely to face tariffs.
  • Railing against countries that had “taken advantage” of the U.S., the President accused Germany of behaving unfairly by contributing much less than the U.S. towards the funding of NATO.
  • “If you look at NATO, where Germany pays one percent and we are paying 4.2% of a much bigger GDP — that’s not fair,” he said.
  • “So we view trade and we view the military, and to a certain extent, they go hand in hand.”
  • Last week Mr. Trump stunned the world — and many in his own camp — with an off-the-cuff announcement of his tariff plan.
  • He cited Chinese overproduction and national security concerns as the main driver.
  • Since then the White House has scrambled to catch up, Mr. Trump’s top economic advisor Gary Cohn — who opposed the move — quit in protest and stock markets sank.
  • More than 100 Republican lawmakers sent a letter to Mr. Trump expressing “deep concern” about the policy.
  • Trade experts at the Peterson Institute now believe U.S. allies — rather than China — will be disproportionately hit and imports to America cut by around $14 billion.
  • The European Union, Mexico and Canada have all warned they will retaliate, with the decision threatening to sour already vinegared trans-Atlantic relations.
  • The European Union has vowed to hit back with tariffs on items from steel to peanut butter, bourbon and denim — most of which are produced in states that Mr. Trump needs to win reelection.


19.5% increase in Direct Tax collections

  • Direct tax collections have risen 19.5% to Rs. 7.44 lakh crore in the April-February period of the current fiscal, buoyed by a strong pick up in corporate tax.
  • The net direct tax collection represents 74.3% of the Rs. 10.05 lakh crore target as per the revised estimates given in Union Budget 2018-19, presented in Parliament last month.
  • “The provisional figures of direct tax collections up to February, 2018 show that net collections are at Rs. 7.44 lakh crore which is 19.5% higher than the net collections for the corresponding period of last year,” the Finance Ministry said in a statement.
  • The gross collections, before adjusting for refunds, rose 14.5% to Rs. 8.83 lakh crore during the 11-month period of the current financial year.
  • The growth rate for net corporate tax collections stood at 19.7% while for personal income tax is 18.6%.

Coal India Differs dividend

  • The Board of Coal India Ltd. deferred any decision on an interim dividend at its meeting held on March 7.
  • “The Board of directors of CIL in its meeting had deferred consideration of interim dividend for financial year 2017-18 and has decided to hold another board meeting on March 10, to consider payment of dividend if any,” the company said in a regulatory filing.
  • The record date has now shifted to March 19.
  • The deferment was on account of a lack of consensus over CIL’s financial prospects, as a result of which it became difficult to arrive at any decision on dividends, sources said.
  • The monopoly, which produces more than 80% of India’s coal, is set to face competition after the Centre recently opened up commercial mining to the private sector.
  • Chasing a target of 600 million tonnes for 2017-18, CIL has produced 440.6 million tonnes during April-February, or 94% of the target.

Search for Air India Buyers

  • Civil Aviation Secretary R.N. Choubey said the Ministry was engaged in the “important task” of finding buyers for Air India and its subsidiaries as well as for Pawan Hans.
  • He said he expected the expressions of interest to be issued within a couple of weeks.
  • “We are committed to take it forward very, very fast,” he said, pointing out that the EoI would be the first such for Air India, while for Pawan Hans it would be a revised document.
  • “So [if] any one of you is interested, I will be happy to host you,” he told the gathering at the inauguration of ‘Wings India 2018’, a four-day civil aviation and aerospace event that opened in Hyderabad.
  • His announcement came in the backdrop of the government paving the way for a stake sale in the debt-laden airline last year.
  • The Union Cabinet had in-principle approved divestment in Air India and the government followed it up by permitting foreign airlines to invest up to 49%, under the approval route, subject to certain conditions.
  • The Ministry is also in the process of moving amendments to the Act governing the Airports Authority of India (AAI) in the current session of the Parliament for better use of the entity’s land parcels.
  • The focus is to leverage and monetise AAI’s balance sheet and facilitate a manifold increase in its spend, from the existing Rs. 3,000 crore annually.
  • The AAI proposes to spend Rs. 18,000 crore over four years on upgrading of airports, he said, underscoring the significance of adequate resources so the growth of airports does not lag the growth of the aviation sector.

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