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CURRENT AFFAIRS: BANKING & FINANCE

Pension Fund Regulatory and Development Authority to Launch New Life Cycle Fund Option by September

  • Pension Fund Regulatory and Development Authority (PFRDA) chairman Deepak Mohanty announced that the regulator would introduce new life cycle fund options with up to 50% equity by September for NPS (non-government) subscribers.

What Is a Life-Cycle Fund?

  • Life-cycle funds are asset-allocation funds in which the share of each asset class is automatically adjusted to lower risk as the desired retirement date approaches.

Key Highlights :

  • Changes to NPS : The tapering age will be increased to 45 years from the existing 35 years and some more changes will be adopted to provide greater exposure to equity markets.
  • The new scheme will be effective in the next quarter, maybe in August or September.
  • Current NPS Choices:Currently, the National Pension System (NPS) offers two choices-active and auto to subscribers for creating the pension portfolio.
  • Active Choice: Subscribers decide allocation across equity, corporate bonds, and government securities.
  • Auto Choice: Three options: Aggressive fund (75% equity), Moderate fund (50% equity), Conservative fund (25% equity).
  • Equity allocation starts tapering off after age 35, with a maximum of 20% equity at age 50 and 15% by age 55.
  • Atal Pension Yojana (APY) Updates : APY saw 1.24 crore new subscribers in 2023-24, with 52% being women.
  • Total APY subscribers now stand at6 crore since inception, gaining popularity among women and the younger generation.
  • It is the highest ever in a fiscal year since the scheme's inception.
  • APY enrolment target is 1.3 crore subscribers during the current financial year.
  • NPS (Non-Government) Enrollment : The enrollment under NPS (non-government) was 9.7 lakh in 2023-24 and is expected to go up to 11 lakh in this fiscal.
  • Total Corpus Growth : If markets function normally, the total corpus, including APY, should increase to Rs 15 lakh crore in 2024-25 from Rs 12.4 lakh crore at the end of 2023-24.

About PFRDA : 

  • Established : 2003
  • Headquarters : New Delhi, Delhi
  • Chairman : Deepak Mohanty
  • PFRDA is the regulatory body for the overall supervision and regulation of pensions in India.
  • It operates under the jurisdiction of the Ministry of Finance in the Government of India.
  • It was established based on the recommendations of the Indian government Old Age Social and Income Security (OASIS) report and was part of the establishment of the Indian National Pension Scheme.

State Bank of India reports Rs 26 trillion formalised into India's economy during FY16-FY23     

  • According to a report released by the State Bank of India (SBI), India has formalised Rs 26 trillion of its economy between FY16 and FY23, as the share of the informal economy fell to 23.7% from 25.9% during the 7-year period.
  • The report estimated the share of the informal economy by using the recently released Annual Survey of Unincorporated Sector Enterprises (ASUSE).
  • Assuming manufacturing as a proxy for industry gross value added (GVA) and trade and other services sector for services GVA, the size of the total informal economy has declined in these 7 years.

Key Highlights :

  • Growth in Informal GVA:Total informal Gross Value Added (GVA) increased significantly from Rs 18.6 trillion in FY16 to Rs 58.4 trillion in FY23.
  • Informal agriculture contributed the highest at Rs 43 trillion, followed by informal services (Rs 11.8 trillion) and informal industry (Rs 3.6 trillion) in FY23.
  • Share of Informal Sectors in GVA:Informal agriculture's share in total GVA rose to 95.9% in FY23 from 94.8% in FY11.
  • Conversely, the share of informal industry and services declined to 5.3% and 8.8% respectively in FY23 from 6.6% and 13.8% in FY11.
  • Labour Force Trends:The total workforce increased from 58 million in FY11 to 65 million in FY23.
  • Despite stability in worker numbers, there's a notable shift from manufacturing to trade sectors, particularly in urban areas.
  • Consumption Patterns:The bottom of the pyramid, characterized by those earning less than $3.65 daily, constitutes 43% of private final consumption expenditure.
  • Approximately 44% of India's population spends less than $3.65 per day according to World Bank data.
  • Formalisation Efforts:The formalisation of the economy is outpacing that of the labour force.
  • The E-Shram portal has registered nearly 297 million unorganised workers, potentially accelerating formalisation efforts.
  • A significant percentage of registrations on E-Shram are from migrant-heavy states like Uttar Pradesh and Bihar, highlighting the portal's role in formalising migrant statistics.
  • Informal Labour Force Distribution : The report also notes that the distribution of the labour force (568 million) shows that 45% of the labour force is still informal, with the usual suspects of agriculture (25.5%) and services (13.9%) accounting for close to 40% of total workforce and 88 per cent of the informal workforce.

About SBI :

  • Established : 1 July 1955
  • Headquarters : Mumbai, Maharashtra, India
  • Chairman : Dinesh Kumar Khara
  • CFO : Kameshwar Rao Kodavanti

Insurance Regulatory and Development Authority of India Directs Insurance Companies to Cease Selling ULIPs as Investment Products     

  • The Insurance Regulatory and Development Authority of India (IRDAI) has instructed life insurance companies not to market unit-linked Insurance plans (ULIPs) as investment products.

What is the meaning of Unit Linked Insurance Plan?

  • A ULIP is an insurance plan that offers the dual benefit of investment to fulfil your long-term goals, and a life cover` to financially protect your family in case of an unfortunate event.

Key Highlights :

  • Distinction Between Products:Insurance companies must clearly state that market-linked insurance plans differ from traditional endowment policies and carry risks.
  • Participating endowment policies with bonuses must indicate that projected bonuses in benefit illustrations are not guaranteed.
  • Transparency Measures : As a measure to boost transparency, the regulator stated that the advertisement committee of the company and/or a senior-level officer of the distribution channel will examine and approve the advertisements and ensure that they are not misleading.
  • The policyholders can access information on unclaimed amounts with any insurer on the Bima Bharosa portal.
  • Unclaimed Insurance Funds : Unclaimed life insurance funds refer to the proceeds of insurance policies, including death or survival benefits, not claimed by the beneficiary or the policyholder.
  • According to IRDAI, which has issued the Master Circular on Protection of Policyholders’ Interests, Operations, and Allied Matters of Insurers Regulations, 2024, this data will be available in one portal along with the individual websites of the insurers.
  • Grievance Redressal Mechanism :Insurers must establish a tech-based, robust mechanism for grievance redressal to achieve efficient and speedy resolutions, aiming for "zero grievances."
  • Companies should facilitate online grievance submission, run awareness campaigns, and ensure the registration of all grievances.
  • They must also strengthen resolution processes with an internal escalation matrix and Internal Ombudsman Schemes.

About IRDAI :

  • Established : 1999
  • Headquarters : Hyderabad, Telangana
  • Chairperson : Debasish Panda
  • The IRDAI is a statutory body under the jurisdiction of the Ministry of Finance (MoF), Government of India (GoI) and is tasked with regulating and licensing the insurance and reinsurance industries in India.

State Bank of India Distributes Rs 6,959 Crore Dividend to Government; Bank of Maharashtra Provides Rs 857 Crore for FY24   

  • The country's biggest lender State Bank of India (SBI) paid a dividend of Rs 6,959 crore for the financial year 2023-24 to the government.
  • The dividend cheque was presented to Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman by SBI Chairman Dinesh Kumar Khara in the presence of Financial Services Secretary Vivek Joshi.
  • SBI declared a dividend of Rs 13.70 per share for the financial year 2023-24, higher than Rs 11.30 per equity distributed for the previous year.
  • During 2023-24, the bank earned a record consolidated net profit of Rs 67,085 crore against Rs 55,648 crore in the preceding year.

Bank of Maharashtra dividend :

  • State-owned Bank of Maharashtra (BoM) presented Rs 857 crore dividend cheque to Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman.
  • The cheque was handed over by BoM managing director Nidhu Saxena and executive director Asheesh Pandey in the presence of Financial Services Secretary Vivek Joshi.
  • The bank declared a dividend of Rs 1.40 per equity share (14 per cent) for FY24.
  • The Government of India holds an 86.46 per cent stake in the Pune-based bank.
  • The bank's net profit increased by 55.84 per cent to Rs 4,055 crore in FY24, compared to Rs 2,602 crore in the previous fiscal year.
  • The bank has recorded a 15.94 per cent improvement in total business and a 15.66 rise in deposit mobilisation for the 2023-24.

About BoM :

  • Founded : 16 September 1935
  • Headquarters : Pune, Maharashtra India
  • MD & CEO : Nidhu Saxena
  • Tagline : One Family One Bank

SBI Mutual Fund to Launch Silver ETF and Fund-of-Fund; New Fund Offer Begins June 27, 2024   

  • SBI Mutual Fund announced the launch of the SBI Silver Exchange Traded Fund (ETF) and the fund of fund route to it- SBI Silver ETF Fund of Fund.
  • The NFO for these funds opens on June 27,2024 with a minimum application amount of ₹5,000 per application.

Key Highlights :

  • Investment Strategy:SBI Silver ETF: This ETF will primarily invest between 95-100% in silver and silver-related instruments.
  • SBI Silver ETF Fund of Fund: This fund will invest between 95-100% of its assets in units of SBI Silver ETF.
  • The remaining assets will be invested in Government securities, tri party repo, and units of liquid mutual funds.
  • Objective:The Silver ETF targets to generate returns that are in line with the performance of physical silver in domestic prices, subject to tracking error.
  • The Silver ETF Fund of Fund seeks to provide returns that closely correspond to returns provided by SBI Silver ETF.

About SBI Mutual Fund :

  • Founded : 29 June 1987
  • Headquarters : Mumbai, Maharashtra, India
  • MD & CEO : Shamsher Singh
  • It is a joint venture between the State Bank of India, an Indian public sector bank, and Amundi, a European asset management company.

India and Cambodia Discuss Investment Treaty and UPI Collaboration to Boost Trade and Tourism   

  • India and South East Asian nation Cambodia are negotiating collaboration in Unified Payment Interface-based (UPI) digital payment to promote trade and tourism.
  • Both sides also deliberated upon diversification of the trade basket by identifying new products, bilateral investment treaty, recognition of Indian pharmacopoeia and collaboration in the pharma sector.
  • These issues among others were discussed during the second meeting of the India-Cambodia Joint Working Group on Trade and Investment (JWGTI), in New Delhi on June 19, 2024.
  • The meeting was co-chaired by the Joint Secretary, Department of Commerce, Ministry of Commerce and Industry, Government of India, Siddharth Mahajan and Director General for International Trade, Ministry of Commerce, Kingdom of Cambodia, Long Kemvichet.

Key Highlights :

  • Pharmacopoeia is a set of standards and quality specifications for ingredients, preparation and dosage forms of medicines manufactured, sold, consumed and exported in a country.
  • Indian Pharmacopoeia Commission (IPC) is an autonomous institution under the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare which sets standards for all drugs that are manufactured, sold and consumed in India.
  • Mahajan mentioned the measures for deepening bilateral trade and investment and also emphasised on creation of mechanisms for cooperation and collaboration in sectors of mutual interest.
  • The Cambodian side elaborated on the numerous investment opportunities that Cambodia presents for Indian businesses.
  • The JWGTI was first held in July 2022 virtually.
  • This was the first physical meeting after it was institutionalised.
  • Cambodia is a member of the 10-nation Asean bloc.
  • Asean (Association of southEast Asian Nations) members include Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, and Vietnam.
  • India has a free trade agreement with Asian and it was implemented in 2009.
  • The bilateral trade between India and Cambodia has increased to $403.78 million (exports $185.39 million and imports $218.4 million) in 2023-24 from $366.44 million in 2022-23.

About Cambodia :

  • Prime Minister : Hun Manet
  • President : Hun Sen
  • Capital : Phnom Penh
  • Currency : Cambodian riel

Banks Bid Rs 1.6 Trillion in Variable Rate Repo Auction Amid Tightening Liquidity      

  • The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) received bids worth Rs 1.6 trillion from banks against the notified amount of Rs 1 trillion at the variable rate repo (VRR) auction, showing the high demand for cash from lenders due to tight liquidity.
  • Banks borrowed the amount at a weighted average rate of 6.62%.
  • This tightness in liquidity is temporary and the situation will improve in the next couple of weeks.

Key Highlights :

  • Liquidity Situation in June:Liquidity was surplus at the beginning of June (around Rs 30,000 crore on June 3, Rs 50,000 crore on June 4).
  • Turned into a deficit mid-month, with deficits increasing significantly (Rs 64,500 crore on June 16, Rs 98,612 crore on June 17, Rs 1.5 trillion on June 19).
  • Reasons for Liquidity Tightness : Banks faced a cash squeeze in May due to lower government spending resulting from the general elections.
  • The deficit stayed above the Rs 1 trillion mark last month, peaking at Rs 2.32 trillion on May 23.
  • To provide relief to cash-starved banks, the RBI infused nearly Rs 9 trillion into the banking system in May, the highest in the current calendar year, through 11 variable rate repo auctions.
  • Bank Responses to Tight Liquidity : Faced with the rising deficit in May, banks turned to certificates of deposit (CDs) to raise funds. Banks issued CDs worth over Rs 50,000 crore in May compared to Rs 32,860 crore in April.
  • Purpose of Repo Auctions : A repo auction is conducted by the central bank to inject liquidity into the system.
  • Banks can obtain liquidity overnight through the RBI’s marginal standing facility when interbank liquidity dries up.

Reserve Bank of India updates guidelines for priority sector lending                                     

  • The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) has revised its priority sector guidelines to encourage banks to provide small loans in economically disadvantaged districts with low average loan sizes.
  • The new norms discourage lending in districts with high average loan sizes.

Key Highlights :

  • Weightage System Implementation:Effective from FY25, fresh priority sector loans in districts with low loan availability (less than Rs 9,000 per person) will receive a weightage of 125%.
  • In districts with high loan availability (more than Rs 42,000 per person), the weightage for loans will be reduced to 90%.
  • Majority of districts, except outliers with low or high credit availability, will retain the current weightage of 100%.
  • District Ranking and Incentive Framework:Districts will be ranked based on per capita credit flow to the priority sector.
  • An incentive framework will be established for districts with lower credit flow to the priority sector to encourage more lending.
  • Conversely, a disincentive framework will apply to districts with higher priority sector credit flow to regulate lending.

About RBI :

  • Established : 1 April 1935
  • Headquarters : Mumbai, Maharashtra, India
  • Governor : Shaktikanta Das
  • Deputy governors : Mahesh Kumar Jain,M. Rajeshwar Rao, Michael Patra and T. Rabi Shankar

China urges Visa and Mastercard to reduce transaction fees       

  • China is pushing for Visa and Mastercard to lower their bank card transaction fees in the country to encourage spending by foreign visitors.
  • The Payment & Clearing Association of China is proposing lowering the fees charged on foreign card transactions to 1.5% from between 2% and 3%.

Key Highlights :

  • Impact on Costs:Implementation of the proposal could potentially reduce costs for foreign nationals visiting China.
  • Currently, merchants bear the transaction fees imposed by Visa and Mastercard, often passing these costs to customers through higher prices.
  • Global Regulatory Context:Regulators worldwide have been addressing the fees charged by Visa and Mastercard to merchants for transaction processing.
  • Earlier attempts to settle litigation in the U.S. regarding these fees faced challenges, indicating ongoing regulatory scrutiny globally.
  • Response from Companies:Mastercard has acknowledged receiving the proposal and expressed intent to collaborate with partners to lower costs for local merchants handling foreign bank cards.
  • Visa and Mastercard have not yet responded to requests for comment from Reuters.
  • Financial Market Impact:Both Visa and Mastercard stocks have seen positive performance in the current year, with each gaining over 6%.

About Visa :

  • Founded : September 18, 1958
  • Headquarters : San Francisco, California, United States
  • CEO : Ryan McInerney

About Mastercard :

  • Founded : 1966
  • Headquarters : New York, United States
  • CEO : Michael Miebach

Reserve Bank of India Announces URL Update for 'Database on Indian Economy' Portal  

  • The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) has announced an update to its 'Database on Indian Economy' (DBIE) portal.
  • The domain address for accessing the portal will change to https://data.rbi.org.in, as per an RBI press release.
  • Current URLs such as https://dbie.rbi.org.in and https://cimsdbie.rbi.org.in will redirect to the new address to ensure a seamless transition for users.

About DBIE Portal :

  • The DBIE portal has been a cornerstone of public access to economic data since its launch on November 1, 2004.
  • It now serves as an expansive repository for a wide range of economic and financial statistics, including regular and ad hoc statistical publications.
  • The portal also hosts the ‘SAARC Finance Database’ and the ‘Banking Outlet Locator’.
  • It is an integrated repository of current and historical data, and is frequently accessed by citizens as well as Indian and global analysts and researchers.
  • The introduction of the Centralised Information Management System (CIMS) in June 2023 marked an enhancement to the RBI's data management capabilities.
  • This system has been integrated with the DBIE portal, expanding its data coverage and improving accessibility for users.

E Magazine

CURRENT AFFAIRS: NATIONAL NEWS

Government of India approves new transmission schemes worth ₹13,595 crore to evacuate 4.5 GW RE power each from Rajasthan and Karnataka

  • The Government of India has sanctioned new Inter State Transmission System (ISTS) schemes to evacuate 9 GW of renewable energy (RE) power from Rajasthan and Karnataka.
  • These projects will be executed through the Tariff Based Competitive Bidding (TBCB) mode.
  • These initiatives are part of India's plan to achieve 500 GW of RE capacity by 2030, with 200 GW already connected.
  • These schemes aim to enhance the transmission infrastructure for renewable energy, facilitating India's goal of significantly expanding its renewable energy capacity by 2030.

Scheme Details

Rajasthan Renewable Energy Zone (REZ) Power Evacuation

  • Capacity: 4.5 GW of RE power
  • Sources:
    • Fatehgarh Complex: 1 GW
    • Barmer Complex: 2.5 GW
    • Nagaur (Merta) Complex: 1 GW
  • Destination: Mainpuri Region, Fatehpur, and Orai in Uttar Pradesh
  • Completion Period: 2 years
  • Cost: ₹12,241 crore

Karnataka System Strengthening Scheme

  • Capacity: 4.5 GW of RE power
  • Sources:
    • Koppal Area
    • Gadag Area
  • Completion Date: June 2027
  • Cost: ₹1,354 crore

A high-level committee led by former ISRO chief to work on reforms in examinations & NTA

  • The Union Education Ministry has constituted a high-level committee of experts to ensure the transparent, smooth, and fair conduct of examinations.
  • The committee, led by Dr. K. Radhakrishnan, former Chairman of ISRO, will provide recommendations on several key areas:

Objectives of the Committee

  • Reform in Examination Mechanism: The committee will analyze the end-to-end examination process and suggest measures to improve efficiency and prevent breaches.
  • Data Security Protocols: Evaluating existing data security processes and recommending improvements.
  • NTA Structure and Functioning: Examining the structure and functioning of the National Testing Agency (NTA) and suggesting organizational improvements.

Committee Composition

The committee comprises seven members, including:

  • Dr. K. Radhakrishnan, Former Chairman, ISRO (Chairperson)
  • Dr Randeep Guleria, Former Director, AIIMS Delhi
  • Govind Jaiswal, Joint Secretary, Ministry of Education
  • Prof. B J Rao, Vice Chancellor, Central University of Hyderabad
  • Prof. Ramamurthy K, Professor Emeritus, IIT Madras
  • Pankaj Bansal, Co-Founder, People Strong, and Board Member, Karmayogi Bharat
  • Prof. Aditya Mittal, Dean Student Affairs, IIT Delhi

Scope of Work

  • Review SOPs and Protocols: Conducting a thorough review of the Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) and protocols of the NTA, and suggesting measures to strengthen and ensure compliance.
  • Examination Security: Examining existing security protocols related to paper-setting and other processes for various examinations, and making recommendations to enhance system robustness.
  • Efficiency and Transparency: Analyzing and suggesting measures to improve the overall efficiency and transparency of the examination process.

Reporting and Implementation

The committee will submit its report to the Ministry within two months. This report will include detailed recommendations for reforming the examination process, improving data security protocols, and restructuring the NTA for better functioning.

Context and Background

The Union Education Ministry and the NTA have faced significant public criticism over controversies surrounding exams like NEET and the cancellation of the UGC NET examination. Recently, the NTA postponed the Joint CSIR-UGC-NET Examination scheduled for June 25-27 due to “unavoidable circumstances” and logistic issues, further fueling criticism from students.

New Legislative Measures

In response to these issues, the Central Government has notified the Public Examinations (Prevention of Unfair Means) Act 2024, effective from June 21. This Act aims to curb paper leaks, malpractices, and organized cheating in recruitment examinations like UPSC, SSC, and entrance tests such as NEET, JEE, and CUET.

PFRDA targets ₹15 lakh crore Assets Under Mgmnt in FY25

  • The Pension Fund Regulatory and Development Authority (PFRDA) has set ambitious targets for the growth of Assets under Management (AUM) for the National Pension Scheme (NPS) in the fiscal year 2024-25.
  • PFRDA aims to achieve Rs 15 lakh crore in Assets under Management (AUM) by the end of the financial year 2024-25.
  • Currently, as of the latest update, the AUM stands at Rs 12.3 lakh crore.
  1. Growth Factors: Mohanty highlighted that the growth of the AUM depends significantly on contributions from subscribers and the performance of the financial markets. With normal market movements expected, PFRDA anticipates reaching the targeted Rs 15 lakh crore mark by March 2025.
  2. Subscriber Expansion: In the upcoming fiscal year (FY25), PFRDA plans to onboard 11 lakh new subscribers from the private sector under the NPS. This is an increase from 9.7 lakh private sector subscribers added in FY24.
  3. Current Subscriber Base: As of June 8, 2024, the NPS has approximately 1.5 crore subscribers. Out of these, 93 lakh are government employees, and 56.5 lakh are from the private sector, encompassing both corporate and individual subscribers.
  4. New Investment Avenue: PFRDA is set to launch the Balanced Life Cycle (BLC) fund during the second quarter of the current financial year. This fund will provide an additional investment avenue within the NPS, offering enhanced equity exposure under a life cycle fund structure.

Overall, PFRDA's strategic initiatives aim to bolster the growth and attractiveness of the National Pension Scheme, catering to both public and private sector employees and individuals.

The projected increase in Assets under Management (AUM) and subscriber base reflects confidence in the NPS as a viable retirement savings vehicle in India.

About PFRDA

  • The Pension Fund Regulatory & Development Authority Act was passed on 19th September, 2013 and the same was notified on 1st February, 2014. PFRDA is regulating NPS, subscribed by employees of Govt. of India, State Governments and by employees of private institutions/organizations & unorganized sectors.

About AUM

  • Assets under management (AUM) is the total market value of the investments managed by a person or entity on behalf of investors. AUM fluctuates to reflect the flow of money in and out of a fund and the price performance of the assets. A fund's management fees and expenses are often calculated as a percentage of AUM

CURRENT AFFAIRS: STATE NEWS

Telangana Chief Minister A Revanth Reddy announces Rs 2 lakh loan waiver for state farmers  

  • The Telangana state cabinet has approved a proposal to waive up to 2 lakh rupees worth of crop loans for each farmer in the state by August 15, 2024.
  • This fulfils a promise made by the Congress party before the Assembly elections last year.
  • Eligibility and Timeline:Crop loans taken between December 12, 2018, and December 9, 2023, are eligible for the waiver.
  • Guidelines on eligibility criteria will be issued through a government order (GO) soon.

Key Highlights :

  • Financial Implications:The estimated cost for the crop loan waiver is Rs 31,000 crore.
  • It is expected to benefit around 40 lakh farmers in Telangana.
  • Comparison with Previous Schemes:The previous government's crop loan waiver scheme cost Rs 28,000 crore to the state treasury.
  • Previous waivers by the BRS government:
  • First term: Rs 16,000 crore (cut-off date: March 31, 2014).
  • Second term: Rs 12,000 crore (cut-off date: December 11, 2018).
  • Rythu Bharosa and Committee Formation : The Cabinet also approved setting up a Cabinet sub-committee headed by Deputy Chief Minister M. Bhatti Vikramarka to prepare guidelines for the implementation of Rythu Bharosa in place of Rythu Bandhu, with a deadline to submit its report by July 15.
  • Ministers T. Nageshwar Rao, D. Sridhar Babu, and P. Srinivas Reddy will be the other members of the subcommittee.

About Telangana :

  • Governor : C. P. Radhakrishnan
  • Chief Minister : Anumula Revanth Reddy
  • Capital : Hyderabad
  • National Parks : Mrugavani National Park, KBR Park
  • Wildlife Sanctuaries : Pranahita wildlife sanctuary, Shivaram wildlife Sanctuary, Nagarjuna Sagar-Srisailam Tiger Reserve, Kinnerasani Wildlife Sanctuary

CURRENT AFFAIRS: BUSINESS NEWS

NSE’s new theme indices offer fresh investment opportunities

  • The National Stock Exchange’s subsidiary, NSE Indices Limited, has launched a new thematic index called the Nifty India Tourism Index.
  • This index is designed to capture the performance of travel and tourism-related stocks within the Nifty 500 Index.
  • According to NSE, the introduction of this index aligns with the Indian government’s ongoing efforts to bolster tourism, a sector that significantly contributes to the nation's economy, accounting for approximately $199.6 billion to the GDP.

Objectives and Benefits

  • Investment Opportunities: The Nifty India Tourism Index will enable the creation of investment products that allow asset managers to invest in the tourism industry.
  • Investor Tools: This index provides valuable tools for investors aiming to capitalize on the growth and resilience of the vibrant tourism industry.

Recent Thematic Index Launches by NSE

  • A few days prior, NSE introduced another theme-based index: the Nifty EV & New Age Automotive Index.
  • This index tracks the performance of companies involved in the electric vehicle (EV) ecosystem or the development of new-age automotive vehicles and related technology.

Other Recent Index Launches

In the last six months, NSE has launched nine thematic indices, including:

  • Nifty200 Value 30 Index
  • Nifty500 LargeMidSmall Equal-Cap Weighted Index
  • Nifty500 Multicap India Manufacturing 50:30:20 Index
  • Nifty500 Multicap Infrastructure 50:30:20 Index

These indices reflect NSE’s commitment to providing innovative and diversified investment options catering to various economic sectors and themes.

CURRENT AFFAIRS: MOUS AND AGREEMENT

ONGC and IOCL Sign MoU for Small-Scale LNG Plant

  • State-run Oil and Natural Gas Corporation Limited (ONGC) has signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with Indian Oil Corporation Limited (IOCL) to establish a small-scale Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) plant near the Hatta Gas Field in the Vindhyan Basin.

Upgrading the Vindhyan Basin

  • Current Status: Category II Basin
  • Post-Plant Status: Upgraded to Category I Basin
    • Category I Basins: Proven hydrocarbon resources with established commercial production.
    • Category II Basins: Contingent resources yet to be converted to recoverable reserves and commercial production.

Technological and Environmental Impact

  • The Hatta LNG plant will utilize cutting-edge technology to produce LNG, which is a cleaner alternative to traditional fossil fuels. This will significantly reduce carbon emissions and align with India's climate change mitigation goals.

Historical Context and Future Plans

  • Exploration Efforts: The discovery at Hatta represents the culmination of five decades of sustained exploration efforts.
  • Field Development Plan (FDP): ONGC has already submitted its FDP to the Directorate General of Hydrocarbons (DGH) to monetize its assets in the Hatta area.

Visionary Step Towards Sustainability

  • The 'non-binding MoU for a Technology Demonstration Small Scale LNG plant at Hatta, Madhya Pradesh' between ONGC and IOCL is seen as a visionary step towards India's sustainable and prosperous future.

About ONGC

  • Founded: August 14, 1956, by the Government of India.
  • CEO: Arun Kumar Singh
  • Headquarters: Delhi, India
  • Ownership: Central public sector undertaking under the Ministry of Petroleum and Natural Gas, Government of India.

Additional Note

  • The collaboration between ONGC and IOCL aims to bolster India's energy sector by advancing cleaner energy production methods and enhancing the commercial viability of hydrocarbon resources in the Vindhyan Basin.

Department of Animal Husbandry and Dairying signed an agreement with the National Dairy Development Board for execution of works of Upgradation of Biocontainment Facility and associated repair works

  • The Department of Animal Husbandry and Dairying (DAHD), Ministry of Fisheries, Animal Husbandry, and Dairying has signed an agreement with the National Dairy Development Board (NDDB) for the upgradation of the Biocontainment Facility and associated repair works at the Chaudhary Charan Singh National Institute of Animal Health (CCSNAIH), Baghpat.
  • The agreement was signed in the presence of the Secretary, Ms. Alka Upadhyaya, and senior officers from DAHD, CCSNAIH, and NDDB.

Project Details

  • Project Title: Upgradation of Biocontainment Facility and Associated Repair Works
  • Location: CCSNAIH, Baghpat
  • Estimated Budget: ₹160 Crores
  • Execution Timeline: 20 months

Objectives and Scope

  • CCSNAIH, Baghpat, is an apex laboratory under DAHD, responsible for the quality assessment of veterinary vaccines and diagnostics in India.
  • The Institute, commissioned in 2010, is recognized as a Central Drugs Laboratory by the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare for Quality Control Testing of Veterinary Biologicals such as Haemorrhagic Septicaemia (HS) and Ranikhet Disease (RD). The institute also undertakes QC testing of FMD, Brucella, PPR, and CSF vaccines under the LH&DC program.

Need for Upgradation

  • Due to evolving technology and safety standards, it is essential to comply with guidelines and obtain certification from the Department of Biotechnology, Ministry of Science and Technology, for operating biocontainment facilities. The upgradation aims to meet these standards and address the challenges of livestock health by enhancing bio-safety and bio-security in line with national and international regulations.

NDDB's Role and Expertise

  • The National Dairy Development Board (NDDB), a statutory body under the Ministry of Fisheries, Animal Husbandry, and Dairying, will undertake the upgrade project.
  • NDDB has a specialized division dedicated to constructing and maintaining biocontainment facilities and has successfully executed several similar projects, including:
  • ICAR-National Institute of Foot & Mouth Disease, Bhubaneswar
  • ICAR-National Institute of High Security Animal Disease Facility, Bhopal
  • Laboratory & Animal Testing Unit, TANUVAS
  • ICAR-National Institute of Veterinary Epidemiology & Disease Informatics, Bengaluru

Conclusion

  • The upgradation of the Biocontainment Facility at CCSNAIH, Baghpat, by NDDB is a critical step towards ensuring advanced veterinary health infrastructure, enhancing the quality control of veterinary vaccines, and meeting stringent bio-safety standards. This project underscores the commitment of DAHD and NDDB to advancing animal health and safety in India.

CURRENT AFFAIRS: RANKING AND REPORTS

Overview of the Sustainable Development Report 2024

  • The Sustainable Development Report (SDR) provides an annual review of progress made by UN member states on the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) since their adoption in 2015.
  • Here are the key highlights and findings from the 2024 edition:

Focus Areas

  • UN Summit of the Future: Emphasizes outcomes from the summit and reviews progress on SDGs.
  • High-Level Political Forum: Specifically reviews SDG17 (Global Partnership) and SDG2 (Zero Hunger) among others.

Global Progress

  • Target Achievement: Only 16% of SDG targets are on track globally for achievement by 2030.
  • Stagnant Progress: Overall global SDG progress has stalled since 2020.
  • Challenges: SDGs related to hunger (SDG2), sustainable cities (SDG11), life below water (SDG14), life on land (SDG15), and peace and justice (SDG16) are notably off-track.

Regional Variances

  • Country Groups: Nordic countries lead in SDG achievement, followed by BRICS countries, while poorer nations lag significantly.
  • New Inclusion: Guinea-Bissau included for the first time in the SDG Index, ranking 167 countries.

Top Performers

  • European Leaders: Nordic countries dominate, with Finland leading, followed by Sweden, Denmark, Germany, and France.
  • Multilateral Commitment: Barbados tops the list for commitment to UN-based multilateralism. the United States ranks last.

Challenges in Food and Land Systems

  • Off-Track Targets: SDG targets related to food and land systems show significant challenges.
  • Pathways: SDR evaluates pathways for sustainable food and land systems amidst global challenges.

Specific Statistics

  • Global Hunger: Predicts 600 million people will still suffer from hunger by 2030.
  • Obesity: Increasing global concern alongside hunger.
  • GHG Emissions: Agriculture, forestry, and land use contribute nearly a quarter of global greenhouse gas emissions.

India's Position

  • Ranking: India secures the 109th rank with an overall score of 64.0, indicating progress towards SDGs.
  • SDSN: The report is facilitated by the UN Sustainable Development Solutions Network (SDSN), promoting practical solutions for SDG achievement globally.

SDSN Overview

  • Establishment: SDSN was founded in 2012 by the UN to foster practical solutions for SDG implementation.
  • Global Presence: Secretariats located in Paris, France; Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia; and New York, US.
  • The Sustainable Development Report 2024 highlights both global achievements and ongoing challenges in achieving the SDGs, emphasizing the need for concerted efforts across nations to address sustainable development goals effectively.

CURRENT AFFAIRS : APPOINTMENTS & RESIGNATIONS

GST Rate Rationalisation Panel Reformed with Bihar Deputy CM Chaudhary as Convenor    

  • Bihar Deputy Chief Minister Samrat Chaudhary has been appointed as the convenor of the Group of Ministers (GoM) on Goods and Services Tax (GST) rate rationalisation.
  • Samrat Chaudhary will replace Finance Minister of Uttar Pradesh Suresh Khanna.

Composition of Reconstituted Panel:

  • Members include:
  • Uttar Pradesh Finance Minister Suresh Kumar Khanna
  • Goa Transport Minister Mauvin Godinho
  • Rajasthan Medical and Health Services Minister Gajendra Singh
  • West Bengal Finance Minister Chandrima Bhattacharya
  • Karnataka Revenue Minister Krishna Byre Gowda
  • Kerala Finance Minister K N Balagopal
  • Reason for Reconstitution:The reconstitution was necessary to include Samrat Chaudhary in the panel after the JD(U)-BJP alliance formed the government in Bihar, and Chaudhary was given the finance portfolio, replacing Vijay Kumar Chaudhary.
  • The primary aim of this reconstituted GoM will be to streamline GST rates, review exemptions, and boost GST revenues.
  • Task and Objective : The 7-member GoM has been tasked with suggesting required rate rationalisation and correction of inverted duty structure with an objective of simplifying the rate structure, reviewing the GST exemption list and enhancing revenues from Goods and Services Tax (GST).
  • Political Composition : Out of 7 members of GoM, 4 are from NDA and 3 from opposition-ruled States.
  • Historical Context : This is the second time that the GST rate rationalisation panel was reconstituted.
  • The GoM was originally set up in September 2021, under the Karnataka Chief Minister Basavaraj Bommai.
  • Under his chairmanship, the panel had submitted an interim report to the GST Council in June 2022, proposing changes in tax rates for some goods and services to rationalise the levy.
  • The rate rationalisation panel will now have a task at hand to submit a final report to the GST Council suggesting changes in tax rates and slabs to usher in reforms.
  • GST Tax Structure : As of now, the GST regime has four broad tax slabs of 5, 12, 18, and 28%, along with four special rates of zero, 0.25, 1.5, 3. and 6%.
  • A cess is levied over and above the highest 28% rate on luxury and demerit goods.

What is the meaning of rate rationalization?

  • Rate rationalization entails the possibility of reassigning items across different tax slabs.

Bank of Baroda Names Tennis Star Sumit Nagal as Brand Ambassador                                    

  • Bank of Baroda (BoB) has appointed Indian tennis player Sumit Nagal as its brand endorser.
  • The appointment reflects the bank’s strategy of supporting emerging Indian athletes, especially on the global stage.

Nagal's Achievements :

  • Nagal is currently the highest-ranked Indian singles tennis player.
  • He achieved a career-high world ranking of No. 71 on June 17, 2024.
  • He secured a spot in the Indian Olympic team for Paris.
  • Historic Achievement:In January 2024, Nagal made history by becoming the first Indian in 35 years to defeat a seeded player in a Grand Slam men’s singles match at the Australian Open.
  • Bank of Baroda's Other Brand Ambassadors:Sumit Nagal joins other esteemed brand ambassadors of Bank of Baroda, including PV Sindhu and Shafali Verma.

About Bank of Baroda :

  • Founded : 20 July 1908
  • Headquarters : Vadodara, Gujarat, India
  • MD & CEO : Debadatta Chand
  • Tagline : India’s International Bank

CURRENT AFFAIRS : ACQUISITIONS & MERGERS

Vodafone Sells 18% Stake in Indus Towers for ₹15,300 Crore to Settle Bank Dues    

  • The British telecom operator Vodafone sold 48.47 crore shares or 18% stake in Indus Towers for 1.7 billion euro (about Rs 15,300 crore) through an accelerated book building offering.

Key Highlights :

  • SBI Mutual Fund and Bharti Airtel were two of the buyers of shares of Indus Towers that were offloaded by Vodafone Group Plc in bulk deals on the NSE.
  • SBI Mutual Fund acquired 3.6 crore shares (1.3% stake) at ₹311.40 per share, totaling ₹1,121 crore.
  • Bharti Airtel acquired 2.7 crore shares (1% stake) for ₹864 crore, increasing its stake in Indus Towers to nearly 49%.
  • Post-Sale Holdings:After the stake sale, Vodafone holds 82.5 million shares, equivalent to a 3.1% shareholding in Indus Towers.

About Vodafone Group :

  • Founded : 16 September 1991
  • Headquarters : England, United Kingdom
  • CEO : Margherita Della Valle

CURRENT AFFAIRS  : OBITUARIES

Nissar Ahmad, Senior Photojournalist at The Hindu, Passed Away  

  • Senior photojournalist Nissar Ahmad, who was associated with The Hindu for 25 years, died of cancer in Srinagar at the age of 59.
  • He had joined The Hindu on August 1, 1998.
  • Over the past several decades, Ahmad contributed richly to The Hindu and Sportstar’s coverage of sports, particularly in the Kashmir valley, highlighting the region’s talent and growth of sports.

CURRENT AFFAIRS: IMPORTANT DAYS

International Widow’s Day 2024: June 23

  • International Widow’s Day is observed all over the universe each year on the 23rd of June to draw attention to widows' voices and experiences and galvanize the exceptional support they need.
  • Widows had to immolate themselves on their late husband's funeral pyre before 1827.
  • In 2005, the Loomba Foundation established International Widow's Day in honor of Loomba's mother, who became a widow on June 23, 1954.
  • Women in diverse countries, according to Loomba, had to fight for their basic wants and rights. They are ignored by all organizations, and societies have cursed them for the loss of their husband.
  • Finally, the United Nations General Assembly recognized it on June 23, 2010.
  • Children were withdrawn from school and abused because of their father's death because of the widows. International Widow's Day encourages people to support widows' rights by emphasizing concerns such as abuse, prejudice, and poverty that women suffer.
  • The main aim of International Widow’s day is to provide education to the widows’ children, provide them with healthcare facilities, and develop various resources and policies to empower widows.

United Nations Public Service Day 2024: June 23

  • The United Nations Public Service Day is celebrated on June 23 of every year to celebrate the value and virtue of public service to the community; highlight the contribution of public service in the development process; recognize the work of public servants, and encourage young people to pursue careers in the public sector.
  • Every year on June 23rd, the United Nations Public Service Day is observed to emphasize the importance and virtue of public service to the community, to acknowledge their commitment to the development process through public service, and to encourage youngsters to choose a career in the public sector.
  • By approving resolution 57/277 on December 20, 2002, the United Nations General Assembly declared June 23rd as United Nations Public Service Day.
  • Every year, a host country is chosen to recognize contributions to the development and strengthening of government institutions and administration.
  • A variety of events are held to honor the contributions of public officials. Several people take part in the discussion and have an equal opportunity to debate tactics, transformations, and novel ways, among other topics.
  • On this day, diverse leaders, government officials, politicians, and international organizations assemble to discuss how to make changes, adopt better practices, address current concerns, and explore creative ideas, among other topics. Sustainable development goals at the national, international, and regional levels are a prominent issue of discussion.

International Olympic Day 2024: June 23

  • Olympic Day Run or International Olympic Day is celebrated on June 23 all around the world.
  • The day embraces all through pure Olympic values.
  • The theme for Olympic Day 2024 is 'Let's Move and Celebrate', aiming to inspire people worldwide to engage in daily physical activity. Abhinav Bindra, India's first individual gold medallist at the Olympics, shared his thoughts on his social media handle.
  • Venezuela, Belgium, Canada, Switzerland, Portugal, Greece, Austria, the United Kingdom, and Uruguay commemorated the first Olympic Day on June 23, 1948.
  • The origins of Olympic Day can be traced back to 1948.
  • In 1947, IOC members in Czechoslovakia presented Doctor Gruss with a report on commemorating Olympic Day.
  • The study was delivered at the International Olympic Committee's 41st Session in Stockholm, which was supposed to be a day dedicated to promoting the Olympic concept.
  • The idea was approved in the IOC's next session, which was held in St Moritz in January 1948.
  • The National Olympic Committee picked June 23 to commemorate the International Olympic Committee's (IOC) formation on the same day in 1894.

Daily CA One- Liner: June 23 & 24

  • The Government of India has sanctioned new Inter State Transmission System (ISTS) schemes to evacuate 9 GW of renewable energy (RE) power from Rajasthan and Karnataka
  • The Union Education Ministry has constituted a high-level committee of experts to ensure the transparent, smooth, and fair conduct of examinations.
  • The Pension Fund Regulatory and Development Authority (PFRDA) has set ambitious targets for the growth of Assets under Management (AUM) for the National Pension Scheme (NPS) in the fiscal year 2024-25.
  • The National Stock Exchange’s subsidiary, NSE Indices Limited, has launched a new thematic index called the Nifty India Tourism Index
  • State-run Oil and Natural Gas Corporation Limited (ONGC) has signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with Indian Oil Corporation Limited (IOCL) to establish a small-scale Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) plant near the Hatta Gas Field in the Vindhyan Basin
  • The Department of Animal Husbandry and Dairying (DAHD), Ministry of Fisheries, Animal Husbandry, and Dairying has signed an agreement with the National Dairy Development Board (NDDB) for the upgradation of the Biocontainment Facility and associated repair works at the Chaudhary Charan Singh National Institute of Animal Health (CCSNAIH), Baghpat.
  • The Sustainable Development Report (SDR) provides an annual review of progress made by UN member states on the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) since their adoption in 2015.
  • Pension Fund Regulatory and Development Authority (PFRDA) chairman Deepak Mohanty announced that the regulator would introduce new life cycle fund options with up to 50% equity by September for NPS (non-government) subscribers.
  • According to a report released by the State Bank of India (SBI), India has formalised Rs 26 trillion of its economy between FY16 and FY23, as the share of the informal economy fell to 23.7% from 25.9% during the 7-year period.
  • The Insurance Regulatory and Development Authority of India (IRDAI) has instructed life insurance companies not to market unit-linked Insurance plans (ULIPs) as investment products.
  • The country's biggest lender State Bank of India (SBI) paid a dividend of Rs 6,959 crore for the financial year 2023-24 to the government.
  • SBI Mutual Fund announced the launch of the SBI Silver Exchange Traded Fund (ETF) and the fund of fund route to it- SBI Silver ETF Fund of Fund.
  • India and South East Asian nation Cambodia are negotiating collaboration in Unified Payment Interface-based (UPI) digital payment to promote trade and tourism.
  • The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) received bids worth Rs 1.6 trillion from banks against the notified amount of Rs 1 trillion at the variable rate repo (VRR) auction, showing the high demand for cash from lenders due to tight liquidity.
  • The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) has revised its priority sector guidelines to encourage banks to provide small loans in economically disadvantaged districts with low average loan sizes.
  • China is pushing for Visa and Mastercard to lower their bank card transaction fees in the country to encourage spending by foreign visitors.
  • The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) has announced an update to its 'Database on Indian Economy' (DBIE) portal.
  • The Telangana state cabinet has approved a proposal to waive up to 2 lakh rupees worth of crop loans for each farmer in the state by August 15, 2024.
  • Bihar Deputy Chief Minister Samrat Chaudhary has been appointed as the convenor of the Group of Ministers (GoM) on Goods and Services Tax (GST) rate rationalisation.
  • Bank of Baroda (BoB) has appointed Indian tennis player Sumit Nagal as its brand endorser.
  • The British telecom operator Vodafone sold 48.47 crore shares or 18% stake in Indus Towers for 1.7 billion euro (about Rs 15,300 crore) through an accelerated book building offering.
  • Senior photojournalist Nissar Ahmad, who was associated with The Hindu for 25 years, died of cancer in Srinagar at the age of 59.
  • International Widow’s Day is observed all over the universe each year on the 23rd of June to draw attention to widows' voices and experiences and galvanize the exceptional support they need
  • The United Nations Public Service Day is celebrated on June 23 of every year to celebrate the value and virtue of public service to the community; highlight the contribution of public service in the development process
  • Olympic Day Run or International Olympic Day is celebrated on June 23 all around the world
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