Thursday, 4 May 2017

Daily Update On Current Affairs - May 04, 2017

current affairs
Here's your daily summary of Current Affairs.

World’s Highest Railway Bridge To Come Up Over Chenab River

World’s highest railway bridge which will be 35 metres taller than the Eiffel Tower is to come up over the Chenab River in Jammu and Kashmir at a cost of around Rs. 1,100 crores in around two years from now. The bridge will connect Bakkal (Katra) and Kauri (Srinagar). The bridge will be a part of the Udhampur-Srinagar-Baramulla rail link project. Once completed, the bridge will be an engineering marvel. The project is expected to be completed by 2019. After completion of the bridge, it will surpass the record of the Beipan river Shuibai railway bridge (275 m) in China. The bridge is expected to contribute to the economic development of the state and improve its accessibility. The new railway bridge will be of an arch-shaped structure in hostile terrain. It will be constructed using over 24,000 tonnes of steel and will rise 359 m above the river bed. Steel has been chosen as the construction material as it would be cheap and would be able to resist temperatures of -20 degrees Celsius and wind speeds of above 250 kmph.

770 Billion Worth Of Black Money Entered Into India During 2005-2014: GFI

US-based think tank Global Financial Integrity (GFI) in its report titled ‘Illicit Financial Flows to and from Developing Countries: 2005-2014’, has estimated that 770 billion worth of black money entered India during 2005-2014. During the same time period, the think tank estimates the exit of 165 billion in illicit money out of the country. It translates into 3% of India’s total trade of 5500.744 billion between the time period 2005-2014. This is the first global study that has placed equal emphasis on illicit outflows and inflows. As per the report, in 2014 alone, $101 billion black money entered India while USD 23 billion exited.

Cabinet Approves National Steel Policy

Union Cabinet has given its nod to the National Steel Policy-2017 which targets to achieve 300 million tonnes of steel-making capacity by 2030 with an additional investment of ten lakh crore rupees. The policy is aimed at increasing consumption of steel in major segments like infrastructure, automobiles and housing. It enshrines the long term vision of the government to give impetus to the steel sector.

Vijayawada Airport To Be Upgraded To International Level

The Cabinet also approved upgradation of Vijayawada Airport in Andhra Pradesh to international level. It will improve the connectivity of the state and provide a wider choice of service at competitive cost to air travellers. 

India’s Current Sovereign Ratings

Fitch, in its latest rating review, has affirmed India’s sovereign rating at BBB-, which is the lowest investment grade rating. Despite pressure from the government and corporate for an upgrade in the rating, Fitch has kept its sovereign rating on India unchanged. Although Fitch acknowledged India’s strong growth and recent economic reforms, it has a given a BBB- rating owing to the weak state of the government’s finances. According to the rating agency, India’s general government debt burden was 67.9% of GDP whereas the ‘BBB’ median is 40.9%. Also, Fitch has estimated a wide fiscal balance of -6.6% of GDP for FY17. Similarly, India’s long-term foreign and local-currency issuer default ratings were also fixed at ‘BBB-’. Fitch expects a strong medium-term growth outlook as well as favourable external balances with a weak fiscal position and difficult business environment. However, it expects the business environment to gradually improve with the implementation of the government’s structural reform agenda. Fitch has said that economy of the country is less developed on a number of structural metrics. In India, the average per capita GDP remains low at 1,714, whereas the ‘BBB’ range median is 9,701. It has also observed that the governance standards of India also remain weak as evident from the World Bank governance indicator for India at 46th percentile when compared to the ‘BBB’ median of the 58th percentile.

Asian Infrastructure Bank Approves Loan For Power Project In AP

Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank today approved 160 million dollar loan for a power project in Andhra Pradesh. It is the first credit from the bank for an Indian project. A bank statement said it has approved the project with the objective to strengthen power transmission and distribution system in the state. The project is co-financed by the World Bank.

EXIM Bank To Provide $ 15 Billion Credit To Asian Countries

Exim Bank (Export – Import Bank of  India) will be providing lines of credit worth more than 15 billion to Asian countries over the next three to four years. The countries getting the credit support include Bangladesh (9.5 billion), Sri Lanka (3 billion), Nepal (1.5 billion) and Myanmar (1.5 billion). The credit is being given for various projects from a thermal power plant in Bangladesh to water and railway projects in Sri Lanka.

Apple’s Cash Reserve Worth 2/3rd Of India’s Forex Reserve

Apple has reported over 256 billion in cash and marketable securities. In the previous year, Apple’s earnings report for the January-March quarter was 233 billion. According to the rating agencies, the cash reserve possessed by the company is more than Google, Microsoft and Amazon’s total cash. Compared to Apple’s 256 billion, Microsoft has 126 billion, Alphabet has 92 billion, Amazon has 22 billion and Facebook’s quarter one earnings stood at 29.45 billion. The reported cash reserve is more than that of the big companies in the world like Verizon, Oracle, Walmart, and Visa among others. Interestingly, Apple’s cash reserve is 70% more than that of India’s foreign exchange reserve. As on April 28, India’s Foreign Exchange Reserves is equivalent to 371.13 billion. In addition, according to Wall Street Journal, Apple has more cash than the foreign reserves of the United Kingdom and Canada combined. However, Apple has reported a huge debt of $88 billion. Experts predict that Apple might spend the cash to acquire entities like Tesla Motors, or Netflix or Walt Disney, and to other activities like paying off its debts, more R&D, advertising, constructing a plant in the US, compete with Amazon and Microsoft in cloud computing among others.

China To Launch Its Own Encyclopaedia As A Rival To Wikipedia

China plans to launch its own online encyclopaedia next year rivalling Wikipedia and Britain’s Encyclopaedia Britannica. The main objective of this project is to guide public thought. China fears that its citizens who use Wikipedia are being corrupted by foreign influences. The project will be executed under the guidance of the state-owned China Publishing Group. The project would be developed in such a way that it serves as a symbol of  China’s cultural and technological development and promotes its soft power and international influence. 

Unlike the Chinese version of Wikipedia, Baidu Baike which are written by volunteers, the new project will rope in the professionals for content creation. For the compilation of the project, nearly 20,000 scholars and academics have been tasked to create more than 300,000 entries before its 2018 launch. The new project will be based on a previously printed version published in 1993. The second edition was released in 2009. The new project will be released online before publishing the printed version

May 3rd – World Press Freedom Day

The World Press Freedom Day was declared by the UN General Assembly in 1993 following a recommendation adopted at the 26th Session of UNESCO’s General Conference in 1991. This was in response to a call by African journalists who produced the landmark Windhoek Declaration on media pluralism and independence. The day is observed to raise awareness of the importance of freedom of the press and remind governments of their duty to respect and uphold the right to freedom of expression enshrined under Article 19 of the 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights. The theme of this year is Critical Minds for Critical Times - Media's role in advancing peaceful and inclusive societies. In a message on the occasion, United Nations Secretary- General Antonio Guterres calls on leaders and citizens to counter misinformation and appeals to end threats to journalists worldwide. He emphasised a free press advances peace and justice for all.

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