Current Affairs in Short: 20 August 2018

Pakistan PM Imran Khan announces 21-member Cabinet; Qureshi gets foreign ministry, Umer gets finance

• Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan’s 21 members-cabinet took the oath on August 20, 2018.  
• President Mamnoon Hussain administered the oath to the nominated cabinet members, at a ceremony held at the President House in Islamabad.
• The new cabinet members include 16 federal ministers and five advisers.
• Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf party (PTI) Vice-chairman Makhdoom Shah Mehmood Qureshi will be the country’s new Foreign Minister.
• PTI's Asad Umar has been made the Minister for Finance and Revenue whereas the portfolio of the Information and Broadcasting has been given to PTI’s information secretary Fawad Chaudhary.
• Prime Minister Imran Khan has retained the interior portfolio and Pervez Khattak has been given the Defence Ministry.
• Makhdoom Khusro Bakhtiyar has been made the Minister for Water Resources.
• Meanwhile, other posts in the cabinet have been given to the allies - Muttahida Qaumi Movement, Pakistan Muslim League (Q), Balochistan Awami Party, Awami Muslim League, Muttahida Qaumi Movement (P), Grand Democratic Alliance and an independent Member.

India, Thailand joint military Exercise Maitree 2018 concludes

• Joint military exercise Maitree 2018 between India and Thailand was conducted in Thailand from August 6 to 19, 2018.
• The exercise between Indian Army and Royal Thai Army had started with cross training period involving familiarisation training between two armies to evolve drills and procedures involved in counter insurgency & counter terrorist operations under United Nations (UN) mandate.
• It focused on familiarising with each other’s modus operandi, basic maneuvers and evolving joint drills.
• It also included practicing of various drills and tactical scenarios in counter insurgency environment, execution of tactical operations like search and destroy operation, house intervention and survival techniques.
• It culminated with 72 hour joint exercise on planning and execution of series of tactical operations like pursuit, raid, establishing military check post and cordon and search operations.

Government invites comments of Stakeholders on Proposed Amendments to Income-tax Rules, 1962

• A Draft Notification proposing amendments in Form No. 13, and Rules 28, 28AA, 28AB, 37G and 37H of the Income-tax Rules, 1962 has been uploaded on the website of the Income Tax Department for comments from stakeholders and general public.
• Income-tax Rules, 1962 (I.T.Rules) prescribe Form No.13 for filing an application for seeking a certificate under Section 197 and/or under Section 206C (9) of the Income-tax Act, 1961 (the Act) and for no deduction of tax; or deduction/collection of tax at lower rate.
• In order to rationalise and make the process of issuance of certificate for no deduction of tax or deduction/collection of tax at lower rate electronic, the existing Form No.13 and relevant I.T. Rules are required to be amended.
• This is essential for minimising the human interface and reducing the compliance burden on the applicant.

Parliamentary Panel seeks Raghuram Rajan's advice to tackle Bad Loans

• The Parliament's Committee on Estimates, headed by veteran BJP leader Murali Manohar Joshi, looking into the issue of mounting non-performing assets (NPAs), asked former RBI Governor Raghuram Rajan to appear before it and brief it on the matter of NPAs.
• Rajan was invited after former Chief Economic Advisor (CEA) Arvind Subramanian praised him before the Parliamentary Committee for identifying the NPA crisis and trying to resolve it.
• Rajan, who was RBI governor for three years till September 2016, is currently the Katherine Dusak Miller Distinguished Service Professor of Finance at Chicago Booth School of Business.
• Subramanian appeared before the panel in July 2018 as Chief Economic Advisor (CEA) and briefed it on the bad loans issue. He expressed skepticism over the handling of the NPAs and indicated that big-ticket loans by public sector banks were influenced. However, he did not elaborate.
• The panel has already questioned senior finance ministry officials, including Finance Secretary Hasmukh Adhia and top brass of banks about rising bad loans.

Israeli Navy to procure Indo-Israel developed Barak 8 missile defence system

• Israeli Navy announced to procure multi-purpose Barak 8 missile defence system.
• It will be used by Israeli Navy’s Sa’ar-6 corvettes to expand operational capabilities of Israeli navy.
• The system has been jointly developed by Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI) and India’s Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO).
• It is an operational air and missile defense system used by Israeli Navy as well as by Indian Navy and air forces.
• The missile is about 4.5 meters long, 0.225 meters in diameter and weighs 275 kg including 60 kg warhead.
• The missile provides broad aerial and point defence against wide range of threats to marine arena from the air, sea or land.

UIDAI announces phased rollout of face authentication as additional security layer

• The Unique Identity Authority of India (UIDAI) announced phased roll-out of face recognition for carrying out Aadhaar authentication from September 15, 2018 as additional security layer.
• It also has announced new feature ‘Live Face Photo’ which is live feed of person facial features whose 12-digit unique number Aadhaar is submitted.
• The face authentication will be in addition to fingerprint or iris scans for Aadhaar authentication.
• In initial phase, telecom service providers (TSPs) will be first to use face recognition to authenticate subscribers while issuing new SIM cards.
• In later phases, it will be rolled out to all agencies using Aadhaar for authentication in phases.
• This move is aimed at curbing possibility of fingerprint cloning or spoofing and also seeks to tighten security around the issuance and activation of mobile SIMs.

Government constitutes Bhaskar Ramamurthy Committee for JEE (Advanced) reforms

• Union Ministry of Human Resource Development (HRD) has proposed to set up five-member committee to suggest changes to JEE (Advanced) in the wake of an inadequate number of candidates qualifying entrance test this year.
• The committee will be headed by IIT-Madras director Bhaskar Ramamurthy.
• The mandate of committee is to develop robust and scientifically designed entrance exam system to test potential of candidates as well as to reduce their dependence on coaching institutes.
• Other members of the committee will be Abhay Karandikar, Director of IIT-Kanpur; Vineet Joshi, Director General of National Testing Agency; and Professor Kannan Moudgalya of IIT-Bombay.

SK Arora awarded with WHO World No Tobacco Day 2017 Award

• Delhi government’s Additional Director of health, SK Arora was awarded with prestigious World No Tobacco Day 2017 Award of the World Health Organisation (WHO) for his extraordinary contribution towards tobacco control.
• He was presented the award by Henk Bekedam, WHO India country head in New Delhi.
• Delhi government’s health department for the past four years has been fighting against direct advertisement of brand promotion of tobacco and surrogate advertisement of tobaccos in name of pan masala and other eatables such as tea, ilaichi (cardamom).
• The World No Tobacco Day Award is awarded every year by WHO to individuals or organisations in each of six WHO regions for their accomplishments in the area of tobacco control.
• The World No Tobacco Day is observed around the world every year on 31 May. It is intended to encourage 24-hour period of abstinence from all forms of tobacco consumption around the globe.


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