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India gives 2 Mi-24 helicopters to Afghanistan
- India handed over a pair of Mi-24 helicopters to Afghanistan.
- They are given with the aim to strengthen the Afghan air force as it battles a deadly Taliban insurgency.
- The two Mi-24 helicopters are a replacement for the four attack helicopters previously gifted by India to Afghanistan in 2015.
Kami Rita scaled Mount Everest for 23rd time
- A Nepalese Sherpa climber Kami Rita has scaled Mount Everest for 23rd time.
- He broke his own record for the most successful ascents of the world’s highest peak.
- Rita is a native of Thame village located in the shadow of Mount Everest.
India extends full support for economic development, sustainable peace in Afghanistan
- India has expressed its full support for sustainable peace, economic development and stability in Afghanistan.
- External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj gave this assurance to Afghan President Ashraf Ghani’s Special Envoy and High Peace Council Secretary Umer Daudzai in New Delhi.
- Mr Daudzai briefed the Minister on the outcome of the recently held Loya Jirga in the country.
- Both sides also discussed India’s role in Regional Peace Consensus with regards to Afghanistan, progress in peace talks and bilateral relations.
- Mr Daudzai also met National Security Advisor Ajit Doval and Foreign Secretary Vijay K Gokhale.
Varanasi has only one air quality monitoring station
- Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s constituency Varanasi, which goes to polls, continues to have only one air quality monitoring station, despite being ranked as among the top 3 most polluted cities in the world three years ago, a Right to Information request has found.
- The Central Pollution Control Board’s 2015 dataset (made public in 2016) found Varanasi’s air quality to be among the most toxic in the country and that it had only one air quality monitor capable of measuring particulate matter 2.5 and particulate matter 10 levels.
- Out of 227 days measured in 2015, the city had zero ‘good-air’ days and this was attributed to the heavy levels of industrial pollution. Biomass burning, vehicular emissions, brick kilns and diesel generator sets were also major contributors.
- The average air quality for PM 2.5 from 2017-2019 had improved to 104 from 206 in 2016, the maximum PM levels breached continued to be above 200, or in the “very poor” category.
- In February, a study by IIT Kanpur and the Shakti Foundation showed Varanasi suffered from poor air quality for 70% of the days between October and November 2018 with PM 2.5 levels crossing 170 micrograms per cubic metre against the national average of 60 and the WHO average of 25.
Green cards replaced with ‘Build America’ visa
- Donald Trump will replace the existing green cards with ‘Build America’ visa.
- The US President unveiled a new merit and points-based immigration policy that seeks to increase the quota for highly-skilled workers.
- Every year, the US issues nearly 1.1 million green cards, which gives foreign nationals life- time permission to live and work in US and a path to citizenship in 5 years.
Int. aid for education to India down by 26%
- International aid to India for education has fallen by more than 26%, compared with a global downturn of 2%, data from United Nations showed.
- India received $464 million in 2017, as against $634 million in 2016.
- This is according to data compiled by the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) in a global education aid monitoring report.
The Saudi government has approved a scheme
- Saudi Arabia approved permanent residency gives permanent residency to certain expatriates.
- It will allow them to own real estate in the kingdom and reside with their families without a Saudi sponsor.
- The ‘Privileged Iqama’ system will offer a permanent residence scheme.
- It can be renewed annually to highly skilled expatriates and owners of capital funds
US approves missile sales to South Korea, Japan
- United States has approved more than 600 million dollar in sales of air defense missiles to South Korea and Japan as tensions return with North Korea.
- The State Department had approved 94 SM-2 missiles used by ships against air threats, along with 12 guidance systems for a total cost of 9 million dollar.
- It separately gave the green light to sell 160 anti-air AMRAAM missiles and related guidance equipment to Japan for 317 million dollar.
- The sales will support the US foreign policy and national security objectives by assisting key allies and will not alter the basic military balance in the region.
Trump delays decision on auto tariffs for up to 6 months
- US President Donald Trump will delay by six months a decision on imposing steep tariffs on imported autos.
- The decision marks an attempt by Washington to increase pressure ahead of negotiations with the European Union.
- Mr Trump has directed US Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer to him within 180 days on the outcome of negotiations with the EU, Japan and other countries.
- Trump had been facing a Saturday deadline to announce whether to implement 25 per cent punitive duties on autos.
- In response to the metal tariffs, the EU, Canada and Mexico have already imposed stinging duties on American exports like motorcycles, orange juice, whiskey and blue jeans.
- Meanwhile, European Union is prepared to negotiate with US a limited trade agreement including cars.
Cyril Ramaphosa re-elected President
- African National Congress (ANC) won South African elections with 57.51% votes and Cyril Ramaphosa elected as South African President.
- Last year in February 2018, Cyril Ramaphosa was elected as South African President after President Jacob Zuma resigned from the post.
BoI reported Rs.252 crore profit
- Bank of India reported a net profit of 252 crore for the quarter ended March 31, compared with a loss of ₹3,969 crore in 2018.
- The Gross NPA ratio improved from 16.58% in March 2018 to 15.84% in March 2019.
- Net NPA ratio declined from 8.26% to 5.61%.
- Provision coverage ratio improved from 65.85% in March 2018 to 76.95% in March 2019
CBIC introduced weightage system
- Central Board of Indirect Taxes and Customs (CBIC) introduced a weighting system for appointments under compassionate grounds.
- It will be based on nine criteria like family income, dependents, remaining service period of the deceased, etc.
- The main objective is to ensure objectivity, transparency, and uniformity in the selection process for appointments on the compassionate ground.