Wednesday, 20 January 2016

Current Affairs for BANK, IBPS Exams 20 January 2016


IMF cuts world growth forecast third time in a year

  • The International Monetary Fund (IMF) cut its global growth forecasts for the third time in less than a year, as new figures from Beijing showed that the Chinese economy grew at its slowest rate in a quarter of a century in 2015.
  • To back its forecasts, the IMF cited a sharp slowdown in China trade and weak commodity prices that are hammering Brazil and other emerging markets.
  • The Fund forecast that the world economy would grow at 3.4 per cent in 2016 and 3.6 per cent in 2017, both years down 0.2 percentage points from the previous estimates made last October.
  • IMF report says “Near- term fiscal policy should be more supportive of the recovery, especially through investments that would augment future productive capital”.
  • The IMF maintained its previous China growth forecasts of 6.3 per cent in 2016 and 6.0 per cent in 2017,which represent sharp slowdowns from 2015.
  • The IMF projected 7.3 per cent GDP growth for India in 2015-16 and 7.5 per cent in 2016-17, levels unchanged from its outlook released in October. In 2014-15, it estimates, GDP grew 7.3 per cent.
  • The Union Finance Ministry last November revised downwards its projection for the current financial year to 7.5 per cent after estimates from the Central Statistics office showed that in the first six months, real GDP grew 7.2 per cent, slower than the 7.5 per cent in the corresponding period last year.
  • In February 2015, it projected that growth would accelerate to 8.1-8.5 per cent. The RBI’s forecast for growth this year is 7.4 per cent.

Lancet and London school hygiene to start a campaign against preventable stillbirths

  • Concerned over the slow rate at which stillbirths have reduced across the world, the journal, The Lancet, has launched a series of five papers about ending preventable still- births and kick-started a campaign along with the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine.
  • An estimated 2.6 million third trimester stillbirths occurred in 2015 across the world, or as one of The Lancet articles in the series says. Most still- births (98 per cent) occur in low and middle income countries, The Lancet paper shows.
  • While the estimates for the causes of stillbirths are often frustrated by various classification systems, in 18 countries with reliable data, congenital abnormalities account only for a median of 7.4 per cent of still- births.
  • Many disorders associated with stillbirths are potentially modifiable and often coexist — maternal infections,non-communicable diseases, nutrition, lifestyle factors and maternal age older than 35 years.
  • Prolonged pregnancies, when the baby is not born after 42 weeks of gestation, contribute to 14 per cent of stillbirths.
  • Causal pathways for stillbirth frequently involve impaired placental function, either with growth restriction, or preterm labour or both.
  • The journal points out that less than 5 per cent of neonatal deaths and even fewer still births are registered.
  • Notably, it was in 2011, that The Lancet began its first series on stillbirths, highlighting the rates and causes of still- birth globally, exploring cost-effective interventions to prevent stillbirths (as well as maternal and neonatal deaths), and setting key actions to halve stillbirth rates by 2020.
  • One of the papers notes that some progress has been made in the measurement of stillbirths since the 2011 The Lancet Still- births Series.
  • Stillbirths are increasingly counted, which might be partly related to more visible estimates.
  • India continues to be at the top of the table in the rank for numbers of still-birth in 2015, recording 5,92,100, followed by Nigeria, Pakistan, China and Ethiopia.
  • Cultural taboos and superstitions often take the blame in the case of stillbirth — in a recent study, 36 per cent of respondents blamed the mother for her life- style or diet, 29 per cent said the baby was never supposed to live and 25 per cent blamed it on witchcraft or evil spirits.

National Family Health Survey-4 indicates improvement in health indicators

  • After 11 years, the much-awaited data on India’s health indicators were released by the Health Ministry.
  • The Phase 1 results from the National Family Health Survey-4 for 2015-16, which covered 13 States and two Union Territories (UTs), are a reason to smile.
  • In nearly every State, fewer children are dying in infancy, and across all States, more mothers are getting access to skilled ante-natal care. The last round of NFHS data was released in 2005-06.
  • Other findings are that while anaemia is widespread, rates have declined. Currently, over half the children in 10 States and over half the mothers in 11 States continue to be anaemic.
  • Consistent with the burden of non-communicable diseases in India, over-nutrition or obesity among adults has emerged as a major concern.
  • At least three in 10 women are overweight or obese in the Andaman and Nicobar Is- lands, Andhra Pradesh, Goa, Puducherry, and Tamil Nadu.
  • A promising trend in the data shows that women are having fewer children.

IRCTC puts checks on ticket booking

  • The Indian Railways said it had put in various security checks to ensure there is no misuse of ticket booking facility on the Indian Railway Catering and Tourism Corporation (IRCTC) website.
  • Users will now have to wait for at least 35 seconds before he or she can book a ticket over the IRCTC website to prevent faster booking of tickets through illegal software.
  • Earlier, theminimum waiting time for booking rail tickets online was kept at 10 seconds which was more vulnerable to cyber attacks.
  • Users need to enter CAPTCHA – a series of numbers to distinguish between human and computers thrice now.
  • This will be needed at the log-in, reservation and payment stages. “With these checks, it is not possible to book any opening tatkal ticket by any software being sold in the market earlier than 35 seconds.”


Syria peace talks may be delayed due to undecided opposition

  • The United Nations said it was waiting for regional powers spearheading the Syria peace process to agree on who will take part in talks starting in just one week’s time and raised the possibility of a delay.
  • The peace talks, the first between the Syrian government and the Opposition since 2014, are scheduled to open in Geneva on January 25, but invitations have yet to be sent to the delegations.
  • The 17 countries pushing for a peace deal, including the United States, Russia, Saudi Arabia and Iran, have been struggling to agree on the list of opposition leaders who will have a seat at the negotiating table.
  • Saudi Arabia last month hosted a meeting of armed factions and Oppositiongroups to agree on a common platform in negotiations with the Damascus regime, but Russia has said that effort did not include all players.
  • Moscow wants the moderate Opposition that is closer to President Bashar al-Assad to take part.


New growth figures indicates China on the path of economic shift

  • China’s economy grew by 6.9 per cent last year, in line with the official projection of “around 7 per cent.”
  • The numbers signalled that the government was on track of transitioning the economy from manufacturing to the lower growth “new normal” path, where consumption and services would dominate.
  • Though last year’s growth was the slowest since 1990, it nevertheless calmed nerves in the global market, which had feared that the Chinese economy was on the brink of a “hard landing” following the recent mayhem in the stock market and spurts of currency volatility.
  • Consequently, the data emerging from China’s National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) triggered a significant rally in industrial commodities, in anticipation that Chinese demand may not be falling as sharply as feared.
  • Brent crude, the international energy benchmark, which had on Monday dropped to $27.67 a barrel — a 12- year intra-day low — firmed up by 5.5 per cent to reach $30.12, following data from Beijing.
  • Copper also rose to $4,447 a tonne, after dropping last week nearly to a seven- year low of $4,318.
  • The NBS figures revealed that China’s GDP stood at around $10.3 trillion. Significantly, the services sector — the indicator of an economic shift from inefficient manufacturing — accounted for 50.5 per cent of the GDP. This was the first occasion that services sector’s contribution had breached the 50 per centmark. Unemployment rate in major cities stood at around 5.1 per cent.
  • Yet, the figures showed that major hurdles had to be cross- ed before the economy settled along the planned “new normal” path. For instance, industrial output growth slowed to 6.1 per cent year on year from 8.3 per cent in 2014.

India will look towards Africa for Oil and Gas

  • India is looking at Africa to spruce up its oil and gas imports as it seeks to diversify its energy basket after Saudi Arabia’s decision to charge a premium for the oil it sells to Asian customers, ac- cording to the government.
  • Africa already contributes around 15 per cent of India’s oil needs, with India having imported 32 million metric tonnes from the entire continent in 2014.
  • Last year, Nigeria overtook Saudi Arabia as the largest contributor to India’s oil imports for a short period of time and currently remains one of the top providers of oil to India.
  • Saudi Arabia’s national oil and gas company, Saudi Aramco, recently announced that it would be charging Asian customers 60 cents a barrel more for Arab Light crude oil during February compared to the prices theywould be paying in January.
  • India is currently the third- largest oil importer in the world, relying on imports for 76 per cent of its oil needs.
  • The International Energy Agency projects that this would rise to around 90 per cent by 2030 as India’s demand continues to increase.

:: SPORTS ::

Nadal out of Australian open in First round

  • Rafael Nadal and Simona Halep went out of the Australian open in the first round.
  • Nadal was sent packing by fellow spaniard Fernando Verdasco in a five set thriller.
  • Women no. 2 Halep was defeated by the Chinese qualifier Zhang Shuai.

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