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Important Current Affairs for CLAT-26th July 2023

IMF Upgrades India’s GDP Growth Forecast to 6.1% for 2023 Amid Global Economic Recovery

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) has recently revised India’s GDP growth forecast for the current fiscal year to 6.1%, up from the previous prediction of 5.9%. This upward revision is attributed to stronger domestic investments and reflects the momentum from stronger-than-expected growth in the fourth quarter of 2022 (FY23). The IMF’s latest World Economic Outlook also raises the baseline forecast for world growth to 3% in the year 2023, amid reduced chances of a US recession and falling inflation.

India’s GDP Growth Forecast Upgraded:

IMF Upgrades India’s GDP Growth Forecast to 6.1% for 2023 Amid Global Economic Recovery

  • IMF raises India’s GDP growth forecast for the current fiscal year (FY23) to 6.1% from the previous projection of 5.9%.

  • The upward revision is attributed to stronger domestic investments, contributing to the growth momentum observed in the fourth quarter of 2022.

Positive Outlook for India’s Economy:

  • The calendar year 2023 growth projection for India stands at 6.6%, indicating a positive outlook for the country’s economic performance.

  • This upward revision aligns with the growth forecasts presented by the government and the Reserve Bank of India (RBI), which have pegged GDP growth at 6.5% for FY24.

  • Multilateral agencies like the Asian Development Bank and Fitch have also raised their growth forecasts for India, indicating confidence in the country’s economic recovery.

Global Economic Recovery:

  • The IMF’s World Economic Outlook predicts a global GDP growth of 3% in 2023, up from the previous forecast of 2.8%.

  • The resolution of the US debt ceiling standoff and decisive actions taken by authorities to address banking turmoil have reduced immediate risks to the global financial sector.

  • The global economy continues to recover gradually from the COVID-19 pandemic and the impact of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

Risks and Concerns:

  • While progress is evident, the IMF notes continued risks to global financial stability.

  • Concerns include higher interest rates, a slower-than-expected recovery in China, debt distress in emerging economies, and threats to trade from geo-economic fragmentation.

  • Global inflation is projected to decline from 8.7% last year to 6.8% this year, but it remains relatively high, affecting household purchasing power and constraining economic activity.

About IMF, Key points:

  • The International Monetary Fund (IMF) is an international financial institution established in 1944 to promote global economic stability and cooperation.

  • Its main goal is to ensure the stability of the international monetary system and facilitate international trade.

  • The IMF provides financial assistance and policy advice to member countries facing economic difficulties or balance of payments problems.

  • It conducts economic surveillance and analysis to monitor global economic trends and potential risks.

  • The IMF also offers technical assistance and training to member countries to strengthen their economic and financial capabilities.

  • It consists of 190 member countries, each of which contributes funds to the IMF based on its economic size and needs.

  • The IMF’s decision-making power is determined by the size of a country’s financial contribution, with larger economies having more influence.

  • The IMF’s headquarters is located in Washington, D.C.

  • Some of the key publications released by the IMF include:

    1. World Economic Outlook (WEO): This report is published twice a year and provides comprehensive economic analysis, growth projections, and macroeconomic forecasts for both individual countries and the global economy.

    2. Global Financial Stability Report (GFSR): The GFSR assesses global financial markets and potential risks to financial stability, offering insights into financial sector developments and vulnerabilities.

Jyotiraditya M Scindia inaugurates Heli Summit 2023 and UDAN 5.2 in Khajuraho

The Heli Summit 2023, the 5th edition of the Helicopter & Small Aircraft Summit, was collaboratively hosted by the Ministry of Civil Aviation, the Government of Madhya Pradesh, Pawan Hans Ltd., and the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FICCI) with the theme “Reaching the Last Mile: Regional Connectivity through Helicopters & Small Aircraft

Objectives of The Heli Summit 2023

The Summit aimed to achieve the following objectives:

  • Establishing a common platform for industry stakeholders and policymakers to discuss the growth prospects of the Indian Helicopter and Small Aircraft industry

  • Expanding the scope of the UDAN Scheme in remote and hilly regions, thereby improving rural-to-urban connectivity across the country.

  • Enhancing Helicopter & Small Aircraft connectivity to areas with existing and potential tourism hotspots, ensuring uninterrupted services for travelers.

UDAN 5.2 Expands to Helicopters, Boosts Connectivity to Remote Areas

Shri Jyotiraditya M Scindia launched UDAN 5.2, extending its benefits to helicopters as well. This latest version incorporates enhancements such as increased VGF (Viability Gap Funding) and a reduced fare cap for small aircraft under the UDAN scheme.

The notable highlight of this launch is the allocation of 22 new routes, a testament to the government’s commitment, led by Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi, to provide air travel accessibility to residents in remote regions.”

Heli-Sewa Mobile Application to Foster Collaboration in Aviation Sector

Shri Scindia also launched the Heli-Sewa mobile application. This application is a part of the HeliSewa Portal, an initiative by the Ministry of Civil Aviation under Digital India.

Its primary purpose is to establish a common platform that fosters collaboration between helicopter operators and district authorities. The mobile application aims to enhance user experience, content loading, and the usability of functions, providing greater convenience for users.

A Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) was signed between Pawan Hans and Jetserve, signifying a crucial step towards advancing the Helicopter and Small Aircraft sector in India.

Growth of India’s Civil Aviation Secto

Over the past nine years, the civil aviation sector in the country has witnessed a significant democratization. This transformation is evident in the substantial growth of airports, aircraft numbers, and the overall market size.

This expansion encompasses not only big metropolitan airports and large airlines but also recognizes the crucial role played by small town airports, small airlines, and helicopters in the industry.

About Pawan Hans

Pawan Hans Limited, a central public sector undertaking headquartered in Noida, Delhi NCR, India, operates as a transport service. Established on 15th October 1985, it falls under the ownership of the Ministry of Civil Aviation, Government of India.

While its primary function revolves around providing helicopter services for offshore exploration operations in the oil sector, this government-owned helicopter service provider is also actively involved in catering to the requirements of various state governments across India.

Govt Approves 8.15% Interest Rate on Employees Provident Fund Deposits for 2022-23

The Union government has approved an increased interest rate of 8.15% on Employees Provident Fund (EPF) deposits for the financial year 2022-23. This decision comes after the EPFO trustees ratified the proposal to raise the interest rates, which had been at a four-decade low of 8.10% for the previous fiscal year. The higher interest rate will benefit over six crore EPF subscribers and is expected to be credited to their accounts soon.

Background of the EPF Interest Rates

  • In March 2022, the Employees Provident Fund Organisation (EPFO) reduced the interest rate to a four-decade low of 8.10% for FY 2021-22 from the previous rate of 8.5% in FY 2020-21.

  • The EPF interest rate had not been as low as 8.10% since 1977-78 when it stood at 8%.

Approval of Increased Interest Rate

Govt Approves 8.15% Interest Rate on Employees Provident Fund Deposits for 2022-23

  • On March 28, 2023, the EPFO decided to increase the interest rates for the financial year 2022-23 to 8.15%, subject to final government approval.

  • The Union government ratified the decision, raising the interest rate from the previous year’s low of 8.10%.

Beneficiaries of the Interest Rate Hike

  • The EPF currently has over six crore subscribers, who will benefit from the higher interest rate of 8.15% for the financial year 2022-23.

  • EPFO’s field offices have been instructed to credit the increased interest rate into the subscribers’ EPF accounts.

Approval Process

  • The EPFO trustees approved the rate hike, following which the finance ministry granted its approval for the increase.

  • The Central Board of Trustees (CBT) of the EPFO, led by the Union Labour and Employment Minister, is the apex decision-making body responsible for making such decisions.

Justification for the Interest Rate Increase

  • The CBT noted that the interest rate of 8.15% and a surplus of Rs 663.91 crore are higher compared to the previous year.

  • It cited the EPFO’s ability to distribute higher income to its members during various economic cycles while maintaining minimal credit risk.

  • The EPFO’s investment credit profile was deemed favorable, making the EPF interest rate more attractive than other comparable investment options available to subscribers.

EPF Contribution Details

  • Contributions to the Employees’ Provident Fund (EPF) are mandatory for both employees and employers.

  • Employees contribute 12% of their wages to their EPF accounts, while employers contribute 3.67% to the EPF account.

  • The remaining 8.33% of the employer’s contribution is allocated towards the Employees’ Pension Scheme (EPS).

  • Interest earned on EPF deposits will be taxable if the total deposits in an EPF and voluntary provident fund (VPF) account exceed Rs 2.5 lakh in a financial year.

Key Points About Employees Provident Fund Organisation (EPFO):

  • Employees Provident Fund Organisation (EPFO) is a statutory body under the Ministry of Labour and Employment, Government of India.

  • It manages the Employees’ Provident Fund (EPF), a social security scheme for salaried employees in India.

  • EPFO’s primary objective is to promote retirement savings and provide financial security to employees after retirement.

  • Both employees and employers are required to make contributions to the EPF account, with employees contributing 12% of their wages and employers contributing 3.67%.

  • The EPF interest rate is determined by the EPFO’s Central Board of Trustees (CBT) and is subject to government approval.

  • EPFO also manages the Employees’ Pension Scheme (EPS), where a portion of the employer’s contribution goes towards pension benefits.

  • EPFO provides various online services, including EPF balance check, claim status, and UAN (Universal Account Number) activation.

  • EPF contributions and interest earned are tax-exempt up to a certain limit, but interest exceeding the limit may be taxable.

China names Pan Gongsheng to lead central bank, succeeding Yi Gang

Pan Gongsheng was named China’s central bank governor on July 25 in the widely anticipated final major appointment of the ruling Communist Party’s once-a-decade change of power. Mr. Pan, a deputy central bank governor and veteran of China’s state-owned banking industry, succeeds Yi Gang, an American-trained economist who held the post for five years. The endorsement of Pan’s promotion by the ceremonial legislature, the National People’s Congress, follows other Cabinet-level appointments announced in March.

Key points:

  • The governor of the People’s Bank of China is the most prominent Chinese figure in finance circles but the post’s powers are limited. The bank is controlled by the ruling Communist Party. Mr. Pan, who turns 60 this month, met July 8 with visiting US Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen, indicating he was being promoted. He was widely assumed to be in line for the job after he was named Communist Party secretary for the central bank.

  • In 2015, Mr. Pan was appointed head of China’s foreign exchange regulator, usually a stepping stone to the top central bank job. Earlier, he was a vice president of the Agricultural Bank of China Ltd, one of the country’s four major commercial lenders.

  • Mr. Pan earned a PhD in economics from Renmin University in Beijing and did research at Cambridge and Harvard Universities.

Career of Pan Gongsheng

Pan is a long-time central banker. He joined the People’s Bank of China (PBOC) in 2012 after previous stints in senior positions at state banks including Industrial and Commercial Bank of China Ltd. and Agricultural Bank of China Ltd. His move to the top of the PBOC signals that Beijing is prioritizing policy continuity at a time when the economic recovery is losing momentum and officials are grappling with various ways to boost confidence.

Since his appointment as party secretary at the PBOC, Pan has held several meetings with visiting central bankers, including South Korea’s Rhee Chang-yong, and attended a central bank governors conference between China, Japan and South Korea in July. US Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen referred to Pan as “acting governor” when she met with him during her Beijing trip recently.

His appointment marks the first time since 2018 that the top two positions at the PBOC — governor and Communist Party secretary will be held by one person, potentially streamlining decision-making at the very top. Former governor Zhou Xiaochuan held both posts until his departure in 2018 when Yi Gang was named governor and Guo Shuqing held the position of party chief.

WHO identifies first case of MERS-CoV in UAE this year

According to WHO, a first case of Middle East Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus (MERS-COV) has been identified in a 28-year old male from United Arab Emirates (UAE).

What’s in News?

WHO has identified the first case of MERS-CoV in 28-year old male from United Arab Emirates (UAE). WHO stated that the patient is a resident of AI Ain city in Abu Dhabi. He had no travel history and had not come in direct or indirect contact with dromedaries (camels), goats or sheep.

The first case of MERS-CoV was reported in UAE in 2013. Till date, UAE has reported 94 confirmed cases and 12 deaths. Globally, the total number of cases of MERS-CoV since 2012 is 2,605 including 936 associated deaths.

MERS-CoV

Middle East Respiratory Syndrome caused by Middle East Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus (MERS-CoV) that was first identified in Saudi Arabia in 2012.

MERS-CoV is a zoonotic virus, which is transmitted between animals and people. MERS-CoV has been identified and linked to human infections in dromedary camels in several Member States in the Middle East, Africa and South Asia. Human-to-Human transmission is possible and has occurred predominately among close contacts and in health-care settings. Outside the health-care settings, there has been limited human-to-human transmission.

Symptoms

MERS symptoms can range from mild to serve. People with mild MERS infection may not receive a correct diagnosis. The common symptoms of MERS infection are:

  • Fever

  • Shortness of breath

  • Cough

  • Sore throat

  • Muscle and stomach pain and soreness

  • Vomiting

  • Diarrhea

Patients with severe symptoms may develop pneumonia. They may also experience breathing failure, kidney damage, high fevers and even death.

The main symptoms of MERS are flu-like and develop from 2 to 14 days after exposure.

Causes

According to the WHO, most of the cases of MERS-CoV in humans have been transmitted by people in healthcare environments. However, evidence suggests that dromedary camels could also be a source of infection of MERS-CoV in humans. Researchers have identified MERS-CoV in several camels in the Middle East, Africa and South Asia.

Risk Factors

Old age people, people with health conditions such as diabetes, chronic lung disease, kidney disease or cancer and people with weakened immune system are more susceptible to MERS-CoV infection and complications.

Diagnosis

To check for an active MERS-CoV infection, a doctor takes a sample from the person’s respiratory tract. The presence of the virus can be confirmed by the laboratory test which includes polymerase chain reaction test.

Treatment

According to the WHO, there is no cure or vaccine for MERS-CoV, but vaccines and treatments are under development. Healthcare professionals will work to relieve a person’s symptoms and reduce the risk of complications.

People suffering from MERS-CoV may require oxygen therapy and stay in the intensive care unit.

Prevention

  • Wash the hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds at a time.

  • Avoid undercooked meats and any food prepared in conditions that may not be hygienic.

  • Wash fruits and vegetables thoroughly.

  • Report any suspected case to local health authorities.

  • Wear a medical mask

  • Sneeze into a tissue and immediately dispose it.

  • Minimize close contact with anyone who develops an acute respiratory illness with fever.

  • Seek immediate medical attention if an acute respiratory illness with a fever develops within 14 days of returning from travel.

Tata Steel reappoints TV Narendran as MD and CEO for 5 years

T V Narendran has been reappointed as the Chief Executive Officer & Managing Director of Tata Steel for a term of five years, starting from September 19, 2023, which will last until September 18, 2028. This decision was made based on the recommendation of the ‘Nomination and Remuneration Committee‘.

Leadership and Achievements of T V Narendran

As the CEO and MD of Tata Steel, Narendran is responsible for overseeing the company’s both organic and inorganic growth. With a remarkable experience spanning 34 years in the Mining and Metals industry, he has held various significant positions, including being on the Board of Tata Steel Limited, serving as Chairman of Tata Steel Europe and Tata Steel Long Products Ltd., and acting as Chairman of the Board of Governors of XLRI Jamshedpur.

Narendran also holds the positions of Chairman at Tata Steel Europe, the Supervisory Board of Tata Steel Nederland BV, Tata Steel Long Products Limited, and Neelachal Ispat Nigam Limited.

About Tata Steel

Tata Steel Limited, an Indian multinational steel-making company, is headquartered in Mumbai, Maharashtra, and operates from Jamshedpur, Jharkhand. As a part of the esteemed Tata Group, it was recognized as one of India’s Best Workplaces in Manufacturing by Great Place to Work for the fifth time in 2022. Tata Steel’s operations span across 26 countries, with significant presence in India, the Netherlands, and the United Kingdom.

UAE Minister for Foreign Trade Dr Thani Al Zeyoudi elected as chair of WTO’s 13th Ministerial Conference

In a significant development, two prominent officials from the United Arab Emirates (UAE) have been elected to key positions in international organizations. Dr. Thani Al Zeyoudi, the UAE Minister for Foreign Trade, has been chosen as the chair of the 13th Ministerial Conference of the World Trade Organization (WTO), to be held in Abu Dhabi in February 2024.

Additionally, Thuraiya Hamid Alhashmi, the Director of International Financial Relations and Organizations Department at the UAE Ministry of Finance, has been appointed as a member of the Board of Directors and a Constituency Director at the New Development Bank (NDB), a multilateral development institution established by BRICS countries.

Dr. Thani Al Zeyoudi Elected Chair of WTO’s 13th Ministerial Conference

  • In a remarkable achievement for the UAE, Dr. Thani Al Zeyoudi has been elected as the chair of the 13th Ministerial Conference of the World Trade Organization. The announcement was made during the WTO General Council meeting in Geneva, Switzerland.

  • The conference, scheduled to take place in Abu Dhabi in February 2024, will be attended by representatives from all 164 member countries and customs blocs that form the WTO. As the chair, Dr. Al Zeyoudi will play a crucial role in leading discussions, reviewing the performance of the global trading system, and setting the roadmap for future work within the organization.

Thuraiya Hamid Alhashmi’s Historic Role at NDB:

  • Thuraiya Hamid Alhashmi, the Director of International Financial Relations and Organizations Department at the UAE Ministry of Finance, has achieved a historic milestone by becoming the first Emirati and Arab woman to assume a Director’s position at the New Development Bank (NDB).

  • The NDB, established by Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa (BRICS), plays a vital role in financing sustainable development projects in emerging economies. Thuraiya’s election to the Board of Directors and as a Constituency Director during the 8th Annual Meeting held in Shanghai, China, marks a significant recognition of her expertise and leadership in international finance and development.

UAE’s Commitment to International Cooperation:

  • The election of two UAE officials to prominent positions in global organizations highlights the country’s commitment to international cooperation and its growing influence on the global stage.

  • These appointments not only reflect the capabilities of UAE’s talented professionals but also demonstrate the country’s dedication to promoting inclusive and sustainable development in the international arena.

Preparations for the 13th Ministerial Conference and COP28:

  • During his meeting with WTO Director General Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, Dr. Thani Al Zeyoudi discussed the preparations for the 13th Ministerial Conference (MC13) in Abu Dhabi. The conference aims to review the trading system’s performance, make crucial decisions on future work, and set the course for the subsequent conference.

  • Additionally, they also addressed the landmark inclusion of trade as a thematic day at COP28, scheduled to be held in Dubai later that year. This move underscores the UAE’s efforts to integrate trade and climate policies to foster sustainable and green growth.

World Trade Organization (WTO) – Key Points

  1. Purpose: The WTO is an international organization that deals with global rules of trade between nations. It facilitates trade negotiations, resolves disputes, and sets the framework for international trade.

  2. Establishment: The WTO was established on January 1, 1995, replacing the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT), which had been in place since 1948.

  3. Membership: It has 164 member countries and customs territories, making it one of the largest international organizations.

  4. Principles: The WTO operates on the principles of non-discrimination, transparency, predictability, and promoting fair competition.

  5. Agreements: The organization oversees multiple trade agreements, including the General Agreement on Trade in Services (GATS) and the Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS).

  6. Dispute Settlement: The WTO has a Dispute Settlement Body (DSB) that resolves trade disputes between member countries through a structured dispute resolution process.

  7. Director General: Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala is the current Director General of the WTO. She assumed office on March 1, 2021, becoming the first woman and the first African to hold this position.

  8. Ministerial Conferences: Ministerial Conferences are held every two years, where members make decisions on trade-related issues and set the organization’s agenda.

  9. Trade Facilitation Agreement: The WTO’s Trade Facilitation Agreement aims to simplify and streamline customs procedures to expedite the movement, release, and clearance of goods.

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