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Daily Newsletter | TPS 20 Daily Current Affairs | 15th March 2020


Additional Tier-1 bonds or AT-1

Why in news?

RBI regulates AT1 bonds.
AT-1 bonds:

  • AT-1 bonds are a type of unsecured, perpetual bonds that banks issue to shore up their core capital base to meet the Basel-III norms.
  • AT-1 bonds are like any other bonds issued by banks and companies, but pay a slightly higher rate of interest compared to other bonds.
  • The RBI is the regulator for these bonds.

Two Routes through which these bonds can be acquired:

  • Initial private placement offers of AT-1 bonds by banks seeking to raise money.
  • Secondary market buys of already-traded AT-1 bonds.

Are these bonds traded in the market?

  • These bonds are listed and traded on the exchanges. So, if an AT1 bondholder needs money, he can sell it in the market.

How are AT1 bonds redeemed?

  • Investors cannot return these bonds to the issuing bank and get the money, this means there is no put option available to its holders.
  • However, the issuing banks have the option to recall AT-1 bondsissued by them (termed call options that allow banks to redeem them after 5 or 10 years).

Basel-III Norms

  • It is an international regulatory accord that introduced a set of reforms designed to improve the regulation, supervision and risk management within the banking sector, post 2008 financial crisis.
  • Under the Basel-III norms, banks were asked to maintain a certain minimum level of capital and not lend all the money they receive from deposits.
Goods & Services Tax (GST) Council

Why in news?

The GST Council on 39th GST Council meet decided to increase GST rates on mobile phones to 18 per cent from 12 per cent.

About GST Council:

  • Goods & Services Tax Council is a constitutional body under Article 279A for making recommendations to the Union and State Government on issues related to Goods and Service Tax.
  • It was introduced by theConstitution (One Hundred and First Amendment) Act, 2016.
  • Every decision of the Goods and Services Tax Council shall be taken at a meeting, by a majority of not less than three-fourths of the weighted votes of the members present and voting, in accordance with the following principles, namely:—
  • The vote of the Central Government shall have a weightage of one third of the total votes cast, and
  • The votes of all the State Governments taken together shall have a weightage of two-thirds of the total votes cast, in that meeting.


  • As per Article 279A of the amended Constitution, the GST Council which will be a joint forum of the Centre and the States, shall consist of the following members: –
  • The Union Finance Minister (Chairperson)
  • The Union Minister of State in charge of Revenue or Finance
  • The Minister in charge of Finance or Taxation or any other Minister nominated by each State Government.
Gravity Recovery And Climate Experiment (GRACE) Mission

Why in news?

Researchers from Indian Institute of Geomagnetism (IIG), an autonomous institute under the Department of Science & Technology, have found the mighty Himalayas subside and move up depending on the seasonal changes in groundwater.

  • The Himalayan foothills and the Indo-Gangetic plain are sinking because its contiguous areas are rising due to tectonic activity associated with landmass movement or continental drift.
  • The new study shows that subsidence and uplift are found to be associated with seasonal changes in groundwater, apart from the normal, common reasons.
  • The researchers have made the combined use of Global Positioning System (GPS) and Gravity Recovery And Climate Experiment (GRACE) data, which has made it possible for them to quantify the variations of hydrologic mass.

Gravity Recovery And Climate Experiment (GRACE) Mission

  • It was launched in March of 2002, and was a second mission under the NASA Earth System Science Pathfinder (ESSP) Program.
  • Aim of the GRACE mission was accurately mapping variations in Earth's gravity field.
  • GRACE consists of two identical spacecraft that fly about 220 kilometers apart in a polar orbit 500 kilometers above Earth.
  • GRACE maps Earth's gravity field by making accurate measurements of the distance between the two satellites, using GPS and a microwave ranging system.

Gravity Recovery And Climate Experiment-Follow-on (GRACE-FO) Mission

  • GRACE-FO is a successor to the original GRACE mission, and was launched in 2018.
  • The mission is a partnership between NASA and the German Research Centre for Geosciences (GFZ).
  • GRACE-FO works in the field of tracking Earth's water movement to monitor changes in underground water storage, the amount of water in large lakes and rivers, soil moisture, ice sheets and glaciers, and sea level caused by the addition of water to the ocean.
National Biopharma Mission (NBM)

Why in news?

The details about the mission were stated by Minister of Science & Technology, Health and Family Welfare and Earth Sciences in a written reply in the Lok Sabha.

More about the mission

  • The National Biopharma Mission (NBM) is an industry-Academia Collaborative Mission for accelerating biopharmaceutical development in the country.
  • The mission was approved in 2017 at a total cost of Rs 1500 crore and is 50% co-funded by World Bank loan.
  • The mission is being implemented by Biotechnology Industry Research Assistance Council (BIRAC).
  • The oversight to the mission activities is provided by the inter-ministerial Steering Committee chaired by the Secretary-DBT.
  • Under this Mission the Government has launched Innovate in India (i3) programme to create an enabling ecosystem to promote entrepreneurship and indigenous manufacturing in the Biopharma sector.
  • The programme is focused on the following 4 verticals:
  • Development of product leads for Vaccines, Biosimilars and Medical Devices that are relevant to the public health need by focusing on managed partnerships.
  • Up gradation of shared infrastructure facilities and establishing them as centres of product discovery/discovery validations and manufacturing.
  • Develop human capital by providing specific trainings
  • Technology Transfer Offices
Circuit Breaker in Stock Market

Why in news?

The Bombay Stock Exchange (BSE) experienced the second biggest single-day fall in its history as it fell by 8.2 per cent, slightly lower than the 11 per cent fall it saw during the 2008 financial crisis.

More about the news

  • Since the indexes plunged more than 10 per cent each day earlier, a circuit breaker was triggered for the first time since 2009 halting trading for 45 minutes.

What are circuit breakers?

  • Circuit breakers are triggered to prevent markets from crashing, which happens when market participants start to panic induced by fears that their stocks are overvalued and decide to sell their stocks.
  • In June 2001, the Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI) implemented index-based market-wide circuit breakers
  • This index-based market-wide circuit breaker system applies at three stages of the index movement, at 10, 15 and 20 per cent.
  • When triggered, these circuit breakers bring about a coordinated trading halt in all equity and equity derivative markets nationwide.
  • For instance, if the S&P BSE Sensex were to fall more than 10 per cent before 1 pm on a given day, circuit breakers would be triggered for a period of 45 minutes; in case it fell more than 15 per cent on or after 2 pm, circuit breakers would be triggered for the remainder of the day and in case it fell more than 20 per cent at any time of the day, the trading would be halted for the remainder of the day.

Current Affairs Capsules

Oculudentavis khaungraae
  • The smallest dinosaur
  • The fossil represented the smallest dinosaur from the Mesozoic era.