Current Affairs Update – 17th February, 2016

Hello and welcome to ExamPundit. Here are the important Current Affairs of 17th February, 2016. These are important for LIC AAO and other upcoming exams.

Current Affairs Update – 17th February, 2016

  1. Private sector lender YES Bank has partnered UltraCash Technologies
    to launch payments processing through
    sound waves
    . The innovative technology ensures that UltraCash’s ‘Tap and
    Pay’ works on all devices and doesn’t need any special hardware to make the
    payment.
  2. E-commerce giant Amazon today announced the launch of ‘Amazon Tatkal’, an initiative that enables small and medium businesses (SMBs) to go online and sell products on
    Amazon
    .
  3. The Union Ministry of Finance on 16 February 2016 announced changes
    to regulations that govern interest rates on various National Saving Schemes (NSSs). The changes, which will come into
    effect from 1 April 2016.
  4. BAE Systems has down-selected Mahindra
    as its business partner for the proposed in-country assembly, integration and
    test (AIT)
    facility for the M777
    ultra lightweight howitzer
    .
  5. Union Cabinet clears LIGO-India gravitational wave observatory
  6. The Union Cabinet has approved
    signing of Agreement for collaboration
    in Traditional Medicine between Ministry of Ayush and the World Health
    Organisation
    .
  7. India’s largest online marketplace Flipkart has appointed Fidelity
    International’s country head Nitin Seth in the role of Chief People Officer

    to head all its human resource functions at a time when it is seeing major
    churn in its leadership team.
  8. Fashion designer Manish Arora on 16 February 2016 was awarded with the Chevalier de la Legion  d’Honneur
    (Knight of the Legion of Honour), France’s highest civilian honour
    .
  9. The first train connecting Iran and China packed with Chinese goods
    arrived in Tehran
    on 15 February 2016. The arrival revived the ancient Silk
    Road trade route and also highlighted the economic possibilities for Iran since
    the lifting of international sanctions.
  10. The former United Nations Secretary-General Boutros Boutros-Ghali passed away on 16 February 2016 in Cairo,
    Egypt.  Boutros-Ghali served as UN Chief
    from January 1992 to December 1996 and became the first secretary general to be
    deprived of a second term as he struggled to impose the UN’s writ in a
    post-cold war world. He was the first African to hold the position. He helped secure
    peace deals between Israel and Egypt.
  11. Noted Malayalam novelist and
    short story writer Akbar Kakkattil passed away at a private
    hospital here this morning.


Finance/Banking/Economy –
YES Bank, UltraCash partner to launch payments service

  • Private sector lender YES Bank
    has partnered UltraCash Technologies to launch payments processing through
    sound waves.
  • UltraCash utilises a
    patent-pending technology, through which payment data is securely transferred
    from one device to the other, using unique ultra-high frequency sound waves.
  • This partnership will enable
    Ultracash to issue YES Bank-sponsored mobile wallets and employ YES Bank’s
    immediate payment service (IMPS) payments platform to enable processing of instant
    proximity transactions.
  • The innovative technology ensures
    that UltraCash’s ‘Tap and Pay’ works on all devices and doesn’t need any
    special hardware to make the payment.
  • There is no need of special near
    field communication (NFC) chips.
  • UltraCash’s sound wave technology
    enables mobile payments to be done without the need for Internet connectivity
    using any of the options, such as bank accounts and cards.
  • Besides, UltraCash will issue YES
    Bank-branded digital wallets to consumers to aid quicker, seamless and
    friction-free payments.

Amazon launches ‘Tatkal’ initiative for small and medium biz

  • E-commerce giant Amazon today
    announced the launch of ‘Amazon Tatkal’, an initiative that enables small and
    medium businesses (SMBs) to go online and sell products on Amazon.
  • Starting with New Delhi, Amazon
    Tatkal will traverse the country, engaging with thousands of entrepreneurs,
    artisans, manufacturers and sellers and help them sell online on the spot, the
    company said in a statement.
  • It said Amazon Tatkal is a
    specially designed studio-on-wheels offering a suite of launch services
    including registration, imaging and cataloguing services, as well as basic seller
    training mechanisms.
  • It will enable thousands of
    interested sellers to start selling on Amazon in real time and experience the
    benefits of launching an online business, the statement added.

Interest rates on various National Saving Schemes amended to spur
economic growth

  • The Union Ministry of Finance on
    16 February 2016 announced changes to regulations that govern interest rates on
    various National Saving Schemes (NSSs).
  • The changes primarily focused on
    aligning interest rates on NSSs with other comparable saving instruments so
    that the operation of NSSs will become market oriented.
  • The changes, which will come into
    effect from 1 April 2016, were announced in the interest of overall economic growth
    of the country, even while protecting their social objectives and promoting
    long term savings.

Key changes to National Saving Schemes
  1. The present interest rate spread
    enjoyed by the Sukanya Samriddhi Yojana, the Senior Citizen Savings Scheme and
    the Monthly Income Scheme over the G-sec rate of comparable maturity viz., of
    75 basis points (bps), 100 bps and 25 bps respectively were left untouched.
  2. The spread of 25 bps that long
    term instruments, such as the 5 yr Term Deposit, 5 year National Saving Certificates
    and Public Provident Fund (PPF) currently enjoy over G-Sec of comparable
    maturity were left untouched. This will help the self-employed professional and
    salaried classes and encourage long term savings.
  3. The 25 bps spread that 1 yr.,
    2yr. and 3 yr. term deposits, KVPs and 5 yr Recurring Deposits have over
    comparable tenure Government securities, shall stand removed. This will make
    them closer in interest rates to the similar instruments of the banking sector.
  4. The interest rates of all NSSs
    would be recalibrated on a quarterly basis to align the small saving interest
    rates with the market rates of the relevant government securities.
  5. The compounding of interest which
    is biannual in the case of 10 yr National Saving Certificate, 5 yr National
    Saving Certificate and Kisan Vikas Patra shall be done on an annual basis.
  6. Premature closure of PPF accounts
    shall be permitted in genuine cases, such as cases of serious ailment, higher
    education of children, etc. This shall be permitted with a penalty of 1% reduction
    in interest payable on the whole deposit and only for the accounts having
    completed five years from the date of opening.

BAE Systems, Mahindra join hands for howitzer facility

  • BAE Systems has down-selected
    Mahindra as its business partner for the proposed in-country assembly,
    integration and test (AIT) facility for the M777 ultra lightweight howitzer.
  • India and the United States are
    in discussions for a Foreign Military Sale (FMS) of 145 M777A2 LW155 howitzers
    for the Indian Army.
  • The facility is a fundamental part
    of the M777 production line.
  • A domestic Assembly, Integration
    and Test facility will enable the Indian Army to access maintenance, spares and
    support for the M777 locally.

India –
Union Cabinet clears LIGO-India gravitational wave observatory

  • In a major boost to Indian
    science research, the Union Cabinet on Wednesday approved a proposal to
    establish a state-of-the-art gravitational wave observatory in India in
    collaboration with the Laser Interferometer Gravitational-wave Observatory
    (LIGO) in the US.
  • The “in-principle”
    approval for the LIGO-India project for research on gravitational waves — a
    discovery that is regarded as the breakthrough of the century — is piloted by
    the department of atomic energy (DAE) and department of science and technology
    (DST), a press release said.
  • The project will bring
    unprecedented opportunities for scientists and engineers to dig deeper into the
    realm of gravitational wave and take global leadership in this new astronomical
    frontier.
  • The LIGO-India project will also
    bring considerable opportunities in cutting-edge technology for the Indian
    industry which will be engaged in the construction of the 8-km long beam tube
    at ultra-high vacuum on a levelled terrain.

Cabinet approves collaboration between AYUSH and WHO

  • The Union Cabinet has approved
    signing of Agreement for collaboration in Traditional Medicine between Ministry
    of Ayush and the World Health Organisation.
  • Briefing media here,
    Communications and IT Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad said that this will help in
    improving International acceptability and branding of Ayush systems.
  • The Cabinet also approved
    proposal for Notification of Commitments under the Trade Facilitation
    Agreement, TFA, of the World Trade Organisation.
  • It also approved ratification of
    Instrument of Acceptance of Protocol of TFA and National Committee on Trade
    Facilitation.

West Bengal government launched Utkarsh Bangla Scheme for
school-dropouts
  • West Bengal government on 16
    February 2016 launched Utkarsh Bangla Scheme, a welfare scheme for school-dropouts,
    in Kolkata.
  • Utkarsha Bangla is aimed at
    giving vocational training to school dropouts. Each youth will get training
    ranging from 400 to 1200 hours. The school-dropouts will be trained free of
    charge in tailoring, driving, repairing television and other electronic equipment
    and beauty courses etc.
  • During the inauguration
    programme, the Chief Minister, Mamata Banerjee said that in the last four
    years, state administration has trained 15 lakh boys and girls in vocational
    streams. Out of which about 10 lakh secured jobs.

Haryana, South Korean state of Chungcheongbuk to collaborate on
technology and development

  • South Korean state of
    Chungcheongbuk and Haryana on 16 February 2016 agreed to enter into a
    sister-statehood relationship for development.
  • Haryana Chief Minister Manohar
    Lal Khattar accepted the proposal for such a relationship made by a visiting
    South Korean delegation. The South Korean delegation was led by Section Chief
    of Chungcheongbuk Government Lee Iksoo.
  • Besides, Khattar invited South
    Korean businesses and investors to the Happening Haryana Global Investors
    Summit-2016 scheduled to be organized in Gurgaon from 7 to 8 March 2016.

Appointments –
Flipkart hires Fidelity International’s India head Nitin Seth as Chief
People Officer

  • India’s largest online
    marketplace Flipkart has appointed Fidelity International’s country head Nitin
    Seth in the role of Chief People Officer to head all its human resource
    functions at a time when it is seeing major churn in its leadership team. He
    will report directly to newly appointed CEO Binny Bansal.
  • Seth replaces Mekin Maheshwari,
    one of the earliest employees at Flipkart, who left the position in September
    last year to take up an advisory role in the company.
  • At Fidelity, Seth was responsible
    for offshore operations across India and Tunisia, leading over 2,600
    professionals in total. Prior to his stint at he worked with McKinsey where he
    was the director of McKC, the company’s knowledge centre in India.
  • Seth’s appointment at Flipkart
    comes at a time when there’s a massive churn in the top management.

Awards & Honors –
Fashion designer Manish Arora conferred Knight of the Legion of Honour,
France’s highest honour

  • Fashion designer Manish Arora on
    16 February 2016 was awarded with the Chevalier de la Legion d’Honneur (Knight
    of the Legion of Honour), France’s highest civilian honour.
  • French Ambassador Francois
    Richier presented the award to Arora for his renowned and critically-acclaimed
    contribution to the fashion world.

World –
First Silk Road train arrived in Tehran from China

  • The first train connecting Iran
    and China packed with Chinese goods arrived in Tehran on 15 February 2016. The
    arrival revived the ancient Silk Road trade route and also highlighted the
    economic possibilities for Iran since the lifting of international sanctions.
  • The train, also referred to as
    Silk Road train, passed through Kazakhstan and Turkmenistan to Iran, travelling
    a distance of 10399 kilometres. It had left Yiwu city in east China’s Zhejiang
    province on 28 January 2016.
  • In 2013, Chinese President Xi
    Jinping proposed the idea of creating a new Silk Road through Russia and the
    Ukraine into Europe. Under the title One Belt, One Road, this plan is China’s
    new national vision to improve its connectivity to Europe, Asia, and Africa.

Sports –
Indian Railways won 36th National Chess Team Championship
  • Indian Railways on 14 February
    2016 won the 36th National Chess team Championship in Bhubaneswar, Odisha. For
    the Indian Railways team it was the first ever title.
  • To win the championship the team
    defeated Life Insurance Corporation (LIC) team in the final.

Obituaries –
Former UN Secretary-General Boutros Boutros-Ghali died

  • The former United Nations
    Secretary-General Boutros Boutros-Ghali passed away on 16 February 2016 in
    Cairo, Egypt. He was 93.
  • Boutros-Ghali served as UN Chief
    from January 1992 to December 1996 and became the first secretary general to be
    deprived of a second term as he struggled to impose the UN’s writ in a
    post-cold war world. 
  • He was the first African to hold the position. He helped secure
    peace deals between Israel and Egypt.

Renowned Malayalam writer Kakkattil passes away

  • Noted Malayalam novelist and
    short story writer Akbar Kakkattil passed away at a private hospital here this
    morning.
  • He was 62 and is survived by wife
    and two children.
  • Kakkattil was undergoing
    treatment for a lung-related ailment for a year and the end came early this
    morning.
  • He has 54 books to his credit
    which includes, four novels, 27 short stories, six collections of essays, seven
    novelettes, a play, among others.
  • A two-time winner of the
    prestigious Kerala Sahitiya Akademi award, he was also recipient of the
    first-ever award in humour section in 1992 for his ‘School Diary’— an anthology
    of short essays and in the year 2004 his ‘Vadakkuninnoru Kudumba Vrithantham’
    was awarded as the best novel.
  • He was the Vice-President of the
    Kerala Sahitya Akademi and Member of Malayalam Advisory Panel of National Book
    Trust and Malayalam Advisory Board of Kerala Government.


Regards

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