Current Affairs Update – 22nd January, 2016

Hello and welcome to ExamPundit. Here are the Important Current Affairs of 22nd January, 2016. These are important for the upcoming LIC AAO 2016 Exam.

Current Affairs at a Glance – 22nd January, 2016
  1. India will be the fastest growing major economy in the world in 2016,
    says the United Nations World Economic
    Situation and Prospects 2016 report
    launched today. This report expects the Indian economy, which accounts for
    over 70 per cent of South Asia’s GDP,
    to grow 7.3 per cent in 2016 and 7.5
    per cent in 2017, up from an estimated 7.2 per cent in 2015.
  2. The government will pay banks a 2.5% commission to unlock the country’s
    massive stash of gold under a new monetisation scheme
    , the RBI said, as the
    ambitious plan received a poor response from banks and customers.
  3. Deposits in accounts opened under
    the government’s flagship financial inclusion programme —— Pradhan Mantri Jan Dhan Yojana (PMJDY) —— have crossed the Rs. 30,000 crore mark.
  4. The Central Board of Direct Taxes on Friday signed seven more unilateral Advance Pricing Agreements (APAs) with
    taxpayers
    , taking the total number of such pacts to 39.
  5. The Bombay Stock Exchange (BSE) on 18 January 2016 launched Algorithm Trading Test Environment (ATTE)
    service in partnership with Symphony
    Fintech Solutions Pvt Ltd. It is also known as AlgoTrading or BlackBox Trading.
  6. The Chhattisgarh Government on 20 January 2016 signed a
    share-holding agreement with a few central government-run corporations for the second phase of Jagdalpur-Raoghat railway
    project
    .
  7. Senior revenue service officer Atulesh Jindal on 21 January 2016 was appointed
    chairman of Central Board of Direct Taxes (CBDT)
    .
  8. Union Health Minister J P Nadda was today named by UN chief as a member of the first
    high-level UN advisory group of a ‘Every Woman Every Child’
    , that will
    address the major health challenges faced by women, children and adolescents.
  9. Senior revenue officer Ashok Kumar Mehta was today
    appointed as Private Secretary to
    President Pranab Mukherjee
    .
  10. The Nai Manzil scheme was on 20 January 2016 launched for the first time in Jammu and Kashmir.
    The scheme was launched for girls in Srinagar in three institutions- Skill
    Development Centre, University of Kashmir and two Madarsas.
  11. Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu
    today launched a free high-speed public
    Wi-Fi service in collaboration with technology giant Google at Mumbai Central
    here
    , the first station in the
    country to get such facility.
  12. Nuclear Threat Initiative (NTI), a US-based think-tank, on 14
    January 2016 released the 2016 Nuclear
    Security Index
    with the theme Building a Framework for Assurance,
    Accountability, and Action. Among the 24 states with one kilogram or more of
    weapons-usable nuclear materials in the world, while Australia was adjudged as
    the safest, India was among the least
    safe with the 21st rank
    .


Finance/Industry/Banking
India expected to be
world’s fastest growing economy, says new UN report

  • India will be the fastest growing major economy in the world
    in 2016, says the United Nations World Economic Situation and Prospects 2016
    report launched today.
  • This report expects the Indian economy, which accounts for
    over 70 per cent of South Asia’s GDP, to grow 7.3 per cent in 2016 and 7.5 per
    cent in 2017, up from an estimated 7.2 per cent in 2015.
  • South Asia is expected to be the world’s fastest growing region
    in 2016 and 2017 despite challenging global conditions, the report added.
  • On India, the UN report noted that the macroeconomic
    environment has improved, helped by the sharp decline in the prices of oil,
    metals and food.
  • Consumer and investor confidence has risen even as India’s
    Government faced difficulties in implementing its wide-ranging reform agenda
    and some economic indicators, such as industrial production, remain volatile,
    the report added.
  • Asked what explained the optimism over India’s GDP seeing
    incremental growth improvement in coming years, Nagesh Kumar, Economist and
    Head,UN-ESCAP South and South West Asia Office, said that many of the reforms
    that are stalled now are expected to get on track.
  • Moreover, the softening of global oil prices, which is the
    only silver lining for India, is expected to continue, especially after Iran
    coming on board.

Banks to get
commission for unlocking household gold: RBI

  • The government will pay banks a 2.5% commission to unlock
    the country’s massive stash of gold under a new monetisation scheme, the RBI
    said, as the ambitious plan received a poor response from banks and customers.
  • Prime Minister Narendra Modi launched the Gold Monetisation
    Scheme on November 5 to lure an estimated 20,000 tonnes of gold hoarded in
    households and temples into the banking system and trim the import bill of the
    world’s second-biggest gold consumer after China.
  • However, only a few kilograms trickled in over the last two
    months as banks showed little interest in popularising the scheme because of
    negligible returns for them.
  • Now, the government has decided to pay the participating
    banks a total commission of 2.5%, including 1.5% handling charges, for the
    first year, the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) said in a statement late on Thursday.

Jan Dhan accounts
deposits cross Rs. 30,000 cr

  • Deposits in accounts opened under the government’s flagship
    financial inclusion programme —— Pradhan Mantri Jan Dhan Yojana (PMJDY) —— have
    crossed the Rs. 30,000 crore mark.
  • As many as 20.38 crore bank accounts were opened under the
    PMJDY as on the January 20, as per the latest data available. These bank
    accounts had deposits of Rs. 30,638.29 crore (about $4.5 billion).
  • The accounts that can be opened under PMJDY are Basic Savings
    Bank Deposit Accounts (BSBDA) which can be of zero balance, as per RBI
    guidelines.
  • As per the trends available, the percentage of accounts with
    ‘Zero Balance’ have actually shown a significant decline.
  • Accounts with no balance in them were as high as 76.81 per
    cent of the total opened under the scheme as on September 30, 2015. They have
    come down to just about 32 per cent at the end of December.
  • The Finance Ministry data further showed that 8.74 crore of
    the accounts were seeded with Aadhaar and 17.14 crore account holders were
    issued RuPay cards.

CBDT signs seven more
advance pricing agreements
  • The Central Board of Direct Taxes on Friday signed seven
    more unilateral Advance Pricing Agreements (APAs) with taxpayers, taking the
    total number of such pacts to 39.
  • “The seven APAs signed on Friday pertain to various sectors
    of the economy like investment advisory services, software development services
    and IT enabled Services. The agreements signed today also include one of the
    few agreements to be reached in the manufacturing sector,” said an official
    release.
  • Tax authorities have signed 30 such agreements this fiscal.
    The APA scheme, which was introduced in 2012, tries to provide certainty to
    taxpayers in transfer pricing by specifying the method of pricing and setting
    the prices of international transactions in advance.
  • The scheme provides certainty in transfer pricing up to a
    period of nine years and helps reduce tax disputes.

BSE launched
Algorithm Trading Test Environment in partnership with Symphony Fintech
Solutions

  • The Bombay Stock Exchange (BSE) on 18 January 2016 launched
    Algorithm Trading Test Environment (ATTE) service in partnership with Symphony
    Fintech Solutions Pvt Ltd.
  • The BSE is Asia’s oldest stock exchange and, at present, is
    the world’s fastest stock exchange with a speed of 6 microseconds.

Features of the
Algorithm Trading Test Environment
  • This will enable all market participants to test their
    trading algorithms in Equity, Equity Derivative and Currency Derivative
    segments free of cost.
  • The members will be able to test their trading strategies
    with live market data feed during market hours and historical market data.

About Algorithmic
Trading
  • It is also known as Algo-Trading or Black-Box Trading.
  • As per SEBI’s Broad Guidelines on Algorithmic Trading,
    released in March 2012, algorithmic trading is defined as any order that is
    generated using automated execution logic.

Indian Bureau of
Mines, National Remote Sensing Centre signed MoU for monitoring mining activity

  • Indian Bureau of Mines (IBM) and National Remote Sensing
    Centre (NRSC) on 21 January 2016 signed Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) for
    monitoring mining activity through satellite technology.
  • The MoU was signed by IBM Controller General R K Sinha and
    NRSC Director V K Dadhwal in the presence of joint secretary, Union Ministry of
    Mines, Subhash Chandra.
  • The MoU helps in the sustainable development and responsible
    use of precious mineral resources and also checking any anomalies in mining
    activities by licensee.

Features of the
MoU
  • As part of the MoU, the IBM would set up an exclusive remote
    sensing cell under the technical guidance of the NRSC at its offices in Nagpur
    and Hyderabad.
  • These cells utilise Bhuvan-based services for monitoring
    mining activities across the country.

BEPS guidelines of
OECD to be implemented in India from 1 April 2016
  • The term BEPS is an acronym of Base Erosion and Profit
    Shifting and it was in news in the third week of January 2016 as India decided
    to implement these guidelines.
  • BEPS refers to tax planning strategies that would exploit
    the gaps and mismatches in tax rules to artificially shift profits to low or
    no-tax locations where there is little or no economic activity, resulting in
    little or no overall corporate tax being paid.
  • These norms were announced by Organization for Economic
    Cooperation and Development (OECD) in October 2015 to close tax loopholes that
    it estimated cost countries upwards of 100 billion US dollars a year.

MSDE and DoT sign an
MoU to develop and implement National Action Plan for Skill Development in
Telecom Sector

  • The Ministry of Skill Development and Entrepreneurship
    (MSDE) in line with Prime Minister’s vision to make India the skill capital of
    the world, today signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with Department of
    Telecommunication (DoT) to develop and implement National Action Plan for Skill
    Development in Telecom Sector, utilizing PSUs under DOT with a common objective
    of fulfilling skilled manpower requirement of the telecom sector and at the
    same time providing quality opportunities for employment / entrepreneurship.
  • MSDE and DoT together have agreed to make concerted joint
    efforts towards skill development by facilitating mobilization of financial
    support for various activities under the National Ecosystem for Development of
    Telecom Skills by suggesting PSUs under DOT to utilize at least 20 percent of
    their CSR funds for skilling purposes.
  • The Ministers also launched the Pradhan Mantri Kaushal Vikas
    Yojna (PMKVY) Rupay ATM Cum Debit card from Bank of India which would be issued
    to the students with 1 Lac Rupee PA Insurance Cover.BOI also has its own
    “Online Portal” for opening the accounts of students in PMKVY Scheme. The
    Training partners are required to get themselves registered for this process
    with the bank.
  • The two Ministers also flagged of the Skill Vans. These vans
    would travel to different parts of the country and provide skill development
    trainings to the youth. These vans would be equipped with facilities to provide
    skill development on the spot.

Chhattisgarh
Government inked pact with central PSUs for railway project

  • The Chhattisgarh Government on 20 January 2016 signed a
    share-holding agreement with a few central government-run corporations for the
    second phase of Jagdalpur-Raoghat railway project.
  • A special purpose vehicle (SPV)-Chhattisgarh Dakshin Railway
    Pvt Ltd-was constituted through the agreement to build 142 km railway line at a
    cost of 2000 crore rupees.
  • The project aims at leading the economic development of tribal-dominated
    Bastar region.

Key highlights of
the agreement
  • National Mines Development Corporation will have 43 percent
    stake in the SPV
  • IRCON, a Ministry of Railways company, will have 26 percent
    stake in the SPV.
  • SAIL will have 21 percent and Chhattisgarh Mines Development
    Corporation will have 10 percent stake in the SPV.

Appointments
IRS officer Atulesh
Jindal appointed as Chairman of CBDT

  • Senior revenue service officer Atulesh Jindal on 21 January
    2016 was appointed chairman of Central Board of Direct Taxes (CBDT).
  • Jindal will succeed A K Jain, who completes his term at the end
    of January 2016.
  • The Appointments Committee of the Cabinet has approved the
    appointment of Jindal as chairman of the apex policy-making body of the income
    tax department.

J P Nadda named to
high-level UN advisory group on women, children ‘Every Woman Every Child’

  • Union Health Minister J P Nadda was today named by UN chief
    as a member of the first high-level UN advisory group of a global movement,
    that will address the major health challenges faced by women, children and
    adolescents.
  • The high-level advisory group of ‘Every Woman Every Child’
    will be co-chaired by Michelle Bachelet Jeria, President of Chile and
    Hailemariam Dessalegn, Prime Minister of Ethiopia.
  • The advisory group will help provide leadership and inspire
    ambitious action for women’s, children’s and adolescents’ health during the
    transition from the Millennium Development Goals to the universal Sustainable
    Development Goals agenda, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said in a statement.

Ashok Kumar Mehta
Appointed PS to Pranab Mukherjee

  • Senior revenue officer Ashok Kumar Mehta was today appointed
    as Private Secretary to President Pranab Mukherjee.
  • Mehta, a 1987 batch Indian Revenue Service (IRS) officer, is
    working as Commissioner in Kolhapur, Maharashtra, as per his service records.
  • The Appointments Committee of the Cabinet (ACC) has approved
    the appointment of Mehta as PS to the President, an order issued by Department
    of Personnel and Training said.
  • He has been appointed on co-terminus basis with the
    President’s tenure, it said.
  • Mehta has been appointed in place of Rajneesh, a 1987 batch
    IAS officer of Himachal Pradesh cadre. Today’s order did not mention further
    posting of Rajneesh who was working as PS to the President since July 25, 2012.

Moldovan parliament
appointed Pavel Filip as Prime Minister

  • Moldovan parliament on 20 January 2016 appointed Pavel Filip
    as the Prime Minister. He would be the third prime minister of Moldova in less
    than a year.
  • The appointment follows the rise and fall of two prime
    ministers in 2015, namely Chiril Gaburici ( June 2015) and Valeriu Strelet
    (October 2015).
  • The small ex-Soviet state and Europe’s poorest country was
    in a political turmoil after the fraudulent disappearance of 1 billion US
    dollars from the banking system and then government was brought down in a
    no-confidence vote in October 2015.
  • Pavel Filip, a member of the main pro-European coalition and
    a former IT and communications minister in the last government, followed the
    rejection of two previous candidates. His Candidature as a compromise figure
    was resisted by opposition as he was close aide of Vladimir Plahotniuc.

India
Nai Manzil Scheme
launched in Jammu and Kashmir

  • The Nai Manzil scheme was on 20 January 2016 launched for
    the first time in Jammu and Kashmir. The scheme was launched for girls in
    Srinagar in three institutions- Skill Development Centre, University of Kashmir
    and two Madarsas.
  • The two Madarsas are Madarsa Shahi-i-Hamdan in Pampore and
    Madarsa Imam Sadique in Shadipur, Bandipora.

Highlights of the
scheme
  • Under the scheme, girls from minority communities will be
    imparted three month skill development training in seven identified sectors
    relevant to the region.
  • These include training in saffron processing, food
    processing, embroidery, computers IT (both software and hardware),
    Tourism/hospitality, electronics and plumbing.
  • Trainees will also be given stipend of 4500 rupees for the
    course.

Google’s free Wi-Fi
launch at Mumbai Central Station

  • Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu today launched a free
    high-speed public Wi-Fi service in collaboration with technology giant Google
    at Mumbai Central here, the first station in the country to get such facility.
  • Terming the facility as “world class”, Prabhu said around
    100 busiest stations across the country will be brought under the free public
    Wi-Fi service by this year-end, making it the world’s largest such project.
  • Terming it as a “historic day”, the minister said that his
    government was trying hard to develop sustainable infrastructure and to improve
    safety and security of the passengers and bring financial stability to the
    entity.
  • The project of providing free Wi-Fi connectivity at 400
    railway stations across the country was announced last September during Prime
    Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to the Google headquarters in the US.

Indexes
2016 NTI Nuclear
Security Index released
  • Nuclear Threat Initiative (NTI), a US-based think-tank, on
    14 January 2016 released the 2016 Nuclear Security Index with the theme
    Building a Framework for Assurance, Accountability, and Action.
  • The Index assessed global nuclear security conditions in 176
    countries in two areas – the potential theft of weapons-usable nuclear
    materials and the potential sabotage of nuclear facilities.
  • Among the 24 states with one kilogram or more of
    weapons-usable nuclear materials in the world, while Australia was adjudged as
    the safest, India was among the least safe with the 21st rank.
  • Among states with less than one kilogram of or no
    weapons-usable nuclear materials, Sweden ranks first, and Djibouti is the most
    improved.
  • Sabotage ranking: Finland ranks first among the 45 states
    that have nuclear facilities vulnerable to sabotage.

Awards
& Honors –
Rahul Thakkar won an
Oscar Award for technical achievement

  • Person of Indian Origin Rahul Thakkar on 8 January 2016 was
    named as one of winners of the Scientific and Technical Awards given by the
    Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, famously called Oscar Awards.
  • He shares the award with Richard Chuang in the category of
    groundbreaking design of the DreamWorks Animation Media Review System.
  • He will receive the award at the Academy’s annual Scientific
    and Technical Awards Presentation on 13 February 2016 in Beverly Hills.
  • With this he joined the club of other person of Indian
    origins who have won Oscar Awards. These are Bhanu Athaiya, Satyajit Ray, Resul
    Pookutty, A.R. Rahman and Gulzar.

World
Scientists of
California spotted the potential Planet 9

  • Scientists spotted the potential planet by seeing the
    disturbances that it is causing in the gravitational field of the far solar
    system. There appears to be a great perturber upsetting the movement of other
    objects in that far away region.
  • Konstantin Batygin and Michael E. Brown, the researchers at
    the California Institute of Technology claimed it as a possible ninth planet
    and their research papers were published in The Astronomical Journal on 20
    January 2016 with the title ‘Evidence for a distant Giant Planet in the Solar
    System.’

Obituaries
Founder Chairman of
MTAR passes away

  • Ravindra Reddy, founder Chairman of MTAR, which supplies
    critical indigenously developed systems for India’s space and nuclear
    programmes, passed away on Thursday at the age of 77.
  • From a small machine shop in Bala Nagar industrial area of
    Hyderabad, MTAR grew under his leadership to manufacture rocket engines that
    powered Mangalyaan (Indian mission to Mars). Over the years, the private
    company fabricated engines for the PSLV and GSLV launchers, which have put numerous
    satellites into space.
  • The company has also created special facilities to make key
    components in nuclear power reactors. The Atomic Energy department fully
    trusted the company as it acquired the capabilities of building a nuclear
    reactor entirely on its own, a company release said.
  • His engineering acumen brought him recognition in the form
    of awards such as Defence Technology Absorption Award from the Prime Minister
    (in 2004), INS Industrial Excellence award in 2003 from El Baradei, and
    Chairman of IAEA (International Atomic Energy Agency).

Italian film director
Ettore Scola died
  • Italian director Ettore Scola passed away on 19 January 2016
    following a prolonged illness in Rome. He was 84.
  • As a filmmaker, he was considered to be among the last of a
    generation of Italian greats with a keen eye for the issues facing his country.

Regards

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