Current Affairs Update – 16-17 Jan, 2015

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Finance/Business/Economy News
1. RBI issued final
guidelines for banks to act as Insurance brokers

  • Reserve Bank of India on 15 January 2015 issued final
    guidelines for banks to act as insurance brokers.
  • Earlier, the banks were allowed to undertake insurance
    business as agents of insurance companies on fee basis with an aim to increase
    insurance penetration in the country. The banks were allowed to look forward
    for participation in insurance business in accordance to Union Government’s
    notification in which it allowed banks to do business of insurance under
    Section 6(1)(o) of the Banking Regulation Act, 1949.
  • Banks were allowed to undertake referral business through
    their network of branches on 29 October 2002.

RBI issued guidelines
for both types of banks, who are setting JV or are undertaking insurance
broking and they are

  • Banks setting up a subsidiary or joint venture (JV) for
    undertaking insurance business with risk participation: they will not be allowed
    to undertake insurance business with risk participation departmentally and may
    do so only through a subsidiary/JV set up for the purpose. These banks can
    approach RBI to set JV or subsidiary for undertaking insurance business with
    risk participation, if in case they satisfy the eligibility criteria as on 31
    March 2014.


The criteria is

  • The net worth of the bank should not be less than 1000
    crore rupees
  • The CRAR of the bank should not be less than 10 percent
  • The level of net non-performing assets should be not more
    than 3 percent
  • The bank should have made a net profit for the last three
    continuous years
  • The track record of the performance of the subsidiaries,
    if any, of the concerned bank should be satisfactory

Banks undertaking insurance broking/corporate agency
through a subsidiary or joint venture: they require prior approval of RBI for
setting up a subsidiary or JV. Those banks may approach RBI for approval for
setting up the subsidiary or JV if in case they satisfy the eligibility criteria
as on 31 March 2014. 


The criteria is

  • The net worth of the bank should not be less than 500
    crore rupees after investing in the equity of such company
  • The CRAR of the bank should not be less than 10 percent
  • The level of net non-performing assets should be not more
    than 3 percent
  • The bank should have made a net profit for the last three
    continuous years
  • The track record of the performance of the subsidiaries,
    if any, of the concerned bank should be satisfactory

2. Union Government launched
two schemes to support Scheduled Castes
  • Union Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment on 16
    January 2015 launched two schemes to support the Scheduled Castes (SC). These
    schemes are Venture Capital Fund for Scheduled Castes and Green Business
    scheme.
  • The scheme was launched by Thaawar Chand Gehlot, Union
    Minister of Social Justice and Empowerment.
  • The Venture Capital Fund for Scheduled Castes scheme was
    launched with an initial capital of 200 crore rupees. Under the scheme,
    financial assistance of 15 Crore rupees for a period of 6 years will be
    provided to 30 SC entrepreneurs in a year.
  • It is launched to promote entrepreneurship amongst the
    Scheduled castes who are oriented towards innovation and growth technologies.
  • Under Green Business Scheme, loan for unit cost up to 1
    lakh rupees at concessional rate of interest will be provided to Scheduled Castes
    for activities such as e-rickshaw, Solar Pump and Solar energy powered
    implements, poly house etc.

3. Japan committed
2620 crore rupees Overseas Development Assistance loan to India
  • Japan committed to provide an Overseas Development
    Assistance (ODA) loan of 2620 crore rupees (50 billion Yen) to India. The
    notification related to this was released by the Union Ministry of Finance on
    16 January 2015.
  • The loan amount will support infrastructure projects that
    will be implemented in public-private partnership mode.
  • The loan will be provided by Japan International Commerce
    Agency to the India Infrastructure Finance Company (IIFC) to support
    infrastructure projects built on public-private partnership mode.
  • The commitment to provide the ODA loan was part of pledge
    made by Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe during the Prime Minister Narendra
    Modi’s five-day visit to Japan. Modi visited Japan in August – September 2014.

News Related to India and Indian Polity

4. Baba Ramdev
appointed as state brand ambassador of Haryana Government
  • Baba Ramdev was appointed as state brand ambassador of
    Haryana Government. Minister of Sports and Health of Haryana, Anil Vij
    announced the decision on 15 January 2015.
  • The appointment was a part of government of Haryana’s
    ambitious plans to promote yoga and ayurveda in Haryana state.
  • Krishna Ayurvedic college of Haryana will be developed
    into an Ayurvedic University whereas a yogic centre of international standards
    will be built in Panchkula.

5. After 32 years,
India finally gets LCA Tejas aircraft

  • After a 32-year wait, the first indigenously-built Tejas
    Light Combat Aircraft (LCA) was today handed over by Defence Minister Manohar
    Parrikar to the Indian Air Force, a red letter day for Indian defence and
    aerospace sector.
  • The handover signals the start of the process of
    induction of the fighters, a 4.5th generation aircraft, being built at home
    which has cost the exchequer nearly Rs 8,000 crore.
  • The entire project by the DRDO and Hindustan Aeronautics
    Limited (HAL), including the final induction in the Air Force and Navy, is
    estimated to cost over Rs 30,000 crore.
  • The LCA, which will replace the ageing MiG21s, is
    significant for its lighter weight and greater agility and manoeuvrability.
  • This version of the aircraft lacks the latest electronic
    warfare suite, which was integrated into one of the LCAs two weeks ago, mid-air
    refuelling and long-range missiles capabilities, among other things that the
    FOC-configuration aircraft will have.
  • The IOC-I was granted to the aircraft, being built by
    HAL, in January 2011.

6. Noted RTI activist
Subhash Chandra Agrawal conferred with Giraffe Hero award 2015

  • Renowned Indian RTI activist Subhash Chandra Agrawal was
    on 15 January 2015 conferred with the Giraffe Hero award 2015 by a US-based NGO
    The Giraffe Heroes Project. The award will be presented to him on 22 January
    2015.
  • Agrawal was awarded for his bravery in utilising the
    Right to Information (RTI) Act, 2005 for public good despite innumerable
    challenges. Agrawal also holds the Guinness record of filing highest number of
    published letters to the editors.
  • His RTI applications has delivered some important orders
    in India like declaration of assets by Supreme Court judges, bringing political
    parties under the RTI act among others.

7. First set of RIC
readers handed over to Chiefs of Indian Navy and Coast Guard
  • Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh handed over the first
    set of Resident Identity Card (RIC) readers to Navy Chief Admiral R K Dhowan
    and Coast Guard Director General Vice-Admiral A G Thapliyal on 14 January 2015.
  • These RIC readers will be used by maritime security
    agencies to check identity cards of the residents of coastal area issued under
    RIC Scheme.
  • As per RIC Scheme under the National Population
    Registrar, government had issued these identity cards to more than 65 lakh
    residents of coastal villages. Apart from this, the Union government is also
    preparing the National Population Registrar (NPR) in 3331 coastal villages
    under the said scheme.

8. J & K selected
for the National Award of e-Governance for Best District Level initiative
  • Jammu and Kashmir (J&K) on 16 January 2015 was
    selected for the National Award for e-Governance for the best district-level
    initiative in Citizen-Centric Service Delivery through ICT. 
  • The Department of Administrative Reforms, Ministry of
    Personnel and Prime Minister Office has selected e-Panchayat of Jammu and
    Kashmir for the award.
  •  J & K for the
    first time will be awarded since the institution of awards in 1997. The award
    will be presented by Ministry of Personnel at National Conference on
    e-governance to be held in Gujarat from 30 January to 31 January 2015.

9. Book on Sonia
Gandhi titled The Red Sari written by Javier Moro released in India

  • The Red Sari, an unauthorized biography of Congress Party
    President Sonia Gandhi, was released by Roli Books in India on 16 January 2015.
    The book has been written by Spanish author Javier Moro.
  • The book describes about how Sonia Gandhi’s courage,
    honesty, and dedication have made her a leader in the eyes of one-sixth of
    humanity that is from her idyllic childhood to her passionate love affair, and
    from her days as a docile daughter-in-law to her current status of being the
    only Indian politician to have refused Prime Ministership.
  • This book also examines the lives of the famous
    Nehru-Gandhi family set against the backdrop of the Bangladesh War, the
    Emergency, Operation Blue Star, and other events that have shaped modern Indian
    history.

10. HAL Chairman R K
Tyagi conferred with JGBS-Top Rankers’ Excellence Award
  • Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) Chairman R.K. Tyagi
    was on 16 January 2015 conferred with the JGBS-Top Rankers’ Excellence Award
    for CEO of the year 2014.
  • Tyagi played a key role in 2014 being a successful year
    for HAL through series of initiatives. The year was dedicated for Integrity,
    Customer Focus and Quality (ICQ). 
  • The award has been instituted by Jindal Global Business
    School (JGBS) and Top Rankers’ Management Consultants.
  • JGBS is part of O P Jindal Global University, Delhi
    whereas Top Rankers’ Management Consultants is a Delhi based executive search
    company which provides recruitment and HR solutions to various organizations.

11. Nine Censor Board
members resign after Leela steps down

  • Nine Censor Board members have put in their papers protesting
    what they claimed was the “cavalier and dismissive manner” in which the Board
    is treated by the government.
  • The members said the events that led to the Chairperson
    Leela Samson resigning from her position were merely the “proverbial last
    straw”.
  • Samson, who headed the statutory body under the
    Information and Broadcasting Ministry, resigned amid controversy surrounding
    the clearance of controversial film “Messenger of God” featuring Dera Saccha
    Sauda chief Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh.
  • In a letter, the nine members – Arundhati Nag, Ira
    Bhaskar, Lora Prabhu, Pankaj Sharma, Rajeev Masand, Sekharbabu Kancherla, Shaji
    Karun, Shubhra Gupta and T.G Thyagarajan have submitted their resignation from
    the Censor Board.
  • The members said that since the time that they first
    joined the Board, they had been seeking critical changes, which were imperative
    if the functioning of the CBFC has to be reformed.

12. Tamilmani likely
to be interim DRDO chief

  • K. Tamilmani, Chief Controller of Aeronautics Cluster in
    the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO), is likely to become
    the interim head of the organisation, succeeding Avinash Chander, who was asked
    to step down after the government suddenly ended his contractual term.
  • Dr. Tamilmani, the senior-most of the seven cluster heads
    in the DRDO, is the Director of the Centre for Military Airworthiness and Certification
    (CEMILAC), Bangalore.
  • Government sources indicated on Friday that a proposal to
    de-link the position of Scientific Adviser to the Defence Minister from the
    Director-General, DRDO, was under consideration as part of a major overhaul of
    the organisation, which has faced criticism on account of time and huge cost
    overruns in key defence projects. Currently, the DRDO chief acts as the
    Scientific Adviser to the Defence Minister.

International News
13. China to launch
construction of five new nuclear reactors with total capacity of 5 Gigawatts in
2015
  • China will launch the construction of at least five new
    nuclear reactors with a total capacity of more than 5 Gigawatts in 2015. The
    decision was announced by the Deputy Secretary General of Nuclear Society of
    China, Shen Lixin on 15 January 2015.
  • At Present, China has 22 nuclear reactors in operation
    and 26 under construction. China launched the construction of five nuclear
    reactors in 2014 and had planned to keep up the pace of construction of nuclear
    reactors in 2015.
  • According to the World Nuclear Association, four new
    reactors started operating in Fujian, Liaoning and Guangdong provinces of China
    in 2014.
  • In 2012, State Council of China outlined the current
    nuclear reactor construction goals and approved the 12th Five-year Plan for
    Nuclear Safety and Radioactive Pollution Prevention and Vision for 2020. It is
    aimed to triple China’s atomic energy capacity to at least 58 gigawatts by
    2020.

14. Deep Kumar
Upadhyay appointed as Nepal’s ambassador to India

  • Nepali Congress leader Deep Kumar Upadhyay was on 16
    January 2015 appointed as Nepal’s ambassador to India. The post was lying
    vacant since 2011.
  • The decision to appoint Deep Kumar Upadhyay was taken at
    the cabinet meeting headed by Nepal’s Prime Minister Sushil Kumar Koirala. He
    is a Central Working Committee member of the Nepali Congress party.
  • Earlier, Upadhyay has served as an assistant finance
    minister of Nepal. However, he does not have experience in foreign affairs as
    he had never served any diplomatic position earlier.
  • The post was lying vacant for more than 3 years when the
    Maoist-led government called back its ambassador to India Rukma Shukshere Rana
    in August 2011. She was called back after she was found serving as the Managing
    Director of Indian joint venture Dabur Nepal.

15. Year 2014 ranked
as Earth’s hottest year since 1880
  • The year 2014 was ranked as the Earth’s hottest year
    since 1880 as per the two separate analyses done by National Aeronautics and
    Space Administration (NASA) scientists and National Oceanic and Atmospheric
    Administration (NOAA) scientists. The findings of NASA and NOAA were released
    on 16 January 2015.
  • Both NASA and NOAA conducted independent analyses based
    on satellite and ground readings, but they arrived at similar conclusions.
  • The global average temperature for 2014 was roughly
    1.24°F (or 0.69°C) warmer than the 20th-century average that included record
    heat in the western United States, Europe, Australia, and much of the Pacific Ocean.

16. The US and UK
announced cooperative measures in combating cyber threats
  • The US President Barack Obama and UK Prime Minister David
    Cameron announced cooperative measures in combating cyber threats. Both the
    countries announced the measures during the bilateral summit between the two
    countries held in Washington DC, US on 16 January 2015.
  • The measures include better threat information sharing
    and the creation of a new joint cyber task force.
  • The measure on better threat information sharing will
    bring together Internet security experts from the Government Communications
    Headquarters (GCHQ) and Security Service MI5 of the UK and the National
    Security Agency (NSA) and the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) of the US.
  • On the other hand, the formation of a joint cyber task
    force will have a physical presence in both the countries.

17. Japanese PM
pledges support for W. Asian countries battling Islamic State

  • Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe warned on Saturday
    that the world would suffer an “immeasurable loss’’ if terrorism spreads in
    West Asia and pledged about $200 million in non-military assistance for countries
    battling Islamic State.
  • The threat of Islamist militancy has come into sharp
    focus outside West Asia after gunmen killed 17 people in three days of violence
    in Paris that began on January 7 with an attack on the offices of a newspaper
    that had published satirical images of the Prophet Mohammad.
  • Islamic State controls large parts of OPEC oil producer
    Iraq and neighbouring Syria has declared a caliphate and wants to redraw the
    map of a region vital for Japan’s energy needs.
  • In addition to the $2.2-billion in assistance Japan
    pledged for West Asia two years ago, Abe said his government would provide
    another $2.5 billion in non-military assistance in fields such as humanitarian
    assistance and infrastructure.
  • Abe’s tour will also include Jordan, Palestinian territories,
    Lebanon and Turkey.
  • Japan will provide Egypt with $360 million in loans for
    projects, including an airport and a power grid in a country suffering from an
    energy crisis, Abe said.

Sports News

18. Stephen
Constantine appointed as head coach of India’s men football team

  • Stephen Constantine was appointed as the head coach of
    Indian men’s football team on 16 January 2015. He will supervise both the senior
    and under-23 football teams.
  • Constantine of England replaced Wim Koevermans of
    Netherlands, who resigned in October 2014 after India faced a 3-2 defeat
    against Palestine in a friendly match. It is expected that he will take charge
    of the team by first week of February 2015.
  • This is the second time that 52-year-old Constantine has
    been appointed as the coach of Indian football team. He served as India’s coach
    from 2002 to 2005, during which the team achieved its best-ever ranking of 109.
    During that tenure India won the LG Cup in Vietnam and finished runners-up in
    the Afro-Asian Games.
  • Current world ranking of the Indian football team is 171.

19. Andrey
Baryshpolets won the 13th Parsvanth International Grandmasters Chess Tournament
  • Ukrainian Grandmaster Andrey Baryshpolets won the 13th
    Parsvanth International Grandmasters Chess Tournament on 16 January 2015. He
    defeated Deepan Chakkravarthy of India in the 10th and final round of the
    Tournament that was held in New Delhi.
  • Baryshpolets went home richer by winning 300000 rupees in
    the 3000000 rupees prize money festival. Baryshpolets was followed by Ivan
    Popov of Russia who finished second and Alberto David of Italy who finished
    third. All the three got 8 points each.
  • Apart from this, the C category of the Tournament was won
    by Vardan Nagpal who won a cash prize of 1.25 lakhs rupees for his efforts. The
    second place in this section was won by Rishabh Jain who won 100000 rupees.

20. Sania Mirza,
Bethanie Mattek-Sands won women’s doubles title of Sydney International

  • Sania Mirza and her partner Bethanie Mattek-Sands of the
    US on 16 January 2015 won the women’s doubles title of the Sydney International
    Tennis Tournament.
  • The unseeded Indo-American pair defeated top-seeded
    Americans Abigail Spears and Raquel Kops-Jones 6-3, 6-3 in the summit clash
    played in Sydney. With this win, the duo earned 470 ranking points each and
    split 39000 US Dollar as prize money.
  • This was the fifth WTA title for Sania and Bethanie
    together, while it was the first title of the season for Sania. This was 23rd
    career title for Sania.

21. Mark Knowles,
Ellen Hoog named FIH Player-of-the-year 2014
  • Australian captain Mark Knowles and midfielder of the
    Netherland Ellen Hoog on 15 January 2015 were named as the International Hockey
    Federation (FIH) Player of the Year 2014 in men and women category,
    respectively.

Other names to be
honoured include

  • Goalkeepers-of-the-year (Men): Jaap Stockmann of the
    Netherlands
  • Goalkeepers-of-the-year (Women): Joyce Sombroek of the
    Netherlands
  • Rising-stars-of-the-year (Men): Gonzalo Peillat of
    Argentina
  • Rising-stars-of-the-year (Women): Florencia Habif of
    Argentina
  • Women’s Coach-of-the-year: Argentine Max Caldas, Coach of
    the Netherlands team
  • Men’s Coach-of-the-year: Australian Ric Charlesworth,
    Coach of Australia team

22. Petra Kvitova won
women’s single title of Sydney International Tennis tournament

  • Petra Kvitova of Czech Republic on 16 January 2015 won
    the women’s single title of Sydney International Tennis tournament. She won the
    title defeating Karolina Pliskova of Czech Republic 7-6, 7-6 in the final.
  • This is the 15th career title won by former Wimbledon Champion
    and World No 4 Kvitova. She won the Wimbledon Championship twice in 2011 and
    2014 respectively.
  • Pliskova, on the other hand, finished her 2014 season
    with more aces than any other player apart from Serena Williams of the US. With
    this win she was ranked 22 and this is the first she was in the top 20.
  • The Sydney International also called Apia International
    Sydney is a tune-up event before Australian Open, the first Grand Slam
    tournament on the tennis calendar.

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