Current Affairs Update – 21st January, 2016

Hello and welcome to ExamPundit. Here are the Important Current Affairs of 21st January, 2016. These are important for the upcoming Syndicate Bank Manipal Exam and LIC AAO 2016.

Current Affairs at a Glance – 21st January, 2016

  1. Reserve Bank of India
    (RBI)
    on Thursday allowed banks to
    sell gold coins manufactured by MMTC Ltd
    , through bank branches as the gold procured for making the coins are from
    the domestic market.
  2. The Securities and
    Exchange Board of India (SEBI)
    on 20 January 2016 released the first report of the Alternative Investment Policy Advisory
    Committee (AIPAC)
    for comments from the stakeholders. The 21-member
    committee was constituted by the SEBI in March 2015 under the chairmanship of N R Narayan Murthy, co-founder of Infosys, to suggest measures for
    development of the alternative
    investment funds (AIFs) and startup eco-system in the country
    .
  3. The Government of
    India and the World Bank
    today signed
    a $250 million credit agreement under the Jhelum and Tawi Flood Recovery
    Project
    for reconstruction and recovery support in flood-affected areas in
    which public infrastructure and livelihoods were impacted severely.
  4. Japanbased SoftBank has invested an additional Rs 100 crore in Housing.com to drive the growth of the realty
    portal.
  5. The Union Cabinet on 20 January 2016 approved amendments in Power Tariff Policy to ensure 24X7 affordable power for all.
  6. The Union Government on 20 January 2016 granted Infrastructure Status to the Shipyard Industry in a bid to ease its financial
    stress.
  7. The Cabinet Committee
    on Economic Affairs (CCEA)
    on 20 January 2016 gave its approval for setting
    up over 5000 MW of Grid-Connected Solar PV Power Projects on build, own and
    operate basis. 
  8. The Indian Space
    Research Organization (ISRO)
    and Kuwait
    Institute of Scientific Research (KISR)
    on 20 January 2016 signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) on
    cooperation in the exploration and use of outer space for peaceful purposes
    .
  9. The Girls First initiative was in news in the third week of January 2016 as the
    results showed that it helped in improving emotional and physical well-being of
    school children in Bihar.
  10. Three Mi-25 gunship
    helicopters
    supplied by India are to officially join the Afghan Air Force today. The gunships,
    delivered at the end of December last year, have been in the assembly process.
  11. Noted environmentalist Ravi
    Chellam on 20 January 2016 took
    charge as the Executive Director of Greenpeace India, a
    Non-Government Organisation (NGO).
  12. Former world number one Lleyton
    Hewitt bade an emotional farewell
    from tennis today.
  13. The Prime Minister
    Narendra Modi
    on 20 January 2016 released a book titled The Z Factor: My Journey as the Wrong Man at the Right Time in New Delhi. The book is the autobiography of the promoter of Essel/ Zee Group Subhash Chandra.
  14. Eminent danseuse Mrinalini Sarabhai, wife
    of the late Dr Vikram Sarabhai, father of India’s space programme, passed away here on Thursday following age-related
    health complications.



Finance/Industry/Banking
RBI allows banks to
sell gold coins made by Metals and Minerals Trading Corporation of India

  • Reserve Bank of India (RBI) on Thursday allowed banks to
    sell gold coins manufactured by MMTC Ltd, through bank branches as the gold
    procured for making the coins are from the domestic market.
  • MMTC was authorised by the central government to manufacture
    these gold coins with Ashok Chakra embossed on it for the domestic market. The
    India Gold Coin sale scheme was announced on November 5 last year along with
    gold monetisation and sovereign gold bond schemes.
  • Today’s relaxation allowing banks to sell gold coin will be
    significant because so far India gold coins were allowed to be sold only
    through MMTC centers which were hardly 25 in the country.
  • Banks cannot sell gold coins other than India Gold Coins
    manufactured by MMTC, because the restrictions put by the RBI on banks not sell
    gold coins continues. Only relaxation given to them is for selling India gold
    coins. Till first half of 2013, banks were very aggressively selling gold
    coins.

SEBI released report
of Narayan Murthy-panel on Alternative Investment Policy

  • The Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI) on 20
    January 2016 released the first report of the Alternative Investment Policy
    Advisory Committee (AIPAC) for comments from the stakeholders.
  • The 21-member committee was constituted by the SEBI in March
    2015 under the chairmanship of N R Narayan Murthy, co-founder of Infosys, to
    suggest measures for development of the alternative investment funds (AIFs) and
    startup eco-system in the country.

The
recommendations of the committee are founded on the following principles
  • Ease of doing business is important
  • Fund managers have the role of “Prudent Men”
  • Adopt global best practices, and where necessary, innovate
    the “next” (best) practice

Key suggestions of
the committee
  • For creating a favourable tax environment the panel
    recommended that exempted income of AIFs should not suffer tax withholding of
    10 percent.
  • Overseas investors in India-centric fund vehicles should not
    be subject to the indirect transfer provisions of the IT Act when they transfer
    their investments in an India-centric vehicle to another investor.

Union Government
signed $250 million credit agreement with World Bank for flood affected areas
in
Kashmir

  • The Government of India and the World Bank today signed a
    $250 million credit agreement under the Jhelum and Tawi Flood Recovery Project
    for reconstruction and recovery support in flood-affected areas in which public
    infrastructure and livelihoods were impacted severely.
  • It will also strengthen the capacity of the state government
    to respond to and better manage natural disasters in the future.
  • The credit agreement for the project was signed by Raj
    Kumar, Joint Secretary, Department of Economic Affairs on behalf of the
    Government of India and Onno Ruhl, World Bank Country Director, India on behalf
    of the World Bank.

Union Government,
World Bank signed Financing Agreement for Bihar Kosi Basin Development Project
  • The Union Government and World Bank on 20 January 2016
    signed the Financing Agreement for World Bank (IDA) assistance of 250 million
    US dollars for Bihar Kosi Basin Development Project.
  • The Financing Agreement was signed by Raj Kumar, Joint
    Secretary, Department of Economic Affairs, Union Government and Onno Ruhl,
    Country Director in India, World Bank.
  • It is a loan for an implementation period of 5 years. Bihar
    Government will be the implementing agency.

SoftBank invests Rs
100 crore more in Housing.com
  • Japan-based SoftBank has invested an additional Rs 100 crore
    in Housing.com to drive the growth of the realty portal.
  • The company did not disclose the SoftBank’s increase in
    stake after the fresh infusion of Rs 100 crore. SoftBank had over 30 per cent
    stake in the portal.
  • Founded in 2012, the portal had raised so far over USD 100
    million in capital from leading investors, including SoftBank, Nexus Ventures,
    Falcon Edge and Helion Ventures.

Union Cabinet
approved amendments in Power Tariff Policy

  • The Union Cabinet on 20 January 2016 approved amendments in
    Power Tariff Policy to ensure 24X7 affordable power for all.
  • The amendments aim at promoting clean energy, better
    regulation of discoms and faster rollout of investments. The amendments are
    also aimed at achieving the objectives of Ujwal DISCOM Assurance Yojana (UDAY)
    with the focus on 4 Es: Electricity for all, Efficiency to ensure affordable
    tariffs, Environment for a sustainable future, Ease of doing business to
    attract investments and ensure financial viability.
  • For the first time, a holistic view of the power sector has
    been taken and comprehensive amendments have been made in the Tariff policy
    2006.

Highlights of
Amendments are:

Electricity:
  • 24X7 supply will be ensured to all consumers and State
    Governments and regulators will devise a power supply trajectory to achieve
    this. 

Efficiency:
  • Reduce power cost to consumers through expansion of existing
    power plants.

Environment:
  • Renewable Power Obligation (RPO): In order to promote
    renewable energy and energy security, 8 percent of electricity consumption
    excluding hydro power will be from solar energy by March 2022.  
  • Renewable Generation Obligation (RGO): New coal/lignite
    based thermal plants after specified date to also establish/procure/purchase
    renewable capacity.

Union Government
granted Infrastructure Status to Shipyard Industry
  • The Union Government on 20 January 2016 granted
    Infrastructure Status to the Shipyard Industry in a bid to ease its financial
    stress.
  • With the granting of the infrastructure status, the
    shipyards will be able to avail flexible long-term funding at lower costs.
  • With this inclusion, the financial stress on the shipyard
    industry will be eased substantially.
  • The shipyards will be able to avail flexible structuring of
    long-term project loans, long-term funding from infrastructure funds at lower
    rates of interest.

Union Cabinet
approved Policy on Promotion of City Compost
  • The Union Cabinet, chaired by the Prime Minister Narendra
    Modi, on 20 January 2016 approved Policy on Promotion of City Compost.
  • The policy primarily seeks to promote the use of city
    compost by bringing better coordination among various government departments
    and agencies.

Features of Policy
on Promotion of City Compost
  • Under the policy, a provision has been made for market
    development assistance of 1500 rupees per tonne of city compost for scaling up
    production and consumption of the product. Market development assistance would
    lower MRP of city compost for farmers.
  • Eco-Mark standard will be specified for city compost that
    would ensure that environment friendly quality product reaches the farmers.
  • Fertilizer companies and marketing entities will also
    co-market city compost with chemical fertilizers through their dealers’
    network.

CCEA approved
six-laning of NH-2 in Bihar and Jharkhand

  • The Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs (CCEA) on 20
    January 2016 approved development of the six laning of Aurangabad-
    Bihar/Jharkhand Border- BarwaAdda section on National Highway-2 in Bihar and
    Jharkhand.
  • The estimated cost of the project is 4918.48 crore rupees
    including cost of land acquisition, resettlement and rehabilitation and other
    pre-construction activities.

Highlights of the
Project
  • It will be done under the National Highways Development
    Project (NHDP) Phase-V.
  • The approval was given in BOT (Toll) mode on Design, Build,
    Finance, Operate and Transfer (BOT/DBFOT) basis.
  • The total length of the road will be approximately 222 km.

CCEA approved setting
up of over 5000 MW of Grid-connected Solar PV Power Projects
  • The Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs (CCEA) on 20
    January 2016 gave its approval for setting up over 5000 MW of Grid-Connected
    Solar PV Power Projects on build, own and operate basis. 
  • The work will be implemented by Solar Power Developers
    (SPDs) with Viability Gap Funding (VGF) under Batch-lV of Phase-ll of the
    Jawaharlal Nehru National Solar Mission (JNNSM). The total investments expected
    under the scheme is about 30000 crore rupees.
  • This would help in creating additional 5000 MW capacity of
    Grid-connected solar PV power generation projects in four trenches of each 1250
    MW capacity during four financial years – 2015-16, 2016-17, 2017-18 and
    2018-19. It will also help in employment generation of about 30000 people in
    rural and urban areas with reduction of about 8.525 Million T of CO2 emissions
    into environment every year.
  • Key highlights of Grid-Connected Solar PV Power Projects
  • Installation of 5000 MW Solar PV plants will generate about
    8300 Million units per year, which caters power to almost 2.5 Million
    households.
  • The Scheme will be implemented by Solar Energy Corporation
    of India (SECI) as per the guidelines of Ministry of New and Renewable Energy
    (MNRE).

India
ISRO, Kuwait
Institute signed MoU on cooperation in space exploration

  • The Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) and Kuwait
    Institute of Scientific Research (KISR) on 20 January 2016 signed a Memorandum
    of Understanding (MoU) on cooperation in the exploration and use of outer space
    for peaceful purposes.
  • It will allow use of data from Indian Remote Sensing (IRS)
    satellites by KISR for initiating a few research and application projects.
  • It will also enable Training and Building and launching of
    remote sensing and communication satellites on commercial terms.
  • It will provide impetus to explore newer research activities
    and application possibilities in the field of remote sensing; satellite
    communication; satellite navigation and exploration of outer space.

Girls First
initiative improved emotional & physical well-being of Bihar school
children

  • The Girls First initiative was in news in the third week of
    January 2016 as the results showed that it helped in improving emotional and
    physical well-being of school children in Bihar.
  • The initiative is a first of its kind project in the country
    as integrates evidence-based practices from the fields of social-emotional
    rearing, restorative justice, positive psychology and emotional intelligence.
  • It is implemented by Corstone India Foundation with the
    support of David and Lucile Packard Foundation.
  • Between 2013 and 2014, 3500 maginalized adolescent girls
    were served under the project.
  • The initiative helped in reducing school drop outs and early
    marriage and improving their psychosocial health.

Union Cabinet
approved MoU between India & UK on cooperation in governance reforms

  • The Union Cabinet on 20 January 2016 gave its ex-post facto
    approval for the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between India and United
    Kingdom on cooperation in governance reforms.
  • The MoU, which was signed in November 2015, seeks to extend
    bilateral cooperation in public administration and governance reforms.

Features of the
MoU
  • It covers areas of cooperation such as sharing good
    governance practices in public administration, user led service design,
    reducing bureaucracy in service delivery and government process re-engineering.
  • It will also cover reforms towards strengthening of social
    security, collaboration between Government and Industry on staff management,
    crisis and disaster Management and digital transformation of government among
    others.

World
Indian Mi-25
helicopters set to join Afghan Air Force

  • Three Mi-25 gunship helicopters supplied by India are to
    officially join the Afghan Air Force today. The gunships, delivered at the end
    of December last year, have been in the assembly process.
  • The decision for the delivery of Mi-25 gunship helicopters
    was concluded during the recent visit of Afghan National Security Adviser Mohammad
    Hanif Atmar to New Delhi.
  • The attack helicopters are designed to take on fortified
    enemy positions and counter heavy ground fire. The Afghanistan Air Force (AAF)
    already operates three Indian Cheetal helicopters.
  • The Cheetal helicopters were manufactured by Hindustan
    Aeronautics Ltd (HAL). Subsequently, Afghan pilots and technicians were trained
    to operate them.

2015 is Earth’s
warmest year since 1880: NOAA

  • The globally averaged temperature over land and ocean
    surfaces for 2015 was the highest among all years since modern record keeping
    began in 1880.
  • It was revealed by the National Aeronautics and Space
    Administration (NASA) and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration
    (NOAA) on 20 January 2016 after an independent analysis.

Key facts related
to global climate patterns in 2015
  • During 2015, the average temperature across global land and
    ocean surfaces was 1.62°F (0.90°C) above the 20th century average.
  • This was the highest among all 136 years in the 1880–2015
    record, surpassing the previous record set in 2014 by 0.29°F (0.16°C) and
    marking the fourth time a global temperature record has been set this century.

NASA formalised
Planetary Defense Coordination Office to detect and track Near-Earth Objects

  • National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) on 7
    January 2016 announced that it had formalized its ongoing program for detecting
    and tracking near-Earth objects (NEOs) as the Planetary Defense Coordination
    Office (PDCO).
  • It will remain within NASA’s Planetary Science Division
    under Science Mission Directorate in Washington.
  • It will supervise all NASA-funded projects to find and
    characterize asteroids and comets that pass near the orbit of the Earth around
    the sun.

Appointments
Ravi Chellam took
charge as Executive Director of Greenpeace India

  • Noted environmentalist Ravi Chellam on 20 January 2016 took
    charge as the Executive Director of Greenpeace India, a Non-Government
    Organisation (NGO).
  • Chellam succeeds former Executive Director Samit Aich, who
    had resigned in June 2015 following an internal review of the organisation’s
    handling of two sexual harassment cases.

M Jagdeesh Kumar set
to be new JNU Vice Chancellor
  • IIT Delhi professor M Jagdeesh Kumar is set to be the next
    Vice Chancellor of the Jawaharlal Nehru University.
  • Mr. Kumar’s name has been cleared by President Pranab
    Mukherjee from a panel of four names that were forwarded to him by the Ministry
    of Human Resource Development, officials said.
  • A professor of electrical engineering at IIT Delhi, Mr.
    Kumar said his priorities after taking over as the JNU VC would be to
    strengthen collaboration between institutions, streamline recruitment process
    and interact with students to see how the research output can be improved.
  • He said institutions like IIT Delhi and JNU are close to
    each other but there is need for more cross-collaboration in various areas than
    is actually happening.

Sports
Former world no. 1
tennis player Lleyton Hewitt retires

  • Former world number one Lleyton Hewitt bade an emotional
    farewell from tennis today after a combustible Australian Open defeat in which
    he was warned for swearing and slammed the umpire as an “idiot”.
  • The intensely competitive Australian, roared on by a
    partisan crowd, couldn’t live with Spain’s David Ferrer and he went down 6-2,
    6-4, 6-4 to exit what was his final tournament before retiring.
  • Afterwards Hewitt, wearing a shirt decorated with the
    Australian flag, was joined on court by his three children while his wife,
    former soap opera actress Bec, looked on in tears.

Uttar Pradesh won
2014-2015 Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy

  • Uttar Pradesh on 20 January 2016 won its maiden Mushtaq Ali
    T20 Trophy with a 38-run win over two- time champions Baroda in the final
    played at the Wankhede Stadium in Mumbai.
  • It was Uttar Pradesh’s ninth straight win in the tournament,
    including five in the preliminary league phase and three more in the super
    league stage.

Books
& Authors –
PM Narendra Modi
released book titled The Z Factor written by Subhash Chandra

  • The Prime Minister Narendra Modi on 20 January 2016 released
    a book titled The Z Factor: My Journey as the Wrong Man at the Right Time in
    New Delhi.
  • The book is the autobiography of the promoter of Essel/ Zee
    Group Subhash Chandra.
  • It is a candid memoir of a ‘truly desi’ self-made
    businessman who came to Delhi at age twenty with seventeen rupees in his
    pocket.

Obituaries
Eminent dancer
Mrinalini Sarabhai passes away

  • Eminent danseuse Mrinalini Sarabhai, wife of the late Dr
    Vikram Sarabhai, father of India’s space programme, passed away here on
    Thursday following age-related health complications.
  • She was 97.
  • Popularly known as “Amma”, the choreography legend is
    survived by her environmentalist son Kartikeya and daughter Mallika, well-known
    dancer and social activist. The former President, late Dr. APJ Abdul Kalam,
    protégé of Dr Sarabhai, was a close family friend.
  • Ms Sarabhai, a Padma Bhushan awardee for her contributions
    to Bharatanatyam and other classical dance forms, was hospitalised here on
    Wednesday, Kartikeya, said. Her last rites will be performed at village
    Pethapur in Gandhinagar, which she used to visit frequently due to her keen
    interest in handicrafts, for which the village is well-known.


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