Current Affairs Update – 22-23 March, 2017

Hello and welcome to exampundit. Here are the Important Current Affairs Update of 22 and 23 March, 2017. These are important for the upcoming SBI PO Mains, NIACL Assistant Mains as well as other insurance and bank exams.

Current Affairs at a Glance – 22-23 March, 2017 – Tap to show
  1. To provide housing loan and
    educational loan at subsidised interest rates to the employees of the state
    government, a MoU was signed on between the Assam government and State Bank of India on Wednesday.
  2. The Union Cabinet on 22 March
    2017 approved the proposal to establish
    the Fund of Funds of Start-ups (FFS).
    The Union Cabinet in 2016 approved
    the proposal to establish a Fund of Funds for Start-ups (FFS) with a total
    corpus of Rs 10000 crore.
  3. The Union Minister of Railways
    Suresh Prabhu on 22 March 2017 announced the scaling up of VIKALP Scheme for waitlisted passengers at a progrmme held in New
    Delhi.
  4. The Union Cabinet, chaired by the
    Prime Minister Narendra Modi, on 22 March 2017 approved the proposal for
    Amendments to the National Bank for
    Agriculture and Rural Development (NABARD) Act, 1981.
  5. The Union Ministry of Housing and
    Urban Poverty Alleviation on 22 March 2017 sanctioned 3128 more affordable houses for the benefit of urban poor in
    Puducherry, 924 for Telangana and 2655 for Himachal Pradesh under the Pradhan
    Mantri Awas Yojana (PMAY).
  6. The Supreme Court of India on 22
    March 2017 constituted a committee to explore a technical solution to block videos of sexual offences on
    social networking sites.
    The committee comprises of representatives from
    the Union government and internet majors.
  7. The Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) on 20 March 2017 commissioned the world’s third largest
    hypersonic wind tunnel at Thiruvananthapuram’s Vikram Sarabhai Space Centre
    (VSSC)
    in Kerala.
  8. The Union Government on 21 March
    2017 proposed to make the Aadhaar card
    mandatory to file Income Tax Return (ITR) and for applying Permanent Account
    Number (PAN)
    with effect from 1 July 2017.
  9. Sarbananda Sonowal, Chief Minister of Assam, on 21 March 2017
    launched initiatives to develop Majuli
    as India’s first carbon neutral district and as a biodiversity heritage site.
  10. India has slipped to rank 131in the 2016 Human Development Report (HDR)
    that was released by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) on 21
    March 2017. The top three countries in the list include Norway at rank 1 with an HDI of 0.949, followed by Australia (0.939)
    and Switzerland (0.939).
  11. The World
    Meteorological Day 2017
    was observed globally on 23 March 2017 with the
    theme ‘Understanding Clouds’.
  12. The World Water Day
    (WWD) was observed globally on 22 March 2017 with theme Why Wastewater?
  13. The World Down
    Syndrome Day was observed on 21 March 2017
  14. Upendra Tripathy, the former secretary at Ministry of New and
    Renewable Energy, was appointed as the full-time interim Director General (IDG)
    of the International Solar Alliance (ISA).
  15. Ghanshyam Singh on 21 March 2017 was appointed as new Member
    (Traction) Railway Board and ex officio Secretary to the Government of India.
  16. Ankur Khanna was on 20 March 2017 appointed as the Chief Financial
    Officer (CFO) of the International Cricket Council (ICC).
  17. Special athletes of India won 18 medals so far in the ongoing 2017
    Olympics World Winter Games in Austria.
  18. Improving upon his silver medal
    at the New Delhi World Cup, shooter Ankur
    Mittal
    avenged his loss to Australian James Willet when he shot his way to
    the gold in mens Double Trap with a world record-equalling effort at the ongoing
    Shotgun World Cup here.

Financial and Banking News –
Assam govt signs MoU with SBI to provide housing, educational loan at
subsidised interest rates

  • To provide housing loan and
    educational loan at subsidised interest rates to the employees of the state
    government, a MoU was signed on between the Assam government and State Bank of
    India on Wednesday.
  • The MoU ceremony commenced in the
    evening with lighting of lamp by the distinguished guests at NEDFi House,
    Dispur.
  • The MoU has been signed for
    providing loans for Housing & Higher Education Loan to the State Government
    Employees at very nominal rate of interest.
  • The government will provide
    interest subsidy at the rate of 3.50% for housing loan and at suitable rate to
    make education loan at 4%.
  • Accordingly, the State government
    employees will get substantial benefit in terms of interest rates and reduced
    EMI. There are provisions for collateral free loan, Zero Margin, Zero
    Processing Fee with longer repayment tenure.

Union Cabinet approves proposal to establish a Fund of Funds for
Start-ups

  • The Union Cabinet on 22 March
    2017 approved the proposal to establish the Fund of Funds of Start-ups (FFS).
  • The Union Cabinet in 2016
    approved the proposal to establish a Fund of Funds for Start-ups (FFS) with a total
    corpus of Rs 10000 crore.

Key Highlights
  • Alternate Investment Funds (AIFs)
    supported by FFS shall invest at least twice the amount of contribution
    received from FFS in Start-ups.
  • If the amount committed for a
    Start-up in whole has not been released before a Start-up ceases to be so, the
    balance funding can continue thereafter.
  • It was also decided that
    operating expenses will be met out of the FFS to the extent of 0.50 per cent of
    the commitments made to AIFs and outstanding.
  • The operating expenses including
    carrying out due diligence, legal and technical appraisal, convening meeting of
    Venture Capital Investment Committee, etc.
  • The operating expenses will be
    debited to the fund at the beginning of each half year that is on 1 April and 1
    October.

About Fund of Funds for Start-ups
  • The Fund of Funds for Start-ups
    was approved by Union Government in the year 2016 itself.
  • It was decided that the FFS shall
    contribute to the corpus of Alternative Investment Funds (AIFs) for investing
    in equity and equity linked instruments.
  • The FFS is being managed and
    operated by Small Industries Development Bank of India (SIDBI). 
  • FFS contributes to SEBI
    registered Alternative Investment Funds (AIFs) that may go up to a maximum of
    35 per cent of the corpus of the AIF concerned.

Suresh Prabhu announced scaling up of VIKALP Scheme for Railway
Passengers

  • The Union Minister of Railways
    Suresh Prabhu on 22 March 2017 announced the scaling up of VIKALP Scheme for
    waitlisted passengers at a progrmme held in New Delhi.
  • Besides, the minister released
    the Water Management Policy of Indian Railways to mark the World Water Day and
    also presented GreenCo Certificates to three units of Indian Railways.
  • While the Water Policy covers all
    aspects of water use, recycling, conservation and recharge of groundwater, the
    certificates were presented to Diesel Locomotive Works (Varanasi), Perambur
    Carriage Works (Chennai) and Lalaguda Carriage Workshop (Hyderabad).
  • Railway Board Chairman A K Mital,
    members and senior officials were also present on the occasion.
  • From 1 April 2017, the Vikalp
    scheme will be further expanded to shift waitlisted passengers of one train
    across all categories of trains without realization of any difference of fare
    or grant of refund.
  • Thus, a passenger who booked a
    ticket in a normal mail or express train can be shifted to an alternate mail,
    express, rajdhani, humsafar, duronto, shatabdi, special train or suvidha train
    in the same class of accommodation or vice versa subject to opting for this
    scheme.
  • The rationale behind allowing
    this facility is that the reserved accommodation is a perishable commodity and
    once a train leaves a platform with a vacant berth, the potential revenue is
    lost to railways.
  • The expanded VIKALP is expected
    to optimize berth utilization across all trains, carry more passengers as well
    as increase earnings by reducing refunds of waitlisted tickets.

Union Cabinet approves proposal for amendments to NABARD Act, 1981

  • The Union Cabinet, chaired by the
    Prime Minister Narendra Modi, on 22 March 2017 approved the proposal for
    Amendments to the National Bank for Agriculture and Rural Development (NABARD)
    Act, 1981.
  • Amendments to National Bank for
    Agriculture and Rural Development Act, 1981 include provisions that enable
    Union Government to increase the authorized capital of NABARD from Rs 5000
    crore to Rs 30000 crore.
  • It also proposes to increase the
    authorised capital beyond Rs 30000 crore in consultation with RBI, as deemed
    necessary from time to time.
  • It also proposes the transfer of
    0.4 per cent shareholding of RBI in NABARD to the Union Government. The
    shareholding of RBI amounts to Rs 20 crore.
  • The proposed amendments also
    include changes in the long title and certain Sections to bring Medium Enterprises
    and Handlooms in NABARD’s mandate.  

CCEA approves Policy for extension of oilfield contracts
  • The Cabinet Committee on Economic
    Affairs (CCEA) on 22 March 2017 approved a policy for grant of extension to the
    Production Sharing Contracts (PSC) that were awarded by Union Government  for Pre-NELP Exploration Blocks before 1999.
  • This extension comes as a relief
    for Vedanta-owned Cairn India Ltd that operates India’s largest onland block at
    Barmer in Rajasthan. Cairn India holds 70 per cent stake in the Rajasthan block
    while ONGC owns 30 per cent.
  • The policy aims to enable and
    facilitate investment to extract the remaining reserves.
  • It will enable the contractors to
    extract not only the remaining reserves but also the additional reserves by
    implementing new technologies.
  • In certain fields, additional
    recovery of hydrocarbons can be obtained through Enhanced Oil Recovery /
    Improved Oil Recovery (EOR/IOR) Projects.
  • The policy will act as a
    progressive step towards achieving the target of 10 per cent reduction in
    import of crude oil by 2022.

Union Cabinet approves MoU with USA on partnership for Cyber Security
  • The Union Cabinet, presided by
    Prime Minister Narendra Modi, on 22 March 2017 was apprised of the Memorandum
    of Understanding (MoU) signed between the Indian Computer Emergency Response
    Team (CERT-ln) and the US Homeland Security Department on cooperation in the
    field of Cyber Security.
  • The MoU was signed on 11 January
    2017 in New Delhi.
  • The agreement aims to promote
    closer co-operation and exchange of information pertaining to the Cyber
    Security in accordance with the relevant laws, rules and regulations and on the
    basis of equality, reciprocity and mutual benefit.
  • The CERT-In is the Government
    organisation under Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology.
  • It is a nodal agency that deals
    with cyber security threats like hacking and phishing.
  • It strengthens security-related
    defence of the Indian Internet domain.

Union Government sanctions more affordable houses for urban poor in
Puducherry, Telangana and
HP

  • The Union Ministry of Housing and
    Urban Poverty Alleviation on 22 March 2017 sanctioned 3128 more affordable
    houses for the benefit of urban poor in Puducherry, 924 for Telangana and 2655
    for Himachal Pradesh under the Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana (PMAY).
  • The Ministry, in all, approved
    124521 affordable houses for urban poor with an overall approved investment of
    Rs 95671 crore for constructing such houses under PMAY(Urban). Central
    assistance of Rs 27766 crore was approved for construction of these houses.

Key Highlights
  • Puducherry was sanctioned 3128
    houses in four towns under Beneficiary Led Construction (BLC) component of PMAY
    (Urban) at a total project cost of Rs 131 crore for which central assistance of
    Rs47 crore was approved. With this, total number of houses sanctioned for
    Puducherry increased to 3848.
  • Till now, Puducherry city got
    2093 houses followed by Karaikal-592, Yanam-358 and Mahe-85 houses.
  • In Telanagana, Siddipet got
    enhancement of 924 houses under BLC component at a total cost of about Rs14
    crore for which central assistance of Rs14 crore was approved.  With this, total number of houses sanctioned
    for the Telanagana under PMAY(Urban) come to around 81405.
  • Himachal Pradesh (HP) was
    sanctioned 2655 houses for 12 towns at a total project cost of Rs 102 crore for
    which central assistance of Rs 40 crore was approved. With this, total number
    of houses sanctioned for the HP under PMAY(Urban) increased to 4569 so far.
  • In Himachal Pradesh, Nalagarh was
    sanctioned 531 houses followed by Nahan-289, Dharamshala-227, Una-217,
    Mandi-174, Shimla-61, Chaba-57, Bilaspur-37, Solan-27, Baddi-25, Kullu-9 and
    Parwana-1.
  • In addition, Karnataka was
    sanctioned 31424 houses, Madhya Pradesh -27475, 
    Bihar-25221, Jharkhand-20099, Kerala-11480 and Odisha-2115 houses under
    PMAY(Urban).

Non-financial news related to India and states –
SC constituted committee to
explore technical solution to block videos of sexual offences on social
networking sites
  • The Supreme Court of India on 22
    March 2017 constituted a committee to explore a technical solution to block
    videos of sexual offences on social networking sites. The committee comprises
    of representatives from the Union government and internet majors.
  • The members of the committee that
    includes the nominees of Google India, Microsoft India, Yahoo India, Facebook
    and other internet intermediaries were given a time period of 15 days to meet
    and come up with a solution.
  • The representatives of all
    stakeholders were asked to participate in the meeting and inform it about the
    outcome of the meet on 20 April 2017, which is the next day for hearing the
    case.
  • The direction was passed by a
    bench of Justice MB Lokur and Justice UU Lalit while hearing a letter sent to
    former Chief Justice HL Dattu by a Hyderabad-based NGO along with two rape
    videos in a pen drive.
  • Earlier in the day, the officials
    from cyber security informed the apex court that internet was a wild highway
    and blocking objectionable content at the source was a technical challenge. It
    informed that clear guidelines should be issued to stop the circulation of such
    material. They had told the court that 50 countries have set up hotlines to
    stop child abuse in their jurisdiction but India was yet to start such a
    service.

ISRO creates history by commissioning world’s third largest hypersonic
wind tunnel

  • The Indian Space Research
    Organisation (ISRO) on 20 March 2017 commissioned the world’s third largest
    hypersonic wind tunnel at Thiruvananthapuram’s Vikram Sarabhai Space Centre
    (VSSC) in Kerala.
  • ISRO Chairman AS Kiran Kumar
    commissioned two facilities at the centre, one-metre Hypersonic Wind Tunnel and
    one-metre Shock Tunnel. The event also saw in attendance renowned
    aero-dynamicist Professor Roddam Narasimha and VSSC Associate Director, S
    Pandian.
  • Named after former ISRO Chairman
    Satish Dhawan, the two facilities have been indigenously designed, developed
    and made fully in India with the support of Indian Industries.
  • They are the third largest in
    terms of size and simulation capability in the world.
  • They have been indigenously
    designed, developed and made in India with the support of Indian Industries.

Panneerselvam and Sasikala Camp choose new symbols after EC freezes
‘Two leaves’

  • The Election Commission on 22
    March 2017 issued an interim order freezing AIADMK party’s symbol of ‘two
    leaves’, blocking both the camps in Tamil Nadu from using the symbol as well as
    the party name in the upcoming RK Nagar assembly by-polls in April.
  • The interim order was issued as
    there was little time available to issue a final one. After a day-long hearing,
    the Commission said that since there is little time available for it to issue a
    final order, it is issuing an interim one.
  • The commission had given both VK
    Sasikala faction and O Panneerselvam faction time till 10 am on the morning of
    23 March to choose new symbols to contest the by-polls.
  • The order was given after a
    day-long hearing in New Delhi. The EC panel said that it needed more time to
    read the documents submitted by both the blocks.
  • The decision will be effective
    only until the end of the by-election.
  • The last date to file nominations
    of the April by-polls is 23 March.

Aadhar Card to be made mandatory for ITR and PAN Card Applications

  • The Union Government on 21 March
    2017 proposed to make the Aadhaar card mandatory to file Income Tax Return
    (ITR) and for applying Permanent Account Number (PAN) with effect from 1 July
    2017.
  • With this, Aadhaar enrolment
    number while filing ITR could also be accepted. However, failing to declare
    Aadhaar may lead to PAN being deemed invalid.
  • PAN cards will also be linked
    with the 12-digit unique identification number or the Aadhar number before the
    1 July 2017 deadline.
  • The amendment also proposes to
    lower the limit on cash transaction from Rs 3 lakh to Rs 2 lakh. The limit on
    cash transactions is in keeping with recommendations of the Special
    Investigation Team (SIT) on black money.

5th Rashtriya Sanskriti Mahotsav being organized in North East Region
  • The Fifth Rashtriya Sanskriti
    Mahotsav (RSM) – 2017 will be organized in North Eastern Region of India from
    23 March to 31 March 2017 by the Union Ministry of Culture.
  • The festival will be inaugurated
    at Parade Ground, Tawang in Arunachal Pradesh on 23 March 2017 and will extend
    to other North Eastern states including Dimapur (Nagaland), Majuli (Assam),
    Imphal (Manipur), Aizawl (Mizoram), Gangtok (Sikkim), Shillong (Meghalaya and
    Khowai (Tripura).
  • The nine days cultural
    extravaganza will be inaugurated by Governor of Nagaland and Arunachal Pradesh
    PadmanabhaBalakrishna.
  • About 5000 artists from North
    East India and 2000 artists from across the country will showcase India’s
    cultural heritage through performances, arts and cuisines.
  • The festival will be implemented
    through the seven Zonal Cultural Centres.
  • The North East Zone Cultural
    Centre (NEZCC), Dimapur will be the nodal agency to carry forward the execution
    of the National Cultural Festival.

Majuli to be India’s first carbon neutral district and biodiversity
heritage site
  • Sarbananda Sonowal, Chief
    Minister of Assam, on 21 March 2017 launched initiatives to develop Majuli as
    India’s first carbon neutral district and as a biodiversity heritage site.
  • The launch coincided with the
    celebration of International Day of Forest at Brahmaputra State Guest House in
    Guwahati.
  • In addition, the Chief Minister
    also launched Forests are Lives campaign to underline the importance of Assam’s
    rich forest and biodiversity.

Lists & Indexes –
Five Indian cities included in World Heritage List
  • The Union Government on 22 March
    2017 informed that five Indian cities were included in the Tentative List of
    UNESCO World Heritage Sites.
  • The information was given by the
    Union Minister of State for Culture and Tourism (Independent Charge) Dr Mahesh
    Sharmain in a written reply in the Rajya Sabha.

The five Indian cities included
in the list are –
  • Ahmedabad
  • Delhi
  • Jaipur
  • Bhubaneswar
  • Mumbai

India slips to rank 131 in Human Development Index, Norway tops again

  • India has slipped to rank 131in
    the 2016 Human Development Report (HDR) that was released by the United Nations
    Development Programme (UNDP) on 21 March 2017.
  • Among the 188 countries ranked in
    terms of human development, India stood at 131, a rank below its previous 130.
    India’s human development index (HDI) value of 0.624 puts it in the “medium
    human development” category alongside Pakistan and other countries such as
    Congo and Namibia.
  • Only two SAARC nations rank above
    India in the list, Sri Lanka (73) and Maldives (105), both of which figure in
    the high human development category.
  • The top three countries in the
    list include Norway at rank 1 with an HDI of 0.949, followed by Australia (0.939)
    and Switzerland (0.939).
  • Norway, which was recently
    adjudged to be the happiest nation in the world going by the World happiness
    report, clinched the top spot in this report as well.
  • The HDI value is a measure for
    assessing the progress in the three basic dimensions of human development, a
    long and healthy life, access to knowledge and the access to a decent standard
    of living.

Days –
World Meteorological Day 2017 observed globally

  • The World Meteorological Day 2017
    was observed globally on 23 March 2017 with the theme ‘Understanding Clouds’.
    The Day is organised every year by World Meteorological Organization (WMO) and
    is celebrated globally.
  • The theme highlights the enormous
    importance of clouds for weather climate and water. Clouds are central to
    weather observations and forecasts.

World Water Day observed with theme Why Wastewater?

  • The World Water Day (WWD) was
    observed globally on 22 March 2017 with theme Why Wastewater? The year’s theme
    for the world water day focuses on wastewater and ways to reduce and reuse as
    over 80 per cent of all the wastewater.
  • The theme highlights that
    wastewater flows from homes, cities, industry and agriculture to nature. This
    free or untreated flow helps in polluting the environment leading to loss of
    valuable nutrients and other recoverable materials.
  • The theme seeks to improve the
    collection and treatment of wastewater and safe usability of the same. At the
    same time, it wants to make us (people) learn the art of reducing the quantity
    and pollution load of wastewater that we produce. The effort will help us in
    protecting the environment and water resources that are available to us.

World Down Syndrome Day observed on 21 March

  • The World Down Syndrome Day was
    observed on 21 March 2017. On this day of observation of the World Down
    Syndrome Day people with down syndrome and their nearby organise and
    participate in activities to raise public awareness of Down syndrome.
  • The day also seeks to create a
    single global voice for advocating for the rights, inclusion and well being of
    people with Down syndrome.
  • The 2017 WDSD will focus on
    #MyVoiceMyCommunity – Enabling people with Down syndrome to speak up, be heard
    and influence government policy and action, to be fully included in the
    community.

Appointments –
Upendra Tripathy appointed as Interim Director General of ISA

  • Upendra Tripathy, the former
    secretary at Ministry of New and Renewable Energy, was appointed as the
    full-time interim Director General (IDG) of the International Solar Alliance
    (ISA).
  • A notification read, “Shri Piyush
    Goyal, Union Minister for Power, Coal, New and Renewable Energy and Mines,
    Government of India and Ms. Ségolène Royal, Minister for Environment, Energy
    and Marine Affairs Government of France jointly decided to appoint Mr. Upendra
    Tripathy, as the Interim Director General (IDG) of the International Solar
    Alliance (ISA) on a full-time basis.”

Ghanshyam Singh appointed as Member-Traction Railway Board
  • Ghanshyam Singh on 21 March 2017
    was appointed as new Member (Traction) Railway Board and ex officio Secretary
    to the Government of India.
  • Singh is an officer of Indian
    Railway Service of Electrical Engineering (IRSEE) of 1979 batch. He is also a
    Gold Medalist in B.E. in Electrical Engineering from Allahabad University.

Ankur Khanna appointed as Chief Financial Officer of ICC
  • Ankur Khanna was on 20 March 2017
    appointed as the Chief Financial Officer (CFO) of the International Cricket
    Council (ICC).
  • Khanna will join the ICC by the
    end of March 2017. He will relocate to the ICC headquarters in Dubai.
    Presently, he is serving Air Asia India as the CFO, the post he has held for
    the last twelve months.
  • Prior to Air Asia India, Khanna
    worked in senior roles at Air France, KLM Royal Dutch Airlines and ITC, an
    associate company of British American Tobacco.

Sports News –
Indian athletes grab 18 medals in Special Olympics World Winter Games

  • Special athletes of India won 18
    medals so far in the ongoing 2017 Olympics World Winter Games in Austria.
  • The medal tally includes six
    gold, four silver and eight bronze.
  • Over 2600 athletes from 105
    nations are taking part in the competition. The team of 89 differently-abled
    sports persons of the Special Olympics Bharat (SOB) is participating in the
    event.
  • Six special athletes for ‘Alpine
    skiing’ and ‘snowboarding’ fetched the gold for India on the third day of the
    competition.
  • On the other hand, Shamsher Singh
    won a silver for the country on the first day of the competition. He bagged a
    silver medal at snow shoeing- form of hiking in the snow with special foot wear-100m
    race. Jyoti Bala clinched bronze medal for the same sport.

Ankur Mittal shoots double trap gold at Shotgun World Cup

  • Improving upon his silver medal
    at the New Delhi World Cup, shooter Ankur Mittal avenged his loss to Australian
    James Willet when he shot his way to the gold in mens Double Trap with a world
    record-equalling effort at the ongoing Shotgun World Cup here.
  • This was India’s first medal in
    the competition, where the country is represented by a nine-member squad. Ankur
    ended with 75 points out of possible 80 in the six-man final to win India’s
    first medal in the competition while Willet managed 73.
  • Ankur shot strong throughout the
    day, ending second in qualification with a score of 138 out of a possible 150.
    He also got the better off China’s Ying Qi 6-5 in a shoot-off to decide second
    and third spots after both had finished their qualifying rounds on the same score.

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