Current Affairs Update – 23-24-25-26 Jan, 2015

Finance/Business/Economy News

1. Union Bank to open
branch in Sydney
  • The Union Bank of India (UBI) will open its branch in
    Sydney by the end of this month, a top official has said.
  • Presently, the bank has a representative office in
  • UBI recently opened a branch at Antwerp in Belgium. Apart
    from that, the bank has branches in Dubai, Hong Kong and London and
    representative offices in Beijing, Shanghai (both in China) and Abu Dhabi, he
  • Tiwari was speaking on the sidelines of a function to
    inaugurate a cash depositing kiosk here today.

2. PM Narendra Modi
launched Sukanya Samridhi Yojana under BBBP campaign
  • Sukanya Samridhi Account will fetch an interest rate of
    9.1 percent and provide income tax rebate.
  • Sukanya Samridhi Account can be opened at any time from
    the birth of a girl child till she attains the age of 10 years with a minimum
    deposit of 1000 rupees.
  • A maximum of 1.5 lakh rupees can be deposited during the
    financial year. The account can be opened in any post office or authorised
    branches of commercial banks.
  • The account will remain operative for 21 years from the
    date of opening of the account or marriage of the girl child after attaining 18
    years of age.
  • To meet the requirement of higher education expenses,
    partial withdrawal of 50 percent of the balance amount will be allowed after
    the girl child has attended 18 years of age.

3. SBI signed a loan
agreement for 100 million Euro with European Investment Bank

  • State Bank of India (SBI) on 23 January 2015 signed a
    loan agreement for 100 million Euro with the European Investment Bank (EIB).
  • EIB is a long-term lending institution of the European
    Union. The agreement was signed on 19 January 2015. The agreement was
    facilitated by SBI Capital Markets.
  • The loan will be utilised to support the private sector’s
    development—in particular small and medium-sized enterprises, social and
    economic infrastructure as well as climate change mitigation and adaptation in
    India. The EIB funds will be earmarked for financing projects across a broad
    range of sectors, including manufacturing, as well as wholesale and retail
    trade and services.
  • This is third tranche of a total sanction of 200 million
    Euro by EIB. A first tranche of 55 million Euro and second tranche of 45 million
    Euro were signed in June 2014 and November 2014 respectively.

4. RBI simplified
procedure for External Commercial Borrowings Policy

  • The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) on 23 January 2015
    simplified procedure for External Commercial Borrowings (ECB) Policy.
  • The directions have been issued under sections 10(4) and
    11(1) of the Foreign Exchange Management Act, 1999. Changes are effected during
    the tenure of the ECB.

The directions are as
  • Under the simplified procedure, the RBI has delegated
    powers to the banks to make changes/modifications in the draw-down and
    repayment schedules of the ECB raised both under the automatic and approval
    routes. FCCBs will, however, not be covered within these provisions.
  • It has simplified the existing procedure for
    rescheduling/restructuring of external commercial borrowings (ECBs). It also
    delegated more powers to banks to deal with cases related to change in
    draw-down and repayment schedules.
  • The above mentioned changes/modifications could either be
    associated with change/no change in the average maturity period and/or with
    changes (increase/decrease) in the all-in-cost.
  • Banks can allow reduction in the amount of ECB
    (irrespective of the number of occasions) along with any changes in draw-down
    and repayment schedules, average maturity period and all-in-cost. They can also
    permit increase in all-in-cost of ECB, irrespective of the number of occasions.
  • Banks can permit changes/ modifications in the draw-down
    and repayment schedules of the ECB provided the revised average maturity period
    and/or all-in-cost is/are in conformity with the applicable

News Related to India and Indian Polity
5. Iconic cartoonist R K Laxman passes away

  • Eminent
    cartoonist and creator of the ‘Common Man’, R.K. Laxman, passed away at the
    Deenanath Mangeshkar hospital in Pune on Monday evening. He was 93.
  • He is best
    known for his creation The Common Man, for his daily cartoon strip, “You
    Said It” in The Times of India, which started in 1951.

Awards received by him:
  • Padma
    Vibhushan – Govt. of India, 2005
  • Ramon
    Magsaysay Award for Journalism, Literature and Creative Communication Arts –

Books by him:
  • 50 Years
    of Independence through the eyes of R.K.Laxman
  • The Best
    of Laxman series
  • Hotel
  • The
  • Servants
    of India
  • The Tunnel
    of Time (autobiography)
  • His
    autobiography Lakshmanrekha is published in Marathi.
  • The Reel
    World [cartoons]published by Marwah Studios
  • Brushing
    Up The Years- A Cartoonist’s History of India- 1947 to the Present- Penguin

6. All-women contingent marches down Rajpath
for the first time on R-Day

  • For the
    first time in the history of India’s Republic Day, women empowerment in the
    armed forces was showcased as an all-women contingent from the three forces —
    Army, Air Force and Navy — marched down the majestic Rajpath.
  • While
    women officers have been participating in previous Republic Day parades, it was
    for the first time that an all-women contingent of the armed forces
  • While the
    Army contingent was led by Capt Divya Ajith, the Navy was led by Lt Commander
    Sandhya Chauhan. The Air Force contingent was led by Squadron Leader Sneha
  • The
    contingents had 148 personnel each drawn from the Army, Air Force and the Navy.

7. Obama joins select group of world leaders
who attended Republic Day

  • U.S.
    President Barack Obama today joined a select group of world leaders who have
    attended India’s Republic Day celebrations in the last over six decades.
  • Obama, who
    was the Chief Guest at the 66th Republic Day celebrations, watched the
    impressive parade at the majestic Rajpath along with his wife Michelle.
  • He also
    became the first American President to grace the celebration. Bill Clinton was
    the first U.S. President to be invited but he did not attend.
  • Last year,
    Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe was the Chief Guest at the celebrations
    while Bhutan king Jigme Khesar Namgyel Wangchuck graced the occasion in 2013.
  • The heads
    of state and government who have attended the Republic Day celebrations include
    Nicolas Sarkozy, Vladimir Putin, Nelson Mandela, John Major, Mohammed Khatami and
    Jacques Chirac among others.
  • The then
    British Prime Minister Major had attended the celebrations in 1993, Mandela
    participated as South African President in 1995 while South Korean President
    President Lee Myung Bak witnessed the parade in 2010.
  • In 2008,
    Sarkozy participated in the celebrations as French President while another
    French President Chirac graced the occasion in 1998.

8. Five FIRSTS is Republic Day 2015
  1. All-women
    contingents of the Army, Navy and Air Force march through Rajpath for the first
  2. The first
    time that a U.S. President is Chief Guest for the parade
  3. The
    President and the chief guest arrived in different motorcades, a departure from
    the standard practice of arriving together
  4. CRPF shows
    off Commando Battalion for Resolute Action (CoBRA) used in anti-Naxal
  5. The
    long-range advanced MiG-29K fighter jet on display

9. Ashok Chakra for Mukund Varadarajan
  • Naik
    Neeraj Kumar Singh of the 57 Battalion of the Rashtriya Rifles will be
    posthumously awarded the Ashok Chakra, the country’s highest peacetime military
  • The Army
    man, while leading a search operation at Kupwara in Jammu & Kashmir on
    August 24, 2014, came under heavy fire from terrorists. He rescued an injured
    Army person and shot dead one of the terrorists.
  • President
    Pranab Mukherjee will also posthumously award the Ashok Chakra to Major Mukund
    Varadarajan of the 44th Battalion of the Rashtriya Rifles, which was announced
    on Independence Day last year for his show of exceptional courage while leading
    an anti-terror operation in Jammu and Kashmir.
  • On the eve
    of the 66th Republic Day celebrations, the President has approved 374 awards of
    gallantry, including three Kirti Chakras and 12 Shaurya Chakras, and other
    defence decorations to the armed forces personnel and others.

10. L K Advani gets Padma Vibhushan award

  • The
    Government announced the list of Padma awardees on Sunday with L K Advani being
    conferred with the Padma Vibhushan.
  • The list
    of nine Padma Vibhushan awardees include Amitabh Bachchan, Prakash Singh Badal
    and Dilip Kumar.
  • The 20
    awardees for Padma Bhushan include Harish Salve, Bill Gates and Melinda Gates
    while 75 Padma Shri awards have also been conferred to civilians for distinguished
    service in any field.
  • A total of
    17 foreigners and NRIs are included in the list of awardees and four posthumous
    awards have also been conferred.

11. National Girl Child Day observed on 24
  • National
    Girl Child Day is observed on 24 January 2015 across the nation.
  • This
    celebration was started to offer more supports and new opportunities to the
    girls in the country. It is celebrated to increase the awareness among people
    about all the inequalities faced by the girl child in the society. This day is
    being observed every year on 24 January since 2008.
  • Ministry
    of Women and Child Development has been taking a multi pronged approach to
    address and reverse the trend of declining child sex ratio in the country. The
    objective of all these initiatives is to work towards ensuring that girls are
    born, loved and nurtured and grow up to become empowered citizens of this
    country with equal rights and opportunities.
  • Government
    of India has started National Girl Child Day as a national girl’s development
    mission. The mission raises the awareness among people all over the country
    about the importance of girls’ promotion. It helps in enhancing girls’
    meaningful contribution in decision making processes by active support of the
    parents and the community members.

12. Prime Minister presented National Bravery
Awards 2014 to 24 awardees
  • Prime
    Minister Narendra Modi on 24 January 2015 presented National Bravery Awards 2014
    to 24 awardees.
  • 8 girls
    and 16 boys were conferred with National Bravery Awards. Four of them have been
    awarded posthumously. The awardees receive a medal, certificate and cash
    incentive. Also, they will participate in the Republic Day parade.
  • In addition,
    Indian Council for Child Welfare (ICCW) provides financial assistance under its
    Indira Gandhi Scholarship Scheme to those undertaking professional courses such
    as engineering and medicine. For the others, this assistance is provided till
    they complete their graduation. The Government of India has reserved some seats
    for the awardees in medical and engineering colleges and polytechnics.
  • The
    selection was made by a high powered committee comprising representatives of
    various Ministries/Departments, non-governmental organisations as well as
    Office Bearers of ICCW.

The lists of awardees are
Sanjay Chopra Award
  • Devesh

Bapu Gaidhani Award
  • Monika                                         
  • Rumoh
  • Riya

Geeta Chopra Award
  • Gunjan

Bharat Award
  • Resham Fatma      

13. Goa to host Indo-Russian Musical Festival
  • Goa will
    host Indo-Russian Musical Festival ZimaFest from 24 January 2015 to 25 January
    2015 at Candolim beach. The musical festival will witness a confluence of
    Russian and Indian music.
  • The
    festival will host various world’s best DJs and bands like Alisa, Dolphin,
    Parikrama and DJ sets by Karsh Kale, Mara, Kohra, Janux, XP Voodoo, Christ
    Burstein FT, Victoria Bourke, Bhavishyavani Future Soundz FT. M. Mat.
  • The
    festival will be a soulful confluence of music, energy, food, sea, shells and
    everything and will serve music lovers a quality time with friends and family.
  • The
    festival will present a dichotomous mix of a classic all-round music festival
    that has Live and DJ performances at the same time starting a new trend in the
    Indian festival environment.

14. Telugu comedian Mailavarapu Surya
Narayana passed away

  • Tollywood
    Actor and comedian Mailavarapu Surya Narayana passed away on 23 January 2015
    following multi-organ failure. He was 63.
  • His other
    prominent films include Badshah in 2013, Cameraman Gangatho Rambabu in 2012,
    Julayi in 2012 and Dookudu in 2011. His latest film is Manam (2014).
  • Narayana
    won five Nandi awards presented by Andhra Pradesh Government as Best male
    comedian for the flims Maa Nanna ki Pelli, Ramskkanodu, Sardukupodam Randi,
    Sivamani and Dookudu.

15. Kerala to get first International
Institute of Music
  • Kerala
    Culture Minister K C Joseph on 22 January 2015 announced setting up of the
    International Institute of Music in Kerala. It will be the first international
    institute in India that is dedicated to music.
  • A Trust
    headed by Sarod Maestro Ustad Amjad Ali Khan has been entrusted with the
    responsibility to set up the Institute. The government will provide only land
    and all other infrastructure facilities will be built by a trust managed by
    Khan’s family.
  • Moreover,
    Kerala Government also identified the land for setting up the school in
    Thiruvananthapuram or Kochi or Kozhikode. Now, Ustad Amjad Ali Khan will decide
    one location out of these.
  • The school
    will be under the Kerala Sangeetha Nataka Akademi but would have a separate
    body to govern it. All kinds of music, musical instruments and musical systems
    will be taught at the Institute.

International News
16. Colombia’s Paulina
Vega wins Miss Universe title

  • Colombia’s Paulina Vega was crowned Miss Universe today,
    beating out contenders from the United States, Ukraine, Jamaica and The
    Netherlands at the world’s top beauty pageant in Florida.
  • The 22-year-old model and business student triumphed over
    87 other women from around the world, and is only the second beauty queen from
    Colombia to take home the prize.
  • The last time Colombia won the crown was in 1956 when Luz
    Marina Zuluaga took home the title.
  • Vega, wearing a long silver sequined gown, was beaming
    and tearful as she accepted her sash and crown from reigning Miss Universe,
    Venezuelan Gabriela Isler.
  • She edged out first runner-up, Nia Sanchez from the
    United States, hugging her as her win was announced.
  • Noyonita Lodh represented India in the event.

17. PM greets
Australians on ‘Australia Day’
  • Recalling the “warmth” of the people during his recent visit
    there, Prime Minister Narendra Modi today greeted the people of Australia on
    ‘Australia Day’ which coincides with India’s Republic Day.
  • “Best wishes to people of Australia on Australia Day!
    Will always cherish the warmth of the people of Australia during my visit last
    November,” the Prime Minister said in his message.
  • Australia Day is the official national day of Australia.
  • Celebrated annually on January 26, it marks the
    anniversary of the 1788 arrival of the first fleet of British Ships at Port Jackson,
    New South Wales, and raising of the Flag of Great Britain at that site by
    Governor Arthur Phillip.

18. Dubai’s Maze Tower
listed in Guinness World Records
  • Dubai’s Maze Tower was on 21 January 2015 listed in the
    Guinness World Record for being the world’s largest vertical maze. The maze
    tower was built by Al Rostamani Group of Dubai.
  • The 55-storey tall Maze Tower is located near the Sheikh
    Zayed Road in the Dubai Financial District.

19. Saudi Arabia King
Abdullah bin Abdulaziz died

  • Saudi Arabia King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz passed away on
    23 January 2015 following a brief illness. He was 90.
  • After the death of Abdullah bin Abdulaziz, his brother
    and Crown Prince Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud was named as the new king. The
    new crown prince is Muqrin bin Abdulaziz Al Saud. Both Salman and Muqrin are
    younger brothers of Abdullah.
  • Abdullah ascended to the throne as King in 2005.
    Abdullah’s biggest priority was to confront Iran, the Shiite powerhouse across
    the Gulf.
  • One of his most ambitious projects was a Western-style
    university that bears his name, the King Abdullah University of Science and
    Technology which was opened in 2009.

20. UN
Secretary–General appointed Saraswathy Menon in peace-building panel
  • United Nation (UN) Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon on 24
    January 2015 appointed Indian sociologist Saraswathi Menon in peace-building
    panel. This panel will review peace building activities.
  • The others on the seven-member panel, formally known as
    advisory group on the review of the peace-building architecture, include a
    retired Pakistani major general, Anis Bajwa and Charles Petrie of France, who
    headed an internal review panel on UN actions in Sri Lanka.
  • The appointment was made in accordance with the Terms of
    Reference endorsed by the General Assembly and the Security Council.
  • On 15 December 2014, the Presidents of the General
    Assembly and the Security Council asked the Secretary-General to nominate up to
    seven experts to form an advisory group on the review of the peacebuilding
  • The advisory group will undertake country studies in
    Burundi, Central African Republic, Sierra Leone, South Sudan, and Timor-Leste
    and will conduct a policy and institutional review of the peace-building
    architecture. It would also develop findings and recommendations based on this

21. Former Thailand
Premier Yingluck Shinawatra impeached

  • Former Thailand Premier Yingluck Shinawatra was impeached
    on 23 January 2015 by an army-backed parliament. The impeachment was followed
    by the ban of the Yingluck Shinawatra from politics for five years.
  • Yingluck is the first Prime Minister to be impeached by
    parliament in Thailand’s history. The impeachment was a result of an allegation
    for failing to stop corruption in rice-pledging scheme.
  • The motion for impeachment was started in National
    Legislative Assembly. 190 of the 219 members present for the secret ballot
    voted in favor of impeaching Yingluck Shinawatra. 18 members voted against the
    impeachment, 8 abstained, and 3 votes were spoilt.
  • Yingluck was accused of dereliction of duty in her
    government’s rice-pledging scheme, which Thailand’s national anti-graft agency
    said cost the country 500 billion baht in damages due to mismanagement and

Sports News
22. Milos Raonic first
Candaian Man to reach the Australian Open Quarter Finals

  • Milos Raonic became the first Canadian man in the Open
    Era to reach the Australian Open quarter-finals as he edged Feliciano Lopez
    6-4, 4-6, 6-3, 6-7(7), 6-3 in Melbourne on Monday.
  • The Toronto native is the first Canadian to reach the
    last eight in Melbourne since Michael Belkin in 1968.
  • He is through to his third Grand Slam quarter-final,
    having made his breakthrough at Roland Garros last year and going on to reach
    his first semi-final a month later at Wimbledon.
  • Raonic is also the second Canadian man in history to
    reach three major quarter-finals, following in the footsteps of Robert Powell
    at Wimbledon in 1908, 1910 and 1912.
  • The 24-year-old Raonic will face either World No.1 and
    four-time champion Novak Djokovic or Gilles Muller for a place in the

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