Current Affairs Update – 31st March, 2015

Hello and welcome to ExamPundit. Here are the current affairs for 31st March, 2015.

Australia’s IAG to
raise stake in SBI General Insurance to 49 percent
  • Insurance Australia Group Ltd (IAG) on 26 March 2015
    announced that it will raise its stake in SBI General Insurance (SBIGI) from 26
    percent to 49 percent.
  • IAG decided to increase its stake in SBIGI in the backdrop
    of the Insurance Laws (Amendment) Bill, 2015 which was passed in the Parliament
    in March 2015. The bill seeks to increase foreign investment limit in local
    insurers to 49 percent from 26 percent.
  • SBI General Insurance is a joint venture between the State
    Bank of India and IAG of Australia. It started operations in 2010. This
    decision of IAG will lead to dilution of SBI’s 76 percent stake in SBI General
    Insurance to 51 percent.

RBI tightens takeover
norms for shadow banking

  • The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) plans tougher rules for
    takeovers involving non-banking financial companies (NBFCs), according to draft
    guidelines published on Monday, outlining a demand that all substantial deals
    seek its prior approval.
  • In its latest effort to boost transparency and strengthen
    its grip on the alternative lenders that account for a large part of the
    domestic shadow-banking sector, the RBI said any purchase of a stake of 26 per
    cent or more in a company, or a change in more than 30 per cent of its
    directors, would need the central bank’s permission.
  • There are some 12,000 NBFCs registered with the RBI, and
    they largely offer loans. Some, like traditional banks, also take deposits.
  • The RBI also said in its circular that the source of funds
    behind new investors in any NBFC will have to be disclosed. It also asked for
    an undertaking that the new proposed investors are not associated with any
    existing but unregistered body that accepts public deposits.
  • NBFCs play a critical role in extending credit to areas
    where traditional finance cannot reach in a country where only just over half
    of the population has access to the mainstream banking system. However,
    controlling these NBFCs has been made a key priority for the RBI, given their
    size and reach.

SIDBI signs $543-mn
loan pacts with World Bank
  • The Small Industries Development Bank of India (SIDBI) has
    signed two agreements worth $500 million and $43 million with the World Bank,
    which will immensely benefit the MSMEs of the country.
  • The first agreement on MSME Growth, Innovation and Inclusive
    Finance Project for start-ups with a line of credit of $500 million is for risk
    capital finance, and for financing to service sectors and manufacturing MSMEs.
  • The project also targets women entrepreneurs (20 per cent of
    the project) and units in underserved (low income) states such as Uttar
    Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, and West Bengal (25% of assisted units from low-income
  • The second agreement is Partial Risk Sharing Facility for
    Energy Efficiency (PRSF) project with a total outlay of $43 million consisting
    of guarantee fund corpus of $37 million, technical assistance of $4 million and
    $2 million to be implemented by Energy Efficiency Services Ltd.
  • The objective of the project is to support the Government of
    India’s efforts to transform the energy efficiency (EE) market in India by
    promoting increased level of EE investments, particularly through energy
    service performance contracting (ESPC) delivered through Energy Service
    Companies (ESCOs).

India, France to
jointly develop naval missile “Maitri”

  • The Defence Acquisition Council has approved the ‘Maitri’
    project for the co-development of a Short Range Surface-to-Air Missile (SR-SAM)
    by the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) with MBDA of France,
    Navy officers said on Monday.
  • The DRDO had signed a Memorandum of Understanding with MBDA
    in 2013, but there has hardly been any progress because the DRDO’s Akash
    missile system has similar functions.
  • The Army and the Air Force have expressed satisfaction with
    the capabilities of Akash, but the Navy has made it clear that Akash is not
    suitable for installation on warships.
  • This is likely to be discussed further during Prime Minister
    Narendra Modi’s visit to France next week.
  • Last Saturday, the Defence Acquisition Council gave approval
    for the upgrade of 10 Kamov-28 anti-submarine helicopters of the Navy at a cost
    of €297 million.
  • The helicopters are at the end of their service life.

AP signs pact with
National University of Singapore

  • The Andhra Pradesh Government, National University of
    Singapore, and the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) have inked an MoU in
    Singapore to work on ‘Ease of Doing Business in AP’.
  • The memorandum of understanding signed between NUS (acting
    through the Asian Competitiveness Institute at Lee Kuan Yew School of Public
    Policy), AP and CII is for cooperation in relation to ‘Masterplan on Ease of
    Doing Business in Andhra Pradesh (MEDBAP): Vision 2020’ and other related
  • As part of the tripartite MoU, the parties will collaborate
    in conducting joint research programmes on interesting issues such as
    strategies and assessment on ease of doing business and enhancement of economic
  • This MoU will also enable them to identify and establish
    common interests and cooperative opportunities between Andhra Pradesh and
    private sector investors, (both local and foreign).
  • The MoU also envisages regular visits of delegations through
    exchange of ideas and formulation of research strategies, holding joint
    seminars where NUS and AP assess and update their progress on the project.
  • Asian Competitiveness Institute at Lee Kuan Yew School of
    Public Policy will be utilised as a platform for investment research, to study
    economic situations and investment opportunities in AP and ASEAN, China.

Himachal Pradesh
Government launched India’s first e-Vidhan Mobile app
  • Virbhadra Singh, the Chief Minister of Himachal Pradesh on
    30 March 2015 launched part one of e-Vidhan Mobile app.
  • The app could be accessed by all the members 45 minutes
    before the question hours on android and tablets having information about the
    day business.
  • With this launch, Himachal Pradesh Vidhan Sabha became the
    first state assembly in the country to launch e-Vidhan Mobile app. This
    e-Vidhan system will help the state to save about 8 crore rupees per annum that
    is spent on the paper.
  • The information provided on the app could be corrected on
  • The bills introduced or laid for discussion will also be
    made available to the members.

Union Cabinet gave
its approval for the Approach and Key Components of e-Kranti
  • The Union Cabinet chaired by the Prime Minister Narendra
    Modi on 25 March 2015 gave its approval for the Approach and Key Components of
    e-Kranti: National e-Governance Plan (NeGP) 2.0.
  • e-Kranti is an important pillar of the Digital India
    programme and the programme has been envisaged by the Department of Electronics
    and Information Technology (DeitY).

Objectives of
  • To redefine NeGP with transformational and outcome oriented
    e-Governance initiatives.
  • To enhance the portfolio of citizen centric services.
  • To ensure optimum usage of core Information &
    Communication Technology (ICT).
  • To promote rapid replication and integration of eGov
  • To leverage emerging technologies.
  • To make use of more agile implementation models.

Key principles of
  • Transformation and not Translation
  • Integrated Services and not Individual Services
  • Government Process Reengineering (GPR) to be mandatory in
    every Mission Mode Projects (MMPs)
  • ICT Infrastructure on Demand
  • Cloud by Default
  • Mobile First
  • Fast Tracking Approvals
  • Mandating Standards and Protocols
  • Language Localization
  • National GIS (Geo-Spatial Information System)
  • Security and Electronic Data Preservation

Amitabh Bachchan
Felicitated at ‘India by the Nile’ Festival in Egypt

  • India’s megastar Amitabh Bachchan inaugurated the third
    edition of the India by the Nile festival during a ceremony attended by the top
    crux of Egypt’s diplomatic, social and business circle here.
  • The 72-year-old actor was excited about his three-day visit
    to the Egypt’s capital and commended the Embassy of India and Ministry of
    Culture and Tourism of Egypt for their efforts to organise the festival.
  • Acknowledging scores of people who had gathered to catch a
    glimpse of the popular star from their home country, the 72- year-old actor
    said that being in Egypt was like coming home.
  • India is organising 18-day ‘India by the Nile’ festival,
    considered the biggest foreign fair, in Egypt to send a message that the
    country is safe for Indian tourists despite violent extremist attacks and
  • Tourism is one of the major centre-pieces of the Egyptian
  • The tourism industry dwindled due to many violent attacks by
    militants since the January 2011 revolution that toppled ex-president Hosni
  • In 2013, former Islamist president Mohamed Morsi’s ouster
    intensified the attacks, leading to a decrease in footfalls of foreign

China and Sri Lanka
inked five agreements during visit of Maithripala Sirisena to China
  • China and Sri Lanka signed five agreements on 26 March 2015
    to deepen development partnership between the two countries.
  • The agreements were signed in Beijing during the maiden
    visit of Sri Lankan president Maithripala Sirisena to China after assuming the
    office in January 2015.
  • Both the countries reiterated the shared adherence of the
    two countries to the Five Principles of Peaceful Co-existence or Pancha Sheela.
  • The two nations signed five agreements related to
    cooperation for special aid in public health, development of water treatment
    methods and technologies in kidney disease affected areas, research and
    development of the coconut industry and refurbishment of the Superior Courts
    Complex in Sri Lanka.

Muhammadu Buhari wins
Nigeria presidential election

  • Opposition challenger Muhammadu Buhari has won Nigeria’s
    presidential election with 15.4 million votes against incumbent Goodluck
    Jonathan’s 13.3 million, a Reuters tally of votes in all of 36 States showed on
  • Mr. Jonathan telephoned Mr. Buhari to congratulate him on
    winning this weekend’s election, a spokesman for Mr. Buhari’s All Progressives
    Congress said.

RIL Signs Contracts
for Two Offshore Oil and Gas Blocks in Myanmar
  • Reliance Industries today signed contracts for two offshore
    oil and gas exploration blocks in Myanmar as it looks overseas to tide over
    difficult regulatory environment back home.
  • The billionaire Mukesh Ambani-run firm had won the blocks
    after in Myanmar Offshore Block Bidding Round – 2013.
  • Both the blocks are located offshore in the Tanintharyi
    basin of Myanmar in water depths upto 3000 feet and together encompass total area
    of 27,600 square kilometers.
  • While Myanmar, like India, offers a similar production
    sharing contract regime that allows recovery of all costs before sharing
    spoils, its contractual regime is much more attractive.

Vice Admiral Sunil
Lanba took over as Commanding-in-Chief of Southern Naval Command

  • Vice Admiral Sunil Lanba on 30 March 2015 took over charge
    as the Flag Officer Commanding-in-Chief of Southern Naval Command. He took the
    charge from Vice Admiral SPS Cheema at a ceremonial parade held at the Naval
    base in Kochi.
  • Prior to assuming command, Vice Admiral Lanba laid a wreath
    at the War Memorial.
  • Vice Admiral Cheema will now assume the charge of the Flag
    Officer Commanding in Chief, Western Naval Command on 31 March 2015 on the
    retirement of the present incumbent, Vice Admiral Anil Kumar Chopra.

& Authors –
God’s Bankers
authored by Gerald Posner released

  • Book titled God’s Bankers: A History of Money and Power at
    the Vatican authored by Gerald Posner was released on 3 February 2015.
  • Posner is an American investigative journalist and an
    author, through this book he has tried to present the secret side of the
    200-year history of Vatican finances and the Vatican Bank, the Catholic
    Church’s completely independent financial institution.
  • The book is about the church’s accumulation of wealth and
    its byzantine entanglements with financial markets across the world. It talks
    about the political intrigue and inner workings of the Catholic Church. It
    displays with extraordinary precision how the Vatican has evolved from a
    foundation of faith to a corporation of extreme wealth and power.

WJP released Open
Government Index 2015 Report

  • World Justice Project (WJP) in the third week of March
    released the Open Government Index 2015.
  • Out of the 102 countries assessed in the 2015 Index, Sweden
    topped the list in terms of openness in the government. It is followed by New
    Zealand and Norway at second and third place respectively. The other countries
    in the top ten are: Denmark, Netherlands, Finland, Canada, United Kingdom, Australia
    and Republic of Korea.
  • Cambodia, Iran, Myanmar, Uzbekistan and Zimbabwe are
    positioned last in the Index.

India’s Rank in
the Index
  • India has been placed at the 37th position in the 2015
  • India scored 0.54 with 27th rank, 0.50 with 66th rank, 0.58
    with 43rd rank and 0.65 with 39th rank among the surveyed countries in terms of
    publicised laws and government data, right to information, complaint mechanisms
    and civic participation respectively.
  • India is placed at the top among the South Asian countries
    followed by Nepal (40), Sri Lanka (52), Bangladesh (73), Pakistan (83) and
    Afghanistan (89).
  • India is placed at the third position among the Lower Middle
    Income countries after Georgia and Indonesia.

Daniel Vettori
retired from all forms of International Cricket

  • Daniel Vettori, the cricketer of New Zealand on 30 March
    2015 retired from all forms of International Cricket. The veteran spinner
    officially announced his retirement after the final match of the 2015 Cricket
    World Cup.
  • In his final match against Australia, he scored nine runs
    and took 0-25 from five overs. But his 13 wickets and his economy rate
    throughout the tournament helped New Zealand in qualifying for the World Cup
    final for the first time.
  • His decision gave an end to his 18-year long career that
    began when he was 18.
  • Vettori coaches the Royal Challengers Bangalore in the
    Indian Premier League Twenty20 competition.

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