Hello and welcome to exampundit. Here are the Daily Current Affairs updates from January 26 to January 30, 2018. These are important for the upcoming SBI Clerk Mains 2018, Syndicate Bank PGDBF 2018, CANARA Bank PGDBF exams.
Finance & Banking
SBI inks information utility pact with NeSL
- State Bank of India on Tuesday said it has signed an Information Utility (IU) agreement with National E-Governance Services Ltd (NeSL) to share financial and security information under the Insolvency and Bankruptcy Board of India (IU) regulation 2017.
- The agreement comes in the wake of Reserve Bank of India advising all financial creditors regulated by it to adhere to the relevant provisions of Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code (IBC), 2016 and IBBI (IUs) Regulation 2017 and submit financial and security information to IU.
- NeSL is the first IU registered with IBBI. The company has been set up by 17 financial institutions, including State Bank of India, Life Insurance Corporation of India, Bank of Baroda, Canara Bank, ICICI Bank.
- Under IBC, IU will offer services for accepting electronic submission of financial information, recording the same safely and accurately, verifying and authenticating the financial information submitted by a person and providing access to information stored to persons specified by the IBBI Regulations.
American Express acquires virtual travel assistant Mezi
- American Express on Tuesday announced the acquisition of virtual travel assistant Mezi for an undisclosed amount in a press statement.
- Mezi helps passengers with hotel reservation and booking tickets for trips while offering recommendations. Founded in 2015 by Swapnil and Snehal Shinde, the artificial intelligence-based platform has messaging-based interface that forwards passengers’ request for bookings to human executives.
- Having started off as AI-based assistant, Mezi’s founders turned to focus exclusively on travel industry since November 2016. In the latest Series A funding round led by American Express, Mezi had raised $9 million in July 2016, according to Crunchbase.
Small Finance Banks, Payments Banks to offer Atal Pension Yojana
- The Union Government has allowed Small Finance Banks and Payments Banks to offer Atal Pension Yojana (APY).
- The Payments Banks and Small Finance Banks are a new model of banks conceptualised by the Reserve Bank of India (RBI). In total, 11 Payment Banks and 10 Small Finance Banks have received the license from Reserve Bank of India to start banking operations in India.
- The Small Finance Banks and Payment Banks are new age banks and given the strength, expertise and reach of these banks, they can play a pivotal role in the outreach of subscribers under APY.
- The decision of allowing the Small Finance Banks and Payments Banks to offer APY is mainly aimed at strengthening the existing channels of APY distribution.
- These banks are expected to provide a boost to the outreach of subscribers under APY.
- With their participation, the government would not only be able to build a pensioned society but also add sustainable fee income to Banks by offering attractive incentives for mobilizing APY, at Rs 120-150 per account.
- At present, over 84 lakh subscribers are registered under the APY scheme with an asset base of more than Rs 3194 crore.
Himachal CM launches Zero Budget Natural Farming project
- Himachal Pradesh Chief Minister Jai Ram Thakur on January 29, 2018 launched Zero Budget Natural Farming (ZBNF) project to promote organic farming. The project aims to increase agriculture produce and the income of farmers by the year 2022.
- ZBNF is set of natural farming methods where the cost of growing and harvesting plants is zero. It is a farming practice that believes in the natural growth of crops without adding any fertilizers and pesticides or any other foreign elements.
- The word Zero Budget refers to zero net cost of production of all crops. This means that farmers need not purchase fertilizers and pesticides in order to ensure the healthy growth of crops. The inputs used for seed treatments and other inoculations are locally available in form of cow dung and cow urine.
AAI allocates nearly Rs 3,400 Cr for upgradation of airports in North East region
- The Airports Authority of India has allocated nearly Rs 3,400 crore for the upgradation of airports in the North East region.
- According to AAI chairman Guruprasad Mahapatra, an amount worth Rs 1,720 crore, Rs 525 crore and Rs 800 crore has been allocated for Assam, Tripura and Manipur respectively.
- Projects worth Rs 934 crore have already been completed and the work on the rest will be over in the next two or three years.
NHIDCL, IL&FS sign MoU for construction of Zojila tunnel
- The National Highways and Infrastructure Development Corporation (NHIDCL) under the Union Ministry of Road Transport & Highways and IL&FS Transportation Networks Ltd on January 25, 2018 signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) for construction of the 14.150 km long, 2-lane bi-directional Zojila Tunnel in Jammu & Kashmir (J&K).
- Once built, Zojila Tunnel would be India’s longest road tunnel and the longest bi-directional tunnel in Asia. The construction of this tunnel will provide all weather connectivity between Srinagar, Kargil and Leh and will bring about all round economic and socio-cultural integration of these regions.
- The project aims at construction of 14.150 km long two lane bidirectional single tube tunnel with a parallel 14.200 km long egress tunnel between Baltaland Minamarg in the state of J&K.
- The total capital cost of the project is Rs 6808.69 crore. It includes the cost towards land acquisition, resettlement and rehabilitation as well as maintenance cost for 4 years.
- The civil construction cost of the project is Rs 4899.42 crore.
Indian, Vietnamese armies conduct first military exercise ‘VINBAX’
- In a first, the armies of India and Vietnam on January 29, 2018 began a six-day long military exercise in Jabalpur in Madhya Pradesh.
- The exercise being the first-ever between the two nations is a proof of their growing defence ties. Titled ‘VINBAX’, it will continue for six days.
- India and Vietnam have been exploring ways to strengthen defence cooperation.
- The exercise follows Vietnamese Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc’s visit to India last week to participate in the India- ASEAN Commemorative summit and attend India’s Republic Day celebrations.
- The issue of bolstering defence and security cooperation figured prominently during the bilateral talks between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and the Vietnamese PM.
MCD launches new mobile application to improve civic services
- The three Municipal Corporations of Delhi have jointly brought out a mobile application to enhance engagement of citizens in the resolution of grievances and improvement of civic services in the city.
- The application called Mobile App 311 was launched by Delhi’s Lieutenant Governor Anil Baijal at Raj Niwas.
- The app can be downloaded for free from the Google Play Store and the Apple Store.
- It aims to empower users by giving them locations of nearby police stations, metro stations, petrol pumps, public toilets, parking, hospitals, bus stands, veterinary clinics, libraries, gyms, markets and other places.
- The users would also be able to get in touch with emergency departments like control room, fire, ambulance, disaster management and women helpline through the app.
Mission One Click for 30 types of scholarship distribution
- The Madhya Pradesh state government has initiated a Mission One Click scheme to distribute the 30 types of scholarship in schools.
- The government has made School Education Department as a nodal department for online distribution of 30 types of scholarship of 8 Government departments of the state through Samagra Education Portal.
- Through this system, the profiles of 1 crore 48 lakh students of all government and private educational institutions of the state have now become online.
- On this basis, the distribution of scholarships has been ensured.
NLU report notes 27 per cent drop in award of death penalty in 2017
- According to a report published by the National Law University (NLU), 2017 saw a significant drop, nearly 27 per cent, in the awarding of the death penalty by sessions courts but there was an increase in the number of convicts sent to gallows for murders involving sexual violence.
- The report titled ‘Death Penalty in India, Annual Statistics for the year 2017’ said that in 2016, 149 persons were sentenced to death, while only 109 convicts were awarded capital punishment in 2017. Out of the 109 death punishments, the high courts commuted 53 cases and acquitted 35 persons.
- However, the report also showed an increase in the number of convicts sent to gallows for murders involving sexual violence in the year 2017. It said that 43 convicts were awarded death for murders involving sexual violence in 2017, which is 19 more than the year before.
- Among the states, Maharashtra tops the list with 67 prisoners on death row. The state had 47 prisoners with capital punishment in 2016. However, the number of prisoners with death sentence in Karnataka reduced from 27 in 2016 to 12 in 2017, owing to various commutations and acquittals by the high court.
India, Lao PDR sign agreement for cooperation in civil aviation
- India and Lao PDR have signed civil aviation cooperation agreement for providing SkyRev360, a comprehensive e-data gathering, invoicing and collection system. The historic agreement was signed between Airports Authority of India (AAI) and Lao Air Traffic Management, Department of Civil Aviation.
- SkyRev360 is fully automated and comprehensive data gathering invoicing and collection service system, which has been developed in collaboration with the International Air Transport Association (IATA) under Indian government’s Make in India initiative.
- The system helps to eliminate inaccuracies errors and delays for better revenue management with less manual processing.
Kolkata becomes first Indian metro to get floating market
- Kolkata, capital of West Bengal has become the first metropolitan city in India to get floating market. It was inaugurated by West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee on January 24, 2018.
- The floating market is located on a lake at Patuli in South Kolkata. It has boats doubling up as shops.
- The main aim of establishing the floating market is to rehabilitate over 200 shopkeepers from nearby market that was demolished for the widening of Eastern Metropolitan Bypass (EMB), an important road that connects the northern parts of Kolkata o the eastern and southern tips.
- The market will host at least 114 boats, each one accommodating two shops. These shops will sell regular or daily-use items that include vegetables, fruits, flowers, fish and meat and poultry. Shoppers can approach these boats through wooden walkways.
- Special provisions have been made to ensure that water in lake does not stink and the aquatic life survives. Nets will be routinely used to fish out vegetable peel, fish scales and other waste from the water.
Punjab Government launches Mahatma Gandhi Sarbat Vikas Yojana
- The state government of Punjab has launched Mahatma Gandhi Sarbat Vikas Yojna (MGSVY) for the welfare of the downtrodden citizens across the state.
- This scheme is aimed at the inclusive growth of the distressed sections of the society. Its main objective is to identify poor and distressed households that have been deprived of the benefits of the various welfare schemes launched by state government. It will give distressed sections much-needed social, economical or psychological help.
- It will be implemented in the state’s rural areas and will provide benefit of welfare schemes for debt-ridden farmers, poor families that have woman as sole bread earner, out-of-school children, martyred soldiers, families of AIDS patients, differently-abled, abandoned old persons and drug addicts.
Department of Posts launches new dress for Postmen/MTS
- The Department of Posts has redesigned the uniform for Postmen (both male and female) and MTS cadre in consultation with National Institute of Fashion Technology, Delhi (NIFT).
- The uniform has been redesigned keeping in view the functionality, comfort and durability. The uniform will provide a strong brand identity of the Department of Posts, as it provides for easy identification of postmen staff.
India, Cambodia sign MoUs for cooperation in prevention of crimes, human trafficking
- India signed four Memorandums of Understanding (MoUs) with Cambodia on January 27, 2018 during the state visit of Prime Minister of the Kingdom of Cambodia Hun Sen to India.
- Hun Sen was in India for the ASEAN-India Commemorative Summit, following which he attended India’s 69th Republic Day celebrations along with other ASEAN leaders and also called on Indian President Ram Nath Kovind at Rashtrapati Bhavan.
Following is the list of MoUs that were exchanged during the state visit:
- Cultural Exchange Programme with Cambodia for the year 2018-2022. The CEP seeks to promote cultural exchange and strengthen the friendly relations between India and Cambodia.
- Credit Line Agreement between the EXIM Bank, Government of India and the Government of Cambodia for a Line of Credit to finance the Stung Sva Hab Water Resource Development Project for US$ 36.92 million.
- Mutual Legal Assistance in Criminal Matters. The agreement seeks to improve the effectiveness of both countries in the prevention, investigation and prosecution of crimes through cooperation and legal assistance in criminal matters.
- MoU on Cooperation for Prevention of Human Trafficking. It aims to increase the bilateral cooperation on the issues of prevention, rescue and repatriation related to human trafficking.
Himachal CM launches ‘Shakti’ app for women’s safety
- The Chief Minister of Himachal Pradesh, Jai Ram Thakur on January 26, 2018 launched the ‘Shakti’ app for women’s safety in the state.
- The app, which comes with a panic button, was developed by the National Informatics Centre (NIC) of the Himachal Pradesh government. It would be available in both Hindi and English languages and would not require internet connectivity.
- Shaking the device would trigger the app to send its location through GPS.
- Once triggered, the app would automatically send a message to the nearest police control room.
- It would also start recording audio and video after 20 seconds.
- Besides this, the Chief Minister also launched the ‘GUDDIYA’ helpline number 1515 and the ‘Hoshiyar Singh’ helpline number 1090.
Stree Swabhiman Initiative launched for Women Health and Hygiene
- Union Information Technology and Electronics Ministry on 27 January 2018 announced to launch the Stree Swabhiman Initiative to ensure and maintain perfect health for Women and maintain Health Hygiene.
- The initiative was launched in partnership with Common Service Centres (CSCs).
- The initiative will be implemented by the central government in coordination of the CSC (Common Service Centers). The entire project will also be implemented within the country at the ground root level.
- Under this initiative, Common Service Centres (CSC) will provide access to affordable, reliable and modern (eco-friendly) sanitary napkins (menstrual pads) to adolescent girls and women in rural areas.
- Under this initiative, semi-automatic and manual sanitary napkin manufacturing units will be set up at CSC for producing affordable and eco-friendly sanitary napkins.
President Ram Nath Kovind launches Pulse Polio Programme 2018
- President Ram Nath Kovind on 27 January 2018 launched the Pulse Polio programme 2018 by administering polio drops to children less than five years old at the Rahstrapati Bhawan, New Delhi.
- The programme was launched on the eve of the National Immunization Day, which is observed every year on 28 January 2018.
- Under the Pulse Polio Programme 2018, more than 17 crore children of less than five years across the country will be given polio drops to sustain polio eradication from the country.
Asha Bhosle selected for fifth Yash Chopra Memorial Award
- Legendary playback singer Asha Bhosle (84) has been chosen for fifth edition of Yash Chopra Memorial Award for her outstanding contribution to the Hindi film industry.
- She will be presented with award in February 2018 by Maharashtra Governor C Vidyasagar Rao.
- She was selected by jury members comprising former filmmaker Yash Chopra’s wife Pamela Chopra, filmmakers Boney Kapoor, Madhur Bhandarkar, singer Alka Yagnik, actor Padmini Kohlapure, scriptwriter Honey Irani, Anu and Shashi Ranjan.
Indian Parliamentary Group to confer Outstanding Parliamentarian Awards to five MPs
The Indian Parliamentary Group (IPG) on January 29, 2018 decided to confer Outstanding Parliamentarian Awards to five Members of Parliament. The award is conferred to an outstanding sitting Member of Parliament after considering his/her overall contribution to the house.
The awardees this year include:
- Najma Heptulla: She is former Rajya Sabha MP and was selected for this award for the year 2013.
- Hukumdev Narayan Yadav: He is Lok Sabha MP and was selected for this award for the year for 2014.
- Ghulam Nabi Azad: He is Rajya Sabha and was selected for this award for the year for 2015.
- Dinesh Trivedi: He is Lok Sabha MP and was selected for 2016.
- Bhartruhari Mahatab: He is Lok Sabha MP and was selected for 2017.
Vijay Keshav Gokhale to take charge as new Foreign Secretary
- Vijay Keshav Gokhale, a senior diplomat of the External Affairs Ministry, will take charge as the next Foreign Secretary on January 29, 2018.
- Gokhale would be succeeding S Jaishankar, who is retiring from the post. The 1977-batch IFS officer, Jaishankar was appointed as the Foreign Secretary in January 2015, for a term of two years. He was given a one-year extension in January last year.
- The 1981-batch Indian Foreign Service officer, Gokhale is currently serving as the Secretary (Economic Relations) in the Ministry of External Affairs.
- He was India’s Ambassador to China from January 20, 2016, to October 21, 2017, before moving back to the MEA headquarters in New Delhi.
- He has also served as India’s top envoy to Germany between October 2013 and January 2016 and worked in Indian missions in Hong Kong, Hanoi and in New York.
- He has held the posts of Director (China and East Asia) and then Joint Secretary (East Asia) in the MEA.
China plans to set up its first lab to treat ocean oil spill
- China’s Ministry of Transport is planning to establish a laboratory specialised in treating oil spills at sea, the first of its kind in the country.
- The nation has been spending around 200 million yuan a year on research for emergency treatment of oil spills but the technological expertise has not been widely applied because of lack of such a lab.
- The laboratory is planned to come up in the northern port city of Tianjin, off the Bohai Bay, with an initial investment 400 million yuan ($63 million). The investment will go to research projects on oceanic ecological protection and safety issues for sea-borne transportation.
- Till date, only the United States and France have laboratories capable of undertaking tests and inspections required in treating ocean oil spills.
World Leprosy Day observed
- The World Leprosy Day was observed across the globe on January 28, 2018. The day is observed internationally every year on the last Sunday of January month to raise global awareness of Leprosy.
- The observance aims to achieve the target of zero cases of leprosy-related disabilities in children. The day was initiated by French philanthropist and writer, Raoul Follereau in 1954 as a way to raise global awareness of this deadly ancient disease and call attention to the fact that it can be prevented, treated and cured.
India’s Green Revolution pioneer Dr Gurcharan Singh Kalkat passes away
- The former agriculture commissioner of India and noted agricultural scientist Gurcharan Singh Kalkat passed away at the age of 92 in Chandigarh on January 27, 2018, after suffering from a brief illness.
- The Padma Shri and Padma Bhushan awardee was the founding chairman of Punjab State Farmers Commission and a pioneer of India’s Green Revolution. He was also the former vice-chancellor of Punjab Agricultural University (Ludhiana) from 1998-2001.
- He was known for his role in bringing Green Revolution and several exemplary agricultural reforms in Punjab. His contribution had ensured overall development and a phenomenal growth in the agriculture sector.