Here’s your daily summary of Current Affairs.
Cabinet Approvals (Updated March 15, 2017)
i. The Union Cabinet under the Chairmanship of Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi gave its approval for signing of a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between Lal Bahadur Shastri National Academy of Administration (LBSNAA), Mussoorie and Namibia Institute of Public Administration and Management (NIPAM), Namibia on March 15, 2017.
ii. The government was apprised of the Memoranda of Understanding (MoUs) signed between India with Indonesia for cooperation in youth and sports matters and Kyrgyz Republic for cooperation in the field of youth development.
iii. Cabinet also gave its approval to the revised Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) and Mode of Operation (MoO) between India and Bangladesh on March 15, 2017 for establishing Border Haats on India-Bangladesh Border.
iv. Narendra Modi approved signing of a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between the Directorate General of Lighthouses & Lightships (DGLL), Ministry of Shipping (GOI) and the Department of Shipping, Government of Bangladesh on Aids to Navigation (AtoNs).
v. The Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs gave its approval to provide marketing and pricing freedom to the Coal Bed Methane (CBM) Contractors to sell the CBM Gas at Arm’s Length Price in the domestic market.
vi. The Centre has approved to increase the Dearness Allowance (DA) to Central Government employees and Dearness Relief (DR) to pensioners to 4 percent from the existing rate of 2 percent with effect from January 1, 2017.
vii. Cabinet chaired by the Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi has approved the Introduction of the Indian Institutes of Information Technology Public Private Partnership (IIIT PPP) Bill, 2017.
Goa CM Manohar Parrikar Wins Floor Test In Goa Assembly
Goa Chief Minister Manohar Parrikar won the floor test in the Goa state assembly with 22 legislators supporting him out of the 40-member House, while the opposition Congress has managed to win only 16 votes. The state assembly conducted the floor test on March 16, 2017, following an order by the Supreme Court. Manohar proved his majority with 12 legislators from the BJP, three from the Goa Forward Party (GFP), three from the Maharashtrawadi Gomantak Party (MGP), three Independents and one from the NCP voting in favour of the trust motion. The test was passed through a clear division which was ordered by Pro-tem Speaker Siddharth Kuncolienkar(BJP).
Tamil Nadu Finance Minister Jayakumar Presents Tax-Free Budget For 2017-18
The Tamil Nadu Finance Minister D Jayakumar presented a tax free and revenue deficit budget for the fiscal 2017-18 on March 16, 2017 in the State Legislative Assembly. It is the first Budget presented by the state Finance Minister as well as the first budget of the AIADMK government headed by E. Palaniswami.
Salient Feature of the State Budget are:
i. Total Revenue Receipts (TRR): Rs 1,59,363 crore
ii. Total Expenditure: Rs 1,75,293 crore
iii. Revenue Deficit: Rs 15,930 crore
iv. Fiscal Deficit: Rs 41,977 core (2.79 percent of GDP)
CCEA Approves Policy For Early Monetization Of Coal Bed Methane Gas
The Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs (CCEA) chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi has approved Policy for Early Monetization of Coal Bed Methane (CBM) Gas Marketing and Pricing Freedom for CBM Gas. The policy provides marketing and pricing freedom to the CBM Contractors to sell the CBM at Arm’s Length Price in the domestic market.
Cabinet Approves Revised Mou With Bangladesh To Set Up Border Haats
The Union Cabinet has approved Revised Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) and Mode of Operation (MoO) between India and Bangladesh for establishing Border Haats on India-Bangladesh Border. The revised MoU and MoO will provide a legal framework for establishment and operationalization of additional Border Haats along India-Bangladesh border.
15 IIITs Declared As Institutes Of National Importance
The Union Cabinet chaired by the Prime Minister Narendra Modi has approved Indian Institutes of Information Technology (Public- Private Partnership) Bill, 2017. Decision in this regard was taken by Union Cabinet meeting chaired by the Prime Minister Narendra Modi in New Delhi. The 15 IIITs are: Assam (Guwahati), Andhra Pradesh (Chittoor), Haryana (Sonipat), Gujarat (Vadodara), Himachal Pradesh (Una), Kerala (Kottayam), Jharkhand (Ranchi), Karnataka (Dharwad), Maharashtra (Nagpur & Pune), Rajasthan (Kota), Manipur (Senapati), Tamilnadu (Tiruchirappalli), Uttar Pradesh (Lucknow), & Kalyani (West Bengal).
Parliament Passes Enemy Property (Amendment And Validation) Bill, 2016
The Parliament has passed the Enemy Property (Amendment and Validation) Bill, 2016 by voice vote to make amendments to the Enemy Property Act, 1968. The Bill replaces the Enemy Property (Amendment and Validation) Ordinance, 2016 promulgated by President Pranab Mukherjee for five times.
Background: The Bill passed by Lok Sabha incorporates the amendments made by the Rajya Sabha earlier. The Bill replacing the ordinance was passed by the Lok Sabha earlier but certain amendments were introduced to it in the Rajya Sabha, on the recommendations of a Select Committee.
India Among Other South-East Asian Countries To Sign WHO’s Call To End TB By 2030
India along with other South East Asian Region countries signed a ‘Call for Action’ on March 16, 2017 to end tuberculosis (TB) and pledged to take efforts to end the disease by 2030. The ‘call for action’ was signed by the Health ministers of the WHO’s South-East Asia Region countries and the World Health Organization (WHO) on the concluding day of the two day ministerial meeting towards ending TB in the region that began on March 15, 2017.
China, Saudi Arabia Ink Deals Worth About $65 Billion
China and Saudi Arabia officials on March 17, 2017 have signed Memorandums of Understanding (MoU) and Letters of Intent (LoI) potentially worth about $65 billion during Saudi King Salman’s visit to China. This was announced by Zhang Ming, Deputy Chinese Foreign Minister.
Aim: To promote investment opportunities in the kingdom. The agreements seeks co-operations in the field of investment, energy, space and other areas.
HDFC Bank Launches India’s First Digital Loans Against Securities
HDFC Bank in collaboration with National Securities Depository Limited (NSDL) has launched an instant Digital Loan against Securities (LAS) product on March 15, 2017. LAS will reduce the time to disburse the overdraft facility in just 3 minutes rather than several days that was the case previously. This is a first-of-its-kind initiative in India and probably the first in the world as well.
Key Features of LAS
i. Under the facility, customers can pledge shares directly through their DEMAT accounts and give necessary approvals while applying for the loan.
ii. Shares dematerialised by NSDL and executed through HDFC Bank DEMAT account could be used for pledging.
iii .The bank will instantly approves the loan and the money will be credited to their bank accounts. Once shares are pledged, a customer cannot sell them unless the loan against them has been cleared.
iv. The loan amount ranges from Rs 1 to 20 lakh for a period and every year the loan amount will be reevaluated.
v. The overdraft will be offered at an interest rate of 10.5 percent, same as the non-digital loans.
vi. Initially the facility is restricted to only HDFC Bank DEMAT account holders so customers need to open accounts with the bank to avail the digital service.
vii. Besides, the facility will be available for DEMAT shares in the beginning which will soon be extended to other securities such as mutual funds, bonds and insurance policies.
UCO Bank, Future Generali Tie Up
Private insurer Future Generali India Insurance Company (FGII) has announced tie-up with Kolkata based UCO Bank for its products on March 15, 2017.
Target: To achieve a growth of 80 per cent by FY18. According to the agreement, UCO bank will provide a window at its bank branches for marketing FGII’s offerings. It offers a wide spectrum of general insurance products like Motor Insurance, Health Insurance, Travel Insurance, Personal Accident & Home Insurance.
SEBI Issues Guidelines For Celebrities To Endorse Mutual Fund Products At Industry Level
i. The market regulator Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI) reviewed advertisement guidelines for mutual funds on March 15, 2017, with regard to disclosing performance-related information about such products.
ii. SEBI also issued new advertising code that will require fund houses to communicate simply and effectively with the public.
iii. As per the new guidelines, SEBI has permitted celebrities to endorse mutual fund products at the industry level for the purpose of increasing awareness of mutual funds as a financial product category. However, the capital market watchdog has restricted the endorsement to following conditions:
- Such endorsements should not promote a scheme of a particular mutual fund or be used as a branding exercise of an asset management company (AMC).
- Expenses towards such celebrity endorsements for increasing awareness of Mutual Funds shall be limited to the amounts that are aggregated by Mutual Funds at industry level for the purpose of conducting investor education and awareness initiatives
- Prior approval of SEBI shall be required for issuance of any endorsement of Mutual Funds as a financial product, which features a celebrity for the purpose of increasing awareness of Mutual Funds.
State Bank Of India And CREDAI Sign MoU Related To Real Estate Sector
India’s public sector banking and financial services company State Bank of India (SBI) and real estate developers’ body CREDAI have signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) which is valid for a period of 3 years.
Aim: To jointly conduct various initiatives towards development of the realty sector and to promote housing for all.
SBI will be a national partner for all CREDAI activities and both will jointly work together for various marketing activities like conclaves, seminars, exhibitions, campaigns and CSR activities as well.
Government Proposes Revised Building Code; Makes Builders Responsible
The Consumer Affairs Minister Ram Vilas Paswan unveiled the new National Building Code on March 16, 2017 in New Delhi. The revised code has been prepared by the Bureau of Indian Standards (BIS) under the aegis of the Consumer Affairs Ministry. The code contains provisions on use of new/innovative materials and technologies and on prefabricated construction techniques that can give boost to speedier construction to meet the objectives of Housing for All by 2022.
Salient Features of the Revised Code
i. As per the revised code, in addition to planners, structure designers and supervisors, the builders will also be made responsible for the safety of the structure. Earlier, geo-technical engineers and builders were not responsible.
ii. Builders will have to give a certificate saying that the building has been constructed as per the planned design submitted to the local bodies.
iii. The code also has provision for universal accessibility for senior citizens and differently-abled citizens besides encouraging the use of new building material and alternative smart technologies.
iv. It includes norms for solar energy utilisation, modern lighting technique including LED, updated provision on piped gas supply in houses and hospitals, solid waste management and rain water harvesting, besides high speed lifts for tall buildings.
ONGC Set To Invest Rs 21,500 Crore In India’s Deepest Gas Find
i. Dehradun based Indian multinational oil and gas company, Oil and Natural Gas Corporation Limited (ONGC) has planned to invest Rs 21528 crore to develop India’s deepest gas discovery in UD-1 find by 2022-23.
ii. The company has submitted a declaration of commerciality (DoC) to the Directorate General of Hydrocarbons for the UD-1 find. It will submit a final investment plan called the field development plan by end-2017 and hope to bring the discovery to production by 2022-23.
iii. Under the project to explore oil and gas, ONGC plans to drill nine wells on the discovery that lies in water depths of 2,400-3,200 metres and aims to produce a peak output of 19 million standard cubic metres per day.
TDSAT Refuses To Stay Reliance Jio’s Free Offer
i. The Telecom Disputes Settlement and Appellate Tribunal (TDSAT) was asked the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) to re-examine the approval for Reliance Jio Infocomm Ltd’s free offers Welcome Offer and Happy New Year Offer which will continue till the end of March 2018.
ii. TDSAT has taken step after hearing appeals filed by Bharti Airtel Ltd and Idea Cellular Ltd questioning Reliance Jio’s free services.
Jio offers initially introduced from 5 September to 5 December,2016 and then extended till 31 December, and further extended until 31 March, 2017. Last month, Reliance Jio announced that who all are join by 31st March 2017 will be eligible for its Happy New Year Offer until 31st March, 2018 by paying a one-time fee of Rs.99 and thereafter, by paying Rs.303 a month.
Singapore’s Changi Airport Named World’s Best Airport For 5th Consecutive Year
i. Singapore based Changi Airport was named as the World’s Best Airport for the fifth consecutive year at the 2017 Skytrax World Airport Awards on March 14, 2017 held at the Passenger Terminal EXPO in Amsterdam, The Netherlands.
ii. The award was received by Mr Lee Seow Hiang, CEO of Changi Airport Group from Mr Edward Plaisted, CEO of Skytrax.
iii. This is the eighth time that Changi Airport has been awarded the top international title at the World Airport Awards since it was introduced in 2000.
iv. Changi Airport was also named the Best Airport in Asia and the Best Airport for Leisure Amenities which it has held since the award category was introduced in 2009.
World’s Top 5 Airports
1. Changi Airport Singapore
2. Tokyo International Airport (Haneda Airport)
3. Incheon International Airport
4. Munich Airport
5. Hong Kong International Airport.
Central Bank Won Official Language Policy Award
i. Mumbai based Central Bank of India won the first prize in the implementation of Official Language Policy in the western region for the year 2015-2016 at the Official Language Conference of Central and Western Regions in Udaipur.
ii. Rajasthan governor, Kalyan Singh has presented the trophy and certificate to Sudhir Pathak, Chief Manager, Central Bank of India.
Amarinder Singh Takes Oath As Chief Minister Of Punjab
i. Captain Amarinder Singh took oath as the 26th chief minister of Punjab on March 16, 2017 at the Raj Bhawan in Chandigarh thus paving way for the return of the Congress to power in the state after a gap of ten years.
ii. The oath of office was administered by Punjab governor VP Singh Badnore.
iii. This is the second time that Punjab Pradesh Congress Committee (PPCC) chief Amarinder Singh takes oath as chief minister. Earlier he served in that capacity in 2002-2007.
iv. Some of the other ministers who took oath include Manpreet Singh Badal, Razia Sultana, MLA from Malerkotla, Aruna Chaudhary, Rana Gurjit Singh and Brahm Mohindra.
v. In 117- Assembly seats of the Vidhan Sabha, the Congress was victorious in 77 seats to form the new government.
vi. Ruling Shiromani Akali Dal-Bharatiya Janata Party (SAD-BJP) won 18, AAP won 20, while two seats went to Lok Insaaf Party.
Pakistan Successfully Test-Fires Land Based Anti-Ship Missile
i. Pakistan Navy has successfully test-fired ground-to-sea missile from the coastal region on March 16, 2017.
ii. The trial was witnessed by Vice Chief of Naval Staff Admiral Khan Hisham Bin Siddique.
iii. The missile is equipped with modern technology avionics, secured a hit on a target placed at sea with a high degree of accuracy.
iv. This would strengthen Pakistan’s defence and operational capabilities. Hence officials didn’t give any detail about the missile include it’s name.
Spacex Falcon 9 Rocket Launches Echostar 23 Satellite
i. SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rocket conducted its third flight of the year on March 16, 2017 to launch a commercial communications satellite in the geosynchronous transfer orbit.
ii. The launch took off from NASA’s Launch Complex 39A at Kennedy Space Center in Florida and carried the EchoStar 23 communications satellite into orbit.
iii. Having a mass of around 5,500 kilograms (12,000 lb), EchoStar XXIII was the heaviest geosynchronous payload yet launched by the Falcon 9 and will operate at 45 degrees west in geostationary orbit.
iv. The launch was SpaceX’s second launch from historic pad 39A at KSC, from which astronauts first launched to the surface of the moon on Apollo 11 in 1969.
v. The satellite has been built by Space Systems Loral for EchoStar Corporation to operate for at least 15 years.