Current Affairs – February 12, 2018

OVL and its partners acquire 10% stake in Abu Dhabi oilfield for $600 million

ONGC Videsh Limited (OVL), the overseas arm of state-owned Oil and Natural Gas Corp (ONGC), Indian Oil Corp (IOC) and a unit of Bharat Petroleum Corp Ltd (BPCL), paid a signing amount of USD 600 million for a 10% stake in Abu Dhabi National Oil Company (ADNOC). “The current production of this field is about 400,000 barrels of oil per day (20 million tonnes per annum) and Indian consortium’s annual share shall be about 2 million tonnes,” OVL said in a press statement. The field is to achieve plateau target of 450,000 barrels of oil per day by 2025. The contract for the concession was signed in Abu Dhabi, in the presence of Abu Dhabi Crown Prince Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed al-Nahyan and Prime Minister Narendra Modi. This is the first time that Indian oil companies have taken part in an Abu Dhabi oil and gas concession. The concession, which has a term of 40 years with an effective date of March 9, 2018, was signed by ONGC Group Chairman Shashi Shanker and ADNOC Group Chief Executive Sultan Ahmed Al Jaber.

PM Modi launches project for first Hindu temple in Abu Dhabi

Prime Minister Narendra Modi officially launched the foundation stone-laying ceremony for the first Hindu temple in the capital of the UAE, home to over three million people of Indian origin. Modi witnessed the groundbreaking ceremony which was live-streamed to the Dubai Opera House where the prime minister was interacting with the Indian community. “I believe this temple will not be only unique in terms of architecture and splendor, but will also give a message of ‘Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam‘ to people across the world,” he said. This is the first stone temple to be built in Abu Dhabi off Dubai-Abu Dhabi highway. The temple will be hand-carved by Indian temple artisans and assembled in the UAE. It will be completed by 2020, and open to people of all religious backgrounds. Modi is visiting the United Arab Emirates for the second time after his 2015 trip to the country.

WhatsApp’s long-awaited digital payments service goes live in India

You can transfer money on WhatsApp in India. Users can now link their bank account to their WhatsApp account via Unified Payments Interface (UPI) and begin making payments straight to another user’s bank account through a WhatsApp chat. The feature is not yet available for all users and is being rolled out gradually. The new feature is under the “settings” tab and set up a bank account link with UPI using the phone number linked to the bank account. When in a chat window, tapping the “attachments” button pulls up a small grid that gives one option to send files from the gallery, send a contact, or share location among others. This grid now also has a “Payment” button making it possible to transfer funds to other accounts that also have this latest update. UPI is a digital inter-bank peer-to-peer fund transfer system developed by the National Payments Corporation of India (NPCI). The NPCI has its own UPI-enabled payments app called BHIM peer-to-peer fund transfer system developed by the National Payments Corporation of India (NPCI). The NPCI has its own UPI-enabled payments app called BHIM.

SBI reports first quarterly loss in nearly two decades as NPAs rise by Rs 26,000 crore

The country’s largest bank SBI has reported its first quarterly loss in nearly two decades following a surge in provisioning for bad loans and losses on bond valuation. Bad loans rose after the RBI directed the bank to classify loans worth Rs 23,000 crore, largely in the power sector, as non-performing assets (NPAs). The lender reported a net loss of Rs 2,416 crore for the quarter ended December 31, versus a profit of Rs 1,820 crore a year earlier. The quarter turned out to be the perfect storm for the bank as it was simultaneously hit by Rs 700-crore provisions towards imminent wage revisions and costs related to the merger of associate banks with itself. Overall, Rs 25,830 crore of fresh loans slipped into the NPA category. “We have done an account-by-account assessment and NPA provisions have peaked and will be coming down in subsequent quarters,” said SBI chairman Rajnish Kumar.

NPCI appoints Biswamohan Mahapatra as non-executive chairman

National Payments Corporation of India (NPCI) appointed Biswamohan Mahapatra as non-executive chairman for two years recently. He succeeds B Sambamurthy who was the interim chairman. Last month NPCI had appointed Dilip Asbe as its managing director and CEO.
Headquarters of NPCI: Mumbai
Established: 2008

Prominent Human rights activist Asma Jahangir dies

Asma Jahangir, one of Pakistan’s most prominent human rights activists, has died of a heart attack aged 66. Jahangir was the chair of the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan and respected for her outspoken criticism of the country’s militant Islamist groups and her record as an activist. She was also the president of the supreme court bar association and had served as the UN special rapporteur on human rights in Iran since 2016. Jahangir, a fierce defender of democracy who also regularly raised concerns about Pakistan’s military and intelligence services, was included in Time magazine’s list of the 100 most influential women. She defended minority Christians charged with blasphemy, an offense that under Pakistan’s controversial law carries the death penalty. She was repeatedly threatened by the country’s militant religious right whom she criticised loudly and often. She was also placed under house arrest in 2007 for her part in a lawyers’ protest movement that helped lead to the military leader Pervez Musharraf stepping down from power.

Reliance Industries Limited wins Golden Peacock Award for Corporate Social Responsibility for 2017

Reliance Industries Limited (RIL) has won the Golden Peacock Award 2017 for the success of its Corporate Social Responsibility initiatives and, in particular for the transformative work done by Reliance Foundation, the CSR arm of the company. RIL was recognized by the awards jury under the Chairmanship of Justice (Dr) Arijit Pasayat, former judge of the Supreme Court. One of RIL’s key social projects, recognized by the Golden Peacock jury, aims at impacting the livelihood of farmers through water and food security interventions. Under its rural transformation initiative, Reliance has been implementing a programme called “Bharat-India Jodo (BIJ)” that works closely with marginal and small farmers for improving their lives and making agriculture a first choice profession.

London council seeks new ‘guilt tax’ from millionaires

One of Britain’s wealthiest areas is trying out a new voluntary scheme of requesting millionaires for an additional contribution to their local council tax, which would raise additional funds for services in the area. Westminster Council, in the heart of London, will write to nearly 15,000 of its wealthiest homeowners asking them to make a voluntary donation over and above the compulsory council tax. Dubbed “guilt tax” by the media, the Westminster Community Contribution initiative is aimed at properties worth about 10 million pounds and above and follows a public consultation which found that 55 percent of those owning properties worth millions backed the proposal. “We are giving people the option. It is an opportunity to invest in their neighborhood,” Councillor Nickie Aiken, leader of Westminster Council, said.

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