Sunday, November 30, 2014

Current Affairs Update - 25-26-27-28-29 Nov, 2014

Finance / Business


1. Shah Rukh Khan named as Brand Ambassador of DHFL


  • ·         Housing finance company DHFL on 20 November 2014 announced to name Shah Rukh Khan as its brand ambassador. DHFL is the second largest housing finance company of India.
  • ·         Shah Rukh is the first brand ambassador of DHFL in its 30 year journey.
  • ·         DHFL was founded by Rajesh Kumar Wadhawan in 1984 with a vision to provide financial access to own a home.
  • ·         The company has been marketing its solutions to customers across 550 locations in India through national and regional level advertisement and event campaigns. It also has representative offices in Dubai and London.
  • ·         Chairman and Managing Director:  Kapil Wadhawan




2. Kotak Mahindra Bank became first bank in India to fully own an insurance business


  • ·         Kotak Mahindra Bank on 25 November 2014 became first bank in India to fully own an insurance business after Reserve Bank of India (RBI) gave permission to set up a wholly-owned non-life insurance company called Kotak General Insurance.
  • ·         Kotak General Insurance will be the 29th non-life company in the country and the CEO of the new entity will be Mahesh Balasubramanian, executive vice-president and co-head (branch banking) of Kotak Mahindra Bank.
  • ·         The bank is already the promoter of a life insurance company in partnership with Old Mutual of South Africa. At present, Kotak Mahindra Bank is a corporate agent for Tata AIG General Insurance. Kotak Bank generates close to 100 crore rupees of premium selling non-life products. This business is likely to go to its non-life subsidiary in future.
  • ·         The last non-life insurer to get permission from the regulator was Cigna TTK, a health insurance company. The last company to set up a full-fledged general insurance business was Liberty Videocon General Insurance.
  • ·         RBI guidelines allow a bank to hold a maximum 50 percent in an insurance joint venture. However, RBI had allowed some exceptions to this rule, which include State Bank of India and ICICI Bank. In both these partnerships, the banks hold 74% while the balance 26% is held by a foreign partner.
  • ·         Insurance Regulatory and Development Authority (IRDA) norms require a non-life company to commence operations with a start-up capital of 100 crore rupees.




3. SEBI directed FPIs to ensure FPI regulations to issue ODIs, especially P–notes


  • ·         The Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI) on 25 November 2014 directed Foreign Portfolio Investor (FPI) to ensure compliance with all necessary norms of Foreign Portfolio Investment (FPI) Regulations before issuing Offshore Derivative Instruments (ODIs) especially participatory notes (P-notes) with immediate effect. With respect to this SEBI issued the guidelines outlining the details.
  • ·         The guidelines were issued after SEBI found that there could be probable misuse of Offshore Derivative Instruments especially P-Notes for money laundering and other such purposes.
  • ·         Offshore Derivative Instruments (ODIs) can be issued by only to an FPI who is the resident of a country whose securities market regulator is a signatory to International Organization of Securities Commission’s (IOSCO)
  • ·         Foreign entities only those countries who have signed multilateral Memorandum of Understanding (MoUs) or a signatory to bilateral (MoUs) with SEBI are eligible for issuance ODIs.
  • ·         If any bank is an applicant, it must be the resident of a country whose central bank is a member of Bank for International Settlements.
  • ·         Foreign portfolio investors who are two or more ODI subscribers having common Beneficial Owner (BO) shall be considered together as a single ODI subscriber, in the same manner as is being done in the case of FPIs.
  • ·         Participatory notes (P-notes) are mostly used by overseas HNIs, hedge funds and other foreign institutions to invest in Indian markets through registered foreign institutional investors without directly registering directly with SEBI. It helps investors avoid the time, cost and other procedural issues associated with direct registration.
  • ·         The value of outstanding investments through participatory notes (P-notes) into India’s capital market of India stood at 2.66 trillion rupees till end of October 2014, which is the highest level in almost seven years.




4. Nippon Life Insurance to hike stake in Reliance Capital from 26 percent to 49 percent

  • ·         Japan based Nippon Life Insurance on 26 November 2014 announced to hike its stake in Anil Ambani-led Reliance Capital Asset Management (RCAM) from 26 percent to 49 percent. As part of it, Nippon will invest 675 crore rupees for the first tranche of 9 percent stake in RCAM.
  • ·         As a result of the first tranche of investment, the total value of RCAM will reach 7300 crore rupees which is the highest valuation till date for any asset management company in India. The transaction is expected to be completed within the financial year 2014-15, subject to regulatory approvals.
  • ·         Nippon’s existing 26 per cent stake in RCAM was acquired in 2012, for about 1450 crore rupees. Nippon also has stake in Reliance Capital’s insurance arm, Reliance Life Insurance.



5. SBI Mutual Fund announced to launch Shariah Equity Fund


  • ·         State Bank of India (SBI) Mutual Fund (MF) announced on 26 November 2014 that it will launch Shariah Equity Fund on 1 December 2014. The fund is aimed at attracting investments from Muslim populations of India. 
  • ·         The fund has been approved by the All India Muslim Personal Law Board, an authority that oversees the observance of Muslim civil laws in India.
  • ·         With this, SBI MF will become the fourth fund house in India to have an Islamic equity fund after Goldman Sachs MF, Taurus MF and Tata MF.
  • ·         Also, India became the second country outside the Islamic world where a state-owned bank is offering a Shariah-compliant fund. The UK is the first country who issued sovereign Islamic bonds in June 2014.
  • ·         Shariah Equity Fund is a diversified equity fund, including large, mid and small cap companies.
  • ·         These funds are basically an investment fund which meets all of the requirements of Shariah law and the principles articulated for Islamic finance.



6. RBI released Guidelines for Licensing of Small Finance Banks in the Private Sector


  • ·         The Reserve Bank of India on 27 November 2014 issued Guidelines for Licensing of Small Finance Banks in the Private Sector. As per the issued guidelines, the minimum paid-up equity capital for small finance banks shall be 100 crore rupees.
  • ·         But the licenses will be granted after the applicants fulfill the necessary ‘fit and proper’ criteria, among other conditions with a sound track record of professional experience or of running their businesses for at least a period of five years. Those interested, would need to apply before 16 January 2015 for first round of such permits.
  • ·         These norms for payment banks and small finance banks would allow mobile firms and supermarket chains, among others, to enter the banking arena to cater to individuals and small businesses. The move aims at deepening financial inclusion and boost saving habits.



Key features of the Small Finance Bank guidelines are:

Objectives: The objectives of setting up of small finance banks will be beneficial in financial inclusion by
  • ·         Provision of savings vehicles
  • ·         Supply of credit to small business units, small and marginal farmers, micro and small industries and other unorganized sector entities, through high technology-low cost operations

Eligible promoters
  • ·         Resident individuals/professionals carrying 10 years of experience in banking and finance and companies and societies owned and controlled by residents will be eligible to set up small finance banks.
  • ·         Existing Non-Banking Finance Companies (NBFCs), Micro Finance Institutions (MFIs), and Local Area Banks (LABs) that are owned and controlled by residents can also opt for conversion into small finance banks.

Promoter's contribution
  • ·         The promoter's minimum initial contribution to the paid-up equity capital of such small finance bank shall at least be 40 percent and gradually brought down to 26 percent within 12 years from the date of commencement of business of the bank.

Foreign shareholding
  • ·         The foreign shareholding in the small finance bank would be as per the Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) policy for private sector banks as amended from time to time.

Prudential norms
  • ·         The small finance bank will be subject to all prudential norms and regulations of RBI as applicable to existing commercial banks including requirement of maintenance of Cash Reserve Ratio (CRR) and Statutory Liquidity Ratio (SLR). No forbearance would be provided for complying with the statutory provisions.
  • ·         The small finance banks will be required to extend 75 percent of its Adjusted Net Bank Credit (ANBC) to the sectors eligible for classification as priority sector lending (PSL) by the Reserve Bank.
  • ·         At least 50 percent of its loan portfolio should constitute loans and advances of upto 25 lakh rupees.



7. RBI released guidelines for Licensing of Payments Banks

  • ·         Reserve Bank of India (RBI) on 27 November 2014 released guidelines for Licensing of Payments Banks.  These guidelines will allow mobile firms and supermarket chains, among others, to enter the banking arena to cater to individuals and small businesses.
  • ·         The objectives of payments banks will be to further financial inclusion by providing small savings accounts and payments or remittance services to migrant labour workforce, low income households, small businesses, other unorganised sector entities and other users.


RBI Guidelines

  • ·         Existing non-bank Pre-paid Payment Instrument (PPI) issuers, mobile firms and supermarket chains, among others existing NBFCs and micro finance lenders are promoters who are eligible to set up payment banks.
  • ·         Large public sector enterprises and big industrial houses are not allowed to establish Payment banks.
  • ·         A promoter or promoter group can have a joint venture with an existing scheduled commercial bank to set up a payments bank. But they should have a sound track record of five years period of running businesses.
  • ·         Payment Banks will initially be restricted to holding a maximum balance of 1 lakh rupees per individual customer. It can issue ATM or debit cards but not credit cards.
  • ·         Payment bank cannot undertake lending activities but can distribute the non-risk sharing simple financial products such as mutual fund units and insurance products, etc.
  • ·         These banks also should maintain Cash Reserve Ratio (CRR) with the Reserve Bank, it will be required to invest minimum 75 percent of its demand deposit balances in Statutory Liquidity Ratio (SLR) with maturity up to one year and hold maximum 25 per cent in current and time or fixed deposits with other scheduled commercial banks for operational purposes and liquidity management.
  • ·         The minimum capital for payments banks is 100 crore rupees and it should have a leverage ratio of not less than 3 percent that is its outside liabilities should not exceed 33.33 times its net worth (paid-up capital and reserves).
  • ·         The promoter’s minimum initial contribution to the paid-up equity capital for payments bank shall at least be 40 percent for the first five years from the commencement of its business.
  • ·         The foreign shareholding in the payments bank should be as per the Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) policy for private sector banks as amended from time to time.
  • ·         The operations of the bank should be fully networked and technology driven from the beginning, conforming to generally accepted standards and norms. It should have a high powered Customer Grievances Cell to handle customer complaints
  • ·         Those who are interested can apply before January 16 for first round of such permits however these guidelines are subjected to periodic review and revision.
  • ·         External Advisory Committee (EAC) of RBI will evaluate the applications and decision to issue an in-principle approval for setting up of payment bank will be taken by RBI.
  • ·         The validity of the in-principle approval issued by the Reserve Bank will be eighteen months.




8. RBI to sell 12000 crore rupees govt bonds through Open Market Operations

  • ·         Reserve Bank of India (RBI) on 26 November 2014 decided to sell worth 2000 crore rupees government bonds through Open Market Operations (OMOs) to squeeze the liquidity in the market.
  • ·         RBI will sell government securities maturing in 2017 (bearing interest rate of 8.07 per cent), 2020 (7.80 percent), 2022 (8.08 percent) and 2027 (8.26 percent).
  • ·         Open market operations (OMO) are a monetary policy tool used by RBI to increase or decrease money supply by buying and selling government bonds in the open market.
  • ·         When the RBI feels there is excess liquidity in the market, it resorts to sale of securities thereby sucking out the rupee liquidity. Similarly, when the liquidity conditions are tight, the RBI will buy securities from the market, thereby releasing liquidity into the market.



9. Union Government nominated Rajiv Mehrishi as Director on RBI Central Board

  • ·         Union Government on 28 November 2014 nominated Rajiv Mehrishi as a Director on the Central Board of Directors of Reserve Bank of India.
  • ·         He is a 1978-batch Indian Administrative Services (IAS) officer of Rajasthan cadre.
  • ·         He succeeded Arvind Mayaram. At the time of being appointed as Director on RBI Central Board, Mehrishi was working as Secretary of Department of Economic Affairs in Union Ministry of Finance.
  • ·         Prior to Secretary of Department of Economic Affairs, he was working as Rajasthan chief secretary. Mehrishi has served on many positions in the state government. He was joint secretary in the cabinet secretariat. Mehrishi is said to be the brains behind key labour reforms in Rajasthan.



10. RBI issued final guidelines for the Bharat Bill Payment System

  • ·         The Reserve Bank of India on 28 November 2014 issued final guidelines for the Bharat Bill Payment System (BBPS). The system will help consumers pay multiple bills like electricity, telephone and school fees at a single point of transaction.
  • ·         The BBPS is an integrated bill payment system offering inter-operable and accessible bill payment service to customers through a network of agents, enabling multiple payment modes, and providing instant confirmation of payment.
  • ·         The National Payments Corporation of India (NPCI) will function as the authorised Bharat Bill Payment Central Unit (BBPCU) to set the standards for BBPS processes which need to be adhered to by all operating units (Bharat Bill Payment Operating Units - BBPOUs) under the system.
  • ·         The prospective participants of the BBPS system are advised to interact with the NPCI to work out the modalities.
  • ·         The apex bank has set a 100 crore rupees net worth and domestic registration as qualifying conditions for those seeking to be authorised collection agents.



11. RBI eased gold imports & scrapped 80: 20 scheme

  • ·         The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) 26 November 2014 eased gold imports and scrapped 20:80 scheme. The decision to withdraw the 20:80 scheme will cut smuggling of gold and raise legal shipments into India.
  • ·         In 2013, the 20:80 scheme was introduced to bring down inbound shipments, sliding rupee and to combat a huge current account deficit (CAD) along with a hike in import duty to 10 percent.
  • ·         Under the scheme, 20 percent of the imported gold had to be mandatorily exported as finished products like jewellery. Initially only public sector firms and banks were allowed to import gold and later in May 2014 these rules were slightly eased to star and premier export houses.


India

12. India and Nepal signed 10 pacts during visit of Prime Minister Narendra Modi to Nepal

  • ·         India and Nepal signed 10 pacts on 25 November 2014 during Prime Minister Narendra Modi visit to Nepal. The pacts included five Agreements and five memorandum of understandings (MoUs). PM Modi also attended two events.
  • ·         The agreements were signed after talks between Narendra Modi and Nepal’s Prime Minister Sushil Koirala. During the talks the two leaders discussed key strategic issues like defence and security. Modi also inaugurated a trauma centre built by India at Bir Hospital in Kathmandu.
  • ·         Two events attended by Modi were Unveiling of Plaque for Nepal Police Academy and Handing over of keys for Mobile Soil Testing Van.


List of five agreements that were inked

  • ·         Agreement on extending Line-of-Credit of 1 billion US dollar by India
  • ·         Motor Vehicle Agreement (MVA)
  • ·         Twin City Agreement between Ayodhya – Janakpur
  • ·         Twin City Agreement between Kathmandu – Varanasi
  • ·         Twin City Agreement between Lumbini – Bodh Gaya


List of Five MoUs that were signed

  • ·         MoU on Nepal Police Academy (NPA)
  • ·         MoU on Tourism
  • ·         MoU Traditional Medicines
  • ·         MoU on Youth Exchange
  • ·         MoU on PDA for ARUN III





13. Delhi Special Police Establishment (Amendment) Bill, 2014 passed in Lok Sabha

  • ·         The Lok Sabha on 26 November 2014 passed Delhi Special Police Establishment (DSPE) (Amendment) Bill, 2014. The amendment bill was passed by voice vote to include leader of the single Largest Opposition Party (LoP) as a member of the selection committee to choose the CBI chief.
  • ·         The amendment to the DSPE Act, 1946 was required in light of the fact that the present Central Bureau of Investigation chief Ranjit Sinha is due to retire on 2 December 2014. This would have necessitated choosing a new CBI chief which is selected by a panel that also includes Leader of the Opposition in the Lok Sabha.
  • ·         The existing provisions of the Act states that a CBI chief can be appointed by the Union Government on the basis of recommendation of the selection committee headed by the Prime Minister, and comprising the LoP and the Chief Justice of India or a Supreme Court judge nominated by him, as members.
  • ·         However, in the 16th Lok Sabha, there is no recognised Leader of Opposition as no party was able to cross the benchmark of one-tenth of the total membership of the House that is required for leader of opposition.
  • ·         Thus, the Bill amending Section 4 (a) of the Act was introduced in Lok Sabha on 24 November 2014 to include leader of the single Largest Opposition Party (LoP) as a member of the selection committee to choose the CBI chief.
  • ·         However, the amendment stated that any vacancy or absence in the panel will not render the appointment of the CBI Director invalid.



14. Biography My Name is Abu Salem released

  • ·         Biography titled My Name is Abu Salem was released on 16 November 2014. Biography on underworld gangster Abu Salem has been written by S Hussain Zaidi and published by Penguin. 
  • ·         The author of the book, Zaidi who knows the Mumbai underworld better than anyone else has tried to tell, the life of Salem. In My Name is Abu Salem, the author has tried to present complete unknown details and first accounts of the gangster.
  • ·         Biography My Name is Abu Salem depicts that Mumbai has produced many dons, but perhaps none so colourful like Abu Salem. The book investigates into the personal and criminal life of Abu Salem, including his relationship with actress Monica Bedi.
  • ·         The book states that the flamboyant ex-aide of Dawood Ibrahim is best known for his involvement in the Mumbai blasts of 1993 and for the murder of music composer Gulshan Kumar. Beside this, Salam is equally famous for his relationship with actress Monica Bedi and his close connection to Bollywood, leading to a number of attempted murders of the film industry’s biggest names.
  • ·         Hussain Zaidi is an Indian writer and former investigative journalist. He was born and raised in Mumbai. He authored Dongri to Dubai: Six Decades of the Mumbai Mafia (2013), Mafia Queens of Mumbai (2011) and Black Friday (2001).
  • ·         His two books namely Black Friday and Dongri to Dubai have been adapted as Bollywood films.




15. President Pranab Mukherjee penned a book titled The Dramatic Decade on 1970s era

  • ·         President of India Pranab Mukherjee penned a book titled The Dramatic Decade: The Indira Gandhi Years. The book has been published by Rupa and will be released on 11 December 2014.
  • ·         The Dramatic Decade is the first of a three-part volume; the second one will be on the years from 1981–88 and the third volume will be from 1988 to 2012.
  • ·         The book Dramatic Decade provides an insight into the era of 1970s, the era that largely belonged to the then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi. Years of 1970s are considered as a turning point in the political and economic evolution of India as this decade witnessed the India-Pakistan war, internal Emergency, economic reforms and the beginning of coalition politics in the country.
  • ·         The book presents an exceptional portrait of a complex nation and draws from Pranab Mukherjee’s personal diary extracts, conversations with key players of the 1970s, and vital secondary literature.



16. Vehicles older than 15-years not permitted to ply on Delhi roads: NGT

  • ·         The National Green Tribunal (NGT) on 26 November 2014 held that all vehicles which are more than 15-years-old would not be permitted to ply on Delhi roads.
  • ·         This direction would be applicable to all vehicles without exception i.e. two wheelers, three wheelers, four wheelers, light vehicles and heavy vehicles irrespective of whether commercial or otherwise.
  • ·         Besides, the bench of Green tribunal also directed the concerned authorities to take appropriate steps in accordance with the provisions of Motor Vehicle Act, 1988, including seizure of the vehicles, wherever such vehicles of this age are noticed. The bench strictly directed the transport officers not to renew registration of vehicles which are over 15-years-old.
  • ·         The Tribunal also said that no person will be permitted to burn plastic or any other material in the open. In its order, the bench said that in case any person is found burning plastic or any other material including tree leaves in the open, would be liable to be punishment in accordance with law and the Police, Delhi Pollution Control Committee and NCT.



17. Union Government passed Central University Amendment Bill 2014

  • ·         Union Government on 26 November 2014 passed Central University Amendment Bill 2014 in the Lok Sabha. The bill provides for the establishment of Mahatma Gandhi Central University in Motihari (Bihar).
  • ·         The bill also proposed renaming of the existing Central University in the state of Bihar as the Central University of South Bihar.
  • ·         The initial expenditure for the establishment of the Mahatma Gandhi Central University will be approximately 240 crore rupees. The expenditure would be met from consolidated fund of India through budgetary provisions of the Ministry of Human Resource Development.
  • ·         The representatives in Parliament, Legislative Assembly and Legislative Council of Bihar supported for the establishment of Central University in Bihar after the name of Mahatama Gandhi.
  • ·         Motihari in Bihar has historical importance because Champaran movement by Mahatama Gandhi during freedom struggle was launched from this place.



18. Union Government launched Electronic Travel Authorization Scheme for 43 countries

  • ·         Union Government on 27 November 2014 launched Electronic Travel Authorization (ETA) Scheme or E-visa to make travel of foreigners to India on Tourist Visa on Arrival (TVOA) facility easier. The scheme is available for 43 countries to boost tourism to India.
  • ·         The Electronic Travel Authorization Scheme or E-visa facility is available to Foreigners who wants to visit for recreation, sightseeing, short duration medical treatment, casual business visit, casual visit to meet friends or relatives which is not valid for any other purposes.
  • ·         The facility will allow entry into India within 30 days from the date of approval of ETA and will be valid for 30 days stay in India from the date of arrival in India.
  • ·         The facility cannot be available more than twice in a calendar year and it will be available at nine International airports in India namely Delhi, Mumbai, Chennai, Kolkata, Hyderabad, Bengaluru, Thiruvananthapuram, Kochi and Goa.
  • ·         The foreigner or visitor can apply for an India visa online without visiting Indian Mission and can also pay the visa fee online.
  • ·         Once visa is approved then applicant will receive an email authorising the applicant to travel to India and the visitor has to present the authorisation to the immigration authorities on arrival to India where they will stamp the entry into India.
  • ·         The facility is available to following 43 countries nationals to travel to India for tourism for a short stay of 30 days.
  • ·         The countries are Australia, Brazil, Cambodia, Cook Islands, Djibouti, Federated States of Micronesia, Fiji, Finland, Germany, Indonesia, Israel, Japan, Jordan, Kenya, Kingdom of Tongo, Laos, Luxembourg, Mauritius, Mexico, Myanmar, New Zealand, Niue, Norway, Oman, Palestine, Papua & New Guinea, Philippines, Republic of Kiribati, South Korea, Republic of Marshall Islands, Republic of Nauru, Republic of Palau, Russia, Samoa, Singapore, Solomon Islands, Thailand, Tuvalu, UAE, Ukraine, USA, Vietnam and Vanuatu.
  • ·         However, this facility will not be available to people from countries like Pakistan, Sudan, Afghanistan, Iran, Iraq, Nigeria, Sri Lanka and Somalia.




19. Namsai became the 18th district of Arunachal Pradesh

  • ·         Namsai on 25 November 2014 officially became the 18th district of Arunachal Pradesh. The Chief Minister of Arunachal Pradesh Nabam Tuki made the declaration.
  • ·         The Chief Minister exhorted the officials to prepare a master plan for the new district and the state government would extend all possible help.
  • ·         The State Legislative Assembly passed the District re-organisation Bill on 20 March 2013 for creation of Namsai district and notification was issued on 15 July 2013. The formal announcement was made during the 68th Independence Day celebration on 15th August 2014.
  • ·         The nascent district has a population of 95950 as per 2001 census and has an area of 1587 square kilometres with a literacy rate of 54.24 percent.
  • ·         It is inhabited by the Tai Khampti, Singpho, Deori and Mishing tribes. The district also has a high potential of growth in the tourism sector, particularly in the spiritual segment with numerous temples and stupas making it an abode of the Theravada Buddhists.



20. Lok Sabha passed Constitution (Scheduled Castes) Orders (Amendment) Bill, 2014

  • ·         Lok Sabha on 27 November 2014 passed the Constitution (Scheduled Castes) Orders Amendment Bill, 2014. The bill seeks to include more castes under Scheduled Castes category in four states and exclude Majhi (Nepali) community from it in Sikkim.
  • ·         The four States mentioned in the Bill are Kerala, Madhya Pradesh, Odisha and Tripura.
  • ·         For this, the Bill seeks to amend the Constitution (Scheduled Castes) Order, 1950 and the Constitution (Sikkim) Scheduled Castes Order, 1978.


List of community under SC category that have been included in the Bill

  •       I.        Kerala: Pulluvan, Thachar (other than ‘Carpenter’)
  •      II.        Madhya Pradesh: Dahiya
  •     III.        Odisha: Amata, Amath, Bajia, Jaggili, Jagli, Buna Pano
  •     IV.        Tripura: Chamar-Rohidas, Chamar-Ravidas, Dhobi, Jhalo-Malo


During the debate on the Bill in Lok Sabha, the Union Social Justice and Empowerment Minister Thawar Chand Gehlot rejected the demand of some parties that Christian and Muslims Dalits too should be included in the Bill.
The Union Government rejected the demand on the ground that the matter is pending before the Supreme Court.



21. Rajya Sabha passed Apprentices (Amendment) Bill, 2014

  • ·         Rajya Sabha on 27 November 2014 passed the Apprentices (Amendment) Bill, 2014 by voice vote. The bill seeks to amend the Apprentices Act, 1961.
  • ·         The Bill was passed by the Lok Sabha on 7 August 2014.


Main Highlights of Apprentices (Amendment) Bill, 2014

  • ·         It amends the definition of appropriate government to include an establishment operating in four or more states to be regulated by the central government. 
  • ·         It amends the definitions of: (i) designated trade, (ii) graduate or technician apprentice, (iii) trade apprentice, (iv) industry and (v) worker and add two new definitions: (i) optional trade, and (ii) portal-site.
  • ·         It adds that the minimum age for apprenticeship in designated trades related to hazardous industries shall be 18 years although the Act sets the minimum age for being engaged as an apprentice at 14 years. 
  • ·         It states that the hours of work and leave will be as per the discretion or policy of the employer. Earlier the hours of work and leave as per the Rules prescribe in the Act.



22. Anoop Mishra appointed as new Secretary General of Lok Sabha

  • ·         Former Uttar Pradesh chief secretary Anoop Mishra was on 26 November 2014 appointed as new Secretary General of the Lok Sabha. He was appointed by Lok Sabha Speaker Sumitra Mahajan.
  • ·         He will hold the rank and status of Cabinet Secretary with effect from 1 December 2014 up to 30 November 2016 or until further orders.



23. Book titled Black Tornado: The Three Sieges of Mumbai 26/11 released

  • ·         The book titled Black Tornado: The Three Sieges of Mumbai 26/11 authored by Sandeep Unnithan was released on 23 November 2014.
  • ·         Sandeep Unnithan in his book puts together a blow-by-blow account of the 26 November 2011 terrorist attack in Mumbai and how the siege of Mumbai was thwarted by India's security forces.
  • ·         The 26/11 attack is widely regarded as the world's first hybrid terrorist attack. The attackers achieved through this long-drawn siege what Al Qaeda did through the high-visibility mass-casualty attack on the World Trade Centre of USA on 11 September 2001.
  • ·         The response to this attack was the first instance of all three wings of the Indian armed forces coming together to fight terror. The attacks tested the India's elite counter-terrorist force, the National Security Guard (NSG).
  • ·         Black Tornado, the operation called by the NSG, is the story of the men called into action including army personnel, Indian Navy and the air force in the desperate hours following the most sensational terrorist attack the country had ever seen.
  • ·         Sandeep Unnithan is Deputy Editor with India Today magazine in New Delhi where he writes on security related issues.



24. 37th Jamnalal Bajaj Foundation Awards for the year 2014 presented


  • ·         The 37th Jamnalal Bajaj Foundation Awards for the year 2014 were presented on 28 November 2014 during a ceremony held at Jamshed Bhabha Theatre, NCPA in Mumbai. In the year 2014, the Foundation is commemorating the 125th Birth Anniversary of Jamnalal Bajaj.


The List of Awardees in Different Categories

  • ·         Outstanding Contribution in Constructive Work: Surendra Koulagi (Founder, Janapada Seva Trust, Karnataka)
  • ·         Outstanding Contribution in Application of Science & Technology for Rural Development: Ram Kumar Singh (Managing Trustee & Director, Suruchi Shikshan Vasahat Trust, Gujarat)
  • ·         Outstanding Contribution in Development and Welfare of Women and Children and-or Gandhian Constructive Work by Women Workers: Smt. Chennupati Vidya (Founder President, Vasavya Mahila Mandali, Andhra Pradesh)




25. Legendary Kathak danseuse Sitara Devi died


  • ·         Legendary Kathak danseuse Sitara Devi died on 25 November 2014 at Jaslok Hospital in Mumbai. She was 94.
  • ·         Her dance was based on the themes, poetry and choreography collected by her father. She was also inspired from the environment around her town and village and the characters used to come live in her character.
  • ·         Sitara Devi’s roots were inextricably woven to the tradition of kathakars, the early Kathak dancers. Thus, she usually used to say that she is just a kathakar of Krishna-leela (tales of Krishna).
  • ·         Sitara devi was born as Dhannolakshmi in the Brahmin family of a kathakar Sukhdev Maharaj in Kolkata in 1920
  • ·         Her first performance was a dance drama Savitri Satyavan performed by her at local school in Kolkata. This led her father to re—christen her name as Sitara or the star
  • ·         Rabindranath Tagore described her as Nritya Samragini, meaning the empress of dance, after watching her performance when she was just 16 years old
  • ·         She gave performances in several parts of India, and in several other countries, including at the Royal Albert Hall, London in 1967; and at the Carnegie Hall, New York in 1976
  • ·         She is known as a pioneering force in bringing the genre to Bollywood
  • ·         At the age of 12, she was recruited by Niranjan Sharma, a filmmaker and a dance director.



26. West Bengal Governor KN Tripathi appointed as Governor of Bihar

  • ·         West Bengal Governor Keshari Nath Tripathi was appointed as Governor of Bihar by the President Pranab Mukherjee on 23 November 2014. He will discharge the functions of the Governor of Bihar in addition to his own duties as Governor of West Bengal.
  • ·         He will take the charge from Bihar Governor D Y Patil, who completes his tenure on 26 November 2014.
  • ·         In July 2014, he was appointed as 22nd Governor of West Bengal. He will be in charge of Bihar until regular arrangements for the office of the Governor is made.
  • ·         According to article 153, there shall be a Governor for each State but the 7th Constitutional Amendment Act 1956 facilitated the appointment of same person as governor for two or more states.



27. Former SC judge Chandramauli Kumar Prasad chosen as the next chairperson of PCI


  • ·         Former Supreme Court (SC) judge Justice Chandramauli Kumar (CK) Prasad was on 24 November 2014 chosen as the next chairperson of the Press Council of India (PCI).
  • ·         CK Prasad will succeed Justice Markenday Katju as the Chairman of the PCI. He was selected by a committee headed by Vice-President Hamid Ansari.
  • ·         He took oath as the Chief Justice of Allahabad High Court on 20 March 2009.
  • ·         In February 2010, CK Prasad was elevated as the Judge of Supreme Court of India.



28. WTO, WASTE and FINISH signed MoU to end open defecation in India

  • ·         Three global organisations on 24 November 2014 signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) to end open defecation in India. The agreement is for three years.
  • ·         These three organisations are the World Toilet Organisation (WTO), WASTE and the Financial Inclusion Improves Sanitation and Health (FINISH). They share the common goal of making sanitation accessible and affordable to all citizens.
  • ·         The MoU was signed to share best practices in the sanitation sector and help millions of Indians gain access to basic sanitation facilities.
  • ·         The objective of the agreement is to support the Central government in making the country free of open defecation and promoting sustained usage of sanitation systems.
  • ·         India has the largest number of people defecating in open in the world. Globally, India continues to be the country with the highest number of people (597 million people) practising open defecation as per the United Nations report the Progress on Drinking Water and Sanitation 2014.




29. Haryana government reduced retirement age of government employees from 60 to 58

  • ·         Haryana government on 25 November 2014 reversed the retirement age of government employees from 60 to 58 years. It also reversed the retirement age of Class IV, visually impaired and handicapped employees from 62 to 60 years.
  • ·         Government notification will come in effect from 30 November 2014. While, the upper age limit for fresh recruitment would remain 42 years.
  • ·         The decision was made during a Cabinet meet chaired by Chief Minister Mahohar Lal Khattar at Chandigarh.



30. Assam NGO Aaranyak nominated for UN Lighthouse Activities award


  • ·         Aaranyak, an Assam-based NGO working for the conservation of nature and a Kathmandu-based International Centre for Integrated Mountain Development (ICIMOD) on 25 November 2014 won United Nations Lighthouse Activities award for the year 2014.
  • ·         They won the award under the focus area of information and communication technology (ICT) solutions.
  • ·         They won the award for its community-based flood early warning system that has benefited 40 villages in flood-prone Dhemaji and Lakhimpur districts. Since 2010-11, the system has directly or indirectly benefitted more than 20000 people living in the catchment areas of two rivers, Jiadhal in Dhemaji and Singora in Lakhimpur districts.
  • ·         The award was declared by United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) in Bonn, Germany. Representatives of Aaranyak and ICIMOD will go to Lima, Peru to receive the award on 11 December 2014.



31. Indian dairy sector observed 26 November as National Milk Day

  • ·         Indian dairy sector majors decided to celebrate 26 November as National Milk Day to mark the 93rd birth anniversary of Father of White Revolution, Dr. Verghese Kurien.
  • ·         Indian diary sector majors that have joined hands are National Dairy Development Board (NDDB), Indian Dairy Association (IDA) along with around 22 state level milk federation's including Gujarat's own - Gujarat Co-operative Milk Marketing Federation (GCMMF) that markets brand Amul.
  • ·         As part of the celebrations, 200 lakh milk pouches of Amul will carry the National Milk Day's logo featuring Dr Kurien for a week across the country.
  • ·         Amul organised school campaigns, interactions with youngsters, plant visits, milk drinking contests, activities in orphanages, essay/drawing/quiz competitions in schools, and milk moustache competitions, among others.
  • ·         The idea of celebrating birth anniversary of Dr. Kurien as National Milk Day was first mooted by IDA. The idea was mooted on the lines of World Milk Day celebrated globally on June 1 since 2001 under the aegis of United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO).
  • ·         World Milk Day is celebrated to publicize activities related to milk and milk industries and raise public awareness about the importance of milk and milk products for everyone throughout life.



32. Union Government announced Swachh Bharat Kosh Operational Guidelines

  • ·         The Union Government on 25 November 2014 announced Swachh Bharat Kosh Operational Guidelines, 2014. The guidelines will come into force with immediate effect.
  • ·         The Kosh was announced to achieve the objective of cleanliness across India. The fund will be utilised to build toilets in schools of rural and urban areas.
  • ·         Swachh Bharat Kosh has been set up to facilitate channelization of philanthropic contributions and Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) funds towards Clean India (Swachh Bharat). The kosh was launched after individuals and philanthropists expressed interest in contributing to efforts to achieve the objective of Clean India (Swachh Bharat) by the year 2019.



33. India and Mozambique signed MoU for cooperation in Oil and Gas sector

  • ·         India and Mozambique on 28 November 2014 signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) for cooperation in Oil and Gas sector for a period of five years. The MoU was signed during Minister of Foreign Affairs of Mozambique Oldemiro Julio Marques Baloi visit to India.
  • ·         The MoU will enhance bilateral cooperation on the basis of equality and mutual benefit. It seeks cooperation in oil and gas in both upstream and downstream sectors in the areas of enhancing capacity-building, forging closer cooperation between research and training centres and intensifying technology transfer, among others.
  • ·         Mozambique plans to produce 34 million tonnes of liquefied natural gas annually from its Rovuma Area 1 offshore block - where state-run ONGC Videsh Ltd, Oil India and Bharat Petroleum Corp have bought 30 percent stake.
  • ·         The MoU will allow the Indian companies to participate in the LNG project of Mozambique that will facilitate access to LNG for the growing Indian gas market. It will bring natural gas to India at market-determined price.



34. Next China-India War authored by General S. Padmanabhan released


  • ·         Book titled Next China-India War - World's First Water War – 2029 authored by former Army chief General Sundarajan Padmanabhan was released in October 2014.
  • ·         74-year-old former General, who is known for mobilizing the Army during Operation Parakram in response to the 2001 terror attack on the Parliament, in the book has predicted that the two countries will conflict over the Brahmaputra.
  • ·         In his prediction he has showcased Chinese plan to divert Yarlung Tsangpo (Brahmaputra River) from flowing south to India and Bangladesh to flowing north to Northwest China. India has also protested against this project to the UN, who referred it to the International Court of Justice. Both the Court and the UN held that as the river originates in Tibet, a province of China, China was entitled to alter the course of the river to suit her.
  • ·         Recently, China also announced that it has completed a major dam on Brahmaputra, in Tibet. On the other hand, India has raised its concern that the dam could cause flash floods and landslides downstream.



35. Book titled Letters for a Nation written by Jawaharlal Nehru & Madhav Khosla

  • ·         Book titled Letters for a Nation written by Jawaharlal Nehru & Madhav Khosla was published by Allen Lane an imprint of Penguin Books on 15 October 2014.
  • ·         The book contains Jawaharlal Nehru letters as Prime Minister of India to the heads of the country’s provincial governments which he kept a tradition till 1963.
  • ·         It contains the selected letters from among nearly 400 such letters and this collection covers a range of themes and subjects, including citizenship, war and peace, law and order, national planning and development, governance and corruption, and India’s place in the world.
  • ·         These letters also cover momentous world events and the many crises and conflicts of India that was faced during the first sixteen years after Independence.
  • ·         Visionary, wise and reflective, these letters are not just a testimony to Nehru’s statesmanship and his deep engagement with every aspect of India’s democratic journey, but are also of great contemporary relevance for the guidance they provide for our current problems and predicaments.



International

36. International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women observed on 25 November


  • ·         International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women observed across the world on 25 November 2014. The day was observed to raise awareness about violence against women and discuss solutions that would work for women community.
  • ·         The campaign called Orange Your Neighbourhood to raise awareness against Gender-Based Violence will be held from 25 November to 10 December 2014.  The campaign is part of Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon's campaign UNiTE to End violence against Women.
  • ·         The campaign was taken to local streets shops and businesses, and organizes Orange Events in their own neighbourhoods. Orange events includes from marches, marathons and panel discussions to radio and television programmes, concerts and film festivals.
  • ·         UN Women also launched HeForShe, a global campaign to engage men and boys as advocates and agents of change for the achievement of gender equality and rights of women.



37. Bilal Tanweer won Shakti Bhatt First Book Prize 2014

  • ·         Lahore-based author Bilal Tanweer on 24 November 2014 won the 2014 Shakti Bhatt First Book Prize for his novel The Scatter Here Is Too Great (Random House India).
  • ·         Bilal Tanweer  was selected by the jury of the award consisting of authors Amit Chaudhuri, Aatish Taseer and Mridula Koshy. The award comprised of the price money of 2 lakhs rupees and a trophy.
  • ·         The five other books shortlisted for the 2014 Shakti Bhatt First Book Prize were: A Bad Character by Deepti Kapoor, The Vanishing Act by Prawin Adhikari, A cool dark place by Supriya Dravid, The Competent Authority by Shovon Chowdhury and The Smoke Is Rising by Mahesh Rao.
  • ·         The Shakti Bhatt First Book Prize is an award named after journalist Shakti Bhatt, who passed away in 2007.
  • ·         The Shakti Bhatt Prize represents the evolving ethos of South Asian literature. Other shortlists in the category included books based in the urban Indian metropolitans and rural Nepal, amongst other locales.
  • ·         The award was won by Nilanjana Roy in 2013 for her book The Wildlings.




38. Sania Mirza appointed as UN Women Goodwill Ambassador for South Asia


  • ·         United Nations (UN) Women on 25 November 2014 announced the appointment of Indian tennis superstar and youth icon, Sania Mirza, as its Goodwill Ambassador for South Asia. The organisation is dedicated to gender equality and women’s empowerment.
  • ·         She became the first South Asian woman to be appointed as a Goodwill Ambassador.
  • ·         The other Goodwill Ambassadors include British actor Emma Watson, Academy Award winner Nicole Kidman, HRH Princess Bajrakitiyabha Mahidol of Thailand, and Indian actor-filmmaker-singer Farhan Akhtar.
  • ·         She became the first Indian to break into the World Tennis Association’s Top 50 rankings. Sania Mirza is one of the most successful women’s tennis players of India.



39. New species of bird Muscicapa flycatcher named after Indian ornithologist Navjot Sodhi


  • ·         New species of bird Muscicapa flycatcher was named after an Indian ornithologist Navjot Sodhi. The bird found in Sulawesi Island of Indonesia was named as Muscicapa sodhii.
  • ·         This was revealed by a study titled A New Species of Muscicapa Flycatcher from Sulawesi, Indonesia published in the Journal PLOS ONE on 24 November 2014. The co-author of the study was J Berton C Harris, a post-doctoral fellow at Princeton University.
  • ·         The team led by Harris decided to name the bird as Muscicapa sodhii to pay homage to late ecologist and ornithologist Navjot Sodhi, who was Harris' former mentor and a professor at the National University of Singapore.
  • ·         Several animal species also have been named after Sodhi, including a snail, a fish and a new genus and species of crab. The naming of so many species in honour of Sodhi shows how important he was to his students and collaborators.



40. Pakistani actress Veena Malik sentenced to 26 years in jail for blasphemy


  • ·         Pakistani actress Veena Malik was sentenced to 26 years in jail on 26 November 2014 by an Anti-Terrorism Court (ATC) of the Gilgit region of Pakistan.
  • ·         She was sentenced for blasphemy for appearing in mock Geo TV wedding scene in which religious song about the wedding of the Prophet Muhammad's daughter was played in background.
  • ·         Apart from Veena Malik, the court’s Judge Shahbaz Khan also sentenced Mir Shakil-ur-Rahman, owner of Geo TV and Jang group, Malik’s husband Asad Bashir Khan and TV host Shaista Wahidi for 26 years each.
  • ·         The ATC also imposed a 1.3 million Pakistani rupees fine on the convicts and ordered that their properties should be sold to raise the fine, if they failed to pay it.
  • ·         The court in its 40-page verdict also asked the police to arrest the convicts. But it said that the convicts can appeal in the regional high court in Gilgit-Baltistan.



41. Two Indians authors among the list of five shortlisted for DSC Prize for the year 2015

  • ·         Two Indians authors namely Jhumpa Lahiri and Writer critic Shamsur Rahman Faruqi were among the list of five authors shortlisted for DSC Prize for the year 2015. The shortlist for 2015 was announced on 27 November 2014.
  • ·         The final winner of the award will be announced at the Jaipur Literature Festival. DSC Prize is one of the South Asia's biggest literary awards. The award carried 50000 US dollar prize money.


The finalists are:

  •       I.        Bilal Tanweer for The Scatter Here is Too Great
  •      II.        Jhumpa Lahiri for The Lowland
  •     III.        Kamila Shamsie for A God in Every Stone
  •     IV.        Romesh Gunesekera for Noontide Toll
  •      V.        Shamsur Rahman Faruqi for The Mirror of Beauty


  • ·         Jhumpa Lahiri's novel The Lowland is an intimate portrayal of two brothers and political passion. The novel was earlier shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize for the year 2013. Her debut short story collection, Interpreter of Maladies had won the 2000 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction.
  • ·         Indian Poet, novelist and literary critic Faruqi has been shortlisted for his novel The Mirror of Beauty which he translated from Urdu and deals with the sunset of the Mughal Empire.



42. 18th SAARC Summit issued Kathmandu Declaration


  • ·         Eighteenth Summit meeting of the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) was held in Kathmandu, Nepal from 26 to 27 November 2014. The 18th SAARC summit was the 30th Year of the SAARC.
  • ·         The summit concluded on 27 November 2014 with Kathmandu Declaration. Theme of the summit was Deeper Integration for Peace and Prosperity.
  • ·         In Kathmandu Declaration SAARC leaders reaffirmed their commitment to the principles and objectives of SAARC for ensuring the welfare and quality of life of the peoples of South Asia and recognized to reinvigorate SAARC’s regional cooperation and revitalize SAARC as an effective vehicle to fulfill the developmental aspirations of the peoples of South Asia.
  • ·         Observer participants of the 18th SAARC summit were Australia, China, Iran, Japan, Korea, Mauritius, Myanmar, the US and the European Union.
  • ·         The leaders agreed to hold the Nineteenth Summit of SAARC in Islamabad, Pakistan in 2016.



Sports


43. Australian opener Philip Hughes died after being in induced coma


  • ·         Australian cricketer Phillip Hughes on 27 November 2014 died after being into induced coma. He went into induced coma on 25 November 2014 after a bouncer ball of Sean Abbott hit back of his head during a Sheffield Game at Sydney Cricket Ground in Australia.
  • ·         The ball struck just below his helmet when he attempted a pull shot in a Sheffield Shield match at the SCG. After New South Wales’ paceman Sean Abbott ball struck Hughes, he collapsed and hit the ground.
  • ·         Hughes, 25, returned to the Australian Test side after an 18-month absence and was supposed to replace Michael Clarke, the injured Australia captain in the first Test next week against India.
  • ·         In his honor, his jersey number 64 has been retired.
  • ·         On 11 January 2013, he became the first Australian batsman in the history of ODI cricket to score a century on debut.



44. Boxer Manoj Kumar received Arjuna Award


  • ·         Boxer Manoj Kumar on 26 November 2014 received the prestigious Arjuna Award. The 2010 Commonwealth Games gold-medalist was given the award by Union Sports Minister Sarbananda Sonowal at a function in New Delhi.
  • ·         Earlier, Manoj was denied the award by the Kapil Dev-led selection committee, as it believed that he was involved in a doping case. The committee recommended name of another boxer Jai Bhagwan for the coveted honour.
  • ·         After being denied the coveted medal, Manoj had approached the Sports Ministry. After being snubbed for a second time in the review meeting, Manoj took the legal route and filed a case in the Delhi High Court. He won the case which led to the Ministry accepting his nomination for the award.



45. Indian cyclist Deborah won four gold medals at Track Asia Cup 2014

  • ·         Indian Cyclist Deborah on 23 November 2014 won four gold medals at the Track Asia Cup Cycling Championship 2014. The Track Asia Cup Cycling Championship was held from 21 to 23 November 2014 at Indira Gandhi Stadium, New Delhi.
  • ·         Deborah won two gold medals - in the women's elite keirin (8 laps) and sprint finals (3 laps) - on the concluding day of the championship for an overall individual tally of four gold medals.
  • ·         Earlier, Deborah had won a combined gold with Kezia Varghese in the team sprint final on 22 November 2014. She won the 500 metre time trial gold in women's elite section on the opening day of the Track Asia Cup 2014.
  • ·         Apart from this, in the championship India finished with medal tally of total 18 medals (5 Gold, 4 Silver and 9 Bronze).