Current Affairs Update – 16th July, 2015

Hello and welcome to ExamPundit. Here are the Important Current Affairs of 16th July, 2015. These are important for the upcoming RBI Assistant Exam 2015.

Finance/RBI –

RBI constituted Deepak Mohanty Committee on Medium-term Path on Financial Inclusion

  • The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) on 15 July 2015 constituted a committee to work out a five-year (medium-term) action plan for financial inclusion. The 14-member panel will be headed by RBI executive director Deepak Mohanty.
  • The Committee will work to spread the reach of financial services to unbanked population.

The terms of reference of the Committee are as under:
  • (i) To review the existing policy of financial inclusion including supportive payment system and customer protection framework taking into account the recommendations made by various committees set up earlier.
  • (ii) To study cross country experiences in financial inclusion to identify key learnings, particularly in the area of technology-based delivery models, that could inform our policies and practices.
  • (iii) To articulate the underlying policy and institutional framework, also covering consumer protection and financial literacy, as well as delivery mechanism of financial inclusion encompassing both households and small businesses, with particular emphasis on rural inclusion including group-based credit delivery mechanisms.
  • (iv) To suggest a monitorable medium-term action plan for financial inclusion in terms of its various components like payments, deposit, credit, social security transfers, pension and insurance.
  • (v) To examine any other related issues.

The committee was constituted in reference to Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s address on the occasion of the Reserve Bank’s 80th anniversary wherein he asked the Bank to take the lead in encouraging financial institutions and to set a medium-to-long term target for sustainable financial inclusion.

ADB retains India growth forecast at 7.8% for 2015-16

  • Supported by a healthy monsoon and new investments, the Asian Development Bank (ADB) has retained its India economic growth forecast for 2015-16 at 7.8 percent.
  • This growth forecast is the same level as projected in March this year by ADB in its flagship publication ‘Asian Development Outlook’ (ADO).
  • For 2016-17, the growth forecast remains unchanged at 8.2 percent with expectations of strong services sector growth bolstering overall performance.
  • In its ADO update released on Thursday, the Manila-headquartered development bank has however cautioned that risks to growth prospects could emerge from further delay in passing some legislations crucial to easing land acquisition for industry and implementing an uniform goods and services tax (GST).
  • The ADO update said that underlying indicators suggest that India was on track to achieve the ADO 2015 growth forecast of 7.8 percent in 2015-16.

Mindtree acquires UK, US based firms for Rs. 482 crore

  • Mid-tier IT services company Mindtree has acquired two companies based in the US and UK.
  • The Bengaluru-based company, in a regulatory filing to BSE, said that it has signed a definitive agreement to acquire 100 per cent equity interest in Bluefin Solutions Limited ('Bluefin'), a UK-based IT solutions provider specialising in SAP HANA solutions, in an all-cash transaction for £42.3 million (Rs. 419 crore).
  • According to the filing, the consideration includes an upfront payment of £34 million (Rs. 337 crore) and earn out of £8.3 million (Rs. 82 crore) payable over the next three years.
  • The company also said it will acquire 100 per cent of the equity interest in Relational Solutions Inc., a US-based IT solutions provider specializing in technology services to the consumer goods industry, in an all cash transaction for $10 million (Rs. 63.5 crore).

Govt Allows Use of Its Capital to SAARC Fund for Infrastructure Sector

  • Government today cleared the utilisation of India's capital contribution to SAARC Development Fund (SDF) for promoting cross-border infrastructure projects, trade and growth.
  • The Cabinet approved the proposal to permit utilisation of India's capital contribution to SDF for Economic and Infrastructure Windows, an official statement said.
  • So far, India's capital contribution was only for the Social Window of SDF.
  • There are no additional financial implications for India, as it only entails a restructuring of India's capital contribution to the SDF, it said.
  • SDF was set up in 2008 to improve the livelihood of the people and to accelerate economic growth, social progress and poverty alleviation in the SAARC region.
  • It provides for utilisation of the Fund for projects in three windows -- Social, Economic Window and Infrastructure.

India –

DoT’s Panel reports recommendations on Net Neutrality

  • After months of debate on the fundamental principle of the Internet—freedom—the Department of Telecom panel led by A K Bhargava has submitted its report on Net Neutrality and made it public.
  • Throughout the report, the panel has emphasised on the user’s right to Net Neutrality.

The recommendations of the report (paraphrased) are as follows:
  • The report suggests that plans such as Airtel Zero be allowed with prior clearance from the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India, but opposes platforms such as of Facebook. Both the platforms are similar as they offer customers a specific set of services or applications that are free to use without paying data charges.
  • The committee has said that it unhesitatingly recommends that the principles of Net Neutrality must be adhered to.
  • The report has specifically highlighted that TSPs/ISPs should not restrict the ability of the user to send, receive, display, use, post any legal content, application or service on the Internet, or restrict any kind of lawful Internet activity or use to ensure the user’s right on the Internet is upheld.
  • Over-the-top (OTT) application services should be actively encouraged and any impediments in expansion and growth of OTT application services should be removed.
  • Specific OTT communication services dealing with messaging should not be interfered with through regulatory instruments.
  • In case of VoIP OTT communication services, there exists a regulatory arbitrage wherein such services bypass existing licensing and regulatory regime to create a non-level playing field between TSPs and OTT providers.
  • Legitimate traffic management practices may be allowed but should be “tested” against the core principles of Net Neutrality.
  • For OTT application services, there is no case for prescribing regulatory oversight similar to conventional communication services.
  • National security is paramount, regardless of treatment of Net Neutrality. The measures to ensure compliance of security related requirements from OTT service providers, need to be worked out through inter-ministerial consultations.

Govt Sets Up Expert Group to Collate Caste Count

  • Amid a controversy over not releasing of caste census data, the government today set up an expert group headed by NITI Ayog Vice-Chairman Arvind Panagariya to collate caste count even as it blamed the states for not being able to complete the consolidation of different categories.
  • The decision was taken in a meeting of the Union Cabinet chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
  • Announcing it, Finance Minster Arun Jaitley said, "A decision was taken today to set up a committee chaired by Vice Chairman of NITI Ayog, which will classify this caste data. When the task is completed, it will be made public at an appropriate time."
  • He said that the decision was in line with the one taken during the UPA government in May 2011.
  • The government has been criticised by parties, including Samajwadi Party, JD(U), RJD and DMK for refraining from releasing the caste-based data in its first Socio Economic and Caste Census (SECC).
  • The SECC data released on July 3 is first in eight decades after 1912.

Varanasi chosen as 'city of music' by UNESCO

  • In a development set to tremendously boost its age-old traditions, Varanasi has joined the global bandwagon of UNESCO "Cities of Music" under the Creative Cities Network.
  • It has been chosen in the music category under UNESCO's "field of excellence" plan. The fields of excellence are classified into categories of literature, film, music, craft and folk art, design, media arts and gastronomy.
  • The inclusion in the network has also paved way for representing the cultural heritage of the holy city on the world stage through the UNESCO project. It will not only provide a fillip to tourism, but will also give a chance to local artists and musicians to visit countries that are a part of this network.
  • Nine cities — Glasgow in the UK, Hanover and Mannheim in Germany, Ghent in Belgium, Hamamatsu in Japan, Brazzaville in the Republic of Congo, Bogota in Columbia, Seville in Spain and Bologna in Italy — are a part of UNESCO "Cities of Music".

Govt clears proposal to redevelop 400 railway stations

  • A proposal to redevelop about 400 railways stations in metros and major cities besides pilgrim centres and tourist spots was cleared by the government on Thursday.
  • The Union Cabinet, chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, gave its approval for redevelopment of the railway stations on ‘as is where is’ basis to accelerate the process of revamping them.
  • Under this model, interested parties coming through open bids would develop the stations with their designs and business ideas while commercial development of real estate would be allowed by the Zonal Railways.
  • The ‘as is where is’ model would entail a much simpler process for faster redevelopment, with more focus on vertical expansion.
  • “The ‘A-1’ and ‘A’ category stations (about 400) shall be offered for redevelopment by inviting open bids from interested parties.
  • “These stations are to be developed by leveraging real estate development of land and air space in and around the stations,” a government statement said, adding that the model would also encourage innovative ideas from interested parties “at no cost to the railways”.
  • These categories of stations are generally located in metros, major cities, pilgrimage centres and important tourist destinations across the country.

Union Agriculture Minister launched PGS-India, Soil Health Card and FQCS Web Portals

  • Union Agriculture Minister Radha Mohan Singh on 15 July 2015 launched 3 web portals viz. Soil Health Card portal, Fertiliser Quality Control System (FQCS) portal and Participatory Guarantee System (PGS) – India portal.
  • Soil Health Card Portal: The portal has been developed for registration of soil samples, recording test results of soil samples and generation of Soil Health Card (SHC) along with fertilizer recommendations.
  • Fertilizer Quality Control System Portal (FQCS): This FQCS is a web based and configurable workflow application developed by NIC for processing of sample collection, testing and generation of analysis reports. The system will lead to automation of most of the manual activities and help in online tracking the status of the sample.
  • Participatory Guarantee System – India Portal: Participatory Guarantee System is a process of certifying organic products which ensures agriculture production process in accordance with the standards laid down for organic products and that desired quality has been maintained.
  • This group certification system is supported by Paramaparagat Krishi Vikas Yojana (PKVY) scheme.

Ottappalam to have India’s first defence industrial park

  • In a major fillip to industrial infrastructure in the Palakkad region, the Union government’s Department of Industrial Policy and Promotion (DIPP) has approved a proposal from the Kerala Industrial Infrastructure Development Corporation (Kinfra) to set up the country’s first defence industrial park at Ottappalam.
  • The proposed park, which will be established as part of the Make in India, Make in Kerala project, will have modern common infrastructure facilities aimed at attracting component manufacturers in the defence industry. The Union government has agreed to bring it under the Modified Industrial Infrastructure Upgradation Scheme (MIIUS).

Jawahar Navodaya Vidyalaya, Churachandpur of Manipur won 18th National Youth Parliament Competition

  • Jawahar Navodaya Vidyalaya (JNV) of Churachandpur in Manipur on 15 July 2015 won the 18th National Youth Parliament Competition for Jawahar Navodaya Vidyalayas.
  • It was awarded with the Running Parliamentary Shield and Trophy by the Secretary, Ministry of Parliamentary Affairs at the prize distribution ceremony held in New Delhi.
  • JNV Churachandpur emerged winner from a list of 64 JNVs spread across 8 regions of Navodaya Vidyalaya Saimiti in the country.
  • Besides, merit trophies were awarded to the winners from other 7 regions namely JNV, Sahranpur (Uttar Pradesh); Mysore (Karnataka); Jamnagar (Gujarat); Theog, Shimla (HP); Sidhi (MP); Karuli (Rajasthan); and Araria (Bihar) also.

Awards & Honors –

Indian-Origin Ahmed Kathrada Knighted by French Government

  • Ahmed Kathrada, South Africa's Indian-origin freedom struggle veteran and confidante of anti-apartheid icon Nelson Mandela, has received a knighthood from the French government for his lifelong service to the community.
  • Kathrada, 85, joined former President Mandela, Archbishop Desmond Tutu and author Nadine Gordimer as the only South Africans to have received French national honours.
  • The award is part of the National Orders of the Legion of Honour established by Napoleon Bonaparte in 1802.
  • The order of Chevalier (Knight) is made to people who have served a minimum of 20 years of public service or 25 years of professional activity, and who have done more than is ordinarily expected in contributing to the development of others.
  • Presenting the award on Tuesday on France's national Bastille Day, French ambassador to South Africa Elisabeth Barbier commended Kathrada for his efforts in ensuring democracy in South Africa.

Appointments –

Rakesh Sahni appointed as Chairman of Narmada Valley Development Authority

  • Rakesh Sahni was on 14 July 2015 appointed as the Chairman of Narmada Valley Development Authority (NVDA). He is an IAS officer of 1972 batch.
  • Sahni retired as an IAS officer after serving post of chief secretary of States. However, post retirement, he served as the Chairman of MP Electricity Regulatory Commission.

Sports –

Bangladesh won 3-match ODI series against South Africa 2-1

  • Bangladesh on 15 July 2015 won the three-match One Day International (ODI) series against South Africa 2-1 played in Bangladesh.
  • This was Bangladesh’s fourth straight ODI series win at home.
  • In the third and final match of the series, South Africa after winning the toss elected to bat first. Batting first, South Africa scored 168 runs in 40 over at a loss of 9 wickets and in reply to the target Bangladesh scored 170 runs in 26.1 over at a loss of 1 wicket.
  • Bangladesh defeated South Africa by 9 wickets Duckworth–Lewis method (D/L method).

Days –

World Youth Skills Day observed globally

  • The World Youth Skills Day (WYSD) was on 15 July 2015 observed globally for the first ever time. The day was observed under the theme Youth skills for work and life in the post-2015 agenda. The theme is in line with the upcoming Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) for 2030.
  • To mark the day, the United Nations organized several events at UN Headquarters in Bonn (Germany), New York (USA), Addis Ababa (Ethiopia) and elsewhere.

Obituaries –

Veteran Telugu Playback Singer V. Ramakrishna Dies

  • Veteran Telugu playback singer V Ramakrishna, who sang many memorable songs for legendary N T Rama Rao and other top stars, passed away here.
  • Ramakrishna, who was in his late 60s, had been suffering from cancer. He died late last night, film industry sources said.
  • Ramakrishna, who sang about 5,000 songs in a career spanning nearly four decades, had huge hit songs to his credit in films like "Andala Ramudu", "Alluri Sitarama Raju" and "Mutyala Muggu".
  • His songs in N T Rama Rao's "Pothuluri Veerabrahmendra Swamy Charitra" were a runaway success.


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